All posts by Heather Millard

Empress Eugenie- a centenary recollection

Ian, our ‘Butterfield’ Volunteer spent much of 2020 researching some of the background to the history of the Butterfields, in order to add context to the stories that we were uncovering in the letters he was transcribing.

He’s agreed to write a blog on some of the history he found out-  here he explores the French connections that Henry Isaac Butterfield held so dear.

He writes:

2020 brought us many things, some sought, many unsought but one thing which I feel should not be overlooked was the centenary of the death of Empress Eugenie of France.

Eugenie was a remarkable woman, twice regent of France during Emperor Napoleon 3rds absence, Eugenie did much to further women’s education in France and created Rosa Bonheur, the painter, a member of the legion d’honneur.

An image of Empress Eugenie on horseback. She is wearing a purple riding habit, mounted on a white horse and holding a black hat.
 Empress Eugenie on horseback – on display in Cliffe Castle

Eugenie long outlived her empire which fell as a result of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, the death of her husband Napoleon 3rd in 1873 and also that of her only child the Prince Imperial 1879 while engaged in a reconnaissance with the British troops who were engaged in fighting the Zulus.

Eugenie survived these tumults and died aged 94 on a final visit to her Spanish homeland.

There was a close link between the Butterfields and the famously cosmopolitan court of Napoleon 3rd and Henry Isaac Butterfield consciously modelled the sumptuous interiors of the re built Cliffe Castle on Parisian interiors.

An image of Napoleon & Eugenie in a room in the Tuileries Palace, Paris. Highly decorative interiors, lots of painted and gilded surfaces, and crystal chandliers the couple are small within the scale of the room
 Napoleon III & Empress Eugenie in the Tuileries Palace, Paris.

Like other researchers before me I have been unable to verify an appearance of H.I and his beautiful much younger wife Marie Louise at the French Court so I have been mapping significant events in the life of the court in exile at Chislehurst outside London against the remaining letters of Henry Isaac. The events I have concentrated on are the lying in state and funeral of the exiled Emperor in 1873, the major celebration of the Prince Imperial’s coming of age at 18 in 1874 and the equally public marking of the Princes early death.

Now there is no question from the letters of H.I that he planned to attend the funeral of the Prince Imperial at Chislehurst  as he booked rooms in a London Hotel so that he, his son Frederick and his French manservant Constant could attend the funeral of Constant’s Prince.

Sadly for avid researchers if everyone intimately involved with the writer is at the same event then there is often little or no record of it in their letters. H. I was definitely a Bonapartist, we know that from his letters and also some of the furnishings he added to Cliffe.

Neither is there any record from the far fewer letters which remain from 1873 of the funeral of Napoleon III although I am personally convinced that H.I would have been there as he was living in Paris at the time and a cross channel trip would have been relatively simple. H.I’s earliest 1873 letter is from Nice on 19 March .

an image of Napoleon III on horseback. He is wearing miltary uniform, and mounted on a brown horse, whose is rearing slightly.
Napoleon III on horseback – on display in Cliffe Castle

I then turned my attention to the letters of 1874 as we know from the Illustrated London News that there were many attendees at the coming of age and a marquee was erected at Campden Place in Chislehurst to house them. The coming of age was an important event for the Bonapartist Party as it formally marked the Prince Imperial’s recognition as his father’s heir and he effectively became for Bonapartists Napoleon 4th and many Bonapartist Party adherents from France attended despite the censure of the then Republican Government.

However H.I  had family preoccupations at the time as his niece Jenny, married to the Vicomte De Montauban , son of the man Empress Eugenie had appointed her Minister of War in the dying days of the empire as France was invaded by the Prussians, was seriously ill following child birth. Jenny’s own mother had died following childbirth and both Henry Isaac and his only surviving older brother William were in Paris on 4th March to visit her and H.I was in Rome on 21 May and then heading to Florence.

On February 22 1875 H.I writes to Frederick

“Tell Constant to take down the portrait of the Prince Imperial if there should be trouble in Paris as if there were an enceinte against his majesty they would try to do us injury in their heated patricianism”

which firmly establishes his Bonapartism.

photo of a portrait in oils, of Louis-Napoléon Prince Imperial - a young man of 22 with dark hair, light blue eyes and dark but thin mustache. He is wearing 'white tie' evening dress with the ribbon and star of the Légion d'honneur.
Louis-Napoleon, the Prince Imperial, on display at Cliffe Castle

On 17th March H.I writes to Frederick telling him how pleased he was that Frederick had assisted at a mass to mark the Empress’s Fete day (the anniversary of the Prince Imperial ‘s birth on 16 March)  and that on the same day he had been to Chislehurst where he had the honour of breakfasting with their Majesties and their household.

“After dejeuner the Empress spoke with me for twenty minutes alone and then the Prince Imperial gave me an interview longer. He is in very good health, has sympathetic intelligent tact and (is) altogether a very superior personage. I spoke to him of you especially, told him I had inculcated you with my sympathies for the dynasty and that you were called after his regretted father……………..The Empress is a talented woman and tres en beautie et en sente”

We don’t know how long the connection with Empress Eugenie lasted but it seems likely that H.I would have visited the mausoleum and abbey which the Empress built at Farnborough to more appropriately house the remains of her husband and son ,where she would ultimately join them.

She bought a house across the valley and we know that as late as 1907 the Spanish Infanta Eulalia, a member of the Spanish royal family visited Cliffe Castle.
(Editors note – we also have images of Eulalia’s sons photographed as children with Henry-Isaac’s grandaughter Marie-Louise, so the relationship obviously continued).

Editors note: Ian’s continuing to research around some of the figures whilst lockdown continues –  and found this additional interesting snippet regarding the Empress:

Jean Cocteau on the Empress Eugenie

This may seem an extremely unlikely pairing , the Modernist poet, playwright and artist Cocteau and the last Empress of France but longevity can produce these unlikely overlaps, like the recent death in the USA of the last Civil War widow at 101. The Civil War ended in 1865 and the soldier had been 93 when he married his 17 year old bride in 1936.

She had kept silent about the marriage until 3 years ago and despite the death of her husband at 96 in 1939  she neither remarried nor claimed his pension.

“When he met the Empress Eugenie a full generation after the death of her husband Napoleon III he compared her with the youthful portrait…The face was the same , retained its delicate oval. As if, merely, an unhappy young woman had buried her face in her hands once too often, and the lines on her palms had left their imprint there. The eyes kept the same celestial blue, but the gaze was diluted; a blue water inspected you.”
Quoted in Edmund White “Genet: a biography” 1993.

The dilution or probably mistiness of the Empress’s gaze is easily accounted for as Eugenie had cataracts which were successfully operated on without anaesthetic shortly before her death at 94 –  The surgeon was reluctant to put such an elderly patient under anaesthetic.


Friends of Bradford Art Galleries and Museums – a blog by the chair

Today’s blog is has been written by Christine Halsall, the chair of the Friends of Bradford Art Galleries and Museums
She agreed to share with us a little bit about how the group works.

Christine writes:

The Friends of Bradford Art Galleries and Museums is a charity which exists to promote and support the art, history and cultural life of our city.

We are entirely run by volunteers who take on all the roles which ensure the organisation runs smoothly and acts in accordance with our constitution. The charity is managed by a board of Trustees and each trustee volunteers in a specific role such as chair, secretary, treasurer and membership secretary.

2 women looking at pictures displayed on a curved wall
Christine judging the ‘Young Open’ exhibition

We also have a comprehensive programme of activities which is led by trustees and members.

This programme consists of regular trips to places of interest around the UK and a monthly art group who take inspiration from exhibitions and artefacts.

You will have met several of our members working in the café at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, and many of us serve refreshments at events, such as exhibition openings and lectures.

Christine at an event at Cartwright Hall

My favourite volunteer activity is to ‘meet and greet’ the public as they arrive for an event at one of our sites. I have also enjoyed invigilating and providing guided tours of exhibitions.

We will soon be giving you more information about some of our regular events and activities. Watch this space!!

If you would like to join us you can become a Friend very easily by contacting Linda Bower, our membership secretary on [email protected].

Hope to see you soon!!

Being Young in Bradford – Abby

Continuing with our series of blogs and extracts focusing on the experiences of ‘Being Young in Bradford’.

This week’s memories are being shared by Abby.


He writes:


I was one of the first Asian scooter boys.

Image of a group of young men - 'Scooterboys'- the majority are young white men, but the central figure is a young asian man. They are all dressed in typical 'scooter boy' fashion.
Abby is the central figure in the front of the group

I was so bored and looking for something different. I knew a guy who introduced me to scooters and I got the buzz.

It went from a weekend thing to a way of life. I was accepted everywhere I went as someone who belonged. They were my brothers and sisters. What we did back then I wish we could do all over again.

It was so diverse; where people from different cultures and backgrounds came together and enjoyed many years of fun, fate, and fame.

I’m tempted to get another one even now.

Abby has also selected a great soundtrack of some of the the music he and his friends were listening too – see the spotify link below !

A rediscovered Butterfield Christmas Gift

Although Ian, our ‘Butterfield’ Volunteer has been unable to come in to continue his transcription of the letter we hold,  he’s been busy doing some background research to give context to some of the family history.

He offered to write a blog for us on a timely discovery he’d found.  He writes:

A recent trawl of the Internet turned up the following slight but timely item of Butterfieldiana  – An inscribed copy of a book of poems “The Battle of Maldon and other poems ” by Frederick William Louis Butterfield, son of Henry Isaac Butterfield who built Cliffe Castle.

The front cover (red material with gold text), the book title is 'The Battle of Maldon Etc' with the author's intials FWLB in gold as well)
The front cover of Frederick’s poetry anthology

In the late 1890’s Frederick returned to England from America where he had been working as an independent stockbroker to fulfil a long held dream of studying at Oxford as a very mature student. (He was then in his 40’s)

black and white photo of Frederick William Louis Butterfield in Academic dress
Frederick William Louis Butterfield in Academic dress

Studying English led him to translate some poetry from the Anglo Saxon period (Pre 1066) and he decided to publish these together with some of his own original poetry in aid of the Widows and Orphans Branch of the Transvaal War Fund as in 1900 the Boer War was being fought in South Africa.

F.W.L had a personal interest as Trooper Brown the son of Henry’s trusted manservant (and Henry’s godson) was out fighting in South Africa and Henry was surprised at the privations endured by the troops in the field. Used to opulent surroundings and fine dining Henry obviously hadn’t much personal experience of privation.

This particular copy of the book “The Battle of Maldon and other poems” was sent to Mr and Mrs Jacob Ridgway ‘with F.W. L’s best xmas wishes from Oxford’.

