Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pitching And Panicking : Halifax In August 1914


From the Halifax Courier : Saturday 1st August 1914


At last, like the arrival of a long-expected guest destined to spoil the party, the coming war began to dominate local newspapers in Britain in the days leading up to the formal declaration of war between Britain and Germany on the 4th August. The above table was published in the Halifax Courier of the 1st August 1914. The article went on to predict some of the consequences if Britain found itself caught up in what was still called a "European War"

WAR's EFFECTS ON ENGLAND
How a great European war would affect the internal condition of our own country was stated some months ago by Major Stewart L Murray at the Royal United Service Institution. He prophesied:
- Extreme confusion in banking and commercial circles.
- The downfall of the modern international credit system was not beyond possibility.
- Widespread ruin, impoverishment, and unemployment.
- Many factories would have to close or partially close.
- Food prices would rise to famine heights, and millions of the poor would be forced on the rates.
- Our export trade would be in confusion at the outset of war, and throw further multitudes out of work.
There were 10,000,000 people who would be unable to pay the famine prices for food and they would not starve quietly. All sugar, bacon, ham, eggs, butter and tinned meats would disappear during the first week of war, being bought for domestic storage, and in a month the available stock of flour would begin to give out, the rest being bottled up. Serious bread riots were to be expected.

This analysis appears to be based on a European war that Britain did not play an active part in. As events proved, our participation in the fighting had a grim and distressing way of soaking up the "unemployed".


Halifax Zoo was opened at Chevinedge Park, Siddal in 1909 and for a short period of time it was a very popular local attraction. It did, however, have a bit of a reputation for allowing animals to escape and there are various stories of elephants, wild boars and even a grizzly bear demolishing the fences and escaping into Elland Woods. The wartime period saw a decline in its popularity - and a difficulty in sourcing the required animal food - and the zoo was closed down in 1917, the various animals having being "disposed of".

BRADSHAW MEN AT PITCH AND TOSS

A batch of Bradshaw men were charged with playing pitch and toss on July 12 in Corporation lane, Bradshaw.... On Sunday afternoon July 12, P.C. Mashiter was proceeding about 3 o'clock, along School Lane, Bradshaw when he saw, up Occupation lane, a group of men whose head and shoulders were against the skyline. Watching he saw arms going up, and men bending down, so he concluded they were playing pitch and toss. Getting over the wall, he went up the field until he was closer to the men, from where he watched the men for 10 minutes. He saw they were playing pitch and toss....

Mr Wilkinson, presenting the case for the defence, said he had given careful consideration to Stone's Justice's Manual, and there was not such a game known to the law as pitch and toss. It was true that one would be doing something unlawful if one gambled or wagered with coins in a public place, but there was no suggestion that pitch and toss was a game that anybody could not play. There had not been a single word of evidence that defendants were gaming or wagering on that particular day....

All the defendants appeared in the box, and in turn, stoutly denied they had played pitch and toss. After five minutes retirement, the Chairman announced that they considered the case had been fully proved against all defendants, and they would each be charged 10s, with 7s costs.

Pitch and Toss is a gambling game in which a group of people throw coins at a given target. Whoever throws the coin that lands closest to the target gets the chance to toss all the coins and keep those which land "heads". At a time when betting shops, casinos and on-line gambling is rife, I have found it impossible to discover whether playing pitch and toss would still be illegal.


Halifax Library announced it would close for five weeks in order to carry out a re-arrangement of its stock. The above diagram illustrated the new lay-out. The distinction between "useful arts" and "fine arts" can be noted together with the amount of shelf space devoted to religion and philology (the study of language).


