Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Back To The Past At Coley

COLEY HALL (Back View)
Vintage Postcard (1920s) Unused
It is many years since I first walked down Coley Lane and caught sight of Coley Hall. Memories from those days have already turned sepia, and therefore discovering this old picture postcard of the rear of the Hall, seems somehow appropriate. These days the Hall looks very smart, a most desirable residence, very different to the old hall I remember.

Records suggest that there has been a property on the site since the thirteenth century, and parts of the current Hall date from the seventeenth century. A certain John de Coldeley was recorded has living there in 1286, and by the time of the English Civil War, it was owned by Langdale Sunderland, a committed supporter of the Royalist cause. He was a Cavalier Captain, and he was supposed to have kept a regiment of horse at the Hall during the conflict. The Hall came under attack from Commonwealth troops and part of the frontage of the house was destroyed.

Members of the Langale Sunderland family were living in the Hall well into the twentieth century - about the time I first started walking down Coley Lane.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

A Few Words On The Retirement Of An Artist

My career as an artist was relatively brief by modern standards: it started yesterday tea-time and ended this morning at about ten o' clock. The body of my work is equally elusive, comprising as it does of just the one picture, illustrated above. Whilst some take to the charcoal stick and paint brush, driven by a need to find their soul or explore the very nature of being, my motive was somewhat less prosaic - I was in search of the perfect white balance.

My brother - whose career as a real artist has spanned six decades - emailed me with a technical problem yesterday, concerning the best way to photograph his watercolour sketches without getting a blue background tint resulting from incorrect white balance in the photographic process itself. "Try sketching a few lines on a white sheet of paper and find out what setting you find works best”, he wrote. I should have pointed out to him that was a little like asking Harry Houdini's second cousin to wrap himself in chains and jump in an alligator swamp; but no, I kept my counsel, took a piece of white paper and started "sketching a few lines". It would be nice to say that I took to it like a duck to water, but it is more accurate to say that I took to it like Harry Houdini's second cousin wrapped in chains takes to the Everglades swamp.

I left things overnight in the hope that inspiration (and skill and technique) would come with the dawn, but it didn't. My last hope of redemption was to use my technical skills and solve the white balance problem - but as the sample sheet I came up with proves, I couldn't even do that.

I have therefore decided to retire as an artist with immediate effect. After all, in the words of the great prophet, "why keep a dog and bark yourself". Over to you, Roger.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Posing On The Beach On Sepia Saturday

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week shows three men posing on a beach in California. My submission is one very young man posing on a beach in Yorkshire. The young man in question is my brother, the artist and sculptor, Roger Burnett. The date must have been sometime I'm the mid to late 1940s, and the place was probably Bridlington on the East Coast. The pose is rather familiar, I have a photograph of my brother and myself taken in February this year where he is striking a similar pose some seventy years on. The beaches he walks these days are in the Caribbean rather than East Yorkshire, but a sandy beach on a warm summers' day is a fine location, wherever it is situated.

To see more Sepia Saturday posts go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Friday, July 19, 2019

From Shroggs Park Through The Mill

If there is a nineteenth century park or public building in Halifax, there is a fair chance that it was set out or erected by one of the Crossley Brothers. If not, it will be a near certainty that it was the work of Colonel Edward Ackroyd. Their names are woven into the very fabric of the town - in buildings streets and public spaces. Shroggs Park, was the work of Colonel Edward Ackroyd: built on a piece of waste ground overlooking the Wheatley Valley in 1872. Ackroyd was a fascinating character and his contribution to the area was considerable - note to whoever may be listening: if you want a good follow-up to Gentleman Jack, you could do worse than make a TV series about Edward Ackroyd - and Shroggs Park is one of many of his legacies that has lasted well into the twenty-first century.

Nobody seems to be quite sure of the origins - or indeed the eventual fate - of the cannons that appear in this 1910 photograph, but from the way they have been stationed, the town is well protected from invaders from both east and west.

