Whenever I get a new camera – in this case a new Smartphone – I can’t resist taking a few photographs just to see what it is like in various circumstances. The subject matter of such shots is entirely inconsequential – it is whatever happens to be there in front of me at the time. Last night, Bradford Road in Fixby just happened to be there at the time. When I look back at such “test photographs”, they are always some of the most interesting from a historical perspective because of the randomness of the subject. History sticks to the inconsequential like iron filings on a magnet.
Monthly Archives: February 2019
This is another old view of a road I knew so well. I used to walk down from school and then take a short cut from Clover Hill Road to Well Head and then the Bus Station for the bus home. There won’t have been tram lines there in my school days, but somehow the memories all get jumbled up. My school days seem so long ago, and yet I can remember seeing a newspaper billboard outside the newsagents shop here (where the Swiss Cafe was, I think), announcing the first man in space. Ot maybe, the first tram in space.
The reverse of the card is, as always, interesting in its own right. Written in December 1909, it is a thank you note for presents which will have been sent for Christmas. Addressed to “Captain Pacey”, it starts, “Dear Sister”; so I strongly suspect we are dealing with a member of the Salvation Army. There was a Salvation Army Maternity Hospital in Hackney around the time of this postcard, so perhaps that is a clue. But there again, Captain Pacey may have been the pilot of the intergalactic spaceship that regularly left from the Swiss Cottage Cafe in Halifax for the dark side of the moon.
You could base a whole town planning conference around this photograph, or keep a classroom of kids occupied for a month. What colour is the Town Hall? How many mill chimneys are there? Why the large-scale demolitions? I must have taken the photograph in about 1970, just as work on Burdock Way was being started. When I enlarge the photograph and look at the individual streets – many of which are now long gone – it is like a trip down some winding memory lane. We used to queue up to get our Co-op Divvy up that street, and I used to walk down that street to meet my father at the factory gate. There is the story of the first part of my life in this photograph.
You will see from the other side that Mother is keeping better. I sent a p.c. on Saturday week and mentioned having a bedding to dispose of, you have not said anything yet. We want to know as we want it out of the way before we finish the cleaning. It is better than the last. Mother says if you have an old one you could get rid of it.
I am no animal expert, but that doesn’t look like a deer to me. If it is, it is the most unnatural deer to trot around the deer parks of Huddersfield. And whilst we are talking about unnatural, this photograph was taken in February when the weather is supposed to be cold, dark and dismal. Something is very wrong with the world.
They are big, they are not particularly beautiful, and they dominate the landscape. They deliver hoards of tourists, who flock up and down the main streets like mill-mucky pigeons on an outing to Harrogate. They turn travellers into tourists and then tourists into trippers.
All this may be true, but so what? At least they sail away rather than leaving a permanent blot on the landscape like some concrete-posh boutique hotel. At least they allow people, who in the past had to be satisfied with a week in Skegness, a chance to see some of the wonders of the world. They may be phoney structures, but they are full of real people who are just as entitled to a couple of weeks in the sun as any landed lord. And this particular cruise ship – the MV Britannia seen here at St Vincents – facilitated a lovely holiday in the Caribbean, so my last photograph is dedicated to her.
Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a 1910 photograph of a wine merchant’s shop in France. I have to admit, there was a temptation to follow an alcoholic theme, but this is the morning after the night before at the pub, so I will stay clear of all alcoholic references and go to France instead. Rather than go back 100 years, I am going back just over fifty, to the summer of 1962, and a great family adventure when we headed abroad for the first time for a camping holiday in France.
My main photograph shows my parents – Albert and Gladys – trying to cool off in the shade of a palm tree. I still cannot work out why they decided to go to France, it was a most un-Albertish thing to do (my Father would consider a trip to Dewsbury as being akin to a wild adventure). To go to a country where they didn’t speak Yorkshire, to eat foreign food, and – worst of all – to drive on the wrong side of the road, was behaviour which was most out of character.
I was about fourteen at the time and I still remember the trip well. When we eventually arrived in the South of France, my poor father ventured out into the sun and finished up with severe sunburn, and he had to spend the rest of the holiday in the shade. My mother was slightly more careful. limiting herself to the occasional paddle in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
Looking back at these photographs now, and taking into account that fifty years separates the theme image from my photos, and the same period separates my photos from today: what is fascinating is the warping of time. The old French wine merchant’s shop seems like history: a different world, long, long ago. My photos from the south of France seem like only yesterday. Is this to do with Einstein’s theory of light and time – or is it simply that I am getting old?