Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Christmas To Sepians Everywhere

The basis of my Sepia Saturday Christmas Card this year is a picture that must have been taken at some kind of institutional Christmas Party. Searching the faces for someone familiar, I eventually found my mother holding my brother in her arms. That led me to an estimation of the date, which must have been around 1945/46 when Roger was either two and a half or three and a half. I suspect it will have been a works Christmas Party and that would take me to the Bradford commercial printers and packaging engineers, Field Packaging, where my father worked at the time.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

On Style And A Spiegeltent

There is a festive dip into the pond of inconsequence today with a photograph I took last week of a spiegeltent being erected within the confines of Halifax's magnificent eighteenth century Piece Hall. A spiegeltent is a type of large travelling tent which originated in the Netherlands and is constructed of wood, canvas, mirrors and stained glass (not to mention - on the more modern ones - a few steel girders!). The one in Halifax will remain within the Piece Hall for the Christmas season and will be used as a venue for a variety of concerts and events (the famous Unthanks Sisters will sing there, the House of Burlesque will dance there and there is even a somewhat intriguing Silent Disco advertised). A performance to match any of these was the construction of the spiegeltent itself, and the circus-like skills of the construction crew. And the visual merging of the Georgian Piece Hall, the Victorian Town Hall, the sixties concrete and the continental style of the mirrored tent makes a fitting image to end a year that has been seeped in introspection and isolationism. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Reluctant Parting From A Brave Artist

Today, my dip into the seasonally induced pond of inconsequence brings up a rather splendid Edwardian postcard, entitled "A Reluctant Parting" by the artist and illustrator, Harold Cecil Earnshaw (1886-1937).  It was a rather grubby and creased affair that benefited from a scan and a digital clean-up, which allows you to appreciate a rather fine drawing that dates from the very height of the postcard craze of the first decade of the twentieth century. This was a time when postcards were the equivalent of Facebook updates and would be exchanged with great frequency and for the most prosaic of reasons.

Earnshaw was an interesting chap who throughout his life worked as a cartoonist and book illustrator and was married to the far more famous illustrator, Mabel Lucie Attwell. During active service in the First World War, Earnshaw lost his right arm and had to set about learning to draw again using his left  hand. This he did with great success and within two years of his injury he was once again working as an illustrator.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fishing In The Pond Of Inconsequence (Sepia Saturday 397)

In the lead up to Christmas I am indulging myself with pointless blogposts about matters of no consequence. Today I am fishing in the pond of inconsequence whilst wearing my sepia Christmas bobble-hat.

My catch is this splendid photograph of a group of Edwardian fishermen who look as if they have been taking part is some very prestigious fishing competition. Even with the most powerful magnification I can't quite make out either the name of the trophy or any of the winners (although one of them might just be West Leeds Angling Club). Hopefully, the trophy still exists, hanging from the wall go some half-forgotten club house. Sadly, the Anglers themselves will be long-gone.

To see what other Sepians have caught this week, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Playing In The Pond Of Inconsequence

Today's dip into the pond of inconsequence rewards us with the sound of live music - or at least the look of live music.

Jazz@The Keys, Huddersfield : 6 December 2017
Dave Newton, Piano; Jon Taylor, Saxophone; Dave Rocky Tyas, Drums; Ben Crosland, Bass.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

On The Pond Of Inconsequence From Yalta To Malta

December is a busy month: cards to write, presents to buy, quantities of alcohol to consume - and with all this going on there is little room for logical blogging. Luckily, I am committed to illogical blogging which is devoid of meaning and therefore I can carry on in my own sweet way, dipping into the pond of inconsequence with the gloved fist of uncertainty. Today it brings to the surface the Empire Medway.

This is a scan of an old print of unknown provenance that came into my possession in ways I have long forgotten. It shows the ship, the Empire Medway, which, at the time, had the designation "HMT" or His Majesty's Troopship. It was built in 1929 and for the first 21 years it went under the name of the Eastern Prince, before being renamed in 1950. During the war it served as a troopship and its finest hour was probably in February 1945 when it served as the accommodation and support vessel for Winston Churchill's staff at the Yalta Conference. After the war it continued to ferry troops around the hot spots of the world until 1951 when in was involved in a collision  in Valletta Harbour in Malta. Two years later it was scrapped, leaving behind a handful of memories and the odd old photograph.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Monkey Matthews In A Tent

