My fourth blog outlining the stories behind my ‘Pictures of the Day’. For this week’s review, I travel to the ends of the District, Metropolitan, Overground, Piccadilly and the Tram lines in September through to Armistice Day in November 2018.
I meet more people during the autumnal months and in this portfolio. You’ll meet a street trader, an arboreal artist and thrill seekers. I also stretch the boundaries of my camera’s capability too.
Please tell me which is your favourite picture, and why through any of my social media platforms.
So here goes for week 4. Please let me know what you think.
12/09/2018 – The lake in Kelsey Park boasts having at least two cormorants, one proudly displaying its wings high up in its tree perch, and another doing likewise perched on a post mid lake; a good opportunity to test my camera handling skills at full zoom. I rest against railings on a wall to steady myself whilst standing under a large tree sheltering from the downpour of rain.
I’ve enlarged and cropped the original photo to showcase the cormorant’s extended wingspan. There’s a little degradation in the quality and sharpness, but given I was a good couple of hundred metres away, I’m very pleased with the outcome. And a good test of the zoom lens’ quality at full stretch too
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 300mm; Film Speed – ISO800; Google Photo Filter – Auto
17/09/2018 – A slight twist on today’s picture as it is in fact a collage of four taken within the Plasa 2018 exhibition. The reason being is that I want to showcase the challenge I experienced in trying to capture fast moving lighting effects such as those created digitally.
I realised quickly that the time delay between my seeing an image and pressing the shutter to capture that image was out of sync. So whilst I was somewhat disappointed in the outcome of many of today’s shots, the experience taught me to think differently on how to represent an image.
Nevertheless, this collage is a helpful reminder of that and offers an alternative on how to represent my ‘Picture of the Day’. The camera settings below represent the range used on the four pictures I’ve brought together, and they demonstrate how the camera captures images even in an erratically lit environment.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5 to 6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/125 to 1/200; Focal Length – 34mm to 55mm; Film Speed – ISO200 to ISO640; Google Photo Collage with Auto Filter
09/10/2018 – This is Lola, a street market trader selling African inspired headwear. Lola has a captivating smile and a broad grin and is so easy to talk with. She’s happy for me to take pictures of her small stall and of her, and she quite likes the attention too which made capturing her personality quite easy.
I remind myself of some advice I was given as a child: when taking pictures of people and in particular their faces, to focus on the eyes. And you can see why here, as Lola smiles through her eyes and the rest of her face lights up.
This is a simple headshot; one of a series I took as I chatted with Lola and walked around her. Passers by looked curiously on, but neither Lola nor I gave them a passing thought.
Thank you Lola for brightening up my visit to Barking.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 50mm; Film Speed – ISO1600; Google Photo Filter – Auto
18/10/2018 – This is one of many shots I took at the White Water Centre which gave me the opportunity to test out action sequences. There were several rafts of eight person pleasure seekers or team bonding exercise groups on the course being led by two professional guides. So as each raft navigated the course several times, there was ample opportunity to explore the course and sit and wait for the right moment.
This, I believe, is one of those moments where I’ve captured the effort and intensity of the raft’s occupants trying to control their craft. The position of the raft in the water gives an impression of its vulnerability as its bow peers out of the water, and in doing so it seems the rest of the raft is submerged: but It isn’t. This appearance is only created by the fact the raft is just recovering from a dip in the water as the raft plummeted down a slope.
The relatively fast shutter speed also captures the water mid splash and the water droplet effect adds to the drama. I remember in my early youth taking sporting pictures and recall that picking the right spot and being patient are two key attributes to getting a good shot. And as I applied these today, I’m rewarded with this outcome.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 190mm; Film Speed – ISO200; Google Photo Filter – Auto
23/10/2018 – This is Ed, who I met sketching trees at the bottom of Walpole Park. My narrative above explains a bit about Ed who was kind enough to let me use him as the subject of an ‘ad hoc’ photo shoot. He was completely engrossed in his sketching and this was great to get the concentration on his face.
At one moment, the sun peered through the tree canopy and this shot captures that through his hair creating almost a halo effect. I have no knowledge of Ed’s saintly connections but he was angelic enough through the photo shoot.
I had the camera set up in Black and White mode and I think this helps to add depth to the picture and strengthen the final shot. I’m pleased with it, and ‘thank you’ Ed
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4.5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 33mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – None
02/11/2018 – As you can see, this is taken outside Cockfosters Station. It’s a shot I had to wait quite a while to capture to get the right effect of movement. I played with several combinations of shutter speed and aperture to get the right balance of movement, focus, light and composition.
This one is taken with a slowish shutter speed set at 1/8th second grabbing the colour blur from the passing bus with its outline clearly recognisable. Combined with the oncoming car, I’m really pleased with the resulting effect of movement with a still background. It’s also pleasing that the combined speed of the bus and shutter speed still allows the advertising hoarding on the right hand side to show through the bus windows.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ22; Shutter Speed – 1/8; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto
09/11/2018 – A few days before Armistice Day 2018, Amersham Old Town has excelled itself with an impressive WW1 Commemoration display as part of this year’s Britain in Bloom entry. This picture is taken within the Memorial Gardens and is one of many I could have picked for today’s PIcture of the Day.
This one, I believe, epitomises the scale, grandeur and colour of the town’s display with the large scale bi-plane models elevated in formation showing off a combination of design and gardening skills. Despite it being a drizzly day, which dampens the garden’s colour palette, there’s a hint of sunlight peeking through the low cloud base helping to lift the greenery.
Despite the weather conditions, there are several interested people walking through and enjoying the display. However, I’ve waited for them to pass as I didn’t want them to be a distraction from the bi-planes which I feel are the centrepiece of the picture.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO6400; Google Photo Filter – None
I blogged recently about what I’ve learnt during my two years travelling to the ends of the lines, and I set out my plans for the future. But during the Covid19 lockdown arrangements, some of those plans are understandably on hold.
However, I’ve mentioned my plans to write a book which will embrace the 81 ‘Pictures of the Day’ I’ve selected from my travels. As part of those preparations, I am reviewing all the pictures I’ve selected and updating the original blogs. And from the 18th April, the second anniversary of when I started, I’m posting one picture a day on my social media channels for those interested.
Additionally, I’ll be writing weekly with the pictures I’ve posted from the past week. This time with the full narrative as to why I selected this particular picture. I’ve noticed as I’ve been reviewing, that my reasons have changed subtly over the weeks and months; maybe as I’ve become more confident in what I want to say, or more inspired by the artistic quality of the picture, or I’ve simply become more adept at using my camera . Who knows?
Well this is where I’d like your help, as I’d like to canvass your thoughts each week on which is your favourite picture. You can reply through my blog, directly by email or via my social media platforms. And if you’d like to explain why, that will be helpful too.
So over the course of the next 12 weeks I hope to end up with the 12 most liked pictures – are you interested in helping me shape my book?
Here goes then. Week one is from Gospel Oak to Lewisham
This is an exciting day in many ways; not least because I’m returning to a long forgotten passion of photography and I’m armed with a brand new camera. But it comes with a lot of trepidation as I have to re-learn how to blend all the components that make up picture taking. To be honest, my first set of pictures are not that unique, BUT I have made a start.
The walk over Hampstead Heath on what turns out to be a scorcher of a day makes the light very harsh, and I’m pleased with how the auto settings are taking care of the basics for me. But as I approach Kenwood House, the grounds are littered with a carpet of daffodils and bluebells just emerging and spreading their petals to fill the landscape with a mass of colour. The bluebells are just not ready to play their part but sufficiently in abundance to show their intent.
This, my very first picture of the day allows me to get close to nature. I’m lying on the ground, oblivious to others walking past, and I capture this isolated bluebell trying to make its way amid the carpet of blue behind it. I haven’t quite mastered the autofocus, but nevertheless this will always remind me of my very first outing: a new found freedom; and the excitement of rekindling my long forgotten love of taking pictures.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Auto
An easy pic today, simply because of the Welsh connection. This display is of a pink neon sheep which symbolises the shop’s name. It is an interesting experience and one that helps me overcome the feeling of embarrassment whilst taking pictures surrounded by passing shoppers.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ11; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2500; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca
Why a yellow lock? It simply caught my eye as the colour stood out against an otherwise tired and drab lock up garage on a dull day. The picture is taken at the entrance to the garage lock ups on Rockingham Street
But as I took it, I wondered if it somehow symbolised my ‘end of the line’ theme as who knows what’s inside? A lock is definitive in that it states that whatever’s inside it’s at the end of its use: be that daily or permanent. And because of this I’ve adopted the symbol as my social media avatar.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ25; Shutter Speed – 1/80; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google Photo Filter – Auto
This is taken in the car park by Sainsbury’s wandering around a florist’s pop up stall; seems like a regular event though as this was quite a well established stall. Nevertheless, the trader was happy for me to wander around and capture his stall.
This is an amusing shot as it took me a while to realise the florist had ‘painted’ on the black eyes to give the illusion that these are ‘happy smiley’ faces on these succulent, mat-forming alpines. Nevertheless the illusion works as it draws in several shoppers to buy them.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO125; Google Photo Filter – None
This is a view from inside the station looking in a southerly direction at the adjoining building: Griffith House which is one of Tfl’s training centres which was originally built as an electricity substation for the tube network.
The side of the building is covered in this elaborate and colourful “Wrapper” of vitreous enamel cladding created by Jacqueline Poncelet and the variegated station roof edging creates an interesting shadowed feature set against the brighter colours in the background. This is one of those images that as a commuter you may not normally see as you are busy rushing to/from the train…just look up!
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 30mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Alpaca
This is one of many graffiti/artworks on display in Leake Street, also known as the Graffiti Tunnel or the Banksy Tunnel. For those unfamiliar with the area, don’t feel intimidated, but take a walk through the cavernous underground space under Waterloo Station. The street runs from Lower Marsh Street through to York Road where the smell of spray paint lingers in the air and is one of the homes of legal street art in London.
I can guarantee the images change frequently. I’ve chosen this as my picture of the day as a representation of what’s on view here. It’s vibrancy and scale draws me in, but to be honest I could have chosen any of the images I’d captured. I hope it inspires you to go take a look?
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 25mm; Film Speed – ISO3200; Google Photo Filter – Palma
This is a short pedestrian bridge over the Ravensbourne River at Waterway Avenue headed towards the main ring road at Molesworth Avenue. The bright sun casts a dark shadow through the geometric designs of the railings onto the footpath, and creates an interesting mirror image.
Although the original picture is taken in colour, the Vista filter transforms the image into a strong Black and White landscape.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Vista
Almost two years to the date when I set off on the 18th April 2018 with some nervousness, trepidation and a great deal of excitement on an exploration. An exploration in which I didn’t know what I’d find, who I’d meet or what (if anything) I’d learn. And what an amazing two years it’s been!
Having now reached the end of ‘theendoftheline’, I’ve set out in my last blog what my plans are for the future. But before ploughing ahead with those plans, I thought I would write about: what I’ve learnt; explain my motivations; and thank those who have helped and inspired me along the way.
Before doing all that, here’s a small list of the the things I’ve achieved:
I’ve visited 76 ends of the line stations; 3 bonus ‘under construction’ stations; and attended two special events
I’ve travelled across all sixteen Tfl transport modes embracing the underground (11); overground; tramline; Emirates airline; TflRail and the Docklands Light Railway
I’ve travelled the ‘A to Z’ from Abbey Wood to Woolwich Arsenal
I’ve walked over 700 Kilometres; an average of 9 kilometres per station visit
I’ve taken almost 7,000 pictures and shared over 4,000 through links in my weekly blogs, and shared a selection through my Instagram account
My original intention was to bring together three aspects of my work/life experiences over the last 40 years: commuting, photography and digital exposure. I believe I have successfully fulfilled this aim.
Secondly, as I was new to blogging, I wanted to develop my digital skills. I believe I have achieved this through learning how to use and digging a little deeper into several social media tools: WordPress, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google Photos and Bit.ly. I’d no longer call myself a digital virgin.
I was also looking to invite feedback, but this has not been the success I had wished for, so I still have some work to do here.
What’s motivated me?
Rekindling a Passion for Photography
As a photographer, I wanted to and needed to embrace the digital landscape as this was one of the reasons I fell out of love with my hobby over forty years ago. I felt the onset of digital cameras took away the creative element of combining composition, lighting, speed and aperture.
But in conversation with others I’ve learnt to accept that today’s world simply makes a fifth dimension that would otherwise have been carried out in the darkroom more accessible to all: that of photo manipulation. This is where the picture is transformed into a story. Be it through software manipulation or lens filtering, or both.
What I do know is that it’s brought the joy and excitement of photography to millions of people that would otherwise have been left in the dark.
My trusty camera for the two years has been my Canon ES200D using predominantly a Canon EF-S 18-55 mm zoom lens (1:3.5-5.6)), and occasional use of a Canon EF 75-300 mm zoom lens (1:4-5.6). Since the start of the New Year in 2020, these have been replaced by a Sigma 18-200 mm zoom lens (1:3.5-6.3). All lenses are protected by a UVc lens filter.
My shoots over the years have seen me try out techniques and settings using the camera’s software applying different filters. Predominantly I’ve used black & white, grainy black & white, high definition art, and close up settings. Some more successfully than others, but what I do know is that I still have a lot to learn but I feel more confident in applying these settings now than when I started off on the 18th April 2018.
The one thing I absolutely respect through, is to remember the composition, because that’s where the real story lies. As an artform, I continually ask myself ‘what is it I’m trying to say with this picture?’ and as long as I can answer that question, then I’m happy.
Don’t be afraid to explore
One of my late father’s words of wisdom, which has stayed with me all my life is ‘if you don’t ask, you’ll never find out!’ Read that in any way you want, but at the end of the day it’s been one of my life lessons and motivators.
And with this in mind, I resolved not to let a moment pass where I thought there would be a good story to tell or a great photo to capture. This would sometimes manifest itself as an awkward moment or a conversation to be had to capture someone’s emotion, or a moment in time never to be repeated, or even delve down the alley to see what’s there.
Now to follow this through I’d assess the situation as best I could and weigh up the personal risk of doing so, but to my delight I’ve often been rewarded with meeting some colourful characters. Equally, the people I’ve met have been as interested in me and my experiences, or the alleys and corners I’ve explored have yielded some unexpected results.
And I now find that if I ever walk past a scene and ask myself ‘I wonder what if…’, I do a quick u-turn to explore that moment as it’s likely never ever to happen again.
How to keep the costs down without compromising the Quality
My hope was not to spend any money, but where this was unavoidable, to keep it to a bare minimum. I’m not averse to spending money (although close family members may disagree with me), but it has been more about showing how to sustain and develop this hobby without digging too deeply into the pension pot. Let me explain a few things.
