Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Oliver's Wharf, Wapping, London

click photo to enlarge
Oliver's Wharf is a warehouse on the River Thames in Wapping, London. It was built by F. & H. Francis in 1869-70 for George Oliver. The building handled general river-borne cargo but had some special facilities for tea. It is a 6-storey structure constructed of yellow stock brick with red brick and stone dressing that contributes to the Venetian Gothic styling. The art critic, John Ruskin (1819-1900) popularised this particular form of Gothic through his three-volume work on the art and architecture of that city, "The Stones of Venice" (1851-3), and it was applied to churches, museums, town halls, libraries and many other public and private buildings. Here at Wapping the ornate "polychrome" brickwork, pointed windows, brick relieving arches and stone three-bay windows makes the building stand out among the more utilitarian nineteenth century warehouses that line the river.

It was undoubtedly the ornate character of the main elevations (the street and river facades are very similar) that led to Oliver's Wharf being one of the first redundant warehouses to be converted to flats. In 1972 twenty three luxury dwellings were created within its old walls. The architects responsible for the adaptation wisely left much of the original exterior details intact, and today the building is a noticeable and noteworthy feature of this part of London.

I have looked across the Thames at Oliver's Wharf many times on my walks along the south bank from Rotherhithe into the City. I've photographed it a couple of times too. However, not until a few days ago, when a bright sky with thin cloud illuminated the building very nicely, did I capture an image that pleased me. I like this shot because it has something of the quality of an architect's watercolour elevational illustration about it.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 200mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On