Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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 stopping off points was the magnificent Art Nouveau Black Friar pub on Queen Victoria Street, which, back then, had only recently been saved from the threat of demolition. As jobs go, leading educational pub crawls was about as good as it gets.

Monday, May 20, 2024



Halifax does stone well. The railway viaduct could be part of a Roman amphitheatre, and the mill could be the business end of a Gothic cathedral. The wall could be an early stone version of Tetris, and the chimney part of a Gormley sculpture. And there, in the background, is the source of it all - one of the great stone hills of Yorkshire.

Stirling Scan

What better way to spend Sunday than to walk down King Street in Stirling. On the left are the offices of the Stirling Journal and on the right is the Golden Lion Hotel, and in the distance, the imposing Athenaeum building. The walk started ninety-odd years ago when someone took a photo of the scene, and finished yesterday when I got to scan the faded old print.

Happy Birthday


Making the love of my life the subject of my daily calendar on her birthday fulfils two important objectives. It reminds me not to forget her birthday, which, after more than half a century together, I'm still capable of doing. It also provides me with a birthday card I can print off and hand to her - I'm from Yorkshire, after all. Happy birthday my love.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Bus Stops

Bus stops are the punctuation marks of life, the points at which you pause, draw breath, and see what comes around the corner. It might be the bus you want, it might be a new direction in life. The bus stop in this case was at the top of Oxford Street in Crookesmoor, Sheffield. The time was 1979.

Thursday, May 16, 2024


I worked in Bradford for a time just after leaving school, and at lunchtime I would explore the wonderful old Kirkgate Market. It always seemed slightly more imposing than Halifax's Borough Market, as perhaps befits a city rather than a humble town. Bradford's market was torn down in the early 1970s and replaced with a concrete affair that seems likely to share the same fate before too long. Maybe I'm getting old and over-nostalgic, but I mourn the passing of the old, but not the new.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024


How many memories can you squeeze into a photograph? I crossed the road here each day on my way to junior school, and I caught the bus here each day on my way to secondary school. I bought bags of chips at the corner and comics across the road. I pumped petrol at the filling station for a Saturday job. A decade and a half of my life squeezed into a photograph, a decade and a half of my life squeezed into Northowram.

Thursday, May 09, 2024



Some would suggest that we live in a multiverse in which parallel universes exist side by side. I have some sympathy with this theory because fifty years ago I moved from West Yorkshire to North Staffordshire. Here is a photograph I took at the time.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Albert And Rose

All praise those sainted mortals who

When given a photo know what to do

With pencilled words small and clear

Discreetly say on the photos rear

Whether it's Jack or Joe or God only knows

Or in this case, Great Uncle Albert and his wife, Rose.

Commercial Street

From the mid nineteenth century onwards, every northern town worth its weight in brass had a Commercial Street. To these streets the new generation of drapers, bakers and umbrella makers were drawn. I took this photograph of Brighouse's Commercial Street over half a century ago. It was busy then and, I'm glad to say, it's still busy now.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Tunnel End

Photographs don't have to be "good" photographs to be memorable. Sometimes all they need to do is to capture a moment in time, seize a memory, transport you back to your youth. In this case I think it was Tunnel End in Marsden, but I can't be sure. Wherever it was, we're all at the other end of the tunnel now!

Weather Forecast


Here is the weather forecast for today .... and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that .....

Hastings Hats

Some years ago I had a phase of buying old glass plate negatives on eBay. I had to abandon the practice as they would consistently arrive through the post in pieces. Here's one that made it without breaking - it shows a group of women (could it be a milliners outing) in Hastings. Just as your eye finds its way around those extraordinary hats, it inevitably come to rest on that most memorable notice!

Remembering Sheffield


Went to a reunion in Sheffield last night, full of folk sharing memories of forty-odd years ago. Here’s my memories - of coffee and cream buses, Kelvin Hall flats, and the sound and smell of industry filling the morning air.

Industrial Heights


New housing developments in these parts have wonderfully aspirational names like Victoria Heights and Westminster View. Back in the old days street names were more descriptive than aspirational. Here's one of my photos of Brighouse from the early 1970s showing Industrial Street, which was next to Anvil Street, and not far from Oddfellows Street!

Enoch & Betty


A date stamp on the reverse of this studio portrait of my grandfather, Enoch Burnett, gives me a precise date - the 18th November 1928. At the time, Enoch will have been 51 years old and working as a window cleaner in Great Horton, Bradford. He is joined in this portrait by his dog, Betty, who, according to family legend, "was a good ratter".

Uderpass Escape

They were a legacy of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, as redolent of the times as any pop anthem or cult movie. Underpasses were the pit shafts of their day - cold and heartless, an assault on common humanity, temples of a subterranean subculture.

36/1001 : This is - or rather was - Halifax, but I'm not 100% sure where exactly. It was over 50 years ago that I took the photo, but I have a feeling it might have been Akroyd Place. I still have a fear of the area based on being made to go to Akroyd Place Baths as a child.

Pigs Are Equal

I've always been fond of pigs, there is a certain contentedness about them which I have always admired. I think I have to agree with Churchill when he said: "I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals".

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.

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...