A Study In Greys is by the British artist Walter Hayward-Young (1868-1920) who was also known by the pseudonym, “Jotter”. During his artistic career he turned his hand to many different ways of exploiting his talents: he designed posters for organisations such as London Transport and produced a highly popular series of articles on sketching for The Girls Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine. He is particularly famous, however, for the postcards which were based on his paintings which proved best sellers during the Great Postcard Craze of the first decade of the twentieth century.
On the reverse of this postcard is printed the following description: “A Study In Greys, Sheffield. This picture was made on the way to Owlerton. The predominant colour of Sheffield is grey and the smoke overhangs the whole place like a huge pall. Still, within a few miles of the town, some of England’s most lovely scenery is to be seen”.
Sheffield no longer has a pall of smoke hanging over it, and the predominant colour of the city is anything but grey. The city has changed …. and still some of England’s most lovely scenery can be seen within a fe miles of the city centre.
I scanned this old postcard of Bradford Wool Exchange yesterday and became curious about when it was built. I eventually found an account of the opening in the Bradford Observer of 14 February 1867 which I was intending to write about at great length and in considerable depth. And then the broadband service started playing up and I got involved in talking with a variety of real and virtual support workers. What I need now is not the beautiful building or the wise words of the important guests at the opening ceremony, but the pint of sherry that came free with the entry ticket!
My home-made desk calendar today features an image from a postcard – sent 110 years ago by my Great Aunt Eliza to her brother, Fowler Beanland. The view is of Fleet Street in Bury. I must admit, I don’t think I have ever been to the town – an omission that I will try to put right once this lockdown in ended – but Google Maps suggests that Fleet Street no longer exists and has been replaced by a shopping mall.
The message on the card is as follows:- 17th April 1911 : Dear Brothers, Just a line to say that I arrived alright, I went to the New Church at Heywood last night and I liked right well. Mrs Land went with me and they were a man and woman sat with us and they gave us an invitation to their house.With love, Eliza. At the time, Eliza would have been 31 years old and she was living in Rochdale. I suspect, but I am not certain, that she was in domestic service, but I need to gather some more evidence.
My calendar image today features a view of Throstle Nest Farm in Shepherd’s Thorn Lane, Rastrick, which is only a few minutes walk away from where I live. The farm is long gone, all that remains is part of a vaulted cellar, and therefore this chance to see it as it would have been 100 years ago is a welcome one. The image comes from an old vintage postcard I recently acquired. There is a message on the back, but it has faded into mysterious obscurity.
As I look out of my window, the ground is thick with snow, therefore there will be no walk down Shepherd’s Thorn Lane today. I will content myself with looking at the scene as it was over a century ago, on a sunny summer’s day, when the song thrushes were still singing.
My love of old vintage picture postcards goes back to my childhood when I would accompany my mother on occasional visits to her uncle, who lived in Keighley, the town of her birth. Fowler Beanland, who was always known in the family – without any trace of sarcasm – as “Uncle Fooler”, lived in what was at the time, a smart terraced house a few minutes walk from the town centre. I would look forward to such visits because the preferred way of keeping me quiet whilst the grown-ups discussed family matters, was to let me look through Fowler’s album of old postcards. He had collected these postcards during the great postcard-collecting craze of the first decade of the twentieth century. When I used to look at the album, when I was a child of six or seven, they would appeal to me because of their colour and their depiction of exotic locations such as Rochdale, Carlisle and Blackpool. Later, when I inherited the album, they would appeal to both my love of old photographs and my fascination for family history. I still have the collection intact, and I look forward to passing it on to my grandchildren. My desktop calendar image today features just one of these postcards, a view of North Street in Keighley in the early 1900s.
The 16th century Clough House stood on Halifax Old Road, just north of Huddersfield. Its grandness can be judged by the fact that under the 1664 Hearth Tax it was taxed on five hearths, which at the time was not just grand it was positively greedy. Sadly it was demolished in 1899 and now lives on only in an old postcard in my collection.
After publishing one of my old vintage postcards of Brookfoot – which is little more than a bend in the river a mile or so west of Brighouse – on a Facebook local history site, I started a trawl through my collection to see if I had any more postcards featuring the same spot. I was delighted – and somewhat surprised – to discover I had three: a Brookfoot triptych! During the great postcard boom years, local photographers and publishers were combing the glens and bends of the country, looking for subject matter, and even tiny hamlets like Brookfoot had their five minutes of pictorial fame. Or, in the case of Brookfoot, fifteen minutes!
This is an old picture postcard featuring Crown Street in Halifax at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although it dates from an age of horse carriages and gas lights, it is a scene which will be familiar to all those who know the town. Most of the buildings featured in the view are still there; and although the striped awnings and crowded shop windows may have been replaced by neon lights and plastic signs, the shape of the architecture is unchanged.
The card was posted in July 1904, at the height of the great postcard collecting craze of the early twentieth century. The message is a direct ancestor of so many text messages of 100 years or more later : “I am at Halifax. I will write again Tuesday night. From Ernest“. The message is of little interest to us today, but the image it was scrawled on the back of, provides us with a direct line to our past.
I have just acquired this lovely old vintage postcard of Stump Cross, near Halifax. It is a view I am well familiar with, based on a thousand bus journeys home – although those journeys would have been fifty years after this photograph was taken in the early years of the twentieth century. When I regularly travelled this road in the 1960s, most of the buildings featured in this postcard were unchanged, although the tram lines had long gone.
The postcard was sent by “Else” to her friend Gwen Payne who lived in Lincolnshire. The message is brief: “Dear G, Many thanks for letter this morning, will write you one very soon. This is the way to Huddersfield. Heaps of love, Yours Else“. The card was postmarked Sowerby Bridge, which suggests that if Else was going from there to Huddersfield, she would be taking a somewhat circuitous route if she travelled via Stump Cross!