Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Halifax From New Bank

The second photo from that strip of 1966 negatives of Halifax, and I'd moved on from Godley Bridge. Let's just say it was taken from New Bank, although it might have been Lucy Street or even Claremount Road. That, however, is unmistakably Halifax.

Halifax From Godley Bridge, 1966

After I developed my negatives, I would cut them into strips of six for storage. 50+ years later these strips serve to remind me of walks I took all those years ago. This one starts by looking over Halifax from Godley Bridge, and an old Guinness advert gives us a date - 1966.

Accentuate The Negative


The original photograph was taken almost 40 years ago. There was coal on the beach and a fire somewhere in the distance. The original colours were all a bit odd, so rather than try and correct them, I chose to accentuate them.

Robin Hood Goes Fishing


It was almost 40 years ago, but I can clearly remember the day. It was early morning, long before anyone else in the holiday cottage had woken up. I was walking on the cliff top, watching the mist drift in from the North Sea. The sea was as calm as a proverbial mill pond. The boat and the fishermen emerged from the mist and were captured forever.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Halifax Before Colour


I did a thing last year for the Courier about iconic images of Halifax. This wasn't amongst my chosen photos, but perhaps it should have been. It's the way the footbridge slices an almost naked Beacon Hill into segments - it's Halifax before colour came.

Fire Exit


Make of this what you will!

Facial Recognition

Having been given an old family portrait of an unknown woman by a distant relative, I confidently told her that, armed with the very latest AI-driven facial recognition systems, I would be able to work out who it was. So far my research has brought up three possibilities, all of which are equally unlikely. The first (thank you Lightroom Facial Recognition) was that it was a girl I knew back in the swinging sixties called Sue Gibbon. The second (take a bow, Google image search) was that it was the former Mayoress of Portsmouth. The third (step forward again Google) was that it was the Honourable Mary Diane Eve Chetwynd. Back to the facial recognition drawing board.

Saturday, May 27, 2023


By tracing the route I must have taken 53 years ago, I suspect I was in Blackledge, just outside the Halifax Piece Hall, when I took this. The pile of old metal may have been an art installation - but more likely was left over from the demolition of the wholesale market.

Son Of A Bathroom


My mother, Gladys Beanland, in 1926, aged 15. She attended a fancy dress party as "A Bathroom"!. I don't know whether she won a prize or not, but she should have.

Unrealistic May


This started life as a rather dull and faded 1930s photo of unknown origin - but, luckily, with a pencilled caption of the back. I added a quite unrealistic sky and AI chipped in with an equally unrealistic colouring job. Nevertheless, I quite like the result.

Bank Buildings


Bank Buildings is a listed terrace of 34 dwellings built about 1860 in Meltham, near Huddersfield. Like many of the other things in the village it was built by Charles Brook (1814-1872), part-owner of the local cotton thread manufacturing mill.



I must have taken this photograph somewhere around 1970. Quite clearly it is Trafalgar Square in London, and equally clearly that is my mother, father and wife to be. It was all so many years ago, but I can look at this photograph and believe it was only yesterday.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Advertising Feature

For some time now we have held out against the relentless drive to monetise creative content with clickbait and product placement, but alas we have been forced to give in to the demands of commercial necessity. We therefore announce the addition of advertising content to our blogs and social media feeds.

Decline And Fall


The Decline And Fall Of A Flower


The Decline And Fall Of An Elderly Photographer

Power To The People

This is Elland about 50 years ago. I was taking photos at a wedding at St Mary's, and I climbed up in the flats opposite to get some shots of the wedding party as they came out of the church. It was the view down the Calder Valley to the Power Station that caught my eye, however.

The Chess Game

A Perfect Day: Blue skies, good company and a couple of games of chess.

31 July 1929 / 21 May 2023


Wednesday 31 July 1929. Lancashire mill workers continue their strike. Aristide Briand becomes Premier of France. The World Scout Jamboree opens in Birkenhead. Stock markets throughout the world continue to rise, although economists predict the surge in stock prices is unsustainable. Ivy Burnett enjoys a holiday in Douglas, Isle of Man.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Cheap, Fire-proof and Deadly


I can't quite remember where I took this, so let's just say it's Calderdale. Those asbestos garages were a distinctive part of the landscape back in the 1960s/70s: cheap, fireproof .... and deadly!

