Monday, April 15, 2024

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 Pageant of Bradford. Perhaps it is the vision of the perfect mother in her perfect lounge surrounded by her perfect children. Or maybe it is the time when you could say that gas was economical too, and keeps a straight, warm, face. For me it is the vague memory of each local authority having their own gas and electricity departments with show-rooms in the town or city centre.

My quest to find 1001 half decent photographs before I "clicked my shutter" finds me in Sheffield in 1980, walking through the park and discovering a strange geometric pattern created by empty seats in search of an audience.

Print Runs And Mucky Masters


Copies of my latest collection of social media posts have just arrived from the printers. Following the outstanding success of the last edition I have doubled the print run to 10 copies. The distribution model remains the same, however, a copy on my bookshelf, a copy for the grandkids and most of the rest will be deposited on the "free books" shelves at local supermarkets and pubs.

34/1001 : I took this photo of Halifax Town Hall 50 years ago whilst the stonework was being cleaned. I can understand the viewpoint of those who think it's right to preserve the industrial legacy of layers of soot and grime, but, to me, that's just like leaving an old master mucky!

Who Needs People?


The distinctive shape of St John the Baptist's Church in Coley near Northowram. It's the isolation of the church that has always been its most distinguishing feature, it's almost as though it purposely shuns the company of houses and people. It's been a prominent local feature for over 500 years: who needs people?

The Parthenon Of Elland


It is the Parthenon of Elland. Every day, countless coaches deposit hordes of tourists eager to catch a glimpse of its classical lines. Souvenir shops crowd the surrounding narrow streets selling cheap plastic models of this iconic structure. it's a building dedicated to the gods of municipal pride and self-reliance. It is, of course, Elland Town Hall.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Kids And Drones


The photograph dates from 1948 and was taken outside our house in Great Horton, Bradford. My brother, Roger, is the one just below the letter box and I am not sure about the identity of the others. I was just about arriving in the world at the time the photo was taken. My question relates to the nature of change - what has changed in the intervening 75 years. Is it just the clothes and hairstyles that date it, or something more fundamental? Discuss.

33/1001 : These days you can get a drone to fly over towns and capture a photographic record. 50 years ago there were no drones, but in Halifax you didn’t need one because there was always Beacon Hill. This shot from the early 70s is like a memory map of the town of my youth.

Stone Faces And Stone Gods


This stone face looks out at people who enter St John the Baptist Church in Penistone. He, or could it be she, has seen so much: joy, sorrow, hopes, fears. Besieged by the Yorkshire wind and rain they remain watchful, perhaps waiting … but for what?

Some naïve folk believe these walls were built to hold quarry spoil and flatten fields. But no: they are the burial chambers of the ancient pharaohs of Queensbury and Shelf, deities still worshiped by many in these parts.

Walking Snaps


This is a small print that came into my possession one way or another, and it's a fine early example of street photography. It probably dates from the 1920s and I have no idea as to either the location or the identity of the subjects. Like all such photos, however, it is dripping with social history - you could probably write a thesis on this image alone.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Elland : Rowing Boats


This photo of Elland Bridge, By-Pass and Power Station started life in the early 1980s, but, quite clearly, I've messed about with it since then. They've messed about with the actual scene as well - the Power Station is long gone and some of the mill chimneys have lost their stature. What I can't work out, however, is where I took the original photograph from!

31/1001 : ROWING BOATS
I spotted this collection of rowing boats in Bridlington, more than 40 years ago. What struck me was the names: they all have everyday names of the time - like a roll-call of classic TV characters ... Karen & Keith, June & Ron. And amongst them all, is the Duchess of Montrose!

Sunday, April 07, 2024

A Cuppa And Some Fish

Most car journeys of my youth would involve stopping for a cup of tea. If it was a short journey – one of the regular weekend “runs” around West Yorkshire – there would be a flask of milky tea. Longer journeys – those day trips to Bridlington of Blackpool – might necessitate a Camping Gas stove and teapot. Here my mother and father pose with cup of tea in place, the Hillman Minx ready to run us on to the next cuppa stop.


It’s the first chapter in the story of fish and chips: a concrete palace lined with fish heads and ice. The photograph dates from the 1980s: a time when I would escape to the rare beauty of Cleethorpes and Grimsby Fish Docks whenever I got the opportunity.

