I remembered there is a set of photographs, taken from Knowler Hill, from the tower of Liversedge church, Christ Church. These may show something of the scene I am trying to re-create.
The most faded, or perhaps the one most dullened by smoke, turns up last in the pile. Early-twentieth century, but not too late for the purpose. You can see that the newer houses were of better quality, more substantial. Most on the picture escaped the scourge of 1960s sledgehammers, wrecking balls and demolition-happy public health officials. So the scene is intensely familiar, intensely because this landscape is so very recognisable now, yet within it is a grotesque and pitiless feature beyond modern experience.
On the right hand side there is Liversedge station, the freight trains and a corner of the goods shed underlining its main purpose. Beyond the railway is Strawberry Bank pit. There was a single shaft there in 1850, and it was in farmland. Since then, the colliery with its engines and chimneys and rough buildings and piles of spoil has swallowed, completely consumed, several fields. Where once a path followed Tanhouse beck from behind the Black Bull, passing no more than a small textile mill and a sandstone quarry as it approached open fields – that was Strawberry Bank. The bank is still there – you can see it, back left – augmented by more colliery waste, built with more houses, and emphatically divided by the railway from anything beyond.
26 August 2016