Here is the third group of five photographs which are on the shortlist for making into small prints for sale at the Arts and Crafts Fair. Again they represent the kind of familiar subjects I have returned to again and again over sixty years of taking photographs. This selection includes two of my favourite Halifax photographs, and another two from that enigma of the East Coast - Skegness.
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Spa Plus Ten
My photographs are filed by the date they were taken, and therefore it is relatively easy to go back in time to discover what I was doing on this day, five, ten or twenty years ago. In this case it was ten years ago, and on the 26th April 2012 I was obviously visiting Scarborough. Today’s image is based on one of the photographs I took that day, and shows the Spa complex and the Grand Hotel.
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
A Message About Mediums
Catherine And Albert
My grandparents, Catherine and Albert Beanland, in a photograph taken a few years before my birth. According to the 1939 Register, they were living at 12, Lawrence Street, in the Princeville district of Bradford. Albert, 64 years old in 1939, was employed as a textile mechanic, whereas Catherine, 62, was registered as undertaking "unpaid domestic duties". Albert was to live another nine years, but died a few months after my birth, in September 1948. Catherine died in April 1960, aged 83.
Monday, April 25, 2022
Snicket In Greetland
As provided for in the Treaty Of Stainland, my wife and I take the dog for a walk up Greetland at least once a month. Yesterday was the April walk, and the sun and blue skies made it a delightful experience. I took this photograph of a footpath that heads towards the Calder Valley, and the addition of a filter or two accentuates the Yorkshire stone and the rain-fed grass. And yes, that is Wainhouse Tower on the skyline.
Sunday, April 24, 2022
Summer By The Sea
This is based on an old, found photograph of an unknown seaside location. I am not sure where it is, but an area has been fenced off to protect the bathers from boats, or sharks, or some such. The date is probably the 1920s. The filters I have used in this interpretation of the print, somehow seem to make the scene more crowded, which is what you want on a summer day by the sea.
Saturday, April 23, 2022
Hands And Faces
A detail taken from a found print of a group of unknown women - possibly fellow workers, possibly from the 1920s or 30s. In the main photo they seem to be gathered around a woman holding a banjo wrapped in brown paper. I have chosen to concentrate on a small section of the group, which provides a most pleasing arrangement of hands and faces.
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
25 Prints (2)
The next five from my shortlist of twenty-five prints, from which I must choose five for a Church Arts and Crafts Fair. In each case, the mix is made up from old and new, near and far.
Monday, April 18, 2022
From Elland To Cleethorpes, With Love
The front of this vintage postcard illustrates The Cross in Elland, that part of the town where roads from here, there and everywhere came together. The few words on the reverse of the card provide clues to the movement of ordinary folk - to here, there, and everywhere - that was a common feature in peoples' lives even 120 years ago. The card was sent by Elizabeth Chamberlain, who, in September 1905, was living with her uncle and aunt, Robert and Emma Newton, in Exley Lane, Elland. Robert worked at Elland gas works and had been born in London. His wife, Emma had been born in Spalding in Lincolnshire, and their niece, Elizabeth, had been born in Boston. She was writing to her friend (or, possibly, sister) Annie Holbard, who was then living with her husband, a fish curer, in Cleethorpes. Within a couple of years they would move to With-on-Dearne in South Yorkshire where he would become a coal miner. So often, we think of these olden times as being times when families were settled in one place, entire generations living within a few streets of one another. By the second half of the nineteenth century, however, times were changing, and new industries and improved transport meant that people moved from one part of the country to another much more frequently.
The short message on the reverse of the card illustrates this ease of movement, because Elizabeth was going to visit Annie Halbard and was due to leave Elland at 8.00am and arrive in Cleethorpes before noon.
18, Exley Lane, Elland : Dear Annie I was please to have a card from you to say that I could come. Well I shall leave Elland at 8 o clock and should arrive at Cleethorpe 5 minutes to 12 o clock if all is well. With love to all, hope to see you on Saturday, from your E A Chamberlain.
