Saturday, December 24, 2005

Touching the Past

On the cover of Gordon Winter's book, "A Country Camera 1844-1914", there is a photograph of Robert Morvinson, carrier and shoemaker of Stallingborough, Lincolnshire. It was taken in 1857 when Mr Morvinson was 82 years old. The author notes that he was therefore born in 1775 when the United States was still a British colony, and Bonnie Prince Charlie was still alive. It seemed remarkable to me when I first read this, and it still does now, that I can look at a photograph of someone who was contemporary with those events and people.

Thoughts of a similar nature came to mind when I was looking up some information about my photograph of the steam yacht, "Gondola", which still carries tourists up and down Coniston Water, one of the lakes in the English Lake District. I was surprised to read that its daily journeys began as long ago as 1859. And, though it was out of service from 1936 until 1980, it continues today doing what it was designed to do all those years ago. It occured to me that the poet, artist and writer, John Ruskin - a figure who seems very remote today - would have seen the "Gondola" regularly from Brantwood, his house overlooking the lake. He may even have travelled in it - though it was probably too "new-fangled" for his sensibilities!

On the morning I took this photograph I took others which captured the blue of the water, the fine painting and gilding of the yacht, and the autumn colours of the lakeside trees. They are good enough record shots. This contre-jour shot, which almost looks black and white, is the best picture however, and better captures the spirit of a journey on Coniston Water.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen