Category Archives: Image of the Month

Images of the Month: Lesbian and Gay Activists in the Archives

I was prompted to write this by a recent visit from our graduate trainee Katie Mann.  Katie was looking for archive images and inspiration for her exhibition  in the Library highlighting LGBT Month.  Our archives concerned with peace campaigns and nonviolent protest often overlap with gay and lesbian activism, as in these examples which I showed Katie.

CwlPN11_81 L&GYouthFestanon 001

This image is from the Peace News Archive, an immense collection of information and photographs on campaigns, countries and themes of interest to those creating the newspaper, including a file of fantastic photographs of lesbian and gay protests from the early 1980s.   This one shows marchers on a Lesbian and Gay Pride March 1985 and is very evocative of the styles and politics of the era.

HAW13_11 Pamphlet

As in its way is this striking little booklet, from the Archive of Jacquetta Hawkes, part of a file of correspondence concerning her work for the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform and the Albany Trust.  Throughout her life Jacquetta (like her second husband, J.B. Priestley) campaigned against injustice, using their star power and connections to influence political decisions, in favour of often controversial causes.  For instance, the couple played a key role in the creation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

I suspect that our large collections of peace-related pamphlets and ephemera, which we hope to catalogue this year, will yield further stories and pictures of LGBT campaigns … watch this space!

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Images of the Month: Three Yorkshire Romances

For Valentine’s Day, a trio of Yorkshire novels with bittersweet love stories at their heart.  Caution … spoilers!

Love on the Stage

Lost Empires

Lost Empires

This cover for a 1965 Popular Library paperback reprint of J.B. Priestley’s Lost Empires seems all wrong.  The novel is set in the music-hall world of 1913!  However,  more by accident than design (I doubt the designer read the book), the cover conveys a deeper truth about the story.  Like many of Priestley’s novels, which draw on the picaresque comic English tradition, it shows a young man – Richard Herncastle – facing difficulties but discovering wisdom, and love with the right woman. Lost Empires is more than a cosy nostalgia-fest though: the music-hall world is glittering, but sordid, and the hero faces betrayal and unhappiness.  Over it all is our knowledge, and Priestley’s, of the shadow of the Great War.

(The jacket refers to a major motion picture, which did not happen, but the 1986 Granada TV series was a wonderful adaptation, starring Colin Firth as Richard).

Love in the Dales

Olive of Sylcote

Olive of Sylcote

W. Riley’s delightful Yorkshire tales often feature romantic problems, which are happily resolved.  Here we meet Olive, who lives in Sylcote, a village in Nidderdale.  She looks rather glam, and is described as “a goddess come down to earth in the likeness of woman … she looked very cool and sweet”. Olive is torn between John, “a simple big-hearted fellow of her own county”, and Gordon, “a man from the town, with all the town’s allurements”.   I think we can guess how this will end, but the journey is interesting.  There is lots of detail about life in the Dales and insight into the Methodism that was so important to Riley.

Special Collections has copies of all Riley’s books, and his Archive.  We are helping to encourage interest in this long-neglected writer.  His first and most famous book, Windyridge, was recently reprinted – a delightful read.

Love and the Looms

The Price of Adventure by William Holt

The Price of Adventure by William Holt

The Price of Adventure (1934), by William Holt, is set in the Calder Valley in “Luddenbridge”.  It tells the story of the restless weaver Jack Coates, how he finds his way in life, and his relationship with Victoria Marle.  The striking cover design, I think, relates to the couple’s (platonic) running away together to Spain, which contrasts with the milltown setting of the rest of the book.

Special Collections has (as far as I know) nothing else about this intriguing Communist writer and artist, who apparently had many different jobs, founded a mobile library, and was filmed in later life travelling round Europe on a rescue horse called Trigger .  A flavour of his extraordinary life can be found on his  Wikipedia entry.  He seems to be well remembered as a local character in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.


Goodbye Communal Building! Images of the month

Over the past year, a major building project has transformed Communal “Commie” Building at the University of Bradford into a space better suited to students and staff now: Student Central.

Communal Building opened in 1976, to offer facilities for staff and students, encouraging them to socialise, hence the title of the original publicity flyer: Togetherness!

Togetherness! flyer for opening of Communal Building

Togetherness! flyer for opening of Communal Building

Togetherness! is one of my favourite documents in the University Archive as it shows what student life was like (or was considered to be like by the Management Committee), and is unenthusiastic, sarcastic or candid about what the building has to offer.  The new bar is damned with faint praise: “a fair improvement on the present one, although if one is a steady drinker, one doesn’t look much at the decor.  The main feature of this is the ventilation pipes in the far corner”.

The original layout of Commie included a disco, bar and cafe on floor 02. Floor 01 offered rooms for hobbies including sewing, craft, metal and woodwork and photography, table tennis and board games, a shop, and the “quiet bar”, shown in this image from Togetherness!. The text reads, “At last! A place where you can bring your spouse/companion/parents to have a quiet drink in comfortable and pleasant surroundings”.

