The British seaside: sea, sands, sky, fish and chips, ice cream, and seagulls.
Monthly Archives: June 2018
My entry for this month’s “Most Boring Picture Postcard In the World” competition is this postcard from the “La France Touristique” series which features a car parked outside a house: all in stunning monochrome. According to the caption, it is a photograph of the town of Les Matelles, which is an ancient town in southern France surrounded by beautiful pine forests. None of this is highlighted by the yawningly boring photograph.
I was in Lowestoft a couple of weeks ago and I probably walked past the studio where this portrait was taken 140 years ago. Like so many Victorian photographs, history seeps out of its sepia salts.
It was the early 1980s: a time when Arthur Scargill was King and the NUM believed it was invincible. I took this shot at a Yorkshire Miners’ Gala as preparations were being made for Arthur to speak.
All I have about this old negative from my collection is the hint of a caption which is “Back Street, Halifax”; and even this I suspect I invented 20 years after taking the picture. This makes it about as reliable as stories of Robin Hood written in the 19th century.
Sometimes photographs of unknown provenance come with a minimalist caption. In this case we are told that the subjects of this photograph – which dates from the late 1920s – are “Harold, Florence and Big Jimmy“. Big Jimmy: could any name be more suitable?
This is a rescan of a negative from 35 years ago, taken at the Yorkshire Miner’s Gala. Pit bands from all over the North were there, and as they chatted with other bandsmen, instruments in hand, the lot of the trumpet player was far preferable to that of the E-Flat Bass player.
Parts of Saint Mary’s Church in Painswick, Gloucestershire, date back to the fourteenth century. The churchyard contains a fine collection of yew trees. Local folklore suggests that there will never be more than 99 trees in the churchyard, and if a 100th appears, the devil will puck it out. Current estimates suggest that there are between 100 and 103. So much for folklore.
The thing about vintage picture postcards is that so often it is a trial of strength between the photograph on the front and the message on the back as to which can be the best source of historical interest. A perfect example is provided by a recent acquisition: a 1907 postcard of the Smith Art Gallery in Brighouse, Yorkshire. The Smith Gallery, and many of its paintings, were a gift to the town by Alderman William Smith, a local mill owner and benefactor. The gallery was built in 1906 and opened in the following year, and therefore this picture postcard must have been published to commemorate its opening. The gallery reflects a time when the northern mill town would compete with each other in terms of the grandness of their public buildings and the breadth of their provision for the arts.
The reverse of the card contains a message sent to Miss Lottie Roberts of Cleckheaton from her friend Laura in Brighouse. These were the days before holidays to the Costas or Dating Apps would provide the opportunity to meet the partner of your dreams, and young people were limited to the simple pleasures of a walk in the park.
We have arranged to go to the park on Tuesday evening. Surely we shall get off this time, it is always said the third time pays off for all. Come down with Clara.
Love from Laura.
I hope Laura was lucky in love and lucky in her third walk in the park. I was certainly lucky to find this fine old postcard and the store of social history that it contained.