Halifax in old picture postcards

Halifax in old picture postcards

:   J.A. Hargreaves
:   Yorkshire, West
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4867-2
:   144
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Halifax in old picture postcards'

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The postcards and photographs reproduced in this baak have been selected and arranged to illustrate the changing face of Halifax during the period 1880-1930. By 1880, Halifax was already a hub of commercial and industrial activity. lts population had more than doubled since its incorporation as a municipal borough in 1848 and, following its redesignation as a county borough in 1889, its population continued to rise as its boundaries were extended, reaching a peak of 104,936 in 1901, and declining gradually thereafter to 98,115 by 1931. Following the incorporation of the borough and the highly critical Ranger Report on its sanitary condition in 1851, the physical appearance of the town was dramatically transformed by two major phases of redevelopment. The first phase in the 1850s and 1860s saw the development of Crossley and Princess Streets, the construction of Barry's magnificent town hall and improvements to Crown Street and Old Market. The second phase in the 1880s and 1890s included the major Commercial Street development and the reconstruction of the borough markets. HaJifax Corporation became responsible for supplying the town with water from 1849, gas from 1855, maintaining parks from 1857, providing public baths from 1859, cemeteries from 1861, isolation hospitals from 1872, libraries from 1881, electricity from 1894 and an electric tramway system from 1898, one of the first in the country. In 1912, a corporation bus service was launched, but it was only really fully developed during the period 19261930. In 1921 the first council houses were let, between 1924 and 1930 the water carriage of sewage was made general and

in 1929 the responsibilities of the Poor Law Guardians were transferred to the county borough.

The growth of the town was sustained by an impressive range of commercial and industrial activity, earning Halifax a reputation as 'the town of a 100 trades . Textiles, identified as the staple industry of the town in directories of the 1880s, remained vital to the local economy throughout the period, despite the vicissitudes of the 1890s, and Kelly's Directory of 1928 listed na fewer than 831 manufacturers and retailers in the county borough engaged in a great variety of textile and reJated trades. Nor did the diversity end there , for during this period Halifax also became renowned for its extractive, engineering, machine tooI, cab Ie and confectionery industries and its two building societies, the HaJifax Equitable and the Halifax Permanent. When these merged in 1927 Halifax not only possessed the large st building society in the world, but also the largest carpet factory in the world on the Crossley's sixteen acre site at Dean Clough and the largest toffee firm in the world on the Mackintosh's two sites at Queen's Road and Bailey Hall.

Whilst work still dominated most people's lives in Halifax during this period, improved communications, wider education, rising real incomes for large sections of the population, and shorter working hours, with the introduetion of the Saturday half holiday and half day closing for shops, brought increased opportunities for Jeisure. Whilst much social life continued to revolve around the church or the public house, music, organised sport and other farms of popular entertain-

ment came to play an increasing part in local people's lives. J.B. Priestley observed in 1933 that Halifax folk 'delight in singing Handel and Gilbert and Sullivan'. He might also have mentioned the popularity of the ubiquitous brass band. Organised sport thrived. Local league matches in bath cricket and football were legion and large crowds of spectators regularly converged on Thrum Hall from 1886 and the Shay from 1921 to watch rugby league and association football. Golf courses were opened at Ogden in 1901 and West End in 1906, the latter on the site of the ill-fated Halifax race course. Halifax had three theatres and a growing number of cinemas after 1910, not to mention a zoo, numerous parks, open spaces and spectacular surrounding countryside for the rambIer , cyclist and motorist to explore.

From 1895, increasing use was made of views by local photographers such as Ezra Greaves in a range of commercial and general interest publications and local firms began to make their own distinctive contribution to the evolution of the picture postcard. Arthur Frederick Sergeant pioneered a new photographic emulsion and founded the Halifax Photographic Company, which soon became one of the leading publishers of photographic view cards, trading under the name of Lilywhite Ltd. from 1909 until 1931, when a disastrous fire destroyed the firm's converted mil! premises. Meanwhile, Staddart and Company Ltd. and Sarah Oates and Company became particularly noted for their heraldic picture postcards in the first decade of the twentieth century. It was during this period and throughout the First World War,

with the posrage rate held at a halfpenny. that picture postcards reached the peak of their popularity.

