'Hello, Hello, Hello, whats happened 'ere then ?'.

   You can almost imagine the old time policeman saying those immortal words, when you look at the photograph of these upturned seats in the library grounds in May of 1907.  

   Was it an act of vandalism or a case of youngsters causing a nuisance in the library grounds and what were those people looking at ?.

   The photograph has been printed as a postcard and has in fact been sent through the postal system from Brighouse at 5.45pm, May 19th 1907 to a Miss Lancaster in Blackpool.

   If you look carefully the clue to this scene is the art gallery extension to the library. It was through the generosity of William Smith who was in his sixth term as the Mayor of Brighouse when he formally announced that he was going to make a financial provision to have an art gallery built in the town. He was proposing that it should be built at the Rydings as an extension to the existing library facility.

   This offer was met with universal approval throughout the town from both elected officials and on this occasion and more importantly the general public.

   Once the plans had been completed by Mr R. F. Rogerson, a local architect, all the necessary approvals were granted very quickly. 

   Whilst everyone could see the exterior as it was being built the inside of this new facility was kept a closely guarded secret until it was formally opened to the public.

   It was generally felt that someone of importance and preferably someone who could be at least described as being artistic should be invited to offically open the art gallery.

   Consideration was given that a perhaps a member of the royal family should be invited. Just who it was that suggested Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria has not been recorded, but if she could come it would be the first time a member of royalty had visited the town.

   An interesting council decision about this visit was that whilst all the council members hoped she would agree to come to Brighouse. The council voted against extending their hospitality to set aside £120 towards the cost of entertaining the royal visitor. However, Sir George Armytage, Bart the High Sheriff of Yorkshire and Lady Armytage had the honour of entertaining Princess Louise - and paying for it.

   Obviously everything had to be spic and span with not a blade of grass out of place or indeed any muddy boot prints on the new and freshly painted Rydings Park benches.

   Princess Louise came and went without any member of the general public seeing her. Even her opening speech was no more than forty plus words and as soon as she arrived in her closed carriage then she was off again. It was a sad day for the public who having waited out in the cold and damp weather expected at least glimpse of the royal visitor but they didn't. Whether she had heard about the council's Scrooge like decision we can only surmise. 

Rydings Park with text 1910

   This second photograph was taken between 1896-1910 and shows the library grounds in full bloom just as Charles Kershaw intended them.


  • Chris Helme ...author

    Chris Helme ...author - Saturday, 09 September 2017

    Hello John - Nice to hear from you - yes they are both still there. The and now images - a good idea I will look into that.



  • John Slater

    John Slater - Tuesday, 05 September 2017

    Interesting! Is the library/art gallery still there. If possible a Then and Now picture would be appreciated. Just a suggestion.

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