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Category archive: Bridges
So far, I have only managed seven photo-postings about my expedition to the big old Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which is now in the process of being turned into a bigger new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Tomorrow, Spurs play Chelsea in the semi finals of the FA Cup, and in honour of this confrontation, here is Tottenham posting number eight.
I made my way eastwards from the stadium, towards the park and then the canal beside which I hoped to walk south. But before I got there, I encountered this:
This footbridge is to be found next to the level crossing at the north end of Northumberland Park railway station. I climbed up on the footbridge and took this shot, looking south, of that railway station:
My main reason for showing this is to show you how far away the Big Things of the City are from this vantage point. This sort of circumstance being why God invented zoom lenses. Look what happened when I cranked up my zoom, on my trusty Panasonic Lumix FZ200.
What you see here is the miniscule portion of the above view that you see if you follow the railway lines straight to the horizon, and then shift a tiny bit to the left, just past that big spikey thing, to those tiny little things sticking up, just beyond the big spike and to its left, as we look:
And what we see is that those tiny things are the Big Things of the City of London. Gherkin. Cheesegrater. Shard. Plus intervening clutter of course.
Over to the far left of the station view photo you can also make out the towers of Docklands. But they aren’t that special to look at. If it weren’t for the pointy one, you’d hardly know how to spot them, because they’d just be a few anonymous lumps. What Docklands needs is a mega-skyscraper of a distinctive design. Maybe a thin tower, with a huge revolving restaurant at the top. Something along those lines. But I fear that the nearby presence of City Airport would make that impossible, for the time being anyway.
I like this footbridge, and I like this photo of this footbridge:
We are looking down from the road bridge that takes Twelvetrees Crescent over the River Lea and Bow Creek. It’s a delightful spot, to be found at the top right end of the Limehouse Cut. On the right, we see the Limehouse Cut about to make its bee-line for the Limehouse Basin. And on the left, the River Lea is about to wend its very winding way down to the River. Where the Lea empties itself into the Thames is right near where I took these fish photos.
The reason I cross-reference all these photo-postings of mine is because the idea of these expeditions is not just to see amusing things in isolation, but in addition to that to build up the bigger picture in my mind of what that part of London, and in particular its waterways, is like. All these walks need to join up with each other, in reality and in my head. The latter I achieve by trawling back through my photo archives, by repeatedly meandering about in google maps, and by connecting up this blog posting with that one. And by going on more expeditions.
As related yesterday, yesterday’s walk was basically pretty boring. But by this I do not mean truly boring. I mean: boring, if I had not had a camera with me. But I did have a camera with me, and I kept a more than usually alert eye out for incidental photoable fun.
What had got me out and about in the first place was the hours of cloudless sky that were going to happen, and this lack of clouds enabled the sun, combined with all the bright shiny objects that abound in a city like London, to create some photoable fun with reflected light:
I don’t know exactly how that first effect was created. I was in too much of a hurry to get to the Limehouse Cut. The middle one is light bouncing off the water onto the underside of a bridge over the Limehouse Cut. And the third one is light bouncing off windows opposite.
Here, by contrast, is a picture of light going nowhere:
You see a lot of these things on the tops of canal boats, and this makes sense, more sense than it does having them on the tops of houses. The difference is that electricity on a boat comes with a cost not only in money but also in time and both. The time it takes to transfer the electricity into your electricity store. And the bother of finding one of the terminals you’ll be using, which is not so easy, especially if there is a queue. So any topping up of your electricity store that you can do automatically, without having to stop at a special terminal, is very welcome. Especially on a day like yesterday.
Today I had what I suspect may prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I say that because it was so boring that I may never do it again. I walked the length of the Limehouse Cut:
The thing about the Limehouse Cut is that it is dead straight, as purely man-made things so often are. So, when you are walking along next to it, you find yourself staring forwards at an infinitely receding, dead straight, unchanging canal-side path. The Limehouse Cut is dead straight, and hence dead boring.
Click on that dreary little map of the Limehouse Cut, above, and you will get the context, which shows also how most waterways in London look. Not straight. And that makes them much more amusing to walk next to. Usually, when walking beside a London waterway, there are constant twists and turns. New things regularly come into view. The whole atmosphere of the journey keeps changing. But when things straighten out, like they did today, it can get very repetitious.
Here are some pictures that make that point:
I have long noticed something similar when it comes to walking along roads. Long straight boulevards are an ordeal. Twisty and turny walks, with lots of visual variety and with obstacles in the way so you can’t see miles ahead, are, I find, much more appealing.
The point is variety. Anything that just keeps repeating itself is dull. Even if it is something you might think picturesque, like a waterway with lots of boats on it. But that gets dull also.
I was actually not surprised by this. I was expecting it. But, I was hoping against hope that there might be a good view in the distance, like the Shard maybe. Or that it wouldn’t be boring. Well, it wasn’t entirely boring. There were things to see that were surprising. Plus there was a park that I was able to visit. But basically, it was boring.
But the thing was, what if the Limehouse Cut was really exciting? I had to make quite sure that this was not so. So, there was a meaningful mission today, and it was accomplished. And it didn’t take that long.
It’s always sad when a bridge collapses, and there is a special poignancy about the recent collapse, in Malta, of this one:
That picture comes from the best report (courtesy the BBC) that I could find of this sad circumstance, the best because it had both a before and an after picture, of the bridge, and then of the same place, but without the bridge.
Malta’s famous Azure Window rock arch has collapsed into the sea after heavy storms.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the news was “heartbreaking”.
The Azure Window rock arch didn’t collapse because the top of the arch failed. Rather did the pillar in the sea succumb to erosion.
Here’s wishing Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Dorsetshire …:
… happiness and long life.
This Dezeen story about robots doing construction work includes this very tasty image:
This is when google image searching does work. You type in “robot bridge” or some such word combo, click on images, and find the story immediately.
MX3D’s CTO Tim Geurtjens explains:
“We start with a piece of metal attached to the canal bank. The robots start from one side of the canal, they print their own support structure, so essentially it prints its own bridge. It stands on the floor of the bridge, 3D prints out more and keeps moving,” ...
There are many more pictures, including, which is how I found this linkage, this:
That second photo being, I’m pretty sure, the original unphotoshopped version of the photo in the first photo, above.
Very pretty. It would seem that the big difference between a regular structure and a 3D structure is that, with 3D printing, joining bits of metal to bits of metal is not a problem, because it’s all one bit, which means you can have as many joins as you like. And the other thing is that you can make everything the exact size it needs to be, and make it like a sculpture, rather than what we are used to in a structure, where all the bits tend to have unvarying shapes in section, if you get my meaning. Once they finally get their hands on this kit, the architects will go mad with it.
This story dates from a couple of years ago. But never mind, these things always take a long time to go from something that is about to explode, to actually exploding. And then when they do explode, it all happens in a completely different way to what had been envisaged.
Yesterday I told you about a photo I took on January 20th of this year. Earlier that day I had journeyed to Bromley-By-Bow tube station, then walked south along the River Lea, and ended my wanderings at Star Lane Station. It was a great day for photoing, and I especially enjoyed photoing this witty sculpture:
But who did it? This evening I realised that I seemed to recall Mick Hartley having something to say about this, and so it proved.
It’s by Abigail Fallis, and it is called DNA DL90. Well, I say that’s what it’s called. That’s what Abigail Fallis called it, but I bet nobody else calls it that. I bet what most people call it is more like: Shopping Trolley Spiral. I’m guessing further that Abigail Fallis regards her sculpture as some kind of critique of late capitalist consumerism. But such ArtGrumbling need not stop the rest of it thoroughly enjoying the thing, and also continuing to relish our trips to the supermarket, there to sample the delights of early capitalism. Because you see, Abigail, capitalism is just getting started.
Yes. I was right. Says Hartley:
It is, says Fallis, a symbol of modern society’s consumer culture, which has now become entwined in our genetic make-up. They can’t help themselves, can they, these artists?
The usual bitch about Artsists is that they are predictable, and indeed they are. But this was something else again. I literally predicted this, before I read it. How predictable is that? Very, very.
I took the photo with this marriage proposal in it in March of 2009, in Sheffield. All I thought I was photoing was a footbridge (I like footbridges) with graffiti on it. Did I even clock it was a marriage proposal? Maybe, but if so, I immediately forgot about it.
Click on that, and you actually get a different picture, which shows two footbridges rather than just the one, which means I prefer it. Two footbridges on top of each other is a bit strange.
Pictures are hard to google, or hard if you are me. Can you now say to Google: “Show me all the pictures you have like this one”? Maybe you can, but I can’t. But words I can do. And I just typed “clare middleton i love you …” (helpfully, the graffitist supplied a name) and google immediately got what I was on about, and, well, here‘s the story:
One spring day in 2001 a tall man walked into Sheffield’s Park Hill flats and along a street in the sky. He strode past the brutalist flanks, out on to the footbridge. He thought: this’ll do.
