Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Halifax Town Hall


This is an old picture postcard of Halifax Town Hall from my collection. It is the detail that is fascinating: Salmon & Glucksters tobacconist and walking stick dealer, Skue's Oriental Cafe, and that smoking mill chimney almost hidden by the magnificent town hall tower

Chimneys, Stacks And Towers


Most of my old photos of Halifax tend to be looking down onto the town from the surrounding hilltops, providing the kind of view that we get from Google Earth and the like. When I abandoned the hilltops the results were layer after layer of chimneys, stacks and towers.

Desktop Calendar : Harry's Cricket Cows

Harry Moore - my Uncle Harry - was born in Bradford in 1903 and, for a time in the early 1930s he was a professional entertainer with a travelling Concert Party, appearing in seaside pavilions and small town theatres throughout the land. After he married in 1933, he gave up touring and took a job as an office clerk, but continued to play the piano at weekends in Working Mens Clubs in the Bradford area. This photograph dates from around 1930 when he would be billed as "Harry Moore, Pianist and Tenor Vocalist".

Watched a cricket match yesterday in what must be one of the most scenic cricket grounds in Britain - Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The Lad was playing for a Western Park Hospital XI against another Sheffield team (that's The Lad keeping wicket in the photograph). It's only the second time I've ever seen him play cricket (to be fair, it's only about the 10th time he's ever played) - the previous occasion was at, I think, Siddal Working Men's Club ground in Halifax. That was 25 years ago - he's obviously on his way up!

Went for a walk up Norland this morning and once again I was provided with proof that we probably live in one of the most beautiful places in the country. I took this photograph looking over the Calder Valley and then checked the what3word location code. It turned out to be "votes.eating.wishes" the meaning of which I would be happy to discuss in a fine old Yorkshire pub over a pint or three of good beer, with anyone who cares to take up the offer.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

The Chorus Line


This group of young ladies, in what can only be described as eccentric dress, comes from a batch of photographs I bought several years ago which also contained some photographs of performances by the Brighouse Amateur Theatrical Society. We can therefore surmise that these fine ladies were the chorus from some Brighouse amateur theatrical production from the 1920s, but I would be loath to take a guess as to which one. The costumes are magnificent and look as though they were lovingly made from a set of Victorian dining-room curtains. As with so many old photographs, the individual faces are like chapters from a book yet to be written.

Desktop Calendar : Helsinki Burns Boats

According to my Lightroom Catalogue I have amassed some 93,606 photographs over my lifetime. Given my considerable age that works out at one photograph every seven hours, day and night, since the moment of my birth. I got a random number generator to pick just one of the 93,606 to illustrate today's calendar and it came up with this one from seven years ago.

This photograph of the MP John Burns is taken from an Edwardian picture postcard. During the great picture postcard boom of the first decade of the twentieth century every subject under the sun would be fair game to the postcard creators: religious quotations would sit next to music hall starlets in the postman’s sack, sober politicians would share space with saucy cartoons. Burns was a fascinating character, a working class trade union leader who was a Liberal MP and served in the cabinet as the President of the Local Government Board. He eventually resigned as an MP and from the Liberal Party over his opposition to Britain’s entry into World War 1 in 1914.

This group of rowing boats in a picture I took forty or more years ago now look like a group on an old people's outing. There's Jim and June and Ada and Ron. The only odd thing is how on earth the Duchess of Montrose got in there. Perhaps she is down on her luck and has had to join the pensioners' outing to the seaside.

Desktop Calendar : Summer View Rhapsody

Summer appeared yesterday out of the blue (or rather out of the murky grey that had been the norm for the last couple of months). Man, wife and dog went for a walk up Greetland and then stopped for refreshments at the recently re-opened Star Pub. What a grand day. There is even a suggestion that we might have summer again tomorrow.

