Monday, 26 May 2008

More places along the estuary

Map of Thames Estuary
On Saturday I took the train out to Leigh on Sea and walked through Westcliffe, Southend and Thorpe Bay. Again the light was to bright for my liking but might have got a few good pics. Often I need to spend time walking around exploring and find out what is there and what sort of light would be good and then keep revisiting places. The busy end of Southend, down by the pier really gave me headache, it was load and brash, full of tourists. Moving past and in to the Thorpe Bay, which is really another part of Southend gave me much more inspiration. In my tutorial with John on Friday we spoke about potentially trying to get more engaged contact with the communities. I luckily bumped in to John Clarks of the Southend Beach Hut Owners Association, a very talkative guy who has lived in the area all his life. As well as telling me all about beach huts, how some of them are over a hundred years old, originally in Victorian times they had wheels and were rolled in to the water, eventually the wheels fell off and today's beach huts were born. Some huts sell for as much as £20,000(!) Other stories were about SS Montgomery an American ship that sank in the channel during the war, full of explosives, engineers has to check on the ship every few months and ships has to navigate around it. There is apparently enough explosives to blow up the whole of Southend or at least all the 500 beach huts! It is possible to see the mast sticking up if one goes out there. He also told me about Mulberry Harbour, a floating harbour that was one of many built in secrecy, in the estuary for the D-day landing but this one got broken in half and stuck in the water. It is possible to walk out to it at low tide, A group of teenagers I photographed earlier had described the big piece of concrete as a shipwreck where they like to go, seems to be the thing to do if you are 15 in Southend.

John has so much knowledge about the estuary and seemed genuinely interested in my project, he also knows a lot of people in the community and has offered to put me in touch with some people among others a local fisherman that he thinks can take me out to the sunken ship etc. That would be brilliant, I really hope this will work out! In 1972 John worked on Foulness Island, digging up and dismantling bombs. The land had been used as a dumping ground from the WWII. This operation was due to the governments plans at the time to build an airport on Foulness, this later got scraped when a new government came in to power and only a third of the bombs were cleared. John said he thought this was very sad, since the idea of an airport there would have been perfect, it would not be flying over any houses just straight in from the sea. This is all new to me and I will do some research. Foulness is furthest out in the Thames Estuary on the Essex side, much of it is MOD land (Ministry of Defence) and can not be photographed, one also need permission to walk on much of the land. I really have to get in contact with people in charge and see if there is any possibility at all for photography and if so what locations. I asked John about this and he said it would be difficult but perhaps easier than some years ago. Again he said he might know somebody.... The best thing about doing this kind of photography is that I meet so many interesting people, it is amazing how much you can learn from them, so fascinating.

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