Jason didn’t look down; he gets vertigo and he was 13 storeys up. He leaned over in his yellow Puffa jacket and sprayed her name. “Clare” came out haphazardly and “Middleton” hit the ledge. He planned to take her to the Roxy on the facing hill, to show her. So now he began again, bigger, clearer: “I LOVE YOU WILL U MARRY ME”. It was his two-fingers-up at the social services office opposite. He scarpered. Seeing it, Grenville, one of the estate’s caretakers, said to the on-site office: “How are we going to get that off?”
They didn’t. The graffiti stayed, high above the city, while the city argued about what to do with the flats. Park Hill, the concrete estate behind the railway station, had become notorious. The city projected abandonment on to Park Hill, so the graffiti started to look like love yelling at the top of its voice in an estate thought to be desolate.
Soon it was also looking like PR. ...
It wasn’t a happy story, ever, and it had no happy ending.
Park Hill, Sheffield, is one of those famous bits of architecture that the architects go on and on about, but which the public hated, until such time as this public said to knock it all down, at which point it became clear that a different part of the public had grown quite fond of the thing.
One of the architects of Park Hill was a man called Ivor Smith, in whose office I worked, briefly, when I was trying to be an architect. He was personally a hugely likeable man, with a delightful family who put up with me when I was at maximum unputupwithability. But, his politics did not appeal to me, and those Park Hill buildings were all part of that.
The first of my two trips earlier this week to Tottenham was on Monday, and, as soon as I stepped beyond the front door that I share with my neighbours, the weather put me in very a good mood. It was exactly as had been prophesied, namely: perfect. Sky, fifty shades of blue, depending on what else you put next to it, thus:
All of these photos involve scaffolding, which is a thing I love, along with cranes. (Also bridges.) Scaffolding says that Men Are Working, building a better future for us all. Scaffolding says that Men With Money think that here, there is more money to be made, selling or renting new or newly refurbished places. Cranes say the same. (Bridges say: here are two places worth connecting.)
On a day such as Monday was, scaffolding can look especially fine, because Monday was the kind of day when just about anything was looking fine.
1.1 is of some home improvement going on as seen from just outside my front door. 1.2 and 2.1 are both of the building going on across my courtyard, where they are turning a posh office into posh flats. And 2.2 is of some scaffolding to be seen in Vauxhall Bridge Road. (Although there seems to be disagreement between the sign in my photo and the only relevant website I could find, concerning what number to ring to get Superior Access Scaffolding.)
And all of this before I had even arrived at Pimlico Tube. It was an auspicious start. The rest of the day did not disappoint.
A few days back, I did a posting about a plan to illuminate London’s bridges. What, I think, will make this new plan different and striking is that all the bridges will be lit up, all at once. So, for instance, it will be possible to see them all lit up from above, from places like the Shard, and like the top of the Hotel ME.
Because, as some have told me recently, it is not as if London’s bridges, one at a time, have never been lit up before.
Proof of which observation comes in the form of another photo I took in 2006 (while seeking mobile phones being used as cameras), of London Bridge, looking upstream from Tower Bridge. And London Bridge is all lit up:
Okay, it’s only in one colour, but it’s still lit up.
Once again, I start a posting. It gets too elaborate. I can’t finish it in time to post today. I instead dig out a quota photo:
Taken in the summer of 2010, although the date doesn’t matter. Tower Bridge isn’t going anywhere.
I like the colour contrast, between the cream of the underside of the bridge and the blue not only of the rest of the bridge but also of the background, which was really grey, but this is a photo.
What we see there is early evening sunlight bouncing off the river and up at the underside of the bridge, which is an effect I have learned to look out for whenever I see a bridge over water, when there is also sunshine. In the early evening.
Incoming from 6k telling me about a scheme to light up London’s bridges. (I often hear about London things from him.) This Guardian piece doesn’t, or not so I noticed, say explicitly whether this is intended to be a permanent arrangement or temporary, but it seems like it will be permanent.
Plans to light up London’s bridges in what would be one of the biggest public art projects the UK has ever seen have taken a step forward with six schemes shortlisted.
I agree with the Guardian that this picture, which is of this entry, is very enticing:
There’s a ton of verbiage attached to each of the six entries, but artistic verbiage is one of the things in the world that I respect the least, right down there with a few other things that I don’t respect at all. Which doesn’t mean that the winning scheme will be bad. It could be terrific.
The proof of the pudding will be when we all start photoing it.
No public money involved at all. So they say.