They are presumably relatives of F.W. L’s first wife Jessie Ridgway who was an American and the book has now found its way back to West Yorkshire 120 years after being sent as a Christmas gift.

Tellingly F.W.L has added a separate note to the enclosed flier stressing that all profits from the publication will go to charity, presumably to ensure that his wife’s relatives don’t think that as a wealthy man in his own right and heir to the wealthier Henry. he is reduced to earning his living by his pen.

(Editor’s Note:  Mrs and Mrs Ridgway are Jessie’s parents –  he definitely wouldn’t have wanted them thinking he was making money from writing! )

F.W.L was an occasional poet who also published “The Crevasse”, a dramatic study rather like Thomas Hardy’s “The Dynasts” in 1903 together with at least 2 volumes of reminiscences , the most well known being “My West Riding Experiences” published in 1927 and dedicated to his late wife who died in April 1927 .

Front cover of Frederick's memoirs 'My West Riding Experiences - in dark purple material, with the title and author details impressed into the cover
Front cover of Frederick’s memoirs ‘My West Riding Experiences

We thought you might also enjoy one of the Poems from ‘The Battle of Maldon & other Poems’ –  this one is full of local references.


Within the bound of Staincliffe’s ancient right,

Beside the pregnant Aire; blue hills among,

Where diamond tarns in nodding heather strung,

Refulgent, deck far Rombald’s moorland height,

There lies a town that glads my weary sight.

How oft in thought my soul expectant hung,

On beauty such as thine; and yet my tongue,

Now fails, my hand unnerved can barely write.

Why tremble thus ?my inner self opprest

By blind anxiety no hopes dispel:

The warbler sings in yonder lind recessed;

Red glows the mountain-ash in fairy dell;

Light is your shade, familiar towers blest;

But where , ah where is she I loved so well?


I take the last line as a reference to Sarah Anna who had died in 1870 so the publication of this booked marked her 30th anniversary.



Being Young in Bradford: Ian Beesley

Ian Beesley’s a familar name in these parts,  as he’s worked with us on many occasions and on many different projects.

However he’s also a Bradford lad, and agreed to contribute to our ‘Being Young in Bradford’ series of blogs too.

It’s a fascinating read.  And look at the end for his soundtrack too.

He writes:

Growing up in Bradford in the 1970s

I was 16 in 1970. I saw the film “Woodstock” at the Odeon decided to grow my hair long and become a hippy.

Colour photo Ian Beesley dressed in 'hippy' style clothing. Patched blue denim jeans, white cheesecloth shirt, long hair (with headband across forehead), long beaded jewellery. Pictured in a garden making the 'peace' sign with his right hand. He also has a blue batik material shoulder bag.

It was a phase that did not last long Bradfordians are tolerant, but have sharp tongues; the drizzle of the Pennines is no substitute for Californian sunshine. I abandoned the beads and headbands but kept the long hair.

B&W photo, head and shoulders of Ian, dressed in dark clothes with long wavy hair.

Working at the mill

I didn’t do very well at school and left in 1972 with one A level. There was no shortage of unskilled work in Bradford; many of the traditional heavy industries were still creaking along. I got work in a mill, Associated Weavers Dudley Hill; I hated it, the noise, the shifts, and the boredom of repetitive manual labour. Health and safety wasn’t paramount, I remember sitting in the canteen looking at workers with mutilated hands and missing fingers.

Ian sitting in the work canteen, next to am older man. Ian is in dark black jumper with long hair, the other worker is in a white shirt and light coloured cardigan, holding a newspaper. Table in view in foreground

The wages were good. I could afford tickets to nearly every rock concert at St Georges Hall and Bradford University. I went nearly every Saturday night to the University to see a band, whilst Leeds University could attract the big bands like the Who and the Rolling Stones, Bradford was really good at attracting up and coming bands.

He had his finger cut off

I left Associated Weavers after the man I was working with got his index finger chopped off, he was rushed to hospital whilst the rest of us scurried around trying to find his missing digit, one of the mill cats found it before us and ran off.That was it for me. The following week I got a job at Monkmans foundry in Manchester foundry, that didn’t last long, I liked working there, but wasn’t strong enough, after a week I was dismissed.

The sewage works

The labour exchange then offered me two opportunities: apprentice gravedigger at Undercliffe Cemetery or a labourer at Esholt sewage works.

I opted for grave digging and went for an interview but was told I wasn’t strong enough. The next day I started work at Esholt sewage works, I was there for best part of a year, I worked in the gardens, then the boiler cleaning gang and finally the railway gang.

black and white photograph. Ian is posed (still with shoulder length hair) in front of a train, standing on a board straddling the rail cutting. It's inside a big train shed


It changed my life, I enjoyed working there, many of the men I worked with kept telling me not to waste my life there ‘find what you want to do, get an education’. They knew through the bitter experience of lost opportunity that education was a way out of unskilled low paid labour.  I liked photography, bought my first camera and began to photograph my work colleagues, with their encouragement and support I applied to Bradford Art College and in September 1974 joined the foundation course.

black and white photograph, Ian sat in an armchair to the side of a window - he is mostly in shadow, face visible.


Art College

The Art College was vibrant, informal, chaotic, exciting, inspiring.

There was a wealth of artists teaching there and a carousel of visiting speakers.  Champion Jack Dupree,  one of the last blues piano players was a regular visitor, he would sit in one of the studios at a piano sipping whisky, telling stories about his life and teaching anyone who wanted the rudiments of blues/barrelhouse piano.