Travelling: now as a 60+ London borough resident, I’m entitled to free travel on the majority of transport systems right across the Transport for London (Tfl) network. This includes the underground, overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London Trams with reduced fees on the Emirates air line cable car and River Boat services
Since the incorporation of Tfl Rail and by extension those stations that will make up the Elizabeth Line, their stations are also open to free travel. From the east in Shenfield and Abbey Wood to the west in Heathrow and Reading
I can’t say thank you enough to Tfl who provide this fantastic resource and with it the opportunity to explore
Website management: I’ve adopted WordPress as my platform of choice for which I pay an annual fee of £55 for my domain name and the hosting services
For all other digital tools, I take advantage of the free versions to manage my social network. These include Google: for Mail, Storage, Photos and YouTube; Facebook: for Facebook and Instagram; and Bit.ly for URL management
So all in all, I reckon I only spend between £60-£100 per year. There are however some limitations to what I do, which are mostly self imposed as I decided in my later years at work, and since retiring, not to work on a Windows PC or an Apple Mac.
My device of choice is a Chromebook and thereby I wanted to show how easy it is to exploit today’s cloud services. This does mean I’m limited to the applications I can use as the storage and memory on a Chromebook are limited. BUT that’s my point, and with no exceptions, I’ve not been prevented from doing anything.
Clearly I am not using the finest device based photo editing software that’s available, such as Photoshop, but I do find that the cloud Google Photo service sufficiently helps me transform my pictures by applying filters, allowing me to crop and to individually adjust the lighting, colour and intensity of the pictures. For more creative adjustments, which I rarely do, my current application of choice is befunky.com (but there are so many others out there).
The advantage of using today’s cloud services is that being on the go, I’m able to do most of the things I need to on my Android mobile device although I do tend to review my photos, and write my blog in the comfort and solitude of home. Access to free wifi across London and within the Tfl network is also a bonus as this helps to reduce my dependency on my mobile provider’s roaming data provision.
The free storage of my photos in Google has a limitation in that the files are compressed when being uploaded. By way of example, an original JPG file size of 4.5Mb is reduced to 217Kb; and a RAW file size of 35Mb is reduced to 448Kb. I’ve not yet found that this compromises the quality of my photos, as the largest print size I’ve used is A4 where the quality and integrity is very good. This may, however, be an issue for larger displays, but it’s not one I’ve had to consider just yet.
There are of course other options; I could upload the full file format, or use other cloud storage services which offer free space. Canon and Amazon are two I can think about; there will be many others too. So whilst in the main I rely on free cloud storage, I will always keep the original photo on local removal storage.
But what I’ve set out here works well for me, so if you’re thinking of following in my footsteps, I’d be more than happy to guide you through.
It’s inevitable with so many travel writers in London, there comes a point where we write about similar locations or similar experiences, and over the two years I’ve grown to admire a number of other writers. But the beauty of how we present our material is that we each do so from a different perspective and we each have a Unique Selling Point (USP).
Some do so from a commercial perspective, such as those who rely on tourism for their living; some do so from a historical perspective, some from a rail enthusiast’s perspective and some as hobbyists. What I’ve grown to appreciate is that whilst we are all different, our collective knowledge and experience is far greater than the sum of our individual offerings…and this provides for a wealth of information to those eager to explore and learn about LONDON and beyond.
By way of a public thank you, here’s a roll call of some of the travel writers who’ve inspired me through their stories and insight into how they see life, and London differently.
I set off on the 18th April 2018 with some nervousness, trepidation and a great deal of excitement on an exploration. An exploration in which I didn’t know what I’d find, who I’d meet or what (if anything) I’d learn.
And what an amazing two years it’s been, full of wonderful experiences, meeting new people, enjoying new and colourful locations and artworks, and rekindled a thirst to learn again.
For the last few months, as I started to approach the end of ‘theendoftheline’, I turned my attention to’ What Next?’ I had some ideas, but not the opportunity to make them happen, until now. But before explaining more about these, here are a few of the things I’ll be doing in the next couple of ‘socially distant’ months.
This blog has remained unchanged for a couple of years so I’ve refreshed its look and feel by giving it a new theme. I may also play around with this in the coming months trying out new templates so if there’s one you particularly like, do please let me know.
I’m also crafting a survey in the expectation that I can understand from my readers and followers what you’ve enjoyed; and what you might like to see.
And as it’s my second anniversary, and given that I’m currently unable to travel, I’m going to publish each of my 81 ‘Picture of the Day’ every day from the 18th April for the next 81 days. I’ll do this in a number of ways: I’ll change my featured blog picture daily and I’ll post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I have absolutely enjoyed my travels around London, seeing it in all kinds of weather, and I’ll write another blog shortly as I have many to thank for their kindness, support and inspiration.
Beyond that, there are of course extensions always being considered to the Transport for London (Tfl) network, so I’ll be keeping an eye open for those. Here are a few I know about, but let me know if you’re aware of others:
And of course, let’s not forget the River Boat Service too.
Of the 7,000 or so pictures I’ve taken, I’ve indirectly shared over 4,000 of them through the links in my weekly blogs. And for every visit over the two years, I’ve selected one picture as my ‘Picture of the Day’. However I didn’t include this feature in my blogs until mid-November 2018, so I’m reviewing all my early blogs and updating them to reflect this.
I’m also collating ‘Picture of the Day’ into a book: my working title is ‘Memories’. More on this later in the year as I may ask you to select your favourite picture and why so that I can feature the most popular reader’s picture in my book.
Over the last year I’ve also been compiling my photos into thematic albums. I’ll be writing separate blogs, so watch out for these, featuring: People; Art & Sculpture; Stations; Landscapes; Night Time and others.
Once the travel restrictions have been lifted, I’ll be embarking on a new end of the line plan. One where I’ll be visiting Network Rail’s ‘ends of the line’ within the Tfl travel zones; and travelling on other Network Rail lines as far as I can within the Tfl travel zones. Why these limitations? Because I can still travel for free using my 60+ Oyster Card.
There are 63 stations in total to visit, so I hope that will see me still travelling and writing and taking photos into 2022.
What’s in a Name?
And finally, I’m contemplating a change of name. Whilst ‘theendoftheline’ has served me well, I’m mindful that I’ve not been able to use that name across all the social media platforms I use. My blog and YouTube are the only sites that carry this name. Facebook, Instagram and email accounts are under the name of ‘theendofthetflline’ and for Twitter I use my personal account.
Aldgate is the last of the five terminal Metropolitan stations to visit, a line that changed the face of travelling for Londoners. In 1863, the Metropolitan Line opened the first underground service between Paddington and Farringdon…That’s enough of the history but read here for more details.
I’ve left visiting Aldgate towards the end of my travels as it was here I last worked before retiring almost two years ago. One of my final acts when working with the Government Digital Service (GDS) was to secure a suitable location and manage the transition from our previous residency in Holborn, and this I achieved in 2016. So you see, I have an affinity with the area which I got to know quite well, and I wanted to put as much time behind me before returning and studying the area objectively.
The area is an eclectic and diverse one which merges many cultures and industries and offers a wealth of history, colour and architecture. Here’s my view which takes me into Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Shadwell and down towards the river at Wapping. It’s hard to discern where the boundaries for these areas lie, although I’ve no doubt there’s a map somewhere depicting them. That really isn’t important, but what is interesting and exciting is that wandering as I do, I’m always amazed at some of the sights I see that are either hidden or forgotten. Hidden in the streets are murals and buildings with architectural significance in full sight of everyone, but no one sees them. And forgotten in the sense that their importance, and/or value, are no longer considered relevant. I’ll try and rekindle some of them here.
