Sunday, 31 January 2010

Blackwall, Red Stone

At last I've been able to photograph one of my favourite London buildings. Countless times I have passed through this red sandstone portal, countless times I have said to myself "I really must get a shot of this". Last week I managed the task, albeit not the definitive photograph I'm looking for. But this is the southern entrance to the white glazed brick Blackwall Tunnel, the first of what became two tunnels taking vehicular traffic under the Thames. And now under The Dome, with a hugh hole in its roof that's one of the ventilation shafts. This is the 1897 Southern Tunnel House, designed by London County Council architect Thomas Blashill and perched on the north western tip of what is now euphemistically called the Greenwich Peninsular. I just love it, the pavilion roofs, the fanciful turrets. And the reminder it gives of the towers of Tower Bridge, completed just three years before. To stand here waiting for the sun (that never really came), is to feel like the proverbial fish out of water. It's only just possible to photograph it without the attendant huge control gantries, and to avoid being run over or splashed with pink mud by a continual succession of giant trucks sliding about ferrying material from supply depots, under the river to the Olympic site at Stratford.


Diplomate said...

Peter - I do hope the sentiments expressed at the recent journos- against-facist-police-arresting-photographers demonstration have been taken on board. Your exploits will be on film, images flashed un-feasibly quickly to Jack Bower's palm thingy - "we believe this may be the ring leader, last seen boarding a train at St Pancras.... code zed "

Peter Ashley said...

I've already had my collar felt Diplo. By the Photography Rozzers outside Bishopsgate Police Station. I flashed my encapsulated credentials at the officer and as soon as he saw the words 'English Heritage' he put me in an armlock and banged my head on the roof of a patrol car. Well, almost.

Jon Dudley said...

The trials you undergo Mr.A to bring us such wonderful pictures. The old Blackwall tunnel formed part of our route from Hertfordshire to Kent back in the 50s. Only one tunnel then, and if that was shut (as it often was due to lorries getting stuck on the bend in the middle) then it was choice between a short sea voyage at Woolwich or Rotherhithe tunnel. I can still smell the curiously addictive mixture of sulphur and exhaust fumes as we seemed to creep through 'The Blackwall' in our Standard Vanguard. All terribly exciting to a nine year old and then after emerging into the daylight (sort of) at the Southern end, to wriggle through the narrow streets of Greenwich and down through Lewisham and Catford and past the Robertson's jam factory, finally gaining the countryside and the joy of seeing the Spitfire and Hurricane gate guardians at Biggin Hill.

Peter Ashley said...

What a lovely memory Jon. As you emerged blinking into the Greenwich daylight perhaps I was emerging out of Charing Cross station on my way to Kent in a green electric train, windows down, breeze blowing in off the Thames.

TIW said...

Gawd, the Blackwal. The most terrifying place in all London to be on two wheels (especially if they're ten inches in diameter). I'm not surprised that the North end is meant to be haunted by the ghost of a motorcyclist.

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