Category Archives: Postcards From Home

Postcards From Home : Seven Views Of Halifax

This card is yet another example of the popular “multi-view” cards that were produced during the early years of the twentieth century. Postcard publishers were fond of this approach, as it allowed them to republish existing images with the simple addition of a coat of arms or similar device. I think I have all seven of the individual views of famous Halifax locations within my postcard collection. The caption “The Rooks” is clearly a printing error, for the view is clearly that of the Rocks and Albert Promenade. The Orphanage is the current Crossley Heath School: it was known as the Crossley and Porter Orphanage until it changed its name to the Crossley And Porter Schools in 1918. The coat of arms depicted on the card is interesting: there are several versions of the Halifax coat of arms or town crest illustrated on the internet – none of which seem to feature this particular design.

The message on the reverse of this card is as follows:-

Dear Cousins, Very pleased to hear from you. Uncle’s address is 15 Lane Ends Terrace, Hipperholme. You must not be surprised if you see us anytime when you get settled as we shall not have as far to come. Mother sends her kind love. We have removed to Bramley Lane, Lightcliffe. With love Lucy. Send proper address at Sheffield.

The card was posted on the 8th August 1912 to Mrs Otter of the Wheatsheaf Inn, Bridge Street, Gainsborough.

There is a fascinating short description of the town of Halifax printed on the back of the postcard which tries to sum up the town in just fifty words. An interesting exercise would be to try and encapsulate Halifax now, at the start of the twenty-first century, in just fifty words.

Postcards From Home : Kirklees, Calderdale

A popular pub quiz trivia question in these parts is “What is odd about the name of the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees?“. The answer is that it is named after Kirklees Hall – which is in fact in the neighbouring borough of Calderdale. For most of my life I have lived within an arrows-shot of Kirklees Hall and, I must confess, I have never actually seen it. This is as much a result of the privacy notices that surround the property and its adjacent grounds, as my lack of curiosity. I remember, as a youth, climbing over a few fences to visit Robin Hood’s Grave, which is in the grounds, but I never caught sight of the Hall itself.

The Hall is Jacobean in origin – although most of the visible structure results from an eighteenth century rebuild by the architect, John Carr. It was built in the grounds of the twelfth century Kirklees Priory, where – legend suggests – Robin Hood met his death. Whilst lying on his deathbed he is supposed to have shot an arrow from the old Priory, and decreed that he should be buried wherever the arrow landed – hence the famous grave. Sad to say, the grave is a Victorian edifice, and most of the legend of Robin Hood is a romantic fantasy:  but it was still worth climbing a fence to see.

The Hall remained under the ownership of the Armytage family right up until the 1980s, when it was converted into luxury apartments. The Priory itself is long gone and commemorated these days by the name of the Three Nuns Inn.

The card was sent in August 1914, just a few weeks after the outbreak of World War 1 (although there is no mention of the conflict in the message). It was sent to a Mrs Margrave of 22 Cocker Street, Blackpool, from someone who signs themselves as :F”. The message is as follows:-

Very pleased to hear you are having a good time, keep it up. By the way tell L that those postcards she sent me have evidently gone astray. Kind regards to all, F (Here with Walt tonight)

It is unclear as to where F (along with Walt) is tonight: it is more likely to be Brighouse than it is Kirklees Hall. Nevertheless, it could just be that the Hall was used for military training purposes during World War 1 (the grounds certainly were during World War 2), and possibly F and Walt were preparing to go to France and fight in the war. As with most old postcards, the lack of certainty just adds to the interest.

The Blue Skies And Mustard Streets Of Brighouse

There is a modern passion for “colourising” old monochrome photographs and films, and when this is skilfully done, it can provide a more accurate link to the past. Reproducing scenes in various shades of grey was simply a short interlude in our visual history – imposed by the technical limitations of early photographic techniques. Neither the cave painters of Lascaux nor the old masters of the Renaissance would have dreamt of limiting their palettes to black and white. When we close our eyes and conjure up a scene, we conjure with reds, and blues, and greens.

The early manufacturers of picture postcards refused to be limited by the photographic processes that were available to them at the turn of the twentieth century. Using the monochrome outlines provided by their cameras, they applied colour with bravado rather than accuracy, tinting and colourising the streets of our towns and cities.

This early twentieth century postcard of Commercial Street in Brighouse is a particularly good example of the tinter’s art, with its too blue sky and its mustard coloured streets. The buildings are real enough, however, and a walk down Commercial Street today would reveal most of these nineteenth century shops still in place: although the original owners have long left the scene. Thomas Clayton’s Central Mart was Brighouse’s equivalent of a department store, where you could buy everything from knicker elastic to linoleum. Think of it as an Amazon of the High Street.

The message on the reverse of the card is satisfyingly prosaic.

