I have been researching the history of the local branch lines and the effect of the Beeching cuts. I had already identified that the branch line from Ash Junction to Farnham Junction, was closed following the Beeching report. This branch line encompasedtwo stations, Ash Green Halt and Tongham Halt.
Ash Green Halt
Looking at the old OS maps I had assumed that the North Hants railway known as the Watercress line was also closed as a result of Beeching, but acording to their history page it actually survived the cuts and was closed 10 years later by British Rail. the contrast between the two lines is stark, the Tongham – Ash Green line was stripped and in some parts removed completely. The Watercress line has been preserved and turned into something of a theme park.
From the point of view of this assignment of a journey I need to decide if I want to use one or both of the two lines, the Watercress line would allow a peek into the past as the infrastructure looks as it did in the past where the Tongham line provides the opertunity to explore the marks we leave on the landscape. There is also a chance to explore the contrast between the two and our obsession with turning the past into a weekend vist or theme park.
I have been doing some further research on the old OS maps and found that you could get copies of the original maps I have assembled a set of maps from the archive that cover the area I am looking at which I may get printed as part of the final submission, having been on the bookmaking class with the TV group and done some work on bookmaking I am thinking of making the final submission into a handmade book and putting the maps either in the book or as pull outs at the end.
The maps I have sourced are as follows:
Hampshire and Isle of Wight XXI_14 (Aldershot Ash and Normandy Farnham)
Sheet 285 – Aldershot (Outline) 1896
Surrey XXII 16 (Ash and Normandy Seale)
Surrey XXX_2 (Farnham)
Surrey XXX_3 (Aldershot Farnham Seale)
Hampshire and Isle of Wight XXI_14 (Aldershot Ash and Normandy Farnham)
In my quest for information on the Tongham branch line I discovered this website: https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=15&lat=51.2392&lon=-0.7175&layers=168&right=BingHybThis resource is invaluable in locating the original parts of the line that have now been demolished, it allows you to point at a location on one map and see a crosshair on the other, it is also possible to swap maps for different issues of OS map. In the screen grab above I have the OS 25inch, 1892 – 1914 Map selected on the left and the current Bing satellite map on the right.
An initial glance is showing that Tongham Station has been redeveloped:
And that there may still be traces of the Ash Green station, it looks from the new map as if the old station building is still there the track is still there though I know the rails have been removed and the bridge is still intact:
“There used to be a lot of trains and now there are nearly none”, I have actually had lots of hairbrained ideas for this assignment that I will probably not even try to put down on paper. My current Idea is to look at the old Tongham branch line that was closed in the Beeching reform. I have a lot of memories of part of it, which has now been removed by the construction of the A331. When I was a boy between 12 and 15 I used to go shooting with my Dad on a bit of land that was owned by a local farmer, Dad had permission to shoot on the farm to help keep the pidgeons etc off the crops. Along one edge was a bank which I learned was part of an old railway line removed in the Beeching cuts.
Today the stations are now gone but sections of the railway still exist, there are some lovely bridges and repurposed buildings along the way. I am considering using old OS Maps and documenting the traces that still exist of the old railway. The following is a segment of the 2018OS map I have highlighted the route of the old Tongham branch line in yellow.
Struggling to find an inspiration for Assignment 2, The Aldershot murders is a bust as I can’t get access to the information in time. I looked at the idea of following the path that the Bluestones at Stonehenge took, but it’s not really working for me. One of my biggest issues is the lack of funds at the moment stopping me from driving all over the place. There were three Ideas around stone henge one was the path of the bluestones as mentioned as the quarry is quite close. The second was the path of the other stones but that is a huge journey from Wales. The last was the funerary procession to the henge.
To be honest these ideas revolve around theories that no one knows the answer too. Oddly if the idea does not fire me up I find I don’t want to work with it. I feel that the path to a voice of my own lies on a path of doing things that inspire me, which sort of stands to reason.
I have abandoned the idea of Stonehenge now but that leaves me with no idea for a project now.
I find myself in one of those horrible places where I can’t visualise my next assignment, I can’t remember being quite so adrift and devoid of ideas that I find stimulating. In my current financial situation there is not much room for travelling about for the assignment and so I am stuck with what I can get to locally. I wanted to do something that was not just “my trip from A to B” which seems rather plain and obvious, I was looking at the idea of my journey from a boy to manhood based on the places I have worked, many of which no longer exist, but even this is not lighting the pilot light. I have looked hard for any books on Aldershot that take us on a journey I could recreate but that has so far drawn a blank. I would love to have done a Jack the Ripper style tour based on all the murders over the years in the area but the definitive book is not released until November by Keith Bean.
I really need to find a way to jump-start the creative juices as I am having a flat moment right now. One day I will be able to just rush off and do my own thing can’t wait for level 3 and my body of work.
Text is something that comes up in almost every module it seems to be something of an obsession with the course writers. I was fortunate enough to see the work of Michael David Murphy called “Unphotographable” at Brighton in 2012, my first visit to the Biennial. I remember being really taken by this work as it created the image in my mind rather than with my retina, which enabled me to create my own fantastic version of the story. As an avid reader of fantasy fiction since I was around 12 years old, I am really familiar with the joy of creating the image in your mind as you read and how this is often ruined when they make a film about your favourite book.