The "quiet bar", from Togetherness! flyer

The "quiet bar", from Togetherness! flyer

Floor 0 contained offices, plus TV rooms – one per channel. The uses of individual rooms changed over the years – the hobby rooms are no more (I rather regret the sewing/craft spaces!).

Commie unfortunately illustrated the worst features of 1970s building design.  In dingy concrete, flat-roofed, with multiple confusing entrances and hidden staircases, the building lacked focus, was hard to understand and hard to love.

Communal Building

Communal Building

I am probably being unfair in showing this particularly depressing image; however, the University Archive contains remarkably few images of Commie, presumably because it was not used for the sort of events that generated Archive photos.  No doubt individual students and the Students’ Union will have more cheerful ones of this building e.g. as a venue for Friday Night Discos.

The University’s flickr stream shows some more recent views of Commie in glorious (?) colour and great views of the transformed building.

I’ll add some links as I find them.

I am delighted that the building has been retained but brought into the 21st century, and hope that staff and students will enjoy using it.  More information about and photos of Student Central on the UBU (University of Bradford Union) website.

Party for the new building

From Togetherness! flyer

Images of the Month: le Tour de Yorkshire (via Cambridge)

As July is the month of the Tour De France, a selection of photographs with a bicycling theme for you to enjoy.

Bicycles in the bleak midwinter

Cyclists on a snowy day at Kex Gill Pass, Blubberhouses. Brr! The photo comes from a wonderful album of photographs of the Yorkshire Dales, taken by keen cyclist and photographer Frederick Robinson Butterfield during the 1930s on days out in the Yorkshire Dales.

The Hopkins family plus bicycle

A bicycle takes pride of place in this photo, in the Hopkins family garden in Cambridge circa 1912. Jacquetta Hopkins (later Hawkes) is in front, with her siblings Frederick and Barbara behind. We do not know who the smaller boy was. This image is one of a new batch of Hopkins photographs just received from a family member, many showing Jacquetta as a cute but determined toddler.

Trying out electric bicycles

And finally, a favourite from the University Archive: the Department of Mechanical Engineering with innovative electric bicycles in 1982.

Image of the month: Thud-thud-thud! Priestley’s football delights

To celebrate the World Cup 2010, Priestley’s football delights:

Saltburn United AFC

Saltburn United AFC taken 5 May 1906

This image shows young Jack Priestley, top row, third from left.  In Delight (1949), Priestley remembered how in his boyhood they played football all day during the holidays.  “I would hear the thud-thud-thud of the ball, a sound unlike any other, and delight would rise in my heart”.  Even hearing the sound now, as a “heavy ageing man”, he would long to join in.  Most of the boys he grew up with joined the Bradford Pals and were wiped out on the Somme in 1916.

Priestley’s most famous piece of writing about football is in the first chapter of The Good Companions, where we are introduced to the character Jess Oakroyd as he makes his way home from a match at “Bruddersford United”, in a “tide of cloth caps”.  Priestley explains why going to the match remains so popular even in a town (based on Bradford) struggling with the decline of the wool trade: “To say that these men paid their shillings to watch twenty-two hirelings kick a ball is merely to say that a violin is wood and catgut, that Hamlet is so much paper and ink.  For a shilling the Bruddersford United AFC offered you Conflict and Art”.

Both Delight and The Good Companions are currently in print, published by Great Northern.

Early Summer Special News

Out now, the lucky 13th issue of Special Collections News, packed with images and news including Bravo PaxCat, Priestley’s finest hour, Celebrating Jacquetta, and You made me shove you!

Image of the month: Amazing Mace

The Mace of the University of Bradford

The University mace

We recently had an enquiry about the University’s ceremonial mace, surprisingly the first time we have ever been asked about it.  So we did a little research in the University Archive.  The mace was commissioned by the other Yorkshire universities of Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and York, and presented to the Vice-Chancellor, Ted Edwards, on 4 November 1966, the day before the installation of the first Chancellor, Harold Wilson.

The mace’s appearance was described as “simple and modern”, appropriate for an innovative university with a strong technological background.

“On the head is an enamel shield bearing the arms of the University of Bradford and round the head are shields of stainless steel on which are etched the arms of the universities presenting the mace, together with those of the City of Bradford.” (Commentary to film of the installation of the Chancellor). Round the head of the mace there is a border of white Yorkshire roses in steel.

September 2010 – Another Amazing Mace

The City of Bradford's mace

The City of Bradford's mace

A postscript to this piece.  At a recent degree ceremony, when an honorary doctorate was conferred on Tom Priestley, we were delighted to see the City of Bradford’s mace, symbolising the authority of the Lord Mayor.   Made in 1873, it “is richly ornamented with boars’ heads in relief and studded with semi precious stones, cabochons and agates”.

Further information about the Civic Mace and the other civic regalia of Bradford

This mace is of course much more traditional in design than the University’s; the contrast is very striking when they are seen together.

July 2011 – More about the Mace

The Mace is Object 22 in our award-winning exhibition of 100 Objects: more pictures and detail about this essential part of graduation at the University of Bradford.