This is one of those little family photographs handed down within my family. Luckily, it is one of those rare photographs which has been annotated on the reverse, so I am able to identify the participants in this camping trip. They are, from the left, Billy Duffie; Monkey Matthews; Bunny Smith; and, my father, Albert Burnett. Just where they were camping is not stated, but it will have been somewhere not far from Bradford where they all lived. The date, I would guess, was about 1925.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Being Diddled By A Halifax Muck Rake

Ah, the good old days, when family entertainment meant more than playing Angry Birds on your iPad. According to the Halifax Courier of 2nd December 1899, if you had nothing better to do on your afternoon off, you could take yourself along to Gray's Art Gallery on Commercial Street and pay sixpence to have a look at Sir Noel Paton's latest masterpiece - "The Muck Rake". Was it value for money? To answer the question you don't need to pay sixpence (which would have been about £10 in current prices), all you need to do is to stop playing Angry Birds for a minute and Google the painting.

I have to say, I think the citizens of Halifax in 1899 were being diddled!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Lost The Sunshine And Found Twenty Pence

Back home again and already the memories of the sun, sand, heat and music that make up the tropical cocktail of the Caribbean are beginning to fade behind the greyness of a British November.

As well as some completely unearned relaxation, I did manage to get another chapter of a project that is so old it still has the working title of "The Great Novel Of The Twentieth Century" completed. Over a malt whisky or three too many, late at night in one of the many pleasant bars on board our ship, I also publicly pledged to complete the project before I reach my seventieth birthday.

This milestone seemed a long way away as we sailed from tropical island to tropical island, but in the cold, cloud-covered light of a far from tropical West Yorkshire I realise it is only a little over six months away.

I will try and channel my limited creativity into finishing the book during the coming months, but such resolutions are rarely followed through and therefore the normal flow of pointless blogging will probably be uninterrupted.

Whilst on the subject of pointless blogging, the latest volume of my blog posts has been published and is now available on Amazon. At just £12.95 ($17.79) and benefiting from free postage if you are an Amazon Prime member, it makes a perfect present for those difficult to please people who have everything they could possibly want (i.e. something they wouldn't want!) And remember that for every copy sold (which so far, I believe, is 1) the author received almost twenty pence!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sepia Saturday 391 : Marching Back To Retrieve Some Love Letters

Our theme image this week features a parade through the streets of Rotherham in the early 1980s, and my matched image features a parade through the streets of Northowram - a village a couple of miles north of Halifax - in the mid 1960s. This was the same village I grew up in, and looking back at this strip of negatives taken fifty years ago is a little like marching backwards through my life. I used to walk up this road to my Junior School every day, and I was familiar with every cottage and every donkey-stoned doorstep. I can particularly remember that magnificent stone wall that can be seen on the right of the photograph, which is now, alas, long gone. It was a dry stone wall of significant proportions, and this meant that you could slide certain stones out, and use the space behind them as hiding places for all kinds of childhood trophies. I remember secreting a series of love-letters written by the ten year old me to the equally ten year old Maureen Brown. When the wall was finally demolished (long after I had moved away from the village), were these letters found and were they perhaps passed on to the said Miss Brown? The internet is such a powerful tool of communication, no doubt I will get an answer to this question within days!

To get other answers to sepia questions, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sepia Saturday 390 : Gazing Back, Looking Forward

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a young girl stood outside a door. The image comes from a job-lot of old photographs I bought on eBay, so I have no idea who the girl is. My match, however, features two people I know very well indeed - my mother and father, Albert and Gladys Burnett.

I suspect that the photograph was taken in the mid 1930s when they would have both been in their early 20s. At one stage I thought that it might have been taken outside the new house they rented in Cooper Lane, Bradford, after they were married in 1936 - but it appears far too grand for that location. 

They did, however, go away most weekends - at first on their tandem bicycle, later on their motorbike - so the door and window probably belong to one of the boarding houses or small hotels they stayed in. They look young and they look happy: gazing back into the camera lens, looking forward to a future that would see them enjoy a further sixty-five years of married life.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Beanland Postcards : Millbridge, Skipton

This postcard was sent to Fowler Beanland when he was living and working in Longtown, Cumbria in November 1905. The view is a familiar one to anyone who knows the Yorkshire town of Skipton - that is Holy Trinity Church in the background and behind that, hidden by the trees, the remains of Skipton Castle. The building in the very centre of the photograph is now the Castle Inn, and, indeed, it may well have been an inn at the time the photograph was taken.

