Posts Tagged ‘DLR’

Meridian 1

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

One of the blogs about London I keep my eye on and occasionally read with interest is the rather oddly named ‘Diamond Geezer‘, who posts daily articles, usually about his walks or bus rides around some of London’s more obscure areas. As someone who spent around 20 years walking around many of these taking photographs, I often find these interesting even though I don’t share his preoccupation with some of the minutiae of Transport for London’s oddities.

The two most recent of his posts have been Prime Meridian 0° Day 1 and Day 2 and by the time you read this, there will probably be a Day 3. Since he is only walking along the line (or rather as close to it as you can) in Tower Hamlets and Newham there probably won’t need to be a Day 4.


Greenwich Observatory – Peter Marshall, 1985

I was particularly interested because I carried out a similar but rather longer project in 1994-96, completing it despite failing to get any of the Millenium funding which was on offer. I began at what seemed the obvious place, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich – as this was the Greenwich Meridian. My walk, carried out over several days, was rather longer, ending more or less at the Greater London boundary in Chingford – and later I extended it south from Greenwich to New Addington at the southern boundary.

Greenwich Riverside – Peter Marshall, 1985

It was rather harder then to actually trace the Meridian on the ground. There were rather fewer actual markers then and I think no published walks along it. Although my application failed, others were successful and obtained funding to put in new Meridian markers and publish walks at the time of the Millenium and yet more have been added since.

West India Dock – Peter Marshall, 1985

Back in 1994-6 I had to draw my own line on my maps – it was only in 1998 that the line was added to the Ordnance Survey maps – in order to allow people to celebrate the Millennium on it. Back then we had no mobile phones and no GPS – the first phone based GPS navigation system was only introduced by Benefon in 1999 and it was a few years before this became universal.

Greenway & Channelsea River, Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995

I first published these images on the web in 1996, having then recently acquired a colour film scanner. It wasn’t a very good scanner and getting good results from colour negative film was tricky. I think I scanned most of them again later, but some could still be improved.

Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995


To be continued…

DLR

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

The Docklands Light Railway was one of the good things to come out of the  London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) which was founded by the Tory government in July 1981, though it only came about because the Tories had cancelled earlier plans backed by Labour to extend the Jubilee Line from Charing Cross all the way to Woolwich Arsenal on cost grounds.

The DLR was put forward as a cheap alternative (and many years later in 2009 it did reach Woolwich Arsenal)  and was referred to by many as a ‘Toy-Town’ railway. Certainly now it is a rather slow way to get to Woolwich, and the Jubilee Line is seriously faster to get to Canary Wharf or Stratford, but the DLR has provided a very useful local link as well as providing a direct link from the City of London to Canary Wharf.

I first photographed the DLR seriously for a project on transport in London which was exhibited at the Museum of London in 1992, making use of a newly purchased Japanese panoramic camera and working on the extension then taking place to Beckton. During that project as well as working from the ground I also photographed on my way to the area through the front and rear windows of the driverless trains, as well as out of the side windows.

During my journey to King George V station from the city, I found myself sitting next to a clean window, and took advantage of this to take a number of pictures. My return journey was less fortunate, with a train with windows that were rather dirty, and few of the pictures were successful. I think in the early days they cleaned the trains more frequently than seems to be the case now.

I’d boarded the train at Bank Station, and began taking pictures as it emerged from the tunnel, but most were taken on the section of the line from Poplar to London City Airport which opened in 2005.

Secret Rivers

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Just opened at the Museum of London Docklands is the exhibition Secret Rivers, which is worth going to see if you are around – and is free. Not all of the rivers featured are secret – they include the Thames and the Lea – but they are all of interest. As well as videos and maps and pictures including a few photographs there are also objects found in the rivers on display.

I’ll leave more general comments about the show to the reviews listed at the bottom of this post, but say a little more about my own minor contribution, the picture above of the DLR being built across the not very secret Bow Creek which I made in morning fog back in 1992. It was one of around a dozen images of the DLR extension shown as part of a group show on Transport at the Museum of London later that year.

I’d left home early on a Sunday morning in mid-January as a fine morning with clear sky was dawning, catching the first early morning train to Richmond then the North London Link to Canning Town. As we approached the destination I was disappointed to find everywhere was shrouded in mist; had I known I would have stayed in bed at home!

I’d recently bought what was then the most expensive camera I’d ever owned, a new Japanese Widelux 35mm model, a rotating swing lens camera, which had cost me around £2000 (equivalent to around £7000 today allowing for inflation) and had decided this was an ideal project to make use of its unique characteristics.

I was pretty fed up with the mist, as I wanted nice clear pictures, and it was also much colder than I’d anticipated in the mist, but as I’d spent a couple of hours travelling to the location I decided to take some pictures, and stuck at it for an hour or two, making around 40 exposures – roughly two films. The camera gave around 21 exposures on a normal 36x 35mm casette with negatives the same width as those made with a 6×6 camera but only 24mm tall.

It was a slow job, as the camera had to be carefully levelled on a tripod for each picture, otherwise the horizon would appear curved. The viewfinder was imprecise, and I soon learnt it was better to rely on the two arrows on the top plate which indicated the field of view to visualise the result.

The camera used no batteries, but was clockwork and entirely manual. Winding on the film also wound the shutter and rotated the lens, held in a vertical cylinder in front of the curved film behind, to its starting point. On pressing the shutter release, a slit behind the lens opened to epose the film as the lens rotated around a roughly 130 degree arc. I think the shutter speed was probably 1/125 s, based on the exposure of any point on the film, but it took perhaps 1/30th for the slit to travel across the film as the lens rotated.

I calculated the exposure using a separate hand-held meter, a Weston Master V, which could make relected light readings as in-camera meters do or, with the aid of a curiously shaped lump of translucent plastic, it could measure the light falling on your subject, almost certainly what I used for these pictures in the fog. The Weston meters used a selenium photo cell around two inches in diameter, which generated enough electricity to power the meter, and again needed no battery.

I’d walked from Canning Town down the Silvertown Way and over the Lower Lea Crossing to where the DLR crossed the creek. The mist I think was rather thicker than it looks in the picture, and I could hardly see Pura Foods. I took a few more pictures then my way back via the East India Dock Road to Canning Town cold and disappointed. It seemed to me to have been a wasted day – and I came back a week later to retake the images in clear daylight.

Once I’d developed and printed the films a couple of weeks later, I realised that although for most of what I’d taken the mist really spoiled the pictures, this image, with the viaduct disappearing into the distance was rather special. It remains one of my most widely published and exhibited works, but is the only one from that foggy day day that appears on my River Lea website.

More about the Secret Rivers show at:
Londonist
London Live (video)
The Guardian
Evening Standard
MuseumCrush

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