Sunday, 20 March 2011

Houston and Sons

Today I went off in search of more abandoned buildings for my ongoing module project and my search led me to Kennoway (or maybe Windygates, the towns run together and I don't know where the boundary lies). There I found a fabulous set of old buildings, full of all sorts of hidden photographic treasures.

I did cross a line though (actually it was a wall) and took a chance that no-one would spot me hopping over the knee-high wall into the complex of buildings which were obviously disused. I was spotted though, and Mr Houston himself showed up to ask me what I was up to. I felt pretty bad about trespassing, and after I explained what I was doing he seemed OK with it and said I could carry on. Still, it taught me a lesson that I've read in a lot of photography texts - always get permission. If Mr Houston had been less of a nice guy I could have landed in trouble. So from now on there will be no wall hopping for me....

Once we started chatting I asked Mr Houston what these buildings had been used for. Apparently this was a family business, which started as a piggery before becoming a haulage and engineering firm. The buildings I was photographing were mainly used as storage. The collapsed building to the right of the first photograph here was the family home in which all the 'and sons' (including the Mr Houston I met) were born and raised.

It led me to thinking, that the derelict old buildings I'd spotted from the road as a cool photo-op were actually an important part of someone's history. That even industrial buildings can have deep personal connections, and that in barging in with my camera I was intruding on more than just a piece of private property. It highlighted the need to approach each subject respectfully (as well as lawfully).

So an interesting lesson was learned through todays photo adventures, not just about the pictures themselves.

The atmosphere in the buildings was quite magical. I find it really intriguing to come across random items that show evidence of human occupation that have managed to outlive parts of the buildings themselves, like the remains here of what I assume was a mattress or bed of some kind.

Here a big porcelain sink appears to have a tree growing through it. All over the site was evidence of nature taking back the land.

There were even windows whose glass had survived where the frames and walls around them hadn't. They still looked so fragile, despite having outlasted far sturdier things.

There were no roofs on any of these buildings and it seemed really odd to see electrical sockets, and fuse boxes, sitting open to the elements.

It was a very atmospheric place. I'm glad I found it, and that it's owner was so understanding. It seems a shame that it's fallen into ruin now, but there's still something about the place that I think is rather beautiful.