Thursday, April 28, 2022

25 Prints (3)

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.

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


When I was young, the Canadian philosopher, Marshall McLuhan, was all the rage. He is, of course, most famous for his premise that "the medium is the message" - the concept that the way ideas are circulated is as important as the ideas themselves. It has always been a concept that has fascinated me, and, if I ever manage to get around to it, it is a topic I might return to via one medium or another! What started me thinking about McLuhan, however, was a message from my brother, Roger, in his hideaway in far off Dominica, and links to a series of YouTube videos he has created. Roger is no stranger to experimenting with different mediums: sculptor, artist, writer, stamp-designer, and creator of one of the very first on-line blogs (although the term hadn't been invented at the time). His experiments with YouTube are a new departure for him, however, and are well with a view. Here is his video based on his collection of paintings called "Daughters of the Caribbean Sun"

And, here are links to the other two videos in the series:-

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)

Whilst I was at the pub bar buying a round of drinks, it appears that I was volunteered to create some prints to sell at a Church Arts And Crafts Fair in June. On sober reflection, I decided on a series of five small A5 prints, but which of my various photographs should I choose? I decided to produce a shortlist of 25 and from that, choose the final five. I will work on the short list over the next week or so, and share it in case anyone is interested. Here are the first five.

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!

I accept that the technology - in this case it has been provided by the MyHeritage website - is still a little shaky (my grandfather had a thick Yorkshire accent, not some BBC Home Counties affair), but these are early days:  Encarta was much more basic than Wikipedia and the first Cochlear Implants were primitive affairs. But technology does seem to stride forward faster than Gentleman Jack doing the rounds of her lovers, so who knows what is around the corner? Next week I'm looking forward to going out for a pint with Albert Einstein.

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


This old photograph of mine from 52 years ago is not particularly inspiring. Unlike others on the same strip of negatives, it does not illustrate changes in landscape or architecture. It does, however, unleash a floodgate of personal memories, and it also illustrates a degree of technological change. The technology in question sits centre-stage on my desk in my room at Keele University back in 1970; and it, of course, is my typewriter. This was back in the days when the University had one computer in the whole establishment and you were allowed to access it for half an hour during your four year stay to carry out calculations that would now be easy-peasy for a children's watch. Back then, being able to type up your essays gave you a bit of an advantage - the content may be mediocre (and, I must confess, it often was) but the presentation was commendable. The other thing to note is that the typewriter was placed on top of a thick towel in order to cut down on the noise - we tend to forget just how noisy old typewriters were, especially when they were used at the dead of night to meet approaching deadlines.

For want of something better to do - as always, a glorious place to find yourself - I decided to manually colour the old black and white photograph in order to try and remember the actual colours of the objects in question. The typewriter was easy, it was a light metallic blue, a shade I will never forget. The radiator behind my desk was institutional yellow and the thick wooden curtains were either brown or blue (I have given them a unrecognisable mix of the two). For some reason I can remember that pad of file paper - the more remarkable as I can't manage to remember what I am supposed to be doing tomorrow - and I have a feeling it might have been red. What on earth DEA stood for, I have no idea. And the glasses were, of course, black - except for the bits where glossy sticky tape would hold them together.

Old memories tend to fade to monochrome, but with a little effort they too can be colourised.

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


A strange coincidence brought together a photograph and a story. The photograph was one of my own, and was taken over fifty years ago, just a mile or so from where I now live. It shows Huddersfield Road as it emerges from the town of Brighouse and the junction with Aire Street and Lords Lane. The Commercial Inn (now known as the Commercial Railway) can clearly be seen on the right hand side of the photograph.

I was wasting time, having fun with the image, when I broke off and delved into one of my favourite bolt-holes - the vaults of the British Newspaper Archives. And there I discovered this story from my local newspaper, the Halifax Daily Courier And Guardian, of August 30th 1926. The events of this rather sad case all took place in the few hundred feet of pathway captured in my old photograph.


“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


I have been collecting old picture postcards for the best part of forty years. What attracts me to them is that they represent little nuggets of history, brought to life through, not only the picture, but also the brief message that they contain.. This postcard of the River Danube in Budapest is one of the earliest in my collection, having been posted in October 1898, five or six years before the postcard collecting craze really took off in Britain. These early postcards had undivided backs, which could only be used for the address of the recipient. The message had to somehow be compressed into any available space there might be on the front of the card, and early postcard printers would limit the size of images in order to allow a few sentences to be added by the sender.

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.

A Lot Of Gas And Some Empty Chairs

  You can decide which jet of nostalgia is turned on by this advert which I found in my copy of the 1931 Souvenir Book of the Historical Pag...