A touch of colour in the kitchen. A touch of abstraction in the imagery. A touch of nothing better to do after another month of lockdown.
We took the dog for a walk yesterday, up the hill from Copley. It's a steep hill and hard work on the knees, but I had to run up there sixty years ago on school cross country runs, so I don't see why my wife and dog should escape the same pleasurable experience. Before facing the hill we took a walk around St Stephen's churchyard - I was looking for more pointing ladies, but that is another story. I couldn't help wondering how they manage with burials now that there is only a footbridge over the river, but I am in no hurry to find out the answer. The graveyard looked almost Autumnal - just as if nature too had been in lockdown. I think the blue ribbon on the tree branch is something to do with thanking essential workers, which would be a nice thought. There again, it might be an abandoned dog waste bag, which would be a nasty thought.
A photograph of mine from the mid 1960s of the demolition of Parliament Street in Halifax. I've added a touch of colour because I am bored with Lockdown and I have nothing better to do. I find it a pleasing image, but I am well aware that others' might not. It's my calendar, however, and it's me who has to look at it all day.
I scanned this old postcard of Bradford Wool Exchange yesterday and became curious about when it was built. I eventually found an account of the opening in the Bradford Observer of 14 February 1867 which I was intending to write about at great length and in considerable depth. And then the broadband service started playing up and I got involved in talking with a variety of real and virtual support workers. What I need now is not the beautiful building or the wise words of the important guests at the opening ceremony, but the pint of sherry that came free with the entry ticket!
The day is full of roadmaps to freedom and counting the days to normality. This could give rise to a philosophical speculation about the nature of freedom, but I will leave that for another day and go with a working definition, which is being able to take my grandson to the seaside, buy him some candy floss and build a sandcastle. Here's hoping they will be castles in the sand rather than castles in the sky. Until that day comes, I will content myself with this reminder of the scene in Bridlington almost forty years ago.
Now here's a thing! Just three days after discovering a pointing statue of Hope in Elland cemetery, I find a very similar pointing statue in Rastrick cemetery. My initial conclusions about the Elland Pointer was that she was pointing towards Ainley Top and the slip road onto the M62, but I have now reviewed my calculations, and I believe she is pointing towards Rastrick Cemetery - and consequently, the Rastrick Pointer! This is a discovery of major significance, because it reveals a series of nineteenth and early twentieth century veiled stone figures pointing out a clear route to .... where? I still need to carry out detailed geographical calculations on the Rastrick Pointer, but as soon as I know where the trail leads to, I will let you know.
I have just checked back in my diary, and it is a year ago today that we set out on a holiday to the Caribbean. When we were leaving, Covid was a bit of a novelty; something that might have been causing a bit of a stir in China and Italy, but didn't manage a single column inch on the front pages of British newspapers. By the time we returned, a fortnight later, the reality of the crisis was beginning to become apparent, and the first cases were being discovered in the UK. Covid had become the real deal.
It seems so long ago, a holiday that took place in a world we have now left behind. Who knows when I will get another chance to visit my family members out in the Caribbean. I can, however, remind myself of them all with a photo from a previous visit, back in 2012. It is of the Bomba Surfside Shack in Apple Bay, Tortola on the BVI. Sadly, the shack is now gone (a victim of the hurricanes rather than Covid), but it sums up those lovely islands to me. It was the real deal.
I've always been rather intrigued by those Victorian gentlemen who used to go around saving lost souls. I have never aspired to provide salvation to that degree, but give me a sad and wanting old photograph, and I will grab the Photoshop Bible and get down to my devotions along with the most pious amongst us.
This tiny old photograph fell from the back of an old photographic album belonging to my Great Uncle, Fowler Beanland. Whether she was a relative, a friend, or a lover, I know not, but she didn't deserve to be lost. Having found her, and smartened her up a little, I present her to posterity. She will now live forever more out in cyberspace, looking back at the world she once knew.
This week, Sepia Saturday reaches the end of the Sepia alphabet. I found this tiny old photograph at the end of an old photographic album. It was so small, it needed the very best zoom lens to restore it to manageable proportions. It thus became a perfect Sepia Saturday post.
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According to my Little Oxford Dictionary, the definition of "wandering" is to aimlessly move from place to place in a casual fashion. That being the case, I declare myself a wanderer, indeed I will consider putting that down as my religion when the census forms arrive in a few weeks time. The Lockdown places a severe restriction on my ability to aimlessly wander, of course, but even within the confines of a definable "local area", I am still able to practice my religion. Yesterday we wandered around the lower part of Elland and up Exley Bank (like all good religions, wandering needs a bit of sacrifice in its devotions - that's why hills were invented), and for the first time in my life, I discovered Elland Cemetery. For those who haven't been, it is one of those expansion cemeteries, added to towns in the nineteenth century when the local churchyard became too full. It occupies a spot high on the hill, looking down on where Elland Hall used to stand, and where endless vehicles now by-pass Elland. There are some fine gravestones and monuments, but one in particular caught my eye - a fine stone statue that appeared to be pointing departed souls in the direction of Ainley Top and the road to Huddersfield.
