Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Picture Post Has Moved

I am trying to fit my blogging into my new post-retirement lifestyle and therefore I have decided to merge my two regular blogs - News From Nowhere and Picture Post. In future my pictures - old and new - will be posted on the News From Nowhere Blog. If you would like to keep following my picture posts, please make sure you are a follower of News From Nowhere.

Monday, 30 May 2011

1008 : Todmorden Turrets

High on a hill overlooking Todmorden is the third in my trio of buildings designed by John Gibson, Dobroyd Castle. Built as a home for the mill-owning Fielden family. The story is that John Fielden Jnr fell in love with a local worker, Ruth Stansfield, who said she would marry him if he built her a castle. The couple got married in 1857 and Dobroyd Castle was the built a few year later. It would be nice to say that they lived happily ever after, but they didn't. But that, as they say, is another story.

Friday, 27 May 2011

1007 : Todmorden Gothic

Todmorden Unitarian Church is the second of my three featured Todmorden buildings designed by John Gibson. This astonishing church stands on the hillside overlooking the town and is a Grade 1 listed building. Built in 1865, the Church continued to provide services until 1987 when it closed. Happily, it was brought back into use following its acquisition, and restoration, by the Historic Chapels Trust, in 2008.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

1006 : Todmorden Pediment

Last Sunday we took a trip up the valley to Todmorden. This amazing building is Todmorden Town Hall which was built in 1874/5 to a design by the London architect, John Gibson. Gibson was also responsible for designing the Todmorden Unitarian Church and Dobroyd Castle - photographs of both of these I will be featuring over the next couple of days. The Town Hall is currently undergoing restoration work, hence the scaffolding around the lower parts of the building.

Monday, 23 May 2011

1005 : Heads, You Win.

A picture taken last Friday whilst visiting the breath-taking exhibition of work by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa which is being held at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Monday, 16 May 2011

1004 : Paddock Curves And Gritty Lanolin

Paddock Viaduct, Near Huddersfield
Paddock Viaduct takes the Huddersfield to Sheffield railway line out of the town centre and enables it to fly over the steep valley of the River Colne. Trapped beneath its huge and gracefully curved arches are rows of stone-built terraced houses. There is something so Yorkshire about the scene : not Dales-decked Herriot Country, but gritty, lanolin-soaked West Yorkshire. The magnificent viaduct is the work of Sir John Hawkshaw who was also responsible for the Lockwood viaduct about a mile further south.

INTERREGNUM : The normal order of things is going to be a little disturbed over the next six weeks or so. Tomorrow, the Good Lady Wife (GLW) retires from work and there then follows a round of parties, visits and celebrations.. In June we are away on holiday for three weeks. Until we go on holiday I will try and post something each day - sometimes to News From Nowhere and sometimes to Alan Burnett's Picture Post. I will try to include links between blogs so you will be able to keep up with where I am. The weekly calls for Sepia Saturday posts will not be interrupted.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

1003 : No Fire Without Smoke

Another picture of Oakwell Hall, this time the side view. What struck me was the scale of the chimneys : one tends to forget just what an important and dominant part of a house of this age the chimneys were. There is no fire without smoke, and without fire, life would be very cold indeed. Coal, however, was cheap and plentiful : indeed the Hall is built on top of what was a rich coal seam.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

1002 : Antique, Rambling And Incommodious

Amy and I took a walk in the grounds of Oakwell Hall the other day. Located a few miles away from where we live, Oakwell is a late sixteenth century "yeoman and gentry house" which is now a museum and the heart of a country park. In the early nineteenth century, Charlotte Bronte was a regular visitor to Oakwell and she used it as the model for "Fieldhead", the home of the heroine Shirley Keeldar in her novel Shirley. In the book, she describes it as follows : "It was neither a grand nor a comfortable house, within as without it was antique, rambling and incommodious". Far be it from me to argue with Charly, but I suspect I could be quite comfortable there.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

1001 : Gorse, Moors And Nont Sarahs

This photograph of Scammonden Moor and Reservoir was taken this morning. The building you can see in the distance on the extreme left is the famous Nont Sarahs Hotel. The tale goes that an earlier proprietor bought the pub with money he borrowed from his Aunt Sarah and it was named - albeit it in Yorkshire dialect - after her.

Monday, 9 May 2011

1,000th Post : Back To The Beginning

I have just realised that this is the 1,000th post on Alan Burnett's Picture Post so in celebration I return to the very first post which was dated Monday 1st January 2007 and titled "Storm Clouds Over Dorchester Road". If I look out of my window today, that same tree is still there, but in full leaf and bathed by the Springtime sun.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 20 : Home

You can go where you want, but few locations surpass the place you call home. I was neither born in Halifax (I was born in Bradford, seven miles to the north), nor do I now live in Halifax (I live in Huddersfield, seven miles to the south), but Halifax is where I grew up and will therefore always be home to me. The photograph show the tower of Halifax Town Hall. If you click to enlarge you can just about make out the words above the clock face and they are words worthy of the end of this mini-series : "DELAY NOT TO DO WELL"

