From email to Bible classes

editorial image

SINCE many of us went on to the internet and discovered the benefit of using e-mails this electronic postal system has certainly made the world feeler a smaller place.

I am now receiving them from many people who all want or are hoping for a little bit of help either with a family history query or help in re-discovering a house, place or an area in Brighouse where they lived as children before moving overseas or to a far flung corner of the United Kingdom.

Only this last month I received an e-mail from a lady in Canada seeking information about relatives who had found themselves living at the Boothroyd Orphanage at Rastrick in the early 1920s. The orphanage has long since closed down but the building is still there where it is better known these days as the William Henry Smith School.

Finding a photograph of a relative from say the 1920s it is only a matter of luck, unless you have some old family photos tucked away in the dark corners of cupboards or are languishing in the loft. Back in those days few people had cameras and if they did it was very expensive for day to day people to pay for the developing materials or even replacement film. The only photographs available for the vast majority of people would have been through visiting a photographer’s studio which we have had plenty of those in and round the town centre.

Over the years I have shown many photographs of areas that are being re-developed where wide spread demolition has taken place. But by far the most interesting photographs readers enjoy the most are those with lots of faces on. Readers then hope that one day up pops a relative in a crowd scene. Quite often I have discovered people in photographs taken of buildings or even an old mill and in the photograph quite by chance are a few people who stood watching the photograph and have been caught in the photographer’s lens forever.

One photograph I have was taken down at the water’s edge at Brookfoot just after the First World War and caught three young boys on a boat in the water. Having been told repeatedly by their parents ‘Keep away from the canal and river…’ ‘Yes mum, we never go there…’ Then quite by chance the photograph with the three boys on the boat found itself being sold in local newsagent shops. You can imagine who just happened to walked in one day to buy a newspaper and what happened next.

I am often asked if I knew a particular person because they were a distant relative or a close friend, as if I knew them personally – it does not seem to matter that the people they are asking about may have died 50 years ago. Older people often ask if I remember ‘Bobby..........’ so and so, for younger readers this was how many older people referred to their local policeman in their own childhood days. Some e-mailers have even asked me what lens did I use to take last week’s photograph - the only problem being is that it was originally taken before the First World War. I’m not quite 100 years old yet!

If you think I might be able to help with your local history or family history query you can contact me on:

Returning to the photograph of the 1932 Bible class:

(Top left to right) F.Sugden; T.Steele; H.Robertshaw; J.Bray; H.Taylor; C.Rawlinson; A.Riley; J.Robinson; F.Dyson; F.Taylor; J.Taylor; J.Maltby; A.Eccles; W.Kitson; G.T.Chappell; K.Dews; F.Battye; R.Steele; J.Booth; C.Eckersall and H.Wilcock.

(Front Row) D.Gledhill; N.Gill; F.Radcliffe; A.Nutter; W.Grummett; G.Barraclough; Jack Ellis; H.M.Broadley (secretary-Treasurer); Reverend H.R.Evers (Chairman); N.Clayton; J.A.R.Mellor; Joseph Ellis (Auditor); F.Womersley; N.Clay; R.Willey; A.B.Maude; S.Spink; J.Stirzaker; J.Earnshaw and not forgetting Simon the pet dog.

I am sure some readers will be able to spot relatives on this photograph.