Taken from the train on the way to a Wedding in Cambridge…
This is a metal recycling facility on the outskirts of Hitchin operated by Nationwide Metal Recycling. Their trucks are fittingly painted in a copper colourscheme!
And a little further along the track between Hitchin and Letchworth are the old drying pans of a disused sewage works. The line of tall trees at the back marks the course of the Icknield Way – an ancient track that crosses southern England from Norfolk to Wiltshire.
Why, you may be thinking, would I photograph such mundane things? For the Geograph Project!
For last week’s challenge I chose a photo of the Inside of Bath Abbey… So I won’t re-use that one!
You can’t get much more ‘Inside’ than the London underground, or indeed any other deep level metro or subway system – interred might be a more appropriate word! Here is an image of First Capital Connect’s Class 313, 313049 at Highbury & Islington on the old Northern City Line branch from Finsbury Park to Moorgate. The line was originally proposed as the Great Northern & City Railway with 16ft bore tunnels to allow Great Northern Railway trains to use the route. It opened in 1904 – although by that time the GNR had lost interest and opposed the scheme, so the line terminated in tunnels beneath Finsbury Park station instead of at ground level. In 1913 it was bought by the Metropolitan Railway. In 1933 the London Passenger Transport Board was formed and the Metropolitan Railway was absorbed into London Underground along with all London’s other underground railways. In a major review of London’s transport system in 1935 the LPTB proposed making the GNR’s Northern Heights branch from Finsbury Park to High Barnet and Edgware part of the Northern Line and connecting the Northern City line through to the rest of the network at Finsbury Park to allow direct services from Moorgate to High Barnet, Alexandra Palace and Edgware. The Highgate Branch of the Edgware – Morden line which became the Northern Line in 1937 would be extended to connect with this network of lines at East Finchley. The advent of war in 1939 brought a halt to the scheme and the Northern City Line remained an isolated railway separate from the rest of the network. In the 1960’s the construction of the Victoria Line saw the Northern City Line being cut back to Drayton Park and its platforms at Finsbury Park being reused by the Victoria and Piccadilly lines to form a new interchange. There were doubts for several years about its future then in 1971 the by now renamed Northern line (Highbury Branch) line was handed over to British Railways and finally it would be connected to the mainline railway at Finsbury Park. The last London Underground services ran on the route in October 1975 and the first British Railways services began in August 1976. Trains now run from Moorgate to Hertford North and connect with outer suburban services to places as far afield as Peterborough and Cambridge – fulfilling the original builders intentions some 70 years later!
I’m aware that some of you may be claustrophobic so here is a light and airy ‘Inside’…
Hay’s Wharf was originally a brewhouse on the south bank of the Thames just downstream from where Tower Bridge crosses the river today. It was purchased by the merchant Alexander Hay in 1651. In the 1840’s John Humphrey jnr acquired a lease on the property and asked William Cubitt to convert it to a wharf – an enclosed dock in the heart of the Pool of London as it then was. It became ‘Hay’s Wharf’ in 1856. The importance of the Wharf in this period can be summed up by saying ‘it was the chief delivery point for Tea’! At one point over 80% of dry produce incoming to London passed through Hay’s Wharf. The Wharf was rebuilt after the Great Fire of Southwark in 1861 and again following bombing in the Second World War. Containerisation in the 1960’s killed the Pool of London as a shipping port and the Wharf became largely derelict. It was redeveloped as Hay’s Galleria in the 1980’s. The open piazza in the view was originally the location of the dock where vessels would unload.
I would love to take a holiday in Switzerland to enjoy the Alpine vistas (and the train journeys of course). But there’s no point me going for the skiing – I can’t and I’m a bit too old to learn. However, the Swiss Alps will have to wait for another year… I’m referring to the somewhat less vertiginous Cornish Alps 🙂
The Cornish Alps are to be found mainly in the area around St.Austell. Unlike their Swiss couterparts, they are not the result of a coming together of landmasses in a titanic tectonic struggle but rather a by-product of mans industry. Cornwall has for centuries been far more industrialised than the modern tourist may realise (unless they have an interest in old industries). Once it was a major producer of some of the worlds best Copper and Tin though those mining activities have all but died out and only the skeletal remains of engine houses with chimneys that stand gaunt against the summer skies bare witness to their past glories. Whilst the mining of Tin and Copper has largely been consigned to the books of our industrial past and a few mining heritage museums, Cornwall’s other mining industry continues to flourish – China Clay.
Cornwall is blessed with large areas of Granite – forced up as molten rock through the seabed by those same tectonic forces that created the Swiss Alps. Granite is a volcanic rock which is generally composed of Quartz, Mica and Feldspar. During the cooling process, due to the presence of steam, Boron, Fluorine and Tin vapour, the Feldspar within some areas became converted to China Clay (or Kaolin). The moors to the north of St. Austell are particularly rich in this form of partly broken down Granite. As a result, mining has been a major industry here since the 1770’s.
The China Clay industry is now much more mechanised although the basic method of ‘Winning the Clay’ remains one of washing it out of the ground using, nowadays, high pressure monitors. Today the main use of China Clay is to whiten and smooth the surface of paper. It can also be found in toothopaste and indigestion tablets. And, of course, it is a primary ingredient of fine porcelain which was the original cause of its desirability as a commodity. These are just a few of the many uses to which this versatile material is put.
As part of our Autumn break in the vicinity of Par we took the opportunity to visit Wheal Martyn – now a museum set up by the producers of China Clay to preserve and record the history of China Clay production in the Mid-Cornwall area. It is a fascinating museum contained within the site of two disused China Clay works, Gomm and Wheal Martyn and the buildings of the latter form the main part of the museum. Here the story of the past is told in artifacts and the memories of workers. But, walk up through the wooded hillside and you will find yourself at a viewpoint overlooking the current working mines of Greensplat and Wheal Martyn 🙂
As for the Cornish Alps, they’re the old Sky Tips of waste from the mines…