I have always had a fondness for old photographs, and I am lucky to have lived long enough for my new photos to have become, themselves, examples of the genre. The emergence of Facebook local history groups has changed the nature of pictorial history, moving it from the arena of relatively obscure printed books and pamphlets into a far more public realm. As with all changes, there are good and bad consequences, the enumeration of which is best reserved for a quiet night over a pint or two in a local pub. Two definite advantages, however, are the increase in the number of old photographs of local interest being published and shared, and the improvements in tracking down forgotten locations. My featured photograph today was taken over fifty years ago. From the adjacent shots on the negative strip, I know I must have taken it somewhere in the Brighouse area, but where? I will post it today on a couple of the local Brighouse history groups and, no doubt, by the end of the day I will have a precise location, the name of the chap crossing the road, and the ownership of the washing hanging on the line.
Category Archives: Scanned Negatives
The Theakston family have a long tradition of brewing in the North Yorkshire town of Masham, the original brewery having been founded getting on for two hundred years ago. I have a long tradition of taking photographs of pubs and breweries, these photographs of the Masham brewery and the nearby White Bear Hotel, were taken getting on for fifty years ago. You can’t beat tradition.
This photograph of mine of Brighouse from fifty or more years ago has always been one of my favourites, and for years I have assume that it was taken from River Street, looking west towards the town. Stuck in the fag-end of lockdown, I have little better to do with my time these days but to go through these old photos of mine, adding a sprinkling of colour here and there, and endlessly re-sorting them into virtual boxes. Which is how, yesterday, for the first time in almost 55 years, I realised that I can’t have taken this from River Street as the Brighouse flour mill would have been the other way around. I immediately went into full exploration mode, dived into Google Street View, and eventually tracked down the one remaining building in this photograph. And it turns out that I was not in River Street looking west, but in Bank Street looking east! The self-satisfied glow of achievement radiated from me for hours …. and then I realised what a sad, lockdown life I am beginning to lead.
For over a century, Britannia has sat on top of the old bank building and the end of Elland Bridge, flanked by columns of Aberdeen granite, two pubs, and a host of mill chimneys. Whether she was looking at the old gas works, watching the traffic of the new by-pass or scanning Elland Woods – is that a meandering bear I see? – remains a mystery. Pubs, chimneys, gas works – and even bears – come and go, but Britannia remains, resolute in stone, ruling the occasional waves that appear in the Calder And Hebble Canal.
This is a photograph from forty years ago of Cannon Mills in Great Horton, Bradford. It is a hundred yards away from where my father was born and grew up. It is a mile away from where I was born and spent the first four years of my life. And yet, I hardly know the area other than through street names that ring distant bells of memory, and the scent of heritage that clings to the flagstones. Like most people, I have a bucket list of places I want to visit and revisit once this lockdown is over, and on that you will find your sunny Spain and your colourful Caribbean Islands. Such places have to fight for space, however, with the streets of the West Riding I proudly call my home.
This is a photograph from forty years ago of the statue to Michael Arthur Bass, First Baron Burton. It stood – indeed if Google StreetView is to be believed, it still stands – in front of Burton Town Hall, where the bronze baron supervises the car park. I took the photograph to illustrate a book on the lives of the great brewers, I was working on at the time (which like most of my books never progressed much further than a few scribbled notes on the back of a damp beer mat). Michael Arthur Bass – the great grandson of William Bass the founder of the brewery – was a prime example of members of the great brewing families that were elevated to the House of Lords, and collectively were known as “The Beerage”.
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.
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 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.