I have had access to some amazing aerial images from Britain From Above. The following black and white images are so evocative and detailed, they tell a fascinating story of our site’s industrial and social history, nothing much of which survives today, except the large crane.
The above image from 1965 shows the Gasworks, Limehouse Wharf, Acorn Wharf (Shipbuildng) Acorn House, RMC Aggregates and Ready Made Concrete, Cory’s Wharf (Coal), Chatham Goods Yard (Railways), Blue Boar Wharf, Furrell’s Wharf – almost all the way to Chatham Intra. So much to be inspired by…
I am collaborating with LUC and BPTW who are leading on the architecture, masterplanning and landscape design.
I am continuing to develop the work I created for Phases 1 & 2 as the site has endless riches to be inspired by. My problem is knowing where to stop the research. Each stone unturned has golden threads to follow. Contextually, we are now on the site of Blue Boar Wharf, in its heyday a major Barge Building site, with two Yards, Upper and Lower occupied by two businesses – William Higham, ran the Upper Yard, where he built 100 Barges between 1876 and 1901 & George Weedon the proprietor of the Lower Yard.
Above: Gyproc Products (Plasterboard), started production on the Rochester Riverside site in 1933, just 3 years prior to this images from 1936 (the large white shed in the centre of the picture). Cory’s Wharf, with its ‘5 Cranes Dancing’, is in the foreground.
Above: The coming of the railways in the 1840’s effectively separated the town from its salt marsh grazing pastures and community centred around The Common. The Cattle & Livestock Market – seen bottom left in this image from 1936 has rooftop graphics – advertising its products – probably for the benefit of train passengers, as the track was raised on an earthen bank and brick viaduct. ‘Thorley’s Food for Cattle’, & ‘Thorley’s Food for all Stock’.
Above: This Postcard must be a very early image of the site, as there appears to be no industrial development of the Riverside site.
There is a great short film on You Tube called the Medway Dock Crane, which show the Blue Boar Wharf site and the whole of Rochester Riverside, prior to development by Countryside as seen from a drone. Click on the above link to view.
At the beginning of August 2019 I was issued with a much simplified plan of the public realm proposals by LDS Architects.
Above: This image – a cropped version of the plan drawing issued by LDA, shows the principal public realm and station access roads. The previous concept proposal for the public art benches and interpretation following the radial plan as previously illustrated was no longer viable, but the strong horizontal banding across the station forecourt still provided a viable grid and scaffold upon which to set out my ideas.
I have always been in favour of using sandstone as the principle paving material, as this has history with the city, plus in terms of colour and appearance, seems much more sympathetic to the fabric of the site and its low level & undemonstrative railway architecture, rather than big city, corporate use of granite for public realm.
We could explore the use of varied sizes of paving slab, within a manageable modular framework. The stone paving in the Cathedral for example, exhibits a wide range of slab size, from a small unit square Purbeck Stone tile – which appears to have been the principle paving material – to the larger and unique Ledger (memorial) Stones in Tournai Marble & other stones.
Above: Both images explore the possibilities of embedding interpretive Public Art elements within the revised LDS Public Realm proposal – seating, paving and retaining structures bringing an original and creative interpretation to the site. Working within the proposed LDS scheme, seating could be positioned at intervals along the parallel banding, using these lines as the principal interpretive parameters.
The key in the plan above outlines the use of:
Sandstone for main paving of the forecourt –
Cast Iron elements with low relief text and / or motifs set within the parallel banding in the paving & an extra wide kerb detail . There were several Iron Foundries in Winchester, which served the Railways –
Porphyry Paving for the primary parallel banding –
Bespoke Benches or ‘Perches’ –
Possible sandblasted, inlaid or etched surface patterns to the sandstone paving – employing super-graphic motifs inspired by the medieval ceramic tiling within the Cathedral –
Granite, Cast Iron, Cast Concrete or Steel defensive barrier structures which can double as seating or ‘perches’, following the radius curve of the highway. These are modelled on cross sections through stone piers in the Cathedral. –
If you know Southampton well – you may never really notice the Station signage. Things may be a little tricky if you are a visitor. The arrival and departure from a great sea city like Southampton surely needs a bit of a signage upgrade. I am no typographer and this is a specialist area – but I can’t resist an opportunity –
I was invited to attend what was possibly the final Champions Group meeting to review the regeneration work coming to a close at Southampton Station Quarter North. This group of people, representing every walk of life in the local area and community, have been responsible for championing, challenging and keeping the project on its toes since the dawn of the scheme way back in 2012. They have been an invaluable part of the project and I hope that they collectively approve of the work done thus far. Pete Boustred – Transport Policy and Sustainable Travel Team Leader at Southampton City Council, led the walk around site, assisted by Antony Cutajar, Site Manager for Balfour Beatty Services & Wilson Massie, Stakeholder Engagement for Balfour Beatty Living Places.
The landscape forms – bespoke cast concrete seating, amphitheatre steps, ramp and retaining walls are now all installed. Some snagging was still to be completed and soft landscaping was still in progress. As this was February, there was not much to see in terms of greenery ! Meadow seed planting has been carried out – & hopefully the impact of this will be seen later in the year.
This is a simple photo essay of the walk around the site looking at what has been completed.