Such a journey would only be possible today if you first of all took a bus, as Elland railway station is long gone. Rather than heading for Cleethorpes, Elizabeth could always walk up to Elland; but even then she would now find many of the shops closed, and the Cross looking like a shadow of its former self.
Sunday, April 17, 2022
25 Prints (1)
Friday, April 15, 2022
Conversations With My Grandfather
I've always found that the march of technological innovation has been faster than anything I could reasonably predict. I remember in the very early days of computers, speculating that one day - in the distant future - it would be possible to have all the knowledge stored in the full Encyclopaedia Brittanica, available on a machine on my desktop. Before the ink was dry on my prediction - these were the days on pen and ink - there was Encarta, the first digital encyclopaedia. In the 1980s, as I was gradually losing all my hearing, I remember saying to people that it could be worse, because within twenty years I would be able to carry a mobile computer that would translate speech into text for me. Within 10 years that prediction had been blasted out of the water, and I had a computer processor attached to my head that translated audio inputs into electronic stimulation of my audial nerve. Mindboggling - in every sense of the word!
When AI programmes started being able to manipulate images a couple of years ago, I equally remember saying to my wife, that before too long I would be able to sit down and have a conversation with my grandfather, who died a few months before I was born in 1948. This morning I did!
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Water Is Best
An article in the Illustrated London News of the 13th August 1859 reminds us of the gift of a water fountain to the people of Halifax by Joseph Thorpe. The fountain was erected in People's Park, where it stands to this day. Whilst such a gift, two or three centuries earlier, might have been mainly about providing a safe source of drinking water for a thirsty population, Thorp's Fountain in People's Park - and a similar one located at the bottom of the Moor opposite St Jude's Church - was as much about his support for the temperance movement as it was about quenching the thirst of the hard working population of the town.
The fountain was decorated with the maxims :Thank God For Water" and "Water Is Best", along with an acknowledgement of the benefactor himself. Thorp was a prominent local quaker, wool merchant, Justice of the Peace, and leader of the temperance movement (between 1864 and 1866 he was the President of the British Temperance Movement).
Whether water is, in fact, best, is a potential subject for debate (preferably over a pint in a local pub), but it is sadly true that the fountain has long been disconnected from a water supply, and therefore all those that are athirst these days, will need to bring their own bottled water!
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Nuts And Sweets And A Trip To The Dentist
Here is another of those wonderful old picture postcards from the turn of the twentieth century which provides an insight into both the public persona of the town and, at the same time, the private persona of its citizens. The public persona is provided by the front of the card, posted in May 1912, which proudly displays a diptych illustrating both the rugged natural scenery of the area (Cat I' Th' Well, Wainstalls), and the artistic refinement of a town of culture (the statues in People's Park).
A more personal insight into the lives of its citizens is provided by the somewhat restrained message on the reverse of the card which was addressed to Master John Lassy who was living with a Mrs Sutcliffe of Silver Grove, Utley, near Keighley. The message reads as follows:-
Dear J & P, We are in receipt of your card and hope you are enjoying yourselves. We are saving your nuts and sweets until you get home. Yours sincerely, E & H Lassy.
The card appears to be from Erasmus and Harriet Lassy who lived at Upper West Scausby in Halifax, and it seems to have been sent to their children John, then aged 9, and Phyllis, 7. For whatever reason they were staying with Mr and Mrs Sutcliffe. Initially, I thought they might have been at boarding school, but a a quick search of the 1911 census reveals that Mr Sutcliffe was a dentist! The reason why the children were lodging with a dentist is lost in history, but it may well be connected to those promised nuts and sweets which are being saved for their return home.
Thursday, April 07, 2022
Wilson And Clara Ann Go To Totnes
There was a danger yesterday that I might have been heading in the direction of order and structure in my pointless daily jottings, so I have taken swift action today to avoid such a lamentable conclusion. The swift action comes in the form of two of my favourite people, Wilson and Clara Ann Fieldhouse. Wilson and Clara Ann are distant relations by marriage, but whilst the genetic connection may be weak, the emulsional* connection is strong. They were the parents of my uncle, Frank Fieldhouse, and Frank was a collector of all things ephemeral, and a proud custodian of family photographs.