Serving both the Met and Circle lines, the station is on the edge of The City and in easy reach of main line stations at Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street; so great for commuters. As with all of the Met line, it was created using a ‘cut and over’ method rather than tunnelling, and this can be seen quite well when I’m in the station.
The platforms cuts quite a large arc to accommodate the Circle line trains as they route south westerly to join the District line headed towards Westminster and Victoria, and this is quite noticeable as trains stop at this busy interchange between The City and suburban London to the East.
There’s also a busy terminal bus station directly across the road, thus making the area an excellent commuting hub; and plenty going on to entertain the casual observer too as this lonely figure from across the station suggests. Not quite the Woman in the Window, but maybe there’s a sequel to be written? – the Man in the Window?
And adjacent to the station in Aldgate Square, there’s a coffee shop with an interesting design: it has a fan like roof as if capturing, or even embracing the surrounding office buildings.
Today’s association is maybe with the Old Spitalfields Market, but the area is steeped in historical changes. In the 17th and 18th Centuries, the area was occupied by Irish and Huguenot immigrants who immersed themselves in the silk industry until its demise in the mid 1700’s followed by an influx from the Jewish Community who set up a textile industry here.
Alas, by the Victorian era, Spitalfields was synonymous with deprivation, slum dwellings, criminality and prostitution, and was the scene of a brutal killing of a young woman by the serial killer Jack the Ripper.
During the 20th Century, there was an influx of Bangladeshi immigrants who worked in the textile industry, and made Brick Lane famous as the curry capital of London. And this sculpture by Spitalfields Market in some way aims to reflect the area’s rich history of providing shelter for successive waves of immigrants. This piece is by the Greek sculptor Kalliopi Lemos
Petticoat Lane Marketis an area made up predominantly of Wentworth Street and Middlesex Street and famous for its street stalls selling cheap clothes. But nowadays, as with many markets, equally noted for its food stalls which attracts crowds of near-by office workers each lunch time who come to sample and enjoy the variety of flavours on offer.
Wentworth Street crosses Commercial Street where I find an interesting arch leading into the housing complex through Flower and Dean Walk. The inscription on the arch serves as a reminder of the slum days and efforts by the philanthropist Nathaniel, the 1st Lord Rosthschild, to change the living conditions for the Jewish Community by setting up the Four Percent Industrial Dwelling Company Ltd.
And across the road, there’s a brief glimpse at the cobbled streets of London, but alas now bastardised by the blight of the ever present yellow line.
Whitechapel Gallery, on the HIgh Street, offers an eclectic mix of exhibitions, but I hadn’t realised that there’s a tiny alleyway on its left: Angel Alley. It doesn’t go far but towards the end is an unassuming ‘bookshop’ with this interesting mural on its wall. It’s only now as I research this bookshop I realise its social significance. The Freedom Press has had its place in the (troubled) anarchist movement for over 140 years. This summary is well worth a read, and I now understand that the mural depicts 38 individuals who may have been sympathetic, at one time or another, to the Freedom Press.
Brick Lane:if you have never visited, then put it on your list of places to go. But be warned, if you go on a market day, be prepared to get squashed and pushed around as it’s a hive of like minded folk wandering around gawping at the colours on display. Don’t let that put you off, but if you fancy a more leisurely look at the area…go on a non-market day.
I roam aimlessly admiring the abundance of wall art. In fact there are few walls that haven’t been decorated. Some are clearly artistry and no doubt have been commissioned or painted with permission, and some are random acts of graffitti, but to be honest, not out of place. Here’s a sample of some of my finds whilst poking my nose into discrete alleys. I can guarantee, if you go visit, you’ll find your own favourites.
My wanderings take me in and out of several side streets where I stumble across Links Yard. What was once probably a remnant of the textile industry, the abandoned workshops have been craftily redeveloped as part of a wider community effort to regenerate the Brick Lane area by the Spitalfields Small Business Association.
I eventually end up at the new Shoreditch Overground station, in awe of the wealth of artistic talent that surrounds the area. But there are still reminders of modern day poverty and homelessness; as I walk under the railway arches, there’s at least one homeless woman who’s clearly made this place her own.
Whitechapel’s heart is Whitechapel High Street, extending further east into Whitechapel Road forming part of the A11 road. In the past this was the initial part of the Roman road between the City of London and Colchester, exiting the city at Aldgate, but today’s modern day travelling is no doubt significantly different; as indeed is the City’s skyline.
And although the main road was not squalid, the surrounding side streets had very much evolved into classic Dickensian with problems of poverty, overcrowding and deprivation during the Victorian era. Thus, Temperance, Salvation and Alms can be found aplenty along Whitechapel Road; being born out of the determination of several individuals to improve the plight of the poor and homeless in the East End of London.
Trinity Green, a small conclave of Almshouses along the Whitechapel Road were built by the Corporation of Trinity House on ground given by Captain Henry Mudd for mariners. If you pass, look up at the roof line of the gatehouses where you’ll see these ships.
Next door is the Tower Hamlets Mission set up by Frederick Charrington, the son and heir of the brewing empire, in the late 19th Century.
And of course, no reference to the East End is complete without a mention to the 19th Century work of the Christian Revival Society set up nearby by William Booth and his wife Catherine. Now known as the Salvation Army. Statues of the two stand proudly outside the Almshouses and Mission.
On the south side of the road, and opposite Whitechapel underground station is the renowned Royal London Hospital. Now a modern hospital standing just behind the original, demolished, brick building. It’s facade still erect, and I think this view of the new through the old is quite striking.
Heading south from Whitechapel HIgh Street, I meander through Shadwell, and stumble upon Watney Street Market; one of many localised markets throughout the borough of Tower Hamlets. The market offers a cut through from the main A13 Commercial Road to Shadwell Overground station, and it’s a busy market day offering a glimpse of the borough’s diverse range of residents. At the southern end of the market there’s a collection of large flat slabs set in a straight line upon which I’m invited to sit on. And as I do, I see there’s a historical theme engraved on them, with references to the area’s shady past. If anyone has any knowledge of these slabs, please drop me a line.
Onward into Cable Street, the street’s name states simply what its purpose was; that of a straight path along which hemp ropes were twisted into ships’ cables. I have some familiarity with such a place name as in my home town of Aberystwyth, I lived near ‘Rope Walk’ which has a similar historical origin. Walking along to the entrance to St George’s Gardens and I find I’m immersed, through a very large mural, in the story of the Battle of Cable Street. 4th October 1936 saw a hand to hand battle between the fascist supporters of Oswald Mosley and local residents and the Metropolitan Police. Go take a look, as both the mural and the story are well worth seeing and reading about.
Leaving Shadwell through St George’s Gardens, and before crossing The Highway heading into Wapping, I’m acquainted with former residents through their memorials, epitaphs and gravestones. Prominence is given to Henry Raine; a wealthy man who built a school for poor children. But my attention is piqued by the gravestone of Mr Alexander Wyle (?) who died on the 4th December 1741 and whose remains are buried here.
Synonymous with the maritime trade, the area is famed for its wharves, docks and marine trades. The area was badly affected in the Second World War blitz, and it further declined into dereliction as a consequence of the post war closure of the docks.
The area’s fortunes changed during the 1980’s when redevelopment and regeneration saw many of the empty wharf buildings converted into fashionable riverside apartments. A trend that has since been adopted right along the Thames shoreline.
I pass Tobacco Dock, a destination I’d seen heavily advertised over the years as I drove through The Highway, so I was keen to see what’s here. But as I arrive, I’m disappointed as it’s a cordoned off events centre. There are no events today, so it has a derelict feel to it, although there’s some maritime interest as I explore the two ships moored in the dry docks in front of the centre. The docks name gives a clue to its purpose in its heyday.
A little further down, there’s a small parade of shops and my attention is drawn to P&J Bakers. This is partly because of its delightful window display of home baked breads and cakes, and partly because of the intriguing black metal doors on the side and rear of the bakery. At a guess, they may have been old oven doors for the bakery but when I asked inside, no one was able to give me an explanation of their history. Maybe you do…drop me a line.
Approaching Wapping HIgh Street, the overground station is directly ahead and as I turn right, I’m confronted with an array of repurposed Wharves. They include Gun Wharf, King Henry’s Wharf, Phoenix Wharf, St John’s Wharf, Aberdeen Wharf, Pierhead Wharf and Oliver’s Wharf: all within 400 meters of each other.
The walk is somewhat unexciting, until I realise the real gem is when I explore the little alleyways in between the wharves which lead to the water’s edge and I discover the Watermen’s stairs. These were used historically as access points to ferry people along and across the Thames, or even to bring ashore the cargo for ships moored in the Thames. The stairs would provide access to the ferry boats at high tide and at low tide the ferry boats would use the adjoining causeways.
This helpful guide lists all the stairs along the Thames (for Wapping, go to page 31). Some of the stairs are in good condition and others less so, even if you can access them through locked gates.
The ones I explore are Wapping Dock Stairs, King Henry’s Stairs and I access the shoreline down Wapping Old Stairs where I meet Norman, a mudlarker. He explains that mudlarking requires a permit which grants permission to dig up to 7.5 cms beneath the surface (3” in imperial measurement), and after three years you can apply for a permit to dig deeper. He proudly shows me his find of the day, and along with another mudlarker who happens along, they determine it may well be a vintage lace bobbin.
A little further along the shoreline, I meet Christopher, a like minded photographer with whom I share my ‘endoftheline’ story and reminisce about the early days of black and white film photography. Here is one of Christopher’s photos, which he has kindly agreed that I can publish. This one is taken under Oliver’s Wharf looking west towards Wapping Old Stairs.
Wapping is the home for the Metropolitan Police Marine Unit and Boatyard, and I spot a couple resting their feet in Waterside Gardens, which sits in between the two buildings. They seem to be enjoying the riverside view of working and pleasure boats moving up and down stream.
And no riverside is complete without a pub, and it’s at the nearby Captain Kidd I meet a group of gentlemen enjoying the view from the open terrace. They are all from the Greater Anglia Control Centre in Romford enjoying a social afternoon sampling the local ale and taking in the views.
Returning to the City
I’m back on familiar ground now as I approach St Katherine’s Dock. I’ve covered these docks in an earlier blog, but there’s an interesting side note about the nearby Ornamental Canal, which is now a popular route for joggers, keep fit enthusiasts and serious runners alike. Did you know that it was once a location for the filming for the 1999 James Bond film ‘The World Is Not Enough’?
My travels around Aldgate come to an end as I reflect on how two towering Grade II listed buildings have been sympathetically restored. The first in Back Church Lane, within earshot of the mainline rail service into Fenchurch Street, is Wool House. No guesses for working out its original purpose in the Victorian era, but now it’s a multi-tenanted office and residential space. I walk around the building and count 12 hoisting stations, an indication of how busy it would have been at the height of the wool trade in London. But here’s an interesting fact – the second series of the BBC television series, Dragon’s Den was filmed here.
The second is of the HULT International Business School sitting on the corner of Commercial Road and White Church Lane and directly opposite the home of The Worshipful Company of Gunmakers. This Grade II listed building was once the St George’s Brewery, Whitechapel, but there’s very little information to be found other than this architect’s journal.
Time for home to rest my weary legs…
Picture of the Day
This picture was taken in the food market in Goulston Street, just off Wentworth Street, and is part of a series studying lunch-time office workers deciding on their food choice of the day. The street is lined with open air pop-up food stalls, and their menus and price guide erected high up on their stalls so that potential customers can see what’s on offer whilst they move around the crowds.
I’m standing amidst the crowds and slightly elevated when taking this shot, and I notice that those queuing to be served are all studying the menu board intently, oblivious to their surroundings. Presenting this in black & white helps to strengthen the observation, and I believe it also helps to focus attention on the three main subject’s gaze. The individual in the centrepiece has a simple ruggedness to him which playfully offsets the more traditional office gent on the right.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google filter – Vista
I return to Uxbridge today, this time to complete the final leg of the Piccadilly line’s ‘end of the line’. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I thought I had covered the town pretty well on my first visit, but…
When I was here earlier in the summer, I spent some time exploring the station so I decided to walk through this time and head for the town centre instead. Because of this though, I did stop at other stations on the line as my day comes to an end, so read on and see where else I have been.
The Town Centre
So who knew Uxbridge has a runway? Well in truth it doesn’t, but this view from the top of the Cedars Car Park made me think ‘what if?’. It’s a view looking north easterly from the top floor of the empty car park and the empty blue sky combines nicely with the parallel lines on the surface giving the impression that it’s a runway.
At the north end of the High Street, it’s market day so I have a chance to do some people watching, and this shot of workmen at rest eating their lunch outside the Pavilions shopping centre catches my eye. Their high vis jackets complementing their soft drink bottle colouring quite nicely.
The shopping centre itself is a little old and tired, it’s an open style market place with fixed and temporary stalls in the main square. But in fairness, the centre has made some effort to spruce the place up as this view suggests. It’s of the overhead walkways that joins the car park to a central lift shaft in the middle of the market area; it’s an interesting ‘upside down’ view from the reflective mirrors on the underside of the walkways.
At the southern end of the High Street is the old Regal Cinema proudly showing off its art deco exterior. It’s now a nightclub and despite a multi-million renovation over 10 years ago, I think sadly its glory days as a cinema are long gone.
Nearby, and returning to the aeronautical theme of earlier, I cross the main road to the land which was once the proud home of RAF Uxbridge and Hillingdon House. It’s now another of London’s fashionable property developments, this one by St Modwen, and as I walk outside the building site I come to the end of one of the buildings. This one is a three storey building with doors leading nowhere, but what makes the picture more interesting is that the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and casts this majestic tree shadow.
Before leaving town, I walk through Uxbridge’s new Intu shopping centre, where there’s a display showing that the town is the birthplace of the once infamous Christine Keeler. For those of you born after the 1960’s, look her up; and apparently the chair on which she sat on for the renowned photo-shoot in 1963 is now on show in the V&A Museum.
The canal is less than half a kilometre from the town centre, so what better way to spend part of the day than walking canal side for a mile or so with the sun shining and colourful river boats for company. My starting point is at Uxbridge Lock (Lock No 88)
I follow the path under The Swan and Bottle Bridge (no 185) and over The Bell Punch Footbridge (no 185A) where for part of my walk, I’m accompanied by a swan and and her ten signets. She keeps a wary eye on me as I walk by, but I wonder where the dad is as there’s no sign of him.
The path takes me under The Dolphin Bridge (no 186) and I finally leave the canal at Gas Works Bridge (no 187). By the way, all bridges and locks are numbered across the British Waterways, so next time you’re walking under/over one, look out for the numbered plate. The following is a small collection of the colourful views from beside the river
Out of Uxbridge
Today’s end of the line visit is courtesy of the Piccadilly line, but to be honest it’s a shared line with the Metropolitan line from Rayners Lane where the final seven stops are served by the same track. The Piccadilly line out to Uxbridge started life as the District line but only as far as South Harrow when in 1910 the Uxbridge extension was completed. Its conversion to the Piccadilly line took place in 1933.
Hillingdon – this is the first station out of Uxbridge and its full name is Hillingdon (Swakeleys) as evidenced on its roundel. Why? Well I can only presume it’s a reference to the once Manor of Swakeleys, and now Swakeleys House, which is only a short distance from the station.
Hillingdon is a bit of a pass through location, but its position right on the A40 Western Avenue makes it an ideal spot for commuters. My visit here is somewhat sobering as I’m reminded right outside the station of the frailty of life as I read the messages laid in tribute to one of London’s most recent fatal stabbings. Young Tashan Daniel, on his way to watch Arsenal play, football at The Emirates Stadium, was attacked on the station and fatally wounded. My thoughts go out to his family and those affected by this event.
Mystery Station – my final picture is of Labyrinth maze number 32/270 from Mark Wallinger’s collection which was commissioned by Transport for London (Tfl) to commemorate 150 years of the London Underground. Post a message to let me know where I ended my day’s journey.
Picture of the Day
This is my first picture of the day taken inside the flight of stairs leading to the top of Cedars Car Park from High Street above Tesco. I’m drawn in by the red and green colouring of the stairwell I see from the street so I decide to traverse the stairwell, and my curiosity to see Uxbridge town centre from the rooftop is piqued.
It’s the type of stair well you’d rather not go into as it smells of urine; although I have to say it was relatively clean. I had no expectation of finding anything of interest but after walking up the first flight of stairs, this image is staring back at me.
I’m intrigued by the graffitti as its socio/political statement is clearly directed at the Town’s Member of Parliament who is also the current (at the time of writing) Prime Minister. The ‘statement’ raises the question in my mind as to whether the ‘artist’ is dyslexic, or that they have decided out of respect not to spell the swear word in full. But amusingly they are quite content to bedaub a publicly accessible wall in a somewhat hidden position where only a few passers by will see it.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 53mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google filter effect – Auto
Today’s story is a relatively short one and is my penultimate trip on the Metropolitan line. This time to its end at Watford, and this story complements my visit to Watford Junction earlier in the year. My focus is on the north and west of Watford as this is where the station is located; about a mile out of the town centre.
The station is in an odd location, but its history explains why. In essence, in the early 20th Century the railway line enticed Londoners with its ‘Metro-land’ advertising campaign promoting the new railway as an opportunity to live in a rural location with easy transport to central London. And although it wasn’t intended to be the terminal station, wars, financial challenges and local authority objections resulted in no further development of the line.
The station itself is fairly unexciting, with one central walkway servicing two platforms. Only half of the platform is covered providing shelter from the elements, but the supporting ironmongery nicely displays the met line colouring.
On exiting the station after the morning peak, it feels like a calm suburban sun-washed peaceful day. There are few people about, other than mums with their pushchairs headed for the park through one of it’s two main entrances nearby.
This park has recently been voted as one of the top 10 parks in the UK and I can see why as it’s a place offering a delightful mix of entertainment for the passive and active visitor. It’s heritage trail takes me on a tour explaining the history of the now demolished Cassiobury House, and the tree lined avenues of what was once the main carriageway, glimmer with iridescent sunshine through the magnificent green canopy overhead.
As I walk past the ‘Hub’ and play areas, children are clearly enjoying the attractively developed paddling and splash pools. And as I walk on, I suddenly find I’m singing along to the tune of ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round’ as a mum with two kids on bicycles ride past. I smile as I can’t get the tune out of my head as I follow the path towards a rustic bridge which crosses the River Gade, with dogs and children paddling in the pools on either side.
Just off the path, some carefully placed logs and rocks span the river which entices many a child to cross. Some achieve their goal of getting to the other side without wet feet more successfully than others, and I laugh with them as their parents cross and fail to achieve this. I wait my turn and cross successfully and I explore the leafy undergrowth on the other side.
There are remnants of river management of days gone by alongside a newer weir which becomes the focal point for the trail. I find though I have to return across the stepping stones as the only way to get back….I do so with both feet dry.
A short hop from the weir, and I’m standing by the Grand Union Canal and chat with a couple on route from Rugby to Harefield in their narrow boat. A journey that has taken them over a week so far to reach the Ironbridge Lock (no. 77) that takes them under Cassiobury Park Bridge (no. 167) where several onlookers enjoy the spectacle. The effort of opening the lock is a well practised event, and I’m amazed at the skill of the pilot steering the narrow boat through the bottom gates as only one is opened – there is no room to squeeze anything else through, but the narrow boat is steered through masterfully.
My picture of the day is taken here too, so read about it below.
I feel a visit to Watford wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Football Club, so I retrace my steps through the park, into town and out again along Vicarage Road. It’s not a match day, so the streets are relatively quiet and as I pass the cemetery on my right I see the stadium looming up ahead on the left.
There’s a homage to Graham Taylor on the corner outside the Hornets Shop and the Elton John stand is proudly emblazoned on the left where I take this shot. The image nicely demonstrates the effect of the triple exposure when taking a ‘vivid’ shot with the pedestrian, I suspect an employee returning with his lunch, walking through.
Walking around the stadium, it has a clinical exterior, with the building being encased in matt black cladding, with splashes of colour here and there representing the team’s home colours of gold, black and red: a powerful effect.
Next door is the hospital which is a large sprawling site made up of a variety of early and late 20th Century buildings. As with all hospitals of a similar style, you can tell where the boiler room is, as in this case, you can’t ignore the towering chimneys.
Equally evident is the poor state of some of the buildings, which is somewhat symptomatic of a lack of building investment. This image undermines the great work carried out by the NHS, and it doesn’t help that it’s directly on the main road by the main entrance so casual visitors to the hospital may well perceive a false impression of the hospital’s overall service.
Picture of the Day
This is Cassiobury Park Bridge (No. 167) besides Ironbridge Lock (No. 77) on the Grand Union Canal as it flows through Cassiobury Park. After seeing a narrow boat through the lock, I wander around it and under the bridge and notice the sunlight shimmering off the canal surface iridescently onto the underside of the bridge.
I’ve taken this shot using a vivid art effect on the camera, and in post production, I’ve applied the green Alpaca filter from Google Photos. The effect is quite mesmerising, particularly with the water reflection continuously changing its display on the underside of the bridge. The combined effect not only saturates the greens, but adds a sparkle to the story as your eyes are drawn to the rustic lock gates..
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 36mm; Film Speed – ISO640; Google filter effect – Alpaca; Camera effect – HDR art vivid
Today’s a creative day shooting predominantly in Black & White once I’d finished exploring the main station area; I’ll explain why a little later. But first, it’s to the end of the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines at Uxbridge, the journey takes me almost from one end of the Metropolitan line at Liverpool Street to Uxbridge. I had thought maybe travelling to Aldgate (one stop) in the opposite direction to lay claim to a complete end to end journey – but I didn’t.
