Thursday, 31 March 2011

Unwanted Palaces Of Pleasure : The Royal Oak, Halifax.


If you have £125,000 (just over $200,000) to spare why not buy the Royal Oak Inn, Halifax? Built in 1929 by the renowned firm of local architects, Jackson and Fox, on the site of an old coaching inn, the mock-Tudor pub is a Grade II listed building. Many of the timbers incorporated into the rebuilding came from the 19th Century wooden battleship, HMS Newcastle, and some of the external wood carving was by the renowned Harry Percy Jackson of Coley. I remember the pub well from my time working as a bus conductor in the late 1960s. The terminus for the Southowram bus was immediately outside the pub, and often, whilst the bus was filling up with passengers, I would nip into the public bar for a quick half. Just the ticket.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Pleasures Past


Scooter in the grounds of what used to be Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens, Hipperholme, Near Halifax.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

What A Difference A Few Decades Make


One or two people asked what Sunny Vale was like now after I published the rather forlorn picture of the Victoria Boating Lake at Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens last week. Some suggested that it might have become a housing estate, but I am glad to report that, other than a very small development conversion near the top of the gardens, this isn't the case. Amy and I took a walk there yesterday and the old boating lakes are still in place : indeed they look a lot better than they did 45 years ago. How this little hidden valley has managed to escape the hand of the developer I do not know. there are few roads, so access is tricky and this means the area is gloriously peaceful and quiet. But, of course, 100 years ago the valley would have been bursting with the screams of delight of thousands of children and their parents. What a difference a few decades can make.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Sad Says Caroline Ann


I am still scanning away, working my way through a huge collection of old negatives and slides. What drives me is not the belief that the photographs are of any significant quality as photographs, but that - somewhere within them - a little piece of history has been captured. This photograph must have been taken in the 1960s and I have a feeling that it was taken somewhere in Scotland. I did a search for the trawler "Caroline Ann" and this resulted in this rather sad picture of two rusted old trawlers in some kind of maritime graveyard. I can't make names out, nor could I find any supporting description, but the one in the front does seem to have the same basic shape and size. In some ways it is sad : but who knows? Perhaps those two rusted hulks are chatting away to each other and looking at pictures of me back then and now. "Sad", says Carline Ann, "the way humans deteriorate".

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Talented Village Of Ripley


On our return from Knaresborough we visited the lovely village of Ripley, to sample the renowned local ice cream. The original village was so decimated by the plague that it had to be rebuilt, but in the nineteenth century the local squire decided he didn't like the rebuild, so he pulled it down ans started again. The "new" village was built in the stile of an Alsatian town complete with its own Hotel de Ville. The Boar's Head Hotel you can see in the middle distance looks wonderful old and historic : but it wasn't opened until 1990. You are never quite sure what's what in Ripley. Patricia Highsmith would have been proud of it.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Grand Day Out


As News from Nowhere readers will know, the GLW is off work this week and this means that I am on "day-out" and "shopping" duty. From the point of view of the weather, she couldn't have picked a better week, temperatures were almost summer-like yesterday and there was a brilliant clear sky. We visited the Yorkshire Dales market town of Knaresborough yesterday, had a quick look at the shops and then walked down to the river. The spectacular viaduct was built in 1851 and takes the railway high above the gorge carved out by the River Nidd.  I sat in a riverside cafe for 30 minutes waiting to catch a picture of a train crossing : as soon as I eventually moved on, the train came. Nevertheless, a grand day out.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Victoria's Fall From Grace


I am not absolutely certain that I took this photograph, but if I didn't, I wish that I had done. It might have been taken by my brother Roger, I seem to remember that we only had one old and battered camera between the two of us back in the 1960s. I can remember where it was taken : so maybe I did take it, or at least it was taken when the two of us were out walking together. It shows what remained in the mid 60s of the Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens. Sunny Vale - or Sunny Bunces as it was known - was the great resort and amusement park that served the mill workers of Halifax and the Calder Valley. During the early part of the twentieth century thousands would visit its' strangely innocent collection of swings, skating rinks and fairground rides. By the 1960s, it had fallen out of fashion. Part of the gardens where being used as a go-kart racing circuit, the rest had sunk into a state of overgrown disrepair. This is what remained of the once imposing Victoria boating lake. Sad.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Positively Gone


Whilst most of the photographs I took back in the 1960s were taken using black and white negative film, I would occasionally experiment with using positive film and using the negatives to make black and white slides. This is one such slide of the goods yards in the shadow of North Bridge, Halifax. Some kind of date (mid 1960s?) can be guessed from the car - there will be folk out there who will be able to identify the make and the model and - in the case of Chairman Bill - most probably the name of the driver. Railway sidings, gas works and cooling towers are all now long gone.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Forget Me Not


I always tend to take photographs of half constructed buildings in the belief that I am adding a fairly unique image to the global archives. Once the new West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust Children's Hospice, which is being built a few hundred yards from where we live, is completed later this year, it will no doubt be photographed time and time again. But this picture of the build - twelve weeks in - is worth a few thousand pixels of anyones' hard disk space.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Chairman Sherlock And The Strange Case Of The Missing Stele


