Category Archives: News From Nowhere

Five From Brighouse : 2. It’s Clean And Bright And Full Of Life

Brighouse Market (c1966) : 35mm B&W Negative (Alan Burnett)

All sorts of things are evocative of a time, but in this particular case it is the Geest banana boxes and the advert for Worthington beers. They are as dated as the view itself. The Worthington jingle went thus: “What about a Worthington? Britain’s finest beer; What about a Worthington? It makes you want to cheer; It’s clean and bright and full of life …” The final line has been lost in history, but you can make it up without too much effort.

Halifax Town Hall – Saved By The Banks!

This old picture postcard was never used and therefore we don’t have a postmark to help us date it. It was published by a Halifax firm – Ryley’s of 27, Southgate – but I have been unable to trace when they were active in business. The photograph appears to have been taken at eight in the morning and there is little traffic about to help us with the dating process, other than a rather indistinct motorcycle of indeterminate vintage. This, however, is one of those rare occasions when we can proclaim “Saved by the Bank!”. On the corner of Crossley Street and Town Hall Street East in the picture, you can plainly make out the offices of the Union of London and Smiths Bank Limited. This particular conglomerate was formed in 1903 by the merger of the Union Bank of London and Smiths Bank, but was short lived; being acquired in 1918 by the National Provincial Bank, and being renamed the National Provincial and Union Bank of England. Banks – neither then nor now – have ever been shy about spending a bob or two to re-brand themselves, so we can assume that the old name plates were quickly taken down and replaced by new ones. We therefore have a time window: the rest is down to gut instincts based on design, printing process and the look of the streets. In conclusion, I suspect that we are looking at a photograph of Halifax Town Hall taken somewhere around 1912.

The First Tram In Space

1909 Postcard : Free School Lane, Halifax (AB Collection)

This is another old view of a road I knew so well. I used to walk down from school and then take a short cut from Clover Hill Road to Well Head and then the Bus Station for the bus home. There won’t have been tram lines there in my school days, but somehow the memories all get jumbled up. My school days seem so long ago, and yet I can remember seeing a newspaper billboard outside the newsagents shop here (where the Swiss Cafe was, I think), announcing the first man in space. Ot maybe, the first tram in space.

The reverse of the card is, as always, interesting in its own right. Written in December 1909, it is a thank you note for presents which will have been sent for Christmas. Addressed to “Captain Pacey”, it starts, “Dear Sister”; so I strongly suspect we are dealing with a member of the Salvation Army. There was a Salvation Army Maternity Hospital in Hackney around the time of this postcard, so perhaps that is a clue. But there again, Captain Pacey may have been the pilot of the intergalactic spaceship that regularly left from the Swiss Cottage Cafe in Halifax for the dark side of the moon.

Sepia Saturday 458 : Albert Einstein Goes To Cannes

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a 1910 photograph of a wine merchant’s shop in France. I have to admit, there was a temptation to follow an alcoholic theme, but this is the morning after the night before at the pub, so I will stay clear of all alcoholic references and go to France instead. Rather than go back 100 years, I am going back just over fifty, to the summer of 1962, and a great family adventure when we headed abroad for the first time for a camping holiday in France.

My main photograph shows my parents – Albert and Gladys – trying to cool off in the shade of a palm tree. I still cannot work out why they decided to go to France, it was a most un-Albertish thing to do (my Father would consider a trip to Dewsbury as being akin to a wild adventure). To go to a country where they didn’t speak Yorkshire, to eat foreign food, and – worst of all – to drive on the wrong side of the road, was behaviour which was most out of character.

I was about fourteen at the time and I still remember the trip well. When we eventually arrived in the South of France, my poor father ventured out into the sun and finished up with severe sunburn, and he had to spend the rest of the holiday in the shade. My mother was slightly more careful. limiting herself to the occasional paddle in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.

Looking back at these photographs now, and taking into account that fifty years separates the theme image from my photos, and the same period separates my photos from today: what is fascinating is the warping of time. The old French wine merchant’s shop seems like history: a different world, long, long ago. My photos from the south of France seem like only yesterday. Is this to do with Einstein’s theory of light and time – or is it simply that I am getting old?

