Monday 3 November 2008

South Queensferry

The compact town of South Queensferry is the perfect place from which to observe and photograph the Forth bridges. It also provides an attractive frame through which to photograph the bridges. Like Hokusai’s Mount Fuji, the rail bridge has a habit of sneaking into the most unexpected locations as well as the more obvious. This small selection of images was made with the full co-operation of local bystanders, railings, lamp posts, masts and passing trains and cars.

The appeal of this bridge is hard to describe without resorting to a vocabulary of weight, power and mass related superlatives. If we take another direction and write about its defiance of gravity or the marriage of engineering and architecture, the air can quickly become thick with purple prose. In fact the bridge makes only the most minor concessions to the language of architecture and the Victorian master of architectural ornamentation, Alfred Waterhouse, observed, “One feature especially delights me – the absence of all ornament. As it is, the bridge is a style unto itself; the simple directness of purpose with which it does its work is splendid and invests the vast monument with a kind of beauty of its own.” It’s remarkable that Waterhouse, who applied decorative features to his own designs with such fluency, should have shown the generosity of spirit to appreciate the virtues of a structure that stood so emphatically in opposition to that practice.

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