Words, Images And Memories From The Writer And Blogger, Alan Burnett
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Now Lowry is hung upon the wall Beside the greatest of them all And even the Mona Lisa takes a bow This tired old man with hair like snow Told northern folk it’s time to go The fever came and the good lord mopped his brow And he left us matchstalk men and matchstalk cat’s & dog’s He left kids on the corner of the street That were sparking clogs Now he takes his brush and he waits outside then pearly gates To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cat’s & dog’s
MATCHSTALK MEN & MATCHSTALK CATS & DOGS Burke/Coleman 1978
My negatives are cut into strips of six, and, over the years, the individual strips have been moved so many times, they no longer have a logical sequence. Whilst each shot within the six is, obviously, related in time and place to those adjacent, the same cannot be said for the 700 or so individual strips. A few months ago, I scanned a strip of negatives that started with a photograph of Halifax Town Hall been stone-cleaned. The time on the Town Hall clock on that photograph was five minutes top eight. Today, I came across another strip of negatives, the last of which, is another photograph of the town hall being stone cleaned. This time, the time of the town hall clock is six minutes to eight. We have a sequence!
Another foggy, snow-covered day in Sheffield in the early 1980s (did I only ever venture out with my camera when there was Snow on the ground?). Even I don’t need help with the location of this particular photograph: whilst there have been so many changes to this part of the city, the buildings shown on both sides of Trippet Lane still exist today (although their functions have inevitably changed). I am not sure why people seem to be wandering around all over the place: maybe it is the ice on the roads, maybe it was one of the things we did back in the 80s.
Old photographs can play the strangest tricks; especially if they are over-exposed, grainy and inexpertly processed. When I look at this photograph – taken somewhat inexpertly by me, and processed even more inexpertly by me – I am reminded of those nineteenth century etchings of northern mill towns. But it can’t be nineteenth century because I took the photograph, and even I am not that old! And if you look carefully there are two blocks of flats in the background. It appears that if you keep old photographs they age faster than the speed of light.
“The new Cemetery is situated in Lighteliffe Road, and contains an area of about nine acres. The frontage towards the above-named road is enlosed with a atone wall and also ornamental wrought-iron railings, and has two wells for water, one for domestic purposes, and the other for the use of cattle….. The buildings include the Lodge and two Chapels. The former is situated on the left hand side of the entrance, and is a new and plain building in the gothic style of architecture… The Chapels are placed on the summit of a natural eminence in the midst of the Cemetery, and form a simple, but not ineffective group of buildings in the geometrical gothic style of architecture. They are surmounted in the centre by a tower about 65 feet high. In the tower is a door leading into the porches, and from there into the Chapels, which are finished inside with open temple roofs, boarded. There is also open benches for seats, and the whole neatly furnished”. BRIGHOUSE NEWS 8 AUGUST 1874
Colour photographs used to be a luxury. Colour film was much more expensive than black and white film, and home processing was not a cheap option. Family pressure meant that I would have to load my camera with a colour film for holidays, but for when I was wandering around the streets of Halifax, Sheffield or Stoke, cheap monochrome film was the norm. Occasionally, however, I would return from holiday and there might have been a colour film, half-used, in the camera. So, equally occasionally, I would walk around whichever town or city I was living in, capturing it in colour. This photograph shows Infirmary Road and Penistone Road in Sheffield, taken, I think, from the vantage point of the Kelvin flats. The date must have been around the mid 1980s.
This is another photo of Burdock Way, Halifax, taken from the same film and shot at the same time – probably about 1990. The road, of course, is still there: what is interesting once again is what is framed between the concrete curves. Whilst there are still garages at the bottom of Boothtown Road, they no longer deal in Lada cars! Ladas are still being manufactured, but you would be lucky to spot one these days speeding along the concrete road that flies over Halifax.
“With more than 2,000 fords in the UK, chances are you’ll come across one at some point. It may seem like a simple short-cut – after all there’s a road running through it – but that doesn’t mean the river is always safe to cross at a ford or watersplash”.The Automobile Association
Los Angeles has its iconic HOLLYWOOD sign, and for many years, Halifax had its equally iconic CRAWFORD-SWIFT sign painted on the side of its factory up on the hill at Claremount and overlooking the town. It might not have been celebrated on postcards or t-shirts, but it was part of the culture of a town which was proud of its industrial mix: from carpets to toffees and from machine tools to mortgages. My photograph is a comparatively late one for me, only about thirty years old, but it shows Crawford Swifts framed by the voluptuous concrete curves of Burdock Way.