Wednesday, July 29, 2020

In A Deep And Dark December

So my walk, in a deep and dark December (or possibly, January, or maybe February) back in the winter of 1964/65, took me down Northedge Lane towards Priestley Green, Halifax. I still often go down this lane today, although I am not sure I would chance it in the snow these days. Just as lovely now, and a fair bit greener.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Bay Watch

Having identified a direction of travel with this sequence of negatives featuring Sheffield in the early 1980s, it should be relatively simple to work out where I was when I took this photo. I've even managed to incorporate a road sign, just in case my memory might need some navigational help forty years down the line. I am still not sure where I am, however, and I need help in identifying those rather nice bay windows.

A Winter's Day

It is the winter of 1964/65. A Labour Government led by a youthful Harold Wilson has just been elected into power. Sir Stanley Matthews is about to play his last First Division game at the age of 50. The Kray twins have been arrested in the East End, Agatha Christie is still writing Miss Marple books and the long life of Winston Churchill draws to an end. It is snowing in West Yorkshire, and I set out on a walk from my home in Northowram. I head down the back lanes and catch a view of Coley Church over the snow-covered stone walls.


There are enough prominent buildings in the background of this photograph of Sheffield in the 1980s to enable a form of visual triangulation to be used to pin down its location. The problem would be stopping for long enough to set up your theodolite - even in a black and white photo, those look like double yellow lines.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Six Of The City

This is the first image from a strip of six negatives: shots I took in Sheffield in the early 1980s. I have a feeling that I may have taken this photo in the Trippet Lane area of the city, but my attempts to confirm this by checking Google Street View forty years later prove only that the entire city has changed beyond all recognition.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Looking Old

When I go through my old negatives looking for dating evidence, I normally focus on things such as car types, tv aerials, or even dustbin designs. Sometimes, however, a scene just "looks" old, and that is the case with this photograph of the view looking towards Shibden Valley from Beacon Hill. In fact, it looks so old, it makes me feel my age, with a couple of decades added on for good measure.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Malting Memories

One of my photographs from half a century ago taken, I think, from the appropriately named Gas Works Lane, in Elland. Many of the buildings, along with the gasometer, have now gone and the aroma of the maltings is just a distant memory.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

On Baring My Soul

I've always quite fancied being a poet, but I am a little bit on the shy side. I've discovered the perfect solution: QR Code Poetry. You write your poem and turn it into a QR readable image. I can now bare my soul whilst hiding behind the bath towel of technology. Perfect.

Monday, July 20, 2020

A Question Of Religion

I am fairly certain that I was stood on the corner of Lister Lane and Rhodes Street in Halifax when I took this photograph some 55 years ago. If you squint in the right direction you can just about match up the curved corner stones with the current view on Google StreetView. My question, however, relates to the two religious establishments that can clearly be seen on my photo, but which have been replaced by houses and car parks on the current view. I have delved into the usual local history annals for clarification, and ended up with such a collection of saints and chapels, I have descended into a state of spiritual confusion. Someone out there, I am sure, will be able to provide me with some form of religious insight.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Nostalgic Sudoku

Here's a little challenge for you nostalgia lovers. I must have taken this photograph of Bull Green, Halifax in the 1960s, so you can have fun trying to spot all the shops you can remember. To make it that little more challenging, however, I took the photograph of a reflection of the scene in a car showroom window; so you are seeing everything in reverse. You may recognise DOOWNEERG, the well-known bookshop, or you may be drawn to SNIWEL (but only if you were a man, as women were still banned from there in the 1960s!). Try to work out what was where in this back-to-front world: think of it as a way of exercising your mind, a kind of nostalgic sudoku.  If you can't remember any of the shops, you can always occupy yourself by trying to work out why the cars are going the wrong way around the roundabout!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Crime Scene

It is not often that you find yourself with a picture of a crime in progress, but this particular scan from my old negatives must be one such case. It shows Commercial Street in Halifax in the midst of redevelopment. I certainly do not take the view that all modern buildings in the town are concrete monstrosities, nor that all the old buildings are stone works of art, but this particular transformation can surely have few supporters. My photograph dates from the mid 1960s, the modern image is a Google StreetView grab.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Repeat Offenders

This view of St Thomas, Claremount, framed by the old Halifax Gas Works is another of the repeat offenders from my negative archives: it seems that I couldn't walk down Bank Bottom without taking such a shot. This was taken before the church spire was removed, which, I think, makes it mid 1960s. I have darker versions of the same scene - one for every mood.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Tuscany With Industry Grafted On

As I trawl through my negative archives, I keep finding scenes that I have photographed on multiple occasions. I have this particular view of Bank Bottom in Halifax either with steam or without it. The without steam option has a more stately feel to it - a bit like Tuscany with industry grafted on.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Concrete Artery

I think I must have taken this photograph in the 1980s, which makes it rather late in my black and white days. By then the Burdock Way overpass had become part of the very body of Halifax; a vital artery rather than a varicose vein. Key buildings had shifted their positions to benefit from its' fine concrete picture frames.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

O Lovely Peace

A sacred concert was given in the Wesleyan Church on Wednesday of last week be the St. Austell Male Quartette (Messrs. Blight, George, Varcoe, and Phillips). Their numerous quartettes were listened to with great attention. Messrs. George and Varcoe sang as a duet, "The Last Milestone"; Messrs. Blight and Phillips sang “O lovely peace." Mrs Harold White acted as accompanist, and sang "The Gift." Miss Jenkin recited “A day too late" and "The Martyrs" in a very able manner. Mr. C. H. White was the chairman. (Cornish Guardian 7 November 1913)

An old postcard that came from who knows where. A quartette of singers performing in November 1913. They sang "O Lovely Peace". Oh, if only they had known.

