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In this strange, modern world in which we live, we travel vicariously: in our minds and in our memories. My particular means of transport is my collection of negatives: photographs I too fifty or so years ago. They not only remind me of a time in my life, but also of people, crowds, cars, noise: the very stuff of life as it used to be lived. Until the next time.
These three pictures were taken in Paris in 1973.
This is a scan of an old negative of mine which gives rise to a couple of questions. I am not sure about the date – there is a train in the image, but trains change so slowly in these parts, it could be anytime during the last sixty years. You can make out the old Riding Hall Carpet Mill in the background, and that, I think, was demolished sometime around 1980. The other question relates to the two main buildings you can see in the picture: both at the time were factories for John Mackintosh & Sons. One was called Bailey Hall and the other was Albion Mills, but I can’t remember which was which. If my brother is reading this far away on his sunny Caribbean island, he might be able to tell me, as he worked there fifty or more years ago.
The Fowler Beanland Album IV
This is another vintage card from the postcard album of Fowler Beanland. “A true friend is a sure anchor” is the early twentieth century equivalent of those trite quotations you see on Facebook or etched into all plaques to hang on the kitchen wall. The flags featured on the card are, on the right, the union flag, and on the left, the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom. The two hands are joined across a globe, signifying, perhaps, friendships between different parts of the, then, British Empire.
The card was posted to Fowler Beanland in October 1907, and despite the somewhat truncated address, seems to have reached Fowler in Longtown, Cumbria. It comes from his brother, Arther, and reads – as far as I can decipher it – as follows:
My Dear Bro. Yours duly to hand and we (ken?) you have plenty of relation who are all alive at Clayton and all in good health an presents hoping you are the same. We had a P.P.C. from our Eliza last week and were glad to hear that all is well at home. I had thought of coming up on 13th but got to I.O.M. The children send you the best of love. Yours Arthur.
This is a somewhat curious message, written in an unusual style. Arthur Beanland (1864-1944) was the eldest of the Beanland children, and here he is writing to his brother Fowler (1872-1959), the third eldest. His younger brother, Albert (1875-1948), was my maternal grandfather, and the Eliza (1880-1942) mentioned in the card is their youngest sister. At the time of this postcard, Arthur was living in Clayton, just outside Bradford, whilst Fowler was living in Longtown – 115 miles to the north – and Eliza was, I think, living in Keighley, from where the family originated. A few years before this card was sent, Arthur and Fowler – along with their father – were in business together, but that business went bankrupt at the turn of the century.
The final part of the message, is perhaps the most curious. It appears to suggest that Arthur was thinking of travelling north on the 13th to see Fowler but finished up in the Isle of Man instead! This would appear to be a significant feat of mis-navigation, even for the geographically challenged Beanlands.
This rather unusually shaped portrait of a studious young boy is described on the reverse as a “Panel Portrait” and is by the Blackpool photographer J Bamber of 69, Church Street. The only other reference I can find online to a “panel portrait” is by the same photographer and dates from the 1920s, so we can assume that Mr Bamber was experimenting with different shapes for his studio output in this period. The name may have been derived from the panel paintings of the medieval and renaissance period, which would be long portraits painted on wooden panels. The style obviously never caught on and is out of keeping with the modern trend towards wide-angle landscape formats.
I finally made it to Cliffe Castle Museum and Park in Keighley on Thursday and I am so glad that I did. I went there to see the fabulous stained glass windows by William Morris, Burne-Jones and Rosetti, that were from the former St James Church in Brighouse. They are displayed magnificently along with many other examples of stained glass by the Arts and Crafts movement. In addition to the stained glass, the house itself is wonderful and the museum it contains is one of the best I have been to. The gardens are glorious, the tea-shop is charming, and if that is not enough, at the moment there is an exhibition of photographs by the Ilkley Camera Club which includes work by my friend, the photographer Andrée Freeman. What better afternoon out could you possibly have?
Seven people and a wall. Seven mid-century faces: post-war, post-depression – all tweed jackets and Oxford bags. That first, troubling half century is behind them – the future is awaiting them.
Everything seemed simpler 100 years ago, there was less clutter. The mills were proportionate, their chimneys vertical, the houses in neat rows and the canal cut straight through the landscape.
This picture postcard of the area known as Brookfoot just to the west of Brighouse, is fairly typical of the first decade of the twentieth century. The colours are a little crude and the detail is less than pin-sharp. However, it provides a good representation of the lower Calder Valley when roads were still of secondary importance to the canal, and satanic mills seemed to sprout from the green meadows.
The message on the reverse of the card takes us to far more exotic parts of the world. On the face of it, it is a simple message between two friends (old school friends I suspect): Arthur Dodds who is living in Brighouse and D H Gawne who is resident in Bradfield College, near Reading. The message reads as follows:
November 11, 1910
I am trying some other rooms next week and after Monday my address will be c/o Mrs Reside, 3 Close Lea, Rastrick, Brighouse. Mr Ray Priestley is going with Scott’s Expedition. I have not seen the result of your match with Queen’s College. Hope you are well.
Yours, Arthur S Dodds
It is, of course, the reference to Ray Priestley (a mutual friend I assume) that is intriguing. Ray (Sir Raymond Edward Priestley) did indeed accompany Captain Scott on his ill-fated Antarctic Expedition of 1910-13. He was not a member of the polar party but he was part of the group that got stranded whilst exploring the coast of Victoria Land. He did, however, survive and went on to serve in the Signal Corps in the Great War. He later had a distinguished career in higher education serving as Vice Chancellor of both the University of Melbourne in Australia and the University of Birmingham in Britain. It’s funny where old picture postcards can take you.