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.

 

Dog Day Afternoon...

 

I'm visiting north-west South Bermondsey! It’s the run-up to Christmas and so I’m expecting to have to make a few revisits when the arch occupants are less busy. The Olive Oil Company and The Urban Flower Firm in Raymouth Road SE16 are such cases.

At the old Spa Road Station building, I meet Pauline at Dynamic Vines who shows me around their vast arches – the walls are stacked with wine bottles – a great backdrop for my photographs. I’ll return on a Saturday during their wine tasting sessions. Next Partizan Brewing and The London Honey Company – both future revisits.

Once the railway ticket office, now Dynamic Vines.

Once the railway ticket office, now Dynamic Vines.

I’m nearly back to previous shooting territory at Enid Street and Rope Walk in Bermondsey. At LASSCO I meet Jasper, who featured in my candid LASSCO flooring photograph. Nice chap!

On Druid Street I find the arch at Rima & McRae open. They produce bespoke finishes for smart interiors. This is a perfect scene for capturing my images.

Lastly, walking along Crucifix Lane, I remember that Dallas and Angel at the DnA Factory in Herne Hill have some of their sculptures showing in a gallery here. I pop into Underdog Art and meet Sammy and Lee, and Sammy's dog, Henk. All three of them are very willing for me to shoot in their superb cavernous gallery space. Using both my Nikon FE and Pentax67, I roll off many frames… a great ending to a long day.

Underdog Art – art with a real dog!

Underdog Art – art with a real dog!

 

Up the Downs and Down the Fields

 

I’m told there are over 4,000 railway arches in (Greater?) London and I’m sure a high proportion of them are used by the motor industry. In eight months, I must have peered into a few hundred such ‘motor arches’, but at C&D motors in Andre Street, Hackney Downs I found an ideal and visually interesting location for monochrome photography. Panel sprayers require good lighting, so the banks of horizontal fluorescent tubes here provided a very graphic backdrop for my shots.

Under the arches near the station, we find Champions Boxing Club where Mark was enthusiastic for me to capture their surroundings for Under Tracks.

On to Bohemia Place at Hackney Central, where we discover Dog Villas… a ‘pooch-sitting’ service for dog owners. Jessica handles the 10 or 12 dogs milling around the arch with ease, but as many a photographer knows, children and animals spell challenging!

Lunch at the Bohemia Café. Nice shots here!

Gentrification has hit (literally) the arches at Hackney Central in an area to be renamed Hackney Fashion Hub. I’m at least a year too late at these arches in Morning Lane, as long stretches have either been fitted with plate glass fascias (for the smart shops), or boarded up to house the contractors supplies and equipment. I shoot nonetheless. These are the railway arches as they today in 2015 – wheelbarrows and cement mixers. Maybe I’ll return towards the end of this project, by which time the new designer shops in the arches might be open?

Walking south, I retrace the steps of my first Under Tracks day out to Mentmore Terrace at London Fields. I had shot outside the e5 Bakehouse, but this time I was welcomed inside to photograph the interior.

The day ends in Paradise Row in Bethnal Green. The Row contains just five bars and restaurants in large, wide arches. Mother Kelly’s (‘On Mother Kelly’s doorstep, down Paradise Row...’ goes the lyric), Paradise Garage and Mission provide good photographic opportunities here for me.

Bohemia Café, Bohemia Place, Hackney Central

Bohemia Café, Bohemia Place, Hackney Central