The Piece Hall, Halifax


Halifax in Calderdale, West Yorkshire (or better the West Riding of Yorkshire) is the place of my birth and although my emotional attachment to it is somewhat tenuous these days, it still has significance for me, and I’ve been glad to visit it several times since our move back to Leeds.  One of its major attractions is the Piece Hall ……

The Piece Hall was erected by the manufacturers (of woollen and worsted cloth) and is a large quadrangular building of freestone occupying an area of ten thousand square yards with a rustic basement storey and two upper storeys fronted with two interior colonnades which are spacious walks leading to arched rooms where goods in an unfinished state were deposited and exhibited for sale to the merchants every Saturday from ten to twelve o clock. This structure which was completed at an expense of £12,000 and opened on 1 January 1779 unites elegance convenience and security. It contains three hundred and fifteen separate rooms and is proof against fire.”

— Samuel Lewis, “A topographical dictionary of England” (1831)

It reopened recently after an extensive, £19 million, restoration and we took the opportunity to go and take a look at the transformation on a beautiful autumn day.  The old stones and the 315 rooms are still there, the latter with a change of purpose and now housing a range of eating options and boutique-style shops….. although in truth many are empty as yet and many have variations on the theme of “coming soon” in their windows, so it is still something of a work in progress.

The dramatic change is in the great courtyard within the square of C18th building, which is now a wonderful conglomeration of paving, steps, stainless steel tubes, gradients and even water features which offers a huge range of opportunities to visitors of all ages and backgrounds.  It wasn’t all that busy on the day we went, but even so the mix of ages, races and purposes was truly striking.  I’ll include some images, a fairly random selection from those I developed, and add to them a recommendation to visit and an intention to return ourselves!

Woodlesford. March 7th, 2017


It’s been a while since we’ve had a days walking, and the suggestion of a decent forecast encouraged us to dig out the rucksack and the maps and get started.  Woodlesford is a village on the edge of Leeds, which I guess wouldn’t want to see itself as a suburb, but in many ways is.  Pleasant area, about 5/6 miles to the east of the city, it has some very posh looking houses near the canal, and doubtless some much more ordinary houses closer to its centre.  The canal has a lock, something of a car park and a line of tethered canal boats, some lovingly tended, others in dire need of TLC.  It also now has some surprising animal residents which were well worth a chuckle and a photograph, though I’m not clear just what is the connection between Woodlesford and the Gruffalo!

We headed towards the city along a towpath which ranged in quality from a good road surface to genuine Yorkshire mud, puddled by the recent rain and ploughed by “mountain bike” tyres.  The path is part of the “Trans Pennine Trail” which pretty much does what the name suggests.  In fact we discovered at what we decided was lunch time that from about Thwaite Mills on it was closed for some works related to the city’s flood defences – a good enough excuse to turn round and head back!  Incidentally – Thwaite Mills was closed as well, except to pre arranged school visits.  I guess that’s not so surprising; the economics of keeping such an enterprise open for passing trade must be difficult – shame though.  Check out the web site before visiting.

It’s always an interesting experience, I find, approaching a city either along or alongside a canal.  There’s a gradual change in scenery and in sound and smell as the very rural gives way to the industrial and eventually the civic.  It’s something of a reminder of the heritage of the canal system of course; only recently has it become about leisure and recreation.  Its initial purpose was very much to do with industry and commerce, the vital supply route.  We learned a while back that there are moves towards a resurgence of that original purpose in the transport of aggregates and such like into the city on barges, which probably makes all kinds of sense.  The canal itself is quite wide, although the locks aren’t, but no doubt they’ve thought of that!

Anyway, it was a good beginning to our walking season.  We live in hopes for much more as the year develops.  A few pictures follow …… which include the Gruffalo!

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Beverley. Feb 28th 2017


We remember driving through Beverley on the way home from Hornsea a couple of years ago, and so decided that we should spend a day there and take a good look.  In addition we had seen advertising for a wildlife photographic exhibition in the town’s art gallery – and we made that our first stop after coffee.

