This is a new scan of a negative I must have taken fifty or more years ago. It was taken from the churchyard of St Thomas’ Church, Claremount, and shows the bottom part of Halifax back in the days when the buildings were still soot-black and the chimneys that made them so were still smoking. Halifax Minster is half hidden by a gravestone, but Square Church can be seen on the right of the picture and this helps to date the photograph as the main body of the church was destroyed by fire in 1971.
Scanning and retouching old photographs is a little like doing a jig-saw puzzle – it allows you to get up close to detail. Cast a passing glance at a photograph from eighty-odd years ago – you can use this photograph of my mother, Gladys, on the seaside sands as an example – and you might notice the main subject or the approximate location, and then you move on to something else entirely like making a cup of tea or watching Coronation Street. When you are scanning and retouching however, you dedicate time to detail – the shape of the handbag, the activity of the crowds in the background, the pattern of the dress. You sit down and talk to the people and share memories.