Monthly Archives: July 2019
The Fowler Beanland Album IV
This is another vintage card from the postcard album of Fowler Beanland. “A true friend is a sure anchor” is the early twentieth century equivalent of those trite quotations you see on Facebook or etched into all plaques to hang on the kitchen wall. The flags featured on the card are, on the right, the union flag, and on the left, the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom. The two hands are joined across a globe, signifying, perhaps, friendships between different parts of the, then, British Empire.
The card was posted to Fowler Beanland in October 1907, and despite the somewhat truncated address, seems to have reached Fowler in Longtown, Cumbria. It comes from his brother, Arther, and reads – as far as I can decipher it – as follows:
My Dear Bro. Yours duly to hand and we (ken?) you have plenty of relation who are all alive at Clayton and all in good health an presents hoping you are the same. We had a P.P.C. from our Eliza last week and were glad to hear that all is well at home. I had thought of coming up on 13th but got to I.O.M. The children send you the best of love. Yours Arthur.
This is a somewhat curious message, written in an unusual style. Arthur Beanland (1864-1944) was the eldest of the Beanland children, and here he is writing to his brother Fowler (1872-1959), the third eldest. His younger brother, Albert (1875-1948), was my maternal grandfather, and the Eliza (1880-1942) mentioned in the card is their youngest sister. At the time of this postcard, Arthur was living in Clayton, just outside Bradford, whilst Fowler was living in Longtown – 115 miles to the north – and Eliza was, I think, living in Keighley, from where the family originated. A few years before this card was sent, Arthur and Fowler – along with their father – were in business together, but that business went bankrupt at the turn of the century.
The final part of the message, is perhaps the most curious. It appears to suggest that Arthur was thinking of travelling north on the 13th to see Fowler but finished up in the Isle of Man instead! This would appear to be a significant feat of mis-navigation, even for the geographically challenged Beanlands.
This rather unusually shaped portrait of a studious young boy is described on the reverse as a “Panel Portrait” and is by the Blackpool photographer J Bamber of 69, Church Street. The only other reference I can find online to a “panel portrait” is by the same photographer and dates from the 1920s, so we can assume that Mr Bamber was experimenting with different shapes for his studio output in this period. The name may have been derived from the panel paintings of the medieval and renaissance period, which would be long portraits painted on wooden panels. The style obviously never caught on and is out of keeping with the modern trend towards wide-angle landscape formats.
If Halifax has anything, it has plenty of rocks. They build the steep valley sides, they support the heather-clad moors, they have provided the stone that has built the houses, and the coal that has powered the mills. To isolate just a few of these rocks, christen them as “The Rocks”, and then stroll in their shade on a Sunday afternoon might seem an odd thing to do, but Halifax folk have always rejoiced in their oddness. This particular postcard dates from the second decade of the twentieth century and is captioned “New Promenade, The Rocks, Halifax”. The new promenade in question is hardly likely to be the famous Albert Promenade that skirts the top of the valley and allows you to look down at The Rocks and the Calder Valley, because that had been around since 1861. It appears to be a new pathway cut through the rocks that is being celebrated. This might seem like an odd subject for a picture postcard, but as we have already agreed, Halifax folk like to celebrate their oddness.
The postcard was sent to Mrs Otten of 44 Berkeley Street, Crosby, Scunthorpe and came from “her loving niece, Emily”. The message reads as follows:
My Dear Uncle and Aunt, Mother thanks you very much for your good wishes for her birthday. We are very sorry to hear of Harrie’s accident. How very unfortunate for her and you too, as it will have been very hard for you all. Please give our best love to her and we hope with care she will soon be all right again. We are glad to hear you are all well, we are all the same. With our kind love to you and all. Your loving niece, Emily
There is a certain style to the writing, which is a little unusual for the age, when postcard messages tended to be brief and full of the kind of text message speak of their day – “Hope yours ok t’morrow be home 4ish …”
The postcard appears to date from around the time one of the most famous finds in Halifax archaeological history was made within the very rocks pictured on the card. In May 1915, a group of schoolgirls from the nearby Crossley Orphanage discovered the “Skircoat Hoard” – a collection of some 1075 bronze Roman coins. these were later presented to Halifax Corporation for display, but I can find no record of where they are now. I am sure that someone will write in and tell me.
There is something rather joyous about this little sepia print. The caption on the reverse simply says “With love from Hilda and Leo”, and it is the smile on Hilda’s face that is so striking. The photograph must have been taken during the mid 1920s, which suggests that Leo might have been one of those lucky men to have survived the Great War – or even luckier ones to have been too young to sacrifice. That smile is a smile of the times, the kind of smile you never got in the tight-knit confines of an Edwardian studio. The previous generation can just be made out at that back of the shot; half there, looking on from an earlier, sadder era. Hilda and Leo are happy and in love … and alive.
One of my photographs from the late ’60s shows the cobbled lane leading from Woodside Road down to Old Lane and Dean Clough. The lane still exists, but these days it is lined by a canopy of trees – and grey has been replaced by green.