Happy #PhotoFriday everyone! This weeks instalment is an image of the entrance to the Essex Farm Cemetery, Belgium.
It is here at Essex Farm that the Canadian Physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote his famous poem “In Flanders Fields.”
A close friend of Mcrae’s, Alex Helmer, was killed in battle and Macrae himself performed the burial. The following day, just by the Essex Farm Advanced Dressing Station, Macrae sat in the back of an ambulance and wrote his famous poem. Sadly Alex Helmers grave is now lost, but he is remebered with his name carved on the walls of the Menin Gate, Ypres.
Among the many graves here there is one that really that really effected my as I read the inscription on the Grave. It is the final resting place of Private Valentine Joe Strudwick of the 8th Rifle Brigade (1900-1916). He was one of the youngest casualties of the First World War. Enlisting at Lambeth, Surrey, he was to become a rifleman at only age 14. On Friday 14th January 1916, at Boezinge, West Flanders, he was killed in action. Valentine Joe Strudwick died when he was 15 years and 11 months old.
Visiting here is something that I will never forget.
Seagulls, fish and chips, sticks of rock in every colour, a stroll along the promenade, what do those words mean to you? For me, it brings back the memories of going to Blackpool every year for a long weekend with my family to see the illuminations. The funny thing was, every year when we got there, all we saw was people we knew. It looked as though most my Ayrshire home town of Kilmarnock had the same idea as we did.
Recently being in Blackpool for the first time in many years was a perplexing experience for me. Looking at the seaside resort with an adults perspective through the lens of my childhood memories, provided me with a conflicting viewpoint. It would be extremely naive of me to think that things would have stayed the way they were. We as people are in a constant state of change, and so is the world around us. Change is good, in the most part, but sadly not always.
With my camera in hand I went on an hour long walkabout, wanting to capture images of Blackpool today that correspond with the memories of my childhood. Here is a selection the images taken that day for you to enjoy.
It is only right that I should start with an image of the iconic Blackpool Tower. Whether we were all crammed into the back of my Grandpa’s mini, or packed into the bustling Blackpool train, we as a family always played the first person to see the Blackpool Tower gets 50p game. Needless to say after a considerable amount of false sightings, when the tower eventually came into site and the first eagle-eyed person to see it shouts, “there it is!” it was official, we were now definitely on holiday!
After getting into our Bed and Breakfast we always freshened up, and then took a walk down the sea front. This building, even as a child, has always caught my attention. Only in Blackpool could a building like this be built.
I strongly believe that this is the building that fuelled my constantly growing fascination with Art Deco. It is the rather magnificent former Woolworths building in Blackpool. Many years ago I remember going to a fire sale here, I had heard about them but until then never had the chance to go to one! It was a red letter day for me because on sale were lots and lots of art supplies. That year when coming home my suitcase was packed with paints, pencils, sketchbooks.
Whether it was to see a singer, comedian, or some other act, It was almost guaranteed we would Visit the Winter Gardens. The incentive always being, “if your good we’ll be going to the Pleasure Beach tommorow!”
Like many British seaside resorts, Blackpool is famous for its piers. Thankfully all three piers here have survived and are still being enjoyed today. Sadly they are all showing signs of wear. I hope that they recieve the attention they need. The thought of loosing them saddens me greatly.
Negotiating my way throught the deafening noise radiating from the gaming machines and kids amusements, I eventually get a chance to walk on the original boards of the pier. flanking most of the piers length there is the original seating. Sadly, like other parts of its structure, it is showing signs of wear. Anything located be sea, always suffers greatly, the levels of maintence required from buildings and structures like these need to be greatly higher then others situated inland. Like all things in life, it costs money. This images illustrates such damage, I can only hope something is done before it is too late.
Of all the three piers at Blackpool, the North Pier has always been my favourite. My earliest memory of it was when I was young you had to pay to get onto it. I can still remember people relaxing in their hired deck chairs, listening to the old-fashioned music, and watching couples dancing. It was like stepping back in time. Back then, I believed it still kept a little of the spirit it had when it first opened. It was the embers of a fading part of our social history, sadly now lost. I hope that somewhere it still remains.
To see any pier from the side, it always amazes me how they manage to survive the elements, especially with the harsh winters that we have here in Britain. When you are walking on its wooden boards you don’t realise the structure below, and how complex it has to be to keep what we are walking on stable, and structurally safe. It is this section that is constantly being battered by the sea, and needs the most care.
As a kid I always saw the Metropole and used to think, “one day I will stay there.” Sadly the hotel, like the resort has known better days. When I see the building now it still maintains some of its once grand appearance.
Like a lot of things in Blackpool, even the seating is over-the-top! These are examples of when Blackpool was a booming Victorian seaside resort, for everyone irrespective of their class or social standing.
Enroute to Blackpool all you want to do is get the fist glimpse of the tower, when you are leaving your eyes stays on the tower as it slowly disappears out of sight. It is only appropiate that this image will be the last in this post. This iconic structure is more than a engineering and architectural wonder, it is the embodiement of Blackpool itself.
The seaside resort is part of our British identity. Most people, at some times of their lives, have spend a period of time by the sea. We who live in the south-west of Scotland, the yearly pilgrimage used to play a strong part in our family lives. So the question is, do we really like to be beside the seaside? I think the answer is yes. With all my happy memories of this famous seaside town, I believe it is solely responsible for making me fascinated with the concept and reality of the British seaside resort itself.
Some of the images in this post have been given the ReClick Photo treatment, and will feature in my next blog post so stay tuned!
I hope you have enjoyed this post and if you would like to find out more about ReClick Photo and the work that I do, please visit my website http://www.reclickphoto.co.uk.