Old Burial Ground

The sky laden and ashen,

the earth as hard as iron,

these dead lie all forgotten

in their incumbent sleep.













Their markers angled, fallen,

harsh wind cold, calling.

A funereal morning, stolen,

from the oblivious dead.









Our tread is slow and reverent.

our sacred breath efferent.

In new light we leave our essence,

on trails long grown old.





The Irk and Angel meadows

My ancestors lived in this area, my Dad played there as a kid (football on the flags that covered the mass burial ground from one of the many epidemics of the time) and I worked nearby. Always good to come across a great post about somewhere you are familiar with.

brian scott photography

Irk_Valley 004

The Irk, a narrow, coal-black, foul-smelling stream, full of debris and refuse – Friedrich Engels , 1844

According to The New Gazetteer of Lancashire (1830) the Irk had more mill seats upon it than any other stream of its length in the Kingdom.” and that “the eels in this river were formerly remarkable for their fatness, which was attributed to the grease and oils expressed by the mills from the woollen cloths and mixed with the waters.

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The Area has been rundown so that now the area only has one of the last independent paint manufactures in the UK, still family run since its foundation in 1930, a few smaller units doing various industries ranging from wood yards, tyre recycling to dog grooming and kennels. the rest of the land now turned over to car parking for the office workers in the nearby city centre.

The area has been earmarked…

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First Photos

My love of old photographs has been well documented before on City Jackdaw. Indulging myself recently, I thought I would look for some of the earliest ones that I could find, some of which I now share with you. Any technical information you need you will have to google search for- the specifics are beyond me. I just appreciate them because of their significance and age.

The following photograph is the earliest surviving camera photograph, from around 1826. By Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, View from the Window at Le Gras.

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Not much chance of spotting a photobomber here is there?  Here is an enhanced version.

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What about the first photograph of a human?

‘Boulevard du Temple’ by Louis Daguerre, in 1838, is generally accepted as the earliest photograph of people. Taken of a busy street, the exposure time was at least ten minutes, so the moving traffic left no trace. Only the two men near the bottom left corner, one having his shoes polished by the other, stayed in one place long enough to be visible in the photograph.

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It is most likely that these two faceless, unknown people lived out the rest of their lives and died unaware of the role in history that they played.

Shadows in time.

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This next photograph is regarded as the first self-portrait. It was made by Robert Cornelius, in October or November 1839.On the back it read ‘The first light picture ever taken.’

I know in the past I did a post entitled A Sense of Absence.’ .https://cityjackdaw.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/a-sense-of-absence/  In that I talked about how I was haunted by old photographs, by the absence of resolution I felt when I looked upon the people in them, never knowing who they were, and what became of them.

For some reason this picture here had the opposite effect. Discovering the man’s name somehow lessened the image. Until I discovered the facts surrounding it, I was intrigued by this imposing, (then) mystery figure. He appears in equal measure part Byron/part Time Lord/part vampire.

Dark, dashing, and dead.

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This beautiful woman below is the subject of one of the oldest photographic portraits, made by Joseph Draper of New York in 1839 or 1840 of his sister, Anna Katherine Draper. Both demure and elegant, maybe a proto-type Elizabeth Taylor.

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Following on from that is this last photograph, from around 1900. It is one of the earliest photographs of someone caught sneezing.

It goes to show that you can wear all the fine lace to accentuate your air and grace that you want, but in that moment of nasal tickling helplessness you look just as ridiculous and undignified as the rest of us commoners do.

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As voyeurs we see a  man being passionately kissed, totally losing himself in the cradling, embracing arms of a lover.

But sometimes a photograph doesn’t tell the full story.

The two men captured in this photograph were power linemen. Doing the kind of routine maintenance work on top of a utility pole that they had probably done a thousand times, one of them, Randall Champion, was struck by more than 4000 volts when he accidentally touched one of the high voltage cables. That is double the volts used by an electric chair.

His heart instantly stopped, he hung their limply suspended by his safety harness. His colleague, J.D. Thompson, quickly reached him and performed mouth to mouth resuscitation, CPR being impossible due to their precarious position. He continued to do this until he felt a slight pulse, then unbuckled the stricken man and brought him back down to the ground, draped over his shoulder.

With the help of another colleague, CPR was given on the ground. Champion was revived by the time of the paramedics arrival, and, thanks to the efforts of his buddy, he survived.

Rocco Morabito,  taking photographs for another assignment, witnessed this struggle for life, taking the iconic picture in 1967. It won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

A picture tells a thousand words, the camera never lies. But the story combines to give context, making it into something beautiful. A symbol of love for our fellow man, and of our utter dependence on each other.

Swifts, Iguazu Falls

Summer is here. At this time I can just step outside and look high into the sky to see Swifts gliding at a great height above as they feed on insects. Swifts are, well, swift, never seem to be still, and even sleep on the wing. Unfortunately my local vantage point never offers anything as dramatic as this photograph does.

Planet Surprises

Swifts, Iguazu Falls

Photograph by Francesco Filippo Pellegrini

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mary and jasper c1900

‘Mary with her Grandfather Jasper, around 1900’
Separated by generations, 
from each other, and from you.
And time that yellows this paper
fades the memory of us, too.
In our yearning and our striving
spent so quickly, we did leave
behind our youth and our glory,
and came soon to a place to grieve.