Friday, October 13, 2017

Sepia Saturday 389 : You've Got It Wrong Again!

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features a little girl sat at a desk. My match is a little boy stood on a step - which may not sound like much of a match, but nevertheless it is appropriate for this particular time. The photograph was taken in 1946 at the photographic studios in Brown Muff's department store in Bradford, Yorkshire, and the subject is my brother, Roger.

What would normally happen at this point is that Roger would leave a comment to this post saying something like: "No, you have got it wrong again, that isn't me, it's you, and it wasn't in 1947 but 1950, and it was taken at the Busby's store, not Brown Muff's!" He has been sending such factual amendments to my family posts, from his home on the Caribbean island of Dominica, ever since Sepia Saturday started, more years ago than I can remember. It is unlikely, however, that there will be any factual corrections to this post in the immediate future, following the devastation brought to that small island by Hurricane Maria. 

I have not had direct contact with Roger since the night before Maria struck, some three weeks ago. He has managed to get a message to me via other members of the family that he is safe, but with no power and no running water, things are still very difficult on the island. I suspect it will be a good few months before there is any possibility of such things as internet access and emails being available to him again.

In the absence of his ever-welcome corrections, I will look at the photograph, think of him, send him all my very best wishes, and look forward to the day when a comment appears to this post saying: "No, Ali, you are mistaken yet again, that is in fact Uncle Harry in 1907, and it was taken at Jerome's studios".

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Beanland Postcards : Clayton Church

"With Mr & Mrs Beanland and family's
compliments of the season"
This postcard was sent from Mr and Mrs Arthur Beanland to Fowler Beanland at some point during the first decade of the twentieth century. At the beginning of that decade they were living in Keighley and Arthur was the owner of a small spindle manufacturing company. The company went bankrupt in 1904 and shortly after that Arthur moved his family into a small cottage in Clayton (just outside Bradford) and took a job as a mechanic in a local mill. The family, at that time, composed of Arthur, his wife Emma, and their three daughters: Ada, Clara and Ellen.

The Parish Church of St John's, Clayton was built in 1849 to meet the needs of the growing population of this part of Bradford. A history and description of the church can be found on the website of the CLAYTON HISTORY GROUP.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

My Family in 100 Images : 5. David Beanland

5. DAVID BEANLAND (1889-1951)
This is a photograph of my mother's cousin, David Beanland. Or at least I think it is (why, oh why, didn't I take more notice of what my mother said as she went through the old family photographs!). David was, I believe, active in the Scouting movement so I assume that this is him dressed in his uniform. Born on the 9th January 1889, David was the first - and only - child of Arthur Beanland and Clara Hargreaves. Sadly, Clara died shortly after the birth, and Arthur remarried within a couple of years and went on to have more children with his second wife, Emma Binns. For whatever reason, David was not brought up by his father and his new wife, but by his grandfather, Fowler Beanland. In 1901 he is living with his grandfather, grandmother and his various uncles and aunts - one of whom was my grandfather, Albert Beanland.

In 1911 he was 22 years old and had now moved into a house in the centre of Keighley with his uncle (another Fowler Beanland) and his Aunt Eliza. He continued to live with them for the rest of his life and never married. In the 1911 census he is listed as an "iron turner" (the same occupation as his Uncle Fowler), but by the end of the 1930s he was a wool comber in a textile mill.

Looking at the photograph there seems to be a sadness about him - although this may simply be me reading too much into a fairly standard studio pose of the time. I see, however, a man who never knew his mother; who was sent away from the family home to live with other relatives; who never married; - and I feel a kind of sadness on his behalf.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Paper Mache Time Machine : 10th October 1947

There is no finer way to get a real "feel" of a time than to turn to the newspapers of the day. Newspapers are unfettered by the "historical viewpoint", they paint a picture of a moment in time with the materials that are available at that time, rather than some idealised picture of days gone by. If time machines could in fact be constructed, then they would probably be made of paper-mache.

​Today I am travelling back seventy years to October 1947, and my time travel is courtesy of the pages of the Daily Herald. The second world war has been over for two years, but Britain is still beset by enormous problems and serious economic shortages. The dreadful winter of 1946/47 nearly brought the country to its knees far more effectively than years of enemy bombing campaigns, and in October 1947 the Government was putting together contingency plans for the coming winter.

​The examples given in the newspaper reports - football coupons being reduced to half their size in order to save paper and cinemas closing early to conserve power - illustrate just how far the economic shortages were making serious inroads into the lives of ordinary people. This came at a time when the rationing of food and luxuries was probably even more widespread than it was during the war itself.

Another interesting sidelight is provided by a couple of small items which relate to the future of energy supplies in the UK. One is a short article about "Atom Boys" (note the gender specificity!), a hand-picked group of 160 young men who will become the country's atom scientists of the future. The article doesn't actually say "they will be a glowing beacon that will light the path to the future", but  you get the impression that, but for the sub-editors pencil, it could have done. The second is an advert for miners to return to the pits. "Join the Miners - the miner's the skilled man the nation will always need". Oh, if only they could have seen into the future!

