Monday, 28 February 2011

As Long As Coal Seams In The Bedrock?


There was such a certainty about those days : as if traditions built over generations would survive as long as coal seams in the bedrock. In a way they did, what we didn't know was what an astonishingly short period of time that was. Try searching for Barrow Pit now? What has happened to the memory of Eddie Clarke's solid features?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Through Rivers Of Pit-Spoil Mud In Search Of A New Dawn


Those were the days, when men would come to the surface after spending a long shift underground and, with their weary limbs, proudly hoist their union banners and march through rivers of pit-spoil mud in search of a bright new dawn. Or at least push the banners mounted on cushioned wheels and hitch a crafty lift over the worst of the puddles. But who am I - who has rarely lifted anything heavier than a fountain pen or a telephoto lens - to make fun. South Yorkshire Miners' Gala, Doncaster, Early 1980s.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Watching Crowd And The Marching Miners


Strangely enough, I don't think this is the same Yorkshire Miners' Gala as the one depicted yesterday. It is around the same time, and they are marching past another Conservative Club, but I suspect this one is in Doncaster, whilst the one yesterday was certainly in Rotherham. I must have had a thing at that time for photographing trade union marches passing Tory Party clubs. In this particular shot, it is the watching crowd that is far more interesting than the marching miners.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Defiant Faces Of Manvers Main


I'm scanning again. I must have taken this photograph in the late 1970s or very early 1980s. It certainly pre-dates the Miners' Strike of 1984-85. It was taken in Rotherham on the occasion of the Yorkshire Miners' Gala and it shows one of the wonderful banners of the individual miners' lodges. Manvers' Main Colliery was in Wath-on-Dearne, near Mexborough, and the pit closed for good in 1988. By 2006 all the pits in the South Yorkshire coalfield had closed down. In the late 1980s. I used to drive through the ruined Manvers Main complex on my way home from work. Later, the buildings were demolished and have now been replaced with a series of light-industrial workshops and call centres. Working in a call centre may be less romantic than hewing coal, but it is certainly safer.

One of the delights of scanning old negatives is discovering the pictures within the picture. In this case it was a group of faces, fighting for exposure in the bottom right hand corner of the main photograph. There is not a single full face in the group, and when enlarged they are grainy and of less-than-perfect quality. But there is something about the eyes, the way they stare in defiance : a defiance that was tested to the full - and it must be said, broken - in the years ahead.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Footprints In The Snow


I am hoping that this might be the last of my snowy scenes for 2011. In fact this was taken over the weekend and most of the snow has now been washed away by damp drizzle. On the left hand side of the main road you can just make out the entrance to the new housing estate, the story of which you can find on today's News From Nowhere Post.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Wet. Cold. White.


Whenever you think it's gone, whenever you think that the seasons have turned, back it comes. Down it comes. Wet. Cold. White.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Shopping Week : Store Twenty One - A Shopping Odyssey


My week is almost at an end. We are in Brighouse again and looking at a storefront that originally was the local Woolworth store but a few years ago became the Yorkshire Discount Store (a.k.a. Woolworth's without the Pension Fund). In its' turn that is currently undergoing metamorphosis into something called Store Twenty One. Brighouse is in the heart of the British textile belt. Two hundred years ago cotton would be imported from places like India, transformed into textiles and then sold back to the Indians. There is something mildly appropriate about the fact that the new store is owned by an Indian company which specialises in selling Indian cotton goods to the British.

By next week Store Twenty One might have become something else (Store Twenty Two, perhaps) but hopefully I will not need to tell you about it. My current shopping odyssey is drawing to a close and the GLW is about to return to work : until May, at least, when she is due to retire. I don't suppose there is any chance that the Government might rapidly increase the retirement age?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Shopping Week : The Lion In Winter


Shopping in Huddersfield today. The buildings are much grander and at first site that general air of economic and social decline is less noticeable. But if I had turned the camera through an angle of 90 degrees I could have focussed on a row of pawn-brokers and cheque-cashers. The shop on the right trades under the name "Spring : The Future Of Work" and has an empty look about it. The original stone lion was removed in 1977 and sent to Newcastle where it was remodeled in glass fibre. According to White's Directory of 1853, Lion Arcade comprised "externally, long ranges of elegant shops and warehouses in the Italian style; and internally an extensive arcade or covered market, fitted up with warehouses and stalls for the sale of cloth".

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Shopping Week : To Let And Let Not


"What's the matter with you, we are having a nice day out at the shops, and all you want to do is to take photographs of old boarded-up buildings".

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Shopping Week : Life With Pies


The first day of Shopping Week and we are the North Yorkshire market town of Skipton. But the streets are quiet and, according to one shopkeeper we spoke to, "people just aren't buying". Not even buying, it would appear, the wares Drake & Macefield, National Pie Champions. 

