Category Archives: Old Halifax

Six Queen Mary’s Up The Elland Canal

My calendar today features a photograph I took forty or so year ago of Elland Power Station.  When I took the photograph, the power station was relatively new – the Official Opening took place seventy years ago this year – but it was already reaching the end of its life. Within ten years it had been decommissioned, within twenty it had been demolished. In checking the various facts about its life history, I came across the press report of the official opening ceremony, which was performed by a certain Mr A R Cooper (M.Eng, M.I.E.E., M.Inst.F), accompanied by the new station superintendent Mr W Poppleton (Assoc.I.E.E. A.M.Inst.F). How on earth they managed to fit all those letters within even the cavernous turbo house is a mystery, and it has to be said that the praise being heaped upon the new power station was less than fulsome. Mr Poppleton said “that the Elland station was not an unusual one, but reliable. It was built there not because the site was ideal, but because generation was needed in this part of Yorkshire”. When he went on to describe the generating power of the new station, however, his language became far more energised. The new station, he declared, would generate enough power of a town of 200,000 people or enough to power a fleet of half a dozen Queen Mary’s! The vision of half a dozen Queen Mary’s sailing in formation along the River Calder is an analogy that would put even Prof Jonathan Van-Tam to shame.

That’s Halifax For You

A picture of Halifax taken from Southowram Bank at some time between the demolition of the old housing terraces that used to spread up the hillside, and the road itself becoming almost completely overgrown. That probably makes it some time in the 1970s. The mill that can be seen at the bottom of the cobbled road is the old Riding Hall Carpet mill. I worked there briefly a few years before I took this photograph, in the despatch warehouse on the ground floor, where we would load finished carpets onto the back of wagons. The mill was built into the steep hillside and the road wound around it like a piece of string. You could leave the despatch bay on the ground floor at one side of the building, climb up to the fifth floor and find another despatch bay leading straight out onto the road at the other side of the building. That’s Halifax for you!

A Colourful Parliament

A photograph of mine from the mid 1960s of the demolition of Parliament Street in Halifax. I’ve added a touch of colour because I am bored with Lockdown and I have nothing better to do. I find it a pleasing image, but I am well aware that others’ might not. It’s my calendar, however, and it’s me who has to look at it all day.

Hope Over Elland

According to my Little Oxford Dictionary, the definition of “wandering” is to aimlessly move from place to place in a casual fashion. That being the case, I declare myself a wanderer, indeed I will consider putting that down as my religion when the census forms arrive in a few weeks time. The Lockdown places a severe restriction on my ability to aimlessly wander, of course, but even within the confines of a definable “local area”, I am still able to practice my religion. Yesterday we wandered around the lower part of Elland and up Exley Bank (like all good religions, wandering needs a bit of sacrifice in its devotions – that’s why hills were invented), and for the first time in my life, I discovered Elland Cemetery. For those who haven’t been, it is one of those expansion cemeteries, added to towns in the nineteenth century when the local churchyard became too full. It occupies a spot high on the hill, looking down on where Elland Hall used to stand, and where endless vehicles now by-pass Elland. There are some fine gravestones and monuments, but one in particular caught my eye – a fine stone statue that appeared to be pointing departed souls in the direction of Ainley Top and the road to Huddersfield.

One of the great things about wandering as a religion, is that it can be practiced just as easily from a desktop; and so on my return home I went wandering through the records to find out more information about the statue – which was on top of the grave of Eli Garnett and his family. After consulting the sacred texts – the prophets Google, Malcolm Bull, Census records and the British Newspaper Archives – I eventually found the following piece from the Halifax Guardian of 21 September 1889.

“A WORK OF ART – At the monumental works of Mr J Noble, West Vale, there is a monument which is about to be erected in Elland Cemetery to the memory of the late Mr Joseph Garnett, son of Mr Eli Garnett, of Lowfield House, Elland. The monument is in classical design, and stands on a massive pedestal, and an inscription stone containing a marble panel, which is an exact facsimile of a medallion representing an emblem of music copied from the monument of Jenny Lind. The total height of the monument is 13ft, the pedestal, which is 7ft 6in high, being surmounted by a life-sized figure of Hope. The whole is executed from Bolton Wood stone, and has been done at Mr Noble’s works at West Vale. The figure itself has been carved by Mr Arthur S Rogers, Holywell Green, and is a fine example of delicate and skilful workmanship”

I too, think that the figure of Hope is a fine example of skilful workmanship, but I will leave it to my brother to provide a proper professional assessment. Skilful or not, meeting Hope standing high over Elland, made my day.

