Thursday, April 08, 2021
Wednesday, April 07, 2021
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Well, there you go - doesn't three months go quickly when you have nothing better to do than produce your own daily calendar. When I started the project, I thought it might last a week or two - a month at the most, but now I am surrounded by calendar pages, and I have posted one to my blog every day since the beginning of the year. But now the sky is blue, the lockdown is easing and life pops its head around the corner to remind you its there. I will keep on producing the daily calendars, for the next week or two at least, but I will abandon the daily posts and get a life.
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Monday, March 29, 2021
I have always had a fondness for old photographs, and I am lucky to have lived long enough for my new photos to have become, themselves, examples of the genre. The emergence of Facebook local history groups has changed the nature of pictorial history, moving it from the arena of relatively obscure printed books and pamphlets into a far more public realm. As with all changes, there are good and bad consequences, the enumeration of which is best reserved for a quiet night over a pint or two in a local pub. Two definite advantages, however, are the increase in the number of old photographs of local interest being published and shared, and the improvements in tracking down forgotten locations. My featured photograph today was taken over fifty years ago. From the adjacent shots on the negative strip, I know I must have taken it somewhere in the Brighouse area, but where? I will post it today on a couple of the local Brighouse history groups and, no doubt, by the end of the day I will have a precise location, the name of the chap crossing the road, and the ownership of the washing hanging on the line.
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Theakston family have a long tradition of brewing in the North Yorkshire town of Masham, the original brewery having been founded getting on for two hundred years ago. I have a long tradition of taking photographs of pubs and breweries, these photographs of the Masham brewery and the nearby White Bear Hotel, were taken getting on for fifty years ago. You can't beat tradition.
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Friday, March 26, 2021
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Whilst on a walk yesterday, I got to thinking about all the things I have missed over this last lockdown year. There are, of course, family and friends, holidays in the sun, meals out and parties at home. And there is the pub: that depot of contented neutrality, that refuge from the outside world; that reading room, that meeting space, that home from home. I miss your beery smells, your casual choice of pointless chatter or drinking peace. Soon, my friend, soon, I will return.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
We had a computer when I was at university. When I say "we", I mean the university had a computer. Just the one. An enormous mainframe job which had a building to itself. If you were lucky you might get to use it once in your university career. When I say "you" would get to use it, I mean someone would use it on your behalf; normal folk weren't let within an airlock of it. You could ask it to do things: not fun things like play space invaders or send messages to the other side of the world, but process data, calculate stuff, find patterns in numbers. Communications with the computer were by way of punched cards: bits of cardboard with holes punched in them. Once your data had been transferred to punched cards, fed into the computer and the results had eventually emerged from the other end of the machine you were given your bundle of punched cards to keep. They made good book marks. And then 51 years later, as you were sorting out some old books, one would drop out and history would hit you with a punch.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Monday, March 22, 2021
Saturday, March 20, 2021
This week's Sepia Saturday theme image shows a bit of a crowd at a football match. My best match is a bit of a crowd at the seaside - and amongst that crowd are my Auntie Annie and Uncle Harry.
For more Sepia Saturday Posts, go to the website and follow the LINKS
Friday, March 19, 2021
To prove a point I made yesterday, here is a hand-coloured postcard view the Lock-keepers cottage at Salterhebble from around 1905. The artificial intelligence behind this bit of colouring would have been a studio artist, but they would have worked on the same basis as their modern AI equivalent: grass is green, sky is blue, and flowers are normally pink. I passed this scene only this morning and I am pleased to say that not all that much has changed: the cottage still guards the lock, the railway line still directs the hill and All Saints Church still looks down on the world below. And the grass is still green, but, this morning, the sky wasn't blue.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
An old negative of mine from 50 years ago with a dusting of colour provided by some Artificial Intelligence App. The results of such experiments remind me of the artificial colouring of vintage postcards during the first decade of the twentieth century: the results are not exactly accurate, but are attractive to the eye and make a change. We should equally avoid the trap of thinking that such experiments with colour somehow interfere with the "reality" of the original monochrome image: there is nothing real about a world reduced to a greyscale colour chart.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Uncle Frank collected bus tickets. That's not all; he also collected tape recordings of tv adverts from the 1950s, cigarette cards, and the occasional stamp. It was a relatively harmless pastime and nothing like as disruptive to the family as, say, Auntie Amy, who collected husbands. I still have some of his old bus tickets and they are true works of art. The look, the colour, the very feel of them can transport you through time with the same effectiveness as the buses could transport you into town.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
One element of the Peace Agreement which brought an end to the Where Shall We Go For Our Daily Walk Marital War, was a stipulation, insisted upon by my wife, that we had to go for a walk up Greetland at least once a month. Yesterday was the day, and a beautiful day it was.