Random News : Hope For The Sick In Bradford

Bradford Daily Telegraph : 22 February 1906

Our random number generated time machine may be a little shaky this week because it is suffering from a dose of electro-vibration. We are back in 1906 and attending the Medical-Electro Vibration Institute in Manningham, Bradford, and they are about to cure us of all our aches, pains and ailments. They offer a “free consultation and examination by the X-Rays high tell to a certainty what your ailment is”! And that ailment could be: “Rheumatism, Gout, Stomach Diseases, Indigestion, Flatulency, Sluggish Liver, Lumbago, Sciatica, Infantile Paralysis, Locomotor Ataxy, Bronchitis, Heart Disease, Nervous Disease, Consumption, Asthma, Deafness, Neuralgia, Sprains, Venritis, Synovitis, Varicose Veins …. and that well known disease recognised by quack doctors the world over, “etc”. I don’t know about you, but I have just done a quick check of that list and I suspect I suffer from at least 80% of them.

And what a range of treatments they have available: – Non-Electrical vibration, Electrical Vibration, the Static Spray, static Breeze Cathaporic and ozone inhalation treatment, the Electric Wave, Lynden Jar and Start Treatment, Treatment by the Violent Antinlight as used in cases of Consumption, Cancer, Lupus and various Skin Diseases. And to top it all off, “Psychological Medicine is used in mental derangement and habits”

Mr J Chance of 15, Bridge Street, Halifax went to the Institute with a knee that he had been unable to bend for 20 years, and after a course of perfectly painless treatment he was amazed to find that he could bend the said knee.  Why, indeed, should we continue to suffer?

Postcards From Home : An Edwardian Tweet About Halifax Post Office

The building that was Halifax Post Office, but now appears to be in a state of suspended urban animation, is featured on this lovely old postcard that was sent in 1903. When the card was sent, the building was less than twenty years old, and it was something the town was obviously proud of. It was a Camelot Castle of a Post Office with little towers and cupolas, bulls eye windows and coping stones built to cope with anything a northern industrial town could throw at them. It was designed by the architect Henry Tanner whilst he was serving as Surveyor at the Leeds Office of Public Works and opened in 1887. A contemporary newspaper report says that it “is a spacious building and has capital frontages to Commercial Street and Old Cock Yard”. The cost of the building was £10,000, exclusive of the cost of the site.

The very first picture postcards did not have divided backs where you could write both a message and the address of the recipient; the reverse of the card was the exclusive province of a name and address – any message had to be compressed into the space surrounding the picture on the obverse side. It was a little like an early form of Twitter – the art was to compress your news and views into a few precious words.

As far as I can make out, the message on this particular card is as follows:-

My Dear Erica,  Thank you for your P.P.C. Have you got the results of each separate subject, if so I should very much like to know, for I have failed in drawing, but I have quite satisfied teachers at school and think father is pleased. He has given me a thick gold curl bracelet. From Mary H Mitchell.I have done best at school and I am in S.A.E. I hope You have done best at your school.

There are a lot of words there, too many for a modern day Tweet, but the idea of writing small and curving the message around the edges of the card is a good one. Perhaps I will try it with my next Tweet!

Two Brothers, Two Townscapes

A couple of weeks ago I met up with my brother, Roger, for the first time in nine years. I had to travel halfway across the world to find him on the Caribbean island of Dominica, but once we were together our conversation soon turned to Halifax, the place we both call home. We also talked about the various project we were both involved with at the moment, and I happened to mention that I had been rescanning many of the photographs of Halifax I took some fifty years ago. By coincidence, Roger – who is a very successful artist and sculptor – had also been thinking about the Halifax of our youth, and was working on a book of his drawings, sketches and paintings from that period which he plans to call Townscapes. He has kindly allowed me to reproduce one of the sketches of Dean Clough and North Bridge that will feature in the book.

North Bridge and Burdock Way, Halifax : Scanned 35mm B&W Negative

His sketch sent me searching through my negative archives and I discovered a photograph I must have taken forty or so years ago of the same bridges and the same buildings. Perhaps I should work on a companion volume to Townscapes!

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