Greeenwich, that is the original one in London, home to the Meridian Line and Greenwich Mean Time, has featured several times in 35mmc. Bob Janes has used aspects of it to illustrate his informative articles, Michael Elliott did a Five Frames of the beach and, dare I say it, I’ve even attempted it myself.
As Maritime Greenwich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site this is understandable, it is inherently photogenic. But wander away from central Greenwich and there is also much of interest to discover. Head west towards Deptford Creek and it’s all modern riverside developments so up-market that there’s even a Waitrose now. Rather, head east and you’ll find a bit of old Greenwich displaying a much more workaday aspect.
It was here that I finished a film to test a Minolta XG1 a couple of weeks ago. The camera was a recent charity shop find and bought not for the camera per se, but for the lens: a Rokkor 45mm F2. I’d read good things about this budget late addition to the Rokkor MD range and as the camera body appeared to be functioning correctly (amazingly there was still power in the batteries) it seemed too good a bargain to turn down.
Taking along a Rokkor 28mm F3.5 for good measure, I was after subjects that would test the performance of the lens in real-life situations. I’d noticed this garage on previous strolls in the area and been attracted by its possibilities as a subject. As luck would have it the doors were open and there was a white car up on one of the ramps to offset the gloom of the interior.
Not much wrong with the sharpness there, in fact to my eyes it’s verging on in-yer-face clinical sharpness.
Opposite that garage is Greenwich Power Station. Built 1902-1910 to supply electricity to London’s tram network and then to the Underground it was originally coal-fired and then oil-fired. It is now gas-fired and capable of serving as a standby emergency power supply for the Underground. As befits its strategic importance it is surrounded by high walls which are now topped with razor wire and security cameras. Look carefully at the wall near where I stood for the shot of the garage and a couple of relics from its past can be seen.
As London Transport became Transport for London in 2000 and imperial measurements started to be phased out in the late 1960’s the first sign probably dates from the 1950’s. The enamel A sign denotes Assembly Point in case of fire or other emergency and is of at least WW2 vintage.
Coal for the power station was off-loaded from barges on the Thames via a purpose-built jetty that was originally equipped with cranes and a narrow-gauge railway. The jetty is still there and again my luck was in, the tide was out enabling me to get down onto the foreshore and admire its elephantine feet.
Back towards Greenwich is the power station’s diminutive neighbour. Trinity Hospital and Alms Houses pre-date the power station by almost three hundred years having been built 1613-1614. Like the power station, as an institution it still functions as intended although it is a more modern block that offers sheltered accommodation. The wall opposite its riverside entrance provided early flood defence the necessity of which is underlined by the signs marking the previous high water levels, the wardens referred to being the custodians of the hospital at the various times.
From here an alley leads to the Trafalgar Tavern, a popular watering hole for tourists situated as it is right on the edge of the Heritage Site. It can rightly claim to be a Victorian pub as it was built in 1837, the year Victoria succeeded to the throne, and is known to have been frequented by Charles Dickens. It did its bit in WW1 when it served as a home for seamen, and in WW2 as flats for naval officers. It has now been “restored” in what is best described as a Neo-Victorian style.
There weren’t many tourists though on the day I passed by in early March, just this guy working from home on the terrace.
And that was the last frame. The film was Fomapan 100 developed in R09 1:50 and to say that I’m pleased with the performance of the 45mm Rokkor is an understatement, it really is a budget beauty.
More information on this area than I can squeeze into a Five Frames can be found in this article on the A London Inheritance website which has a map and general photographs of the buildings mentioned, and to which I am indebted for some of the historical background.
Thanks for reading.
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