Thursday, 13 August 2015

Big Deal, White Feather and Modified Typex Machine

Big Deal :- Today I saw a film shot with a drone of Brighton's iconic ruined West Pier and it reminded me to post this image of the pier's remains that I took back in february this year (2015). The pier was built in 1866 by the exquisitely named Eugenius Birch who was a 19th-century English naval architect, engineer and noted pier builder. The list of piers that he had built is quite amazing, they were / are :

Margate Pier, Margate (1856-57), North Pier, Blackpool (1862-63), West Pier, Brighton (1863-66), Deal Pier (1864), Lytham Pier (1864-65), Aberystwyth Royal Pier (1865), Eastbourne Pier (1866–72), Birnbeck Pier, Weston-super-Mare (1867), New Brighton Pier (1867), Scarborough North Pier (1866–69), Hastings Pier (1869–72), Hornsea Pier (1880), Bournemouth Pier (1880) and Plymouth Pier (1884).

It's also fascinating to discover that Brighton Aquarium (the world's oldest operating aquarium) was also conceived and designed by Eugenius Birch.

White Feather :- This makes me think of the "Fiddler on the Roof" song 'If I Were a Rich Man'. The songs lyrics have a few lines that go

 "There would be one long staircase just going up, And one even longer coming down, And one more leading nowhere, just for show."

These are the stairs leading nowhere that are just for show. They did lead somewhere originally. They connected the huge protective WesternArm of Brighton marina with the Marina's lower pedestrian level. I remember using them. I have no idea why they were blocked off top and bottom but now they sit discarded and unused and are just as unsightly as the rest of the Marina with its massive grey and bland architecture. To take the shot I stuck the camera and tripod through the railings (to the right of picture) and stood them on the step nearest to me whilst I styayed on the correct side. Just as I was about to take the shot a white feather from a passing overhead Gull floated down and settled a few steps up thus adding a bit of beauty and interest that I hadn't planned.

Modified Typex Machine :- A serious bit of history with this shot. This is one of the real Typex machines that was modified to work exactly like an Enigma machine to help break and decipher enemy messages at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. As soon as the intercepted German messages were broken by the Bombe machines they were then decrypted manually using the Typex machines. This was serious "old school" stuff. No desktop computers back then. Pen, paper, brain power and lots of various machines wired up and hidden away in huts that were "off the map" were the key to shortening the war and thus in turn save thousands of lives on either side.

Photography Copyright © Justin Hill