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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Brown's Folly and Bicycle Mountains: Altered Landscapes

I don't think these places around Bath are quite Edgelands but they do resonate with a historicity that connects to Bath, the West Country and Georgian and Victorian history. The top picture is an informal BMX track (that nobody has used for a couple of years due to England's appalling summers). It sits between the River Avon and the Bath-London Railway. In the background is Grosvenor Place, a terrace of late regency houses which were to form one side of a huge pleasure garden that would form the entrance to Bath from the east. The land on which the jumps track was worked by engineers building Brunel's Great Western Railway in the 19th Century. Walk along the river a bit and you come to a row of terraces where the workers who did the digging used to live. Now, on the banks of the river, a little town of benders has cropped up.

The other pictures are from Brown's Folly, former Bath stone quarry and home to Boris, the world's second oldest bat. There is a network of caves under Brown's Folly. In the fifties the Ministry of Defence used the caves and mines to store explosives. In the nineties (I think) they pulled them out and burned the cordite, then collapsed the biggest of the caves - you can see the entrance in the bottom picture. The empty explosive casings used to fill the valley in the bottom picture. Now they have mostly rotted away, but new ones always come to the surface - old explosives in one of my very favourite landscapes.


Deborah Parkin Photography said...

it is a fascinating landscape. It reminds me of Ashes Quarry in the pennines (Weardale) - the quarry workers left 60 years ago and now nature is slowly reclaiming it back - a bit like this.

colin pantall said...

Thanks Deborah - I have to get there. I love all the places that get transformed - Weardale sounds perfect. I have to visit.

tjhole said...

Some interesting imagery/locations. I think the border areas between the city and the very managed landscape around Bath are fascinating.

If you have not seen it already have a look at large format Mark Edwards in the Holbourne Mueseum. A more formal study of the landscape, and a nod to their Gainsborough exhibition

colin pantall said...

Thanks TJ and thanks for pointing out Mark Edwards' pictures.

There's managed landscape but chaos is always creeping in and is never too far under the surface whatever colour stone the veneer is made from. Sally Anne backs and Queen Anne fronts.