Who would have thought that the wartime "Stay Calm And Carry On" slogan would become one of the catchphrases of the 21st Century? In most cases it is an over-reaction to the hassles of modern life; but in the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean it is a fittingly brave reaction.
Thursday, 23 November 2017
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
School days - I remember them well. There were always those who could excel in all things athletic and sporting. And then there were those who stood around and watched ..... and one who squatted at the end of the long-jump pit, camera in hand, shutter finger ready.
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
I think I now realise why the flags of so many Caribbean countries feature the colours green and yellow. Wherever you turn you see the lush green vegetation and the yellow of the sun, the sands and the ochre stained buildings.
Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Wednesday, 25 October 2017
PARK HILL, SHEFFIELD (c.1990)
I am guessing at the date of this photograph, but I seem to recall I took it a year or two before we left Sheffield and returned to West Yorkshire. Housing developments such as Park Hill were seen as dreams of the future in the 1960s, and nightmares of the past by the end of the century. Both views were over-simplifications.
Tuesday, 24 October 2017
Monday, 23 October 2017
CAR FERRY, IRELAND (1967)
It was the late 1960s and I was on a holiday in Ireland with my parents. We were driving around Kerry and I was navigating. I remember discovering a car ferry marked on the map which would provide us with a very useful short cut. When we got there, my father stopped just long enough for me to take this photograph and then drove off at speed in the opposite direction.
Sunday, 22 October 2017
LATE VICTORIAN COUPLE
This is a scan of a whole plate glass negative which was sent to me by person or persons unknown, safely packed within a plastic DVD case. There is a wonderful array of chains - holding coats together, holding purses in place - and two rather magnificent hats.
Saturday, 21 October 2017
Dave O'Higgins : Huddersfield, October 2017
Taking photographs at live events is not one of my favourite activities, but it is one I am happy to do to help out a friend. I was therefore down at my mate Ben Crosland's gig at Huddersfield Parish Church the other night for his interpretation of the Ray Davies' Songbook. This was one of the photographs from that session and it shows the excellent saxophonist, Dave O'Higgins.
Friday, 20 October 2017
GRIMSBY FISH DOCKS (1988)
In the 1980s I would visit Grimsby frequently - sometimes on business, occasionally for photographic pleasure. By then the port was in decline and many of the fish docks and gutting sheds were standing empty. There was a fishy sadness about the place.
Tuesday, 17 October 2017
SOLDIER WITH A NET
There is the remnants of a date stamp on the back of this photograph of an unknown soldier and it seems to be 1933. What kind of soldier could this have been and what was he trying to catch in his net? A Tiger Moth maybe!
ALONE ON A HILL, SUSSEX (1980)
I seem to recall that we were somewhere in Sussex, not far from Eastbourne. It was early evening and our friends were highlighted against the setting sun. I suppose it would have made a better photograph in colour, but times were hard and colour film was well beyond our means.
Friday, 13 October 2017
VICTORIAN GENT, STUDIO OF WILLIAM McKENNA, NEWCASTLE-ON-TYNE
There is something very strong-looking about this Victorian gent. He reminds me of one of those Victorian engineers renowned for building bridges, tunnels and ocean ships. The photographer, William McKenna, was recorded as being a "Photographic Artist" at "the corner of Neville Street, near Clayton Street West" I have found records of a photographic studio on Neville Street as early as 1864, although at that time it was under the name of C. Wilson. This particular photograph looks like it dates from the 1880s or 1890s.
Thursday, 12 October 2017
ROWING BOATS, BRIDLINGTON (c. 1982)
Strings of rowing boats in Bridlington Harbour, their names redolent of times gone by. Ron, Pam, Jim, Ada, Keith: there is even an Alan in there. And floating around within these common circles is the Duchess of Montrose - like a marine-ply aristocrat fallen on hard times.
Wednesday, 11 October 2017
YOUNG WOMAN WITH HAT - Late Victorian Studio Photograph
The photograph itself is tiny, not much bigger than a postage stamp, and some of the detail has faded away. Over the years it has acquired a patina of sepia-coated age: but still it is a delightful study of a beautiful young woman.
Tuesday, 10 October 2017
TALLY HO! EASTBOURNE (c. 1981)
We were staying for a few weeks in Eastbourne in the early 1980s and I came across the beautiful Tally Ho pub. It is now a steakhouse rather than a pub, but at least the building remains due to its Grade II listing. It was built in 1927 for the Kemptown Brewery and designed by their in-house architect John Leopold Denman.