Pitied for coming from Bradford

At the end of the year I went to Bournemouth & Poole College of Art. The contrast between Bradford and Bournemouth could not have been greater. I didn’t think I had an accent until then; nobody had ever called me working class, I was pitied for coming from Bradford.

It was the first time I had really rubbed up against the class system and seen the true divide that existed (sadly still does) between the north and the south.

The experience made me fiercely proud of where I was from. Bradford was in a steep decline in the 70s but it had then, as it does now, a uniqueness, vibrancy, warmth and resilience that many other cities lack.


Ian, like our other contributors offered up a soundtrack – Ian has picked Artists that he saw at St Georges Hall ,the University of Bradford or Bradford Art College

Being Young in Bradford: Antony

It’s a bumper fortnight –  with two ‘Being Young In Bradford’ related blogs – of which this is the second, written by Anthony.

Just like the other blogs, We’ve also included a soundtrack selection – find the playlist at the bottom of the blog.  (Editor’s note –  I’ve been listening to this one a lot!  – Heather) .

Antony writes:

My family
My Grandad died in the First World War and left his young wife a single parent with two children. These were very, very, hard times for people growing up and bringing up a family.

My Dad was in the Second World War at the tender age of 15 as his future wife was tilling the land, i.e., planting seeds for the crops, for food which was mainly for the people who needed it the most in the surrounding area.

As a youngster my family chore was washing my clothes. I remember the washing machine of our time, which had a mangle so that I could wringer my clothes, and every time I had fed the clothes through the wringer I would always trap my little fingers. What an experience indeed! I can feel it even now as I put these memories together.

The Beatles
Growing up in Liverpool, my birth place, was very interesting as I was around a multitude of cultures and gained an insight as to how these peoples made ends meet. I enjoyed the friendships built within the communities. Household visits gave me a real insight, which helped me as a young child to form a different mindset, and to form a solid friendship with peoples from different parts of the globe. Growing up in that environment, there wasn’t a great deal to do apart from play on the grounds that once had big buildings on them, which were destroyed in the World War.

The 60s came along and the big word of the era was ‘Hope’. We, the next generation were a number of years behind the tragedy and devastating shock the War brought to those before us. The Beatles were the main band that gave the younger generation a glimmer of hope. A hope of a brighter future for everyone. They were young, innovators to generations to come. Amazing artists grew out of the 60s and early 70s, and this really inspired me in later life as an artist and musician.

Moving to West Yorkshire
In the early 1970s because of the economic problems we had to move over the border to the West Yorkshire. One of many things that stood out for me was the weather. It was bitterly cold in winter with snow drifts that reached up to the top of the window tops. Many people perished in these inhospitable harsh weather conditions.

As a child I found it really strange because there was not an instant openness of smiles ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Day’ as there was in Liverpool. There was no sense of feeling welcome as we looked out for a resting place.

Without the technology devices of today you had to make your own entertainment. Self-reliance was an important skill and I learnt to be good with my hands. One of my best projects was a go-cart I made using the parts of a Silver Cross Pram someone had thrown out – it was the Rolls Royce of go-carts!

We always walked to school, a distance of one and a half miles. There were no cars or buses like there were for some of the kids uptown. And although we walked, can you believe we would never be late! As that would of have meant a beating by the school master which was common in those days.

We had a little rhyme we sang which meant that we had to step on a full flag stone and avoid the join. It was:

‘If you step on a nick, you’ll marry a stick, and a black jack will come to your wedding.’

A black jack was a figure to be feared as it meant bad luck. I became aware of the word black and how it always seemed to be associated with negative things, but I was also being described as black.

My life as a musician
My earliest memories of been a musician was in the early 80s when I would visit the local punk scene in Bradford in a place called the Royal Standard Public House. As a young and up and coming singer I thought that I would strut my musical trade on the local stage, and I would guest appear with Punk bands like The Lurkers, The Jerks, Angelic Upstarts, as well as Chelsea. I thought that this is the way to express my inner self.

Putting on gigs
I was a student/artist at the Bradford College and to make ends meet I put on gigs at the Queens Hall, which was an intimate and unique venue, at the side of the local baths and saunas. I befriended The Queens especially when they were in the need of support or help, as this enabled me to learn the art of staging the methods of presenting stage shows, by carrying PA and lighting equipment for them.

Once I played my part I then requested to the social and entertainment secretaries to put on events, so that I could bring in another type of audience, because at the time it was known as a rock venue, I wanted to introduce a ‘rootsier’ type of rock which more represented me and the kind of folk I was amongst.

EGS Record Store
After touring with Amazulu in 1983-4 I returned to Bradford and had an idea to get the bands I was bringing to Bradford to perform at Queens Hall to also do record signings at the record shop EGS on Kirkgate. It was great to see kids queuing up, excited to see bands, and for bands to see fans before gigs. We had American Rocksters Love/Hate; Pop/Reggae Desmond Dekker and Northern Soul Gino Washington, later a big influence on the Rolling Stones and Dexies Midnight Runners. Rico Rodriguez, an influential Ska and Reggae trombonist was one of the biggest thrills for me.

So that was the beginning. I gave local artists, musicians, singers and players an opportunity to have a platform to perform their works. To express my own musical inner visions, live and direct on stage, I would put a selection of session players together who would back me. Since then I’ve had a long career with an opportunity to work with many great musicians and experience many great events. Amongst the highlights are when I played the Womad Festival with the Makassars and singing with Amazulu supporting David Bowie and Nile Rodgers (at The Hammersmith Odeon) and playing on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury.


Being Young in Bradford: Val

Our blogs written to accompany the ‘Being Young in Bradford’ exhibition are proving popular –  and we’re very pleased to be able to introduce another one in the series.  This one has been written by Val.

She’s also provided us with a soundtrack of songs – you can find it at the bottom of the blog

Val writes:

Punxperience by Vee B

Everyone will have their own personal story of Punk life. I can only encapsulate some of the relevant parts of it as it was for me.

I think I was always a bit different, weird. Perhaps it was my background. My mum divorced, left my dad in 1967 for his adultery when I was little. It wasn’t the done thing back then, you were supposed to turn a blind eye. Not my mum, she was a strong woman. She was viewed by some as a “Scarlet woman” divorcee. It’s laughable. We were poor, living in a council house, mum was a single parent of 3 kids, who only earned two thirds of the wage the men were getting at the same job, it didn’t go very far. Women were automatically paid less than men at that time. I’m grateful my mum insisted on me joining free (and paid for ones, when I was older and she was earning more) drama groups and developing some social skills or I would probably be a total loner.

When I started school, I was told I was a bastard because I didn’t have a dad. Thankfully, times have changed but it meant other kids parents viewed me differently. There were those who discouraged their children from being friends with me and those who came from a good place and encouraged their children to be nice to the “disadvantaged” kid, but it felt a bit condescending and both approaches knocked my confidence.

Things did improve as I got older and I did start making more friends, though I don’t think I ever totally trusted them even if I was enjoying the experience and their company and to be totally honest, I didn’t really fit in, I’d just got good at faking it. I found a lot of it boring. Discussions about current fashion, David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, who has bought what latest gadget. Love, boys, blah, blah, blah.

September 1977, 2 months after my 14th birthday, I got friendly with a couple of girls at school. They were a bit different to the other girls. They were more interesting and discussed real life events, society, injustices, alternative music. After a couple of weeks, they invited me out with them. I walked into The Mannville Arms and BAM. I felt like I’d come home. The people, the atmosphere, the energies, the noise, the outfits, the power. Music.

The MUSIC. Raw, harsh at times, buzzing. Lyrics about a world, reality I could relate to, sung in voices that weren’t trendy and sweet. Instruments played aggressively or uniquely. Powerful. Dancing to it was a way to release all the angst, teenage hormones, emotions, anger at social unfairness. I’m not saying I don’t like any other music genres but Punk is my first love. Like your favourite t-shirt though, you don’t want to wear it every day do you? Well I don’t anyway.

I sometimes sit and relive the live gigs I have been to, including Adam and the Ants, The Negatives (of course!), The Damned, The Stranglers, UK subs, Angelic Upstarts, The Dickies, Stiff little Fingers, Crass, Poison Girls, Gen X, Wire etc etc. I didn’t realise how lucky I was at the time to have those experiences. For a few hours, the whole microcosm of the punk community were focused on the energy coming from the stage, becoming a unity of atmosphere, movement, dance, endorphins. The vitality of the whole event was electric.

I don’t fit in

Black and white image of two young woment, with very short hair and 'punk' outfits.
Val and Marylin (Val is on the right)

The way the people were dressed, there was a thread of connection in their clothes, hair, makeup, in the way they didn’t follow any of the current trendy fashions but they were all different to each other, individual, had their own identity. It said ‘’I don’t fit in with or follow the controlled, dictated mainstream, so instead I will stand out as different, rather than trying to hide it’’. Our main source of clothing, especially when the clothes could be adapted and altered was the charity shops. I only ever bought 2 items new, a punk holey jumper from a fab girl who knitted them and sold them cheap and an Angelic Upstarts T shirt. I believed in the “Punk is a State of Mind, Not a fashion” ideal.

My first time out I got introduced to a couple of punks, who introduced me to more, who introduced me to more. Before you know it, you are part of a diverse, usually non-judgemental, inclusive, unity of disenfranchised young people. Many of us were from various levels of poverty but there were also some from more financially stable backgrounds. There were gays, lesbians, those questioning or exploring their sexuality. There were people from differing ethnic backgrounds, black, Asian, European, eastern European and so on.

Most of us had our youth, our dissatisfaction at social inequality, our non-conformist attitudes, and isolation from mainstream dictates in common. We could talk, debate, discuss for hours, didn’t always agree, or see life the same, everyone’s perspective of reality is different but we could accept and respect the differences.

As I would point out, most of the lyrics were anti-establishment, fuck the system, anti-police, etc, that’s political. But if the music was their glue, that was fine too.  Many of us got into politics though, going on protest marches all over the country.

It wasn’t all serious and politics. It was mostly having a good time, fun and doing ridiculous things. I remember getting my ears pierced in the toilets of the Old Crown, my nose was pierced sitting outside The Pop Club in York waiting to go in to see Adam Ant, The gigs, The music, The dancing, The freedom, sheer joy and camaraderie.

Some guys were sexist. It was the 70’s / 80’s after all and the cultural and social norm, but with the majority of them you could point it out and tell them to back off. Some would accuse you of the stereotypical being too “sensitive” but they were easily ignorable. They weren’t as bad as the other non-punk males who would make outright, sleazy comments when I was on the bus or walking anywhere, which was pretty scary.

