There are a number of themes that have long fascinated me and that I continue to document photographically. Recently I have been spending more time on following up my interest for (old) industrial buildings but all themes have waxed and waned over the years. So here you will find galleries of vernacular lettering, shops and markets, machines, abandoned industrial buildings, workshops and other subjects that I've recorded since about 1970. These are the first of what I hope will be more galleries and other projects that I will be putting online in the future.

Click here to return to my section of the Easter Fairwether site.

a year at scheveningen

animated panorama of scheveningen beach

During 2019 I often found myself enjoying a bike ride up to Scheveningen, the beach resort attached to The Hague. I was fascinated to see how it changed month by month and decided to take panorama shots of the beach from the same spot every time I was there. It’s amazing to see how the beach and skies change from the deserted winter-time scenes, including the enormous (and in 2018 controversial) beach bonfire, to the arrival of the cafés in March, the tourists in July and August and then back to the quiet times of Autumn and Winter when Scheveningen is a favourite spot just for the locals to get some fresh air and walk the dog.

industrial buildings

Since retiring I have been spending more time on photography and this has led to the rediscovery of a long-lost love for old industrial buildings. The Netherlands has a rich industrial past; the area around the River Zaan to the north of Amsterdam for example was one of the earliest industrial zones in Europe. Fortunately many buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries still survive today and are often still in use, although at the same time many lesser-known examples are fast disappearing. Sometimes they have been designated heritage sites whilst others are 're-developed' as cultural centres, offices, etc. Unfortunately they then usually lose some of the raw functionality and atmosphere of the original and wherever possible this is what I try to capture. There seems to be something about the proud and sturdy brickwork or towering concrete structures of these places where so much hard labour has been played out in the past that fascinates me. I usually do some research at home first and then take a car trip to promising neighbourhoods where I use a folding bike to cruise around at my own pace, snapping anything of interest en route.

brick-built grain silos

brick-built silos

It’s interesting to see how early, brick-built silos have often been added to as new construction methods have come along. The small brick originals become dwarfed by the concrete and, later, steel-cladded extensions around them…

old and abandoned factory

factories

Old, sometimes abandoned, these often brick-built places of work for the former industrial labourer are gradually disappearing. Sometimes they are repurposed but then sadly they somehow seem to lose their essential nobility...

old and abandoned factory doors

factory doors

Sometimes large and massive, sometimes small and discrete, sometimes still in use, sometimes abandoned and dilapidated. This is a collection of some of the doorways into factories I've come across over the years.

quirky factory offices and lodges

lodges

For the site manager, security guard, director or others: the ubiquitous (small) houses, booths and offices at many industrial sites. These are some of the ones I've managed to capture before they disappear...

antwerp

large grain silos in antwerp

At the beginning of December in 2017 I went to Antwerp, the large and bustling port in the north of Belgium for a few days. My aim was to capture some of the wonderful old industrial buildings that can still be seen there. The weather was bitingly cold and the sky was overcast which lent a somewhat gloomy tone to many of the shots. But the effort was worth it. As is often the case in Belgium, I was able to get up close to some of the last remaining grain silos in the 'Amerikadok' and walk around unhinderd. Like many others, these magnificent buildings are currently under threat of demolition to make way for modern offices and apartments as the city pushes aside its history and renews itself. So I was glad to be able to catch them before they perhaps vanish forever...

former belgian coalmines

coal-washing plant beringen

I took a trip down to the north of Belgium recently to explore what's left of the former coal mining industry there. At Beringen just across the Dutch border to the south of Eindhoven there are the remains of a large site that is gradually being renovated. The coal washing plant is under threat of demolition though, so I wanted to see it before it goes. I was quite surprised that I could get up so close to it and also get a remarkable view from the top of a former spoil heap alongside. Local and other activists are fighting to have it listed as a monument but sadly its future is by no means certain...

old pithead at houthalen

A little further east are two other former sites. At Houthalen a pair of old pit-heads soar above the surrounding countryside like giant praying mantises squaring up for a confrontation. It's good to see that these magnificent steel edifices have been preserved for the coming years. At a place called Heusden-Zolder there is a larger site that, like Beringen, is slowly being renovated and converted for use again. The old pit-head there is yet to be tackled so it was in a wonderful state of splendid decay. Hopefully it won't be spruced up too much and retain some of its rugged heft for the future.

old painted wall ads

faded painted wall advertisement

Whenever I take a trip out I always look out for any examples of 'vernacular lettering'. These are signs or notices usually executed by a local craftsman that seem to have a functional yet noble air about them. Advertisements painted directly onto walls are one of my favourites. It must take quite some considerable skill and craftsmanship to get the text or image to work at such a large scale. It's also interesting to see that quite often new ads have been painted over old ones leading to some lovely 'double speak' as they have gradually faded over the years. Sadly, with the arrival of the billboard there has been a steady decline in the number of these painted wall ads that are still around... 

anderton boat lift | 1975

detail of the anderton boat lift

In 1975 I took a trip up to the North Midlands of England to visit the famous Iron Bridge and more particularly the boat lift at Anderton. This extraordinary device was built to raise and lower canal narrowboats between the River Weaver and the Trent & Mersey Canal near Anderton in Cheshire. Designed by Edwin Clarke it was initially designed for hydraulic operation when opened in 1875 but was converted to electrical power in 1908 and this was the form in which I encountered it in 1975. 

photo locations anderton boat lift

The lift was in a poor state of repair as the canals at that time did not enjoy the poularity and support they do today. Nonetheless it still retained much of its impressive scale and grandeur. I was able to move around the lift freely and get very close to it. On the map I have tried to reconstruct roughly where I took the shots from. The pictures are scans of Kodachrome slides I took using my (then still very new) Nikkormat 35mm camera in an attempt to capture some of this fabulous heavy metal.

the regent's canal 40 years on...

city road basin 1976

In 1976 I took a bike ride along the towpath of the Regent's Canal in London. The canal then was an untended backwater, home to the last vestiges of industry in the capital. Recently I rediscovered the 35mm shots I took en route. The slightly haunting images prompted me to revisit the sites this year to see how things had changed...

city road basin 2016

‘ascenseurs’ | canal du centre

detail ascenseur canal du centre

The small town of Strepy-Thieu in Belgium is famous for having the highest boat lift in the World. This one lift was constructed to replace the work done by four hydraulic 'ascenseurs' built in the early 1900’s by Edwin Clarke of Anderton boat lift fame. They are remarkably accessible, quietly marking the past glories of the old Canal du Centre.

ascenseur canal du centre

workshops

I have always been attracted to the wonderful organised messiness of workshops. These places of work somehow seem to perfectly strike the right balance between improvisation and method. No esthetics or 'design' here, just straightforward functionality and personal logic that manage to achieve a sense of beauty and order all its own. Sometimes they are places of professional work, sometimes of enthusiastic amateurs whilst others are simply the domestic toolsheds we all recognise. I guess that in some way they reflect the mind of the user who usually knows exactly where everything is, however chaotic it all may appear to the outside eye...

messy workshop organisation