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”.
Category Archives: Scanned Negatives
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.
The day is full of roadmaps to freedom and counting the days to normality. This could give rise to a philosophical speculation about the nature of freedom, but I will leave that for another day and go with a working definition, which is being able to take my grandson to the seaside, buy him some candy floss and build a sandcastle. Here’s hoping they will be castles in the sand rather than castles in the sky. Until that day comes, I will content myself with this reminder of the scene in Bridlington almost forty years ago.
One of the wonderful things about the internet, is the ability it gives us to retrace our steps. Yesterday, I scanned an old negative that had been gathering dust in my negative files for over half a century. Looking at the image that emerged from the scanner, not only could I not recognise it, it seemed to date from a time even before my antediluvian youth. Determining place is a skill set in itself – looking for locational clues, Googling trades names, comparing modern equivalents – and if ever there was a need for Artificial Intelligence to step up to the mark, it is in this field. It took AB much longer that AI to crack the puzzle, but eventually I tracked it down (I think) to Fermanagh Street in the town of Clones in Ireland. It must date from the early to mid 1960s and I must have taken it during a family holiday in Ireland. I still can’t remember visiting the town, but the proof is there in black and white.
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.
She tends not to look at Facebook or Twitter until the evening, so for the entirety of today she will believe that I have forgotten to send her a Valentine’s Day card. But how could I forget? I love her now just has much as I did when these photographs were taken over half a century ago. Happy Valentine’s Day my love.
Today’s calendar photograph is somewhere in Sheffield. Or rather, it was somewhere in Sheffield forty years ago when I took the photograph. Whether it is still there remains to be seen, and whether we will see or not depends on my two friends F&K who like the challenge of trying to spot where my old Sheffield photographs were taken from. This one is for them, and accordingly carries the enigmatic caption – somewhere in Sheffield.