Monochrome Valley

This is an illustration from a book I have yet to write, which – in my own mind, at least – is entitled “Monochrome Valley“.  It shows Bank Bottom in Halifax in the early 1970s. Square Church spire and  Halifax Parish Church fight to be seen through the industrial smoke. I have a feeling that I took this photograph from the loading bay of Riding Hall Carpets, where I was working at the time.

3 comments

  • Hi Alan, I have been looking at your excellent blogs, and wonderful photographs, and especially the atmospheric ones of old Halifax in the 60s and 70s. I too am a big fan of Brandt’s work, and I worked totally in monochrome for many years myself, developing and printing everything. Halifax has fascinated me since I was a small child. I can remember standing on the platform at Halifax at night with the hiss of the gas lamps, complete with their L and Y enamel station name plates. The smell of toffee from Mackintosh’s pervading the night air. I have a collection of very old “Toffee Town” tins from Riley’s and Mackintosh’s which I love. I also have many others from years gone by, which contained all manner of things.
    Like you, I have always had a fascination with the past. You mention that you collect old post cards, which I do like, but don’t collect myself. I especially like old advertising, and you may be interested to know that I have several lovely old Halifax and district wooden coat hangers from Victorian/Edwardian times which have the location of the shop and the proprietors name of course. Not of any great monetary value, which is not my reason for collecting them, but in terms of social history they are fascinating. I also have a couple; [one of which is a duplicate,] curved Top Hat brushes with the Hatters name stamped into the handle, and of course the location, which in this case is Corn Market, Halifax.
    Do you remember an exhibition in the 1980s Alan, on Yorkshire breweries? It was held at Bankfield Museum. I remember that amongst other things, they had a lovely old blue enamel sign for Whitakers Brewery with the Rooster on it. What a fine image that was to advertise their beers.
    Throughout the late 1970s, 80s, 90s, I used to frequent the Upper George in Halifax, and on the wall for many years at the entrance to the yard, was a large Ramsden’s Ales sign, which also had the pub name on it, and an arrow pointing toward the inn. The Landlord at the time took it down after I showed an interest in it. I have learned since, not to draw attention to things as it often ends in tears, or at least anger. Especially when people are often totally oblivious to things, and only take an interest in the object when one mentions it. They then assume it must be worth something. The number of times I have had this happen to me is so frustrating because of their greed! Unlike us, they have little or no interest in the historical aspect.
    I mentioned Bill Brandt earlier, he is someone I would like to have met. His photographs of Halifax are wonderful. Have you seen the film about him? I saw it originally in the 1980s, when it was first was screened. “Bill Brandt, Master Photographers. [1983] YouTube” I have a 1930s copy of Lilliput magazine somewhere here with a feature on his Halifax work. Also, I have a copy of the Halifax Courier from the 80s or 90s with an article about him, and which mentions someone in Boothtown who knew him quite well I believe. It wasn’t you by any chance was it Alan?. I have always wondered how the person got to know him.
    Something else I which forgot to mention was Herbert Whone’s wonderful” Essential West Riding” You will have a copy I am sure.
    Well, I had better close now, but would just like to say again how much I have enjoyed looking at your work and articles. I hope to hear from you at some point, and make contact with you again on another occasion. We kindred spirits appreciate things on a different level to the general public. We are somehow more tuned in I believe.
    And on that note, I shall say goodbye for now Alan.

    Kind Regards

    Richard E N Newman

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    • Hi there Richard, Thanks so much for your comments, yes we seem to share similar interests when it comes to the work of Bill Brandt and the industrial heritage of the Halifax area. Sadly we were away from Halifax in the 1980s, so I never got to see the exhibition on Halifax breweries, but organisations such as the Cock of the North Bar in Hipperholme have done a great job in preserving some of the old materials. I wish I could say that I was the person from Boothtown who knew Brandt well, but unfortunately that was not the case. Whone’s Essential West Riding is on my shelf – a fine book with some great images. It was great to read your comments keep in touch, Alan

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