Friday 29 February 2008

Stop here for a great canal-side walk - # 08/31

"Goat Wharf": what a name to conjure with! It immediately calls up dark mysteries and tales of "the Olden Days". This is THE bus stop for your entrance into the old canal docks of Brentford - a photographer's delight.

Thursday 28 February 2008

Karl Moritz, Julius Caesar and Brentford - # 08/30

Before we dive into "deepest dockland" and experience the old 1805 atmosphere we must take a look back towards Kew Bridge. Karl Moritz, our 1782 German visitor, crossed into Richmond at this point. However, it was not by ferry. My early research overlooked the fact that the first bridge was built in 1759/60 (and a new bridge came in 1790 - this was not mentioned in the information I first discovered). I always felt that Karl had not used a ferry....his description of the easy arrival in Richmond, on the regular coach service through Chiswick from central London always made me suspicious: it was too slick. At last I have found out why.

The ferryman noted the expanding traffic and built the first bridge in 1759/60. This bridge, used by Karl, actually spanned the river at the point where you can see the tip of the island. The new bridge was built where you see it now, and renewed yet again in the early 20th C.

The main channel of the river runs on the other side of the island, but you can see that Brentford was always an important crossing point. The tides fall very low here, and the Romans are believed to have used this point to ford the river in AD 51 on their march towards the Midlands.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

The ultimate throw-away image - # 08/29

Before we move gently away from the river and into the old docks and then up into the town, I think you might enjoy this. At this spot there are layers upon layers of junked boats and their insides. Strange but true (and, No, before you ask, It doesn't smell!)

Tuesday 26 February 2008

Brentford support system - # 08/28 last I'm back on line after 24 hrs of enforced cold turkey. So this one is appropriate.

After last night's darkest black, looking backwards to Lili Marlene, we can dive back into some colour and do the "shapes, diagonals and structures". There is a lot more ironwork left in Brentford.

Camera: Olympus E3

Monday 25 February 2008

Wie einst Lili Marlen - # 08/27

"Wenn sich die spaeten Nebel drehn werd' ich bei der Laterne steh'n, wie einst Lili Marlen".

(When the night time mists are swirling I will stand in the lamplight as once I did so long ago, my dear Lili Marlen).

"Your sweet face seems to haunt my dreams my Lilly of the Lamplight, my own Lilly Marlene".

Here is my own Lilly Marlene, bathed in her lamplight, captured in the night time shadows of Brentford. (Her inspiration would now be about 86).

(Thanks for all the kind comments yesterday. My internet connection has a serious fault. I am working on a neighbour's machine so cannot visit you directly).

Sunday 24 February 2008

Ham Copse sunset - # 08/26

...another little sunset shot as we rest for the weekend. On Monday we'll be back sorting through the mud and muck finding more flotsam and jetsam in Brentford.

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ

Friday 22 February 2008

Never throw anything away - # 08/25

Here's an in depth look at the busy yard where the barges are maintained and converted. It seems to be extremely busy. I love places like this and could not resist taking this photo.

AND................there are more! Won't that be nice?

Thursday 21 February 2008

Brentford resident - # 08/24

The old canal harbour area is a strange mixture of brand new urban development ("luxury" flats), ancient decay awaiting renewal, and 1950s post-war recovery stuff that is falling back into decay, no doubt waiting to become more "luxury" flats. These derelict sites are ideal for our much loved feathered friends, who act as feeding stock for the peregrin falcons of the area.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Brentford dreaming - # 08/23

The old and the new. Mudlarks down on the mud, prospecting for gold. Tide out. Funky apartments built on industrial dockland. 1801 - 2008: a long time. A quick snap and then the dream was broken as the two turned away and walked back. No second chance.

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ at 110mm f5.6 direct into the setting sunlight
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Tuesday 19 February 2008

The ship of delights part 2- # 08/22

......and here we are amidships, admiring the civilised layout and the Oriental treatment of sundeck! Enjoy the tiny but perfect model rowing boat (as well as the rest of it!).

Monday 18 February 2008

The ship of delights: everything you could ever want - # 08/21

This barge caught my eye. I was attracted to the sight of "absolutely everything" being available, right down to noticing three types of exhaust outlets. Further along, amidships, it becomes even more interesting...................................

