As Covid-19 lockdown begins to ease, I’m still not ready to resume my railway travels. First and foremost, I can’t really class my travels as ‘necessary’ journeys, and secondly, having travelled one stop by train in a facemask, it’s not a look I’m keen to repeat too soon.
I know the time will come, and if the evidence continues to demonstrate a lowering of incidents, then I’ll plan accordingly. My current thinking is around mid to late August, and I’m already stocking up with a variety of facemasks. I know others have chosen to start travelling around London, and I envy their freedom. But for now, I’ll remain cautious.
However, I’m itching to start exploring and poking my nose, and camera, into places others may not have seen. I miss the opportunity to bring new sights for your perusal. Although I’m blessed with a good garden and plenty of visiting wildlife, and whilst it has been fun capturing rare moments of entertainment, I prefer to wander around and look for the new.
Those garden moments will continue, though, as I rely on automated cameras to capture, in the main, the bird life visiting our bird bath. So for those of you who enjoy those pics and short videos, then worry not as they will pop up from time to time.
I also wrote recently about my forthcoming plan to share a further 34 pictures from my first ‘endoftheline’ travels. These will be the best of a set of themes. Watch out for them.
But in the meantime I have started walking around my local community. I have lived in Gidea Park, outside Romford, for over 30 years, and I now have a chance to properly explore the area. I intend walking mostly, and stretch my legs in a five mile radius as far as Chadwell Heath, Havering-atte-Bower, Upminster and Elm Park. Let’s see how I get on.
So here’s the first occasional blog about these local journeys… a walk through Ardleigh Green and the South West Corner of Romford.
#01: Vw Campervan
Walking past the car park to The New Inn pub along Squirrels Heath Lane I spotted this well worn VW campervan. In order to protect the owner’s interest, I’ve blocked out the number plate.
I’m presuming it’s been well travelled, but who knows?
If you look closely at the stickers, there’s an advert for autoxross.com, whose strapline is ‘we can make things happen’. I only hope this campervan isn’t the product of their efforts…OR maybe it’s like this by design.
Anyway, it’s battered look in dull black and white captured my imagination as I gave it a post-production makeover to emphasise its two tone colouring.
- Location: The New Inn Pub Car Park, Squirrels Heath Lane, Ardleigh Green, Romford
- Date/Time: Monday 22nd June 2020 at 10.32 am
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO125
#02: Washing Day
I apologise to the residents of Mountbatten House for showing off their day’s washing. But the colour array, highlighted by a momentary sunray, seemed to call out to me.
I had thought perhaps to rotate the image so that you could see the lion’s head and Peppa Pig the right way around.
But I think leaving them in their upside down hanging position is right given they’re out to dry.
Oh yes! and there’s PJ Masks as well – see if you can spot them. I’ve never heard of them but then again I am a little older than their intended target audience
- Location: Mountbatten House, Elvet Avenue, Ardleigh Green, Romford
- Date/Time: Monday June 22nd 2020 at 10.20 am
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 106mm; Film Speed – ISO200
#03: Old Railway Works
Capturing this location was one of those…’well I never knew that was here’ moments.
This is an area between Gidea Park and Ardleigh Green that has been developed and redeveloped into residential housing over the years. I knew there were some old railway works in the vicinity, but I had never before explored.
These buildings, commonly known as Romford Factory, have a reasonably long and chequered history. I won’t take you through their full history, but I’ll simply say that they were built around 1841 by the Eastern Counties Railway as locomotive workshops. Later becoming a tarpaulin sheet and sack factory. Even later, a grease factory and a sponge-cloth laundry and a sheet drying shop.
You just don’t know what’s (literally) around the corner, but if you want to read the detail, I encourage you to visit the Historic England website and/or download their exceptionally detailed Architectural Investigation survey carried out in 2000 (NBR INDEX NUMBER: 106386 NGR: TQ 535 896)
- Location: Site of the former ‘Romford Factory’, Kidman Close, Gidea Park
- Date/Time: Monday June 22nd 2020 at 10.15 am
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ11; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 28mm; Film Speed – ISO160
#04: Dreywood Court
Built in 2013, on land previously occupied by a redundant sheltered housing scheme that no longer met with the London Borough of Havering’s standards.
