From Elland To Cleethorpes, With Love

The front of this vintage postcard illustrates The Cross in Elland, that part of the town where roads from here, there and everywhere came together. The few words on the reverse of the card provide clues to the movement of ordinary folk – to here, there, and everywhere – that was a common feature in peoples’ lives even 120 years ago. The card was sent by Elizabeth Chamberlain, who, in September 1905, was living with her uncle and aunt, Robert and Emma Newton, in Exley Lane, Elland. Robert worked at Elland gas works and had been born in London. His wife, Emma had been born in Spalding in Lincolnshire, and their niece, Elizabeth, had been born in Boston. She was writing to her friend (or, possibly, sister) Annie Holbard, who was then living with her husband, a fish curer, in Cleethorpes. Within a couple of years they would move to With-on-Dearne in South Yorkshire where he would become a coal miner. So often, we think of these olden times as being times when families were settled in one place, entire generations living within a few streets of one another. By the second half of the nineteenth century, however, times were changing, and new industries and improved transport meant that people moved from one part of the country to another much more frequently.

The short message on the reverse of the card illustrates this ease of movement, because Elizabeth was going to visit Annie Halbard and was due to leave Elland at 8.00am and arrive in Cleethorpes before noon. 

18, Exley Lane, Elland : Dear Annie I was please to have a card from you to say that I could come. Well I shall leave Elland at 8 o clock and should arrive at Cleethorpe 5 minutes to 12 o clock if all is well. With love to all, hope to see you on Saturday, from your E A Chamberlain.

Such a journey would only be possible today if you first of all took a bus, as Elland railway station is long gone. Rather than heading for Cleethorpes, Elizabeth could always walk up to Elland; but even then she would now find many of the shops closed, and the Cross looking like a shadow of its former self.

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