Haworth, Oxenhope & Stanbury From Old PhotographsThe second volume of Haworth, Oxenhope and Stanbury from Old Photographs is now out. Bear in mind that the two volumes are merely for publication and that both would read well as a single volume, where the reader would find himself completely immersed in the social aspects of life at Haworth during the last 150-200 years.
Volume 2: Trade & Industry
The Brontë connection is either tenuous - there aren't many direct references to them(1) - or whole - as it was here that they lived and wrote and much of what is told in the books was a daily matter to them. For instance, this second volume dwells on the mills (and the sad demise many of them have had through the years), which were a key factor of day-to-day life in the Brontës' time, even if much of it doesn't make it into what they wrote about either in fiction or in non-fiction. But many of Patrick's parishioners - those adhering to the Church of England anyway - worked hard at the mills and the Brontë siblings teaching at the Sunday school would have had children whose parents worked at the mills or - worse - children who worked at the mills themselves.
The section on the farms in the area gives an idea of the harsh conditions and - it couldn't be otherwise - Top Withens is featured there with the rest. Steven Wood manages to pique the curiosity of visitors to the place and make the reader, not only wish for a vigorous trek around the area, but for a walk to Top Withens to check whether the word 'dairy' is still there being overlooked by most visitors. (We are certainly guilty of that!)
These two books by Steven Wood may not be directly connected to the Brontës' lives or be key material when it comes to reading up on their lives but they carry out the important work that is to give a sense of place - both visually and descriptively - of Haworth. We all overlook the places that surround us everyday but that doesn't make them any less important as background. It is only because they are so ingrained in our lives that we overlook them so. And thus Steven Wood brings to the forefront much of what the Brontës would see as the same old view, the same old faces, the same old places.
(1) One of the references comes in the shape of two Brontë pictures of the Brontë (or Bronté as one of them displays on the side) buses, which toured the area from 1926 to 1956.