Bradford Punks

I guess the group norms could vary from city to city but the Bradford Punks had a strong identity. They would always support and welcome each other. They would travel in large groups to go to music events. You could go out to town on your own, even as a female, which was unusual in that era, and there would always be people who would welcome and include you.  The ethos was one of support, looking out for and enjoying the company of the whole spectrum of people. I believe we had a unique experience during those crazy, emotional, hysterical times.

We were family. Those you hung out with most, who were like your brothers and sisters. Those who went to the same places as you that you talked to, your close cousins. Those you said hello to, your distant cousins. You could be sitting on a bench in town and a punk you’d never met would feel safe to come over, sit and chat with you. We were part of the same tribal family. You knew they would be there for you. I still have many good friends from that era.

I have no regrets about that period of my life. I’ll always have the love of the music, the experiences, the memories, the amazing friends I made, a number of them still in my life. The strength, identity, learning and growth the experience gave me is invaluable. If it hadn’t been for my time with these people I don’t think I would have developed any personal confidence or accepted me as I am and realised that it’s ok to be, think, act differently to the norm. I don’t think I would have believed that I could have achieved the things I wanted to and have actually achieved.

Of course it wasn’t all honey. Other groups who weren’t punks often started fights. I remember some of them. In one, a group of us had been for a curry at the international after our night out. A group of guys on mopeds pulled up and without a word, set about us. The guys tried to protect me and my friend as the only girls there. My friend and I got thrown against a big glass window of the curry house. Some other punks saw what was happening and came running over, realising they were outnumbered and getting beaten, the attackers jumped on their mopeds and disappeared.

There were also squabbles, arguments, falling outs and fights even, amongst the punks.  I could feel and knew who didn’t particularly like me, you can’t be everyone’s flavour. I limited my interactions with those people. There were enough people around that meant you could still enjoy the time with your friends, be in the same place, group even as those who didn’t like you and not have to be up close.  There were some aggro people amongst the group, just as there is in any group. Just like all friendship circles, they were sweet enough with their own friends but if they didn’t like you it could be very awkward.

There was also the usual drugs. These could cause people to act out of character or enhance less desirable personality traits. It could also do the opposite. Unfortunately, some of my friends got into stronger stuff. Some died as a result and others lost huge chunks of their lives battling it. Such a painful life lesson for those involved and those seeing it but helpless to change it.

I did enjoy some drugs but now I know it also had a negative repercussion. Being a young teenager my mind and body was still developing and coping with the substances caused me to have issues with memory. I find that I have forgotten a lot of the events, people and most especially dates from those times. Sometimes in conversation someone will remind me of something or someone and I can’t always recall it. I’ve worked hard on memory skills but occasionally it has recurred throughout my life, thankfully never with anything important. The worst thing is that all my memorabilia that would have helped me relive and revisit those time was binned by my ex about 30 years ago, so I don’t have visual reminders.

End of my Punk lifestyle

My time of being totally invested in this lifestyle came to an end. The memory still troubles me and makes me sad. A group of us were in the Richmond building. My new boyfriend was sat with some of the punks. Me and a group of about 5 or 6 girls were messing around near some chairs, play fighting, having a laugh. One girl I considered a particularly close friend and I were playing about. She pushed me to the floor, sat on me and knelt on my arms. I was laughing at the time, until she started punching me in my face. I was shocked. One of the other girls ran round and pulled her off. My nose was bust and I had a black eye.

I never knew or found out what triggered my attacker to this. I guess she had her own issues or reason. I went to the loo to clean up my bust nose. When I came out to get my coat I heard my boyfriend and the 3 or 4 of those who were sat down, talking. He said “I thought she was hard”. One of the seated punk girls, who I felt wasn’t overfond of me and I had the least possible interaction with who was older and a kind of leader, replied “Her? She’s always been a soft wimp”.

I picked up my coat, told them there’s nothing soft about not being able to respond to an ambush where you are pinned down, that I never pretended to be hard but would and have stuck up for myself when necessary, and left. My boyfriend had my purse, so I couldn’t afford a taxi. The hurt and anger were my drive on the 3 mile walk home, which gave me time to think over everything. The physical pain was nothing but emotionally I felt embarrassed, betrayed, bewildered, disillusioned. My mum was furious with me for walking home on my own in the early hours of the morning. The boyfriend turned up shortly after. He gave my mum my purse and asked to see me. She told him I wouldn’t see him and that was that.

I stopped spending my time with the punks; only going to town occasionally and to the odd gig. I still spent time with those I was close to but the going out became less and less. I met my husband, got married, had children. Some of my friends still came round and stayed in touch but the constant, almost living with the punks era was over.

Learning experience

I have no regrets about that period of my life. I’ll always have the love of the music, the experiences, the memories, the amazing friends I made, a number of them still in my life. The strength, identity, learning and growth the experience gave me is invaluable. If it hadn’t been for my time with these people I don’t think I would have developed any personal confidence or accepted me as I am and realised that it’s ok to be, think, act differently to the norm. I don’t think I would have believed I could achieve the things I actually have.

Val’s soundtrack

The Lady in the Pink dress…Pauline Viardot

One of the things that makes working in museums and galleries fun is tracking down the stories associated with objects – and then getting to share them with everyone else.

If you’ve visited Cliffe Castle in the last 4-5 years, you will probably have noticed the rather lovely painting in the Bracewell Smith Hall, of a lady in a pink dress, sat by the side of a stream. It’s one of my favourite pieces in the collections of Bradford Museums and Galleries, and I’ve been meaning to write up the story behind it for some time.

