Way Out West...

 

Most of the 4,400 arches in London are owned by Network Rail, but the ones below the Underground tracks (where the tracks are above ground!) are the property of Transport for London (TfL).

The arches on the District/Piccadilly Lines that stretch between Turnham Green and Hammersmith are TfL, so we start our day in the leafy, genteel surroundings of Stamford Brook.

Firstly, two revisits... The Arch Studios Rehearsal Rooms and next door Arch 197, a dance studio. On to the W6 Gym with a lovely south-facing glass frontage. Next, to one of my “must-have” arches – The Laura Sevenus Swimming Tuition Pool in Wilson Walk. Veronika, the receptionist, shows us around, but I will need permission to shoot here from the owner*. The actual pool is amazing. It is situated on the mezzanine floor!

Further towards Ravenscourt Park, I see another auto repair arch that catches my eye. The Citroën Dyane alongside a BMW on a ramp will look good in my shot. Xavier (Xavier Autoclinic) is very happy for me to shoot here… “Go for it, Ted!”

Almost at Hammersmith in Cambridge Grove, we find another Crossfit arch, Crossfit Hammersmith. This one is full of “youngsters” pumping iron on a weights circuit. A nice scene to shoot – I know I’ll get blur with all that movement, this is a gym after all.

A few arches along we find Nicholas, a sculptor/ceramicist, working. A magnificent “arty” arch – his latest ceramics are lined up on benches. If I’m lucky I might even catch an Underground train going past in a small window at the top of the arch on the back wall of his studio?

A long walk next along the disappointing Shepherds Bush Market arches, past the old BBC TV Centre, towards Latimer Road. Nothing unusual here in the market, and all the arches have interior ceilings. But the walk is well worth it, as near Latimer Road Station I find a backdrop in an arch to compliment a shot I’ve taken earlier in the project.

It is another auto repair arch – actually only the third one I’ve shot in – but this one, Jack's Garage, features a front (and only the front) of a VW Camper bus high on the walls. This scene will work superbly with my earlier shot at Scooterworks in Bermondsey, which has the fronts of two scooters on the exterior of the arch. Vaidas explains that he is busy, so I return to the garage at 8 a.m. the following morning, when his workshop is clear of vehicles. I shoot many frames on my Nikon FE and Pentax 67, as Vaidas works on an engine.

*I do get permission to shoot at the Sevenus Pool, so I return a few weeks later with my three “models” to photograph them in the water at this truly unique and amazing railway arch.


 

Happy fit at Crossfit Hammersmith.

Happy fit at Crossfit Hammersmith.

 

From E8 to V8s...

 

Last October we visited Hackney Downs and came across a vodka distillery being built in a railway arch – hopefully it is finished now, so time for a revisit?

Even though we’ve cold-called, Jack and Matt at Our London Vodka invite us in to their brand-spanking new premises and show us around. The distilling arch is full of stainless-steel tanks with reflections etc., so a great backdrop for monochrome work using the Pentax 67 on a tripod.

As we are in the area we also revisit Dog Villas on Bohemia Place – why won’t those dogs sit still?! Phoebe poses gracefully along with (only) some of the dogs! Just along the arches, the lads at Pressure Drop Brewing are sitting outside their arch having lunch in the early spring sunshine. A perfect scene... not all my shots need to be of people actually working. This is life in the railway arches.

Next off on the bus to the Mile End/Bow Common area, and a long stretch of arches here. At Laura Kuy Flowers, Rebecca and Catherine are arranging hi-end flowers for hi-end hotels in London. Almost next door Steven and his team at SYFM Furnishings are busy making curtains and upholstery for more hi-end clients – Russian oligarchs!

We’ve seen many auto servicing arches on our travels, but this is one that ticks my box. Paul at Prestige Autocare smiles as he leans into the back of a Porsche he is servicing. Great shot!

At the very end of this stretch, nearly at Bow Triangle, we come across a really interesting artisans arch. Mark is making his bespoke furniture and Darcy, inventor/designer, is at his workbench – his many tools lined up on the wall above him. These two guys, for me, typify the diversity of the arches today: a complete contrast from the gentrified offices in Wootton Street at Waterloo East, say, but this is what my Under Tracks project is all about. Over a cup of tea we chat away, and photograph Mark and Darcy at work in their homely surroundings.

A great ending to a great days work.

The engine's in the boot! Paul and a Porsche at Prestige Autocare.

The engine's in the boot! Paul and a Porsche at Prestige Autocare.