In this exercise I was tasked with taking a trip and writing notes, I took a walk along the Blackwater Valley Route and found it stirred lots of memories and some strong emotions, particularly at what has happened to the landscape since I was a boy.
In a similar manner to Richard Long’s ‘textworks’ (see www.richardlong.org), write down 12 – 24 brief observations during a short walk or journey by some means of transport. This may be the journey you intend to make for Assignment Two, or it may be a different one. You don’t need to take any photographs.
This exercise is designed to help you think about text as an alternative or additional means of expression, and to provide an opportunity to experiment with presenting text creatively.
A Walk Along the Blackwater Valley Route
The old lane has mostly been taken over by the gardens of the residents who bought it leaving only a very narrow pathway down to the river.
The bridge over the Blackwater has been replaced since I was a boy and the narrow concrete and steel construction that scared us as children has been replaced by a wider wooden construction.
Old Smithy’s place is now a woods all traces of the caravan are gone and in spring it is a bluebell woods. He was a strange old man living like a hermit the full impact of who and what he was, was lost on us as small children.
The Blackwater Valley Route now runs along the river bank, this used to be part of the HTH Sand Pit
They have made a path out of Tarmac that now runs along or as close to the bank as it can this has made it a nice place to walk and is now a route for runners and dog walkers.
The river bubbles along looking so clean now, there are even fish in it. When I was a boy it was an evil frothing soup of chemicals and industrial slurry and was a dangerous looking rusty brown colour.
The houses all along the estate that have become so familiar to me over the past 53 years look strange from behind and it is hard to tell which house belongs to whom, even my own house looks strange on the opposite bank.
The trees at one point have grown over the river to form an arching canopy of foliage that the river runs serenely beneath.
The path bends away from the river while the fence on the right bars entry to the fishing lakes that occupy the old sand pit, which has been divided by the new road.
The path runs close to the road and high fences stop hooligans throwing things into the road as it cuts the landscape into two.
Ahead looms a concrete and brick structure that resembles an underpass from an urban landscape.
The underpass takes us beneath the Basingstoke canal which has been preserved by constructing a huge aqueduct.
The Blackwater Valley Route runs under the Canal and ascends to the towpath via a set of zigzag pathways that rise over twenty feet to the waiting canal and towpath above.
The Blackwater Valley Route now merges with the Canal Towpath for several hundred feet as we cross over the A331 to the other side.
As we cross the A331 I witness something of a marvel of modern engineering, the canal has been preserved with concrete and steel as it hangs over the road and huge swinging dams have been built to move into place should they need to remove the water from over the road to maintain the Aquaduct.
From the middle of the Aqueduct, there is a great view of the surrounding landscape and we can see the Road the A331 that stretches out in both directions like a huge scar on the landscape of my childhood, dividing places that can no longer be crossed on foot.
The Route descends on the opposite side of the Aqueduct and takes a zigzag path down to the side of the river and becomes the Blackwater Valley route again.
Somehow the river has crossed the road as well though I realise that I have no idea how this has been achieved.
Joining back with the river the path once again runs along its bank and the rather pretty fishing lake is visible to the right.
The route has to cross, Government road through a series of gates and a dash across the road to the other side. As we move along the path we find we can go no further for the moment as there is a dispute by the landowner with the builders of the path who he says had no right or permission to build a path across his land.
Consider how you might present your observations
I saw a text-based display at the 2012 Brighton Photo Biennial. It was a project by Michael David Murphy called “Unphotographable” each piece was a text-based item that started “This is a picture I did not take” it was born out of a trip to some Muslim countries where he was advised not to take his camera. at the Time I found the work rather powerful as each piece created a picture in my head that was unique to me. I think that the way he displayed each piece on a series of sheets of paper that built the image was a very strong way to present work like this and so I feel that I would look at his work as a way of inspiring my own attempt
Is it appropriate to use other people’s images in your own work? As the image above suggests this presents something of a dilemma.
On one hand, it is morally wrong to use the work of others without permission that is quite a clear cut in my own mind if I think about my own work I would be quite outraged if someone used my work without asking first especially if they made a profit out of doing so. This seems to me to be quite clear-cut, but what if there is no clue who made the work, well still clear cut to me it’s still someone else’s work.
On the other hand compositing images is fun I do it a lot, I have been known to need an element for an image like a pair of lips or a dragons eye, which I don’t have in my own images, what do I do then? Well if it is just me playing I might get it from a google image search, but not for a commercial piece of work, in that case I would have to seek permission from the owner or use an image service like Getty or Alamay or use one of the ever-growing resources like deviant art where you can get free and purchasable resources.
I truly believe that this kind of artwork is justifiable and valid but I also think that as a working professional photographer we have to respect the IPR of our fellow practitioners. It is worth looking at this youtube broadcast from Tony and Chelsea Northrup who sued an Australian company for using one of their images.
The offending company ended up paying $60,000 but the Northrups ended up being paid $7,543.48 the rest went to the lawyers the whole process took something like 3 years and demonstrates what a minefield this subject is. It will cost you if you are caught stealing images but don’t expect to be well compensated for having your image stolen after all in the end as the saying goes its only the lawyers that win.