Wherever possible, contemporary sourees have been used to bring a contemporary perspective to the accompanying caption commentaries. Sometimes the correspondents themselves have unwittingly helped to reconstruct the historical context of the postcards, as in the case of Mary Hannah Bradley, whose nostalgie postcard to an old friend showed the miJl on Pellon Lane where they had once both worked, or Rowlatts of Halifax, whose advertising card advised customers to visit their shop to see for themselves 'the latest novelties in miJIinery and fancy drapery at the lowest possible prices', Oceasionally the provenanee of a photograph has been revealed by the reminiscences of its subjects, as in the case of the Holy Trinity schoolgirls who feigned physieal exercise under the watchful eye of Miss Thwaites in 1919 entireIy for the benefit ofthe school photographer.

Whilst some of the photographs are obviously composed, their subjects groomed, dressed and drilled for the camera, others, showing deserted churches, parks and streets, have clearly been photographed at carefully chosen moments. Somc, however, display the immediacy of the news photograph - a patriotic crowd assembied to hear the proclamation of a new king or a stunned crowd gathered around an overturned, derailed tram. Altogether, they capture a variety of scenes in the evolution of a Victorian and Edwardian townscape and a variety of moments in the lives of those who inha bi ted i t.

L Halifax Parish Church. G. Phillips Bevan, in his Taurist's Guide to the West Riding of Yorkshire of 1889 was not impressed by the location of the oldest building in the town. 'The parish church,' he observed, 'is so badly placed, and close to the station, that it is almost lost sight of.' Indeed the eentre of gravity of the town had begun to shift westwards during the fifteenth century, around the time that the Norman chureh of St. John the Baptist was reeonstructed in the perpendicular style, a towering monument to the prosperity of the town's woollen industry. In 1879, the parish church was re-opened by the Archbishop of York after a sixteen month closure during which major restoration work was undertaken under the direction of Sir George Gilbert and John Oldrid Scott, The exterior work included repair of the roofs, restoration of the parapets and pinnacles, and the levelling and grassing of the ehurehyard.

2. Interior, Halifax Parisli Church. The major alterations of 1878-79 were to the interior, 'a task of considerable magnitude', as the Halifax Courier observed, 'few parish churches in the kingdom being able to compare with it as to size, beauty and venerable dignity'. The western gallery was removed, the choir brought forward to occupy new stalls in the chancel and the organ installed in the north aisle. The walls were stripped of their plaster, revealing on the north side fragments of the Norman chevron carvings, and pointed with white mortar. The nave ceiling, containing the arms of the vicars of Halifax since the institution of the vicarage in 1274, was retained together with the fine oak box pews, though these were reduced in height. A new screen, designed by J.O. Scott, was constructed across the nave and stained glass added to the chance!. The alterations to the chancel were cornpleted by the addition of a reredos in 1886.

3. St. John's Wesleyan Church. Not to be outdone, the Wesleyan Methodists, obliged to move from South Parade to allow expansion by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, opened their fine new perpendicular Gothic church in 1880 on a site in Prescott Street described by the Halifax Courier as 'one of the best sites in the borough, being conveniently near the middle of town, yet surrounded by suburban scenery'. Dedicated to St. John and designed by William Swinden Barber of Shaw House, the land and building casts of over f16,OOO were largely met by compensation received from the railway company. On the south side of the church stood a two storey school building, surmounted by a tall spirelet, which is just visible on the photograph. The buildings were demolished in 1965, when St. John's amalgamated with three other Methodist congregations to form the new church of St. Andrew's, a mile away in HuddersfieJd Raad.