Sometimes the views are just too wide. When you are there, you can move your head and take it all in, but you are going to have to use your imagination to sew these two parts of the photograph together. It was taken from that delightful spot on Upper Edge, Elland, known as the Wilderness. If you look carefully into the distance you can see Elland, West Vale, Halifax, Blackpool Tower, the Cliffs of Moher, and New York. You can even see Lucy the Dog.

One of the many "photos of unknown origin" that live in plastic boxes and threaten to crowd me out of my own office. When I look at these three women, I immediately expect them to start singing "Scaramouche, Scaramouche will you do the fandango", a la Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Is this just fantasy?

Monday, September 04, 2023

Yorkshire Grit

The background scenery fades into a pleasant impression: Yorkshire fields, Yorkshire hills. The foreground is, however, as sharp as a weavers knife: Yorkshire stone, Yorkshire grime, Yorkshire Grit.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Busy Line

I think I took this photograph from part way up Southowram Bank back in the 1960s. The image captures the almost sensual curve of the main railway line as it carves a way between mills and factories from Beacon Hill tunnel to Halifax Station. Square Church can be seen unsuccessfully competing for attention with the carpet mill factory chimney. The Parish Church (Halifax Minster) knows better than to try and keeps its head down and out of site. It's a busy scene, full of work and soot and life.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

On This Day : Cruising With The Dressed Dolls


If you put an advert in the papers today inviting people to a September cruise, no doubt they would turn up with suitcases packed and passports at the ready. Sixty-fives years ago, however, expectations were far less exotic. The 10th anniversary September Cruise was being held at the Alexandra Hall in Halifax, and rather than being rum punch cocktails served on the lido deck under the Caribbean stars, it was a mannequin parade, a bring and buy sale, and a doll dressing competition. The cabaret song and dance (produced by Madame Amie Ibbetson) would be the highlight of the day, and all told, it would be well worth the couple of bob it costs to go along.

The Two Ladies Of Vancouver


Most old photographs are enigmatic - providing far more questions than answers. Who are these two ladies, where were they out walking, when? If you are lucky, you might find a caption scrawled on the back of the photo, but even these can be unforthcoming. On this particularly photograph it says "This was taken in December on the street"

The photograph came from a batch which I had labelled "unknown family photographs". I could not recognise this rather stern pair of ladies, but the photograph had been passed to me by members of my family rather than acquired in some bulk purchase of unwanted old photographs. If it was met family, then the place was most likely West Yorkshire, but there was a "foreign" feel about the location - the names of the shops, the size of the billboards, the pricing of the goods. I tried searching for some of the shop names, but it wasn't until I got a match for "Millar and Coe" that things became interesting. I found online a 1930s photograph of a street of shops in which there is a Millar & Coe next door to a shop called Cordell - and it was in Vancouver in Canada.

Some of the questions are now answered - the place is the city of Vancouver - a place, to the best of my knowledge nobody in the family has ever visited - and the time is the 1930s. I am, however, left with the question as to who these two ladies of Vancouver are.

This is a Sepia Saturday post - more posts on this theme came be found by following the links on the Sepia Saturday Blog.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Desktop Calendar : 29-31 August 2023


I'd like to say I can remember where I was when I took this photograph 33 or so years ago - but I can't. It looks vaguely familiar, but it should do: I was there after all. Did I have longer legs in those days or was I stood on a pier? Let's just call it - "on the sands".

One of the two massive ventilation shafts built for the Springwood railway tunnel in Huddersfield. This is the older of the two shafts and was built in 1848. Its purpose was more to let steam out rather than to let fresh air in.

It's 60 years since I took this photograph. It shows the village of Kinlochleven and its aluminium smelter and hydro-electric works. The aluminium works closed down 20+ years ago, but the hydro-electric plant is still working and producing electricity for the national grid. Kinlochleven was known as the "electric village" in the early 20th century, being the first village in the world to be entirely powered by electricity. 

1/1001 : St. Mary Overy's Wharf


The photograph is one of my own and dates from the mid 1970s. At the time, this part of London was still dominated by narrow streets and old warehouses. Within my lifetime, it has changed beyond recognition.

Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...