Dear Friends, We arrived home about 9 o’clock on Sat having spent a very pleasant time in Skipton. Father is a lot better and going about his work as usual, we hope that at some future time we may be able to spend a few more days with you, we always feel so much better after coming. With the best of love to you. From Mr and Mrs Turner.

The card was addressed to Mr and Mrs Whitlock in Morecambe, and we can surmise that the Turners had just returned from a holiday by the sea. No doubt whilst they were away, they bought many postcards of Morecambe to send to their friends back home; and the same postcard colourists had done a similar justice to the blue skies and mustard coloured sands of Morecambe Bay.

Changing Times In Elland

In some ways the centre of Elland has changed little since this photograph was taken 100 years ago, whilst in other ways it has changed so very much. The Saville Arms is still open, and still dispensing beer, but the bank opposite has stopped dispensing cash and many of the shops stand empty. The clock has gone and so have the cobbles, but the scene is still instantly recognisable.

The card was posted in Lincolnshire and it contains a somewhat uncertain, and rather formal, message :-

Dear Sister, We are coming either Saturday next or Monday next but not sure which, A Ingall.

Hopefully Mrs Ingall managed to get to see her sister in Sutton-On-Sea. Hopefully the people of Elland will get to see commerce thriving again in these buildings in due course.

A Case Of Municipal Pride

Back in the early twentieth century, when picture postcards were all the rage, the subjects reflected what people saw as important, what they were proud of, what – to them – represented their home towns and villages. There were, of course,  many pictures of celebrity music hall stars and vacuous views of pretty nothingness; but there were also grand public buildings – town halls, churches, and museums. There was a municipal pride that seems to have sadly evaporated as the twentieth century gave way to the twenty-first.

So if you were writing to a Belgium beauty from Edwardian Halifax, what better image to send her than one of the finely proportioned Bankfield Museum. The subtext doesn’t seem to say, “look at the fine homes the rich and famous can live in“, but, “look at what we can create together when we are proud of our collective history“.

Having Fun In Hall End

It took me a few moments to fit the scene depicted in this 1908 postcard of Hall End, Halifax, into my late twentieth century perceptions of the town. “Hall End” was not a description I was immediately familiar with, nor were the buildings in the centre of the scene. The rather grand building which is centre-left in this view is so typically Halifax, however, it didn’t take me too long to recognise the point at which Silver Street and Crown Street converge. The grand building was the home of the Halifax Commercial Banking Company – it later became Lloyds Bank – and today it is known as “The Old Bank” and it is occupied by a variety of retail and commercial ventures. 

Those buildings in the centre – Nicholson’s the glovers, and Lonsdales, the piano seller – were eventually demolished in the 1920s and replaced by another grandiose bank building which was built for the National Provincial Bank, and is now the home of the NatWest. The building on the right is still there today, whilst the one on the left was demolished in the late twentieth century to make way for a couple of concrete boxes, as part of a scheme to punish the town for being too architecturally interesting.

The card was sent by Amy and Phyllis to their friend, the splendidly-named Edith Don Leo (surely there is a genealogical tale behind that name well worth researching!). The message reads as follows:- 

Dear Edith, We were pleased to receive your P.C. We are all well and hope you are the same. On Good Friday our shop will be closed after ten A.M. so if the weather is nice we may pay you a visit, that is if you will be at home. I will have some fun with you if we come.  Love from Amy & Phyllis.

I hope they managed to get to Batley to see Edith. I hope the weather was nice on that Good Friday and I hope they all had lots of fun. I certainly had fun taking a trip around Hall End one hundred and ten years later.

A Pint At The Shibden Mill Inn

POSTCARDS FROM HOME : Shibden Mill Inn & Lake

There are few pleasanter spots to enjoy a pint of beer on a summers’ evening than the Shibden Mill Inn, and that has been the case for the best part of two hundred years. This particular postcard dates from the early part of the twentieth century (the postmark is, I think, 1910) and shows the Inn complete with a boating lake. This lake was the old mill dam which had been used to power the mill wheel of the centuries-old corn mill. The old mill had closed during the nineteenth century and a beer house established in the millers’ house. The dam-cum-boating lake was eventually drained in the early twentieth century, not too long after this photograph was taken.

The card was sent by Clara to her friend Lizzie Smith in Blackpool. It was posted in Queensbury in what looks like 1910. The message reads as follows:-

Dear Lizzie, Many thanks for the P.C. Glad you have thought of me. Weather here is beastly. Just had a card from Vi. I almost wish I had gone with you as there seems to be scarcely anyone left in Queensbury. Love to your Annie. Hoping to see you soon. With love from Clara.

Even though it was written over 100 years ago, the feelings expressed are familiar to us all. It is the middle of summer and all your friends have gone to the seaside on holiday. You are left back in Queensbury and the weather has turned beastly. There is no alternative Clara – get yourself down to the Shibden Mill Inn and enjoy a good pint.

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