I must have take this photograph of the iconic Hyde Park and Park Hill flats in Sheffield when I was living in the city in the 1980s. Some fifteen years earlier – as a young man, I should point out – I remember being part of a delegation visiting the development when it was still comparatively new. It was still being held up as a blueprint for the future, a city in the sky. By the time I moved to Sheffield, it had become old and tired. Since I left the city, a considerable part of the development has been demolished and the parts that remain have been renewed and revitalised
Category Archives: Scanned Negatives
I think I took this photograph in Halifax Borough Market over fifty years ago. I can’t be sure: what with a memory as grainy as my negatives and an incomplete on-line database of market stall holders. However, L Chapman’s sounds familiar, and, anyway, these are Halifax shapes. The taut headscarves, the Summer Wine hats, the coats designed to keep out the chill of a wind swept down from Ovenden Moors. This could never be Chipping Sodbury …. thank heavens!
The kids these days have it easy: pick up their smartphones, click the button, and applecadabra they have a photograph which is automatically dated and geolocated to within a metre of where they are standing. When I was a young lad – alright, when I was pushing middle age – you had to be inventive if, in your dotage, you wanted to remember where you took a photograph. You had to find a convenient building with a name on and incorporate that into the photograph. What better than a timeless, solid, signal box. The only problem was, within a few years someone had come along and demolished your geotag, it had vanished like a puff of steam.
This cobbled way which runs from Old Lane up to Woodside in Halifax, is popularly known as Donkey Hill, although you will probably have difficulty finding that name used on any official map. Countless generations of Halifax folk have memories of sledging down the steep hill as children in winters, and early morning walks to work as adults. It still exists, although now it is heavily overgrown and rubbish-strewn. I took these two photographs back in the late 1960s – or possibly early 70s – when the mills were still weaving and the barren Beacon Hill still cast a shadow over the monochrome town.
This is another of my photographs taken in Howes Lane, Northowram around fifty years or so ago. This time it is looking towards the head of Shibden Valley, in the direction of Ambler Thorn. The photograph captures one of the great walls of Northowram, a huge stone structure built to enclose a raised field. No doubt there are sound historical reasons for someone having built this monumental edifice: the ancient burial tombs of the legendary Pharaohs of Northowram and Shelf, perhaps!
As I trawl through my old photographs I frequently discover the same scene captured again and again – at different times, in different seasons and different years. Often this is not a conscious thing: at the time I can’t remember having taking the same photograph before – it is only half a century later I discover the repetitive nature of my photography. This scene of Halifax and the Shibden Valley taken from the top of Howes Lane in Northowram, is one such photo. It appears that I could never resist the sight of industrial Halifax ready to spill out of the lip of its cauldron into Shibden’s green valley without taking a photograph. This is from the 1960s, before St Thomas lost its spire.
This is a photograph showing the lower part of Halifax, which I must have taken in the 1960s. There is a mist – or perhaps a fog – clinging to the town and making it sufficiently difficult to pinpoint actual buildings, there is an element of challenge about it. What can be clearly seen are the areas of cleared land, getting ready to make way for the new Halifax of the late twentieth century. I used to walk down those crowded streets – down Winding Road and under the railway arches – to meet my Dad from work. The area seemed to be so large, but when stripped of its building and its history, it was little more than a patch of land.
This certainly isn’t my best photograph from the 1960s – there’s a bit of camera shake, the developing was more miss than hit, and it was a dark, wet, misty day to start out with. But what it lacks in photographic quality, it makes up in part with atmosphere. As I look at it now, the memories come thick and fast: policemen in long white coats; Marks and Spencers at the top of town; the Co-op arcade; upstairs cafes; Stylo and John Temple! It doesn’t matter of the photograph isn’t all that clear – neither are my memories.
The last shot in this particular sequence of negatives from fifty years ago focuses on people rather than places; but still has a fair amount to tell us about changes to Halifax over the last half century. I think I must have taken this picture from Old Bank, which was the cobbled road that ran from Back Bottom to Beacon Hill Road. I tried walking up there a couple of years ago and it was a matter of trying to find the remains of the road which were almost completely overgrown. If you walk up the old road today you are still rewarded with a fine view of Halifax. Fifty years ago, I was rewarded with a fine view of my future wife and one of our oldest and closest friends.