Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Broken idyll in Newark

click photo to enlarge
For someone with an interest in architecture the Nottinghamshire town of Newark-on-Trent is a place of great fascination. It has a picturesquely sited medieval castle by the river, all the more romantic in appearance after being "slighted" in 1646 following its support of King Charles 1 during the English Civil War. The centre of the town has a fine, large medieval church - St Mary Magdalene - a member of the Greater Churches Group of large parish churches. The crowning glory of this building is its beautiful, tall spire that dominates the town. Nearby is a lovely market place surrounded by a wonderful mix of buildings including the Palladian Town Hall  of 1777-6 by John Carr of York and the White Hart Inn, a building Pevsner calls "one of the paramount examples of late C15 timber-framed architecture in England." Elsewhere, but particularly by the river, there are other buildings, old and new, industrial, commercial and domestic that attract the eye. The river itself is navigable, but has a canal-like section that was the hub of the bardge traffic that originated in Newark and brought goods to the town.

The other day, accompanied by a friend who was staying with us for a while, we visited the Nottinghamshire town. Unlike our December visit, on which the two images linked above were taken, the weather was sunny and warm. In the castle grounds - now a small park - people were sitting in the sun, eating a lunch, playing football and generally enjoying the summer day. I was taking a few shots of the architecture when I became aware of many people focussing their gaze and attention in one direction. Looking the same way I saw a column of black smoke rising into the air from not too far away, and quickly spreading over the town. What was it? In these times one's first thought can turn to a deliberate act of violence or terrorism, but that seemed unlikely in provincial Newark. I knew the town well enough to work out that it was probably coming from a scrapyard by the river. At lunch we discovered that was the case - a pile of rubbish had caught fire. What I found interesting was how the event changed the atmosphere and how the pleasant summer idyll was suddenly broken for a while. I don't always have the presence of mind to capitalise on such events with my camera, but on this occasion I fired off a quick shot of the smoke and the people's reaction to it.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 28mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On