Thursday, June 24, 2021

Home 2 : Bank Bottom, Halifax


The second picture in my "Home" collection is this photograph of Bank Bottom, Halifax, which I took somewhere around 1970. Square Church spire is framed by the old Riding Hall Carpet Mill and the Halifax Gas Works. If you would like to see this picture in person, it is currently on view as part of the excellent Showcase Exhibition at Dean Clough, Halifax.



Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Home 1 : Halifax Piece Hall

 

I decided to gather together some of my favourite photographs under a variety of headings: home, away, family, strangers etc. It is a pointless project, and therefore one I am particularly drawn to. This is the first photo in the "Home" category. I took it over half a century ago, It was home then. It is still home now.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Catching Up

 

We've been away for a few days. How strange it is to be able to say that: how quickly the unusual has become normality, and how threatening the world outside can appear when you have been locked indoors for too long. So we left lockdown behind and visited Chester and Nantwich: enjoyed good times with friends, stayed in some lovely hotels and, of course, enjoyed some fine beers and exceptional malt whiskeys. My Daily Calendar images had to wait until I returned home, but now I have caught up. This silly little project was meant to last a month at the most, and is now coming up to half a year. My walls are full of old calendar images, but, if nothing else, I will have a pictorial record of a rather strange year.



Friday, June 11, 2021

Breakfast On The Morning Tram

 

One of my favourite Stacey Kent songs has always been Breakfast On The Morning Tram, which was written by Jim Tomlinson with lyrics by Kazuo Ishiguro. I've always imagined some exotic European city setting, but having come across a short piece from 1918 in the Illustrated London News, I am wondering whether he had early twentieth century Halifax in mind! The text accompanying the illustration reads as follows:-

"An electric tramcar belonging to Halifax Corporation has been converted into a fully equipped travelling kitchen capable of supplying 1,000 portions. It has electric stoves, with current supplied from the overhead wires, and a 1,200 gallon water-tank. Meals are served from both sides and there is a cash office at each end. It can run to any part of the 33 mile system."

Stacey Kent's far more exotic version of the Morning Tram can be found on YouTube.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Dripping With Colour

Halifax Borough Market - dark and light, hard and soft, functional lines and extravagant curves ... and dripping with colour.  Come to think of it, that could be a suitable description of the town itself.




Friday, June 04, 2021

Town Halls, Sewers And Chapels

The Victorians were good at Town Halls: built with equal parts of civic pride, cheap labour and local taxes. Town Halls, sewers, churches and chapels - the Victorians were big on them all. Elland Town Hall never functioned as a seat of local government; but parts of it have been used as all manner of things over the years: from assembly halls to cinemas, from restaurants to tanning studios. Whatever the use - or lack of it - it remains a stunning building.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Pain And Suffering In Downtown Halifax Part II

 

This was one of the first posts I ever put up on my blog, I posted it fifteen years ago in 2006.

This morning started with a visit to the dentist. I parked the car in a small car park a few hundred yards away from the surgery, a short walk from the centre of Halifax. The car park is one of those which has been moulded out of a demolition site. Forty years ago there were row after row of terraced houses. I took some photographs here back in the 1960s and when I got home I looked some of them out. Then it was tall chimneys, soot-encrusted stone and pavements uneven enough to give a Health and Safety Officer a heart attack. Now it is neat rectangles painted white on even, grey tarmac : regulating cars into efficient rows. At least thinking about such things takes your mind off the appointment with pain and discomfort which is still - even in the 21st century - the dentist.

It came to mind because .... this morning started with a visit to the dentist! Actually, in the intervening fifteen years the dentist has moved, even closer to the town centre. Whist waiting for pain and suffering in downtown Halifax Part II to commence, I took a walk, and, of course, took some photographs. 


I took some photographs here back in the 1960s and when I got home I looked some of them out.....

As it turned out, there was no pain and suffering on this occasion: the dentist took one look and booked me in for another appointment to do a filling in a few weeks time. Keep a look out for Pain And Suffering In Downtown Halifax Part III

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Reclining Figure, Halifax 1970

 


One of the least known of Henry Moore's monumental sculptures is his 1970 Reclining Figure which has been on permanent display in Halifax for the last fifty years. In order to overcome the civic antipathy to major arts projects, Moore cleverly disguised the sculpture as an overpass.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Enough Said

 


According to the GoogleLife App on my smartphone I have almost used up my allotted monthly allowance of words, and I'm running low on thoughts as well. So you'll have to make do with just this picture; which is a pity because I could have said a lot about it!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Spot The Difference

 

Social Media is full of memes proclaiming "You have an IQ of over 150 if you can spot the difference between these two pictures!" You don't need an IQ the size of Wainhouse Tower to spot the differences here, but you could probably host a seminar on the social, cultural and photographic differences on display. The first picture is a contemporary Google Streetview screen grab, the second was taken by me around 35 years ago,



Thursday, May 13, 2021

Back Besides The Seaside

 

Another lockdown milestone. We went to the seaside yesterday, a day trip to Whitby to meet up with my son and his family who are spending a week there. Going for day trips to the seaside has always been a normal part of my life. As a child we would climb aboard my fathers' various vans and cars and visit Bridlington or Scarborough. When my son was small we would do the same, and even when more exotic locations turned our heads, we would still regularly undertake the two hour drive to the seaside. Lockdown brought an end to such adventures, and the forced separation from the salt-sprayed, vinegar-chipped British seaside only served to increase its attractiveness. It was great to see the family, it was great to be back besides the seaside.

