Monday, December 30, 2019

Birthday Greetings From Shrogg's Park

What better way to end the year than with this fine old picture postcard of Shrogg's Park in Halifax. I had assumed that the two prominent spires in the background were the Town Hall and Square Church, but now I am not too sure.


In order to confirm the identity of the spires, I took a walk the other day through Shroggs Park and tried to discover the location of the original photograph, and, more importantly, the line of sight. The layout of the park has changed and the circular pond appears to have long gone, and, as always, the trees now crowd-out the scene. The best I could come up with was the photograph below, but the Town Hall and Square Church are not at all visible; although you can just make out the spire of All Soul's Church on the horizon. That would be a more appropriate landmark, as both the park and All Soul's Church were built by Colonel Edward Ackroyd.


My postcard was sent in 1904, back in the days when addresses were short and to the point. It is from Addie to Mary Drake, and is an early twentieth century equivalent to those Facebook messages you get every time it is someone's birthday.

"Dear Mary, Wishing you many happy returns of the day, if not too late, with love to all, Addie"


One is forced to ask: "How many Facebook birthday greetings will be remembered, recorded and reprinted 115 years after the were sent?"


Friday, December 20, 2019

Christmas Greetings To All




For my News From Nowhere Christmas Card this year, I have chosen a vintage postcard of a snow-covered Halifax Parish Church, which forms part of my Postcards From Home series. I am having some difficulty in pinning down the precise date of the photograph - the postcard had not been used, which removes one means of dating it - but from the style of the card, I would guess sometime in the 1920s or 1930s.

Work on the Church of St John The Baptist in Halifax was started as early as the 12th century and largely completed by 1438. In 2009 it was made one of the three Minster Churches of West Yorkshire (the others being Dewsbury and Leeds).


At some stage, somebody made the brave decision not to clean up the stone work on the church; and so, even today, in a very physical way, the church tells the story of the hard work and industry that has always been a part of life in the parish.

All that remains is for me to wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Letters Patent For Artistic Improvements



According to the scrawled date on the reverse of this Victorian Cabinet Card, it was taken somewhere around the 11th November 1889. The clothing and the photographic style fits well with this date, and we know that the studio - Brown, Barnes & Bell of Liverpool and London - were active at the time.

​The reverse of the card has all the usual flourish of Victorian studio portraits, including an intriguing claim that the studio possessed "Letters patent for artistic improvements"


If only Mssrs Brown, Barnes or Bell had been lucky enough to be around 130 years later, they would have been able to take advantage of the multitude of mobile apps that can perform endless degrees of artistic improvement in this day and age. I conducted a small experiment on their behalf, which, I hope, the original sitter would have been pleased with. Let's say it is the first portrait from the studio of Brown, Barnes, Bell & Burnett.


Saturday, December 07, 2019

A Day Out In Lincoln

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week shows a man in a shop. I went through my various collections of old photographs in search of something to match a shopping theme, and the best I could come up with was an old photograph of mine of a newspaper seller in Lincoln. In these digital days, it is difficult to find actual newspaper sellers any more. And in an age dominated by on-line shopping, how long will it be before the same will be said about other types of shop?



On a day out in Lincoln, camera in hand, sometime in the mid 1980s. The memorable shot from this strip of three negatives, is the one of the newspaper seller. Do such wooden huts on wheels still exist? When I still buy newspapers, and I have to confess that is only occasionally, they are in digital form and I have them delivered to my computer. Such smart apps have no place for little old men in flat caps - mores the pity.


For other Sepia Saturday posts go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Brighouse Basin Street Blues


During a regular scanning session of my old negatives, I came across this 35mm negative from the late 1960s - and I suspected that it had been taken in Brighouse Canal Basin. In order to confirm my suspicions, I took a walk there this morning and took a series of shots of the canal basin fifty years on. Everything has changed but the basic shape and structure of the canal and locks. So much of what has happened over the last fifty years can be seen in the changes between these two photographs: the gas works and mill chimneys are gone, the pleasure craft moorings and waterside bar restaurants have arrived.