THE ARMS OF TALBOT, SETTLE : October 2017
This was the whitewashed walls of the Talbot Arms public house in Settle. There was something about the simplicity of the lines and colours that was attractive, simple and refreshing - like a lightly-hopped Chinook beer.
APPREHENSIVE WOMAN : William Davey Studios, Islington
There is a look of apprehension on the face of this unknown woman. The photographer was William Davey (1844-1925) who was active in London in the last decade of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth century. He was at the Upper Street studios in Islington between 1900 and 1910, so this portrait obviously dates from that period. There is a famous family of photographers in Exeter with the name Davey and William is probably related to them, although the precise link is unclear.
Saturday, 7 October 2017
PURTON HULKS, GLOUCESTERSHIRE (September 2017)
During a walk along the banks of the River Severn in Gloucestershire we came across a series of abandoned barges and small ships that seem to have organically grown out of the riverbank. These are the famous Purton Hulks, old boats that have been deliberately sunk to shore up the fragile river bank.
Saturday, 30 September 2017
VICTORIAN LEANING MAN - A D Lewis, Newcastle
There must have been a name for those strange upholstered posts provided by Victorian photographic studios for their patrons to lean against during the lengthy periods of time it was necessary to maintain a pose. Perhaps they were called "leaning posts" - if not, they should have been.
Abandoned Mill - Halifax (1974)
The original of this photograph was so under-exposed that I don't think I ever bothered printing it. But modern scanning techniques and programmes like Photoshop allow you to rescue images that otherwise would have been binned. This was taken at a time when the industrial pulse of West Yorkshire was winding down - just like an old iron staircase.
Friday, 29 September 2017
CYCLIST IN MINCHINHAMPTON (September 2017)
A lone cyclist climbs an otherwise deserted Tetbury Street in the village of Minchinhampton. I don't know which is more surprising - the fact that there are no cars, no people or no dreadful plastic rubbish bins.
UNKNOWN STUDIO PORTRAIT (1900s)
In have no idea who this chap is - there was no studio information on the photograph and it was acquired at one of those jumble sales or antique centres that I frequent in my dotage. When I look at it, however, I am immediately put in mind of the books and characters of H G Wells. There is something rather Mr Polly-ish about him.
Thursday, 28 September 2017
Wednesday, 27 September 2017
UNKNOWN WOMAN : J KERBY & SON, IPSWICH & HARWICH
This Victorian studio portrait comes from the Ipswich studios of J Kerby & Son. The firm was active in the Ipswich area in the 1880s and 1890s, and at one stage advertised that they were able to take portraits with the help of electric lights - albeit for a premium price above their normal rate. This could well be one of those premium photographs - the lady has an electrifying look about her.
BEWARE OF THE TRAINS
I have no idea where I took this photograph. When I came to scan the negative, it was an off-cut, a single frame from the end of a film. It was a black and white negative, but age - and a little help from a Photoshop filter - had given it a pleasing patina. There will be people out there who can tell us what the train is, where the crossing point is, and no doubt, the name of the driver. If so, feel free to write in.
MAUD STREET, WEST VALE
The last frame of my virtual film provides us with the very solidity which is West Yorkshire mill-land. The squat chimney, the generous windows which provided lights for the weaving shed, the hoist and the loading bay that lifted the bales of wool from the wagons - all in a sooty monochrome. My land, my home.
Tuesday, 26 September 2017
This is one of my earliest pictures, taken well over fifty years ago, and it features one of the wagons being used at the Halifax Charity Gala (in 1965, I suspect). They were collecting for the Halifax Children's Holiday Home which had been established in Norland (just outside Halifax) in 1937 in order to "provide holidays for needy local children". Those were the days, when an exciting holiday could be had two miles up the road in Norland.
WEST VALE MILL 2
Moving along the viaduct a little gives rise to a second shot of the mill (it must have a name, all mills had names, it is just that I can't find it). This is the fag-end of the mill (that is a term I have just invented). Originally there was more, now there is less - soon there might be none.
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
West Vale Mill
Another photograph from the top of the West Vale railway viaduct. When taking photographs, I have a couple of rules. Rule 1 is "If you pass a pub, take a photograph of it before it closes down". Rule 2 is "If you pass a mill, take a photograph of it before they pull it down".
