Structures 2 Click on thumbnail to enlarge image, view caption and use slideshow options. To return to this page click on the image background Both banks of the River Tyne at Newcastle were once heavily industrialised. This gasholder is a final survivor from the Low Elswick Gasworks west of the Central Station. The original coal gas works were built in the nineteenth century to supply the growing population of the city. This photograph dates from 2007 when natural gas was stored.Earlier buildings were demolished in the nineteen eighties and this gasometer is a sole survivor from the last layout of the site. It’s a long time since I saw it filled like this when travelling into the city by train. Deflated, it sits like a squat grey drum amongst the rubble of earlier demolitions. I liked the patterning of structural shapes, the strong diagonals echoed by the quayside timbers and the subtle rust tones on the steel.In Victorian times the Elswick area was home to the shipbuilding, armaments and heavy engineering works established by inventor and engineer Sir William Armstrong (1810-1900). Amongst many achievements he developed hydraulic power technology, applied large scale to the nearby Swing Bridge and London’s Tower Bridge. Battleships carrying his guns and destined for the Royal Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy and those of other countries sailed downriver to the North Sea in to the 20th Century.The Egger works loom large in the Tyne Valley at Hexham. Their sheer scale and complexity of forms are visually imposing but not popular with some local residents. Viewed against the skyline the bright metal forms and the more sombre box forms of the underpinning buildings can be dramatically lit by the low sun at both ends of the day.Much of its raw materials come from the Kielder Forest in the Upper North Tyne Valley. This was developed across an austere upland landscape from the1920s by the State-owned Forestry Commission. It’s the largest man-made forest in Britain and, with the Egger works, is a major employer.Past Open Days have shown how efficient and highly automated the production processes are in taking in the raw trees at the entrance through to the despatch of finished goods at the exit. Timber trucks shuttle between forest and factory, The Border Counties Railway featured in the ABANDONED RAILWAYS gallery would have been ideal transport had it survived further into the twentieth century.Opened in 1825, the world’s first public railway joined Darlington to a small port on the River Tees at Stockton. The Stockton & Darlington Railway served and encouraged industrial development that used the quays from Stockton to the mouth of the river to the east. The Newport Bridge opened in 1934 as the first vertical lift bridge in Britain. The flat topography dictated a design that would easily open to allow for frequent shipping movements.It was designed by Mott, Hay and Anderson, an engineering company established in 1902 that grew expertise in bridge building, tunnelling and underground railway construction at home and abroad. Their 1930s Tyne Bridge in Newcastle is well known as is the contemporary Channel Tunnel in which they took a leading design role. Declining shipping demand prompted closure to ships in 1990 after which the lifting deck was fixed down.A gallery devoted to the1911 MIDDLESBROUGH TRANSPORTER BRIDGE downriver shows a very different solution to the same river crossing problem. Visually much more elegant it does lack the practicality of the Newport Bridge. At the latter I liked photographing the underpinnings to the bridge rather than the steel structure itself. The volumes, flat shapes, geometry, pattern, texture and colour, as ever, exerted a strong influence.The shipbuilding partnership of Swan & Hunter was established in 1880. In 1903 it joined an adjacent shipbuilder to become Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson. At that time Tyneside engineer Charles Parsons had developed the steam turbine that was to revolutionise ship propulsion. Their combined resources ensured the contract to build the RMS ‘Mauretania’ for the Cunard Line.Launched in 1906, the ship’s maiden voyage in1907 was shortly followed by her capture of the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing in both directions. She held the award until 1928 when a new German liner, ‘Bremen’, proved the faster of the two. The ‘Mauretania’ continued in service until 1935 and must be one of the most famous of any British ships in the last century.Its last major ship was the ‘Ark Royal’ aircraft carrier completed for the Royal Navy in 1985. Other vessels followed but the yard declined and finally closed in 2007. Much of its large equipment, a floating dock and numerous cranes were shipped to the Bharati Shipyard in India. These images from 2009 show the framework of a large scale fabric covered building under demolition.Visiting with family in the northern suburbs on Seattle I saw this block of buildings on 5th Avenue and hurriedly took a handful of photographs. I was attracted by the shiny corrugated metal cladding, the industrial style and bold graphics. At home I had already looked at old structures in corrugated iron and had been interested in its history and contemporary use. The CORRUGATED IRON gallery contains photographs of well weathered examples in my local area.Corrugated iron was invented in 1820 by Henry Palmer of the London Dock Company. Passing thin sheets of wrought iron through profile rollers produced a light and very durable building material with many applications in the then British Empire and beyond. The original continuous S profile continues in hot galvanised steel introduced c1890. Other metals and materials are also used and profiles are varied, all sharing the same stiffening principle and structural simplicity.It can be seen in a simple curved roof to an open-sided hay barn, housing, churches, small commercial buildings and vast structures housing steelworks and the like. The form and material are elements in both past and present urban and rural architecture from Iceland to Australia. Architects such as Glenn Murcutt in Australia use corrugated metal as a key visual and structural element in their designs.The Seattle Great Wheel was installed on the Seattle waterfront in 2012 as one of the largest Ferris wheels in the United States. Set on a short pier at right angles to the quayside it provides riders with views of the tall buildings set on rising ground to the east. Looking westwards encompasses the broad expanse of Elliott Bay and its maritime activity set against the mountain ranges on the Olympic Peninsula on the far horizon.At 492 feet in diameter the Singapore was, in 2012, the world’s largest: it accommodates 784 passengers. The London Eye is 394 feet in diameter and carries 800 people; 336 are rotated in the 175 feet diameter Great Wheel. Beijing, Las Vegas and New York are competing to out-build Singapore.The Washington State Ferries always enable great views of the stacked Seattle skyline and a generally stable platform for photography. Riding the wheel was an interesting contrast and gave new perspectives on familiar facades. I liked the chance to study an engineering structure from within and making images that used architecture as a total background. Riding the wheel at sunset and later will be interesting.