Monday, March 15, 2021
For over a century, Britannia has sat on top of the old bank building and the end of Elland Bridge, flanked by columns of Aberdeen granite, two pubs, and a host of mill chimneys. Whether she was looking at the old gas works, watching the traffic of the new by-pass or scanning Elland Woods - is that a meandering bear I see? - remains a mystery. Pubs, chimneys, gas works - and even bears - come and go, but Britannia remains, resolute in stone, ruling the occasional waves that appear in the Calder And Hebble Canal.
Sunday, March 14, 2021
This is a photograph of unknown origin, the type of thing some people call an orphan image, which I must have acquired at some point as part of a job lot of old photographs nobody wanted any more. There is, however, an almost painterly quality about it: someone has taken the time to pose the group and the composition is outstanding. Equally, it has the ability to suggest both famous people and occasions: blink and I see President Roosevelt inspecting plans for the Panama Canal, blink again and it is Eiffel planning his tower. I've coloured it a bit and cropped it a bit, just to prove that you can't spoil a good photo by messing with it. I even did a Google Image search to see if it was a copy of a more famous photo, and surprise, surprise, I found an exact match! It appeared in a blogpost five years ago by someone who said: "I have found this old photo and I don't know where it came from!". The post was from me - which just goes to prove two things: that life is a constant process of rediscovery ..... and my mind is beginning to go!
Saturday, March 13, 2021
Friday, March 12, 2021
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Tuesday, March 09, 2021
Monday, March 08, 2021
A couple of years worth of copies of a newspaper called "The Halifax Comet" have just been added to the collection of the ever-splendid British Newspaper Archives, and as I had never heard of this newspaper, I was anxious to dive in and see what it was like. I would like to report back and say that it was full of insightful reporting about conditions in the town at the close of the nineteenth century, but I am unable to do so - because I couldn't really understand a word of it. The entire thing is written in a strange style that contains vaguely recognisable words that have been drained of all meaning by the way they have put together. To illustrate my point, I will quote just one paragraph in the leading article of the edition of the 29th December 1894. It comes from an article which appears to be about the appointment of abstaining vegetarians as Poor Law Guardians!
All this, unexplained, is exceeding mysterious in the eyes of the uninitiated . It so happens, however, that at the dinner aforesaid, a gentleman connected with this journal was entrusted with the records of this peculiar Society, and also was desired to edit and publish the same - so far as they may be suitable for publication -for the benefit particularly of the members of the said Society who , may themselves be but partially instructed in its history, and generally of the Readers of THE HALIFAX COMET, which is equivalent to saying, of the Public itself. The records will occupy a little time in examination, and notes upon them will be published after the close of our articles on City Finance.
It may be that the entire publication is supposed to be satirical, and satire tends not to age well. I will continue to work my way through at least one of the thirty-six page issues in search of enlightenment and if I find it, I will report back. Equally, I will see what I can discover about the paper's somewhat eccentric owner and editor, Joe Turner Spencer, one time Halifax Councillor, Alderman and Chairman of the Morecambe Pier Company!
Sunday, March 07, 2021
My Grandfather and Great Uncle Fowler made these machines in Keighley. My mother and numerous aunties worked on these machines in Bradford. My Uncle Wilf sorted wool to be spun by them; my father shifted bobbins between them. My entire family history is constrained by their cast-iron frames.
Saturday, March 06, 2021
This post is, perhaps, better late than never. There is a story behind these two brothers - a story that, sadly, illustrates that it is not always better to be late than never. But the post is so late going up that I don't have time to tell the story today. I will, however, come back to it one day, so just keep the face of the boy sitting on the left in your mind, until his extraordinary story can be told.