Friday, May 19, 2023

Licence To Drive A Motor Car

Sorting through some recently acquired papers of my Great Uncle Albert, I find his driving licence from 1912. This was a time when licences were issued by local authorities (in this case, Bradford), and had to be renewed every year.

Mrs Hewison's Drawing


When she was 13 years old in March 1920, my fathers' cousin, Ivy Miriam Burnett, was given an autograph book. It is full of those little poems - some silly, some uplifting - that have populated such books over the years. It also contains a number of drawings; this one contributed by Mrs Hewison of Moss Side, Manchester.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Ivy The Musician


There are the faces you can't put names to and then there are the names you don't have a face for. Yesterday, however, after a trip to meet a generous distant relative in Wales, I was finally able to put a face to my father's cousin Ivy Miriam Burnett. And not only did I get a face, but as a bonus I got a cello and saxophone as well.

Headscarves In Halifax


Sometimes it is the poor photos, the blurred photos, the crumpled and skew-whiff photos, that seem to capture the mood and feeling of a time better than the most pinprick sharp compositions. I took this in Halifax in 1965 - that's the Borough Market in the background - and it sings of its era. If you want a name for the tune, just call it Headscarves in Halifax.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Eunice And Leslie


Any box of old family photographs contains pictures of people you recognise and a few that you don’t. Those are the challenges, the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle that don’t easily fit. Who were Eunice and Leslie, and why do I have two copies of this same photograph; one dedicated to Peggy and the other to Eddie? They look at me with an expression that seems to say - “keep searching, you’ll find us eventually”

A Super-Charged Excursion To Northowram


I am not sure whether it was the headline about Halifax's super-charged bus, or the photograph of a collection of trilby wearing municipal leaders gathered around a Halifax Corporation double decker, which caught my attention - but whichever it was, my attention was caught. Having spent a fair amount of my youth waiting for such buses to appear from around the corner, as I nervously glanced at the Church clock and tried to calculate whether I could make it to school on time, I was always going to be easy prey for such stories: even if they were published a decade before I was born.

The article that accompanies the photograph is about a demonstration of a new super-charged bus engine that had been invented by Halifax's Passenger Transport manager, Mr G F Craven. It was been shown off to a gathering of the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Municipal Transport Association who were meeting in the town in May 1939, and, it must be said, enjoying a grand lunch at the Old Cock Hotel. After lunch, Mr Craven waxed lyrical about his diesel engine, saying that it had enough power to conquer the infamous hills of Halifax and it was capable of a remarkable 6 miles to the gallon of diesel oil. It could make a saving of £1.949 per year in fuel costs alone. The municipal grandees all cheered and then got on the bus for a trip up to Northowram. 

The Soot-Black Horse


I'm still in Halifax, and it's still 1965 (or perhaps 1966). The White Horse is anything but white, nor is it sand-stone clean as it is today. It has Halifax's industrial past seared into its surface, and the man by the lamp post is weighed down by too much work and not enough life.

Monday, May 15, 2023

A Moveable School


I remember walking down Wade Street in Halifax as a young man (en rout to the Brewers’ Cellar pub which was famous for its liberal interpretation of the licensing laws). It was a dark and dismal street and I have no recollection of passing the fine 1846 Sunday School building that dominates the street today. I today discovered the reason for this - it used to be hidden round the corner and in 1984 it was dismantled stone by stone and re-erected on its current site!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Auditors Report (Blossom)

AUDITORS REPORT (BLOSSOM) : Once again nature gets its production targets wrong resulting in a massive over production of Spring blossom with piles of it just littering the ground and going to waste. This is inefficiency at its worst. Glorious, unnecessary, uneconomical inefficiency.

A Walk Down Russel Street


As I scan my way through a strip of old negatives, I am constantly amending decisions I have made about when and where some of the photographs were taken. Many of these negatives are over fifty years old, and over the years they have gathered their own collection of scratches, dust spots and blemishes. I like to spend some time trying to restore the images to something like what they were when I took them all those years ago; and that restoration process means you get up and close to the enlarged image, and in so doing, discover details you might never have noticed before. In some way it is like walking down a street again - in this case Russel Street, Halifax - and reacquainting yourself with the shop names, the street furniture and the car models.