Monday, May 10, 2021

A Return To The Shoulder Of Mutton


We took a walk yesterday down the Shibden Valley with some friends, and finished up at the Shoulder Of Mutton pub in Northowram, which was open for outdoor service. We had a pleasant drink and some excellent food and eventually the discussions got around to the pub itself and its history. Google eventually led me in the direction of a piece I must have written eleven years ago and completely forgot about. Even though I say it myself, it was worth a second read, and therefore I am giving it a second post.

FROM GREAT YORKSHIRE PUBS (2010)
The Shoulder of Mutton is situated in the village of Northowram, a couple of miles north of Halifax. This is the village I grew up in, and I remember passing the Shoulder many times as a child and wondering what secrets those child-free rooms held. For one reason or another, I never visited the Shoulder during that short window of opportunity between my looking old enough to get served in a pub and my leaving the village for ever. And so my recent visit to such a familiar landmark was my first to the pub. After offering up a short prayer to Bacchus for having kept the place open long enough for my visit, I gathered all my childhood memories around me and entered this fine Yorkshire village pub.

As you can see from my photograph, the pub spreads over three, conjoint buildings. On the right is the somewhat formal lines of what, in the eighteenth century, was known as Priestley Hall (built by Nathanial Priestley in 1723). The middle building - which was most likely originally a farmhouse - is probably the oldest and incorporates a stone lintel which is dated 1622. The building on the left looks as though it was grafted on to the farmhouse at some indeterminate date, long lost to memory.

And my impressions of the visit to the pub have almost been long-lost to memory as well, because I forgot to write them up when I returned home. So the following notes are taken straight from my notebook, but on re-reading them they seem to give an accurate taste of the place.

"Note the address - evocative: the phrase "Mutton Fold" should have a wider currency. How pleasant to discover a pub that has not been "themed". Tables and chairs look as though they have emerged over time rather than been imported from a warehouse. The beers are not too beery, there is a jukebox and there is a pool table. Some walls have been knocked down, but still possible to see the lay-out of the old houses set on different levels. Beamed ceilings, but not low beams nor over-ancient beams, nor fake beams. Pleasant but empty, like touring the British Museum on a wet Tuesday morning. You want people to be here, you want gossip, you want neighborly chatter, you want romance - you want life. There is music somewhere in the background : a pulsating bass line with tendrils of voice flirting with meaning. Is this ale making me poetic? If so the culprit is Timothy Taylor Golden Best : beery with distinct notes of beer. I shared the pint with a good honest packet of Seabrook's Potato Crisps and I am reminded that crisp must be one of the finest inventions of the entire twentieth century. Soon the pubs will be closed, the beer transformed into ice-cold tasteless lager, and crisps will be banned as junk food. Sad"

I may have got slightly carried away, but the Shoulder Of Mutton is a good, honest village pub and a visit there should be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum. If it had been so in my youth I wouldn't have had to wait fifty years to enter its doors.



Saturday, May 08, 2021

Shame About The Moral Philosophy

 

Although I was born in Bradford, I was raised in Halifax, and, in particular, in the village of Northowram. It was there that I first wandered the streets, looked at buildings and thought about the past. It was there that I went to school, rode my first bike, and took my first photographs. This particular photograph of Heywood Chapel in Northowram dates from about fifty years ago, by which time I had already moved away from the village. The building was, and is, so typically Northowram. In the 50s and 60s it was still rather stark, soot-stone set against pointless skies: stark. These days it is prettier, with its own little Close of neat houses and bungalows. The current building dates from 1837, although Oliver Heywood built the first chapel here some 160 years before that.

Being a Northowram Lad and having an interest in history, I have always believed that an effort should be made to understand Oliver Heywood, who must be one of the villages' most famous residents. His religious teachings are documented in five lengthy volumes, and, on more than one occasion, I have approached these with a creditable enthusiasm. Having now reached an age where I care less about what people might think about me, I have to, at last, declare that he was probably one of the most boring people ever to have walked up the Hough and along Towngate. Chapter after chapter he prattles on about sacrifice, sin and intercession - it's enough to make you want to call in the Shoulder Of Mutton and get legless.

