This view from the 'less-photographed' side of Saltaire's historic church is only really possible in the winter, when the bare branches of the trees allow the detail of the lovely tower to be seen. Light reflected off the snow illuminates this Victorian gem, opened in 1859 and now a Grade 1 listed building.
Had I been able to get out last Sunday (sneezing and sniffles prevented me) this is more or less what you would have seen. We had about this amount of snow, but it has all disappeared again now. Had I been out on Sunday, I might also have tried to get the shot without the railing in the front... one can always improve things with hindsight.
Jim and Betsy said in the comments that they'd like a closer look at the prints in my exhibition, so I've decided I will take the opportunity to show them here. I hope that won't spoil it for anyone who intends to call in at the Half Moon Café but it will neatly get over the fact that I have very few 'new' photos stocked up at present - and little opportunity to get out and take some more. Most, though not all, of them have been on my blog before but some of them were featured quite some time ago.
So here it is! My first solo exhibition of photographs was hung on Saturday, thanks to help from some good friends. Left to my own devices I would have struggled, as I have been overcome by a very heavy cold and have spent the entire weekend sneezing prodigiously and working my way through not one but two entire boxes of paper tissues! Bleurgh. Never mind, I shall soon bounce back, I'm sure, and will then pop along to the Half Moon Café in Roberts Park for a proper look. It will be interesting to watch and listen to what people have to say.... Thanks so much for all your good wishes.
We had a heavy snowfall on Saturday too, the first of this winter, which didn't exactly help matters. I would have gone out with my camera later but I really didn't feel up to that. The promised sunshine didn't happen so there isn't much sparkle and the snow is melting fast now. On the whole, I think I'm glad it's not staying.
I've mentioned the community-owned Half Moon Café in Roberts Park before; it was attractively refurbished a couple of years ago. Saltaire Cricket Club, who oversee the running of it, have built it up into quite a successful venture, with the help of a manager and a lot of volunteers. It has limited opening hours during the winter (Wed to Sun: 10am - 4pm) but seems to remain popular... you often see people sitting outside, even when it's quite cold, though it's very pleasant inside too.
For some time now, they have had a regular programme of exhibitions of work by local artists, which provides a point of interest along the long, curved wall inside. I'm pleased to announce that the exhibition during February and March will be some photographs of mine... my first solo exhibition. Sounds really grand, doesn't it? It helps that the organiser of the exhibition space is a good friend, but I do know she wouldn't have asked me if she hadn't thought my work was up to scratch. It's been quite a process trying to decide which photos to display (and due to the nature of the space I had to choose mostly 'portrait format' prints). In the end I decided to use my blog as the theme and to concentrate largely (though not exclusively) on photographs of Saltaire, as I think they will be interesting to most of the folk who drop into the Café. The prints are all prepared and framed - they will be hung this weekend (unless we get snowed in!)
If you live locally, do please drop in and see them and enjoy a coffee and a cake in the Café whilst you're there. All the photos have been shown on my blog at some point in the past, so if you're not local you're only missing the fun, not the pictures!
(This has blown my cover now, hasn't it? But it didn't seem quite right to use 'jennyfreckles', my blog identity, for an exhibition. In the beginning I was ultra cautious about blogging but I don't think I need to worry any more.)
Final photo in the series from Bingley Five Rise Locks when they were emptied for repair work. Another close study: stone, wood, metal, moss and weed - all provide interesting textures. Don't be fooled by the scale though... these are huge structures! The portion of the gate showing in the top photo is about ten feet (3m) high and the whole gate is something like 23 feet (7m) tall. The men in the photo below were both around 6 feet tall and only just reach the third horizontal beam.
It was an interesting climb down through Bingley's Five Rise locks. I was mostly looking out for the best way of capturing the scene as a whole - the height of the walls, the sheer size of the space inside those five lock basins and the steepness of the rise. In some ways you get more sense of the staircase from further away, down the canal, than you do when close up to it (or in it!) Along the way though, I also became enthralled by the textures and shapes. The new wood and metal of the gates was lovely - so solid and beautifully crafted. The moss and (sea?) weed on the stone walls, usually underwater, also provided some interesting colour and texture.
It was quite hard to capture, in one photo, a sense of the sheer scale of the Bingley Five Rise locks staircase. This shot, taken from near the bottom looking back up, perhaps comes closest. You can see the 23 foot (7m) high stone walls of the lock chambers and one pair of the huge new lock gates, with beyond that another two pairs. There are four pairs of gates being replaced, out of the six. As part of the project, the stone walls are also being inspected and repaired, using traditional lime mortar to preserve the authenticity of the Grade 1 listed structure.