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 19 : The Wheel On The Acapulco Bus

When we went to Acapulco last year it was my first sight of the Pacific Ocean. But beautiful as the palm fringed beaches and the blue sparkling water were, my eye kept returning to the amazingly decorated and spectacularly named buses. Would you be in front of the queue to get on a bus named Apocalipsis?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 17 : A Poem And A Mistake In Constanta

It is 1974 and we are visiting friends in Romania. The picture is taken in the Black Sea resort of Constanta and shows the statue of the Roman poet Ovid, who was exiled here in 8AD. Ovid would claim that the reason for his exile was "a poem and a mistake" (carmen et error). At the time we were there, Nicolae CeauČ™escu was at the height of his power. Fifteen years later, Ceausescu would be executed by his own people : his crimes were too little poetry and too many mistakes.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 16 : Out Of Focus In Paris

Memories don't have to be in focus : indeed the best memories have been blurred by time and then burnished by significance. So here we are, in Paris in 1973. Our honeymoon. The Good Lady Wife takes a brave but watery path in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 15 : Sea And Skye

This photograph was taken in 2006 when I went on a brief trip to the North-West of Scotland. I was staying in Mallaig and caught a ferry over to the Isle of Skye. It was early in the year (April, I think) and still very quiet and peaceful. Gorgeous place.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 14 : Sunburnt In Juan-les-Pins

It was 1962 and I was 14. My father, mother and I set off for a great adventure, driving down to the South of France. We took plenty of English tea and a contraption to keep the foreign flies off our sandwiches and with our multi-coloured tent we set up a holiday home in Juan-les-Pins. Unfortunately we didn't take any sun-cream and my poor father spent most of the time sheltering under a suitably placed railway tunnel. What an adventure.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 13 : Doing Nothing In Budapest

In 2005 I eventually decided to close my European Social Policy business down. The growth of the Web had fundamentally changed the way information was available, and the need for the kind of service I had provided was no longer necessary. To celebrate my new found freedom I took a few days off in Budapest, reading novels, writing about anything but European politics, and taking photographs of the fabulous buildings.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 12 : Tories In Paradise

The picture shows one of those paradise beaches you can find all over the British Virgin Islands. The time is the early 1980s and the GLW and myself are visiting my brother and his family who were, at the time, living on the island. Not only is it paradise, but it is a paradise thousands of miles away from the world of my everyday life : quiet, isolated, remote. There is hardly another human being in site : just the sun, the blue sea and the occasional tropical bird. Seconds after I had taken this photograph a figure emerges, walking down the beach towards me. As he gets nearer I see a man wearing shorts and wearing a Panama hat. He strides up towards me, purposely, a practiced smile on his face, hand outstretched in greeting. "Donald Thompson", he says, "Tory MP for Calder Valley".

I never discovered what particular shaft of fate threw me together with my local Tory MP on a desert island thousands of miles from home. My brother, knowing well my aversion for all Tories, insisted on inviting him to various parties during the rest of my stay, but I managed to avoid him. But die-hard Tory and friend of Margaret Thatcher that he was, you have to admire the ability of a man who can spot a potential constituent thousands of miles from home and glad-hand him accordingly.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 11 Shopping In Panama

I have hundreds of photographs of the Panama Canal : photographs of massive locks and ships in transit, but this photograph taken in a canal-side market in Cristobal at the northern end of the canal seems to bring the memories flooding back. I suppose one could go on and on about the false nature of t-shirt tourism : but if one of those shoppers had turned around and taken a photograph of me, they would have captured an image of a little fat man wearing a Panama Canal t-shirt taking a photograph of them. People who live in cotton shirts shouldn't throw pineapples.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 10 : Poster In Amsterdam

Posters roughly pasted onto lamp-posts often provide perfect conduits to time and place. Even if the details of the exhibition were not on this most striking of posters, I would remember where it was taken : indeed I am sure I could take you back to the same lamp-post. I spent a couple of days in Amsterdam, and whilst I didn't get to the Theatreschool Festival, I spent long and happy hours in the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 9 : Vaguely In Basle

This one was a bit of a struggle. It is a city alongside a major river, a city in Europe. It could be Cologne, it could be Basle : I visited both during the early 1980s. It took a modest Googling of hotel names to pinpoint the Swiss city of Basle. Our next door neighnours in Sheffield had moved to Basle and we went to stay with them. Once I have pinpointed the city the flood gates open and the memories come flooding back.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 8 : Cafe In Amsterdam

It is the summer of 1968 : the summer of protests. Three members of the Labour Party Young Socialists - Darrel Oldfield (left), Dave Hebblethwaite (right) and myself (behind the camera) - are hitch-hiking through Europe visiting the various sites of student protest. Often we could not pick up lifts as a group so we would vaguely arrange to meet up in the next city on our tour and take to the road independently. Here we had just met up in Amsterdam. I seem to recall that we pitched our tents in a muddy camp site just outside the Ajax football stadium. Memories, memories, memories.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 7 : A Visit To Weatherfield