This particular photograph of W and CA has long been one of my favourites, but until now I have been unable to determine the location of the happy couple at the time. Yesterday, I achieved a bit of a breakthrough when I spotted that the ice-cream van was registered in Devon. I spent a happy few hours conducting a Streetview-based tour of the walled towns of Devon, before finally identifying East Arch Gate in Totnes. To celebrate, I gave W and CA a little colour and a flourish or two.
*EMULSIONAL : Readers may not be familiar with this adjective - hardly surprising, as I have just invented it - but it relates to photographs, and in particular pre-digital photographs (AB)
Wednesday, April 06, 2022
Wainhouse Tower And The Sea Of Truth
Jacob D Saddleworth in his seminal book "The Principles And Practices Of Pointlessness" stated that the abandonment of objectives need not necessarily lead to the rejection of purpose; especially in the context of linear progression. He used the memorable example of a river in its progress towards the ocean - an example I couldn't help recalling yesterday in my efforts to trace Miss E Pascall. Like all good adventures, the starting point - can pointless activities have starting points? - of my quest was Wainhouse Tower in Halifax, and in this case, a 1904 postcard of the iconic folly. Pleasant as the view was, it was, as always, the reverse of the card that captured my attentions.
Emily was anxious to know if Miss E Pascall remembered Wainhouse Tower. Those who are not familiar with the town of Halifax may not appreciate the significance of such a question, but think of a visitor to New York being asked if they remember the Statue of Liberty, or a tourist in Athens being quizzed about a ruined building on the top of a hill. The obvious solution for a devotee of pointless activities, was to trace the descendants of Miss Pascall and ask them whether she ever talked with fondness about Wainhouse Tower.
And that is when things turned difficult. 155, Croydon Road, Anerley didn't exist in the 1901 census, and by the time of the 1911 census, it was the home of the Wilson family and their servant, Ellen Payne. The fact that the card was addressed to "155a" suggests that it may have been the servant's room in the attic or basement - one wouldn't want the servant's postcards getting mixed up with the upstairs mail! Was E Pascall the previous maid before Ellen Payne came along? Was she dismissed for endlessly going on about the charms of Wainhouse Tower? As yet, I don't know - but this river of investigation is still making its way down to the sea of truth!
Tuesday, April 05, 2022
Colouring My Memory
Monday, April 04, 2022
Trees And Screens
Here is another of my photographs from the same walk around Brighouse fifty odd years ago. This one was taken from Brighouse Bridge looking down at the River Calder. Brighouse Gas Works and a variety of old industrial units can clearly be seen lining the river banks. So what has changed in half a century?
The most obvious answer is - trees. In this modern image, only the electricity pylon manages to break through the tree cover. It is not just nature that has been responsible for the greening of the scene: the Gas Works and mill chimneys are long gone. There is, however, still industry there: a substantial industrial estate hides behind the trees on both sides of the river.
One further difference worth noting is the source of the photographs themselves. The first shot was taken by me, having walked to Brighouse from my home three or four miles away. Once the camera shutter had clicked it was captured on film, and that film was eventually taken home and painstakingly developed and printed in my cellar darkroom. The modern equivalent was a screenshot, copied and pasted from Google Streetview in seconds.
Sunday, April 03, 2022
A Commercial Death
DEATH AFTER SCUFFLE
“I Am Too Old For That Job"
Brighouse Tailor's End.
The facts have been reported to the Coroner, concerning the death which took place in the Commercial Inn, Brighouse, on Friday evening, of Sam Beard (68), tailor, of Huddersfield Road, Brighouse.
