Monthly Archives: July 2019

Through The Viewfinder

This photograph comes from a collection of old photos bought as a job lot on eBay for less than the price of a pint. I am a great fan of the novel “Sweet Caress” by William Boyd, and as soon as I saw this photograph I thought of Amory Clay, the heroine of that fine book. Boyd himself is an enthusiastic collector of anonymous photographs and “Sweet Caress” is richly illustrated with them. If there is ever a second edition of the book, I will be happy to contribute this fine photograph.

Looking Down On Elland

South Lane climbs out of Elland up towards the top of Blackley, but loses interest in the task and peters out amongst some soulless brick factories. Back in the 1970s, when I took this photo, you could still look down on the power station and Gannex Mill. These days industrial units and new housing developments fill up some of the spaces.

A Question Of Sport

This is an old, real photographic postcard that must date from the first part of the twentieth century, and is full of questions. I can not be certain about the date, the place, the sport or the team. There are eleven players so I am immediately drawn to a football team (soccer team). The only real clue is a name and address on the reverse of the card:-

W Bate, 43, Shroggs Terrace, Shroggs Road, Halifax

The only W Bate I have been able to track down in Halifax at about the right time was a prominent member of the Independent Order of Oddfellows (a PPGM  which might mean Past Provincial Grand Master).  I might, however, be barking up the wrong sporting tree. If any of my Halifax contacts recognises any of these sportsmen, they are welcome to the card.

A Walk In The Park

I must confess I was only vaguely aware of the existence of West View Park before I came across this vintage postcard. I have a cousin who used to walk his dog there, and I suspect that I have passed the entrance when going somewhere else. Now I want to visit the park, I want to walk the paths, look down the valley, see how it has changed over 100 years.

West View Park was laid out in the 1890s on the site of a moorland quarry in Highroad Well, Halifax. The conversion was financed by two local industrialists, Henry Charles McCrea, a mill owner who was also responsible for giving Albert Promenade to the town, and Enoch Robinson, a worsted spinner and future Mayor of Halifax. It was opened in 1896 and presented to the town of Halifax.

The card was sent in either 1914 or 1918 – the postmark is a little unclear. The message reads as follows:-

Dear Sarah Ann, Do not stay in expecting me this week as Mrs Dickenson has written telling me she is coming to see me one afternoon this week, so that means that my spare afternoon will be gone as I must be in when she comes. Love from Mary.  We shall be pleased to see you at anytime.

Thanks for the card Mary, I won’t stay in this week. I think I might go for a walk in the park instead.

A Paper Portal To The Past

If there is one thing you would have needed in 1919, it is a bit of a tonic. The memories of the carnage on the fields of Flanders are still raw, and the influenza epidemic is now picking off many of the people who survived. So this old photographic postcard from exactly 100 years ago seems most appropriate.

Someone has usefully identified this group of young people as “The Tonics Concert Party” of Birds Royd Mission in Brighouse, West Yorkshire.  These days, the Birds Royd area of Brighouse – which is just down the road from where I live – is mainly a bustling business and industrial estate, but 100 years ago it was still a crowded residential area, with street after street of terraced housing. Where there were nineteenth century houses in the industrial north of England, there were Methodist churches and chapels and missions of every possible variety; and in Birds Royd there was a thriving Mission Church – with its own Concert Party to provide entertainment for the congregation.

This old postcard, which I seem to recall I acquired from an Antique Centre, is a unique paper portal to a different age, albeit only 100 years ago. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the number of young men in the Concert Party is half that of young women. The Great War still cast a cloud over areas such as Birds Royd. Any kind of tonic was most welcome.

Ring Them Bells

The Ring O’Bells, located next to Halifax Minster, supposedly dates back to either the 13th or the 15th century; although that is “dates back” in the sense that an inn has been around here since those distant times. The current manifestation was, in fact, built in 1720; which is quite old enough for most respectable people. At one time it was known as “The Sign Of The Church“, but changed its name to the more fashionable “Ring O’Bells” probably in the 19th century. Church and Inn often had a symbiotic relationship, and the “Ring O’Bells” was a popular name for pubs in the Calder Valley – similar named establishments could be visited in Mytholmroyd, Rastrick, Elland, Brighouse and Boothtown.

When I took these two photographs in the 1960s, the old inn was showing its age. These days, however, it is all whitewashed walls, brass lights and canvas awnings. Nevertheless, it is still possible to sit within its stone-cooled rooms, drink a pleasant pint, and listen to the sound of the church bells.

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