The station has three platforms with a two level concrete canopy. The higher level over the middle platform which serves the Metropolitan line, and a lower canopy over the outer platforms serving the Piccadilly line. This maybe because the Metropolitan line trains are taller than the Piccadilly line trains, but I’ve no evidence to substantiate this.
I didn’t know this, but until the mid 1930’s, the station was served by the District line, but the service was taken over by the Piccadilly line which now serves as the main artery from Ealing Broadway.
The concrete canopy extends from the platforms over the booking hall which is overlooked by colourful stained glass representing the area’s association with the counties of Middlesex and Buckinghamshire before the creation of the London Borough of Hillingdon. You can’t see the stained glass from the front, but adorning the entrance from the outside are a pair of winged wheels in an art deco style.
On the north eastern approach to the station, there are large sidings, empty at the time of my visit, presumably for the overnight storage of trains at the end of the day. As an aside, getting to the station was trouble free, but my journey back was blighted by a points failure at Ickenham which affected the Piccadilly trains but thankfully the Metropolitan line had a reduced service allowing me to travel as far as Rayners Lane where I could pick up the limited Piccadilly line service.
The town centre is largely pedestrianised dominated by the railway and bus station at one end, and Hillingdon Council offices at the other end. The council offices are in the main, a collection of brick monstrosities – functional but soulless, featureless and uninviting.
The town centre is a mix of local independent shops and the obvious high street stores, all overlooked by two shopping centres: the more modern Intu Centre and a classic 60’s style concrete Pavilions centre. Both centres host the standard larger retail stores and both are served by large car parks which are accessed via the ring road surrounding the town centre.
Walking around the town, I find few things of interest, although this cutting from the Intu centre to the High Street provides a colourful interlude. And on the outskirts, I see this wall mural in homage to a local landowner, Kate Fassnidge, who bequeathed the park land now known as Fassnidge Park to the District Council.
I take a walk through the park, and see many doing the same and enjoying the shade under the trees as they eat their lunch. The Fray’s River runs through to the adjoining Rockingham recreation ground serving as a conduit for the local ducks and swans. The birds are clustered around an elderly lady feeding them on the river bank by the bridge at Rockingham Road.
A study in Black & White
By this point, I realise I’ve taken very few pictures and I’m starting to think about how best to represent my visit to Uxbridge. The overarching architectural feature is concrete and brickwork, and as I return to the town, I find I’m at the car park entrance of The Pavilions shopping centre looking up at the footbridge that allows pedestrians to access from the other side of the ring road at Oxford Road.
I have an idea: One of my aims in following this ‘end of the line’ journey is to fall back in love with digital photography, and to this end with my current camera. I decide to set a filter on my camera to ‘Grainy B/W’, and leave it in this setting mode for the rest of the day. And as I do, I find I’m transported back to the early 1970’s, a time when I used to develop my own pictures using B&W film.
Around the back of the shopping centre, I spot a large wooden clad shed. It turns out to be a local taxi firm, and I’m intrigued by its character which stands out so well with its graininess accentuated in black and white.
Through a little alleyway, I enter Windsor Street where I find a parade of small beauty and health related businesses and this is where I meet Reez, Rosh and Graeme. You see, as I pass Reez the Barbers, I’m drawn to the scene of two barbers meticulously tending a customer’s beard as they trim it. As they are right by the front door I stop to admire the precision with which Reez and Rosh are operating and chat to them and Graeme, their customer who are all kind enough to allow me to take some pictures.
Around the corner is the Charter Building. Once the headquarters of Coca Cola, it has now been refurbished into a fashionable workspace, a growing concept across the city where businesses can rent flexible workspace as their businesses grow. As I explore inside the building, I notice some similarities with The Whitechapel Building in Aldgate, where I last worked for the Government Digital Service. I chat with Tigi and Tehlia, the building receptionists who give me permission to take some internal photos.
I start following a sign for the Battle of Britain Bunker and a half hour later I arrive at my destination to find out two things: I’d just walked three sides of a square to get here as I had in fact followed the road signs instead of a shortcut footpath. And although the venue was open, it has just closed its admissions for the day. Argh! But not to worry as I’ll visit again on my return to Uxbridge. There’s enough outside interest to explore before heading back to the station through Dowding Park.
Picture of the Day
I spent most of the day with my camera set in Black & White mode, and this picture comes from that collection. The graininess I’ve applied to this picture adds a particular edge to it which I think works well. I’m standing on the footbridge over the Oxford Road leading to the car park entrance to The Pavilions shopping centre.
The concrete and graffiti stand out and whilst I’m trying to get the right lighting effect, there’s an elderly gent walking down the ramp trying to avoid being in the picture. I respect his desire for anonymity and leave him to walk out of sight, but think that the photo would be better with someone in it.
I move onto the lower part of the ramp looking up. With the sun casting strong shadows, I line up the metal handrail on the right hand side so that my eye is drawn to the graffiti on the end wall. And as I’m crouched low, trying to emphasise the rising ramp, I wait for someone to walk into the shot. This gentleman obliges, unaware of my presence, apparently distracted by his mobile conversation – thank you.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 51mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Eiffel
Geographically, I believe this end of the Metropolitan line is the most northerly of all the Tfl termini at grid reference 51°42’18.9″N 0°36’39.9″W. Other contenders are Cheshunt and Epping but Chesham just pips them by a whisker.
The journey north is a pleasant one and as the train leaves the London boundary, it meanders through Hertfordshire and into Buckinghamshire passing through Chorleywood and Chalfont & Latimer before reaching the end into what I can best describe as a model station. I’m taken back to a train set of my youth with model buildings glued together from Airfix kits and everything is beautifully manicured and cared for.
The station is very idyllic, proudly displaying its well tendered garden, and the station retains the ambience of the glorious railway days of steam. The signal box now a decorative piece, no longer working the leavers to change the points or signals which are now controlled by modern electronics.
Chesham is a delightfully quaint market town, and quintessentially English, and Chesham Town Council has done much to promote these qualities. Outside the Town Hall there’s a brief historical display, part of which reads ‘…In 1066 Chesham was worth precisely 70 shillings and was one of the largest parishes in the British Isles. It was one of the first places to record its population’s births, marriages and deaths and in 1257 the Earl of Oxford, as Lord of the Manor, was granted a charter to hold a weekly market and a three day fair in town…’
The main High Street, now pedestrianised, hosts a mix of shops, both national chain and many local independents, and much has been done to add colour to the town centre through many floral displays.
The High Street also holds some surprises as there are cut-throughs to the ring road, which if you explore, reveal a myriad of small independent retailers and coffee shops. Although there is curiously one entrance I found which no longer has an open door.
Half way down the High Street stands this former coaching house where I meet Jay, the co-owner of Brothers BBQ & Grill. Jay is an enthusiastic young chef who explains he has recently taken over the catering at the pub and welcomes me into the second floor of the pub to show off his domain.
The pub is very much an ‘olde worlde’ beamed two storied building with creaky floorboards and paraphernalia of days gone by to create an ‘aged’ feel to the building, And the second floor has a ‘play room’ style with games to entertain all ages. Jay also introduces me to Jim, the landlord, who has just opened up and already serving his morning regulars. Nevertheless he is happy to spend a little time welcoming me into the pub and happy for me to take a series of pictures.