The card was send by George Edward Fowler, a cousin of Fowler Beanland, who lived in Union Terrace, Skipton, and worked as a drawer in a cotton mill. The message reads as follows: "Dear Cousin, We were very pleased to hear from you, and will be glad to see anytime you are down this way. We are nicely, Yours, Cousin George Ed Fowler". If you take nothing else away from this delightful vintage postcard, take away the view of the picturesque solidity of Skipton, and take away that wonderful phrase; "We are nicely".

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sepia Saturday 389 : You've Got It Wrong Again!

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a little girl sat at a desk. My match is a little boy stood on a step - which may not sound like much of a match, but nevertheless it is appropriate for this particular time. The photograph was taken in 1946 at the photographic studios in Brown Muff's department store in Bradford, Yorkshire, and the subject is my brother, Roger.

What would normally happen at this point is that Roger would leave a comment to this post saying something like: "No, you have got it wrong again, that isn't me, it's you, and it wasn't in 1947 but 1950, and it was taken at the Busby's store, not Brown Muff's!" He has been sending such factual amendments to my family posts, from his home on the Caribbean island of Dominica, ever since Sepia Saturday started, more years ago than I can remember. It is unlikely, however, that there will be any factual corrections to this post in the immediate future, following the devastation brought to that small island by Hurricane Maria. 

I have not had direct contact with Roger since the night before Maria struck, some three weeks ago. He has managed to get a message to me via other members of the family that he is safe, but with no power and no running water, things are still very difficult on the island. I suspect it will be a good few months before there is any possibility of such things as internet access and emails being available to him again.

In the absence of his ever-welcome corrections, I will look at the photograph, think of him, send him all my very best wishes, and look forward to the day when a comment appears to this post saying: "No, Ali, you are mistaken yet again, that is in fact Uncle Harry in 1907, and it was taken at Jerome's studios".

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Beanland Postcards : Clayton Church

"With Mr & Mrs Beanland and family's
compliments of the season"
This postcard was sent from Mr and Mrs Arthur Beanland to Fowler Beanland at some point during the first decade of the twentieth century. At the beginning of that decade they were living in Keighley and Arthur was the owner of a small spindle manufacturing company. The company went bankrupt in 1904 and shortly after that Arthur moved his family into a small cottage in Clayton (just outside Bradford) and took a job as a mechanic in a local mill. The family, at that time, composed of Arthur, his wife Emma, and their three daughters: Ada, Clara and Ellen.

The Parish Church of St John's, Clayton was built in 1849 to meet the needs of the growing population of this part of Bradford. A history and description of the church can be found on the website of the CLAYTON HISTORY GROUP.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Family in 100 Images : 5. David Beanland

5. DAVID BEANLAND (1889-1951)
This is a photograph of my mother's cousin, David Beanland. Or at least I think it is (why, oh why, didn't I take more notice of what my mother said as she went through the old family photographs!). David was, I believe, active in the Scouting movement so I assume that this is him dressed in his uniform. Born on the 9th January 1889, David was the first - and only - child of Arthur Beanland and Clara Hargreaves. Sadly, Clara died shortly after the birth, and Arthur remarried within a couple of years and went on to have more children with his second wife, Emma Binns. For whatever reason, David was not brought up by his father and his new wife, but by his grandfather, Fowler Beanland. In 1901 he is living with his grandfather, grandmother and his various uncles and aunts - one of whom was my grandfather, Albert Beanland.

In 1911 he was 22 years old and had now moved into a house in the centre of Keighley with his uncle (another Fowler Beanland) and his Aunt Eliza. He continued to live with them for the rest of his life and never married. In the 1911 census he is listed as an "iron turner" (the same occupation as his Uncle Fowler), but by the end of the 1930s he was a wool comber in a textile mill.

Looking at the photograph there seems to be a sadness about him - although this may simply be me reading too much into a fairly standard studio pose of the time. I see, however, a man who never knew his mother; who was sent away from the family home to live with other relatives; who never married; - and I feel a kind of sadness on his behalf.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Paper Mache Time Machine : 10th October 1947

There is no finer way to get a real "feel" of a time than to turn to the newspapers of the day. Newspapers are unfettered by the "historical viewpoint", they paint a picture of a moment in time with the materials that are available at that time, rather than some idealised picture of days gone by. If time machines could in fact be constructed, then they would probably be made of paper-mache.

​Today I am travelling back seventy years to October 1947, and my time travel is courtesy of the pages of the Daily Herald. The second world war has been over for two years, but Britain is still beset by enormous problems and serious economic shortages. The dreadful winter of 1946/47 nearly brought the country to its knees far more effectively than years of enemy bombing campaigns, and in October 1947 the Government was putting together contingency plans for the coming winter.

