Monthly Archives: June 2019

The Tower On The Rocks

This strange little vintage postcard has an awful lot of white border and a somewhat anonymous rural scene, that could be here, there or almost anywhere. It only becomes of interest when the message on the reverse is read.

It is addressed to Stanley Nunn Esq of Mandeville Road, Enfield in North London. You need to stand on your head to read the message, but fear not, I have done that on your behalf.

Halifax: 21/7/07 I am anxiously awaiting your reply and will then make arrangements. This is a view of the outskirts of Halifax showing the tower on “The Rocks”. Yours very sincerely, Cecil Scott.

Now it has been pointed out, it is clear that is Wainhouse Tower on the horizon, but what remains a mystery is where the photograph was taken from. It is a side of Halifax I am not as familiar – hopefully someone else will recognise it and let me know.

Pink Stone And Blue Cobbles

This is a somewhat colourful picture postcard of the Victoria Hall in Halifax which dates from the first decade of the 20th century. Such cards were hand-coloured, and one can suppose that the colourful imagination of the colourist got the better of them on this occasion.

The card was sent to Mr G H Smith of Nettleton Street in Ossett. I have been able to trace Harvey Smith in the 1911 census (he was a rag merchant not the famous equestrian rider of sixty years later), but I can’t find a G H Smith at that address. The closest match is one Harold Smith who would have been just ten years old when the card was posted, and thus more likely to have been addressed as Master G H Smith. People were forced to grow up quickly back in those days, however; Harold Smith went on to fight in the Great War during which he was awarded the Romanian Military Medal for Distinguished Service! That, no doubt, is another story.

Lunevale

It is my birthday today, so it is a perfect excuse for a birthday selfie. This photograph – and no, it is not a selfie – must have been taken almost sixty years ago, and I am pictured on the brow of the appropriately named Lunevale, which was the ferry that ran from Fleetwood to Knott End. it was all a very long time ago.

Fowler’s Album

My interest in vintage postcards started sixty or more years ago when, as a child, I would be taken to visit my mother’s Uncle Fowler. Whilst the grown-ups talked, I would look through the album of old picture postcards he had. When he died, the album came to my mother, who – knowing my interest in it – passed it on to me. Those old postcards, collected by Fowler in the early 1900s, became the core of what became a larger collection, as I added postcards I would find in second-hand shops over the years. It is time, I think, to try and bring the collection back together in digital form. Fowler is pictured above – a photograph that was stuck in the back of the album. The postcards were in no particular order in the album, nor will they be in this digital collection.

For much of the time that Fowler Beanland was collecting old postcards – the first decade of the twentieth century – he was living in Longtown, Cumbria. He had moved there following the failure of the short-lived business he had established with his father and elder brother in his home town of Keighley. He was a spindle-maker and iron-turner by trade, and he may well have been employed in that capacity in the Longtown area.

The card had been sent to Fowler at his address in Longtown (48 Swan Street) and it came from someone else in the same town. The message – even when turned around by 180 degrees – is curious in the extreme.
“You was doing it fine on Sunday thought no one ___ you, A Looker On”What the missing word is, I have no idea!

Heath Grammar School

This postcard dates from the first decade of the twentieth century and shows the familiar frontage of, what was, Heath Grammar School, on Free Schools Lane, Halifax. Although the school dates back to the 16th century, the building as depicted on this postcard will only have been thirty or so years old when the photograph was taken. Constructed in 1878-9, it was purposely designed to reflect the Elizabethan origins of the school itself. Heath Grammar School merged with the nearby Crossley And Porter School in the 1980s and classes eventually moved to the larger site at the top of Saville Park. The building, which is Grade II listed, is now used for a variety of education-related purposes including both primary and adult education.

Dark Forgotten Mills

A strip of medium format negatives dating from the 1980s is the next to go on my scanning machine. I took these photographs whilst on a walk down Shaw Lane in Halifax, at a time of transition for the town. The last of the mills that had been at the heart of the economic and social life of the town for the previous one hundred and fifty years were closing down and there was an almost desolate feel to parts of the town: streets were empty, building abandoned – almost as if life had moved out and moved on. The soot – that preserved footprint of the industrial revolution – still coated the stone walls and chimneys of the dark forgotten mills.

Thirty or forty years on, the buildings still stand but they have a new vibrancy about them. What were industrial graveyards are now art spaces, dance studios, and retail units. Life has returned and reclaimed the infrastructure. 

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