The Endurance took Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team to the Antarctic Ocean but they never landed on Antarctica itself, as the ship got stuck in the pack ice at the beginning of 1915. It was slowly crushed and sank and Shackleton and his colleagues then begun an epic escape journey which eventually led to the rescue of the crew over a year later. The story of the mission has been the subject of several books and films.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The PSC : Focusing The Scanning Beam On The Detritus Of Life

I recently joined an organisation called the People's Scanning Collective (PSC) which is dedicated to scanning and publishing worthless ephemera. The idea behind it is that records and documents which are seen as "important" will be preserved by a whole range of regional and national archival organisations, whereas the supposed detritus of life will be lost. PSC members therefore scan the kind of documents that would normally fall through the cracks in the historical canvas, make them available on-line, and leave the rest to Google. 



My contribution this week is a letter I recently found in a cardboard box of old family papers. It is addressed to my father, Albert Burnett, and was sent in June 1958. It is a Jury Summons requiring my father to attend for jury service at the Quarter Sessions in Halifax, West Yorkshire. The language is almost Dickensian with all the "to wits" and "be holdens".


The letter is signed by Richard de Zouch Hall, a name that will be familiar to anyone who lived in Halifax in the 1950s and 60s. He was Town Clerk of Halifax from 1968 until the Borough was subsumed into the new Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in 1973. He was the author of a number of books, including short histories of Halifax Town Hall and the Halifax Orchestra. 

This may not be of interest to anyone, it certainly is not fascinating. But that is the whole point of the work of the PSC - focusing the scanning beam on the detritus of life.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Panoramic Round-Up


Last night, The Lad and I got roped into helping round up Half-A-Farmer's chickens, ducks and geese. His bit of land is just behind the pub and has spectacular views over the Calder Valley. I took this photograph with the panoramic setting on my iPhone just as the sun was setting. A good night.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sepia Saturday 238 : The Photographs Are A Sign

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week features a sign on the side of a building which, appropriately enough, says "signs" (based on the same logic I am tempted to call this blogpost "Blogpost").  Looking for a family connection to signs, my first thought were drawn towards my father, Albert who, on leaving school in 1924 was apprenticed to a signwriter. Alas, his apprenticeship didn't last too long as after a few days the school authorities decided that he had left school too early and made him go back for an extra few weeks. By the time he eventually left school, the signwriting job had gone. Many years later, I managed to replicate his early career move when I managed to get a job as a press photographer. Alas, between getting the job and finally finishing school, the newspaper closed down and my life went off in a different direction.

But I am not following this particular sign for my Sepia Saturday post this week, I am, instead, moving off in a maternal direction. Here are a couple of photographs featuring my mother, whose birthday it would have been on Sunday. Both photographs feature signs, and the signs take us to opposite ends of this country of ours (I realise I might need to amend that last sentence in the light of the results of the referendum on Scottish independence which will take place in a few weeks time).




The first photograph shows me and my mother outside the "First and Last House in England" which is - or was back in 1964 - at Land's End in Cornwall. The second photograph - which seems to be of about the same vintage - features my mother and father outside the First and Last Shop in Scotland which is/was at John O' Groats in Scotland. The photographs are a sign of the travelling we did when I was young. The photographs are a sign of my mother - always there : first and last, beginning and end. The photographs are a sign.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Little Nap, Little Stones And Little Drink : Halifax in July 1914


FROM THE HALIFAX COURIER : SATURDAY 25 JULY 1914


The Palace / Hippodrome Theatre was located on the corner of Southgate and Wards End, just opposite the Theatre Royal (which is just about still standing today). Built in 1903, it is supposed to have been known as "the sweetest theatre in the North" because, during its construction, sugar was mixed in with the mortor to stop it freezing. Many famous acts appeared there - including Charlie Chaplin, Sir Harry Lauder, and Little Tich - before it was finally demolished in 1960. Herbert Brooks was a magician and escapologist famous for his ability to escape from a locked steel trunk. Little Nap, the wonder chimpanzee, was famous for riding a motorcycle whilst dressed as Napoleon!

