Using a Ricoh GRD III and a Nikon DSLR to photograph streets, people, architecture and anything else that catches my eye.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Up My Street

I have taken a good many images of my home town of Colchester over the last four or five years, since I have owned a DSLR. I just think it is important to photograph the neighbourhood; everyone should try and archive a little of their locailty, I think these things will be more important to us when we are old and grey. I dearly wish I had more photographs of my childhood neighbourhood.

Colchester is an old town.  I mean very old.  It is Britains's oldest recorded town, dating back to Roman times. Originally settled by a Celtic tribe, the Romans took over in 44AD and moved in, building a large wooden fort on a hill. They were attacked and kicked out by Queen Boudica (one fearless leader), and the whole town was burnt to the ground. The Romans eventually got it back, and then it became the capital of Britain. We have quite a lot of Roman treasures and burried temples, and even the remains of a Roman circus and amphitheatre.   Also Britain's oldest Christian church was founded in Colchester.

After the decline of the Roman empire, around 407AD, there is a long period of Saxon and Danish rule, but with very little recorded history. These really were the dark ages. Saxons and Danes were just fighting tribal warriors with farming, fighting and general survival being the main pastimes.

By the middle ages, 11th century onwards, we were taken over by the Normans, who rebuilt and expanded Colchester. They built an impressive castle keep over the top of the original Roman temple, which is still the largest surviving Norman keep in the world. Religion was serious business in those days, and Colchester got some pretty impressive Abbeys and churches built during the medieval period. Trade, farming, fishing, arts and crafts...  all these things created a good amount of wealth and history.

The town eventually, over the next thousand years, grew and prospered, becoming the reasonable size rural town that it is now. The result is a pleasent town, of course not without it's problems, but certainly a great place to wander with a camera.

So I will probably create a few posts from Colchester from time to time. A good place to start is my own street, East Hill, which itself is the ancient eastward route from the Roman fort town to the sea. I can sometimes imagine Roman soldiers, sent from sunny Rome to rainy cold Britain, leaving their sea faring galleons, and marching up East Hill for the first time as part of their tour of duty.  East Hill does have some very old houses and buildings, some of them are nearly 500 years old. Mostly though, they are beautifully built Victorian and Edwardian buildings upto 200 years old.

So, here is my street...  East Hill, Colchester


Michael Gatton said...

Very interesting town, a lot of the rows of buildings have a sort of patched together sort of look - they don't align "properly" in style, size, or position. Nice set, and I agree about the importance of documenting the neighborhoods before they change beyond recognition...

Bill Wellham said...

Thanks Mike. You're correct about the patched together effect. This is just because each house might be built in different decades (sometimes even centuries), and they just built them right up against the last house. The building in the first image was built in 1828; and the building in the last image was built around 1490.