​The examples given in the newspaper reports - football coupons being reduced to half their size in order to save paper and cinemas closing early to conserve power - illustrate just how far the economic shortages were making serious inroads into the lives of ordinary people. This came at a time when the rationing of food and luxuries was probably even more widespread than it was during the war itself.

Another interesting sidelight is provided by a couple of small items which relate to the future of energy supplies in the UK. One is a short article about "Atom Boys" (note the gender specificity!), a hand-picked group of 160 young men who will become the country's atom scientists of the future. The article doesn't actually say "they will be a glowing beacon that will light the path to the future", but  you get the impression that, but for the sub-editors pencil, it could have done. The second is an advert for miners to return to the pits. "Join the Miners - the miner's the skilled man the nation will always need". Oh, if only they could have seen into the future!

Monday, October 09, 2017

ARCHIVES : A Pebble-Coated Umbrella

EASTBOURNE BEACH (1981) : This is a photograph from 1981 of sunbathers on the beach at Eastbourne. Somehow, it looks like the skeleton of a pebble-coated umbrella abandoned at the seashore.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Pastry Mills Of My Mind

You know what it's like. It's late in the evening and you have had a pint or two. You've been at the cricket club race evening, and you are surrounded by cast-off betting tickets - all testament to the follies of gambling. So you challenge your fellow-revellers: write a couple of random words on the blank tickets so that you can take them away and compose an epic poem based around this random collection of ten ideas. This is the best I could come up with .....

Rapidly searching the besom-folds of my life and times,
Up flipping-heck hills,
Down cricket fields,
Passed pastry mills;
With hockey-shot certainty, unfortunately I find,
The chipped potato plinth on which I lost my mind.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sepia Saturday 387 : Flights Of Fancy

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features the cockpit of a 1948 B-36 plane. As soon as I saw it, I thought of a photograph of my mother and father taken on the flight deck of a commercial aeroplane on the occasion of their Golden Wedding in 1985. This, of course, was back in the days when people would be invited up to sit in the captain's seat and there was a far more relaxed attitude to airline security.

I have spent a couple of hours this morning searching for the photograph, but to no avail - it is in a box, or a folder, or a cabinet somewhere, but my system of storing and filing the thousands of old photos in my collection is about as complex as the B-36 flight-deck, and, I suspect, nothing like as organised. I did however find another photograph of my parents from the same journey and the card they were presented with by the Captain and crew.

As you can see, they were flying from London to the British Virgin Islands (they were on their way to visit my brother and his family), and this gives the photograph a certain topical interest in the weeks that follow the devastation brought about by Hurricane Irma. I know they had a wonderful time on those beautiful islands, and although times are very hard there at the moment, with the hard work and dedication of the residents of the BVI and the other islands affected by this dreadful hurricane season, I am sure there will be wonderful times to look forward to again in the future.

To follow other flights of fancy, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Double Whammy

It is funny how some phrases can sneak up on you and become part of the stock of your vocabulary without you realising it. Take "double whammy": the dictionaries can quite clearly trace the development of the phrase in the 1940s and 1950s in the USA, but they can't identify exactly when it crept into the understanding of a old, fat bloke in Yorkshire who has never seen a baseball game or read the Li'l Abner comic strip. Now, however, the phrase is a part of my everyday life and perfectly meets my needs when describing certain situations.

Half my immediate family live in the British Virgin Islands, and a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my concern for their safety following hurricane Irma, and the longer-term impact on the wonderful islands they call home. Most of the rest of my closest family live on the Caribbean island of Dominica, and what I didn't realise when I wrote that earlier post was that hurricane Maria was about to do to that island what Irma did to the BVI.  Many of you will know my brother Roger from the frequent comments he leaves on this blog, and for six days there was no news of his, and his family's,  safety following a direct hit by Maria. I only learned of his safety on Sunday, and although he is safe, the island has suffered almost unimaginable damage.

Just like baseball and Li'l Abner, I have no experience at all of the terrible destructive power of hurricanes (in these parts we call it a strong wind if it can blow a bit of soot out of an old mill chimney). What I do know, however, is that if we sit back and forget about the ongoing plight of all those people who have been affected by Harvey and Irma and Maria, if we imagine that now the winds have stilled life can immediately go back to normal, then we will be translating a double whammy into a triple whammy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Power Of Advertising

These days any organisation worth its weight in bureaucracy has its own website. Whether it manufactures wheelbarrows or prize marrows, whether it collects statistics or rubbish; there will be a website somewhere which provides details of everything it does. If the website is not for a commercial organisation, it will often be  funded by advertisers, who will hope to generate business for their products from people who visit the site. A century or more ago, such information was provided by local handbooks, guides and trade directories, and these too would often be supported by advertisements from local companies.