THIS WEEK AT THE HALIFAX BOROUGH COURT
MONDAY
Before Mr A.W. Whitley (presiding) and Mr J Walker Clerk
HE "DID NOT WORK"

The reason given to Taskmaster E Town at the Halifax Workhouse by Arthur McGowan (29), a strapping specimen of humanity, for refusing to do his allotted task, was that he "did not work".  As a result of his refusal McGowan appeared to answer a charge of refusing to break stones that morning. E Town said he visited McGowan eight times in two and a half hours, but never found him working. All he could get out of him was that he did not work. Prisoner replying to Mr Robertshaw (clerk) said "I told him I could not break stones" Mr Robertshaw : Why?  Because I am not able-bodied enough. He was committed for 21 days with hard labour.

Breaking up large stones into small pieces was one of the most common forms of work given to men in the Workhouse. It was physically hard work, the amount performed could be easily measured and the end product could be sold for road making. At the outbreak of the Great War, two out of every five recruits to the British Army were found to be unfit to serve due to disease, ill-health, and malnutrition. 


In August 1914, less than a month after the publication of this notice, the Battle of the Ardennes - one of the first of the battles of the Great War - was underway. Within two days there were over 60,000 casualties.

OPEN AIR TEMPERANCE MEETING

Halifax Temperance Society held its open air meeting at the bottom of Lister Lane on Monday evening. Mr Jacob Farrar presided and gave reminiscences of his teetotal career, which had extended about 60 years - a life full of vigour and enjoyment of the truest kind. He said though he was close on 70 years of age, he could work well, eat well and sleep well, and he never felt better; and this he attributed to his temperance principles. Mr William Redman, another temperance veteran, in his 89th year, also supported the meeting.

Mr W H Duckett, Band of Hope Agent, spoke on the after effects of alcohol, how it robbed us of what is brightest and best and left us with what we could easily spare. In the first instance, he said, it cost England 100,000 lives every year through strong drink - a rather large number, but nevertheless true, and understated rather than over. 90% of crime was caused by the drink, so said Lord Alverstone, Chief Justice. 90% of the cases of cruelty to children was the result of the drink, said Robert Parr, director NSPCC. 90% of lunacy was caused by drink, and but for the drink the Divorce Court might practically close up according to Lord Gorell.

By the 1830s there were said to be over 1,000 inns, taverns and alehouses in Halifax, many of whom brewed their own beer. The temperance movement grew in strength during the nineteenth century, and by 1914 there were eight temperance hotels in Halifax and another four in Brighouse.


Five shillings (25p) in 1914 is the equivalent of just over £20 in 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Message In Dostoyevsky's Underpants


Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the labels on clothing seem to be getting more and more verbose? At one time, labelling was confined to such essentials as size and manufacturer; but now many items of clothing seem to have an extra skin made up of silky paper print of somewhat dubious origin. Such appendages might serve a useful purpose if they contained thought provoking or entertaining text - I am thinking of those times when the train breaks down and the only thing you are left to read is either the Daily Mail or the labels on your pullover. However, if the labels I have just cut off my green jumper and scanned are anything to go by, Dostoyevsky they are not. How did we find ourselves in this sorry state of affairs? No doubt someone has done a detailed analysis of the trend. And no doubt it is printed inside a pair of underpants.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sitting And Swinging Up The Wakefield Old Road


Yet again, the weather was glorious today, so I took a walk to nowhere in particular along the Old Wakefield Road out of Huddersfield. I wanted to take a photograph of the Sit-A-While Cafe for no other reason than it deserves a photograph. Had I an hacksaw with me, I would have happily cut down the tubular post that destroys the image. I know I could Photoshop it out, but that wouldn't give me the same satisfaction of feeling the saw blade cut through the offending structure.