Sunday 17 February 2008

Sunset looking from Ham towards Twickenham - # 08/20

Perhaps not my "finest photo", but too good to miss posting today. It celebrates the wonderful sunsets we are enjoying at the moment, and also how lucky we are here to have these river views. The lighting is all natural. The reflections in the water are from the sun bouncing off the white hulls of the boats moored at Hammerton's Ferry. The sky is pretty much "as seen". You can make out the con-trails of the intercontinental jets racing in from North America, finding their turning point near Heathrow and streaking off towards the mainland of Europe. (In this area you can sometimes see probably 20-30 planes all at different heights: if each has 300 on board that is 6,000 people in the sky!!!!). On the tow path, the puddles reflect water left behind after the recent high tide that has overtopped the bank, making the path impassable for an hour or two.


Camera: Olympus E3 (setting- I think - WB "Cloudy" with one tick into the Amber. "Good Old Oly!")

Saturday 16 February 2008

The Bar Fly celebrates the Six Nations Trophy - # 08/19

It has to be in colour! The Six Nations rugby tournament is well underway with France, Italy, Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland competing for the trophy. The bar looks colourful decorated with all the national flags.

For those enjoying riverborn decay in Brentford, Hang On! It will return after the week end.

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ

Friday 15 February 2008

Stadt Brentford - # 08/18

See Stadt Zurich at and take my advice: "Never sell a good camera".

Camera: Olympus E3

Thursday 14 February 2008

The Lost World - or - "Peeker-Boo"- # 08/17

We're still at the riverside in Brentford. A few days ago Freefalling asked if boats were allowed to lie and rot, unremoved.

Look closely and you will see the answer! Here is a full size Dutch motor barge, left rotting at the quayside, the bushes growing out of the deck planking. Don't ask me how or why: but I'll bet there's a "point of law" in there somewhere, and the whole case has ended up in the "too difficult" bin.

Wednesday 13 February 2008

One for Cologne - # 08/16

April of Cologne DP has a taste for pictures of structures, which I also rather enjoy.

So this one is dedicated to Germany (a country I know well) and Cologne. It is the support structure for the London Eye. I read that Berlin is about to open a bigger wheel, and soon Dubai and Singapore will have gigantic wheels that will make ours look tiny.

April wrote a very downhearted comment on the decay and the vandalism suffered by German Railways. Germany is not alone in this! What's wrong with Europe? Was it always so bad? Or have we been living in a short period between 1945 and 1965 when things were in fact NOT normal?

So the question is: What's wrong with the support structure of European society?

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Anything down there? - # 08/15

As you can guess, I was focussing on the coot and the mud and the outboard engine.

The coot is having a happy time forageing. I was greatly enjoying the mud and the muddle and the muckiness. This muddle and muck is what makes these places so charming and interesting. (Sorry if you find spelling mistakes. The spell-checker has stopped working and I'm too lazy to get out the OED).

Monday 11 February 2008

All tied up- # 08/14

How many different things can you spot on this mooring post on Brentford riverside? I found what looks like a zip-fastener!

BTW..... @Peter etc I'll try to answer the horse power question ref the steam engine.

Sunday 10 February 2008

The mystical dongle-wanglifier- # 08/13

Marvel at the exquisitely made control system for the mighty steam engine: the perfection of form and function.

Saturday 9 February 2008

Unfailing support - # 08/12

The cast iron pillars are higher than a house and support the massive iron cross bar. Above this "shoulder" is the 30 tonne pivoting rocker arm that rises and falls, one end driven by steam pressure through a huge piston, the other end rising and falling to lift the water.

I'll show a few more pictures in the coming days, and then we'll let this engineering marvel go back to its quiet rest. The history of hygiene and flushing toilets in the metropolis may seem unglamorous, but this Kew Bridge Steam Museum brings it to life.

Friday 8 February 2008

The beginning of Revelation - # 08/11

Revelations may come slowly, being formed during many episodes. The engine is enormous and can only be revealed in several photos. I want to show the texture and magnitude and the great style of whole structure in its engine-house flooded with sunlight through large, very elegant Georgian style windows.