The building, however, is nice. It's just a shame about the moral philosophy.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Six Tented Heads (Sepia Saturday 569)

 


Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a man stood outside a tent. My contribution is six men  inside a tent - and to add to the numerical complexity of the situation, the tent is tent number four. The one man in the theme image was, it appears, Lewis Payne Powell, an American Confederate soldier who was part of the plot to assassinate not just President Lincoln, but also the Vice President and the Secretary of State as well. The six in my photograph have, I hope, a far less notorious pedigree.

My photograph comes from a box of unsorted family photographs and must date from the late 1920s or early 1930s. It certainly appears that the third head down in this collection of tented heads, has a strong resemblance to my father, Albert, and, as he would have been in his late teens at the time, the dates seem to fit. The confusing element is the naval cap he appears to be wearing: his only military service was in the Home Guard much later during World War II. My best guess that it was some kind of Boys' Brigade or Sea Cadet camp, and the tent was pitched on some spare ground far from the sea, somewhere around Bradford.

But who knows! Family histories are delightfully full of gaps and holes. Maybe my father was part of a conspiracy to kidnap Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister at the time. Who knows!

This is a Sepia Saturday post. To see other Sepia Saturday contributions, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.



Thursday, May 06, 2021

Election Day


It's Election Day. Good luck to all the candidates out there - well, to the ones who believe in compassion and fairness, at least - and, in particular, my best wishes to a certain candidate in Penistone East - I'm proud of you, son!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Limited Intelligence

 


One can't avoid being impressed by how well Artificial Intelligence (AI) copes with the automated colourisation of old black and white photographs. Take, for example, this photograph of a back street in Burslem, North Staffordshire, which I took in the early 1970s when I was living in that part of the world. The negative was stored in my archives shoulder to silver-salted shoulder with dozens of other negatives, mostly of the streets of West Yorkshire. That clever little artificial intelligence, however, decided that the houses of Burslem would have been built from brick rather than Yorkshire stone, and coloured them red instead of mucky brown. What a clever little AI! It's just a pity that it had to spoil itself by showing off and painting the road green.




Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A Study In Greys

 

A Study In Greys is by the British artist Walter Hayward-Young (1868-1920) who was also known by the pseudonym, "Jotter". During his artistic career he turned his hand to many different ways of exploiting his talents: he designed posters for organisations such as London Transport and produced a highly popular series of articles on sketching for The Girls Own Paper and Woman's Magazine. He is particularly famous, however, for the postcards which were based on his paintings which proved best sellers during the Great Postcard Craze of the first decade of the twentieth century. 

On the reverse of this postcard is printed the following description: "A Study In Greys, Sheffield. This picture was made on the way to Owlerton. The predominant colour of Sheffield is grey and the smoke overhangs the whole place like a huge pall. Still, within a few miles of the town, some of England's most lovely scenery is to be seen".

Sheffield no longer has a pall of smoke hanging over it, and the predominant colour of the city is anything but grey. The city has changed .... and still some of England's most lovely scenery can be seen within a fe miles of the city centre.

Kaleidoscopic Calderdale

 


A beautiful Spring day and a beautiful Spring walk through the Cromwell Woods that stretch from Southowram down towards Brookfoot and the Calder Valley. For some reason, I kept seeing patterns today and late at night those patterns became almost kaleidoscopic with a little help from Photoshop and a 18 year old Glengone Malt Whisky. Can't decide whether to use them for wallpaper or a new shirt.



Saturday, April 24, 2021

If Life Is A Race - Sepia Saturday 567

 

I have an almost perfect match for this week's Sepia Saturday theme image. The problem is, that it is not very old, in fact I can distinctly remember taking the photograph. But then I got to thinking: it was taken in 1972 which was 49 years ago. That's a long time ago. It is getting on for as old as the original Sepia Saturday theme image which was taken in 1914. That makes my photograph almost sepia. That makes me almost sepia. If life is a race, the starting line was some distance back!




My photograph was taken at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, around about the summer of 1972. It was the first time I had ever been to a race meeting and I was anxious to capture some of the movement and excitement of a day at the races.


I remember the picnic we had and the friends who were with us - and the oversized tin of Tartan Bitter. 


Other Sepia Saturday posts can be found by going to the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the links.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Arsenic And Old Halifax

It's time for another helping of mindless rants from some self-obsessed old fool with too much time on his hands. Now, I know what you're thinking - it will be something like "You are being a little too hard on yourself .... but, there again, I can see where you are coming from"; but you misunderstand me, I am not talking about my own pointless ramblings, I am talking about another extract from that paragon of early 20th century journalism, the Halifax Comet. I have been working my way through copies of the Comet for a good few weeks now and I still can't decide whether it is a failed attempt at serious journalism or an early experiment in post-modern satire. As the publication reaches its tenth birthday in 1901, the editorial content gets shorter whilst the adverts get longer. It is a little like one of the present day advertising magazines you get delivered through your letter box .... but without the interesting adverts for teeth whitening and roof repairs.

