Category Archives: Old Halifax

Home 2 : Bank Bottom, Halifax

The second picture in my “Home” collection is this photograph of Bank Bottom, Halifax, which I took somewhere around 1970. Square Church spire is framed by the old Riding Hall Carpet Mill and the Halifax Gas Works. If you would like to see this picture in person, it is currently on view as part of the excellent Showcase Exhibition at Dean Clough, Halifax.

Home 1 : Halifax Piece Hall

I decided to gather together some of my favourite photographs under a variety of headings: home, away, family, strangers etc. It is a pointless project, and therefore one I am particularly drawn to. This is the first photo in the “Home” category. I took it over half a century ago. It was home then. It’s still home now.

Pain And Suffering In Downtown Halifax Part II

This was one of the first posts I ever put up on my blog, I posted it fifteen years ago in 2006. It came to mind because …. this morning started with a visit to the dentist! Actually, in the intervening fifteen years the dentist has moved, even closer to the town centre. Whist waiting for pain and suffering in downtown Halifax Part II to commence, I took a walk, and, of course, took some photographs. 

I took some photographs here back in the 1960s and when I got home I looked some of them out…..

As it turned out, there was no pain and suffering on this occasion: the dentist took one look and booked me in for another appointment to do a filling in a few weeks time. Keep a look out for Pain And Suffering In Downtown Halifax Part III

Reclining Figure, Halifax 1970

One of the least known of Henry Moore’s monumental sculptures is his 1970 Reclining Figure which has been on permanent display in Halifax for the last fifty years. In order to overcome the civic antipathy to major arts projects, Moore cleverly disguised the sculpture as an overpass.

Spot The Difference

Social Media is full of memes proclaiming “You have an IQ of over 150 if you can spot the difference between these two pictures!” You don’t need an IQ the size of Wainhouse Tower to spot the differences here, but you could probably host a seminar on the social, cultural and photographic differences on display. The first picture is a contemporary Google Streetview screen grab, the second was taken by me around 35 years ago.

A Return To The Shoulder Of Mutton

We took a walk yesterday down the Shibden Valley with some friends, and finished up at the Shoulder Of Mutton pub in Northowram, which was open for outdoor service. We had a pleasant drink and some excellent food and eventually the discussions got around to the pub itself and its history. Google eventually led me in the direction of a piece I must have written eleven years ago and had completely forgotten about. Even though I say it myself, it was worth a second read, and therefore I am giving it a second post.


FROM GREAT YORKSHIRE PUBS (2010)

The Shoulder of Mutton is situated in the village of Northowram, a couple of miles north of Halifax. This is the village I grew up in, and I remember passing the Shoulder many times as a child and wondering what secrets those child-free rooms held. For one reason or another, I never visited the Shoulder during that short window of opportunity between my looking old enough to get served in a pub and my leaving the village for ever. And so my recent visit to such a familiar landmark was my first to the pub. After offering up a short prayer to Bacchus for having kept the place open long enough for my visit, I gathered all my childhood memories around me and entered this fine Yorkshire village pub.

As you can see from my photograph, the pub spreads over three, conjoint buildings. On the right is the somewhat formal lines of what, in the eighteenth century, was known as Priestley Hall (built by Nathanial Priestley in 1723). The middle building – which was most likely originally a farmhouse – is probably the oldest and incorporates a stone lintel which is dated 1622. The building on the left looks as though it was grafted on to the farmhouse at some indeterminate date, long lost to memory.

And my impressions of the visit to the pub have almost been long-lost to memory as well, because I forgot to write them up when I returned home. So the following notes are taken straight from my notebook, but on re-reading them they seem to give an accurate taste of the place.