It is an amazing construction where art and science combine. Aesthetic design is paramount. Engineering perfection is the absolute guide. Function and form bring great pleasure and extreme utility.

Here you see the cast iron stairway that leads to the first of two floors above the ground.

The engine is supported by huge cast iron columns moulded as those you see in a Greek temple. Here you see the base of those columns.

Remember that this was designed and built in 1846 to pump water for London.

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ

Thursday 7 February 2008

The Baptismal Font and the Oil of Consecration -# 08/10

The tears of the Titan fall into the font and are transformed into the Oil of Consecration.

Giants, especially Super-Giants, must be approached circumspectly and with great reverence. So don't rush me!

The vision is gently consolidating. It will transform your soul.

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ

Wednesday 6 February 2008

The High Altar in the Temple of the Great Titan - # 08/09

Hush! We have entered the temple. The sacred vessels - (the oil can and the grease gun) - are laid out on the table - (a massive iron block housing valve gear). Celestial light floods in through huge windows, and the biggest steam engine in the world waits quietly and accepts our reverence.

The Brentford pumping station was built in 1836. In 1846 the world's biggest steam engine was installed. The engine worked continuously until 1944. It still works, even today, on special demonstrations.

It is still the biggest steam egine in the world. You must see it! More follows.

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Grand Junction - # 08/08

Let the furnaces open and blind us with their light! Let them pour forth their streams of molten metal! Let metal goods display the spectrum of light that guides the skillful eye of the foundry master! Let stanchions be cast and and tubes of miraculous alloy be rolled, and stone and pottery be fired! Let England's mighty indutrial heart wax strong and pour out its manufactures and ship them to the Great Metropolis of London and out into the World!

It is 1801 and the Grand Junction Canal reaches Brentford and enters into the Thames. This is a significant event in economic history. The great canal enters the Thames at the point marked by the silver monument mentioned yesterday. (The Thames is behind me, and the Thames Lock, last on the system - or first - is at the far end of this picture). You can read something about it here: and in other historical references.

Tomorrow we go to a temple and spend some days worshipping the Great Titan......STEAM.

Regarding some questions asked yesterday:
@MarydeB.....this picture is exactly as it came from the camera. There is no tweaking. it is not usually smelly. The river is cleaner today than it has been for centuries. Salmon can be caught (sometimes).

@Oldmanlincoln........the tide rises and falls, as you say. The community of Strand on the Green that I featured some time ago, with its spectacular rises and falls and quayside houses, is about one and a half miles further down river from here.

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ

Monday 4 February 2008

Time and tide - # 08/07

Morning mist is still thick and the tide is out. Beyond the derelict old motor barge you can see a curving silver streak. It is a small monument marking a "significant event". This is the point where the River Brent enters the the Thames. Tomorrow I will show you why it's "significant".

Camera: Olympus E3

Sunday 3 February 2008

Cleaning the House - # 08/06

We will return to Brentford and its industrial and riverside charms tomorrow. Meanwhile here's a short week-end relaxation.

The rooms of 17th century Ham House (click on the side bar link to the National Trust, Ham House) are currently all "put to bed" for winter maintenance and cleaning. The new 2008 Visitor Season is fast approaching and the work-rate is speeding up.

Magnificent midday sun is flooding through the south-facing windows of one of the state-rooms, and I came upon this amusing little scene. It's taken using available sunlight, and the white cloth reflects enough to help brighten the scene. The silk covering of the chair and the old tapestries come out nicely. The red and white tags on some white dust covers indicate that these pieces must be removed first in any salvage or disaster-recovery operations. As a rule special blinds limit the sunlight so that the collection is not damaged by UV rays.

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ

Saturday 2 February 2008

Blue mood (another in the occasional R u T Bar Fly series)- # 08/05's Saturday, and the Bar Fly sits alone. But my dinner was excellent.

Camera: Olympus E3. (blown-out highlight, the third bottle not quite rightly placed, the B&W version even worse, but a good try.)

Friday 1 February 2008

Old spindly legs - # 08/04

A heron stands in low water at the edge of the river as it flows past one of the old derelict Brentford cargo-barge wharfs. The un-needed lock gates lie open, the entrance closed off by old bars. I noticed that the heron's legs are tilted at almost the same angle. Fun.

Camera: Olympus E3