Woman with dark hair, wearing a highly decorated pink dress, in mid victorian style. Trimmed with lace. Wearing a light shawl and holding a matching pink parasol. She is sat on the bank of a stream, visible in the back ground
The lady in the pink dress

The painting was originally purchased by Henry Isaac Butterfield, as part of the collection of paintings, sculpture, furniture and decorative arts he acquired to furnish Cliffe Castle when he rebuilt it in the 1880s. We know where it was originally displayed (a part of the building that no longer exists!), thanks to a painting by his Granddaughter, Marie-Louise Pierrepont (Countess Manvers) – which shows it near the Winter Gardens.

Image of a corridor/room, with door to the outside visible (and a person outside the doors). Also depicted in the room is a yellow couch, and a painting of a woman in a pink dress, with a parasol place over it.
Door to the Conservatory, Cliffe Castle; Bradford Museums and Galleries;

When the Castle was sold by Countess Manvers in the 1950s, she moved a number of items including this painting, to Thoresby Hall in Nottinghamshire.

It returned to Cliffe Castle in 2016 after the death of Lady Rozelle Raynes, who was the daughter of Countess Manvers. It was part of a bequest she made to the museum of items with a Butterfield or Cliffe Castle link and a Yorkshire connection. We’ve talked about the return of the Malachite fireplace and other items in earlier blogs.

The family story suggested the ‘lady in the pink dress’ was a mistress of Victor Hugo, the famous French Author, which was rather intriguing. Such a story would certainly have fitted with Henry Isaac Butterfield’s tendency to collect objects associated with interesting people.

My colleague Daru and I started investigating. It involved identifying the subject, the artist, and it turned out to be quite the world-wide adventure to do so… (sadly, no actual travelling involved).

We identified that the sitter was a famous Mezzo-Soprano opera singer of the period called Pauline Viardot. The more we found out about her, the more intrigued we were – she was a sister to the equally famous Maria Malabran (who died at the age of 28, after collapsing on stage.) Pauline was a pupil of Franz Listz, a friend of the novelist George Sand – and as a result of that friendship, became friends with Frederick Chopin. She was also highly regarded by the composers Gounoud and Berlioz.

She was a talented composer in her own right – the video we’ve shared below is accompanied by one of her compositions – and includes some additional images of Pauline.

We’ve also created a spotify playlist with some of her compositions here if you want to listen to more of her work.

Interestingly, she was linked (perhaps romantically) to the Russian Novelist Ivan Turganev, who shared a house with her and her husband, but we could find no direct link to Victor Hugo. They were both well known in society at the time, and had some acquaintances in common, but beyond that, nothing connected them.

However, a claim that Victor Hugo had slashed this portrait in a jealous rage was clearly associated with the painting – so what led to this story?

Our next task was to identify the artist and normally, this would be fairly straightforward. Unfortunately ,the painting had been cut down from its original size (sadly, not uncommon), and the majority of the artist’s signature was lost as a result.

All we had left was a barely legible ‘…ard’ in the bottom left corner.  We were peering over artists signatures from the period (with a lot of ‘does this look like it matches?’ conversations in between). Eventually we concluded it was perhaps François-Auguste Biard – a French artist, best known for his landscapes rather than portraits – and the style seemed to match.

To confirm our deductions, we searched for Dr Alvin, a specialist on the artist (he wrote Le Monde Comme Spectacle: l’ouevre du peinture Francois- Auguste Biard) to see if he agreed. This was easier said than done- as Dr Alvin lives in Brazil and we had no direct contact details. We tracked down his University on twitter, and asked very nicely if we could be put in contact!

Luckily they did so, and after a email conversation with Dr Alvin,  it was confirmed the painting was by Biard.

Identifying the artist meant we were able to make the connections back to the story about Victor Hugo. Pauline Viardot, (the subject of the painting) was not his mistress, but Léonie d’Aunet, Biard’s wife, was Hugo’s lover for several years.

In 1845, Victor and Leonie were caught together in a hotel, and both were arrested. Victor Hugo’s status as a member of the ‘Chamber of Peers’ (the French equivalent to the House of Lords), meant he was quickly released with no charges brought against him. In contrast, Leonie served two months in the Prison Saint-Lazare, and was subsequently sent to a convent, where she remained for about 6 months. They later resumed their affair, until Hugo’s exile from France in 1851. Biard annulled the marriage to Leonie in 1855.

It would appear then, that the damage done to the painting was indeed by Victor Hugo, and was related to a mistress – but not the woman in the painting.

This idea of an object with a story appealed to Henry Isaac Butterfield, just like it appeals to us – so it’s not surprising he chose to acquire it. Finding out the real story behind the ‘family tales’ was a entertaining and illuminating detective story, with rather more global links than we’d expected at the beginning – so we’re glad to be able to share it with you!

Being Young in Bradford: Gary

This is another in a series of blogs linked to the forth-coming ‘Being Young in Bradford’ exhibition, that will be held at Cartwright Hall.

Gary, who wrote this blog, is working alongside Jill,  one of our Community Curators and 5 others to create the exhibition together.   They hope to present an evocative idea of what Being Young in Bradford meant to them.

B&W image of a young man, dark jeans, light coloured jacket sat in chair reading. Various images pinned to wall behind him including an calendar dated August 1983
Gary, reading a newspaper in 1983 (at least according to the Calendar!)