All regulars here (such people do exist) know that I love an alignment, of two London Big Things.
So. Tower Bridge. You see that in plenty of photos. The Dome. Ditto. But how often do you see them in the same photo, right next to one another? I just tried googling “Tower Bridge The Dome”. Nothing. All I got was pictures of each, separately, (mostly Tower Bridge), and lots of instructions about how to get from one to the other on foot, on the tube, etc.
So, take a look at this:
Just to be sure we know what we are talking about, here is a square of detail, from another closer-up shot of the same alignment:
In the middle there we see the top of the northern tower of Tower Bridge. And just to its left, as we look, through a gap in the big Docklands towers, we see a clutch of cranes, yellow, red and grey. Except, the yellow cranes are not cranes. They are the spikes of the Dome, and the Dome is the white expanse below the cranes and the spikes.
It took me quite a few visits to the top of the Tate Modern Extension, from where these shots were taken, and quite a few looks at the photos that I had taken, to work out that this particular photo was there to be photoed. I don’t claim that my photos are photo-perfection. They merely prove that all you Real Photographers out there, who might want to improve on the bridge camera quality of my efforts, can now get up there and do just that.
Recently I came upon another for the collection:
This is a footbridge at the back of the Strand Palace Hotel. I could find nothing about this footbridge on the www, but luckily I had already taken the precaution of asking someone local, just after I had taken my photos. This local was entering an office in the same street with the air of doing this regularly, and who therefore seemed like someone who might know. And he did. What about that bridge? - I asked him.
Yes, he said. That used to be the bridge that conveyed the servants from the Strand Palace Hotel, on the left in the above photo, to the servants quarters, which is what the dwellings on the right in my photo, behind the scaffolding, used to be. These servants quarters had, quite a while back, been turned into mere quarters, for regular people to live in. So, the bridge then got blocked off at the right hand end as we here look at it. But, the bridge continued to be used by the Strand Palace Hotel as an elongated cupboard. These old servants quarters are now being turned into luxury flats, which is why the scaffolding. But the bridge stays.
That the original purpose of the bridge was to convey servants, as opposed to people, is presumably why the bridge has no windows. Wouldn’t want to see servants going to and fro, would we. Fair dos, actually. A hotel of this sort – this one being just across the Strand from the Savoy - is a lot like a theatre, and the point of a theatre is not to see all the backstage staff wandering hither and thither. So, I do get it. And I doubt the servants minded that there were no windows. I bet they minded lots of other things, but not that.
I will now expand on the matter of the exact location of this obscure footbridge. As you can see from the square to the right, it is in Exeter Street, London WC2. I took other photos of this Exeter Street street sign, because I have a rule about photoing information about interesting things that I photo, as well as photoing the interesting thing itself, which is that I do. Sometimes, as on the day I took this photo, I even follow this rule. But I thought I’d try extricating a detail from the above photo, and see how I did. I blew the original up to maximum size, and sliced out a rectangle, tall and thin, with the street name in it. I then expanded (see the first sentence of this paragraph) what I had, sideways, lightened it, contrasted it, sharpened it, blah blah blah, and I think you will agree that the result is unambiguous. My point here is (a): Exeter Street, WC2, and (b): that such photomanipulation is not merely now possible. My point (b) is that it is now very easy. Even I can do all of this photomanipulation, really quickly and confidently.
I can remember when the only people who could work this sort of magic were spooks in movies, and then a bit later, detectives on the television.
Talking of spookiness, I included the surveillance camera in that little detail. In London, these things are now everywhere. Because of my sideways expanding of the photo, this camera looks like it sticks out more than it really does.
And in other bridge news …
I earlier linked to a Dezeen report which reported:
But now comes this:
The more appealing the bridge, the more of a muddle its opening is liable to be, so this is not a particularly terrible thing. This bridge, for instance, has opening problems because many more people than they expected want to walk upon it:
Thousands flocked to the attraction when it opened on 20 August 2016, but less than two weeks later its popularity has led to its closure.
The bridge is designed to hold up to 800 people and receive up to 8,000 visitors in a day, however demand has far outstripped capacity.
“We’re overwhelmed by the volume of visitors,” a spokesperson from the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon’s marketing department told CNN.
The spokesperson said that 80,000 visitors had attempted to visit the bridge each day, leading to its closure for improvement works on 2 September 2016.
There are no reports of when the attraction will reopen.
Whenever. There’s nothing as cheap as a hit. Especially if your target demographic is: China. And then, when the word gets around, which the above story will hugely help it to: The World.