Saturday, December 16, 2006

Death by neglect or makeover

click photo to enlarge
Maybe I feel the way I do because I remember them as they were. On the other hand it may be my age, and the onset of that cantankerous period that affects many! Whatever the reason, I'm getting angry about what's happening to barns!

Too many barns in the Yorkshire Dales are falling down or being converted into houses. Neither of these outcomes is acceptable because of the major contribution that these buildings make to this unique landscape. I remember the top barn in the photograph as it was forty years ago. It was used by the farm, and its stone roof and walls were a joy to behold. The arched "porch" entrance with its datestone gave the building an architectural feel. This was a building that spoke volumes about the pride of its creators. Now it is neglected, roofless, full of weeds and saplings, a pitiful sight. Its location means it has escaped the other graveyard route for old barns - being turned into a twee rural residence. On the day I took this photograph I passed a barn that had undergone an "olde worlde cum modern" conversion. Large wood-framed picture windows, non-traditional rusticated stonework, gleaming silver central heating chimney, cobbled courtyard, new-old "lantern-style" streetlight - the very image of its owners' misconception of the past, but with all mod cons. There was a time when planners tried to rein in these crass conversions. No more it seems. As for barns that are becoming piles of rubble, on what are farmers spending the billions in subsidies that they receive each year? Quad bikes and Land Rovers?

My photograph was taken with a long zoom lens at 208mm (35mm equivalent). I was attracted by the slanting early morning light, and the shadows made by the two barns and the surrounding network of millstone grit walls. The camera was set to Aperture Priority (f5.6 at 1/200 sec) with the ISO at 100, and -0.7EV.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen