Tuesday, April 07, 2009

High Street, Cromer

click photo to enlarge
I've spoken elsewhere in this blog about High Street as the name of a road. In that post I talked about how it is one of the commonest street names in Britain, how it means "main street", and that a road so titled is usually one of the oldest in a settlement.

A number of consequences flow from these facts. Firstly, being old it is often quite narrow. Even though the properties that line the street may not be the first to be erected in those positions, subsequent dwellings usually followed the same building line. So, unless later generations widened the street to take account of larger, wheeled traffic, and greater numbers using the road, today a High Street is often too narrow to fulfill its function as the main street of a settlement. Many such roads have have been superceded by wider routes where the newer shops and grander dwellings will be found.

Most old, narrow High Streets also suffer the disadvantage of having a sinuous line, which further handicaps them in a world of cars and delivery lorries. Moreover, many of the old buildings that flank such a street don't lend themselves to conversion to the sort of retail properties that are now required. And even if they could be converted conservation regulations (quite rightly) prevent adaptations that fundamentally alter the character of the ancient structures. If you add to these factors the likelihood that the streets adjoining many High Streets are also old and narrow, and suffer the same commercial disadvantages, then you can see that if these streets are not to die new uses have to be found for them. Many towns have done this very successfully. When I lived in Kingston upon Hull the old High Street that comprised commercial properties, Georgian and earlier houses, and warehouses by the river, was turned into a quarter that featured museums, flats, restaurants, cafes, etc.

Today's photograph shows the old High Street at Cromer, a road that fits my description above very well. On the morning I took my photograph it was free of the bustle that characterised the nearby shopping thoroughfares. The filtered sun was coming into the narrow street through recesses, and reflecting off painted buildings giving a very nice quality to the lighting: an almost theatrical, "stage set" effect. A solitary figure seemed to be debating whether to give the King's Head pub a try, and in the background the medieval church of St Peter & St Paul looked down on the scene. The curving line of the road leading to the tower seemed a workable composition so I took this shot.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22mm (44mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/320 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On