I was scanning some old negatives the other day and came across this one and decided it would fit nicely in my "Around The World" mini-series. So here is a photograph of a place that doesn't actually exist : the fictional town of Weatherfield which is the location for the longest running TV soap opera in the world - Coronation Street. It was taken in about 1991 and shows my parents just entering the corner shop. Although the picture was taken at the Granada studios in Manchester, the passing crowds help to give it a realistic feel. All we need now is the theme music ....... dah, dah da dadah dah.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 6 Peace In Venice

It is November 2002, the era of cheap European flights. For a few pounds you could get on a plane and fly to some of the most exotic European destinations. I would pack a bag full of books and my camera and see where the cheap ticket lottery sent me to. In this case it was Venice and it was an almost perfect time to visit. The summer crowds were absent and the November light seemed to bring out the Venetian colours to perfection. For three days I explored the twisting alleyways and marveled at what must be one of the most beautiful cities on earth. At peace in Venice.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 5 : Barricades In Gothenburg

It was June 2001 and the EU Summit Merry-Go-Round had worked its way around to the Swedish city of Gothenburg. It was to be a special European Council meeting which would involve the participation of all the new candidate States from Central and Eastern Europe. It was also special because the American President George W Bush was going to be attending the meeting and this meant that, even more than ever before, the meeting became the focus of widespread protests against everything from Globalism to GM foods. The police  quickly decided that the majority of the protesters were staying in the area of the city close to the University and therefore decided to seal that part of the city off with massive containers brought in from the nearby docks. As a tactic it was fairly effective, the only problem was that the hotel I happened to be staying in was in the same street as the University. Thus, each morning, clutching my official press pass, I would walk down to the bottom of the street and begin what was a perilous climb over the container barricade (they are bigger than they look), and each evening I would have to make the return journey. Ah, you can't buy memories like that.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 4 : Ice Bar, Sweden

Sweden has a famous Ice Hotel, and for the May 2001 EU Summit meeting the Swedish Government got them to establish an Ice Bar in the grounds of Stockholm Town Hall for the formal reception for the world media. Everything was made of ice : the bar, the fittings, the glasses, the tables (although I did find a convenient block of granite to rest my glass on). Although it was May, little melted other than the hearts of the grateful, and rather inebriated, journalists.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories - 3 : Barbados Palms

I seem to recall that when I launched this mini-series I promised there wouldn't be too many palm-fringed beaches. So how about a palm-fringed plantation house? It is January 2001 and we are in Barbados (a holiday not, I assure you, another EU summit meeting). It was our first day out there and we were still getting used to it not being January in West Yorkshire. Sipping rum cocktails and allowing your eyes to scale a majestic palm tree up into the bright blue sky is a pleasant way of getting used to this particular form of climate change. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Around The World in 20 Memories - 2 : Spring In Lisbon

It is Spring 2000 and I am at another wonderful EU summit meeting, this time in Lisbon, Portugal. Back in those days the location of the six-monthly summit meetings used to rotate through all the Member States :  these days it is much more boring and they all take place in Brussels. The photograph shows the media centre (you can tell they are journalists, they are playing computer patience). Of course I didn't kill time whilst waiting for the final press briefing by playing card games on the computer, I escaped the building and caught a train down to the lovely seaside resort of Cascais. I remember walking on the beach in the Springtime sun giving thanks to Jean Monnet for coming up with the idea of a united Europe.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Around The World In 20 Memories : No 1 Finnish Dancing

It is April and it's still cold outside. There are no holidays planned for a couple of months and therefore I thought I might run a short series featuring trips gone by. Don't automatically expect imposing cityscapes or palm-fringed beaches, these are pictures that incite my own memories of places. Se welcome on board as we take off to go around the world in twenty memories.

No 1 : Finnish Dancing.   It is December 1999 and I am Helsinki, Finland covering the 1999 European Union Summit meeting. Helsinki was cold and coated with alternate layers of snow and ice. To keep spirits up, the Finnish Government organised a party for the visiting media at the headquarters of the Finnish Radio and Television service. Somewhat bizarrely the musical entertainment was provided by an all-female 1930s swing orchestra. The Finnish journalists and media representatives all turned up in ball gowns and tail suits and danced the evening away. The rest of the world's media turned up in jeans and thick pullovers and drank the evening away. And as you will have guessed, I was in the latter group.

Friday, 1 April 2011

A Pot-Boiler

Chapter 1 : Boiler installed
Chapters 2 - 35 : Boiler fails and is repaired thirty-odd times.
Chapter 36 : Gas engineer comes on Wednesday and says "I know what the problem is, we need to replace all the left side of the boiler, I will need to order parts, back tomorrow"
Chapter 37 : Gas engineer returns and replaces all of left side of boiler and cheerily says - that will be all right now". Five hours later, boiler fails.
Chapter 38 : Gas engineer comes on Friday and says  "I know what the problem is, we need to replace all the right side of the boiler, I will need to order parts, back later today"
.... to be continued, and continued, and continued.

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.

FOUND 1 : Walking With Confidence

  FOUND 1 : The joy of found photographs is that, whilst they provide a visual superstructure, you are free to construct your own backstory ...