Monday, 5 August 2013

Rural ruins

As a photographer I'm particularly drawn to derelict old buildings in picturesque  countryside settings.  There's something about the contrast between the decaying state of the abandoned manmade structure and the  natural beauty of its surroundings.  Sometimes the contrast is stark but sometimes the building actually adds a certain element of interest to the scene, providing  a focal point to an image.  Very often I find that the camera doesn't do justice to what my eyes tell me is a beautiful scene.  The inclusion of an old ruin can certainly add an element of interest.

The image below is Rosedale in the North York Moors National Park and the ruin was once a cottage belonging to the nearby Rosedale East Mines.  Here, from 1864 to 1926, ironstone was mined from the daleside by the Rosedale Mining Company. 

Today the  area is tranquil but once the whole valley was scarred with mining activity and a railway connecting the Rosedale East and West mines, covering over ten miles in total.  The site of the railway track remains as a pleasant route for walkers and cyclists, with various remains from mining activities along the way, such as the Rosedale East calcining kilns.


The Yorkshire Dales has its fair share of interesting old buildings too.  Whilst I enjoy photographing the iconic stone barns for which the region is well-known, I actually prefer finding something a little more unusual, like this abandoned cottage. 

I find abandoned churches in the middle of the countryside particularly fascinating.  The congregation and their homes have long since gone, but the churches remain, protected no doubt by legislation which prevents their demolition.

Below is the ruin of Saint Martin's church at the deserted medieval village of Wharam Percy in East Yorkshire.  The village itself was deserted in the 16th century but the church remained in use until the 1950s by residents of the nearby village of Thixendale.  Today it is under the care of English Heritage.

Just a few miles away, in the middle of rolling pasture land, sits the ruined Holy Trinity Church, built in 1890 to replace the previous church which served the village of Cottam.  The village has long since disappeared and all that remains is the ruined church in which the last service was held in the 1930s.

These are just a few notable examples of the kind of rural ruins I find so appealing.  Each one has its own story to tell.   Eventually nature will take back what man has abandoned, but in the meantime I for one find them fascinating and strangely beautiful in their own way.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Happy Yorkshire Day

Perhaps only those of us who live in or come from Yorkshire know that today, 1st August, is Yorkshire Day.  I was born in Yorkshire and have lived in the county all of my life but, to be honest, I've not really paid much attention to the concept of Yorkshire Day.  It's a fairly recent invention, described by some as being as "phoney as Father's Day", but it does seem to be gaining in popularity with each passing year.

So what are the origins of Yorkshire Day?  It's certainly not an ancient festival!  It was started by the Yorkshire Ridings Society in 1975 in the town of Beverley, East Yorkshire, in response to the then government's reorganisation of counties which, horror of horrors, did away with East Yorkshire altogether, rebranding it as "North Humberside".  Yorkshire people are very proud of their county and those of us living in East Yorkshire (myself included, although I was very young at the time) immediately began to protest at this dumbing down of our heritage.  We refused to use North Humberside in our postal addresses and some people even took to vandalising county road signs proclaiming "Welcome to Humberside".  It took 20 years but eventually, with some further reorganisation in 1996, our beloved East Riding of Yorkshire was restored to us.

The date of 1st August was apparently chosen as Yorkshire Day for two reasons.  First of all it was the date on which the Battle of Minden took place in 1759, a battle date celebrated by the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and also this date commemorates the emancipation of slaves in 1834 for which one of East Yorkshire's famous residents, William Wilberforce, was a prominent campaigner.

On a personal note, I am very proud to be Yorkshire born and bred and see nothing wrong with having our own day, although apart from picking a white rose from the garden I haven't quite worked out the proper way to celebrate it.  Perhaps a walk in either the Yorkshire Dales or the North York Moors National Parks would be more appropriate, giving me an opportunity to savour the beautiful landscapes right on my doorstep. 

But then I only have to look around me and every day is Yorkshire Day!