During my weeks away in the sun this summer I have often found myself homesick for my own, grey, stone-sooty West Riding of Yorkshire. The palm-tree lined Mediterranean promenades are all very well, but sometimes you just want cobbled stones under your feet. The sun can easily enough warm your body, but it takes a particular drizzle-fed wind sweeping down from the Pennines to warm your soul.
At times when the sickness was bad I would dose myself by going on eBay and bidding for selected vintage postcards featuring views of the streets and moors I have loved throughout my life. Occasionally I would win and for a pound or two (a dollar or three) I would be rewarded by a little slice of history - six inches by four inches. Now that the sun and the sangria are just memories, and I cuddle close to my two-bar electric fire, I have the opportunity to share some of these remarkable old photographs.
The first is a view of North Bridge in Halifax which must have been taken in the first decade of the twentieth century. The building on the left of the photograph is still there but the one on the right, the old Grand Theatre, is long gone.
The theatre was built in 1889 on the site of the earlier Gaiety Theatre which burnt down in 1888. At the time my main photograph was taken in was a popular venue for Variety Theatre and the kind of melodramas the Edwardians had a particular passion for. The show that was advertised when my old photograph was taken was "Bootle's Baby", the synopsis of which was as follows: "A captain's secret wife plants a baby on a friend and he weds her when the captain is killed!"
The theatre and its melodramas may be long gone, but the old bridge is still there, although a more modern flyover takes most of the traffic, thus sparing its old cast iron bones. The mill chimneys have also gone and the soot encrustation has been scraped from the walls of the remaining buildings. It looks more open now, and somehow a little lost and out of place. Like a Bradford lad in Alicante.