The card was posted in June 1910 to a Miss Cissie Servant in Jordanhill, Glasgow, and reads as follows:-

My Dear Cissie, I am having a delightful time of it, and getting good weather. Have been through the mill today. It was most interesting. Love to all, Jeannie. Leaving here Thursday

One can only assume that Jeannie had "been through the mill" in a literal sense rather than an idiomatic one. Could it, perhaps, have been one of the mills of Colonel Ackroyd?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Midget Gem That Is Lily Brayton

This midget gem dropped through my letter box yesterday, along with a dozen or so more old vintage postcards (is there a word for people who are addicted to buying useless ephemera on eBay?) I have never come across a "Midget Post Card" before, but they appear to have been popular for a short period during the height of the postcard craze of the early twentieth century, They weigh-in (so to speak) at a featherweight three and a half inch by two and three quarters, and the reverse side already appears overcrowded once a stamp and an address have been added.

There is, however, something about the shape which is quite satisfying - especially when it provides a frame for one of the great beauties of the Edwardian era, Lily Brayton. Lily was born in Lancashire in 1876, the daughter of a local doctor. Acting must have been in the family somewhere, because both her and her sister went on this stage, and in 1898 she married the Australian actor, director and writer, Oscar Asche. They became the celebrity couple of their era: if it had been a century later, Lily and Oscar would have TV programmes made about their lives and millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Because it was the start of the twentieth century, Lily had her image on hundreds of picture postcards.

This particular tiny postcard was sent to Mrs Hailes of the Royal Marine Barracks in Stonehouse, Plymouth in July 1904. The message is short and to the point (they had to be on midget postcards - a little like Twitter you were restricted in the number of characters you could use! "Train leaves Millbay at 2.20pm. We shall be delighted to have the children for the night, EH."

You can make of that what you will. Alternatively, you can look into the eyes of the midget gem that is Lily Brayton.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Looking Down On Elland

South Lane climbs out of Elland up towards the top of Blackley, but loses interest in the task and peters out amongst some soulless brick factories. Back in the 1970s, when I took this photo, you could still look down on the power station and Gannex Mill. These days industrial units and new housing developments fill up some of the spaces.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

A Walk In West View Park

I must confess I was only vaguely aware of the existence of West View Park before I came across this vintage postcard. I have a cousin who used to walk his dog there, and I suspect that I have passed the entrance when going somewhere else. Now I want to visit the park, I want to walk the paths, look down the valley, see how it has changed over 100 years.

West View Park was laid out in the 1890s on the site of a moorland quarry in Highroad Well, Halifax. The conversion was financed by two local industrialists, Henry Charles McCrea, a mill owner who was also responsible for giving Albert Promenade to the town, and Enoch Robinson, a worsted spinner and future Mayor of Halifax. It was opened in 1896 and presented to the town of Halifax.

The card was sent in either 1914 or 1918 - the postmark is a little unclear. The message reads as follows:-

Dear Sarah Ann, Do not stay in expecting me this week as Mrs Dickenson has written telling me she is coming to see me one afternoon this week, so that means that my spare afternoon will be gone as I must be in when she comes. Love from Mary.  We shall be pleased to see you at anytime.

Thanks for the card Mary, I won't stay in this week. I think I might go for a walk in the park instead.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Monochrome Valley : Ring Them Bells

The Ring O'Bells, located next to Halifax Minster, supposedly dates back to either the 13th or the 15th century; although that is "dates back" in the sense that an inn has been around here since those distant times. The current manifestation was, in fact, built in 1720; which is quite old enough for most respectable people. At one time it was known as "The Sign Of The Church", but changed its name to the more fashionable "Ring O'Bells" probably in the 19th century. Church and Inn often had a symbiotic relationship, and the "Ring O'Bells" was a popular name for pubs in the Calder Valley - similar named establishments could be visited in Mytholmroyd, Rastrick, Elland, Brighouse and Boothtown.

When I took these two photographs in the 1960s, the old inn was showing its age. These days, however, it is all whitewashed walls, brass lights and canvas awnings. Nevertheless, it is still possible to sit within its stone-cooled rooms, drink a pleasant pint, and listen to the sound of the church bells.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

A True Friend Is One That Gets Lost


This is another vintage card from the postcard album of Fowler Beanland. "A  true friend is a sure anchor" is the early twentieth century equivalent of those trite quotations you see on Facebook or etched into all plaques to hang on the kitchen wall. The flags featured on the card are, on the right, the union flag, and on the left, the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom. The two hands are joined across a globe, signifying, perhaps, friendships between different parts of the, then, British Empire.