Best Love : The Triumph Of Grey : Old And New And Glorious


Sometimes I choose the subjects for my daily desktop calendar, other times they choose themselves. This redoubtable character chose herself. It might be my Great Aunt Ruth-Annie or her sister Miriam or it might be any of a half dozen sisters from a different branch of the family. Whoever she is, she sent her portrait to my father's cousin and signed it "To my dear niece with best love". She has a smile the width of the Humber Estuary and hair by Van de Graaff. Whoever she was, I would have liked to have met her.

An old fire escape and a new flyover; course concrete and bilious billboards: for me the 1980s always seemed like a monochrome decade. There was black and white and not much in-between, and we seem to be moving in that direction again. Oh, for the triumph of grey.

A small, 120 year old piece of cardboard. On one side, history is captured in the form of a picture of North Bridge, Halifax flanked by long-lost mills and theatres. On the other side, life is captured in the form of a prehistoric text message to Miss Speechley who lives in the Isle of Man. Together they pose enough questions to occupy any Saturday.

Without intending to do so, I appear to have produced a trio of images of the junction between Cross Hills and North Bridge, Halifax. Friday's was a photograph of mine from 40 years ago, yesterday's a picture postcard from 120 years ago, and today's an image from just two years ago. I've messed about with this latest photo, gone a little overboard with the artistic filters - but the view can take it. It's old and new Halifax in all its glory.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Have Bed Ready And Look At A Town In Transition


The postcard dates back to the first decade of the 20th century and shows the Winter Gardens and Pier in Great Yarmouth. As is so often the case, the message on the back of the card is far more interesting than the somewhat crude image on the front. "Dear Mother, Just a line hoping you are quite well. Shall come home on Saturday night so please have bed ready as I shall retire early. I shall come home straight from Brixton after rehearsals, I expect about 11.00pm. Love to Dad, yourself and all, Yours, Bert"

1001 PHOTOS  29 : BRIGHOUSE IN TRANSITION : This photo of mine from the 1960s shows Brighouse from the hillside above Clifton. It captures the town in transition. Look carefully and you can still see working mills before they became apartments, and flour silos before they became climbing walls. You can also see new industry beginning to creep into the scene from the east,

Grain, Victory And Bovril


The original photograph was taken almost 60 years ago, somewhere in Scotland. As the years have gone by the original negative has faded, the grain has been pixilated, and the event has been turned into a memory. It remains, somewhere in Scotland.

28/1001 - Victory & Bovril : My quest to identify 1001 interesting photos I took before I died continues. This was 1968, I was probably chanting some anti-war slogan as I marched from Trafalgar Square to Grosvenor Square, but I still had my camera to hand to capture the occasion.

Monday, April 01, 2024

1 April 2024 - Britannia : Rescanning : Covers

There are some scenes I return to again and again: photographs I have been taking for fifty years. One such is the statue of Britannia which overlooks Elland Bridge from her elevated position on the roof of the former premises of the Halifax and Huddersfield Banking Company. Sometimes I try and capture her in an elegant pose, flanked by the pilasters, columns and pediments of the frontage of what is now a beautifully restored building. At other times I sneak up on her and catch her off guard, amid the tv aerials and chimney pots.

Monday, March 11, 2024

11 March 2024 : Paper Hanging


Some people read the paper, some try and understand the meaning of life, George II and Elvis Presley both died there .... and photographers look for shapes and patterns and textures.

Well Done That Town

The shop names and the shape of the cars may be different, and flat caps and plastic rain hoods abound; but the scene is still recognisable. In many places, the modern equivalent would be a pale shadow of commercial enterprise, but not Brighouse. Well done!

Sunday, March 10, 2024

10th March 2024 : Gladys In The Garden


It's Mother's Day, so who else but my mother, Gladys. This photograph will have been taken sometime around 1953, just after we had moved to Northowram. I would have been about five at the time. What memories, Mam.

9th March 2024 : The Chauffeur


It's said that early photographers were accused of stealing people's souls when they took photographs of them. This, of course, is nonsense as we all know that it is 5G masts and modern vaccines that steal souls. It never ceases to amaze me, however, that for a few pence you can buy an old photo and steal a moment in history.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Garden Visitor


A chance photograph taken through the kitchen window in order to check to see if my Nikon B700 is still working. It is!

