The reverse of this picture postcard of the thoroughly splendid Belle Vue in Halifax contains one of the very earliest examples of an on-line shopping order. “Please get me half a yard of Turkey-red twill” writes Lucy.
Belle Vue is a building that many Halifax people of a certain age will be familiar with, as it used to be the Central Library – although tucked away up Lister Lane it was not very central. Now it is an up-market wedding venue: from novels to nuptials!
Belle Vue was built in 1857 as a home for Sir Francis Crossley and it was designed by the architect George Henry Stokes – the assistant to, and son-in-law of, Sir Joseph Paxton (of Crystal Palace fame). It became the home of Halifax Central Library in 1889, and remained so until 1983, when it then moved to the centre of Halifax. The Halifax War Memorial was also originally situated in the grounds, until it too was moved in 1988.
The Belle Vue postcard was used in November 1913 as a kind of early on-line shopping order. The card was sent to Mrs Hartland of Margate Street in Sowerby Bridge, and the message reads as follows:-
Dear M, When you are out shopping some time will you please get me half a yard of Turkey Red Twill for my quilt. I have used up all I have so far as I know now we shall be coming home on Sunday. Love to both, Lucy.
Turkey Red was a dyeing process used of cotton cloth and yarn and producing rich vibrant colours. It was particularly popular in the nineteenth century and Turkey Red cloth was produced widely in Scotland. I did manage to find an advert for some genuine 100 year old Turkey Red Twill on eBay, so if Lucy would like to drop me a postcard, I can order her some.