Thursday, February 21, 2019

Postcards From Home : An Edwardian Tweet About Halifax Post Office

The building that was Halifax Post Office, but now appears to be in a state of suspended urban animation, is featured on this lovely old postcard that was sent in 1903. When the card was sent, the building was less than twenty years old, and it was something the town was obviously proud of. It was a Camelot Castle of a Post Office with little towers and cupolas, bulls eye windows and coping stones built to cope with anything a northern industrial town could throw at them. It was designed by the architect Henry Tanner whilst he was serving as Surveyor at the Leeds Office of Public Works and opened in 1887. A contemporary newspaper report says that it "is a spacious building and has capital frontages to Commercial Street and Old Cock Yard". The cost of the building was £10,000, exclusive of the cost of the site.

The very first picture postcards did not have divided backs where you could write both a message and the address of the recipient; the reverse of the card was the exclusive province of a name and address - any message had to be compressed into the space surrounding the picture on the obverse side. It was a little like an early form of Twitter - the art was to compress your news and views into a few precious words.

As far as I can make out, the message on this particular card is as follows:-

My Dear Erica,  Thank you for your P.P.C. Have you got the results of each separate subject, if so I should very much like to know, for I have failed in drawing, but I have quite satisfied teachers at school and think father is pleased. He has given me a thick gold curl bracelet. From Mary H Mitchell.
I have done best at school and I am in S.A.E. I hope You have done best at your school.

There are a lot of words there, too many for a modern day Tweet, but the idea of writing small and curving the message around the edges of the card is a good one. Perhaps I will try it with my next Tweet!

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The Halifax Court

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