Monday, October 19, 2015

Like A Bradford Lad In Alicante

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.


  1. Things were more laid back then. There were no cell phones, instabanking or computers, yet things still got done, just at a slower pace. When you went to the bank you had to wait in line, and everything was handwritten back then, unlike the automated things of today, where even the money is counted by a machine. I am glad I was born in 1956 because I got to see how things were before the computer era. Thank you so much for sharing and for evoking some great memories for me.

  2. I read the post notification on Facebook and it was at the bottom of the page. I saw the image and the words that were shown were: "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".

    I had to look again, as I don't remember palm trees in Yorkshire.

    Anyway, I paged down and all became clear....

  3. There's no place like home!

    Love the autumn colors showing in those trees!

  4. I must find a copy of that play. I cannot imagine it.

  5. The factory certainly was a dominating feature of Halifax's urban landscape that one would never know from today's viewpoint. The chimney smoke adds a sensory quality that I can almost taste. Was it really like the Isle of Man?

  6. I think I prefer the earlier view despite the grime. The flyover is so soulless. Is it my imagination or has the weather vane been replaced? It looks like a lamb with a flag over its shoulder in the first picture, but I don't see a lamb in the now.

  7. I'm getting back into the swing of blogging, Alan, and somehow your posts warm the soul of a lad from blogland who's been travelling in the foreign fields of other social media.

  8. Yes, the building is somehow not as imposing for sure. But I am sure you are equally imposing in Alicante as in Yorkshire Alan ! :D


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