The gallery is housed in a building which is part quite old and part very new and is called the “Treasure House”.  The exhibition was very impressive indeed, some of the images really quite stunning.  One aspect of it was the work of “young people”, some indeed as young as 10 years old.  Great promise for the future – indeed great skill for the present!  The information with each image spoke on occasion of great patience in waiting for the right moment, and sometimes (particularly in the “adult” section) of a very high level of technical ability and indeed kit.  There was a considerable section of underwater photography the images in which were all quite fascinating.  It’s on till April, and well worth a visit.  Certainly inspiring – perhaps a little intimidating at times too!

A more than decent lunch and a stroll while making photographs of the market square and surrounding streets, and then eventually to the Minster, which is of course Beverley’s major claim to fame.  It’s a very impressive building.

There are connections in and around the town with its agricultural heritage, which include the vital canal for transport and a couple of windmills.  We didn’t have time to get to either of those sadly, but they constitute a more than adequate reason for a return visit.  A few images follow ………

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RSPB Old Moor. 22nd February 2017


This is a place that we’ve visited a good few times now since moving to Leeds, and which is only about 45 minutes away down the M1.  I guess that like many such sites in West and South Yorkshire this was an industrial area, maybe open cast mining, which has become a quite wonderful centre for fresh air breathing and wildlife watching.

We’ve not seen it in quite this mood before though!  There’s a storm called Doris – yes really! – developing to the West of us and it’s due to clobber Yorkshire tomorrow, and today seemed to be a sort of precursor.  Bright and breezy doesn’t quite tell it – it was blowing the proverbial “hoolley”, which meant that many of the birds were hunkered down, but the reedbeds and indeed the surface of the water were quite spectacular in their movement.  Some of the still images point to that – I’ll try to post a video which makes it much clearer!

I do enjoy this place, wherever the weather.  They serve a good cup of coffee and decent food in the cafe, the environment is very visitor friendly being well signed and well pathed and the visitors seem to have a shared sense of enjoying the place and the experience.  There is a sort of hierarchy (perhaps only in my imagination in truth) which is based on the length of camera lenses and the casual shoulder carrying of ‘scopes on tripods, which can be just a touch intimidating.  In truth though I’ve never found an “expert” here unwilling to share their expertise, and generally in a non-patronising way!

So we were glad to be there.  In the midst of all that’s going on in our world today there’s a real refreshment “blowing in the wind” in places like this, which makes them resources beyond price.

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Bridlington. Feb 17th, 2017


We decided to go to Bridlington!  Leeds was shrouded in the dullest of February weather, but there was the hint in the forecast of something a little better to the East, so to the East we went and, as the images indicate, found blue skies and sunshine which lasted most of the day – excellent!

We thought we’d been there before, but in fact realised that we hadn’t.  In some ways it seemed basically similar to other East Coast resorts that we have visited – Scarborough, Filey and Whitby for instance which though they each have unique characteristics, bear a distinct family relationship to each other.  There were certainly people around enjoying the day, but this was a winter’s day and not even “half term” for the local schools, so it wasn’t going to be crowded.  Many shops, amenities and “attractions” were closed along the front, but we found a perfectly good chippie that provided us with a good lunch for £6 each!

It’s still something of a fishing harbour with all the shore-side facilities that support “the fleet”, but maybe most of the boats were out on the water, or maybe there just not there anymore.  There’s a touch of “faded glory” about the place I felt, and maybe not quite the signs of resurgence that are evident in say Scarborough or Whitby.

We walked into the “Old Town” which was good to see, offering a different aspect to the town.  The Priory is imposing – standing almost protectively above a field of allotments and greenhouses.  There’s an influence of “Dads Army” around too, some of it having been filmed here.

A good visit – a good day – and a selection of images …….

