Society give glimpse of past

Henry Robinson at amongst a group of local people, sat in the middle smoking his pipe and holding his walking stick. The presence of the Mayor Councillor Ambrose Broomhead JP dates the photograph during his term of office 1958 to 1960.
Henry Robinson at amongst a group of local people, sat in the middle smoking his pipe and holding his walking stick. The presence of the Mayor Councillor Ambrose Broomhead JP dates the photograph during his term of office 1958 to 1960.

IT is almost 40 years since I started looking and researching into the local history of Brighouse and its surrounding communities.

I have been often asked ‘do you know anything about Wyke’, No…’ Do you know anything about Halifax’, No…’ Cleckheaton’, No… I decided many years ago to try and know as much as possible about a small place rather than just a little about one big place or many different places.

When I started collecting postcards it was back in the days of them costing a couple of pounds each rather than the tens of pounds the best ones will fetch these days.

I know that many readers will have old postcards which have been bought at postcard fairs, from the auction website eBay or have been passed down through the different generations within families.

When you begin to buy cards of a certain location and time period it is then that you might notice certain characteristics that are unique to those particular cards.

I have many photographs and postcards of Clifton and Kirklees Hall and anyone else who has collected similar cards will have noticed just as I did the white initials ‘HR’ on most of them.

For years I wondered just who ‘HR’ was, then I was sent today’s featured photograph from the family of ‘HR’.

But let us take a step back further in time to the days of the Brighouse Photographic Society, which was formed in 1895.

It is the members of that society who have given us the opportunity of enjoying those sepia images of over a century ago.

Some of those early members included George Hepworth, a local architect and someone who had both the time and money to equip himself for this new and expensive pastime.

I understand that when the old museum in the Brighouse Library (above) was closed in the 1950s many of his old glass plate negatives found their way to the Tolson Museum in Huddersfield.

Martin Manley was another whose negatives have had countless prints re-produced and duplicated many times.

I understand that whilst many of his glass plate negatives were sold, quite a number of them were lost in a dustbin.

He was also the first manager of the Albert Theatre (later the Albert Cinema, then it was the Star Bingo Hall and is now The Calder pub in Huddersfield Road).

Henry Robinson joined the society a few years after it began when he moved to Clifton and became the local postman working from the then almost new Post Office in Park Street.

The one good thing about Mr Robinson’s photographs was that on almost every negative he etched his initials ‘HR’ on.

I have many old postcards with these on and something other postcard collectors’ will be interested to learn.

He took many photographs of both inside and within the grounds of Kirklees Hall and all were etched with his initials on, something that became his trade-mark. The winter meetings of the society in its early days were held on Thursday evenings at a studio in Hall Street, the narrow little back street between the back of the Civic Hall.

At most meetings there would be a visiting guest speaker who would either give a demonstration or show examples of a particular subject for that night’s lecture.

As always the last meeting of the year was devoted to an exhibition of members’ prints and slides.

To help members the society gave the free use of a dark room facility and an enlarging lantern.

Returning to this week’s photograph, it shows Henry Robinson amongst a group of local people, sat in the middle smoking his pipe and holding his walking stick. The presence of the Mayor Councillor Ambrose Broomhead JP dates the photograph during his term of office 1958 to 1960.