Whilst walking around the moorings I was reminded of an incident that occurred there some 55 years ago. My brother had a canal barge that was moored in the canal basin, and my father and I were visiting him one evening. His was the only boat in the basin - the scene was just as bleak and empty as in that old negative of mine. All of a sudden we heard an almighty splash, and as we emerged from his boat we saw a car slowly sinking below the dark waters of the canal. Assuming there must have been a driver in the car, my brother was on the point of diving into the water to see if he could rescue anyone, when my father - a Yorkshireman of the old school - warned him that by doing so he would ruin a perfectly good pair of trousers! Our debate was curtailed by the sight of the driver emerging from below the surface of the water, and we managed to drag him out of the canal from the comparative safety of the towpath, without risking our health and our trousers. 

The water is much cleaner these days and there wasn't a sinking car nor a suicidal driver to be seen.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Albion And Bailey And A Couple Of Questions


This is a scan of an old negative of mine which gives rise to a couple of questions. I am not sure about the date - there is a train in the image, but trains change so slowly in these parts, it could be anytime during the last sixty years. You can make out the old Riding Hall Carpet Mill in the background, and that, I think, was demolished sometime around 1980. The other question relates to the two main buildings you can see in the picture: both at the time were factories for John Mackintosh & Sons. One was called Bailey Hall and the other was Albion Mills, but I can't remember which was which. If my brother is reading this far away on his sunny Caribbean island, he might be able to tell me, as he worked there fifty or more years ago.


Friday, November 22, 2019

Sepia Saturday 497 : You See What I Mean


The delightful thing about Sepia Saturday prompts is that they spark visual links that defy language. I cannot really explain in words why this weeks prompt image sent me off in search of a particular photograph of my mother, Gladys Burnett, but it did. It may be something about the  shape of the lips, quite possibly it is the chin: but with images, explanations are unnecessary. Quite literally, you can see what I mean.

In fact, it is not a photograph in its own right but a detail from a larger photograph that features Gladys Beanland (as she then was) and her older sister Amy. Gladys was born in 1911 and I suspect that she was about eight or nine when this photograph was taken, which dates it as about 1919 or 1920.


Can I see my mother - the Gladys of some thirty years later - in this photograph? It's difficult to say. It's not the face, certainly it isn't the hair. But there may be something about the shape of the lips and the chin. I can see what I mean.




This is a Sepia Saturday post. To see other posts in response to this weeks prompt, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.




Tuesday, November 19, 2019

John Shaw And The Photographic Bandwagon


This rather stern looking lady was captured by the Heckmondwike studio of John S Shaw. John Shaw was born near Halifax in 1815, and for most of his working life was a farmer in Staffordshire. Only when he was in his sixties to he return to his native West Yorkshire to climb aboard the commercial band-wagon which was studio photography. The last two decades of the nineteenth century was the great age of the popular studio portrait. Production techniques meant that studio portraits were no longer the preserve of the wealthy, and the new age of home photography had not yet arrived. Every town and village needed its photographic studio, and a wide range of men - and a few notable women - were attracted into the profession. They were the computer repair shops, mobile phone case sellers, and Turkish barbers of their day. Unlike all such recent trends, however, they left a lasting legacy which still can be appreciated over one hundred years later.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Postcards From Home : Old Market, Halifax


This 1904 postcard shows a view that will still be familiar to any Halifax resident: the grand facade of the Old Market Arcade, looking towards Market Street and the Woolshops area.  The buildings at the bottom of Old Market have changed since this photograph was taken - and are changing again - but the gloroious building that dominates this scene is still just as magnificent today as it was at the beginning of the last century. The shop at the bottom of Old Market was that of Eagland Bray & Son, grocer and provisioner. Eagland Bray established the firm sixty years before this photograph was taken, and during his life he was a prominent town councillor and pillar of the Wesleyan church. The shop on the top corner of Old Market was that of Gibson Dixon, chemist, druggist, and mineral water manufacturer. We should never take for granted the pleasure and delight of being able to walk by, and shop in,  these same magnificent buildings today.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Our Naffie


This is a picture from an album of photographs that were largely taken in India in the 1930s. The album belonged to my wife's uncle, Jim Carthew, an army sergeant who saw service in India and Afghanistan. This particular photograph has the caption "Our Naffie", which, I assume, is the name given to the local who provided tea for the soldiers - a play on the acronym NAAFI (The Navy Army, and Air Force Institute). The photograph is less than ninety years old, but it is a photograph of a very different world.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Postcards From Home : Across North Bridge