Monday, October 09, 2017

ARCHIVES : A Pebble-Coated Umbrella

EASTBOURNE BEACH (1981) : This is a photograph from 1981 of sunbathers on the beach at Eastbourne. Somehow, it looks like the skeleton of a pebble-coated umbrella abandoned at the seashore.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Pastry Mills Of My Mind

You know what it's like. It's late in the evening and you have had a pint or two. You've been at the cricket club race evening, and you are surrounded by cast-off betting tickets - all testament to the follies of gambling. So you challenge your fellow-revellers: write a couple of random words on the blank tickets so that you can take them away and compose an epic poem based around this random collection of ten ideas. This is the best I could come up with .....

Rapidly searching the besom-folds of my life and times,
Up flipping-heck hills,
Down cricket fields,
Passed pastry mills;
With hockey-shot certainty, unfortunately I find,
The chipped potato plinth on which I lost my mind.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sepia Saturday 387 : Flights Of Fancy

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week features the cockpit of a 1948 B-36 plane. As soon as I saw it, I thought of a photograph of my mother and father taken on the flight deck of a commercial aeroplane on the occasion of their Golden Wedding in 1985. This, of course, was back in the days when people would be invited up to sit in the captain's seat and there was a far more relaxed attitude to airline security.

I have spent a couple of hours this morning searching for the photograph, but to no avail - it is in a box, or a folder, or a cabinet somewhere, but my system of storing and filing the thousands of old photos in my collection is about as complex as the B-36 flight-deck, and, I suspect, nothing like as organised. I did however find another photograph of my parents from the same journey and the card they were presented with by the Captain and crew.

As you can see, they were flying from London to the British Virgin Islands (they were on their way to visit my brother and his family), and this gives the photograph a certain topical interest in the weeks that follow the devastation brought about by Hurricane Irma. I know they had a wonderful time on those beautiful islands, and although times are very hard there at the moment, with the hard work and dedication of the residents of the BVI and the other islands affected by this dreadful hurricane season, I am sure there will be wonderful times to look forward to again in the future.

To follow other flights of fancy, go to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Double Whammy

It is funny how some phrases can sneak up on you and become part of the stock of your vocabulary without you realising it. Take "double whammy": the dictionaries can quite clearly trace the development of the phrase in the 1940s and 1950s in the USA, but they can't identify exactly when it crept into the understanding of a old, fat bloke in Yorkshire who has never seen a baseball game or read the Li'l Abner comic strip. Now, however, the phrase is a part of my everyday life and perfectly meets my needs when describing certain situations.

Half my immediate family live in the British Virgin Islands, and a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my concern for their safety following hurricane Irma, and the longer-term impact on the wonderful islands they call home. Most of the rest of my closest family live on the Caribbean island of Dominica, and what I didn't realise when I wrote that earlier post was that hurricane Maria was about to do to that island what Irma did to the BVI.  Many of you will know my brother Roger from the frequent comments he leaves on this blog, and for six days there was no news of his, and his family's,  safety following a direct hit by Maria. I only learned of his safety on Sunday, and although he is safe, the island has suffered almost unimaginable damage.

Just like baseball and Li'l Abner, I have no experience at all of the terrible destructive power of hurricanes (in these parts we call it a strong wind if it can blow a bit of soot out of an old mill chimney). What I do know, however, is that if we sit back and forget about the ongoing plight of all those people who have been affected by Harvey and Irma and Maria, if we imagine that now the winds have stilled life can immediately go back to normal, then we will be translating a double whammy into a triple whammy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Power Of Advertising

These days any organisation worth its weight in bureaucracy has its own website. Whether it manufactures wheelbarrows or prize marrows, whether it collects statistics or rubbish; there will be a website somewhere which provides details of everything it does. If the website is not for a commercial organisation, it will often be  funded by advertisers, who will hope to generate business for their products from people who visit the site. A century or more ago, such information was provided by local handbooks, guides and trade directories, and these too would often be supported by advertisements from local companies.

These illustration are from "Huddersfield - The Official Handbook", which was published in 1930. As the wonderful colour advert for the local dye company, L.B. Holliday, clearly shows, this was still the golden age of advertising, when copywriters were able to combine product information with artistic style. At one time, L.B. Holliday & Co was the largest privately owned dye manufacturer in the world, but the company of that name faded away in the 1990s.

Even without full colour and pre-Raphaelite imagery, the adverts could still be attractive, even if it was simply by virtue of the typography - as illustrated in the advert for the brewers, Bentley and Shaw. That particular company had been established in the Huddersfield area by the end of the eighteenth century, and continued brewing until the early 1960s when its purity, quality and brilliancy finally went flat.

And who could resist this final advert for the Newtown Laundry, which - it seems - was famous for fine finish. Alas it is no more, as all traces of the firm have vanished like the grime from a freshly laundered shirt collar.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Wrath Of Irma

As some of you will know, many of my closest relatives live on the British Virgin Islands. You will therefore understand that the last few days have been a period of intense worry about their safety and well being. We lost contact with them last Wednesday morning and they didn't manage to get a message out of the island until late yesterday (Saturday). The good news is that they are all safe: however, like most of the other residents of the islands, they face an immediate future where their homes and businesses have been devastated. Although aid is beginning to arrive, the challenge of rebuilding the basic infrastructure of the island is going to be massive.  Hurricanes move on - and our thoughts are now with the people of Florida who are currently facing the wrath of Irma - but the destruction they cause last for a very long time. Our help, support and solidarity will be needed long after the storms have calmed.