Parade Through History

I was asked for more photographs of Northowram, so I dipped back into my archives of dusty old negatives and found this picture of a parade passing down Lydgate in Northowram in the late 1960s. It looks like the crowning of the Village Gala Queen, or some such event, and I suspect I took the photograph in either 1967 or 1968. The scenery is full of memories for me, having walked up that road, walked in the shadow of that monumental stone wall, hundreds of times on my way to school. The greengrocers is long gone, but the buildings still remain -much more sedate and domestic these days.

Making The Best

Not all photographs are good photographs. These days we get instant results from our digital cameras and smartphones, and those that are out of focus, under-exposed or decapitating the heads of relatives, can be instantly deleted. Back in the Film Age, however, the seasons could change between the shutter clicking and the prints arriving. This means that half a century later you come across an old, under-exposed, scratched and out of focus colour slide, and you have to try and make the best of a bad job. The best I could do with this photograph of the old railway sidings near North Bridge in Halifax, is to turn it into a nineteenth century painting.

The Rise And Fall Of The Crown

I had an email last week from someone who is writing a history of the Crown Brewery in Northowram, asking permission to use some of my photos of the building from 45 years ago. I was more than happy to grant permission as this was a building that I grew up with, living, as I did for twenty or so years, just a few hundred yards from where it was situated.

When I knew the building in the 50s and 60s it had long ceased to be a brewery, and was the works of C&R Construction who manufactured asbestos sheds and garages. When I took these three photographs in 1978, the old brewery building had been partly destroyed by fire and asbestos garages were rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

The old brewery building was replaced (probably in the 1980s) with a new furniture showroom and then that later became a showroom for a flooring company, and it was at that stage that I again photographed the building in 2015. Before sending these photos off to the person researching the brewery building, I decided today to drive to Northowram and check the latest status of the building. To my surprise, I discovered that the new building that replaced the brewery building has itself been demolished. Hopefully I will still be around when the next building goes up on the site, so I can continue to document the rise and fall of the Crown. 

The Architectural Timeline

This is a photograph of Halifax I took forty or fifty years ago – but I’m not sure which! There are people out there who can interpret the architectural timeline. The Burdock Way flyover had been constructed but the Gas Works and the North Bridge railway sidings were still in place. My guess is around 1975, but in the absence of a 1970s version of a digital timestamp, it remains just a guess

Place Replaced By Plaza

I took this photograph 35 or more years ago. At the time, Akroyd Place ended in the car park that was such a central feature of the Halifax of my youth. Next to it was the building that had been the Halifax Bowl, but by the time I took this photo it had been converted into a supermarket. The Town Hall imposed its presence on this part of the town and the sun still reflected off the stone sets. The stone sets of Akroyd Place are still there, but the road now provides little more than a view of the back wall of Broad Street Plaza.

Smudgy Images Of Halifax

Vintage Postcard : Victoria Hall, Halifax

This rather unassuming little picture postcard dates from the first decade of the twentieth century, and shows a view of the, then, newly built Victoria Hall in Halifax. The strange arrangement of the image on the body of the card – leaving a blank space on the right – was fairly common of postcards at the time and provided additional space for messages to be written. The image is typical of early postcard photographs – the photographer manages to capture not only a passing tram, a couple of pedestrians, but also a couple of road diggers hard at work. The Victoria Hall was built at the very turn of the nineteenth century and was opened in February 1901. The Halle Orchestra played at the opening concert which took place shortly after the death of Queen Victoria, and their performance featured Beethoven’s Funeral March.

I’ve tidied the image up a little but I avoided adding more than a hint of colour – Halifax in the early twentieth century was not an over-colourful place. If you take the tramlines away, the scene is not radically different today – a testament to the success of the town in preserving so much of its built environment.

The card was sent to Mr J F Taylor of Laurel Bank in Ossett. The message – as far as I can make it out – reads as follows:-

8, Bath Street : Monday Dear F & M, Received PC with thanks, as I wondered whatever was the matter, kept expecting M until the evening, then thought she must be ill. Hope Kenneth going on well and is better for the operation. We are all fairly well, but haven’t we had some cold weather – night’s especially cold. Hope M enjoyed her off, it would be very quiet though. Love from all, SE

The card has an Elland postmark and there was – and still is – a Bath Street in Elland. I can find no trace of a Mr Taylor of Laurel Bank in Ossett in the 1911 census, although my search was less than enthusiastic. Such old postcards as these are best retaining an element of mystery behind their smudgy images.

Extravagant Colour

This is the view of Dean Clough from North Bridge about fifty years ago. It’s in black and white because colour film was something you used for your holiday snaps or your Cousin Dave’s wedding pictures. It’s in black and white and grey because other colours would have been an extravagance.

Blackley : Smoke And Chapel

This is a photograph of mine from the early 1970s. For a long time I wasn’t sure where it was and I was going to categorise it as yet another of those “somewhere in West Yorkshire” shots. And then I recognised it : that is Blackley Baptist Church and the chimney is that of Wilkinson’s Brickworks. The brickworks and the chimney are long gone, but the Baptist Church still remains and those stone gravestones still form silhouettes against the skyline.