 

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Brid, North Bay
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Brid: Harbour
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Brid: Harbour Steps
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Wind Farm
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Speed Boat Hire!
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Cobles
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Waiting for the Tide
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Trio
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Winter Sun
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Promenade
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Fair Ground
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Groyne
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Bridlington Priory
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The Bayle
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High Street, Old Town
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Snakes etc
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Memorabilia
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Market Place, Old Tower

Yorkshire Carnegie vs Rotherham 6.2.17


We ( Kay and I) have been season ticket holders at Headingley in support of Yorkshire Carnegie RUFC for several years now and we make our way across to pretty much all of the home games.  Last Sunday was a match against Rotherham in the Championship (I think I’m supposed to say the “Greene King IPA Championship” but never mind.).  Thus it was a local derby and likely to be tightly contested and maybe with a decent crowd.  I arrived in good time, camera in hand, with the notion of collecting some images during the build up to the game as players warmed up and the crowd turned up – and so I did.

I’m not a “sports photographer” – I have neither the kit nor the inclination to be honest.  So I wasn’t so much interested in photographing the game itself – more interested in watching that! – but there is a period of preparation, of anticipation, of gathering, of a building of atmosphere, that I aways rather enjoy.  These images then were made during that period from about 45 mins before kick off to when the teams headed to the dressing rooms to change into their match kit, and are a pretty random selection. I’ve deliberately not tried to title them; I recognise some of the faces of course, mostly of the players and coaches, but their identity isn’t important in this context.  To me the sequence reminds me of the slow and steady build towards the game; whether it conveys that to anyone else, I can’t be sure.

They’re not necessarily good photographs in any technical sense; indeed I have to admit that several of them have a measure of movement blur or soft focus that marks them out as quick snaps.  What makes a photograph “good”? …… I’m not really sure and I find I care less as time goes on.  They are a part of my memory bank and looking through them reminds me of an occasion that I enjoyed.

The match?  Carnegie won by an impressive sounding 56 – 26.  At times they looked imperious and overwhelmed the opposition.  At times they seemed to lose the plot a bit and let Rotherham back into the game, but in the end it was a good, solid, bonus point win that was very enjoyable to watch – good stuff!

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Saltaire. Jan 27th 2017


Salts Mill and the surrounding town of Saltaire are familiar enough to most people living in Leeds, and of course we’ve been here several times.  The Mill itself is always interesting – and they serve a decent cup of coffee – even it it is something of a shrine to David Hockney.  I appreciate his work (he says condescendingly) and I admire his advances with picture making technology, particularly his use of an iPad.  I do confess though to finding it a touch the same, but maybe that says more about my inability to appreciate good art when I see it!  I find the building itself fascinating, as of course is its heritage as an industrial venture on the grand scale.  The noise of production must have been appalling, but Titus Salt seems to have done his level best to “do the right thing” for his employees, as is well documented.

After lunch in the “Victoria Tea Rooms we wandered (on what really was a bleak January day) a mile or so long the canal bank towards Shipley.  Obviously some of these great looming mill buildings have been very creatively restored and are in good and purposive use, often as office buildings I think.  Others have yet to be restored and so are perhaps more evocative of their past.  Boats aren’t on the move much at this time of year, but there were several on moorings, at least a couple of which were worth a picture I felt.

We strolled around the part of the estate that Salt had built for his workers.  Different grades of houses from fine looking detached to rather more snug terraces, presumably appropriate to the station in life of their original occupants.  They have in common though that they look well designed and well built – odd little bits of detailing mark them out as having been put up with care.  I hope that’s right!  There’s certainly scope for individuality now as I guess they are all privately owned, albeit limited by the area’s status as a “World Heritage Site” – we rather enjoyed the very maritime looking collection in one front yard.

The United Reformed Church is a splendid looking building ….. and has in its grounds the mausoleum in which Titus and his family are buried.  Thus its cupola is the last of the images which follow:

 

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Canalside
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Restored Mill Buildings
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Gentrified Mill
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Restoration Project (1)
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Restoration Project (2)
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Restoration Project (3)
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Intriguing!
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Boadicea
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Reflected Mill
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Mill Windows
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Saltaire Street (1)
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Saltaire Street (2)
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Garden Sculpture (1)
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Garden Sculpture (2)
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Saltaire URC