A Royal Tragedy

I must have taken this photograph sometime between 1963 and 1966: the first date being the release date of that memorable cinema classic, The Girl Hunters, the second being when they converted the cinema into a Bingo Hall. I can just about recall going to the cinema on a few occasions – the double seats on the back few rows making it an attractive location for teenagers in search of cultural enrichment.

The second photograph shows the current state of the building; every time I pass I almost want to weep at the tragedy of its downfall. There were plans, at one time, to turn it into a hotel, but I have no idea what has happened to that idea in these Covid-infested times. I just want to take the building home and care for it, but my wife won’t let me.

‘Tis Folly To Be Cold

We took a walk in the park yesterday. The park in question was Shaw Park in Holywell Green, near Halifax (No. 46 in “The Forgotten Parks of Yorkshire“, which is a book I have yet to write). It was one of the coldest days of the year, but even the icy blast coming straight down the valley from Siberia by way of Spitsbergen, could not spoil the delights of this curious little park, that, as with so many great little parks, started life as somebody’s garden. The house itself – Brooklands which was sadly demolished in 1933 – was built for the mill-owning Shaw family just above their massive Brookroyd Mill (also demolished) which at one time employed 1,200 workers. For entertainment, the Shaws built a variety of castle-like follies in the grounds and these remain to warm the heart – if not the arms and legs – on a cold winters’ day.

The Brighouse Skyline

Oh you can keep your Rio de Janeiro with its Corcovada Peak, you can forget your sandy Dubai and its boastful Burj Khalifa, you can even pickle your New York City along with its Empire States: I always say that if you want a truly memorable skyline, come to Brighouse.

The Sugden’s Flour Mill, the Leaning Chimney of Bank Street, the Mill Royd State Apartments – the whole scene takes your breath away.

I took the photograph fifty years ago. I added a bit of muddy colour last night. The mill chimneys might have gone, but much of the natural beauty remains.

The Socialist Matrons Of Brighouse

Someone was saying to me the other day that they had just been to a Labour Party meeting (virtually, of course) and it had seemed terribly old fashioned – like something from the nineteen seventies. That’s nothing, said I in the way only annoying old men can, when I was a lad, Labour Party meetings were positively antediluvian. Reading a copy of the Brighouse News from February 1910 a couple of days later, I came across a report of a meeting of the Brighouse Independent Labour Party (its complicated, but the ILP were at the time affiliated to the wider Labour Party), which seemed to prove my point. It brought back fond memories to me, but surely even I cannot be old enough to remember going to political meetings in the run up to the Great War!. If that is the case, however, how come an embroidered silk bookmark from the 1913 ILP Conference fell out of the back of one of the books I was reading recently?

ILP MATRONS’ EFFORT. The matrons connected with the Brighouse Independent Labour Party have been the promoters of many profitable functions in the past and a tea, concert and dance held by these untiring ladies on Saturday was quite up to the average, if not more successful than any previously held. Tea was first served to a large number of persons in the Institute, Bradford Road, the matrons being responsible for the placing of an excellent repast before their guests. These proceedings concluded, an adjournment was made to the Oddfellows’ Hall, across the way, where the first half of the evening was occupied by an entertainment sustained by the matrons. The programme consisted of the following items:—Chorus, “The dawn of day”; song. “And a little child shall lead them.” Mrs. Cottingham; recitation. “Broken hearted.” Mrs. Tattersall; musical sketch, “Our night out.” eight matrons; song, “Grandma,” Mrs. Smith: dialect, “The baby lapped in flannel.” Mrs. Morrison; musical sketch. “Caller herrin,” eight matrons; song. “The light of day.” Mrs. Cottingham; recitation. “The old maid’s soliloquy,” Mrs. Tattersall; duet. “Silver moonlight.” Mrs. Bottomley and Mrs. Bates; musical sketch. “Could we but rule.” eight matrons; recitation ” Uncle Joss.” Mrs. Cottingham; song, “Home. dearie home,” Mrs. Smith; sketch, ” An unexpected entertainment,” five matrons. Mrs. Truelove acted as accompanist. The remainder of the evening spent in dancing to music supplied by the Clifton Prize Band. 

No Fuss At The Hall

I was looking through my photographs the other day for one of the old Northowram Hospital, and I came across this photograph, which I took just a little further along Lands Head Lane showing Marsh Hall. When I took this photograph fifty years ago, the 16th/17th century Hall was showing its age; towards the end of last century, however, it was spruced up and renovated. I went to the Hall back in the 1950s when it was occupied by a farmer and milkman whose son was in the same class as me at Junior School. I remember being fascinated by those wonderful old windows which, when seen from the dark interior, seemed to let light flood into the room. If it was anywhere else other than West Yorkshire, the house would probably be famous with people travelling miles to see it. Here, it keeps itself and its history to itself, not wanting to make a fuss.

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