The leading news item in the edition of the 20th April 1901 is a lengthy rant against the Amalgamated Association Of Tramway And Vehicle Workers who have had the audacity to demand such things as a week's paid holiday, time-and-a-half for overtime, and an end to the practice of workers having to pay for broken tools. "How can tramway workers expect a full week's paid holiday a year when they only work six days a week", thunders the editorial? As far as premium payments for overtime and Sunday working is concerned, "perhaps the public would like to pay a fare-and-a-half to meet this"!


The editorial will no doubt have dripped from the pen of the owner, publisher, and editor of the Comet, the irrepressible Alderman Joe Turner Spencer. One would like to think that the propagation of these views was without a trace of vested interests, but that was as unlikely then of a media baron as it is now. The last page of this particular edition of the Comet carries an advert for the Hipperholme brewers, Brear And Brown Ltd. The advert carries a copy of an analyst's report which proudly proclaims: "I have analysed samples of brewing materials and beer and stout and as a result of my careful examination I certify that they contained no trace of arsenic"! If the Public Analyst had examined the pages of the Halifax Comet, he might not have come to the same conclusion.



Monday, April 19, 2021

ARCHAEOTOGRAPHY


As far as I know there isn’t a name for it: it isn’t a recognised pastime, there are no societies for the propagation of it, nor journals that record the annals of its proceedings. I am, however, dedicated to digging up old images. It has the distinct advantage - when compared to its second-cousin, archeology - of not exposing you to quantities of mud, or worms, or rain, or snow. It is environmentally-friendly, draining only enough electricity from the grid to power-up a scanner, and making the use of old photos that would otherwise go to land-fill. And, at the end of the day, there are few joys that can compare to the discovery within the tattered and torn remnants of some unknown photograph, an image that is truly beautiful.




Saturday, April 17, 2021

Memories Within Cardboard Confines

 


Is it just age that makes you far more susceptible to time travel? Sometimes it can be a word like advocaat, sometimes a pattern like the geometric madness of 1960s wallpapers; most times it is an image. 


These two photographs were taken at a Christmas Party at my parent's house, sometime around 1965. They are full of memories, and by themselves could provide a rich itinerary for a week's worth of time travel. The table with the Christmas drinks - it was always a bottle of advocaat, a small bottle of Babycham,  and a bottle of sweet sherry. There may have been some port left over from a previous Christmas, but I can't recall there ever having been beer, and wine was unheard of. There is that wallpaper which is guilty of assault and battery on the senses, and the posed expressions on the faces of my aunts and uncles. There was a dish of biscuits - maybe even a chocolate one - an artificial tree and a warm sausage roll or two. It was a moment or two in time, captured within the cardboard confines of a colour slide. Now it is a rich vein of memories.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Soot And Chrome

 


A photograph of mine of Halifax in the early 1960s. The Town Hall was still soot-encrusted, the cars parked outside the White Swan Hotel had an over-abundance of chrome, and Pohlmann's still sold pianos..



Thursday, April 15, 2021

Kites To Rotherham

 


Sheffield is built on hills and therefore back yards are often more like back cliff faces. This was the back yard of the house we lived in forty years ago: big enough for a dustbin and a pushbike. Washing hung like kites, getting ready to launch once a decent breeze got up, destined for the skies over distant Rotherham.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Taking The Edge Off Tragedy

 


It seems so strange to see a Latin gravestone. Perhaps in Westminster Abbey or some don-filled university necropolis; but in the churchyard at Coley, within soot-falling distance of an old mill. And so beautifully carved; as though the beauty of the carving could somehow disguise the horror of a death too early. Moss now grows in the crevices, taking the edge off tragedy.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Addressing Colour

 


When you add colour to an old photograph - or rather when some artificial intelligence source sat high in cyberspace adds colour to an old photograph - you tend to notice things more. This is an old photo of my mother and my grandfather which must date from either the 1930s or the 1940s - but which? The addition of colour makes her dress quite distinctive, and potentially more useful in dating the photograph. My wife - who knows about such things - tells me it is 1950s, but that can't be the case, unless the same artificial intelligence has brought my grandfather back from the dead. Before seeing the colourised version of the photo, I had assumed that it was the early 1930s, but now I am beginning to think that was too early. The logical conclusion is the period around World War 2, but I tend to think of the clothing of that period as somewhat drab and uncolourful. Could the photographer - possibly my father - have captured a moment towards the end of the decade when the colours were about to go out all over Europe?

Home 2 : Bank Bottom, Halifax

The second picture in my "Home" collection is this photograph of Bank Bottom, Halifax, which I took somewhere around 1970. Square ...