Friday, June 16, 2006

Fleetwood panorama

click photo to enlarge
When, in 1837, Decimus Burton planned the town of Fleetwood in Lancashire with his patron, Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood, they thought big. But, their bird's-eye view drawing of how the town was to be, with its radial plan, eye-catching buildings, parks, churches and vistas was only partly realised. The money ran out, and with it the dream of an imposing resort in the style of the south of England's Brighton or St Leonard's. What was left was a mixture of the grand and the prosaic. But, though the boulevards and mansions weren't realised, the desired prosperity did eventually come, courtesy of the fishing industry. Today the fishing has declined, and Fleetwood is no longer a prosperous town. However, it remains a place of visual interest and distinct character, in a great location, with a unique history.

This view shows two of Burton's most distinctive buildings - the Lower Lighthouse (1840) with its covered seating on four sides, and the large, curving, North Euston Hotel (1841). Both are imposing stone buildings, giving an impression of dignified grandeur to any sea-borne visitor entering the docks up the mouth of the River Wyre. The third building in this panorama is Blackpool & The Fylde College's Radar Station (1964-5), designed by Lancashire County Council's principal architect at the time, Roger Booth. This delightful curved building stands on steel legs in the sand next to the promenade, its top bristling with electronic navigation equipment used for the training of nautical students. What would Burton have thought of this quirky addition to his refined group. I like to think that he would have appreciated its utility and whimsy, and would have noted its curve as an affectionate nod to the curve of his more imposing hotel.

The early morning light gave some useful moulding to this group of buildings, and I used a wide angle lens to capture them. The final image was cropped to more readily match the elongated nature of the subject. Looking at the scene in this way makes me think that a "stitched" panorama would be a suitable treatment of this view, and it's one to which I may return.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen