It’s one of those photographs full of movement, full of buildings, full of memories, and full of history. From the various visual clues and by searching what is left of my memory, I can conclude that I must have taken this photograph in the mid 1960s, for the sake of argument, let us say 1966. For those familiar with Halifax – either then or now – you can unpick the photo like a reverse jigsaw puzzle. You could buy a suit from The Daily Tailors and empty the wallet you had bought in Walco. The soot still clung to the stone and the streets somehow seemed wider. The shop fronts are less flashy, and the net curtains still hang at half mast. You can search for faces and see the history of a generation captured in pixels.
Tag Archives: Halifax
The ability of old photographs to spark memories never ceases to amaze me. I tracked down this old colour slide yesterday after someone, quite rightly, pointed out that what was set on top of the bowling alley in Broad Street, Halifax in the 1960s, was not a bowl, as I had stated, but a bowling pin. In my defence, I have to say that it was not my memory, but my nomenclature that was at fault. I knew I had taken a photograph of the building along with its pin at some stage in the 1960s, and I eventually tracked it down.
When I looked closely at the photograph, however, it was the bus stop that really set my brain synapses firing. I’d forgotten all about that bus stop. It was the stop that I would run to if I arrived at the bus station (just out of picture on the left) as my bus was leaving. If you were swift – and back then I was swift – you could make it to the next stop in Broad Street before the bus did. If, once again, you were a little too late, you could always try for the near-impossible and sprint on to North Bridge to see if you could catch the bus up there. Whether you made it or not, it was better exercise that a half hour on the bowling lanes.
There is something so familiar about this photograph, but it is the familiarity of a memory; something that takes the buildings, the hills, the chimneys and the spires and arranges them into familiar patterns. The hillside must be Beacon Hill, Halifax, but it is not the bold, brooding, in-your-face hill that you see to the north-east, but it’s gentler sibling that has been smoothed by a Calderdale glacier. The railway line is the one leading south from Halifax Station, but the track takes twists and turns that seem to go nowhere. My guess is that I must have been standing somewhere close to where the Eureka Museum now stands, but that might just be me trying to fit memories into a geographical framework.
When I was young, and adventurous, and rust-free, I could never resist the opportunities provided by a rainy night when it came to photographic patterns and reflections. I suspect that this is a fairly early photograph of mine, taken in the mid 1960s. I am fairly certain that it was taken in Commercial Street, Halifax from somewhere just outside the Post Office, looking towards Ward’s End. If I am right that is the illuminated sign of the old ABC Cinema towards the left of the picture and the sign of Ramsden’s Stone Trough Brewery in the centre background. The brewery was demolished in 1968, so my photograph obviously pre-dates that. As for the rest of it, you can spend an entertaining minute or so trying to pick out some of the other familiar sights from the darkness: now that I am old and rust-coated, that’s my idea of adventure.
I could never resist a dark rainy night. I must have taken this photo of Commercial Street in Halifax in the mid 1960s: if you look hard enough you can just make out the ABC cinema and Ramsden’s Brewery in the background.
Old photographs can play the strangest tricks; especially if they are over-exposed, grainy and inexpertly processed. When I look at this photograph – taken somewhat inexpertly by me, and processed even more inexpertly by me – I am reminded of those nineteenth century etchings of northern mill towns. But it can’t be nineteenth century because I took the photograph, and even I am not that old! And if you look carefully there are two blocks of flats in the background. It appears that if you keep old photographs they age faster than the speed of light.
This is another photo of Burdock Way, Halifax, taken from the same film and shot at the same time – probably about 1990. The road, of course, is still there: what is interesting once again is what is framed between the concrete curves. Whilst there are still garages at the bottom of Boothtown Road, they no longer deal in Lada cars! Ladas are still being manufactured, but you would be lucky to spot one these days speeding along the concrete road that flies over Halifax.
Los Angeles has its iconic HOLLYWOOD sign, and for many years, Halifax had its equally iconic CRAWFORD-SWIFT sign painted on the side of its factory up on the hill at Claremount and overlooking the town. It might not have been celebrated on postcards or t-shirts, but it was part of the culture of a town which was proud of its industrial mix: from carpets to toffees and from machine tools to mortgages. My photograph is a comparatively late one for me, only about thirty years old, but it shows Crawford Swifts framed by the voluptuous concrete curves of Burdock Way.
This is another of my Halifax photographs from the late 1960s or the early 1970s. I’m not sure what caught my eye at the time: possibly the band playing in the rain, maybe the two men (teachers?) engaged in an earnest discussion. I’d like to think it was the Alfred Hitchcock figure with the hat on the extreme right of the photo. The band has just finished playing Funeral March Of A Marionette, the theme tune to Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Beware! my imagination is on the run again.
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!