The card was posted to Fowler Beanland in October 1907, and despite the somewhat truncated address, seems to have reached Fowler in Longtown, Cumbria. It comes from his brother, Arther, and reads - as far as I can decipher it - as follows:

My Dear Bro. Yours duly to hand and we (ken?) you have plenty of relation who are all alive at Clayton and all in good health an presents hoping you are the same. We had a P.P.C. from our Eliza last week and were glad to hear that all is well at home. I had thought of coming up on 13th but got to I.O.M. The children send you the best of love. Yours Arthur.

This is a somewhat curious message, written in an unusual style. Arthur Beanland (1864-1944) was the eldest of the Beanland children, and here he is writing to his brother Fowler (1872-1959), the third eldest. His younger brother, Albert (1875-1948), was my maternal grandfather, and the Eliza (1880-1942) mentioned in the card is their youngest sister. At the time of this postcard, Arthur was living in Clayton, just outside Bradford, whilst Fowler was living in Longtown - 115 miles to the north - and Eliza was, I think, living in Keighley, from where the family originated. A few years before this card was sent, Arthur and Fowler - along with their father - were in business together, but that business went bankrupt at the turn of the century.

The final part of the message, is perhaps the most curious. It appears to suggest that Arthur was thinking of travelling north on the 13th to see Fowler but finished up in the Isle of Man instead! This would appear to be a significant feat of mis-navigation, even for the geographically challenged Beanlands.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Sepia Saturday 477 : Miriam And The Javelin

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week shows a line of cars in Vancouver, Canada in 1942. In fact they are cars seized by the Canadian Government from Japanese-Canadian citizens during the course of the Second World War. The car which features in my post this week has also been seized - in this case by the one and only Miriam Fieldhouse. The car in question is a Jowett Javelin, made at the Jowett car factory in Bradford - the factory where her husband, Frank, worked. The aerodynamic looking Javelin was produced from 1947 until 1953 and during that period it achieved success in the field of motor sports - winning its class in the 1947 Monte Carlo Rally. Sadly, it had only been temporarily seized by Miriam - after this 1950 photo opportunity it was returned to the factory car park. 

To See more Sepia Saturday posts, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

The Rocks And Hoards Of Halifax


If Halifax has anything, it has plenty of rocks. They build the steep valley sides, they support the heather-clad moors, they have provided the stone that has built the houses, and the coal that has powered the mills. To isolate just a few of these rocks, christen them as "The Rocks", and then stroll in their shade on a Sunday afternoon might seem an odd thing to do, but Halifax folk have always rejoiced in their oddness. This particular postcard dates from the second decade of the twentieth century and is captioned "New Promenade, The Rocks, Halifax". The new promenade in question is hardly likely to be the famous Albert Promenade that skirts the top of the valley and allows you to look down at The Rocks and the Calder Valley, because that had been around since 1861. It appears to be a new pathway cut through the rocks that is being celebrated. This might seem like an odd subject for a picture postcard, but as we have already agreed, Halifax folk like to celebrate their oddness.

The postcard was sent to Mrs Otten of 44 Berkeley Street, Crosby, Scunthorpe and came from "her loving niece, Emily". The message reads as follows:

My Dear Uncle and Aunt, Mother thanks you very much for your good wishes for her birthday. We are very sorry to hear of Harrie's accident. How very unfortunate for her and you too, as it will have been very hard for you all. Please give our best love to her and we hope with care she will soon be all right again. We are glad to hear you are all well, we are all the same. With our kind love to you and all. Your loving niece, Emily

There is a certain style to the writing, which is a little unusual for the age, when postcard messages tended to be brief and full of the kind of text message speak of their day - "Hope yours ok t'morrow be home 4ish ..."

The postcard appears to date from around the time one of the most famous finds in Halifax archaeological history was made within the very rocks pictured on the card. In May 1915, a group of schoolgirls from the nearby Crossley Orphanage discovered the "Skircoat Hoard" - a collection of some 1075 bronze Roman coins. these were later presented to Halifax Corporation for display, but I can find no record of where they are now. I am sure that someone will write in and tell me.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Green Clough

One of my photographs from the late '60s shows the cobbled lane leading from Woodside Road down to Old Lane and Dean Clough. The lane still exists, but these days it is lined by a canopy of trees - and grey has been replaced by green.

A Lot Of Gas And Some Empty Chairs

  You can decide which jet of nostalgia is turned on by this advert which I found in my copy of the 1931 Souvenir Book of the Historical Pag...