Growing up in the 70s
As a youth growing up in Bradford, I was a normal lad living through the Miner’s Strike, the three-day week, writing by candlelight, in a sort of black and white Cold War world. In 1973 I started work and also began my life-long love affair with music. A wage packet meant a new LP record each week. My first taste of a live gig was the same year for 50p at St. Georges Hall seeing blues-rock band Savoy Brown support Status Quo. I found live music so thrilling.
The next ten gigs I attended included Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, Focus, Argent, Mott the Hoople, Alex Harvey Band, The Strawbs, Golden Earing supported by Lynyrd Skynyrd and German techno-synth band Tangerine Dream – quite an introduction to the UK live music scene for a young lad in the mid-1970s! It was an era when major bands still played Bradford on a regular basis.

4th Idea
After a stint on the buses as a conductor, I joined the staff of 4th Idea Bookshop in late 1979, as a volunteer member. Based at 14 Southgate, it was a collectively run radical/alternative bookshop which was also a meeting place for local activist/pressure groups who used the premises as a contact address. I had a Labour/Socialist background and was Anti-Racist having grown up with Asian and Black friends. Working at 4th Idea helped to radicalize my awakening political view of the world as I educated myself with the wealth of material available

Shortly after I was among a group of local activists who formed the Bradford branch of the Claimant’s Union (CU). While working at 4th Idea I’d also befriended a motley group of punks who were members of punk bands Living Dead and Chronic. They appeared most Saturdays at the shop sitting upstairs playing their latest 7 inch singles and drinking tea.

With these contacts I organised and put on my first gig – a benefit for 4th Idea at Bradford University’s Communal building featuring Violation, Chronic, New Model Army, Living Dead, Requiem, Boys From The East and poets Joolz, Little Brother and Big Dave Bob in March 1981.

Birth of the 1 in 12 Club
Following the success of the University gig, and some previous benefit gigs, it was decided by the members of the CU to start our own Club. The 1 in 12 Club started weekly Wednesday night gigs on 29 April 1981 at the Metropole Hotel on Grattan Road. In an atmosphere of mutual aid and self-management, it was collectively volunteer run, with a strict no racist / sexist / homophobic policy.

Within a few weeks the 1 in 12 had attracted many new people and had extended the list of local bands and poets to Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester. From these small beginnings, the Club expanded and gained a national and international persona during the rest of the 1980s. It moved from venue to venue and organised umpteen gigs, dozens of benefit gigs, three free festivals, a regular Fanzine (KDIS), three vinyl LP compilation records, a dozen live reviews in the National Music Press (N.M.E/Sounds) as well as a membership of over 1,000 people.

A government grant enabled the Club to buy a building at 21-23 Albion Street which it’s members renovated and opened as a permanent venue in April 1988 where it continues today. Over the years the 1 in 12 has developed an international underground reputation with bands from all over Europe, USA and Japan playing.

It is more than a simple venue though, it is a social centre that allows its membership to develop and be active in local community and national/international activities and campaigns. The Club runs various member-led autonomous collectives so there are groups of people who, for example, book bands; record and produce CD’s of bands who play there; run the café; take care of building maintenance; put on drama performances; look after the library; coordinate the football team – and more!

Over the years, as the ebb and flow of new to old member’s changes, we’ve a generational aspect, as well as growing a new generation of Bradfordians who continue to get involved and are proud of the Club’s longstanding heritage and the work it has done fighting injustices.

Being Young in Bradford Playlist

Gary also took the time to give us a list of some of the songs he enjoys

You can find his selection via the spotify playlist below.

(Due to the nature of some of the songs, there may be some explicit lyrics)

Helen – Gardening Volunteer

A few gardening words from volunteer, Helen, who volunteers at the Bradford Industrial Museum

She writes:

I have been a volunteer gardener at Bradford Industrial Museum for nearly four years now. I love it!

Views of the garden, with the Mill Managers House in the background. Includes fox gloves and petunias in various shades of pink, purple or white
Views of the garden, with the Mill Managers House in the background

In the beginning it was very much a renovation project as the Mill Manager’s Garden had been taken over by large ugly shrubs and didn’t look like a garden at all.

It is still very much a work in progress but there is a ‘hot garden’, a white shade garden, a pink garden, and a blue and yellow garden.

Images of flowers in bright 'hot' shades of purple, red and yellow
Hot shade garden
Images of white and yellow flowers, with teasels in the background, and a backdrop of a green privet
The ‘white shade’ garden

In addition there are two old horse troughs planted up and the WW2 Victory Garden behind one of the terraced houses.

Image of a stone horse trough planted up with Ivy, Hebes, and other green or purple leaved plants
Horse trough full of plants behind the Back to Backs


Image of a stone horsetrough, planted up flowers in shades of pink and white. Include Sweet William and Phlox
Horse trough planted up, behind the back to backs

I beg plants from all my friends and grow loads from seeds and cuttings. It is very rewarding.

It has been great to get to know the staff at the Museum who are so encouraging. They even water the plants when I can’t get there!

Helen is now seeking a small team of volunteers to help her with the project!  Would like to join her?

If so, do view the role description here:

You can also contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Sonja on [email protected] or telephone 01274 436027  if you’d like more information about it.

Travel expenses can be covered, you will be given a small interview and induction to our safe ways of working.

We are also seeking to recruit a team of Gardening Volunteers for the grounds of Bolling Hall Museum.  Could this be you?  Do let us know – please use the same contact details as above.