Tuesday, 12 September 2017
THE BEAUTY OF CHIMNEY POTS
A second photograph taken from the West Vale railway viaduct and this one concentrates on the Victorian chimney pots that still grace the rooftops of the terraced houses. Most are now redundant, but when they are removed - as is the case in a couple of them - the houses seem strangely incomplete.
Monday, 11 September 2017
TERRACED STREETS, WEST VALE
The sixth frame of my virtual film was taken from the railway viaduct and shows the little streets of terraced houses that climb up the hill from Stainland Road. The original shot was in colour, but somehow it looks better in monochrome.
Friday, 8 September 2017
STAINLAND ROAD AND WEST VALE
The Stainland branch line - which ran from Greenland Junction, through West Vale and Holywell Green to Stainland - existed as a working railway line for just over fifty years. Even though it closed almost ninety years ago, some of the infrastructure still exists, in particular the magnificent viaduct that flies over West Vale. This photograph was taken from the top of it.
Thursday, 7 September 2017
GLENHOLME, GREEN LANE, WEST VALE
Glenholme is a delightful early twentieth century house which was built as a home for the two Waller Brothers who owned a mill in West Vale. It provided accommodation for the two families and had two separate entrances. Above one door were carved the initials HHW for Henry Hirst Waller and above the other CHW for Charles Herbert Waller. These days the house is a respite care home.
Tuesday, 5 September 2017
WEST VALE RAILWAY VIADUCT
Walking down Hullenedge Lane towards West Vale you suddenly catch sight of an old railway viaduct that seems to dominate the valley from this angle. When you are in West Vale itself you hardly notice it, but it is there, like the skeleton of a long dead transport mammoth.
Monday, 4 September 2017
|Roadsign - Hammerstones Road, Elland|
There was a time when roadsigns were made up of individual lettered tiles, like some hand from a Corporation Scrabble game. The second of my virtual film frames came back from the virtual film processor today and shows the hand played by one such player . Assuming no doubles or trebles and forgetting the road - score 19.
Sunday, 3 September 2017
BETHESDA METHODIST CHURCH, ELLAND (2 September 2017)
Isobel and I were out walking in the sun yesterday, and I was about to use up a boxful of SD cards, clicking away at this, that and the other, when suddenly I remembered what it used to be like. You would set off out knowing that you had invested a sizeable sum in a 20 exposure film, and taking great care before you exposed each frame. Just for the hell of it, I decided to limit myself to an imaginary 20 exposure film during my walk and I came home with five exposures to spare. This was the first "frame". I will "print" the rest over the coming few days.
Saturday, 26 August 2017
Halifax Piece Hall (August 2017)
They have just carried out a major redevelopment at the historic Halifax Piece Hall, replacing the old, stone-cobbled, sloping floor with one which is tiered and stone-flagged. Many people complain about the cost or the look of the new configuration, but it does provide a more usable space for large public gatherings, such as those which were such a part of the history of the Piece Hall in the nineteenth century.
Tuesday, 15 August 2017
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
Back Randolph Street, Halifax (August 2017)
For whatever reason, this photograph says Halifax to me. Although I was born seven miles away in Bradford and now live four miles away in Huddersfield, Halifax as always been - and always will be - home. The built environment - whether it was built fifty years ago or one hundred and fifty years ago - cannot overwhelm the shape of the landscape, the rise and fall of the hills.
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Burdock Way, Halifax (August 2017)
This is a scene I keep returning to: I can never pass the concrete Burdock Way Overpass without taking out whatever camera I may have with me. My adolescent eye was captured by these concrete curves forty years ago and I have been returning to them ever since.
Monday, 17 July 2017
Grounds Of Polesden Lacey House, Surrey
More deck chairs, but an entirely different scene. We are now looking across the South Downs from the splendour of the gardens of Polesden Lacey House - a great Victorian/Edwardian country house constructed out of the eye-watering profits of the McEwens Brewery. Cheers! - or should it be Chairs!
Wednesday, 12 July 2017
Oakley Court Hotel, Windsor
We recently spent a night at the Oakley Court Hotel near Windsor - a splendidly spooky place on the banks of the River Thames. Whilst there, I discovered that it had been used as the set for the films "The Brides of Dracula" and "The Plague Of The Zombies". Laster, I also discovered that my good friend Jane Gordon-Cumming had used it as the setting for her novel "A Proper Family Christmas". A large house - a small world.