This new ‘Extra Care Housing is designed to provide the varying levels of care and support people may need in later life’ – so says the Housing Learning & Improvement Network report carried out in 2014
This is an interesting cul de sac which I’ve driven past many times, so I’m glad I had the opportunity to walk in and browse around. Until I was challenged by the site manager, I thought this was just another block of apartments. But she explained the building’s purpose and as she did, I noticed several elderly ladies sitting on their sun drenched balconies reading their papers.
The manager would have liked to have invited me in, but under the current lockdown arrangements, this was not possible. But I was impressed by her willingness to showcase this colourful development.
- Location: Dreywood Court, Squirrels Heath Lane, Ardleigh Green, Romford
- Date/Time: Monday June 22nd 2020 at 10.29 am
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 46mm; Film Speed – ISO160
#05: Post Box
Bridge Close, on the outskirts of Romford, is tucked just off the main Waterloo Road and is the home of several large self-contained factory units. It’s not a welcoming location for the casual walker, but then again I didn’t feel threatened in any way.
I was surprised to see, almost side by side the Havering Islamic Cultural Centre and four Christian places of worship, namely: the Celestial Church of Christ Rehoboth Parish – TRF; The ESO C&S Bethel CHurch of God; The Divine Worshippers Christioan Ministries; and The Redeemed Christian Church of God. This is an unusual location for such divine inspiration.
There are plans to redevelop this area; to find out more, read here.
On leaving the Close, I spot a Royal Mail post box with this interesting building array as a backdrop and I stand across a busy road waiting for a gap in the traffic to capture it. Several passers-by looked bemusingly as I crouched down to get the right angle, but to be honest I’m beyond worrying about what others think now. I smile, say ‘hello’ hoping to engage them in a conversation, but they walk by…
- Location: Bridge Close, Romford
- Date/Time: Tuesday June 30th 2019 at 08.36 am
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length -125mm; Film Speed – ISO1000
Locals will know this footbridge as the one that crosses over the A127 Southend Arterial Road by the Kiwk-Fit garage on Ardleigh Green Road.
The footbridge in effect joins Ardleigh Green Road with Squirrels Heath Road on either side of the main road.
There was a young father and son walking across the footbridge as I approached, and the closer I got, I noticed the boy was being encouraged to ride a scooter on the ramp access to the bridge. Alas, as I neared, they moved on; a shame as it would have been nice to have captured them in this shot.
Nevertheless, I’ve set the camera on the ground just behind the utility cover in the foreground. It’s dimpled surface complementing the dappled tarmac of the upper footbridge walkway quite nicely.
The almost empty sky is somewhat symbolic of my empty photographic portfolio over the last four months…
- Location: Footbridge over Southend Arterial Road (A127) adjacent to Ardleigh Green Road and Squirrels Heath Road
- Date/Time: Monday June 22nd 2020 at 09.47 am
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/320; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100
#07: Ripe for Regeneration
I’ve seen recent reports in the local press and weekly London Borough of Havering newsletter of plans to redevelop the Waterloo Estate, but had never ventured in to have a look. It’s an estate ‘on the wrong side of the tracks’ or more literally the wrong side of the road, and is dominated by roadside tower blocks.
It’s quite a wide and open plan sort of estate, but as soon as I enter the area, I’m struck by the scale of boarded up properties. It’s an estate of low level, three storey flats, and high rise tower blocks. But without exception, as far as I could see, every ground floor property was boarded up as was every first floor flat on the low rise blocks too. A desolate place which the vandals have taken full advantage of given the range of destruction that’s on display.
‘Who’d want to live in a house like this?’
- Location: Waterloo Estate, St Andrew’s Road, Romford
- Date/Time: Tuesday June 30th 2020 at 08.07 am
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 75mm; Film Speed – ISO125