On a recent trip to Excel, the huge exhibition centre to the East of London, I decided to travel via the (Emirates) Cable Car which runs from Greenwich North straight to Excel. (For those who don’t live locally but who may find yourselves in need to visiting Excel I recommend this way of getting there!)
The last time I did the trip, the sky was full of those characteristic cloud and sunshine combinations that make the weather here so great (and so difficult) for photography. Just as I passed the mid point across the Thames and was approaching the north bank, the sun broke through and illuminated the structural spars of the exhibition centre.
To me, the picture has a lovely calm despite the dramatic atmosphere.
I often find myself in one or other of the various Livery Halls dotted around the City of London (Not as a guest but rather pursuing my own trade for which there is no company!). Last week I was doing a regular annual shoot for the Architects Benevolent Society who hold their event in a different Hall each year. This year it was the Skinners and it was one Hall I had not visited before.
For those who may not be familiar with the traditions of this land, the Livery Companies all go back a very long way, (in the case o the Skinners, they were awarded their charter by Edward the Third in 1327) and they are essentially trade associations that exist to protect and promote their particular trade. There are 108 of them (I have only visited a small handful) and many of them are rather wealthy institutions. Originally they had strong links to the church but nowadays these links are rather know tenuous but many still do a great deal of charitable work. The Skinners is a case in point. In fact the Skinners as a trade ceased to exist a couple of hundred years ago but the company is still doing very well and currently supports four schools in Kent and London, runs Sheltered Housing accommodations and make generous grants to other charities. And then of course they have their fine building, right next door to Cannon Street station and within spitting distance to the Thames river.
An interesting aside is that in 1484 the Skinners and Merchant Taylors had a argument about who whose barge go in front during the Mayor of London river procession. In the end the Mayor himself had to intervene and decreed that henceforth each company would take turns to be in front and when the fixed order was finally arranged they alternated between positions six and seven. This probably gave rise to the phrase “to be at sixes and sevens”
I had a few minutes to kill last week so I made use of my time by looking at things that interested me. (This is not meant to be a comprehensive study of the hall!) In particular I really liked the huge chest with it’s impressively ornate locking mechanism in the lid, which was accidently closed and it took all the skills of the locksmith to get it open again and only once he had been given a photograph of the workings! Otherwise they are all quite self-explanatory.
I spent a couple of days at Sheerness a while back and had a great session on board Svitzer Victory with Captain Steven Goodyear and Chief Engineer Shawn Scutts. These are singular vessels with only one function and everything is geared to performing that function. At 34m LOA it is not a very large boat but it’s with it’s two 4894bhp engines it is certainly up to the job. The view from the command station is just that – commanding – with pretty much every part of the boat visible and most of the controls, it seemed to me, were to do with power management.
Steven Goodyear though, was a quiet unassuming guy who oozed calm and confidence, just the kind of guy you would hope and expect to be in charge of a very powerful machine!
SeaPeople Project, Steve Goodyear, Svitzer Victory, Sheerness, Port of London
SeaPeople Project, Shawn Scutts, Svitzer Victory, Sheerness, Port of London
Quite early on in the SeaPeople Project, I visited the RNLI base at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey where I photographed a number of the volunteers. They are a great bunch of guys and I had a fantastic time shooting them. They also treated me to a very speedy spin in their Trent Class lifeboat, which was somewhat quicker than the little 8m yacht I sailed at the time. (See their site for more info: http://www.sheernesslifeboats.org.uk/lifeboats.htm)
The first portrait is Stuart Smith, a crew member aboard “George and Ivy Swanson”
Stuart Smith, RNLI Sheerness
Next up is Andy Mathews who is crew and mechanic:
Andy Mathews, RNLI Sheerness
and Deputy Second Cox, Paul Sands:
Paul Sands – RNLI Sheerness
and finally to finish off, a group shot done whilst blasting around on the Medway!
For those who didn’t get one of my 2013 calendars, this is the image for January – CZWG’s Canada Water Library…
Canada Water Library Main Staircase, London
I know it should be obvious but when I got up close to the QEII bridge I was amazed by just how substantial the main support towers of this bridge are. From a distance it looks like a thin delicate web like structure but it really is anything but.
This is another image from the session I did on the first day of the year – this time a bit closer up!
And looking up…
The Christmas & New Year break also provided a perfect opportunity to do more work on the London Panoramas series. The last time I worked in this was about 8 months ago so I visited a very busy Trafalgar Square on Boxing Day and a very quiet River Thames on New Years day.
The QE2 Bridge was completed in 1991 to a design by the German Engineer Helmutt Homberg. It was to be his last project and he died a year before the bridge opened. The structure was built by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company (Part of the Trafalgar House Group) and with it’s main deck span of 450m it was, at the time of it’s completion Europe’s largest cable supported bridge, now superceded by the Second Severn Crossing amongst others.