My negative scanning moves on to a new strip of negatives, one with just three negatives on it. It dates, I think, from the mid to late 1960s, and all three photographs are from the area around Halifax.
I am almost certain that the first shows the tower of Coley Church, brooding in the background, slightly aloof then – and now – from everything that goes on around it. I think, but can’t be certain, that the building with the carts is Sowood House at the bottom of Coley Lane. You could probably take exactly the same scene in 2020 and little will have structurally changed: the house still stands, the church tower can still be seen in the background. You could turn the digital image into monochrome, you could apply every Photoshop ageing filter in your package: you could scratch it, add dust to it, tire it, and fade it. And yet, you would not be able to make it feel as old as this image. Quite clearly, it was taken in my lifetime (I took it!), but it is another age, it has the feel of history.
It is many years since I first walked down Coley Lane and caught sight of Coley Hall. Memories from those days have already turned sepia, and therefore discovering this old picture postcard of the rear of the Hall, seems somehow appropriate. These days the Hall looks very smart, a most desirable residence, very different to the old hall I remember.
Records suggest that there has been a property on the site since the thirteenth century, and parts of the current Hall date from the seventeenth century. A certain John de Coldeley was recorded has living there in 1286, and by the time of the English Civil War, it was owned by Langdale Sunderland, a committed supporter of the Royalist cause. He was a Cavalier Captain, and he was supposed to have kept a regiment of horse at the Hall during the conflict. The Hall came under attack from Commonwealth troops and part of the frontage of the house was destroyed.
Members of the Langale Sunderland family were living in the Hall well into the twentieth century – about the time I first started walking down Coley Lane.