28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
The river Wear once the proud background to the largest shipbuilding town in the world, producing some ridiculous tonnage of shipping each and every year now lies practically empty apart from the occasional pleasure or small fishing boat chugging its way downstream to tend to a motley collection of lobster pots.
After living in Sunderland for 5years whilst studying for a degree which I eventually completed, I became accustomed to all these big metal things we call bridges, seeing them so often they just became part of the landscape, something you see, but you don't see. Occasionally the sky would lay on a good sunset and you would look up and suddenly notice how majestic they were once again. But generally people do not notice them, except when they come into the news after a car accident or yet another jumper has utilised the bridges structure to meet their end (or not in some cases). I've climbed the bridge further upstream, the queen Alexandra bridge on numerous occasions, sometimes for photos, sometimes to get a good viewpoint on activities at the still *just* operational Pallion engineering yard and others just for a sit and chat with mates. Bridges are there to be used, and use them I shall.
My most recent address placed me not 3minutes walk from this set of bridges, the oldest, the so called metro railway bridge was built in 1879 and has had numerous makeovers, but the general structure has not changed, despite its drab grey paint job its a pretty bridge. Its not lit up, but it doesn't need to be, the newly installed lighting on the wearbridge not 10m away does a mighty fine job. At its mid point the bridge provides 90ft of clearance to ships at the highest tide, so its generally accepted theres 100ft below the bridge. Sat on the edge of the tallest part of the 'D' section facing upstream where there was once not a scrap of land NOT used for the shipbuilding industry, is now completly desolate save for an un'maintaiend and unlit park area with as much glass as grass.
Looking downstream gives a different perspective, a fresh looking modern univesity offering education to all who apply, numerous semi-high end apartment blocks with electronic gates and wireless networks, resturants, enterprising businesses and an award winning pub home to the famous Whiskers Society.
However, look closer, and the cracks in Sunderlands 'fabrique' are clear, the city is falling apart, the university is ill maintained and operated by idiots, the stylish apartment buildings are not even half occupied, the resturants are struggling or out of business, and with a council hell bent on destroying every single last interesting artifact and architechurally significant and historic building let alone ensuring the many divided commuinties remain divided and with little to be proud for its no wonder the city hasn't descended into chaos.
These steps lead to toilets that I believe were opened in 1929 when the final incarnation of the Wearmouth bridge was opened to the public. I reckon they were closed during the 90's when two high pressure pumped mains sewer pipes were shoved through the very centre of the toilet facility. They were obviously a bit of fancery in their day, now several inchs deep in pigeon fresh. I've no idea if sunderland even HAS any public toilets anymore which begs me to wonder how older & infirm persons ever manage to get into the city centre when there is no facilities for them, something that England as a whole suffers from.
Sunderlands Secret toilets
I've been shooting film for about 3years now, and finally no longer feel the need to drag a heavy digital body around with me for comparison. I don't care much for the nostalgia of it, I do it for speed and simplicity. You choose the film you want for the usage, you shoot it, collect them up, batch develop & scan them, and they are done, no post editing to speak of, just fresh photos DONE. I rarely take a shot more than once, if it doesn't come out the first time its unlikely to come out the second time round is it so why waste it? And if it doesn't come out, so what, big deal.
Behold the Symmettry
The cast iron bridge railings are almost permantly lined with flowers in various states of decay following a suicide jump. Twice I have been on the bridge deck as jumpers have done what they do best. The most recent time I was close enough to hear the persons final scream, followed by a brief silence before the police vehicles in attendance moved their attention from the bridge deck to the footpath 100feet below.
From this angle she looks playful and inviting, but don't let the wangle fool you, thats a starting 50incline on gloss paint, dig your toes into the painted smuthered rivets and just keep pushing on, push past the ample quantities of anti-climb, past the blinding 5gigawatt lamps, then it gets easier, until you start sliding on the now fantastic combination of dust, flaky gloss paint, anticlimb & sea gul shit.
Green Steel Ribcage
the 1929 incarnation was designed by Mot Hay & Anderson, and despite being built at the absolute pinacle of shipbuilding in the town it was fabricated by the renowned (Forth Rail & london Tower Bridge) Sir William Arrol & Co of Glasgow, that probably caused controvery at the time, but the people of sunderland know it as their bridge and they'll tell you stories about how their great grandfathers dog hand hewed it down in pallion
Stop for 5 at the top, admire the orJIZZmic sunrise, shoot some film, wave to the suicide camera, then slide all the way back down again.
Despite the bridges stocky dimensions, stradling the centre point at the top of the bridge where it is only connected in 3 points (presumably expansion/vibration pads) it can clearly be felt jostling beneath your feet as even light traffic makes its way across.
Just in time for sunrise
Its quiet up here....
The few minutes I had waiting for this frame to expose I had time to think about the other bridges of this type, theres 4 of them, a few airmiles needed for the last one, but I reckon it would be a good set to have completed.
Its about 4am, the suns coming up fast, traffics getting heavy, a good half dozen police cars have already passed below me, the suicide camera is giving me the 1,000 yard stare; its time to go.
After 5years in mackem'land, I've managed to do everything above, below and deep down inside her, she is 'done', squeezed of every last drop of anti-climb, bunker oil, sewer fresh and rotting stodge.
Goodbye Sunderland and ta much.