A little further down the road stands the shell of what once was the Green Cross Hotel. There is no great antiquity in the building, it having been built in 1930 on the site of not particularly beautiful early nineteenth century hotel. The name comes from a long-forgotten signpost at the crossroads which reputedly pointed the traveller in the direction of London. A few years ago, the pub appeared to undergo a transformation from fading tied house to twenty first century real ale and craft beer emporium, but it faded back into obscurity quicker than the pseudo head on a pint of John Smith's Smoothflow. It's last manifestation, according to the columns of the local newspaper, was as a "Adult Swingers' Club". It looks empty and deserted now, but, just to be on the safe side, I didn't attempt to gain entry in order to make sure.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sepia Saturday 237 : Google And The Right To Be Forgotten


Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week came as a bit of a surprise to me. On one level it was no surprise at all - after all, I had chosen the image myself based on a suggestion by Sepian Wendy Mathias. The image she put forward as a potential theme was a little small and therefore I searched Flickr for something I thought was similar. What could be the difference between two sets of dancing girls?. As things turned out, it would appear that the difference was a spare Y chromosome! On closer inspection the dancing girls in the prompt turn out to be dancing boys and therefore we get a new potential Sepia theme for Sepia Saturday 237 : people of indeterminate gender. Which brings me to my featured photograph of the week - this Victorian portrait of a couple which seems to have been taken in a makeshift tented studio, perhaps at a country fete. On the left we have, without doubt, a seated lady; but on the right we have what looks like another woman dressed as a man.

There is a minor secondary mystery about this particular photograph. When I selected it for use in my post this week, I couldn't get rid of the suspicion that I might have used it before. If so, it must have been a long time ago and therefore it would be new to all but the most ancient of Sepians (Yes, Bruno, I mean you). In order to double-check I decided to do a Google Search, making use of the facility by which you can give Google an image and ask it to find all previous occasions when that image has been used on the Web before. It came back with no exact matches but a selection of close matches - one of which was this picture of a Texas Ranger on his horse! I was beginning to think that Google might not be the all-powerful brain of the universe we often credit it with being. But perhaps it is just that someone is making use of this new legislative "right to be forgotten". Perhaps the gent in my old family photograph had decided that the photograph of him did little to flatter his rugged and masculine good looks and therefore instructed Google to forget it.

Whilst you might want to forget an embarrassing photograph from your past, don't forget to visit the Sepia Saturday Blog and check out all the contributions this week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Unlit Lamp And The Three Mile Limit : Halifax in July 1914


FROM THE HALIFAX COURIER : SATURDAY 18 JULY 1914

CABINET MINISTER ATTACKED BY WOMEN


When Mr McKinnon Wood, Secretary for Scotland, was entering a motor-car at his residence, Portland Place, London, on Wednesday, two suffragettes ran up and one struck him across the chest with a dog-whip. She was seized by Mr Wood's butler, who took the whip from her. The second woman then tried to hit Mr. Wood, but he warded off the blow with his umbrella. Both women were arrested, and at Marlborough Street Police Court later were each fined 20s or 14 days.

The Women's Social and Political Union was founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903 and its supporters - known as suffragettes - were responsible for a range of acts of civil disobedience in this period. In August 1914, Emmeline and her daughter Christabel called for an immediate halt to all suffrage activism and for support to be given to the Government in its war efforts. By the end of her life, Emmeline was standing as a Conservative Party parliamentary candidate.


EXPENSIVE FOR THE CHAUFFEUR


Before the Mayor (Ald R Thornton), Mssrs W Smith, R Woodhouse and J W Mellor, at Brighouse Borough Court yesterday, Herbert Ellis Hay, chauffeur, Halifax, was charged with failing to illuminate the rear identification plate of a motor car on July 11, on the Halifax Road. Defendant pleaded guilty. P.C. Holmes said that when accosted defendant said the lamp was still warm, but witness felt it and it was cold. Defendant said the car was a taxi cab and the drivers had their own fines to pay. Again, he could not always see whether the lamp was out or not. the lamp was burning when he passed the police at Whitehall, and the lumpy road must have put it out. He had lost a day's work and wages coming there. It being defendant's first offence he was let off with payment of costs, 7s 6d.