UPDATE 19.00hrs
In response to the request from Michael & Hanne, this is the best I can do without returning to Skipton

Monday, 14 February 2011

Shopping Week : Last Exit To Peel Street


To celebrate the Good Lady Wife having the week off work and endless shopping trips having been planned, I have declared this as being "Shopping Week" on Picture Post. We start with shopping from the archives : a market picture I must have taken thirty or forty years ago. I am not quite sure which market it is. The only clue is the Peel Street sign and I have checked out all the possible contenders on Google Maps without any definite hits. Barnsley Market would fit the bill - there is an adjacent Peel Street - but I can't remember ever having been there. Who knows, maybe it is one of the treats I have in store for me this week.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Sidetracked And Lost


Over on my News From Nowhere Blog I have established National Sidetracked Week and the pastime of getting sidetracked seems to have made its way over to Picture Post. Today I intended to take a walk and check out whether the mill over the river is still there, but it is raining and misty and cold and miserable so I have decided to stay in and get sidetracked. Just where I am being sidetracked to, I do not know as I cannot recognise this scene I photographed 45 years ago. I have been wandering up and down several possibilities using Google StreetView but I have yet to spot this rather solid looking house with the strange blocked-up opening in the chimney piece. My guess is that there was originally a house next door but that had long gone, even back in the mid sixties.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Plastic Flowers And The Happiness Of Youth


The final picture on the negative strip gives a better indication of both date and location for it turns out to be this picture of Isobel which was clearly taken at her parent's house in Elland. Taken in either 1969 or 1970, it has always been one of my favourite shots of the girl who three years later would become The Good Lady Wife. The kitchen table, the plastic flower in the vase come back to me as though it was yesterday .... as does the sheer happiness of youth.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Littered Fruit On A Barren Tree


At first I thought this might be one of the old mills in West Vale, between Halifax and Elland, but its position on the negative strip suggests it is in Elland. The mill itself seems empty - not a strange state of affairs for West Yorkshire textile mills in the late sixties - and the splendid collection of cars in the lower right corner (yes, that is an old Ford Anglia) help to date the shot to the late 1960s or early 1970s. But it is that mountain of old metal pressings that captures the eye; the way they almost flow like magma out of the factory yard and become littered fruit on a barren tree.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Phoebe In A Strip Show


Although my old negatives, cut into strips of six, have been carefully filed away over the years, the individual strips were not sorted and filed sequentially. Thus there is no connection between one strip and the next one, nor is there any logic or reason as to why I have filed negative strips in any one location in the album. So the only definite relationship is between the six negatives that appear on the same physical strip, they must have been taken at approximately the same time and by tracing the location of the shots I can re-map walks I must have taken over 40 years ago.

And so with the current strip under investigation we start with a picture of an old mill building straddling a river. I am almost sure that the river in question is the River Hebble in Halifax and the building is off Phoebe Lane in Siddal. The Google StreetView camvan didn't make it down Phoebe Lane so it looks like I will be off on my travels again this week. I will report back in due course.

Monday, 7 February 2011

An Incongruous Car In A Congruous Close


The strange thing about scanning old negatives isn't so much the fact that you can't remember taking a particular photograph, it's that you can't remember ever having set foot in the location in the first place. This particular photograph conveniently has its own embedded location tag, but I had to look up Oakfield Close on Google Maps. I found it - it's in Elland West Yorkshire - and Street View confirms it is the same close, but I have no recollection of ever having been there are why I took this particular photograph. Perhaps it was because, even back in the 1970s, the rusty old car looked incongruous next to the gleaming new bungalows. Maybe, as I scan the rest of the negatives on the film-strip, a story might emerge.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Hopping Down The Years


Just around the corner from the Wool Merchant Hotel - and conveniently just opposite the Ring O'Bells Inn - is an old railway siding. Under the arches that support the railway line are a set of old coal hoppers. The railway trucks would tip the coal into the hoppers and the horses and carts (and later the wagons) of the coal merchants would collect it. This photograph was taken yesterday, but whilst taking it I remembered having photographed the same scene 45 years before. Maybe I will come across the negative during my trawls through the negative files.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Unique Access For Well Proportioned Guests


As promised, I returned to the Wool Merchant and managed to get a contemporary shot, although not quite from exactly the same angle. Those keen-eyed analysts will notice that the ghost pointed out by Chairman Bill seems to have moved rooms and transformed itself into a sheep. The row of terraced houses on the top of the hill is gone but little else is changed. I am glad to see that the hoists are still in place which must be useful for obese hotel guests.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Future As A Grainy Haze


Commenting on the promise I made yesterday to try and get a photograph of the Wool Merchant Hotel as it looks today, my blog friend John said, "I suspect it wouldn't be the same with a 'crisp' digital SLR. Prefer the old film". We will see - I still intend to try and get into Halifax later today to take the modern photograph - but I do know what he means and the next negative on the film strip illustrates the principle well. There isn't a lot of contrast, and even less fine detail, but this grainy shot of the view from the back of the house where I grew up is full of atmosphere. If the photograph had been taken with a modern digital camera you would probably be able to make out - up on one of those grainy hills in the middle distance - the house I now live in. But that was in the future, and the future is always something of a grainy haze.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Where There's Muck There's Culture


The negative adjacent to the Trafalgar Square shot featured yesterday is this one of a Wool Merchant's warehouse in Halifax (one can therefore presume that it also dates from 1969). The building is on the corner of the delightfully named Mulcture Hall Road. I always think that the word Mulcture sounds like a West Yorkshire mixture of muck and culture, but in fact it referred to a toll that millers were entitled to back in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Holdsworth's have long vacated the building which, some 25 years ago, was converted into a hotel which still bears the name "The Wool Merchant".