One of the great things about wandering as a religion, is that it can be practiced just as easily from a desktop; and so on my return home I went wandering through the records to find out more information about the statue - which was on top of the grave of Eli Garnett and his family. After consulting the sacred texts - the prophets Google, Malcolm Bull, Census records and the British Newspaper Archives - I eventually found the following piece from the Halifax Guardian of 21 September 1889.
"A WORK OF ART - At the monumental works of Mr J Noble, West Vale, there is a monument which is about to be erected in Elland Cemetery to the memory of the late Mr Joseph Garnett, son of Mr Eli Garnett, of Lowfield House, Elland. The monument is in classical design, and stands on a massive pedestal, and an inscription stone containing a marble panel, which is an exact facsimile of a medallion representing an emblem of music copied from the monument of Jenny Lind. The total height of the monument is 13ft, the pedestal, which is 7ft 6in high, being surmounted by a life-sized figure of Hope. The whole is executed from Bolton Wood stone, and has been done at Mr Noble's works at West Vale. The figure itself has been carved by Mr Arthur S Rogers, Holywell Green, and is a fine example of delicate and skilful workmanship"
I too, think that the figure of Hope is a fine example of skilful workmanship, but I will leave it to my brother to provide a proper professional assessment. Skilful or not, meeting Hope standing high over Elland, made my day.
One of the wonderful things about the internet, is the ability it gives us to retrace our steps. Yesterday, I scanned an old negative that had been gathering dust in my negative files for over half a century. Looking at the image that emerged from the scanner, not only could I not recognise it, it seemed to date from a time even before my antediluvian youth. Determining place is a skill set in itself - looking for locational clues, Googling trades names, comparing modern equivalents - and if ever there was a need for Artificial Intelligence to step up to the mark, it is in this field. It took AB much longer that AI to crack the puzzle, but eventually I tracked it down (I think) to Fermanagh Street in the town of Clones in Ireland. It must date from the early to mid 1960s and I must have taken it during a family holiday in Ireland. I still can't remember visiting the town, but the proof is there in black and white.
This is my entry for the 2021 season of Sky TV's Landscape Artist Of The Year. Watching the show on a regular basis I have become intrigued at how the artists use their smartphones to compose and record a scene, which they then go on to paint. Once painted they use the same smart phones to photograph the painting to submit it for consideration by the programme. My approach is slightly different: I cut out the middle man. The smart phone records the scene, paints the picture and then submits it. Saves time all around.
I must have taken this photograph sometime between 1963 and 1966: the first date being the release date of that memorable cinema classic, The Girl Hunters, the second being when they converted the cinema into a Bingo Hall. I can just about recall going to the cinema on a few occasions - the double seats on the back few rows making it an attractive location for teenagers in search of cultural enrichment.
The second photograph shows the current state of the building; every time I pass I almost want to weep at the tragedy of its downfall. There were plans, at one time, to turn it into a hotel, but I have no idea what has happened to that idea in these Covid-infested times. I just want to take the building home and care for it, but my wife won't let me.
She tends not to look at Facebook or Twitter until the evening, so for the entirety of today she will believe that I have forgotten to send her a Valentines Day card. But how could I forget? I love her now just has much as I did when these photographs were taken over half a century ago. Happy Valentines Day my love.
We took a walk in the park yesterday. The park in question was Shaw Park in Holywell Green, near Halifax (No. 46 in "The Forgotten Parks of Yorkshire", which is a book I have yet to write). It was one of the coldest days of the year, but even the icy blast coming straight down the valley from Siberia by way of Spitsbergen, could not spoil the delights of this curious little park, that, as with so many great little parks, started life as somebody's garden. The house itself - Brooklands which was sadly demolished in 1933 - was built for the mill-owning Shaw family just above their massive Brookroyd Mill (also demolished) which at one time employed 1,200 workers. For entertainment, the Shaws built a variety of castle-like follies in the grounds and these remain to warm the heart - if not the arms and legs - on a cold winters' day.
Today's calendar photograph is somewhere in Sheffield. Or rather, it was somewhere in Sheffield forty years ago when I took the photograph. Whether it is still there remains to be seen, and whether we will see or not depends on my two friends F&K who like the challenge of trying to spot where my old Sheffield photographs were taken from. This one is for them, and accordingly carries the enigmatic caption - somewhere in Sheffield.
Someone asked me the other day whether I would ever run out of photos for this Daily Calendar project. I have just checked my Lightroom Catalogue and there are 74, 436 photographs on there. At the rate of one a day, that should last me a further 204 years, which would seem adequate if not slightly over the top. Today's picture was taken just a year ago at Huddersfield Station. That done, there are now just another 74,435 to go!
Oh you can keep your Rio de Janeiro with its Corcovada Peak, you can forget your sandy Dubai and its boastful Burj Khalifa, you can even pickle your New York City along with its Empire States: I always say that if you want a truly memorable skyline, come to Brighouse.
