Author Archives: Alan Burnett

St Thomas And The Gasworks

This view of St Thomas, Claremount, framed by the old Halifax Gas Works is another of the repeat offenders from my negative archives: it seems that I couldn’t walk down Bank Bottom without taking such a shot. This was taken before the church spire was removed, which, I think, makes it mid 1960s. I have darker versions of the same scene – one for every mood.

Tuscany With Industry Grafted On

As I trawl through my negative archives, I keep finding scenes that I have photographed on multiple occasions. I have this particular view of Bank Bottom in Halifax either with steam or without it. The without steam option has a more stately feel to it – a bit like Tuscany with industry grafted on.

Concrete Artery

I think I must have taken this photograph in the 1980s, which makes it rather late in my black and white days. By then the Burdock Way overpass had become part of the very body of Halifax; a vital artery rather than a varicose vein. Key buildings had shifted their positions to benefit from its’ fine concrete picture frames.

Plain John Wainhouse

John Edward Wainhouse did not do plain. Ask him to build a dyeworks chimney and you would finish up with a monumental tower; ask him to build a row of cottages and you would get spiral staircases and terraced balconies. His tower still stands proud, his terrace has seen better days. This was taken in 1972 when parts of it were still occupied and before the stone-cleaners came along.

Cause And Effect

I am not quite sure where this was taken from, but it could well have been in the King Cross area of Halifax. Whilst the dirt was being blasted off the public buildings of the town in the early 1970s, many terraces still bore witness to their sooty past. This multitude of chimneys, bitumen-black, gave evidence to both cause and effect.

When Not Why

There are two possible questions to go with this particular scan from my collection of old negatives. The first is, should old buildings be cleaned? There is an argument which says that power-washing the dirt, soot and grime off these fine old Victorian stone buildings is the architectural equivalent of a face-lift: momentarily interesting but, in the long term, depressingly invasive. However, I am putting off such a debate for a sunnier day in order to concentrate on the second, slightly more prosaic, question: when was Halifax Town Hall stone cleaned? I have combed through the copious wisdom of Uncle Google without pinning an exact date down. The date may remain a mystery, but I am pretty certain of the time: five to eight in the morning (or, just possibly, in the evening!)

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