Monday, September 19, 2016

A HISTORY OF MY FAMILY IN 100 IMAGES : A Bradford Family Icon


1 : A Bradford Family Icon

ENOCH BURNETT (1878-1948)  : Enoch was thirty-nine years old at the time of this photograph. He was married and had the four children pictured with him and his wife, Harriet Ellen. When the photograph was taken he was absent, serving in France in the Labour Corps, digging trenches and tunnels - the very architecture of that most difficult time in the history of mankind. At the end of the war, Enoch returned to Bradford and returned to the life he knew before - cleaning windows in the summer, mending watches and clocks in the winter and playing the euphonium at Chapel music evenings.

HARRIET-ELLEN BURNETT (1871-1956) : Already in her mid-forties when this photograph was taken, Harriet-Ellen was, I suspect, the glue that kept the family together in good times and bad. There is a strength in that face and a calmness; both qualities that would be needed in the years ahead. She was never listed as having an occupation, but that doesn't mean she didn't work: like so many housewives of the era she worked unceasingly - cooking, cleaning, giving birth and giving comfort.

JOHN ARTHUR BURNETT (1899-1974) : Whilst the family might have been confident enough to leave a space in the photograph for Enoch who was over in France digging trenches, they were realistic enough to know that once a young man went to the front, there was a fair chance that he might not return. And this is probably the reason for the photograph in the first place: for it was taken shortly after John Arthur joined the army a few weeks after his eighteenth birthday. After a few months training in England he was sent to the slaughter fields of France and within three months of arriving there he was posted as missing. But he survived; he was taken a prisoner of war and in 1919 returned to Bradford and his family.

MIRIAM BURNETT (1901-1987) : Miriam was 16 years old when this photograph was taken and already working in the Bradford mills. By the 1930s she was still unmarried but was involved in a lengthy courtship with a local lad, Frank Fieldhouse. They didn't marry until England was once again plunged into war and whether by choice or fate, Frank and Miriam never had children. For a time she ran a seaside boarding house in Great Yarmouth and in her old age, when Frank had died, she returned to live in West Yorkshire.

ANNIE ELIZABETH BURNETT (1903-1980) : Annie was the beauty of the family: a young girl with talent and personality and so much to give. She fell in love with a handsome, young Concert Party pianist and tenor vocalist, Harry Moore and in 1933 they were married. It wasn't a particularly happy or successful marriage, although they remained together until Annie died in 1980. Harry was probably gay, but these were times when such a fact had to be hidden within the camouflage of a childless marriage. Annie was left with significant psychological scars that remained with her all her life. A tragic story, but a common one.

ALBERT BURNETT (1911-2002) : Albert was the baby of the group, born eight years after his closest sibling. Albert became a mechanic who made a career looking after machines in the wrapping and packaging industry. He married Gladys Beanland in 1936 and after a couple of miscarriages, Gladys gave birth to two boys. The eldest, Roger, went on to become a successful artist and sculpture who travelled the world. The younger, Alan, remained in England and started to collect old photographs that could eventually be strung together to provide a history of my family in one hundred images.


  1. Nice tidbits about your family. So did you in some clever way add Enoch to the first photo?

  2. We simply do not realize how many lives are measured out in teaspoons. I think Enoch and John Arthur were very fortunate.

  3. An excellent post Ali. And all the better for being honest. I have Enoch's war medals "For Work at the Forge". That award is worth more to me than all the distinguished service medals put together. I wish I had known then all in their younger days. They all had individuality and personality that is rare nowadays.

  4. It is a wonderful creation. Your father and my father were close in age. The tie into WW I is sad but interesting to someone my age. I like to read of all the uncles and aunts and the lives that they created. I hope there is more. I have told you before that there are Burnett families in my old home town area in southern Iowa.

  5. Just noticed the photo on Facebook before I saw who posted it and immediately thought; "That's Alan top left!"

  6. Excellent post, Alan. This is what makes News From Nowhere such a great place to visit. I know I'm always going to read about Lives From Somewhere.

  7. How nice that you were able to find details to the lot. Often we are left with family photos but nothing to hint what and who etc
    Thanks for sharing this.

  8. Hi Alan - I really like the way you have written a mini bio of each person in this photo. It's a fantastic approach.

  9. Good on Albert for continuing on the family line. Is that Auntie Miriam in her younger days? She always looks so happy in the later photos you share and she looks so unhappy here.


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For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...