Friday, March 05, 2021
We were walking up the tops of Northowram the other day, up past were all the old stone quarries used to be, and I suddenly spotted an abandoned pile of stone slates. Somebody had kindly chiselled numbers on each of them so they turned into a traditional stone equivalent of my daily calendar I was thrilled with this authentic historical discovery, and as someone had equally carved the name of the quarry on each stone, I headed home to see if I could pin down their origin to perhaps Northowram or the Shibden Valley. Oh, Burnett, Burnett, Burnett .... you gullible fool. A quick quarry of the internet revealed their origin. They are "reconstructed stone" made from glue and stone dust. They have been "authentically recreated" to even incorporate tool marks. You can even buy a version with fake green lichen clinging to them. They come from a factory somewhere down south. They are the stone equivalent of MDF. They are as genuine as a politicians promise to support NHS workers.
Thursday, March 04, 2021
It's spring - well meteorological spring at least - and the sun is making the kind of half-hearted effort I would make in chemistry lessons at school. The various neighbours are out in their gardens, pruning or digging or doing the things gardeners do. To my mind, however, it is still cold enough to send an anticipatory shiver down the spine of a brass monkey, and therefore I am more than happy to confine my digging to my photographic archives. These are allotment size - getting on for small-holding - and need regular dead-heading, sorting, grafting and cultivating. To speed me on with my efforts I have a bird, sat up in a tree - I wish I could be more exact but I was never much good at nature studies at school either. It can sit on my desk all day and sing to me. It's spring, after all.
Wednesday, March 03, 2021
To Edith, Good wishes : The Edith in question was my later mother-in-law, who, as a teenager in Liverpool, would stand outside the stage door at the Liverpool Empire and collect celebrity autographs. The sender of these sentiments and the subject of the postcard portrait was the actress Yvette Anning. Yvette was a successful singer and actress in the 1920s and 30s, who seems to have left few digital footprints for the modern Information Age. As far as I can see, this is the only photograph of her on the internet, and if this is the case, I am proud top be its sponsor. Good wishes, Yvette.
Tuesday, March 02, 2021
My calendar today features a photograph I took forty or so year ago of Elland Power Station. When I took the photograph, the power station was relatively new - the Official Opening took place seventy years ago this year - but it was already reaching the end of its life. Within ten years it had been decommissioned, within twenty it had been demolished. In checking the various facts about its life history, I came across the press report of the official opening ceremony, which was performed by a certain Mr A R Cooper (M.Eng, M.I.E.E., M.Inst.F), accompanied by the new station superintendent Mr W Poppleton (Assoc.I.E.E. A.M.Inst.F). How on earth they managed to fit all those letters within even the cavernous turbo house is a mystery, and it has to be said that the praise being heaped upon the new power station was less than fulsome. Mr Poppleton said "that the Elland station was not an unusual one, but reliable. It was built there not because the site was ideal, but because generation was needed in this part of Yorkshire". When he went on to describe the generating power of the new station, however, his language became far more energised. The new station, he declared, would generate enough power of a town of 200,000 people or enough to power a fleet of half a dozen Queen Mary's! The vision of half a dozen Queen Mary's sailing in formation along the River Calder is an analogy that would put even Prof Jonathan Van-Tam to shame.
Monday, March 01, 2021
Where have all the days gone? It is a question people of a certain age - such as myself - ask with increasing frequency, as we realise that what we call yesterday, younger folk call history. It is a recurring question to those of us who watch things like The History Channel and say, "that's not history, it's current affairs". It is a question on the lips of people who meet together for a cup of tea and talk about wartime rationing, 425 lines on television sets, and ask "do you remember the farthing?"
I have an answer to this fundamentally philosophical question, because in my case, they go on the back of the door. When they no longer fit in my Daily Calendar plastic holder, I take the daily images and stick them on the back of my office door. They will soon be spreading to what little wall space there is left in my room, but after that they can spread no further (says my wife). Time passes - and the longer this calendar project goes on, the greater the problem becomes: has anyone got a mill wall they are not using?
When you add colour to an old photograph - or rather when some artificial intelligence source sat high in cyberspace adds colour to an old...
Y ou can spend too long sat inside reading old newspapers and cataloguing old postcards. There comes a time in the affairs of man when he s...
It started with a vintage picture postcard of Elland I bought on eBay for 99 pence. Elland is just down the road and I always try to keep a...