Plain John Wainhouse

John Edward Wainhouse did not do plain. Ask him to build a dyeworks chimney and you would finish up with a monumental tower; ask him to build a row of cottages and you would get spiral staircases and terraced balconies. His tower still stands proud, his terrace has seen better days. This was taken in 1972 when parts of it were still occupied and before the stone-cleaners came along.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Cause And Effect

I am not quite sure where this was taken from, but it could well have been in the King Cross area of Halifax. Whilst the dirt was being blasted off the public buildings of the town in the early 1970s, many terraces still bore witness to their sooty past. This multitude of chimneys, bitumen-black, gave evidence to both cause and effect.

Monday, July 06, 2020

When Not Why

There are two possible questions to go with this particular scan from my collection of old negatives. The first is, should old buildings be cleaned? There is an argument which says that power-washing the dirt, soot and grime off these fine old Victorian stone buildings is the architectural equivalent of a face-lift: momentarily interesting but, in the long term, depressingly invasive. However, I am putting off such a debate for a sunnier day in order to concentrate on the second, slightly more prosaic, question: when was Halifax Town Hall stone cleaned? I have combed through the copious wisdom of Uncle Google without pinning an exact date down. The date may remain a mystery, but I am pretty certain of the time: five to eight in the morning (or, just possibly, in the evening!)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Nineteen And A Quarter Miles

So why would anyone place a milepost on an obscure back road in Rastrick telling passers by that it was only nineteen and a quarter miles to Rochdale? Who would want to know that? You might want to know how many miles it was to Elland, but that piece of information has worn away. Further research shows that this was the end of the Rastrick Branch of the Huddersfield and New Hey Turnpike Trust which was established by Act of Parliament in 1806. And where exactly is New Hey? It's an equally obscure little suburb of Rochdale, exactly nineteen and a quarter miles away.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Subtracting Detail

The grain of photographic film emulsions is a magical thing, it can take a pedestrian scene and transform it to a moody masterpiece. It doesn't achieve such a transformation by adding anything, but by subtracting. Subtracting detail, highlights, contrast; leaving just emotion.

Blackpool In October

Who would go to Blackpool in October, when there was a wind blowing and rain lashing down? Once there, who would possibly want to ride a donkey on the sands? Miriam Fieldhouse would. Photograph taken by Frank Fieldhouse, October 1951,

Man In A Flat Cap

A man in a flat cap, rushing passed the railings, trying to avoid the coming rain. Sheffield in the early 1980s. It was still a black and white world back then, but change was coming, and the man in the flat cap had about as much chance of avoiding it as he did avoiding the rain.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Carpeting The Calder Valley

The final shot from this strip of negatives places Clark Bridge Mills - at the time the headquarters of Homfray Carpets - at the centre of the action. Henry James Homfray may have been one of the lesser-known carpet barons of Halifax, but with mills in Sowerby Bridge, Luddendenfoot, Birstall and Halifax, he made a notable contribution to carpeting the entire Calder Valley. In 1952, Homfray Carpets were the first firm in the UK to produce tufted carpets (the Crossleys Brothers would probably have shuddered at the very thought of a tufted carpet), but this movement in the direction of the cheaper end of the floor covering market didn't save the firm. Faced with increasing debts, the firm was sold  to a wholly owned subsidiary, Riding Hall Carpets in 1966. Production of carpets at the mill came to an end in the 1970s, and it was eventually demolished in July 1980.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Mill, Church, Gable And Hillside

We do gable ends well in Yorkshire. We're proud of them. Stick a little window in them, give them a bob or two's worth of lace curtains. Let them stand out like giant headstones. These were fifty years ago somewhere down Southowram Bank: within twisting distance of where yesterday's photograph was taken from. This photo says it all: mill, church, gable and hillside ... Halifax.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

A Mug Of Tea Photo

The next shot on this strip of negatives is a mug of tea photo. Not a passing fancy you can digest with a single glance whilst you sip a mouthful of Lapsang souchong, not even a thoughtful perusal whilst you drink a cup of PG Tips. For this photo you need a mug full of Yorkshire Tea and a toasted teacake. You can loose yourself in it, go exploring in it, wander down memory lane and up Woolshops. You can see what's gone and view what's coming. To help you digest it better, I have cut it into four slices.

There you go, mash that mug of tea and settle yourself down. Can you spot the car park where Marks and Spencer is now? Can you follow the line of the railway where it doesn't go any more? Can you see the pub you had your first pint in, and the street you walked to work down? Can you see your Auntie Mabel and your Cousin George? Before you settle down too comfortably, is that a teacake I can smell burning in the toaster?

Daffodil On The Water

When I was young, back in the early 1950s, our family’s annual seaside holiday would alternate between Bridlington on the east coast and New...