Monthly Archives: January 2020

The Look

There is something very appealing about this old photograph which must date from the first couple of decades of the twentieth century. It is the look, which is pitched somewhere between haughty and flirtatious. There is a dedication in the bottom corner, but all that remains legible is the word “love”. The photograph comes from the Bingley studio of the photographer George Tillett.

Clocking In

LINDLEY CLOCK TOWER, HUDDERSFIELD : An inscription above the door reads “erected by James Nield Sykes Esq JP of Field Head, Lindley, for the benefit of the inhabitants of his village” It was built in 1902, and, at the time, the word was that it was erected to make sure the villagers arrived on time at Sykes’ nearby Acre Mills.

Oh Pity The Poor Reporters

The Brighouse News of Saturday 2 July 1870 contains a lengthy report of the meeting of the Brighouse Local Board. Local Boards were the precursors to Urban District Councils, and were charged with supervising the provision of such services as water supply, drainage, sewers and gas lighting. Their remit was particularly concerned with public health: they had been established in an attempt to counter the growing threat from disease in the rapidly expanding urban areas of the country. 

The June meeting of the Brighouse Local Board seems to have been a fairly dull affair: various sub-committees had been established; there were lengthy debates about people getting access to water stop taps who shouldn’t have access to them; the case of how much to charge someone who wanted water for his garden but not his house was debated at length; and complaints about water being supplied to Clifton without the express permission – and payment to – the Halifax Waterworks Committee were heard. The Local Board then met with a deputation from the Brighouse Temperance Society, and there was a lively debate about the evils of public houses and the dangers of drink being available to the working classes. The meeting didn’t end until a report from the Cemetery Committee had been heard, by which time most members of the Board and the officials attending the meeting were probably in great need of refreshments of one kind or another.

Directly under this report of the Board meeting there is a short item of correspondence which reads as follows:-

BRIGHOUSE LOCAL BOARD To the Editor of the Brighouse News SIR, Amid the innumerable demands for money for all sorts of things, can you spare me a corner in which to plead for funds for so small an object as paying the members of your Local Board by day; as I am sure the little business they have to do (if worth doing at all) will be better done in business hours, than at midnight, and the change would not only benefit them, but would give the reporters an opportunity of going home by DAYLIGHT

You have to admire the reporters who managed to sneak this item into the columns of the paper. Who says the Victorians didn’t have a sense of humour!

Taking A Chance With A Seamstress

An advert in an old newspaper advertises sewing machines, and lists the machines available. It is 1870 and the machine age is beginning to make the transition from factory to home. The machines are ornate and their names are as cursively evocative as their shapes. You can choose between a Tudor and a Little American, a Princess and a Paragon. You can cast your eye over a Tom Hood or a Queen Mabb, or be tempted by a Cleopatra. You might want to take a chance with a Seamstress or blow your savings on a Wanzer. The present-day world of iPhone 11’s, Galaxy S10’s and Huawei Y6’s somehow just does not compare.

Towards The Sepia Sea

This little faded photograph worked its way to the top of my “To Scan” pile. The couple sitting on the left are instantly recognisable – my uncle and aunt, Harry and Annie Moore. The photo appears to have been taken in one of those British seaside spa resorts that were fashionable in the 1930s, with their mock Greek columns and potted palms. Over the years, it has faded into those warm brown sepia tones that radiate photographic antiquity. The crimping to the edges of the photo are another sure sign of the times: an era when photographs were intended to be stuck in albums for posterity.

A better camera and a more seasoned photographer might have cropped the shot and concentrated on the two smiling holiday couples. Whilst they are interesting in themselves – their contrived happiness, their relaxed style – it is the extraneous detail that is fascinating. One is tempted to follow the couples walking along the promenade towards the sepia sea.

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