“Note the address – evocative: the phrase “Mutton Fold” should have a wider currency. How pleasant to discover a pub that has not been “themed”. Tables and chairs look as though they have emerged over time rather than been imported from a warehouse. The beers are not too beery, there is a jukebox and there is a pool table. Some walls have been knocked down, but still possible to see the lay-out of the old houses set on different levels. Beamed ceilings, but not low beams nor over-ancient beams, nor fake beams. Pleasant but empty, like touring the British Museum on a wet Tuesday morning. You want people to be here, you want gossip, you want neighborly chatter, you want romance – you want life. There is music somewhere in the background : a pulsating bass line with tendrils of voice flirting with meaning. Is this ale making me poetic? If so the culprit is Timothy Taylor Golden Best : beery with distinct notes of beer. I shared the pint with a good honest packet of Seabrook’s Potato Crisps and I am reminded that crisp must be one of the finest inventions of the entire twentieth century. Soon the pubs will be closed, the beer transformed into ice-cold tasteless lager, and crisps will be banned as junk food. Sad”

I may have got slightly carried away, but the Shoulder Of Mutton is a good, honest village pub and a visit there should be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum. If it had been so in my youth I wouldn’t have had to wait fifty years to enter its doors.

Shame About The Moral Philosophy

Heywood Chapel, Northowram, (Alan Burnett c1973)

Although I was born in Bradford, I was raised in Halifax, and, in particular, in the village of Northowram. It was there that I first wandered the streets, looked at buildings and thought about the past. It was there that I went to school, rode my first bike, and took my first photographs. This particular photograph of Heywood Chapel in Northowram dates from about fifty years ago, by which time I had already moved away from the village. The building was, and is, so typically Northowram. In the 50s and 60s it was still rather stark, soot-stone set against pointless skies: stark. These days it is prettier, with its own little Close of neat houses and bungalows. The current building dates from 1837, although Oliver Heywood built the first chapel here some 160 years before that.

Being a Northowram Lad and having an interest in history, I have always believed that an effort should be made to understand Oliver Heywood, who must be one of the villages’ most famous residents. His religious teachings are documented in five lengthy volumes, and, on more than one occasion, I have approached these with a creditable enthusiasm. Having now reached an age where I care less about what people might think about me, I have to, at last, declare that he was probably one of the most boring people ever to have walked up the Hough and along Towngate. Chapter after chapter he prattles on about sacrifice, sin and intercession – it’s enough to make you want to call in the Shoulder Of Mutton and get legless.

The building, however, is nice. It’s just a shame about the moral philosophy.

Arsenic And Old HAlifax

It’s time for another helping of mindless rants from some self-obsessed old fool with too much time on his hands. Now, I know what you’re thinking – it will be something like “You are being a little too hard on yourself …. but, there again, I can see where you are coming from“; but you misunderstand me, I am not talking about my own pointless ramblings, I am talking about another extract from that paragon of early 20th century journalism, the Halifax Comet. I have been working my way through copies of the Comet for a good few weeks now and I still can’t decide whether it is a failed attempt at serious journalism or an early experiment in post-modern satire. As the publication reaches its tenth birthday in 1901, the editorial content gets shorter whilst the adverts get longer. It is a little like one of the present day advertising magazines you get delivered through your letter box …. but without the interesting adverts for teeth whitening and roof repairs.

The leading news item in the edition of the 20th April 1901 is a lengthy rant against the Amalgamated Association Of Tramway And Vehicle Workers who have had the audacity to demand such things as a week’s paid holiday, time-and-a-half for overtime, and an end to the practice of workers having to pay for broken tools. “How can tramway workers expect a full week’s paid holiday a year when they only work six days a week”, thunders the editorial? As far as premium payments for overtime and Sunday working is concerned, “perhaps the public would like to pay a fare-and-a-half to meet this”!

The editorial will no doubt have dripped from the pen of the owner, publisher, and editor of the Comet, the irrepressible Alderman Joe Turner Spencer. One would like to think that the propagation of these views was without a trace of vested interests, but that was as unlikely then of a media baron as it is now. The last page of this particular edition of the Comet carries an advert for the Hipperholme brewers, Brear And Brown Ltd. The advert carries a copy of an analyst’s report which proudly proclaims: “I have analysed samples of brewing materials and beer and stout and as a result of my careful examination I certify that they contained no trace of arsenic”! If the Public Analyst had examined the pages of the Halifax Comet, he might not have come to the same conclusion.

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