Someone was saying to me the other day that they had just been to a Labour Party meeting (virtually, of course) and it had seemed terribly old fashioned - like something from the nineteen seventies. That's nothing, said I in the way only annoying old men can, when I was a lad, Labour Party meetings were positively antediluvian. Reading a copy of the Brighouse News from February 1910 a couple of days later, I came across a report of a meeting of the Brighouse Independent Labour Party (its complicated, but the ILP were at the time affiliated to the wider Labour Party), which seemed to prove my point. It brought back fond memories to me, but surely even I cannot be old enough to remember going to political meetings in the run up to the Great War!. If that is the case, however, how come an embroidered silk bookmark from the 1913 ILP Conference fell out of the back of one of the books I was reading recently?
Our Sepia Saturday alphabet has worked its way around to a rather challenging X. I have no old family photographs featuring X-rays or xylophones - but I have managed to find one X amongst the photographic collection of my late Auntie Miriam - a Manx Maid.
This photograph, which according to Uncle Frank's detailed caption-writing was taken in Douglas in the Isle of Man in the summer of 1947, features my Auntie Miriam in front of the Packet Steamer, Manx Maid. With suitable apologies to my late Aunt, I have to say that the ship is the star of the photograph, for this somewhat prosaic little ferry boat had a rich and heroic history.
She was built in the Camel Laird shipyards of Birkenhead ion 1910 (and let me repeat once again, I am referring to the ship not my Auntie Miriam) and went into service later that year as a Channel Island ferryboat with the London and Southwestern Railway Company. At the time she was called The Caesarea and she ferried passengers between Southampton and the Channel Islands until July 1923, when, in a thick fog, she struck a rock off the coast of Jersey and began to sink. Somehow she made it back to the harbour at St Helier and all her passengers and crew were evacuated before the ship foundered inside the harbour. She was successfully refloated two weeks later on the Spring tide and towed away for repairs.
Having somewhat blotted her copy book, she was sold to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for £9,000, repaired, refitted, and renamed, The Manx Maid. She worked on the Isle of Man route throughout the twenties and thirties before being requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1939 for war service. She was undergoing repairs during the evacuation at Dunkirk, but saw active service later in 1940 when she successfully evacuated 3.000 troops from the French port of Brest. After the war she returned to ferrying tourists to and from the Isle of Man, and, in 1947, had her photograph taken with my Auntie Miriam. Sadly, three years later, she was towed off to Barrow-In-Furness and broken up (yes, the ship, not Auntie Miriam).
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It's a strange lockdown world we live in where dog grooming is classed as an essential service but the human equivalent is not. The result is that our dog is today walking around like a well-coiffured matinee idol, whilst I look like an over-enthusiastic kitchen mop. It would be nice to think that my abundant whiskers were as well cared for as those of this unknown sitter for a little Carte de Visite from the Barnsley studio of Warner Gothard - but, alas, they are not.
Warner Gothard was a great example of those nineteenth century pioneers of commercial studio photography. He started his first studio along with his brother in 1852 in Grimsby and later moved to Wakefield and then, in1893, to Barnsley. Several of his twelve children followed him into the photography business and, in addition to studio photography, the family specialised in postcard production. Warner Gothard is particularly remembered for his "montage postcards" of the early twentieth century, which commemorated major events and disasters. In the first two decades of the twentieth century there was hardly a coal mining disaster taking place, or a ship sinking off the coast of Britain, without a Warner Gothard commemorative postcard being produced. Perhaps this strange world we live in pre-dates the lockdown after all.
I was looking through my photographs the other day for one of the old Northowram Hospital, and I came across this photograph, which I took just a little further along Lands Head Lane showing Marsh Hall. When I took this photograph fifty years ago, the 16th/17th century Hall was showing its age; towards the end of last century, however, it was spruced up and renovated. I went to the Hall back in the 1950s when it was occupied by a farmer and milkman whose son was in the same class as me at Junior School. I remember being fascinated by those wonderful old windows which, when seen from the dark interior, seemed to let light flood into the room. If it was anywhere else other than West Yorkshire, the house would probably be famous with people travelling miles to see it. Here, it keeps itself and its history to itself, not wanting to make a fuss.
There's snow over Halifax today. This might be the Halifax of fifty-five years ago, but there is still snow over Halifax today. Many of the buildings have gone, but there is still snow over those same streets and fields. I might have used this photograph before, but what the hell. Snow comes back year after year, so why shouldn't photographs?
I start the new month with a new picture in my desktop calendar, and an armful of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine coursing through my body. With almost biblical significance, I was yesterday directed back to the village where I grew up, to receive my first shot of vaccine. The vaccination centre was located in a new doctors' surgery in the grounds of the old Northowram Hall Hospital. So what better way to pass the time whilst waiting for my jab than to search for echoes of the past using the ever fruitful British Newspaper Archives. What remains of the old Halifax Isolation Hospital has been converted into apartments, and new houses occupy what once were spacious grounds. The medical legacy of the site, however, has been brought into clear focus these last few weeks, as hundreds of people have been directed there to receive their Covid vaccines. An article from the Halifax Evening Courier from December 1934, reminded me that the dangers posed by infectious diseases are anything but new.
One of my favourite Stacey Kent songs has always been Breakfast On The Morning Tram, which was written by Jim Tomlinson with lyrics by Ka...