London 1977 (1)

Some time last year I started putting up a few of the pictures I had taken in London in 1976-8 on Facebook in occasional posts, and now I’m doing the same with pictures taken in 1979. But Facebook posts seem to disappear without trace – and many of my friends don’t see most of them in any case.

So I’ve decided to post some digests of these posts, perhaps half a dozen images at a time, along with the comments I wrote about them on FB. All of the pictures (and more) are in my London Pictures web site, and eventually I hope to add the comments there too, but that is considerably more time-consuming and will have to wait for some time.

There are also some earlier pictures  on the web site that I’ve not written about – and if you have any questions about those or any of the other of my London pictures feel free to ask them here.


London 1977 (1)

Click on any image to go to the web page with a slightly larger picture.

Ionic Temple, lake and obelisk, Chiswick House Gardens, Chiswick, 1977
10c103: Hounslow, garden, urn, lake, pond, temple, obelisk, pre-Victorian

Chiswick House Gardens is one of London’s less well known parks, but one of the most interesting. I went there occasionally with my family, and we used to take photography classes there, at least until we lost a student. Actually we usually lost students on photography trips, at least in later years when they would decide to go clubbing rather than travel back with us. But this was one of the first times, and we did get rather worried, and later made a complaint to the police who had grabbed him for running across the park when he realised he was late and was trying to catch up with us, and kept him locked in the police station without allowing him to contact anyone. Apparently he kept telling them they could check with the college but they didn’t.

As usual on such outings I took a few pictures myself, as well as dispensing advice to those who sought it and some who didn’t. The one drawback of Chiswick House Gardens was that it was too far to the nearest pub, where on some such occasions my colleague and I would retire at lunch.

If you don’t know the park it is worth a visit. Bill Brandt took a couple of memorable pictures there and Grade I listed Chiswick House is one of the finest examples of Neo-Palladian architecture in the country and the gardens were created by William Kent. I’ve never made a really good picture there!

Kew Bridge Engines, Brentford, 1977
I10d201: Hounslow, pump, engine, waterworks, steam, Victorian

Although I’d been through Brentford many times as a child, usually on the top deck of a bus crawling through the High St, often on the way for a family outing to Kew Gardens (when it was still a penny to get in) I don’t remember the pumping station – we would have sat if possible on the other side of the bus to view the much more interesting gas works, and be getting ready to get off at Kew Bridge by the time we passed Green Dragon Lane, though I’m sure the name would have greatly appealed to us.

A few years before my visit the site had been taken over from the Metropolitan Water Board by a museum trust, and they had completed the restoration of one of the giant steam engines only a couple of years before I went there on a family visit (I doubt if our son, then around 9 months, appreciated it greatly, though he did our later visits.) The Boulton and Watt engine, the oldest working waterworks beam engine in the world, was the baby on the site, with a cylinder diameter of only 64 inches (161 cm) but impressive in steam, while its two larger companions at 90 and 100 inches were more photogenic – and allowed almost unfettered access.

It was on this trip that I first came across the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society (GLIAS) which had been formed a few years earlier, picking up a leaflet and joining – and I’m still a member. Later in 1977 I returned to the pumping station to take part in a photographic competition, and a few years later we had a birthday party there for one of my sons.

It’s now a few years since I last visited the London Museum of Water and Steam, and by then it was a much more professional museum rather than the enthusiasts paradise of those early visits, but still remarkably impressive, and if rather more expensive than in the old days still seemed excellent value.

Kew Bridge Engines, Brentford, 1977
10d704: Hounslow, pump, engine, waterworks, steam, Victorian

Another picture from the museum at Kew.

Pictures from this museum are the largest single group in what became my most successful early web site, written for me around 20 years later by the small baby in a buggy who we took there in 1977,  London’s Industrial Heritage.

Chiswick House, Chiswick, 1977
10e404: Hounslow, house, gate, Palladian, pre-Victorian

I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a slight lean in my pictures which somehow have never looked right in the viewfinder if things are objectively level or vertical. This picture of Chiswick House takes it a little further than usual, and I would probably have corrected the lean to the right in the darkroom when making a print.

Making such corrections – and those of converging or diverging verticals is of course much easier with digital images, and I often do so. But working with these digital files from my old negatives I’ve almost always presented them with the exact framing as taken, as close to the full frame as possible. Perhaps because it would otherwise be something of a slippery slope.

But the slight tilt here could have been intentional, my reaction against the perfection of the building. Certainly the decision to put it off-centre, with one of the entrance pillars breaking the symmetry of the frontage was very deliberate.

Syon House, Isleworth, 1977
10g61: Hounslow, house, park, pre-Victorian

The lane from Isleworth to Brentford is a public footpath and a useful short-cut for cyclists. It runs past Syon House, where I photographed a man taking a dog for a walk.

Grand Union Canal, covered bay, Brentford, Middx, 1977
13d52: Hounslow, Middx, canal, boat, sheds, cranes

This dock and shed on the west side of the Grand Union is I think the only part of the canal docks that were on the north side of the High St that still remains; though it has now lost its cladding and roof and become an art project it remains recognisable.

Grand Union Canal, Brentford, Middx, 1977
13e12: Hounslow, Middx, canal, barge, sheds

Commercial traffic on the canal had more or less ended when I took this picture.These canal-side sheds (in a rather dark image) have now been replaced by blocks of flats – and you can buy a 2-bed flat here for around £700,000

More to follow….

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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