These old parish division markers have been gathered together in a local park. They tell of days when localities were divided by poverty, and local Board of Guardians would endlessly seek to limit the boundaries of social responsibility.
Category Archives: Old Halifax
Stepping back slightly from yesterday’s photograph, this gives a better idea of where the snicket was – and still is. Again, this was taken in the 1980s, a time of transition for this part of Halifax. Old Lane seems to justify its name, the various mills seem to be in search of a new future.
I took this photo 40 years ago. I have taken the same scene many times over the years; and so have many other photographers far better than me. The most famous version is Bill Brandt’s 1937 “Snicket In Halifax“, which forms part of the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art. A classic image of a classic town.
Two photographs from either the 1970s or 80s. By then I had left Halifax, but I would still walk around town with my camera when I returned to visit friends and family. These two photographs were taken in the Shaw Lane area of the town.
The stark monochrome shapes of mills and hills in Halifax. The mills are down Shaw Lane, the hill is Beacon Hill.
Looking down Boys Lane, Halifax, towards the Shears Inn. Little has changed over the years, you could probably see the same scene today: but, alas, in these Coronadays, the Shears will be temporarily closed.
With nothing much to do other than read old newspapers, I found this article in a copy of the local Brighouse News from exactly 140 years ago. It was a report by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Britton, on efforts being taken to combat the outbreak of scarlet fever (Scarlatina) in the town. Reading through the list of measures – social distancing, quarantining, closing schools, limiting funeral ceremonies, even gratuitous disinfectants – you are suddenly reminded that little is new in this world. Granted, we have yet to see the reintroduction of “Nuisance Inspectors”, but it is probably just a matter of time. All I need to do now is to find a copy of the newspaper from a year later to see whether things will ever return to normal.
Precautions Adopted: I now come to a very important part of this report, viz. – the precautions already adopted to put a stop to, and limit the spread of, the disease. I may say that everything has been done by your authority, and by your officers, with one exception, and that is “isolation”, to which I shall refer later on. Bills of “Precautions” have been twice distributed from house to house, and have also been posted in the district. The masters and mistresses of the various schools have been visited, and requested to exercise the greatest caution not to admit children from infected houses. All cases of which we have had any information, and also all suspected cases, have been regularly and systematically visited by your nuisance inspector, in many cases daily, and by myself at intervals of a few days. Not only have the cases been visited themselves, but careful inquiries have been made in the immediate neighbourhood of any cases, in order to ascertain if any more could be heard of. This has been done both at the inspector’s daily rounds, and also at my occasional visits. At these visits to infected houses, the occupants have been cautioned about admitting friends into their houses, and especially children; if they have had any children who remained well, they have been requested to keep them away from school, and not to allow them to mix with other children. They have been supplied with disinfectants gratuitously, and shown how to use them; they have been instructed to use every care in disposing of the slops and secreta from the houses; to observe thorough cleanliness, and to admit as much fresh air as possible into their houses. In cases of death, they have been requested to bury early, to avoid funeral teas, and not to allow children and friends in, to see the corpse; to make a thorough cleansing of house and contents afterwards, as well as after every case of recovery. This is a thing. I am happy to say, that the public generally do.
By chance, because my negatives are filed with the logic of a Trumpian tweet, another group of shots featuring Halifax Borough Market came to the top of the scanning pile. These are from the 1960s: the advent of decimalisation was a Godsend for picture daters. Pictures of the market always seem to be popular – perhaps it is the crowds that make us nostalgic for days when we could go out of doors without measuring social distances with our eyes. I like to think it is the market itself – a beautiful building fifty years ago and still a beautiful building now.
Halifax Borough Market in the 1970s: fresh-baked teacakes, brown paper bags full of fruit, slices of boiled ham. Crowds of people – constant footfall on the flagstones.