These illustration are from "Huddersfield - The Official Handbook", which was published in 1930. As the wonderful colour advert for the local dye company, L.B. Holliday, clearly shows, this was still the golden age of advertising, when copywriters were able to combine product information with artistic style. At one time, L.B. Holliday & Co was the largest privately owned dye manufacturer in the world, but the company of that name faded away in the 1990s.

Even without full colour and pre-Raphaelite imagery, the adverts could still be attractive, even if it was simply by virtue of the typography - as illustrated in the advert for the brewers, Bentley and Shaw. That particular company had been established in the Huddersfield area by the end of the eighteenth century, and continued brewing until the early 1960s when its purity, quality and brilliancy finally went flat.

And who could resist this final advert for the Newtown Laundry, which - it seems - was famous for fine finish. Alas it is no more, as all traces of the firm have vanished like the grime from a freshly laundered shirt collar.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Wrath Of Irma

As some of you will know, many of my closest relatives live on the British Virgin Islands. You will therefore understand that the last few days have been a period of intense worry about their safety and well being. We lost contact with them last Wednesday morning and they didn't manage to get a message out of the island until late yesterday (Saturday). The good news is that they are all safe: however, like most of the other residents of the islands, they face an immediate future where their homes and businesses have been devastated. Although aid is beginning to arrive, the challenge of rebuilding the basic infrastructure of the island is going to be massive.  Hurricanes move on - and our thoughts are now with the people of Florida who are currently facing the wrath of Irma - but the destruction they cause last for a very long time. Our help, support and solidarity will be needed long after the storms have calmed.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Brace And Bit


I have no idea who this child is - but he (or maybe she) is standing around at the door of a house and is therefore perfect for this series. The photograph comes from that very large box of old photographs marked "unknown", but it is no less wonderful for its lack of provenance. Indeed it is a particularly fine photograph, the detail caught by the lens a century or more ago is as good as any modern-day digital SLR. It also shares that other common element of many of these "standing around" photographs - the sense of freedom that accompanies an escape from the confines of a photographers' studio. There is no brace holding this child's back straight, no photographers' assistant carefully composing a bit of a pose.

Monday, September 04, 2017

A Prowess Made Of Smoke And Wind

From : Athletics News : 14 June 1926
Was there ever a finer advertising slogan composed than "Men whose prowess depends upon eye nerve and wind smoke only Army Club". It will come as no surprise that Australia suffered defeat in the 1926 cricket tour of England.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Sepia Saturday 383 : To Mac With Love

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features the front cover illustration of a book entitled "The Modern Bicycle". I seem to be all out of bike photographs for the moment, so my imagination was grabbed by the idea of book cover illustrations. I could happily spend my life designing covers for books I will never write. As an example, I would like to present you with that soon-not-to-be-published bestseller "From Mac With Love", by none other than my good self.

The title comes from a small sepia photograph that came to be from the collection of my Aunt and Uncle, Annie (also known as Peggy) and Harry Moore. The subject of the photograph is not them, but a contemporary couple  confidently striding out on some inter-war seaside pier. On the back of the photograph has been pencilled "To Harry and Peggy from Mac with love". The book itself tells the story of Donald and Joan McEwen and traces the interaction between their lives and relationship and the economic and social history of the 1930s in Britain. As the story develops we  witness the way in which the confidence of youth gives way to disillusionment, separation, and eventually, tragedy.  If that sounds worth reading it just goes to show that you can never judge a book by its cover.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Rock Of Ages

There is a famous photograph of my local pub which was taken in June 1911 on the occasion of celebrations to mark the coronation of King George V. It shows all the local residents lined up outside the pub, where later that day there was to be a sheep roast in celebration of the coronation. The poor victim of that feast can clearly be seen amongst the gathered crowd. The photograph has been published in a couple of local history books, but I have been trying to find an original copy so I could get a high-resolution scan of it. I put the word out, and last week I was able to borrow an original copy from a friend of ours whose father is one of the babes-in-arms in the crowd. 