Gala Days #2


These photos from the 1967 Halifax Charity Gala parade provide an insight not only into the street scenery of the time - there’s Greenwoods, Barratts, and M&S in the right place - but also the way of life of the time. And let’s not forget Pinky and Perky! 2/3

Pylons Welcomed


Some folks don’t take kindly to electricity pylons, accusing them of ruining what they believe to be “natural” landscapes. Up here, however, there’s nothing natural about these stone mined hills and mill smoked valleys. Pylons are welcome, any day.

Gala Days #1


Back in the summer of 1967 I was about to leave school and take up a promised job as a photographer on the local newspaper. They suggested I should get some practice in before starting work by taking photos at local events. One such was the Halifax Charity Gala parade as it made its way through the streets of Halifax. These are the first two of a series of shots from that day.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Walking Around Egypt

Until we ventured to France in the 1960s, it was my understanding that my father had only ever been abroad once - and that was a day trip to Calais in the 1930s. Thus initially I was surprised to see in his diary for this week in 1934 that he had gone walking around Egypt! The solution was to be found, of course, in the hamlet of Egypt just north of Thornton near Bradford.


Square monochrome photographs seem to be getting quite a following on social media, perhaps it’s time they had their own hashtag. This was St Thomas Church in Greetland near Halifax yesterday. #sqbw

The Cyclists

A few years ago I went through a phase of buying glass plate negatives off eBay. It was a hit or miss pastime as a good proportion of the purchases would arrive in pieces. Luckily this particular image did not suffer that fate and therefore can provide us with an almost perfect phial of pure history.

Uncle Harry

Everyone should have an Uncle Harry in their family. He performed in seaside concert parties in the 1920s and at holiday caravan parks in the 1950s. He played the Working Men's Clubs, grew his hair fashionably long in the 1960s and wore platform shoes to make him look taller. He was frowned upon by the rest of the family, but he had style in bucket-fulls and left memories as grand as any piano.

Pinball Skidding In Doncaster

I took this photograph in Doncaster Market a few years ago. I think it works rather well as a monochrome image - the lack of colour doesn’t simplify it, it turns it into a pinball machine where your eye is sent skidding from one side to the other.

Brighouse Market Time Markers

Another shot from that same strip of negatives from 50+ years ago. I’d obviously moved on from Bradford Road to the site of the old Brighouse Open Market which, I think, was where the bus station is now. Another shot full of time markers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

230 For 6


This is from an odd little album of some 100 photos from the 1920s and 30s that I bought a few weeks ago. I have no idea where the cricket ground is - but knowing the power of social media, no doubt someone will tell me - along with the date and the name of the batsman - by end of play today.

Yorkshire Mixture


A photo of Halifax taken four years ago rather than forty. What I like about this strange little shot of one of the back yards leading off Horton Street and looking towards Square Church, is that it is a right Yorkshire mixture: dark and light, rough and smooth, formal and informal, work and prayer.

Sky And Wall


Take a wall in Sheffield rather badly photographed forty years ago and a sky from a Photoshop filter pack. Add a touch of feeling bored and half watching the TV whilst messing about on my computer - and voila!

Rain Hats And Chocolate

Back in the days when the road went straight through, when women wore plastic rain hats, and - if you look carefully - when Cadbury’s chocolate was made from a glass and a half of full cream milk.

Heading North

Several years ago I bought an old photo album at an antique market. It contained photos taken on a cruise of “The Northern Capitals” in 1925. I decided to republish the album as a book with some background notes on the ship, the cruise and the people. This lovely image is comes from that album. The book*, I am astonished to discover, is still available on Amazon! (*“Heading North: A 1925 Photo Album Revisited, Alan Burnett”)

Skegness 1980

I didn’t always take photos of back streets and factories in places like Halifax. Some times I would head for more exotic and romantic locations. Here is Skegness in 1980!

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Whatever Happened To The Milk Marketing Board

Certain images are evocative of a time. In this photo of mine from the 1960s, I’m not sure whether it is the vehicles or the advert - whatever happened to the Milk Marketing Board? - or the grey shapes of the mills: but it is the 60s.

Working And Walking

By the week beginning 22nd January 1934, my father seems to have been doing nothing but working over and walking. I think that by 1934 he was working in the Engineering Department at Field Sons & Co at Lidget Green, Bradford. He was certainly working there by the late 1930s.

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...