My picture of a milestone the other day and my question about the possible location of  "Junction" which was thirteen and a quarter miles away got that most intrepid - and delightful - of bloggers, Chairman Bill, working hard to solve the mystery. Initially I sent him on a wild goose chase by sending him the wrong grid co-ordinates for the milestone - or stele as he correctly called it - but after many ninths of tramping the sidestreets of West Yorkshire he finally came up with a solution. I quote from a long series of e-mails I received from him:
"In order for the distance to Rochdale to be 19.25 miles, the route would have to be along New Hay Rd and Huddersfield Rd, which was probably the old route. Now if you go 13.5 miles on that route, you come to Denshaw, where there is a big junction, and a pub called The Junction. I think that's your place".
"Bang on!
There are a number of small named-localities in and around Denshaw, including Denshaw Fold, Cherry Clough, Junction, Old Tame, Slackcote, Grains Bar and Woodbrow".
Even better:
"The village of Denshaw was formerly called Junction."
The stele I am showing today contains no such mysteries, so Chairman Bill, you can have the weekend off.



Thursday, 17 March 2011

As Beautiful As A Stone Wall


I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree

Nor see a painting in a hall
As beautiful as a stone wall

With apologies to Joyce Kilmer

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Last Exit To Junction


Mileposts can still be found along the byways of Britain, their stone faces whitewashed and their hand-carved letters picked out in Municipal black paint. Few people notice them these days - they are not easily spotted from cars - and some of the places they point to have faded into obscurity over the years. Where, for example, is "Junction" which is thirteen and a quarter miles from the above milepost in Rastrick? I have done a quick check on Google Earth, rotating a compass point the requisite distance from the starting stone, and I can find no village or hamlet called Junction. Is this the last exit to Junction, or is there somewhere I have missed?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Some Basic Questions Of Galactic Astrophysics


Because of its location high above the earth's atmosphere. the Hubble Space Telescope is capable of taking some stunning photographs of planetary bodies in our solar system. Some can look at their most recent pictures of the Martian surface and see the famed canals brought into sharp relief so that we are forced to question whether they are simply chance geological features or something far more meaningful. Whilst some gaze into space and ponder such questions of galactic astrophysics, others lie in bed and take photos of the ceiling light.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Birds On A Wire


"Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free" THE SAINTED LEONARD
Taken from Bog Green, Huddersfield, looking down towards the Calder Valley. March 2011

Friday, 11 March 2011

Scarborough Saunter 3 : A Grand View


Looking at the Spa Theatre complex (currently being redeveloped) towards the centre of Scarborough. The fine building in the middle distance is the magnificent Grand Hotel which was built in 1867. It was supposedly designed around the theme of time, with four towers representing the seasons, 12 floors representing the months, 52 chimneys representing the weeks, and 365 bedrooms representing the days. From above it displays a V shape : in honour of Queen Victoria. I have mentioned the hotel before in a News From Nowhere post and looking back at that I realise that, by chance, I have almost taken the same shot as in the 1913 postcard mentioned in that post.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Scarborough Saunter 2 : This Way And That Way


What is it about the British? It might be early March, the temperature might be hovering around freezing point, but as long as it isn't pouring with rain people make for the nearest stretch of sand and wander. This way and that way, backwards and forwards, walking or running, riding on donkeys. 

Monday, 7 March 2011

Scarborough Saunter 1 : Printer Test


We were in Scarborough at the weekend and I took this picture of the bathing cabins at the North Bay for a specific purpose. My old colour printer died a couple of weeks ago and I have just invested in a new one. But with all the winter-grey photographs of recent months there has been nothing to properly test its ability to reproduce vibrant colour. Just printed a copy of this. It passed.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Wyke Walk 4 : More Odd Fellows (Upper And Lower)


The Oddfellows in Wyke (you know me, I can't resist taking pictures of pubs). If you are interested in the origin of the name of the pub, take a look at my entry in yesterdays' News From Nowhere. Wyke must at one time have been quite a hive of Oddfellow activity as I have found reference to an old pub called the "Lower Oddfellows" which presumes there was also an "Upper Oddfellows". Whether this is Upper or Lower I do not know, but I suspect someone will write in and let me know.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Wyke Walk 3 : The West Yorkshire Broom Tree


In most cases broom is classified as a shrub rather than a tree, but in certain parts of West Yorkshire a tree-like species of broom has developed which is characterised by a resilient,circular, almost plastic-like trunk and solid branches bearing a mixture of  spade-like fruit, mop-head flowers, and spiny foliage.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Wyke Walk 2 : A Lock And An Ornamental Portcullis


I know I should think about lines and patterns and shapes and all that sort of photographic stuff. But all I could think about was how the fire exit door appeared locked and guarded with a form of ornamental portcullis. Visions of skewered and barbecued flesh came to my troubled mind.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Wyke Walk 1 : The Advantages Of A Fully Articulated Waist.


The sun shone today and Amy and I walked through the village of Wyke which is a few miles away from where we live. The first of my Wyke Walk photos shows the rather strange entrance to the village recreation ground. There is obviously a purpose to its design, but I cannot imagine what it is. Unless you are a supermodel. you need to rotate your body through 90 degrees and shuffle through the gate. If you had a body which was somehow fully articulated around the waist, I suppose you could get through without shuffling, but such a body doesn't seem to have emerged out of the gene-pool lottery yet. Amy couldn't understand what I was complaining about, she managed to get through without any problem.