Along with another friend, I am currently putting together a short history of the Rock which hopefully will feature the photograph as one of the illustrations. By 1911, the pub had been open for more than fifty years and the landlord was Harry Hodgson, a remarkable character in his own right. In addition to being employed as a "stone hewer" by day and running the pub at night, he managed to fit in the task of being a somewhat inappropriate conductor of the Brighouse and Rastrick Temperance Brass Band! You might think that carrying such a load would be too much for any man to manage; and sadly you would be right. Shortly after the coronation feast, Harry dropped dead at the pub, aged only 42 years old.

If you want to know more, you will just have to wait until our little pamphlet is published.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Wilf Sykes and "La Maladie de Bradford"


Phrases such as "the dignity of work" occasionally slip too easily off the nib of a pen or the click of the computer keyboard: and I am as guilty as anyone in this respect. Standing around in today's photograph are Wilf and Amy Sykes, my uncle and aunt. Wilf was born in Pontefract in October 1903, the son of a police inspector. Following a lengthy period of training he became a woolsorter in, what at the time was the wool and worsted capital of the world, Bradford. As an apprentice-trained woolsorter, he was part of the aristocracy of labour - his skills were in demand and pay was good compared to the rest of the industry. Along with his fellow sorters he would be responsible for examining and grading the wool fleeces that came to Bradford from throughout the world. This would be done by touch and visual examination, and a skilled sorter could quickly determine which part of which fleece would be most suitable for high quality yarn or shoddy scrap. The job, quite literally, involved standing around and examining wool fleeces.

Although the job sounds as safe as the houses Amy and Wilf are standing outside, this was anything but true. During the nineteenth century it became apparent that wool sorters were falling victim to a disease that resulted in bronchitis, pneumonia, and a form of blood-poisoning which created open sores on the skin and a painful sudden decline in the victim. This rapidly became known as "Woolsorters' Disease" and "La Maladie de Bradford". Eventually it was discovered that these industrial diseases were, in fact, Anthrax - a deadly diseases contracted from contact with the spores of the bacterium "Bacillus anthracis" which were from infectious animal products. 

Wilf died in 1963, in his sixtieth year. Whether his death was directly related to the work he did, I am not sure, but it seems likely. If it was work that reduced this solid and strong-looking man to the invalid he became by the time of his death, there is nothing at all dignified in it.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sepia Saturday 382 : Tempus Fugit And A Fish Supper

When you have been penning blogposts for more than ten years, you sometimes think that you are all "blogged-out". If you are capable of saying it, you suspect you have already said it. In the case of old images, if they are able to be found and digitised, you suspect you have already found them, scanned them and presented them to the world. When I saw this week's Sepia Saturday theme image, which featured a host of young people in a gymnasium showing off their graceful carriage, I immediately thought of an old family photograph which had been taken in a school hall which also featured graceful young people. 

I felt sure, however, that I must have featured it before on Sepia Saturday and blog-searched back until I found a post from September 2010, analysing the image in question. Although the analysis was  thorough and as incisive as anything I could write now, the strange thing was that the piece was illustrated by the wrong photograph. In place of the wall-remembered photograph of five children there was another photograph which had obviously been taken at the same time and in the same school hall.

Just how this mix-up happened, I have no idea, but it sent me off in search of the two photographs so that I could look at them again and possibly rescan them. This was, as always, a lengthy and complex business: sifting through boxes, folders, and albums; all of which I aspire to call the family archives. Eventually I found them and the effort involved justified their inclusion in my Sepia post this week. It is true that at least one of them has been featured in my blog before. It is true that I have no great revelation about their provenance to share with you. What I have come to realise, however, is that scanning and displaying old photographs is a little like fishing. It is the thrill of the chase which attracts you rather than the fish supper at the end of the day. You can spend a happy hour or two dangling your line into the pool of history and eventually fish out a couple of lovely old images. And then, just as happily, you can throw them back into the shoebox of time, so that you can enjoy the whole process again, seven years later.

To see what others have done with this week's prompt image, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Standing Around With The Dignity Of Work


I can't help looking at this old studio print of a worker without thinking of Robert Tressell's wonderful book, "The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists". Tressell wrote his book just before the outbreak of the Great War, which is about the date of this print from the "Oxford Electric Studios" in Cardiff. I have no idea who it is, but that doesn't matter: he is a man standing around with the dignity of work

Rescan 12 : Frame-Up In Wade Street

From the same strip of negatives as yesterday's photograph, once again this shows the area around Wade Street and Winding Road during demolition work in the late 1960s or early 1970s. It also proves that, even back then, I couldn't resist a frame-up when I saw one.

Black Friar

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...