4. Interior, St. John's Wesleyan Church. The focal point of the south facing nave, with its columns of Aberdeen grey granite and its ceiling of varnished Memel was a pulpit supplied by Thompsons of Peterborough of rich design in Caen stone, raised on an octagonal stone base. Round the middle of the pulpit was the text: 'The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ' and displayed on panels on the wall behind were the ten commandrnents, the apostle's creed and the Lord's prayer. Above was a magnificent rose window filled with stained glass in memory of John Pritchard, a farmer Sunday School superintendent, who had been killed by a boiler explosion at his works. The main body of the nave was occupied by open pews in varnished pitch-pine, with na central aisie. The choir was accornrnodated in the west transept near the organ underneath one of three galleries of varnished pitchpine.

5. Commercial Street viewed from the north. Although its construction was authorised in 1853, work did not begin on Commercial Street, the most westerly of the three streets running from north to south across the centre of the town, until1880 and it was not fuUy developed until the end of the century. James Parker, who recaIJed working as a navvy making the street for two shillings and fourpence a day in 1894, later became alocal councillor, member of Parliament and freeman of the borough. This 1910 photograph shows the General Post Office of 1887 on the left, and beyond that, York Buildings, built in 1904-05 for Alexander Scott, drapers and milliners, and purchased in 1919 by the Halifax Permanent Building Society, becoming the headquarters of the Halifax Building Society, when the Permanent and Equitable Building Societies merged in 1927. On the right are the premises of the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Banking Company of 1898.

6. Commercial Street viewed from the south. The neo-classical premises of the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Banking Company in the foreground were designed by local architects Horsfall and Williams to accommodate the expanding business of the bank in 1898. A commercial directory, commenting on the building whilst still under construction, concluded that 'it has a beauty which is not altogether usual in buildings of this type, and it at once bears the stamp of being a palatial banking establishment'. lts most striking exterior features were four massive Corinthian pillars in Norwegian granite encasing the main entrance on Commercial Street. Formed in 1836 to continue the old established business of Messrs. J.W. and C. Rawson and Company at Somerset House, it became a limited company in 1882, merging with the Halifax Joint Stock Banking Company Ltd. in 1910 to become the West Yorkshire Bank Ltd. and with Lloyds Bank in 1919.

7. Hall End. The busy junction at the northern end of Commercial Street with Silver Street, Crown Street and Waterhouse Street was the site of the old Cloth HaU and Linen Hall, demolished in the 18208, to allow the construction of Waterhouse Street. 1880 marked the beginning of a new phase of development when the Halifax Commercial Banking Company Ltd. took possession of the imposing neo-Gothic premises, designed by W. and R. Mawson, dominating this photograph. The company was formed in 1836 to purchase the banking business founded by Rawdon Briggs, the first member of Parliament to represent the new parliamentary borough of Halifax in 1832. It was the first bank in Halifax to be incorporated as a limited liability company in 1864 and one of the last surviving joint stock banks in the country when it amalgamated with the Bank of Liverpool and Martins Bank Ltd. It is now the Trustee Savings Bank.

8. Stone Trough Brewery, Ward's End. Thomas Ramsden and Son's Clough Brewery of Mixenden bought Stone Trough Brewery in 1881 from Messrs, Lupton and Charnock and Company. Almost as soon as the purchase of the brewery was completed, plans were submitted to Halifax Corporation for the erection of a new brewery on the site, but the application was refused because the Corporation wished to take part of the site to eontinue Commercial Street in a southerly direction to form the Huddersfield road. Eventually a compromise was reached in which land on the eastern edge of the site was exchanged for land on the western edge of the site and the new premises were completed in 1887 to the design of Messrs, W.H.D. Horsfall of Halifax. In 1968 the brewery was demolished after the finn's merger with Joshua Tetley and Sons and the site was acquired by the Halifax Building Society for their new head offices, formally opened by H.M. the Queen in 1974.

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