Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

A walk along the Sheffield and Tinsley canal

When my wife decided she wanted to visit Meadowhall (the big shopping mall in Sheffield) and asked if I wanted to come, I agreed. My real motive, however,  was to let her look in the shops while I would explore the section of the Sheffield and Tinsley canal which passes close to the mall.

The canal itself is only a few miles long in its entirety, terminating at the wharf in Sheffield city centre. I’ve walked along the canal on a number of occasions, but never here at the oposite end to the wharf (close to where it enters the navigable section of the River Don).

The canal is very much in the industrial vein, traversing the heart of Sheffield’s east end – once an area dominated by factories and steelworks, but not so much these days – with little in the way of bucolic scenes (although there are a few relatively tranquil sections).

As the day was grim, overcast, and prone to rain, I decided to take the Holga and some expired film (images 1-5 on Tri-X [the final roll of the batch with the backing paper bleeding through], 6-8 on Tmax 400).

This first photgraph shows the view looking north-east just after the point I joined the towpath. The structure in the scene is the Tinsley Viaduct, where the M1 motorway crosses the Don Valley.

FILM - Tinsley viaduct

The section of the canal at Tinsley has numerous locks. Although the route of the canal is pretty flat, it’s interesting to note the actual drop in height that necessitates lowering the canal to the point where it joins the river, a fall of approximately 50 feet. The River Don is only around 15 feet lower than the canal where it passes close to the wharf back in the city centre.

FILM - Lock

A close-up of one of the lock gates:

FILM - Lock gate

I think I might re-visit this section of the canal if I can get there in misty conditions, maybe as the sun begins to break through. It could make for a nice photo.

FILM -Tinsley canal

The odd bit of more traditional beauty occasionally shows itself amongst the industrial surroundings.

FILM - At the canalside

This lock and footbridge is directly below the marina area.

FILM - Lock, bridge and pylon

I’m not sure if these are lock-keeper’s cottages (or if the word “cottage” would really apply here :)), but they are right on the marina area.

FILM - Lock-keeper's place

And this next picture is of the main marina area. Most canals in the UK are given over to leisure activities nowaday, whether that be pleasure-boating, canal-boat holidays, angling, or just walks along the towpaths. A lot of British canals, when they fell into disuse as the railways took over transportation of heavy goods, went unmaintained and gradually became silted up. Many of these have now been restored, or are in the process of restoration for recreational purposes.

It’s interesting to imaging how this marina might have looked in its height of commercial use back in the 19th century, with barges laden with industrial goods and the atmosphere thick with the smog of coal-driven, steam-powered heavy industry.

FILM - Marina

Holga 120N and Kodak Tri-X / Tmax 400 (expired).

Taken on 22 September 2019

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