When you add colour to an old photograph – or rather when some artificial intelligence source sat high in cyberspace adds colour to an old photograph – you tend to notice things more. This is an old photo of my mother and my grandfather which must date from either the 1930s or the 1940s – but which? The addition of colour makes her dress quite distinctive, and potentially more useful in dating the photograph. My wife – who knows about such things – tells me it is 1950s, but that can’t be the case, unless the same artificial intelligence has brought my grandfather back from the dead. Before seeing the colourised version of the photo, I had assumed that it was the early 1930s, but now I am beginning to think that was too early. The logical conclusion is the period around World War 2, but I tend to think of the clothing of that period as somewhat drab and uncolourful. Could the photographer – possibly my father – have captured a moment towards the end of the decade when the colours were about to go out all over Europe?
Category Archives: Family Photographs
In the midst of busy family photographs, you sometimes find a special moment: a look, a touch, a smile that can scream down the generations and remind you that the great thing about common humanity is that it is common to all.
This photograph was taken shortly after my brother, Roger, was born in 1943. He was the first of a new generation in the family and his arrival provided an opportunity for all the grandparents and uncles and aunts to gather together. I won’t name them all, they are of limited interest to those outside the family,
Focus, however on the lady with her arm in a sling – it is my grandmother, Harriet-Ellen Burnett. And focus, in particular, on that look – a look almost dangerously overloaded with pride and hope. I know the look well – I saw my grandchildren this morning.
I am not sure which seaside this “seaside snap” from the 1930s was taken at. If it was any other member of my family I would say Bridlington, Scarborough , Blackpool, or – if they were being adventurous – Skegness. This, however, is Auntie Annie (left) and Uncle Harry (second from left), and they led a far more glamorous lifestyle. Harry had flirted with the performing arts, settled to become a clerical worker, and together with Annie, bought the first semi-detached house the family had ever seen, and spent their money on leather settees and decorative ornaments. This could well have been Bournemouth. Enough said!
This is a photograph from forty years ago of Cannon Mills in Great Horton, Bradford. It is a hundred yards away from where my father was born and grew up. It is a mile away from where I was born and spent the first four years of my life. And yet, I hardly know the area other than through street names that ring distant bells of memory, and the scent of heritage that clings to the flagstones. Like most people, I have a bucket list of places I want to visit and revisit once this lockdown is over, and on that you will find your sunny Spain and your colourful Caribbean Islands. Such places have to fight for space, however, with the streets of the West Riding I proudly call my home.
I was sorting through some old family photographs yesterday, and I came across this somewhat sombre study of two, somewhat distant, relatives: Wilson and Clara Fieldhouse. They were the parents of my Uncle Frank and they lived their life in Bradford, Yorkshire. I never met them, and they may well have been perfectly charming people – although, it has to be said, that their son was somewhat strange – but I am not sure I would want to be at the wrong end of an argument with Clara. I decided that they could be made a little more presentable as the kind of relatives you want to show off to all your Facebook and Twitter friends, by the addition of a touch of colour, so I headed over to one of the sites that uses Artificial Intelligence to bring old photos back to life. Whilst the results improve matters a little, I still have to live with them at the end of my desk, looking at me all day. The alternative was to go one step further, and use the Artifial Intelligence to bring the faces back to life. I must confess, I tried it. The results were so frightening, I wouldn’t want to share it with others who might be of a nervous disposition.
My Grandfather and Great Uncle Fowler made these machines in Keighley. My mother and numerous aunties worked on these machines in Bradford. My Uncle Wilf sorted wool to be spun by them; my father shifted bobbins between them. My entire family history is constrained by their cast-iron frames.
This post is, perhaps, better late than never. There is a story behind these two brothers – a story that, sadly, illustrates that it is not always better to be late than never. But the post is so late going up that I don’t have time to tell the story today. I will, however, come back to it one day, so just keep the face of the boy sitting on the left in your mind, until his extraordinary story can be told.
I’ve always been rather intrigued by those Victorian gentlemen who used to go around saving lost souls. I have never aspired to provide salvation to that degree, but give me a sad and wanting old photograph, and I will grab the Photoshop Bible and get down to my devotions along with the most pious amongst us.
This tiny old photograph fell from the back of an old photographic album belonging to my Great Uncle, Fowler Beanland. Whether she was a relative, a friend, or a lover, I know not, but she didn’t deserve to be lost. Having found her, and smartened her up a little, I present her to posterity. She will now live forever more out in cyberspace, looking back at the world she once knew.
She tends not to look at Facebook or Twitter until the evening, so for the entirety of today she will believe that I have forgotten to send her a Valentine’s Day card. But how could I forget? I love her now just has much as I did when these photographs were taken over half a century ago. Happy Valentine’s Day my love.