He’s also keen to share the story behind the ‘Trooper’ ale which sits dominantly at the bar and explains it was created by Iron Maiden and handcrafted by the Robinsons brewery in Cheshire. Although there is a slight difference of opinion with the brewery website which says it was ‘inspired by Iron Maiden’. Semantics eh!? Jim explains that one of the band members, Clive Burr the drummer I believe, also drank in the pub before his untimely death.
The surrounding area
A few minutes from the High Street, and I’m wandering around the back streets and enjoying the varied architecture such an historical market town has to offer: from traditional whitewashed cottages in Germain Street to The Bury, a Grade II listed building. This was once the Country house built for William Lowndes (1652-1724) who was Secretary to the Treasury in the reign of Queen Anne. The elaborate building is now a collection of offices and private businesses.
St Mary’s church sits proudly in its own grounds adjacent to The Bury and there’s an arched door through the estate grounds into the churchyard, no doubt a private route used by William Lowndes and his family. The church sits prominently over the town and adjacent to Lowndes Park, a large open park with pond used by the community for relaxation, reflection and entertainment.
Heading back into town I cut through an underpass which has been transformed by murals ‘inspired by the Chilterns, and created by the young people of the Chilterns’. As I admire the colours of their artwork, I stop and talk with Adel, a local resident, who’s passing through the underpass and we share our mutual admiration of this work. too
Flora & fauna
I’ve touched on the town’s floral displays, but there are also colourful gardens and allotments too. The park’s flowers and wildlife also help to bring the town alive and here’s a selection of some of the colours I’ve enjoyed whilst here – thank you Chesham
Picture of the Day
This picture is taken in an underpass to the main road, just by the Library. The underpass has a sequence of children’s murals on its walls; placed there no doubt to brighten up a depressing cut through. I’ve kept the briefest of reference to these murals in the picture on the left hand side, by way of helping to put the picture in context. The steps are pretty uninspiring but I was drawn to the symmetry and colour of the yellow handrails and the somewhat leaf strewn stairs. I had a vision however that this could look striking in black and white.
I’d taken a few shots waiting for passers by to leave the area as I wanted a ‘clean shot’, so I had a few in the bag with the settings just right. Then I decided it might make for a better story by including someone on the steps and I saw this person just coming into view, I quickly captured her walking into frame. I didn’t want a full blown shot as I think it would have focused attention away from the object; that is of a surprise waiting around the corner.
I’ve applied a Google Photos ‘Vista’ filter to create a harsh and grainy black & white effect which I think gives the picture some depth. And curiously though, and this is a secondary feature, if you look closely at the central handrail and the joining ‘T’ metalwork, they look like a parade of faces in their own right, maybe guarding those walking through or the mural itself?!
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO2000; Google Photo Filter – Vista
Amersham sits as a terminus on the North Western end of the Metropolitan line, very much in the fold of Buckinghamshire, and shares its station with Chiltern Railways with services running through to the West Midlands. I’d not been to Amersham before so I had little expectations, although I have vague childhood recollections of visiting family in nearby Little Chalfont many many years ago.
I also had an ulterior motive for visiting the town as I had arranged to meet Darren, a former work colleague who lives nearby, so plans to meet in one of the local hostelries seemed appropriate.
As the journey along the Metropolitan line passes en route through Wembley, Harrow and Pinner, the surrounding landscape quickly changes from urban to suburban and the Wembley Stadium arch soon fades into the distance, and as I arrive in Amersham, it’s very much a rural setting. Some prior preparation helped me to understand that Amersham is a town of two parts but what I hadn’t appreciated was that they are separated by a significant hill…just as well it stayed dry.
On exiting the station, I arrive at the new town which grew in response to the arrival of the station late in the 19th Century. The town has a rectangular shape with shops dominating two and a half sides, and the purpose built civic amenities dominating a larger part of the remainder.
My route was up Station Road, along Chesham Road and into Woodside Road as far as St John’s Methodist Church. Across the road is the Amersham branch of the Royal British Legion where I chat with Danny, a young gentleman who’s tidying up the grass verge and poppy display outside the Legion Hall in preparation for Armistice Day on Sunday. He explained his father, who is a committee member is out and about in the town selling poppies.
I return along the same route heading for the Old Town, and later on returning to the new town I make my way to the civic centre where I find the council offices, library, police station, law courts and Leisure Centre. However from both my tours around the town, I find little of architectural interest. Don’t get me wrong, this is a busy town with a blended mix of independent shops, charity shops, high street names and coffee/eateries, but I felt it was a little bland with only modest features: I expected more from the Old Town though.
Amersham Old Town
Heading for the old Town, there are two main roads; I choose Rectory Hill, a minor B Road with no footpath, so I tread carefully with Parsonage Wood to my left, which I later glean has several paths running through it so my passage to the Old Town could have been different. Nevertheless I still enjoy the splendour of the autumnal colours on display.
As I descend the hill, the old worldly charm and quaintness of this Old Market Town can be seen through the rooftops and my expectations aren’t disappointed as I browse through Rectory Lane and Church Street, poking my nose into some sympathetically redeveloped buildings at the former Weller’s Brewery (now Badminton Court) and Flint Barn Court (both now offices) and stroll around the grounds of St Mary’s Church.
Into the High Street, and I couldn’t miss the Old Market Hall which dominates the town centre with its Doomsday Book references helping to highlight the town’s age. Close by is the Museum but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to go in and enjoy their displays, but I’m drawn to explore The Broadway, Whielden Street, The Platt, and in the west as far as Mill Lane. The town is full of character with several coaching houses having survived as fashionable hotels, and other coach buildings having been converted into private dwelling but still keeping the coaching house characteristics.
My admiration is temporarily interrupted with a lunch interlude at the Elephant & Castle where I meet Darren for a bite to eat and of course an opportunity to sample the local ale. We discuss many things, but most importantly where and when to meet up next for a Christmas drink. With arrangements made, we say farewell and I continue with my Old Amersham tour before returning to the station via the appropriately named, but steep, Station Road.
Since 2009 (and probably before then), the Amersham community throughout has prided itself in creating interesting floral displays. So much so that their entries in Britain’s nationwide gardening competition, Britain in Bloom, has seen them achieve annual accolades from Regional Town Winner, to Silver Gilt recipients and in 2009 and since 2014, they’ve been the recipients of a Gold Award within the Thames and Chilterns Region. (recently announced by the RHS 14/11/2018, Amersham have won another Gold award for 2018).
Flower tubs and roundabouts awash with various displays and colours and the impressive Memorial Garden in Old Amersham is a ‘must see’ floral exhibitions. Have a look at the stunning video on their Facebook Page which captures the WW1 Commemoration display.
Some of my pictures which follow try to capture the essence, the effort and the creativity of all the volunteers involved in these creations.
Thank you Amersham for a snapshot into your community…
Picture of the Day
A few days before Armistice Day 2018, Amersham Old Town has excelled itself with an impressive WW1 Commemoration display as part of this year’s Britain in Bloom entry. This picture is taken within the Memorial Gardens and is one of many I could have picked for today’s PIcture of the Day.
This one, I believe, epitomises the scale, grandeur and colour of the town’s display with the large scale bi-plane models elevated in formation showing off a combination of design and gardening skills. Despite it being a drizzly day, which dampens the garden’s colour palette, there’s a hint of sunlight eeking through the low cloud base helping to lift the greenery.
Despite the weather conditions, there are several interested people walking through and enjoying the display. However, I’ve waited for them to pass as I didn’t want them to be a distraction from the bi-planes which I feel are the centrepiece of the picture.
Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO6400; Google Photo Filter – None