Sunday, March 05, 2006

Red railings on the quayside

click photo to enlarge
Glasson Dock is a tiny port at the mouth of the River Lune near Lancaster. It was created in 1780 when the increasing size of ships meant that they could no longer make the journey up river to the city. The old village of Glasson grew in size to accomodate the increased activity. However, the real building began when the Glasson spur of the Lancaster Canal was opened in 1821. The port then developed a large canal basin and a dock. This allowed goods brought into Glasson from the sea to be transferred to canal boats and distributed anywhere in Britain on the canal network. Traffic could also, of course, be transhipped in the opposite direction, from barge to ship and exported.

Today the port does a regular trade in animal feedstuffs, grain, flour and other commodities. The day I took this photograph an East European ship arrived to collect a cargo of what appeared to be scrap metal. The canal basin no longer has a commercial function, but is now a marina for both canal boats and sea and river-going cruisers and yachts. The eighteenth and early nineteenth century buildings and quaysides have been developed as an attraction for tourists, as well as continuing to fulfill their purpose for those with business to complete.

I took this photograph of a rather battered ship tied up in the dock, not for the nautical interest it represents, nor because it illustrates the unique qualities of the place. No, it was because of the red railings! On a cold March day, with traces of snow on the ground and ice in the water, these railings positively glowed. The backdrop of the green water and ship, the blue of the sky, and the white of the snow and clouds gave the red of the railings real power in the composition. And, the strong colour and lines lead the eye into the picture. I don't know why these railings are red - all the other metalwork around the dock is painted black and white. But, to whoever used the last dregs of a can of scarlet on these railings - thanks!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

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