Section 2 of the 1903 Motor Car Act introduced vehicle registration for all motor cars and enabled Councils to introduce rules as to how the registration numbers should be displayed. At this time they were often lit by open flame lamps which could easily by blown out.


BRIGHOUSE MEN AND THE THREE MILE LIMIT


At the Huddersfield County Police Court on Tuesday, six men, Ernest Beaumont, Clifford Rickard and James Farrar, labourers of Brighouse, John Walton and Sam Horsfall, labourers of Rastrick, and George Henry Horne, delver of Rastrick, were summoned for being on licensed premises during prohibited hours. Joe Hirst, landlord of the Spinners' Arms Inn, Colne Bridge, was summoned for selling intoxicating liquors during prohibited hours. The case was before the court a month ago, when it was adjourned for the purpose of ascertaining whether the footpath across Bradley Plain was a private or a public one.


Supt. Hustler said that the footpath was generally used by people coming from Brighouse to Bradley, but it was a private one and therefore he asked to withdraw the summonses against all the defendants except Farrar, Walton and Hirst. P.S. Driffield said that Walton lived 2 miles 1,639 yards and Farrar 2 miles 1,636 yards from the Spinners' Arms. The measurements had been taken across another footpath through Bradley Park, which was a public thoroughfare. Hirst stated in evidence that the ordinance map, which he kept at his house showed that the two men, Walton and Farrar, lived 73 yards over the three mile limit. The Bench dismissed the case against Hirst, but ordered Walton and Farrar to pay the costs (7s 6d each).

During the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the licensing hours of public houses came under stricter control with drinking being prohibited at certain times of the day and on Sundays. The Licensing Act of 1874 had introduced an exemption from such rules for "travellers" and defined a traveller as someone who was at least three miles distant from the place where they had lodged on the previous night. It thus became common for people who wanted to drink during prohibited hours to visit pubs just over three miles from where they lived and the precise measurement of these critical distances was often tested in the courts of law.


AT SUNNY VALE


The attendants were busy at Sunny Vale on Saturday catering for the amusement of a large influx of visitors from Heckmondwyke, Norland, Holywell Green, Stainland, Birchcliffe and Hebden Bridge. There were about 3,000 persons present. In addition to the usual attractions the Mirfield Military Band of 40 performers played for dancing.

Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens near Halifax were the Alton Towers of their day, attracting crowds from the towns and villages of West Yorkshire. They were at the height of their popularity in 1914 and continued to attract crowds until the 1950s.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Age Related Anticipation Of Mortality


Isn't it odd how some conditions seem to be age-related. It is like when you reach the age of 58 years 3 months and a couple of days you can almost guarantee that the focus of your eyes will change and whatever spectacles got you through the previous fifty odd years now need changing. Or the laugh lines that for so many years lit up your face now, like an unwelcome visitor, refuse to leave.  And it is like the depressing desire to "put your affairs in order" in anticipation for what is euphemistically described in those daytime TV advertisements for old-age insurance as "that final expense". My parents were very much into putting their affairs in order and did little else during the last thirty years of their life other than labelling their Prudential Insurance policy in large letters so I could easily find it when the time came to draw the £47.38p which was the result of a lifetimes' weekly penny contribution. I always said that I would never tread that particular path, determined to go out in a blaze of disorganisation, but the other day I found myself making a mental note to my son telling him not to throw my German banknotes away as they might be worth a pretty pfennig or two.  


So the purpose of this particular blog post is to lie dormant for a year or so (I am hoping for the "so" option) until the time comes and then for it to be read by The Lad before he embarks on a frenzy of house clearance. There is a small collection of old German banknotes in a file on the third bookshelf down from the right in my room that you might want to get valued before you dump them in the bin with everything else. I know you are busy and therefore I will do a search and try to get a current price on that 1915 20 Mark note; who knows it might put young Holroyd through university. I will let you know what I find out.

UPDATE : Just checked on eBay. Similar notes in good condition are currently selling for as much as £3. Now that was a lot of money when I was a lad.