Sowerby Bridge Canal Sequence April 2012

My interest in Sowerby Bridge continues unabated. One of its features is of course the canal (or rather canals) that run through it and which have been central to its economy since the industrial revolution. Indeed they continue in that role, but now as a source of leisure rather than as a means of transport of raw materials and finished goods. The marina which has grown up in the old canal basin has a fleet of hire boats and is a necessary “pit-stop” for many boats during the season. That has in turn spawned a wholly disproportionate number of eating houses of one sort or another which spread out from the marina itself up and down Wharf Street and Bolton Brow. I don’t know the statistics either in terms of footfall or finance, but it’s fairly self evident that these restored waterways are of huge importance in the life of the old mill town.

Here then is a sequence of 10 images. They’re in monochrome as much as anything else because I favour that medium and because it feels appropriate. It’s not in any sense to suggest that the town or its canals are in any sense colourless – indeed quite the opposite is true at many different levels. I sense that its appropriateness has to do with the preponderance of lines, shapes and textures that characterise canals. bridges locks and the rest.

The first is on the Rochdale Canal, looking West and so theoretically towards Rochdale and Manchester where its destination lies; the last is on the Calder and Hebble Navigation and looks East, towards Brighouse immediately and the rest of the canal network eventually. The one becomes the other maybe at the Tuel Lane Deep Lock (which is a truly impressive structure) or maybe in the tunnel under Wharf Street. They were reconnected not so many years ago in the enlightened restoration programme which has brought so much to the town. In between is a coming together of old and new which is summed up, in my mind anyway, in the reflections of new houses in the old waters of the canal which is the penultimate image.

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