It is understood that at about 7.40 p.m. on Friday Beard was walking down Huddersfield Road, and on reaching the Commercial Inn stopped and spoke to a man named Harry Birkett, who, together with other men, was standing on the footpath in front of the men. Board, it is stated, then assumed a fighting attitude towards Birkett and struck him twice, with the result that the latter, to defend himself, closed with Beard, and both men fell to the ground, Birkett falling underneath. Birkett rolled Beard over, and immediately jumped to his feet, whilst Beard, raising himself on one knee, at once commenced breathing hastily, saying, "I am too old for that job."
Beard was seen to be getting worse, and was assisted into the doorway of the Commercial Inn. Dr. Wood, of Brighouse, was summoned, but on his arrival Beard was found to be dead. It is believed that Beard had for some , time suffered from heart trouble.
An inquest was held by Mr. E. W. Norris and a jury this afternoon, at Brighouse Court.
The widow said her husband had not had good health for some time, and whenever he exerted himself he complained of being short of breath. In reply to the Coroner, the widow said her husband was not quarrelsome, and she did not know of any quarrel with a man named Birkett.
Harry Allenby, 11, John Street, Rastrick, textile overlooker, said that on Friday evening, when standing outside the Commercial Inn, he heard Beard call to Harry Birkett. Birkett went towards him, and Beard then said, 'Now don't speak to me again in the manner you did on a certain occasion." Birkett told Beard he did not want anything to do with him in any shape or form. After that Beard struck at Birkett with his right hand and got hold of him, causing them both to fall to the ground. Beard was uppermost. Both got up, and neither said anything, but Beard, who seemed very much out of breath, panted severely and was assisted by a man named Bevitt and another towards the inn. Witness did not know of any quarrel between the two men.
Joe Frederick Devitt, pattern maker, 22, Crossley Street, Rastrick, said he, with the assistance of Birkett, lifted Beard up an,' took him to the inn doorway. Beard said: " I am done, Joe."
Dr J. Wood said he had attended Beard off and on for valvular heart disease and bronchitis for two years. Death in his opinion was due to synopse, caused by mytral disease of the heart, this being of old standing. In answer to the Coroner, witness said that in his opinion death would be accelerated by the excitement and exertion. He described Beard as a rather explosive but more of a genial nature. He might have died suddenly at any time. A verdict of accidental death, in accordance with the medical evidence was returned.
Saturday, April 02, 2022
My Dearest May
The card was addressed - in the most elegant copper-plate handwriting - to Miss May Chambers of Burngreave Road in Sheffield, and, as far as I can make out, the message is as follows:-
Budapest, 7 October '98
My dearest May, Since this morning I am in Pest, and I live with Mrs Brall. I enjoy it immensely, they are awfully kind people and received me in a most charming way. The other card I send you, I have not written anything because it would spoil the picture. Do you think your husband will look like these two? 1000 kisses, Adele Fleming.
Who were May and her friend Adele? What was Adele doing in Budapest, staying with Mrs Brall? And what of the other card which is mentioned, but sadly, is not in my collection? "Do you think your husband will look like these two!" Is May to marry a Hungarian Count? Has Adele gone on a tour of Europe to find a possible husband for her friend? It is all so intriguing. I do have a few other cards sent to May Chambers in my collection, so it is perhaps time to get them out and try to build a picture of her life.
This is a photograph of my grandmother, Kate Kellam, which must have been taken sometime around 1900, a few years before she married my grandfather, Albert Beanland. Catherine, who was always known as Kate, was born in the small town of Morcott, in Rutland in March 1877, to Albert and Catherine Kellam, and whilst she was still young, the family moved to South Wales, where Albert became a small grocer. This comparatively settled start to her life was thrown into disarray by the death of her father in 1891, when she was just 14 years old. The grocery shop was sold, and Kate, along with her mother and sister, Mary Ann, began to move around the country, taking up a variety of jobs including waitress and barmaid work. It was whilst working as a barmaid in Keighley, that she met my grandfather, Albert Beanland, and they were married in April 1903. A year later, Amy, the first of her two daughters, was born, and in 1911, my mother, Gladys, was born. Shortly after the birth of my mother, the family moved the short distance from Keighley to Bradford, and it was in Bradford that Kate died in 1960, aged 83.
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