Otley in old picture postcards

Otley in old picture postcards

:   Paul Wood
:   Yorkshire, West
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5324-9
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Otley in old picture postcards'

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Otley in Wharfeda!e is a fascinating market town with an ancient and varied history. The life of the community recorded in photographs and picture postcards begins substantially in the early 20th century and continues to the present day. Otley Museum, which celebrates thirty years of collecting with the publication of this book, has so far nearly 1,000 different postcards of the district by fifty publishers.

Concentrating mainly on a walk round Otley, with a short climb to Chevin top, this selection of images is but a small fraction of a much larger genera! photographic colleetion.

Otley retained its working agricultural character to a late date and missed the more gen teel public visitations of nearby towns like Harrogate or I1kley. Whilst picture postcards by the thousands were sent home from watering places, winter gardens and public promenades elsewhere, Otley was never a comfortable venue for the excursion trade. Nevertheless, the golden age of postcard production from 1900 to 1918 did not go unnoticed in the market town. The national publishers of Otley views included Valentines of Dundee, Wrench of London, Ritchie of Edinburgh and Nicholson & Carter of Carlisle. Regional product ion was dominated by Jackson of Grimsby and later Lillywhite of Halifax. Output from Leeds was considerable, especially from Bramiey's Elec-

tric Printing Works at Cross Gates, Graham Glen at Wortley and the Phototype Co., Ventnor Street. From Bradford came the later Walter Scott series.

It was, however, the parochial postcard which held real sway, photographed and produced by Otley publishers within sight of their own market. Mounsey, Walker, Robinson, Stephenson , Brown and Pickles were the dominant publishers or photographers. Their production was supplemented by a sporadic output from loc al newsagents and individuals, some of whom remain unknown.

Photographs could appear many times under the imprint of different publishers, a situation which can cause particular con fusion when tracing a date for the original. Views could be sold as plain photographs or adapted as cards with a variety of treatments, including the addition of seasonal glitter. It is possible to fotlow the process precisely in the photo view trade carried out by Henry Mounsey at the beginning of the century. Mounsey then published a series of 18 card views. They we re available unmounted at 41j2d, 9d and ls/6d each. Mounted, plain and coloured 6d to 5s/- each; or in medallions or opalines, plain and coloured 6d to 6s/6d each. Mounsey's original shop at 13 Kirkgate fronting Market PI ace can be seen with its gilded wood en sign boards on postcard view number 15. William Walker & Sans, printers extraor-

dinary of Victoria Works on Kirkgate, published their Wharfedale series of cards almost as a sideline to their main business. The real postcard gems were sold by Charlie Robinson, newsagent, under the imprint of J.B. Wooler, These fine photographs are pictorially of very high quality and have to date reached the number 189 in the series' collection.

Harold Stephenson, printer, of 16 Westgate did a prolific trade in regimental portrait cards during the First World War, whilst neighbour George Brown at number 24 followed on with some good quality real photo views. Lawrence Pickles of Kirkgate, who served his apprenticeship with Brown, saw out the end of this particular postcard era.

What do all these old darkroom images actually teil us about the light of day up to a century ago? What might seem fixed and immutable in the camera lens is only a snapshot in an enormous moving picture of people and places. The stories brieflyernerging from page to page can sometimes be followed by reference to maps, plans, directories, news cuttings and social or personal records. Some photographs speak for themselves; others retain a dignified silence to the historian's questions.

The photographer freezes the frame and captures ordinary and extraordinary views of Otley !ife. The classical face of the Mechanics Institute emerges from ancient

thatched cottages on Cross Green at the click of a shutter or the flick of a page. The Kirkgate St reet front shopkeeper who is recorded as here today has gone by tomorrow in a cloud of demolition dust. The posed picnickers of Chevin top were back on the Bradford train within hours. The frozen faces of hymn singers in Cattle Market are a moment later blurred images moving out of frame.

This walk round Otley is fascinating but incomplete; another selection of photographs would throw up another view of history. The photographer selects wh at will seil on the market; the authoredits what is put on the page.

The photographs in this baak are one tiny page in the continuing Otley family album; the captions are only notes in a larger diary of events. How can gaps in the record be filled? Otley Museum holds a comprehensive collection of objects, artefacts and documentary material related to the development of Otley and district since the prehistorie period. The Museum is managed entirely on a voluntary basis and acts as a central point at which historical resources can be conserved, recorded and interprered for the benefit of public education. Why not help us teil the story?

For thirty years Otley Museum has been colleering the view round the corner ... it never ceases to he a real revelation.

1. The Mechanics Institute decorated for the Model Village Exhibition of 1894. Fund raising was in progress to en large the 24 year old building with Science and Art Schools to the rear. Visitors could marvel at tableaux scenes like the Waterfall. Bridge, Fountain, Cottages and Farm Yard complete with livestock and haystack. Each evening on the 'Village Green' a musical divertissement was performed with full orchestra and 90 voices. The eleven day event raised fl,467 and enough to build the extension shortly after. Otley Museum now occupies the Art Rooms of the Science School, cornpleted in 1895.

2. Cross Green thatched cottages on the building site for the new Mechanics Institute and Garnett Street about 1868. No single photograph in the extensive Museum collection better sums up the preindustrial character of the town. An agricultural market town of dirt roads, farm wagons, cattle dravers, thatched roofs, maltkilns and evil-smelling tanyards. The Maypole was struck by lightning during June 1871, showering debris on the new Mechanics Hall.

3. The last thatched cottage in Otley was dernolished on Walkergate at the beginning of the century. The property had becorne so dilapidated that the Local Board of Health orde red it to be pulled down. The ling thatched roof and lirne washed rubble walls are typical of the vernacular houses of both urban and rural cottagers of the region. The internal structures sornetirnes contained cruck tirnbers.

4. Boroughgate and Maypole Square looking towards Cross Green about 1906. On the left at No. 98 is the Alliance Boot Cornpany, followed by Wilson Atkinson's Darley House selling groceries, beer, wine and spirits. The Maypole facing the Mechanics Institute is enclosed by its late 19th century iron railings.

- ...?.... "

5. Cross Green c1906. The al most continuous residential street front of south-eastern Cross Green in the early 20th century. The break in the building line is No. 71 known as Eastbourne and at this period a private school for girls, run successively by Miss Hobson and Miss Mason. Further down Cross Green on the opposite side of the street were the boys of Mr. Thomas Burt's Selborne School at 1 Fern Bank. This card was published by Charlie Robinson, The Library, 1 Ilkley Road.

6. No summer Saturday afternoon on Cross Green would be complete without a look at the Otley Cricket eleven, seen here as champions of the Airedale & Wharfedale League in 1899. The team were messrs. Fairburn, Chew, Swainston, MarshalI, Renwick, Hollings, Mason (Captain), Lofthouse, Flesher, McCardell and Nelson.

7. The first trackless tram to Otley on 8th September 1915. A souvenir booklet published by William Walker at the time proudly heralded the new public transport. "The opening of a service of Trackless Cars to Otley is the beginning of an era in the history of our ancient town. Today we see the scheme completed and, in spi te of depressing thoughts of a terrible war, we can rejoice in the arrival of a real Red Letter Day in the deveJopment of Otley.' The trams from the Maypole to White Cross, Guiseley, later became known as the YelJow PeriIs!

8. A 'Yellow Peril' leaves the Maypole terminus for Guiseley about to pass Harry Howard's painter and decorator's shop on the right. On the left is the White Swan pub and yard to its extensive stabling. Mrs. Mercy Ellen Blakey's fruit stores are at 64 Boroughgate with the delivery cart outside. Frank Blakey ran his haulier's business from the same address. Mrs. Bolton push es her baby daughter towards the postcard photographer, Mr. Lee of Yeadon.

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