Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat
Symonds Yat, Herefordshire, from the River Wye

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Photographs for Posterity

I've always been interested in comparing old street photographs with the present day, in seeing how things have changed or, in some cases (fewer, it has to be said) have remained the same. And I sometimes just spend some time wondering what has gone on in those places in the meantime.

Which is why I am a bit addicted to photographing what to most people would seem mundane and even a bit boring. I often have my Point-and-Shoot camera with me, which is great for capturing street scenes when the DSLRs would only push somebody's Let's Take Offence For No Logical Reason Button. I've even been known to use the dreaded phone camera from time to time.

The Horace Cowlin Memorial Shelter on 15 February 2019
F/3.5  ---  1/500 sec  ---  ISO 100  ---  24mm
I took this photo just recently, (with my DSLR as it happened) in Valentine's Park, Ilford (London Borough of Redbridge for those who are interested). At first glance, it's just a park shelter, and a bit incongruous as it is the only one in that park. On closer inspection, I discovered that it is actually a memorial to a local man killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and has been there since 1917. It's in pretty good nick for its age. I know it has been refurbished but other than that I know very little.

So that got me wondering about how he, Horace Cowlin, must have walked around this very lake, possibly on the day before he shipped off to France for the last time, maybe with his wife and family. What was he thinking about? His jewellery shop, maybe? How his family would get on without him? Whether he would come home and how things would be if he did?
And then I thought, why was this shelter put on this spot? Was there one there before? Was it a favourite spot of his?
I guess I could research these things and maybe one day I will. The records exist. But for now, I am content to be fascinated by the multitude of possibilities that this shelter presents.

Almost certainly, my own grandparents, who were sweethearts during the First World War and who moved to Ilford during the Second World War, walked in this park and maybe they sat together in this shelter. I wonder if they knew about Horace? They are no longer with us, so I guess I'll never know. 

So this is my photograph - just an addition to many that have been taken recently. Oddly enough, I can't find any earlier ones, and that's a shame. Maybe in a hundred years' time, somebody may look at this and compare it with what they can see then. I hope so.


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