Food, Glorious Food!


Last November, I visited the arches to the north of South Bermondsey and became aware of an expanding stretch of “foodie” arches that traded on Saturdays... Time for a revisit?

Dynamic Vines in the old Spa Station arches was the first stop. I had pre-visualised the shot here, and Laura and one of her customers, Guillaume, were happy to sample a wine or two with me clicking the shutter. A great shot that I’m particularly pleased with. Next, to the Ice Cream Union. Again a positive response and a fine image captured as Sara offered us a free cornet (yummy!) for being involved. Thanks Sara.

At the Dockley Road arches, the customers and tourists were plentiful on this sunny Saturday morning. I’m constantly aware that I have to vary my photographs, and Jonah and Chun were willing to chat away with their heads appearing behind a graphic display of Kernel Brewery bottles. Just next door, a big queue –“Wait here to be served” – at The Ham and Cheese Company. I lurked until the composition looked just right... Click! Another candid shot taken adjacent at Crown & Queue who sell cured and prepared meats. Then to The London Honey Company where Charlie was not happy at me recording his display of honey jars until he had re-arranged it all! We learnt a lot here about how their different honeys are sourced. A great stretch of arches and some superb scenes captured.

Kernel Brewery – the essence of micro-brewing.

Kernel Brewery – the essence of micro-brewing.

Next to familiar territory as we walk along Enid Street… and find another new micro-brewery. The punters were outside enjoying a beer in the sunshine at BB№ (Brew By Numbers). Again, candid shots here worked best.

Then a surprise revisit to Scooterworks. Their café has only been open a few weeks, in the adjacent arch to where all the scooters are sold and repaired. I knew immediately that this café was going to make a great photo location, and the two young lads serving, Kyle and Vicente, beavered away whilst I reeled off a few frames using the Pentax 67 on the tripod.

Then on to Druid Street, which was busy as it was lunchtime and the foodie and brewery outlets were thronging. At Ropewalk we lunched in the arches at the St. JOHN Restaurant. I’ve mentioned previously the need to vary my shots, and here was another opportunity. I asked the maître d' if he and the two waitresses would pose under their chalkboard menu. Jose agreed, and Lucy and Rosie joined him. A lovely atmospheric shot that adds the visual breadth that this project requires.

Glowing with oven pride – St. JOHN Bakery and Restaurant.

Glowing with oven pride – St. JOHN Bakery and Restaurant.


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.


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