A vintage postcard of North Bridge, in Halifax, back in the days when it was the main route out of town to the north. Back then, the buildings hugged the side of the road at both ends of the bridge, and it did not have to live under the concrete shadow of the Burdock Way overpass. People streamed over the bridge, as did trams and horses and carts, on their way to Boothtown, Northowram, Southowram and beyond. The building on the right of the picture is the old Grand Theatre, now sadly gone, but when I started crossing the bridge on a daily basis in the late 1950s, it was still just about there. The buildings on the left still survive, but look lost and a little lonely these days. Practically all of what you can see on the far side of the bridge, was swept away in the construction of Burdock Way and its associated roads and roundabout some fifty years ago. I can just about remember the area as a patchwork of shops, mills, pubs and streets of terraced houses.


This particular postcard was posted in 1913, although the photograph probably dates from ten years earlier. The card was sent to Alice and Edith Nutter from their friend Gladys, and is full for the inconsequential chatter that is now the stuff of text messages. Undoubtedly, text messages are cheaper and quicker to reach their destination. But who will look at a text message in one hundred years time and see a picture of Halifax that no longer exists?


Friday, November 08, 2019

The Shaw Syke Redemption



The final two negatives from a 35mm strip shot almost forty years ago show what was left then - and I suspect what still exists now - of the very first Halifax Station. Built  at Shaw Syke in 1844 as the terminus for a branch of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, it survived less than ten years before being replaced by the new station a few hundred yards to the north east.


Thursday, November 07, 2019

Two Gentlemen Of Brighouse



If Shakespeare had been around in the days of Brexit, he might have written a play called Two Gentlemen Of Brighouse, in which two friends, Herbert and Wilfred, travelled to Bradford in pursuit of the same girl, Ethel. This lovely little Victorian photo from the studio of the Brighouse photographer, Martin Manley, would have made a perfect illustration for such a play.

The career of Martin Manley traces the rise and fall of the Victorian studio photography craze. Born in Brighouse in 1850, he was the son of a family of moderate means who owned land and houses in the Bonegate area of the town. In the 1871 census, he is listed as "living from income derived from homes and land", but by 1881 he is listed as being a photographer. This little Carte de Visite must date from the 1880s or 1890s and he is now listing himself as an "Artist in Photography, Miniature and Portrait Painter Etc". By the time of the 1901 census the boom years for Victorian studio photographers are beginning to fade, and Manley is now listed as an "optician and photographer", and ten years later all reference to photography are dropped.

Irrespective of his career path, Martin Manley appears to have remained a keen photographer all his life. He was one of the founder members of the Brighouse Photographic Society, and as early as 1874 there are newspaper reports of him exhibiting his photographs of members of the Royal Family and "famous views of London" at local gatherings.



Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Looking On


Hidden away at the corner of a throw-away old photo is a haunting image that transcends time and place. The child looks on and, in turn, we look on, whilst the supposed subjects look at us.


Monday, November 04, 2019

Monochrome Valley : Snow, Grit And Cold Stone Steps



Two more from the same strip of negatives from thirty-nine years ago; two more from the area around Union Street and Hunger Hill, Halifax. Snow, back in those monochrome days, was a different entity: always dirty, layered with grit. These houses are built on a hillside, with their own terraced pavements up a flight of cold stone steps




Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Monochrome Valley : Hope Clings On


This is a scan of the first of six 35mm negatives I must have taken in about 1980: which to me sounds like only yesterday, but I am alarmed to realise is almost forty years ago! It was taken in that strange little segment of Halifax that is bounded by Prescott Street, Clare Road, Hunger Hill and South Parade. The building that dominates the shot is what is left of that fine eighteenth century house, Hope Hall, and what is now the home of the Albany Club.

Hope Hall was built in the 1760s by David Stansfield, a wealthy local cloth merchant. In the 1820s it was the home of Christopher Rawson - who was the somewhat dubious villain of the first series of Gentleman Jack - and one can half imagine Anne Lister stomping up the stone steps that gave access to what, at that time, would have been an imposing entrance. Now the front of the Hall has become the back and lost amongst cobbled streets and terraced houses.

