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



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.


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.


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.


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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Sunday Pub : The Castle Inn, Skipton

We should never forget that, in many cases, inns were the bus stations of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Coaching inns would have a stables and a cobbled yard where, on cold and misty mornings, horses would snort and sweat, leather trunks would be hoisted, passengers would take their leave and think of what would await them at the end of their journey. The Castle Inn, Skipton is one such early nineteenth century coaching inn which huddles up to Holy Trinity Church as if looking for protection. Back in 1853, it offered little protection when lightning struck the church and falling masonry almost demolished the old inn. But all old inns have stories to tell to those who are willing to listen whilst they sip their pints.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sepia Saturday 236 : Millstone Grit Faced With Brass and Marble

The splendid looking couple above are Wilson Fieldhouse and his wife, Clara Ann. Or at least I think it is them: I suspect I am the only person in the world who either knows - or sadly cares - whether it is them or not, so let us assume that it is. Anyway, Wilson and Clara Ann were the parents of Frank Fieldhouse who went on to marry Miriam Burnett - the Auntie Miriam known and loved by Sepians the world over.

The Sepia Saturday theme this week revolved around hairdressers and beauty parlours. Well us Yorkshire folk have our own ideas about what constitutes a beautiful woman. Some la-di-dah southern woman can paint her nails and bob her hair until the cows come home to Cowcliffe Church, but we set store by character, resolve, and determination and admire a frame that has been designed for hard work. Clara Ann Fieldhouse might not win any beauty pageant outside of Wharfedale, but she was built of millstone grit and faced with brass and marble. Take her to a beauty parlour and she would, like as not, adopt the hair dryer as a handy piece of headgear for protecting her curls from the twin assault of pigeon droppings and the rain-soaked storm clouds that sweep down from Ilkley Moor.

While you are waiting for your perm to set, pop on over to the Sepia Saturday Blog and see what other Sepia styles are on offer.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stout-Stained Bars Waiting To Be Loved

Six Dublin Bars - Alan Burnett (July 2014)

Can it be just a week since I was in Dublin? All those stout-stained bars waiting to be loved. Joyce once penned what he called a "good puzzle" : to cross Dublin without passing a pub. Some puzzles are better off being dismissed, drowned beneath the flow of black and white.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Postcards From The Past : Quite A Man, Quite A Beard

Looking through any collection of old postcards one is often struck by the elaborate handwriting. Stylish it may be, but so often it is also difficult to interpret by modern eyes more used to 12 point Times Roman or Arial. This 1901 postcard appears to have been sent to a Miss Connelly (or is it Connellie) of Linden Mansions, Highgate, but even the 1901 postman seems to have had problems with the swirls and curls as there is a note on the top corner saying "Returned from 7, Ludlow Gardens". Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier was a famous 19th century French painter, famous for his depiction of Napoleon and his army. There is a rather splendid photograph of Meissonier in the collection of the New York Public Library. Quite a man. Quite a beard.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

And The Band Played On : Halifax in July 1914


The mayor and Mayoress of Halifax are giving their annual treat to the inmates of the Workhouse on Wednesday, July 22. The gathering will be held at the Workhouse, and the Mayor has engaged King Cross band to play during the afternoon. Tea will be provided in the dining hall, and afterwards an entertainment will be given. Ald. Ingham will present the men with tobacco and the women and children with toffee. All Guardians are invited, and a number of private friends of the Mayor and the Mayoress.


The "Kolnische Volks-Zeitung" (organ of the German Centre) in an interesting article on "Our relations with England" refers to the great improvement in British-German relations, and the possible causes and occurrences that may have led to it. It says : "One thing is certain, that the Ambassadors' Conference in London during the Balkan crisis has played a prominent part in the history of British-German understanding." With reference to this conference, a high tribute is paid to Sir Edward Grey, and to his great authority and tact. The visit of the English squadron to Kiel, besides testifying to these improved relations, the organ of the Centre continues, may also have a bearing on the continuation of good relations between the two peoples, insomuch as it will have convinced the British naval officers that the German Navy does not harbour any hostile intentions against England.


A serious accident befell Frank Higgins, a wire drawer, of 11 Back Albion Street, Brighouse, about 7.15 on Wednesday. He was cycling down Halifax Road and when nearing the bottom - the roadway is steep - he ran into a black retriever dog and was thrown from his machine. When picked up by Ernest Solomon he was found to be unconscious. The injured man was conveyed home and Dr. Farrar sent for. He recovered consciousness, but was suffering from slight concussion.


Last night, a largely attended meeting of silk workers was held at the Labour Club, Brighouse, when it was reported that a strike had taken place at the Calder Bank and Belle Vue Mills of John Cheetham and Sons. Rather more than 100 silk dressers had ceased work against an alleged excessive amount of work which they were required to do in consequence of the recent advance of wages. The men contended that the amount of work which was expected of them was injurious to health and could not be done. The attitude taken up was supported by the meeting, and it was feared that unless some concessions are made by the various firms in the town a general strike will ensue in the near future. The present terms were only agreed to by the men after the last strike, a few months ago, under strong protest, and only after their leaders had strongly advised them to give them a trial.