Stalham, Station Road, Fratford, Herts.
16 January 1906
I missed your letter dear, but hope by now you are quite well and able to write anything, even lessons. What a jolly Xmas you gave the Uncles. Love from Auntie Annie.
What on earth Pixie did in order to give everyone such a jolly Christmas will have to be left to the imagination. Let us, instead, concentrate on the scene on the front of this 1906 vintage postcard which shows the famous Halifax landmark called "The Rocks".
"The Rocks" are a large outcrop of millstone grit which provide wonderful views over the Calder valley and are situated a couple of miles from the centre of Halifax. Such natural spectacles became popular in Victorian times, as people from the towns began to rediscover the natural wonders that could be found if they ventured out into the countryside. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, a series of paths were laid through the woods that clung to the valley side below the rocks and a formal promenade was laid out at the top of the valley above the rocks. This, of course, was named Albert Promenade after the late Prince Albert. Victorian and Edwardian families would take walks above and below the rocks and thrill at their scale and beauty, and Victorian and Edwardian children would attempt to climb up the rocks as far as they could before being called back by anxious parents.
I knew this part of Halifax well, because my school was close by (just off the right hand side of this picture). It was one of those schools that took a delight in making the boys play rugby - a game I have always taken a distinct dislike to. A few more boys and myself would manage to avoid the weekly game by not being picked for either of the two competing teams - the blues and the wasps. In order to avoid being picked you had to carefully nurture a reputation for being particularly bad at the game - a challenge which I took to like a duck to warm water. The handful of kids who were not picked for either team would be sent for a cross country run that was supposed to take them down through the rocks, along the valley bottom, up the other side and then down and back up again.
At half time during the blues v the wasps rugby match the sports teacher would walk to the top of the rocks with a pair of binoculars and attempt to follow our progress up and down the valley side. He was never very successful in this as we were normally huddled up in a cave just under the rock upon which he stood, enjoying an illicit cigarette. Perhaps Pixie Piggall had bought he uncles a box of Havana cigars and they had gone to the self same cave for a Boxing Day smoke. Who knows?