Little has changed in the forty years since I took the photograph other than some of the soot has been power-washed off the stone and Clare Street has been closed to through traffic.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Postcards From Home : Huddersfield Road, Halifax


This is a scene which will be all too familiar for Halifax residents of this present age. After the long slog up Salterhebble Hill, and the inevitable wait at the hospital traffic lights, drivers heading for Halifax can now speed past the restaurant that used to be the Stafford Arms Inn, with no tram lines or pedestrians walking in the middle of the road to avoid. The Stafford Arms had been around for more than 160 years when it was eventually closed and converted into a restaurant in 2010. I remember it back in the 1960s, when it had the reputation of being a rather superior public house, (needless to say, I wasn't a regular). Alas, it has now gone the way of so many pubs in West Yorkshire, and exists merely as a picture postcard memory.


The card was posted in September 1922 - although I strongly suspect that the photograph dates from at least ten years before that. It appears to have been sent by Mrs Cranford to a Miss King in Lincoln. The message is as follows:-

We got away for a few days. The weather is lovely. I was nearly killed last night climbing hills. This is just at the top where we live.

The hill in question is no doubt Salterhebble Hill, and I can well imagine that poor Mrs Cranford was nearly killed climbing it. When they first built the tramway system in Halifax, they feared that no conventional tramcar could cope with Salterhebble Hill, and for a time considered either a tramcar lift or an inclined plane. Both suggestions were eventually dismissed, and those feisty Edwardian engineers eventually managed to get a conventional tram to climb the hill. If, in this modern day and age, you leave the car behind and choose to walk up the hill, there will be no refreshing pint waiting to reward you at the Stafford Arms.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Sepia Saturday : Enoch And His Cart

A HISTORY OF MY FAMILY IN 100 IMAGES



These two photographs are central to the story of my family because they feature my paternal grandfather, Enoch Burnett. Enoch died a few months after I was born in 1948, and therefore I never knew him, other than by the store of stories and anecdotes that have flowed down the family tree like some rich and thick syrup. 

Born in Bradford in 1878, Enoch was the third of five children of John Burnett, a weaving overlooker in the Bradford woollen mills, and his wife Phoebe. Whilst the daughters, Ruth-Annie and Miriam, followed their father into the mills, the three sons seem to have had a different life journey planned for them. Israel, the eldest son, became an apprentice butcher and later owned a butchers shop in Bradford. The youngest son, Albert, became a carriage builder and involved in the early years of the motor trade. Enoch seemed to take a different path, one less planned, one less certain. The family story suggests that when he was in his early teens he ran away from home and joined a travelling fair. By the latter half of 1898, we know he is back in Bradford and working as a general labourer, and about to marry the local girl he has got pregnant, Harriet Ellen Maxfield. His first child, John Arthur, was born six months later.

According to the 1901 census he was recorded as a "mason's labourer", but with a growing family - his daughters Miriam and Annie-Elizabeth were born in 1901 and 1903 - he decided to branch out into business on his own account as a window cleaning contractor. For this he had a donkey and cart, and I am delighted that I have not one, but two, photographs from this period in his life where he poses proudly next to his donkey.

I think the first of the two photographs is the earlier one, and whilst the donkey is probably the same, the cart is more basic and without the extra bit of sign writing that provides an address - 50 Town End Great Horton, Bradford. According to the 1911 census he was then living at 28 Town End, so this first photograph probably dates from some time between 1906 (when the sign on the later cart claims the business was established) and 1917, when we know for certain that he had moved to 50 Town End.


The additional sign writing on the cart in the second photograph was probably added at the time he changed his address, and therefore this second photograph probably dates from just before or during the first part of the Great War. I have pictures of him taken in 1918 when he was on leave from the trenches of Flanders, and by then he had physically aged. These two photographs represent a golden period in Enoch's life, when he ran his own business and tried to keep the local windows free from the soot and grime of industrial Bradford.



Oh Pity The Poor Reporters

The Brighouse News of Saturday 2 July 1870 contains a lengthy report of the meeting of the Brighouse Local Board. Local Boards were ...