Thursday, 24 July 2008

Changing Down


Trawling through the Archive this afternoon, looking for a picture of an Ulster linen-weaving machine with a teapot balanced on it, I came across this. It will particularly appeal, I hope, to those who have ever ascended Wardley Hill in Rutland before it was obliterated by a three-lane blacktop that carved a new and utterly boring route up to Uppingham through the limestone escarpment. The road sign indicates the turn into a little lane that led into Wardley village itself. Why I was lurking in a ditch on a late summer afternoon has escaped me, but I think it was something to do with trying out a new telephoto lens on my Pentax. Always a slow gear-grinding haul for lorries, every year they would get stuck in the heavy falls of snow we once had, drivers having to sleep in their cabs with just a tartan-patterned Thermos for company. "Wardley Hill is still blocked", Radio Leicester told us, and we thought of all those Leyland Comets, Guy Warriors, Seddons and Albions disappearing under blankets of piled-up snow. In this photograph it's a much kinder day in 1978 as a Foden tanker (fleet number 147 for truck pedants) transports Heygates Flour eastwards. Or it might have been empty, we shall probably never know. All I do know is that I went "Yes!" when someone lit that bonfire at the bottom of the hill.

9 comments:

A F-A said...

What a superb, masterly photo! Up here, I have come across the occasional trans-Pennine rally for old HGVs, and somehow one doesn't mind following an old AEC or Foden as it labours up the A59 at Blubberhouses. But if one of Mr Schenker's finest gets in my way....

Toby Savage said...

Heygates are still around with the same livery. What is now 'Subway' on Queens Rd, used to be a proper bakers and Heygates delivered weekly. It was run by old man Greasley and they started baking at about 1.00 am. I know this, because I often stumbled past at that hour on my way home. When the old man retired it passed on to an enthusiastic idiot who was useless and within a year had gone forever. I always favoured their 'Rustic' loaf. I now make a similar loaf in my National Panasonic bread maker, which is actually better! Yum yum.

Philip Wilkinson said...

That's such an atmospheric photograph. I look forward to seeing more from 'Peter Ashley: The Pentax Years'. Driving through Sussex the other weekend I got stuck behind a very slow but beautifully kept blue and red flatbed Leyland. When I overtook it I was surprised to read that it belonged to a firm in Bradford on Avon that does vintage lorry funerals. My eyes quickly returned to the road ahead, in case this was a dire warning...

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Lovely shot. When the family haulage firm changed from horse-drawn to internal-combustion in about 1935, my grandad (the youngest brother) was sent to pick up the brand-new lorry from Skipton. He taught himself to drive on the ten-mile journey home. Within a year one of his brothers had ruined it by forgetting to change the oil. A-F-A, the A59 was one of their regular routes - my grandad used to water his horses (and dog) at the Hopper Lane pub.

A F-A said...

Aaaah...the Hopper...until recently, it scored a 9 on my list of All Time Great Steak Pie Dinner providers....sadly slipped back of late!

Diplomat said...

This serves as a jolting record of just how fast we're losing it - That pic could be fifty years old and not look much different (period wagon please) but after onlty thirty years that view is bolloxed. And what of exponential destruction curves ? This madness is accelerating and most recently the broader the political sweeps and swings, the larger the plant, the bigger the EU grant, the more irrational the H&S directives - so the faster we gather speed in our headlong surge toward the total annihilation of what used to look just right. I really must get blogging.

Peter Ashley said...

You really must Mr.Diplo.

rashbre said...

Lovely picture and the accelerated change point is well made.

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