Monday, August 21, 2017

LOL With Auntie Annie


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For once I know who is standing and where she is standing, and, I suspect, I can make a fair guess as to the "when". It is Annie Moore - my Auntie Annie - and the photograph was taken in the back garden of her house in Carbottom Road, Bradford. I think they moved there in the mid to late 1930s and I suspect that the photograph was taken during that period.

Auntie Annie was a consummate storyteller - a skill that is so often under-estimated. She knew exactly how to "construct" a story - how much detail was needed, how to promote expectation, when to pause, when to let a gesture carry the story forward. One of her classic stories took place in that back garden, where the dustbin was kept. For some reason she had acquired half a bag of cement which she didn't want and which she threw away in the dustbin. Later it had rained heavily and the water mixed with the cement which mixed with whatever else was in there, resulting in a dustbin full of set concrete. Annie would tell the story of how she hid behind the lace curtain on the day the dustbins where due for emptying and watched successive dustmen attempt to heave the bin onto their backs to take it to the bin wagon parked in the street. Each groan and gesture would appear in that story building up to the point where four hefty bin-men manhandled the bin down the garden path. 

The acronym LOL (Lough Out Loud) had not been invented back in those days. It should have been, it perfectly describes Annie and her stories.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sepia Saturday 381 : Nuggets And Grains And Royal Enfields



Think of it as being a bit like a gold rush. When gold is first discovered it is a frantic, wild affair; everyone piles in and starts digging, and you pull out nuggets the size of turnips and you become blasé. And then you begin to work through your stake and the rewards are harder to come by and your focus switches from nuggets to grains. Nevertheless, once you have been panning away for a week in the rain and you find the smallest speck of pure gold, the thrill is just as great as when you plucked nuggets with alacrity. 

I knew that there were a fair few motorbike pictures in my family photographic collection. My father was a great motorbike enthusiast and I absorbed the names of the great British marques along with my bottles of post-war NHS orange juice: Ariel, Triumph, BSA and Royal Enfield. I sorted through my imaginary folder of motorbike images (I dream of being so organised, but it is nothing more than a dream) and most of the nuggets had been featured at some point before on Sepia Saturday, Motorbike Monday, Sidecar Sunday or the like.

My panning in the rain was eventually rewarded with this photograph which had obviously fallen through my sifting pan on previous occasions because it was small and easily overlooked. A quick scan and clean-up reveals it in all its glory, and it has immediately become my favourite photograph of my parents - Albert and Gladys. I think the house in the background will be their house on Cooper Lane, Bradford, and that will date the photograph at about 1936 or 1937, shortly after they got married. The star of the photograph is, of course, the Royal Enfield; but it is also the look of pride and joy in the faces of the riders.

To see more sepia nuggets go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Girl At Number 24


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I am sure I know this girl. Bright, confident smile, a girl at home in her surroundings, framed by railings that owe more to design than function. It's the girl at Number 24.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where's Ramsbottom?



I found this old business card stuck at the end of one of Uncle Frank's photo albums. At first I was attracted by the claim "Including - The Washing Up Machine which Sterilisers all Utensils after Use", which appears to be a somewhat bizarre tag-line for a restaurant. I was then intrigued by a couple couple of addresses for what I would guess are boarding houses in the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth. Finally, my attention was monopolised by the two signatures on the front of the card which appeared to be the work of Harry Korris and Robbie Vincent. Given two such names - which at some point were meaningful enough to get signed on a business card - who could resist the temptation to Google them and discover who they were.  Not me, that's for sure.

Harry Korris (1891-1971) was a British comedian and actor, best known for playing the part of Mr Lovejoy, the theatre manager in the long-running BBC comedy programme, Happidrome. The show was so popular, in 1943 it was turned into a film of the same name. Robbie Vincent (1895-1968) also starred in Happidrome, where he played the bellboy, Enoch. The third permanent member of the show was Cecil Fredericks (1903-1958) who played the stage manager, Ramsbottom. Together the three of them performed their most famous song We Three. You can see their performance on a classic clip available on YouTubeQuite where Cecil Fredericks was that night when Uncle Frank was dining in Del Monico Restaurant in Great Yarmouth is a mystery. Perhaps he was ill - fallen victim to a bug caught off a contaminated kitchen utensil.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Standing Around For 125 Years


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I was out walking the other morning and I came across Lieutenant Colonel Edward Akroyd standing around outside All Soul's Church on Haley Hill, Halifax. Not that I am criticising him, he had every right to stand around outside the church; he built it after all. And he did deserve a rest: whilst you can probably count the number of Victorian manufacturers who positively benefited both the lives of their workers and their town on the bobbin-hooks of one power loom, Edward Akroyd would be amongst that number. He established two model villages for his workers, built a school for their children, created a bank to help them save - The Yorkshire Penny Bank which still exists today - and founded a Working Men's College (the first outside London). When he died in 1887, his fellow townspeople contributed to this fine statue with its four reliefs telling the story of his life. From such a spot he has been standing around for some 125 years.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Golden Age Of Gate Standing Photos


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This old photograph seems to have acquired blobs of colour over the decades, like a velvet jacket picking up cat hairs. Leaving aside the brown blobs and the blue lines, you can focus on the family by the front gate: a mother and four children. My guess is that the photograph dates from either the very end of the nineteenth century or the beginning of the twentieth - the golden age of gate-standing photos.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Sepia Saturday 379 : That Is A Lifetime


Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a goat under the watchful eye of a chap with a funny hat. The connection with my featured image - a photograph of my brother and I on a beach under the watchful eye of Auntie Annie who seems to have some kind of turban on her head - is so obvious it needs no further explanation.

The location is, I believe, Bridlington - those buildings in the background have the look of Marine Drive on North Beach. The date will be the summer of 1950 when I was two years old. My mother will be somewhere around and my father was the one probably taking the photograph. There are sixty-seven years between that young child in the photograph and the oldish man posting it today. That is a lifetime.



Thursday, August 03, 2017

Small Man, Small House, Big Cap


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The man in this photograph seems slightly out of proportion to the cottage he is standing outside. Now it might be that the man is tall, but few of his generation were: disease and diet worked together to prevent mankind getting too big for their collective boots. It is more likely that the cottage was small. You can still occasionally see some of these eighteenth century cottages around and you wonder how on earth people fitted in them. The man is small, the cottage is small, but his cap could keep the rain off one of those colossal stone heads of Easter Island

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Fading Away


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As some people have already commented, the houses in some of these old photographs are as attractive as the people standing around them. This print was badly faded and, originally, the house faded into what was probably a London smog. A little creative Photoshopping brings it back in all its finery.