The new gates were made of solid oak at the Stanley Ferry Workshops in Wakefield, one of only two manufacturers in the UK. There's a photo here of one of the old gates being craned out of the locks; they are being recycled. It's all a massive undertaking, costing around £250,000 and involving the hire of a huge crane. In the old days they simply used ropes, an A frame, blocks and tackles and human strength!
I must compliment those responsible for enabling the public to enjoy this rare insight into our local heritage. Judging by the queues, there were thousands of people as curious as I to see what is normally hidden underwater. (The local press say 7148 people visited over two days.) I was surprised they didn't charge for entry - they could have recouped some of the cost of the project ... but instead there were collecting buckets for the 'Help For Heroes' charity, which aids our armed forces personnel wounded in recent conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's been well publicised, so lots of you knew.... This is the answer to yesterday's puzzle - the crowds flocked to Bingley's famous Five Rise Locks at the weekend to catch a rare sight of the locks drained of water. And not only to look... thanks to some carefully constructed scaffolding, you could actually walk right through the flight, from the top to the bottom. The locks have been drained in order to allow engineers to replace four of the six huge pairs of lock gates, which are made of solid oak but which inevitably over the years start to rot and leak. For further information, please take a look at the article put together by our local paper.
The spectacular staircase of five locks, built by John Longbotham, was completed in 1774, enabling boats to make the 60 foot ascent or descent of this stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. It takes about an hour and a half for a boat to navigate through.
PS I'm still unable to comment on some blogs so if you haven't seen me lately, I'm sorry.
Follow the 'yellow brick road' in yesterday's post far enough and you arrive at a viewpoint, from where you can see a vast panorama up and down the valley. The view down to Saltaire is largely hidden by trees but in the winter they are less dense and I managed to find this glimpse through. You can see Salts Mill in the foreground, with the houses of Baildon above it on the far side of the valley. The little hamlet in between is Baildon Green - see here for a photo I took there.
I took the above with my Nikon and at the moment I only have the kit lens 18-55mm, which can often be frustrating. Compare it with this photo that I took from more or less the same spot in 2010 with my Panasonic, which has a huge telephoto zoom (but a smaller sensor... a case of swings and roundabouts).
Sometimes I start to feel a little confined, hemmed in on the floor of the Aire valley where I live, work and conduct much of my life. Luckily, it doesn't take long to escape; a brisk up-hill walk on either side of the valley soon sees you crest a ridge and suddenly there's a marvellous view and a great feeling of space and light. The north side of the valley takes you up on to Shipley Glen and Baildon Moor, a large area of which still feels satisfyingly 'wild' and natural (even though it has been shaped by man's activities for centuries). The south side, rather more built up, nevertheless has a wonderful area of open parkland, thanks to a benefactor, Sir Norman Rae, who gifted the land to Shipley Council in 1920 for the benefit of the community. I always enjoy walking through this avenue of trees. Even though I know exactly where it goes, I still get a childish feeling of adventure, following a path that 'disappears' into the distance.
Another experiment in processing, this time a photo of a wooden fence post covered in frost. I liked the way the frost had formed circles along the growth rings of the wood ... though I don't know why it had. Close inspection revealed all sorts of subtle colour and texture. Amazing what beauty there is - not far away, just in the local allotments beside Salts Mill.
The same frosty, misty morning as in the previous post supplied this photograph of Saltaire's URC church, from the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. I know I've posted pictures from roughly this spot before (see here and here ) but I really enjoy seeing familiar places in different lights and weathers. In the winter too, when the trees are bare, you can see much more of the church and fully appreciate its unusual design.
A sharp frost one morning - and a line of black-headed gulls (in their winter plumage) seemed almost frozen to the spot on the riverbank. On the opposite bank you can see the Saltaire Boathouse - originally a Victorian boathouse but now a thriving pub/restaurant. Beyond that, the metal footbridge connects Roberts Park with the village of Saltaire and behind that the bulky shapes of Saltaire's mills rise through the mist.
Teeth are big business these days. There was an article in the newspaper recently saying how many celebrities, including the Duchess of Cambridge, are having expensive cosmetic treatments on their teeth. And what, perhaps you're asking, has that got to do with a half-finished building in Shipley? Well, this is going to be the headquarters of an orthodontics firm, Ortho-Care (UK) Ltd. You may recall me showing the skeleton of the factory way back in the spring. From this to this to the above, in about eight months. The glazing is in and they are working on the interior now.
The factory has turned out to be much larger than it looked at first - unfortunately for the residents of the cottages behind it. Furthermore its modern, angular design bears little relationship to anything in the surrounding area, and certainly not to the historic, honey stone mill buildings of Saltaire, which are now hidden behind it. The wing that you can't see, at the back, is clad in dark grey metal sheeting. I'm a bit surprised that it got through the planning process - but maybe that shouldn't surprise me really! It is supposed to be a very eco-conscious construction, so perhaps that triumphed over aesthetics.