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MARCH 2017


Documenting Walthamstow Wetlands

I have been documenting the development of Walthamstow Wetlands for the past year now.  Things are really beginning to take shape now!  After months where progress seemed slow and the process interminable, there are now tangible developments. 

It really is the most amazing site. It represents a collaboration between Waltham Forest, Thames Water, Heritage Lottery Fund and London Wildlife Trust.  The Reservoirs are being transformed into an urban wetland centre and centre for learning that is unprecedented in size in London.  It will open in the autumn of 2017.  For more information, please visit the Walthamstow Wetlands website.

I visit the site every few weeks and meet up with the ever-patient Hayden Warburton.  This young man has had me follow him up ladders and across roof-tops and is probably going to be the most-photographed person on the site!   Hayden escorts me around the site and updates me on the developments so that I photograph the construction work without getting into too much mischief.

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I'd got used to following Hayden across the scaffolded rooftops and photographed the re-building of the growing swift tower but I have to confess to being extremely nervous about the prospect of climbing up to the top!  The tower was demolished in the 50s but has been re-built as part of this amazing project.  It's about 23m high, which on open, almost vertical ladders is quite a climb!  I had to talk myself up and down the climb on each occasion that I tackled it, bravely following Hayden who was kindly carrying my camera bag up.  But... what a view!  The tower has the word WETLANDS built into it in red bricks... and the first time we climbed, we stood next to the W at the top.  Sadly there was no colour in the sky at all and there was a bit of a London haze so the city wasn't quite as clear as it could have been.  So that made me think that I really needed to go up again!  Mad.  Quite mad!  But, apart from the brickies and the hoddy who laid the final bricks, the scaffolders who'll take down the metal supports and me and Hayden, it'll soon just be left to the birds and the bats to enjoy the superb view and the accommodation.  Swift and bat bricks have been laid in the tower.  

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The views are just exceptional  I really could see for miles and miles and miles and miles.  On the second climb, we were blessed with a bit of colour in the sky and so it made even more sense to re-take the shots that would be made up into 8-13 frame panoramas.   I can't say that I relaxed at the top on the second climb but I enjoyed meeting the hoddy who was carefully arranging bricks the right way round for the brickie to complete the last few courses.  I was even happier to get down to the ground and take pictures of the fork lift operator, Gary the site manager and Hayden.

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