Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Coruscation, Termination and Fun on Legs

Coruscation :- An image taken a little off the beaten track and far from the coach loads of tourists and day trippers in search of their cream teas. It was shot early morning (before breakfast) up a winding, steep and narrow lane in Widecombe in the Moor which is in Dartmoor, Devon. The lane runs off of the the main B3387 road and winds around piles of rocks known as 'Tors' whilst being flanked by mossy dry stone walls and rolling fields. I was lucky enough to be staying with a very good friend of mine and his family who live in the area and I'd skulked out early to get some morning light shots and take in the scenery. Whilst I was staying there he was still writing a new book and I was sleeping in the room where he did all his writing. Somehow or other I managed to withold temptation and refrained from taking a peek. The book is now finished, published and out in stores and bookshops. I've since read it and it's excellent. It's called RAILHEAD and it's by Philip Reeve.

Termination :- Brighton is famous for having so many historical world firsts within its boundaries. The Royal Suspension Chain Pier (built in 1823) was not just a landing stage but did have various attractions placed upon its deck and therefore canlay claim to being the world's first ever pleasure pier. The Duke of York's Picture House lays claim to being the oldest cinema in continuous use in Britain. The Brighton Aquarium (now SEA LIFE Brighton) is the world's oldest operating aquarium (opened in 1872). Then there's the Volk's Electric Railway which opened in 1883 and is the 'world's oldest operating electric railway'. There's more and I could go on and on but shall refrain for fear of boring you all. Many of these things are still found in the famous coastal seaside resort and City of Brighton and are still open to the public. However, much like the Royal Suspension Chain Pier not everything was built to last or made it. One of those was "Volk's Electric Sea Railway" which was also known by its nickname "Daddy Long Legs". Volk's had a madcapped idea and ran with it. He built underwater rails that stretched from the Paston Place breakwater (known as Banjo Groiyne due to it's shape) all the way out to the village of Rottingdean which was several miles away. The double rails were on large concrete blocks that ran parallel to each. Running along those rails was the 'Pioneer' which was 45 ft by 22 ft (13.7 by 6.7 m) structure that stood on four 23 ft (7.0 m) long legs. It was rather ill fated and short lived as it only operated between 1896 and 1901 before being 'killed off'. In this image you can clearly see several blocks in the bottom left of the shot. These were the last blocks in the run and therefore the end of the line at Rottingdean. You can actually trace the line of the "Volk's Electric Sea Railway" from Rottingdean all the way back to brighton as various blocks are dotted along the route and where they are missing the sea bed and rocks are scored. If you look to the center of this image you can see patches of water and sand stretching off which give you an idea of the span of the rails and the entire scale of this mad venture.

Fun on Legs :- There was a point in history where we were building piers everywhere. The industiral revolution helped create the railways which in turn created tourism and also enabled building materials to be transported with ease. Put all that together and you get the birth of the piers. Long, thin structures, stretching out to sea on spindly legs making them look like huge metallic millipedes. They are sadly dying out and rapidly becoming a thing of the past as more and more suffer fires and damage. We're at a point now where instead of building out the world is obsessed with building up. Everywhere seems to want the highest this or the tallest that as we all compete to scrape the sky that little bit more. Technology once again pushes the boundaries as intricate and complex computer designs pave the way to us building structures that would have been impossible to build a few years ago. Where will it end ? Who knows. Where will it lead us? Well ... either up, out or down is a good guess!

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill