This is a photograph showing the lower part of Halifax, which I must have taken in the 1960s. There is a mist – or perhaps a fog – clinging to the town and making it sufficiently difficult to pinpoint actual buildings, there is an element of challenge about it. What can be clearly seen are the areas of cleared land, getting ready to make way for the new Halifax of the late twentieth century. I used to walk down those crowded streets – down Winding Road and under the railway arches – to meet my Dad from work. The area seemed to be so large, but when stripped of its building and its history, it was little more than a patch of land.
Monthly Archives: August 2020
This certainly isn’t my best photograph from the 1960s – there’s a bit of camera shake, the developing was more miss than hit, and it was a dark, wet, misty day to start out with. But what it lacks in photographic quality, it makes up in part with atmosphere. As I look at it now, the memories come thick and fast: policemen in long white coats; Marks and Spencers at the top of town; the Co-op arcade; upstairs cafes; Stylo and John Temple! It doesn’t matter of the photograph isn’t all that clear – neither are my memories.
The last shot in this particular sequence of negatives from fifty years ago focuses on people rather than places; but still has a fair amount to tell us about changes to Halifax over the last half century. I think I must have taken this picture from Old Bank, which was the cobbled road that ran from Back Bottom to Beacon Hill Road. I tried walking up there a couple of years ago and it was a matter of trying to find the remains of the road which were almost completely overgrown. If you walk up the old road today you are still rewarded with a fine view of Halifax. Fifty years ago, I was rewarded with a fine view of my future wife and one of our oldest and closest friends.
I spent yesterday sheltering from Storm Francis. What else is there to do other than to play around with images – in this case some of the photographs I took in Halifax on Monday (a sunny day). As the rain poured down, it was time to open up the Photoshop and let my imagination run a little wild.
I posted one of my old photographs, of Fletchers’ Mill in Halifax, to the Old Halifax Facebook Group yesterday. It’s an image I have featured on this Blog before, but it was new to the Old Halifax Group. Several people wrote in with memories of the mill. Someone in particular mentioned that the waste dyes from the dye works used to pollute the Hebble Brook which ran alongside the mill.
The next shot on the strip of negatives I was scanning had a more focussed view of the river. These, however, were monochrome days, and thus there was little chance of seeing the rainbow ripples in the old mill stream.
These are, however, Photoshop days, and therefore with a little creative work with digital paintbrushes, the colourful past can be brought back to life! Realism, however, is neither intended nor achieved!
It was a rare sunny day yesterday, and I happened to be in Halifax with a little time to kill. So I wandered the streets, some of which I have been familiar with all my life, others of which I discovered had been hiding from me for seventy years. This is Halifax old and new, Halifax in transition between lockdown and re-awakening.
There are places in Halifax where the new and the old sit side by side in harmony, each accentuating the virtues of the other. On Blackwall, the Old Halifax Court House provides a fitting counterpoint to the unashamedly modern Halifax bank building.
The Beehive and Cross Keys has always faced the Playhouse Theatre, signifying the fine balance between art and entertainment. Now the Beehive is dead, the Keys have been uncrossed, and – for the moment – there are now plays at the Playhouse. Hopefully, the Playhouse will be back stronger than ever next year, but it is unlikely the same can be said about the Beehive.
This is a photograph of Old Lane in Halifax I took almost fifty years ago. I was following the footsteps of the great photographer Bill Brandt, who had walked the same streets in Halifax thirty years before that. This remains one of my favourite photographs of Dean Clough – the simplicity of the shapes are in sharp contrast to the complexity of the history.
More photographs of Sheffield from the 1980s. Looking back at these old photographs of mine, I can’t help but try to identify what has changed, not so much in terms of buildings, but in terms of the feel and the atmosphere. These grainy black and white images are responsible for a lot of the perceived change: just as our real memories fade, our photographic memories loose colour and definition. Although there are plenty of people on the streets – despite the weather – there is also an element of emptiness – the scenes have been drained of objects, leaving only the dirty snow drifts, the misty lines of buildings and the unmistakeable shape of 1980s cars. We can also pick up detailed clues to change: shops that have long gone, services for machines that no longer exist. The photographs are full of steel city snow mixed with a generous helping of grainy nostalgia.
Once you become addicted to colourising your old family photographs it is difficult to know when to stop. Here are a selection of my old family photographs that have been through the colourising machine this week.
One of my favourite photographs of the Liverpool Usher sisters. The one on the right is my late mother-in-law, Edith; as for the rest, perm any three from five – Winnie, Ruth, Ada, Rhoda, or Mary. The photograph dates from the mid to late 1930s.
My Uncle John (Burnett) and his second wife, Doris. This is a fairly standard “seaside snap” and will have probably been taken at one of the Yorkshire seaside towns (possibly Bridlington, more likely, Scarborough). The date will be the early 1950s.
My grandmother, Harriet Ellen Burnett, standing at the door of her house at 11, Arctic Parade, Great Horton, Bradford. This photograph must have been taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s, when she would have been in her late 60s. I can just about remember her, when she was in her 80s – a little old lady sat in the corner of the room.