Having walked down Russel Street, I have decided that it is more likely that I took these photographs in 1965 rather than 1966. The two men who feature in this shot - and in the early "Bike Shop" image - were, I remember, fellow students on a Halifax Tech photographic course. And now that I am in Russel Street, I can more accurately guess that the bike shop of that previous photograph was Halfords which can be seen here at the top of Woolshops.

I often try and produce a colour version and a filtered version of the original monochrome image, just in case they add anything to the original. Filtered versions that slightly blur the detail of the original often seem closer to what I remember - but that is a result of my slightly blurred memory rather than some technical or creative endeavour.

As Was


In those days, if you were going to have your photograph taken, you would get out your Sunday best, your chapel suits and parlour dresses. You’d wash your faces, comb your hair, and smile against a studio backdrop. Not this family, however. THIS WAS LIFE AS IT WAS.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Classic British Seaside


I acquired this old print from somewhere or other. I don't know who took the original photo, when they did so, or where it was. At a guess I would say somewhere in Britain in the 1920s. It's such a wonderful composition - a scene that shouts out the classic British Seaside.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Man At Bus Stop (The AI Wars)


I received an invitation to give Adobe Firefly - their new Artificial Intelligence generated creative system - a try, and at the same time I was trying to work out what to do with a rather tired old photograph I took almost sixty years ago. The photograph was taken in Halifax and shows a bus at a bus stop, with a man walking down the street having just got off the bus.

For whatever reason, the sight of a man at a bus stop stimulated my attempts at creativity all those years ago (with, I must confess, debatable results), so I decided to issue a similar challenge to the very best in twenty-first century Artificial Intelligence. I therefore instructed Adobe Firefly to create an image of "a man at a bus stop in 1960s industrial landscape". Here is what it came up with -

Even accepting that my picture from 1965 was less than inspiring, I have to say that the AI creation leaves a fair amount to be desired. I can only imagine the reaction of his fellow passengers had this chap really stepped on to the No 23 to Copley. I decided to try a compromise solution, so I invited AI to mess around with some well established filters (Adobe Photoshop's Neural Filters) and apply them to my original 1960s image, The result is a compromise - and a not unpleasant compromise at that!

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Pac A Mac Days


Days at the seaside, Pac a Macs and ice cream, went sand between your toes, and the smell of chip fat on the breeze. That's my mother on the left, my Auntie Annie on the right, and, more than likely, me in the middle. I have no memory of a coat and cap as smart as that: no memory of the year: but I can still recall the small of salt-laced rain on a plastic macs.

That Look, That Question


This is a version of a photograph I took back in 1966. It wasn't a particularly good photograph from a technical perspective when I took it, and it hasn't improved with time. It is out of focus, indifferently composed, and of marginal interest as a subject. I can neither remember where exactly in Halifax it was taken or who the two men in the photograph were.  When I flick through my negative archives, however, it always seems to jump out at me, demanding attention. It is, of course, that look; that unspoken question which is familiar to all photographers: "Why are you taking a photograph of me?"

Halifax Piece Hall


The last of the "Sketches of Halifax" published in the Illustrated London News of the 5th August 1882 is, appropriately enough, a sketch of what is now the town's most celebrated building - the Piece Hall. When the ILN artist visited the Piece Hall back in 1882, he found a building that was in decline. The article that accompanies the sketches describes it as follows:-

"The old Cloth Hall, or Piece Hall, which was the exchange for the staple woollen manufacturing trade, but has of late years been comparatively deserted for that of Bradford, was built about the year 1780. It is of great size, but simply an open court, surrounded with double stone colonnades and stalls or small shops for the dealers to show their wares."

140 years after that less than glowing review of the Piece Hall, it is well worth noting that the "deserted and simple open court" has recently been voted the Yorkshire's most iconic building.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Half A Life Ago

It was Manchester. It was half a life ago. I can't even remember what I was doing in Manchester on a rainy night, other than taking photographs. But part of me remembers framing the shot, keeping the camera steady, hoping that the lights would work - remembers it as though it was yesterday and not half a lifetime ago.

Daffodil On The Water

When I was young, back in the early 1950s, our family’s annual seaside holiday would alternate between Bridlington on the east coast and New...