Dream Meridian (Remastered)

I recently shared a version of this photograph that I’ve had floating around various hard drives since 2008. It was taken by my dad somewhere along the old Hull and Barnsley Railroad and I have always found it to be the most magical picture, capturing some dream vision of my adolescence.

Much like last time, this post is just an excuse to share a newer version of this same photograph. I emailed my Dad the other day and, on a whim, asked if he still had the original negative in his possession because I’d love to have a higher quality scan of it. Twelve years on, and never having had much use for it, I was amazed to hear that he did.

“Blimey, that is an old photo and didn’t think I would find it but I have”, he said. “I have the negative and a 7 x 5 print. The boots envelope it is in says I got them printed 29/01/2008!”

It’s quite amazing how pristine this old section of the railway looks here. Supposedly unused by trains since 1969, it was long abandoned when we used to explore it in the late 2000s, but it seems that it has only started to look the part more recently. I found this video, for instance, that gives a really nice history of the railway and there is a photo of this same bridge, now entangled in all sorts of vines, at around the 28-second mark.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about our explorations of the countryside back then. All of my recent posts about the sights and sounds of the Pacific North West, alongside the release of the new Microphones album, have sent me down a bit of a memory hole and I’ve started thinking quite hard about what it was about Elverum’s music, so rooted in his own backyard, that made me engage in new ways with my own.

I am now convinced that there is a kind of cosmic connection here, between far-flung cultures, obviously ancestrally related, that nonetheless retain this kind of unspoken dialogue.

At that time I was so obsessed with his photo/album release, Mount Eerie Pts. 6 & 7, which I’d someone been able to afford (but probably not really), and I reckon I saw my own version of Elverum’s environment in this valley down the Yorkshire Wolds, a short drive from the family home. I used to fantasise a lot back then about making some sort of art project that was to my Atlantic North East as Mount Eerie was to the Pacific North West. I never did, but this photo of me taken by my dad became a talisman for the space the idea occupied in my head.

I feel really inspired at the moment about the prospect of picking this project back up as an adult, some 12/13 years later. I’ll be picking away at this in the background for the time being, but expect the odd snippet thrown onto the blog here and there.

Shout out, Dad. Expect to see this photo maybe adorning merch or a book cover one day. If I’d had a one-man metal band aged seventeen, it would have definitely ended up on there. I’ll find something worthy of it eventually.



Sidenote: Earlier today I was thinking about that mix that Grouper made for FACTmag where she does a blend of Jandek’s “Nancy Sings” and Anne Briggs’ “Thorneymoor Woods” — a truly inspired one-two. I think the exchange of atmosphere that results from these tracks bleeding into each other is precisely what I want to shine a light on with this project… A good thing to aim for.

2 Comments

  1. Always intrigued by these sort of resonant images. Here’s another pic. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/The_Hull_and_Barnsley_Railway%2C_Weedley_Dale_-_geograph.org.uk_-_829349.jpg

    Here’s the geograph.co.uk blurb, with a more precise location:

    “The Hull & Barnsley Railway, Weedley Dale, Low Hunsley, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. Redundant road bridge over the dismantled Hull & Barnsley Railway west of Weedley Tunnel in the Yorkshire Wolds.

    The Hull & Barnsley Railway was built in the 1880s together with the Alexandra Dock in Hull, to break the monopoly of the North Eastern Railway Company and provide an additional trading route inland from the busy Humber port. The railway didn’t last long. Services west of South Howden station were withdrawn from 1st January 1932 and the regular service between Hull and South Howden ended on 30th July 1955, although some excursion traffic continued to use the line until about 1958. After that only a short section remained in Hull serving the local chemical works until the 1970s when another short stretch of the line just south of Selby was reopened for delivering coal to the newly built Drax Power Station. The steep-sided cutting through the sandstone and chalk between Weedley Tunnel and Drewton Tunnel later became a quarry, operated by Stoneledge Plant & Transport of Cottingham.”

    Cheers.

  2. As I’ve said in other posts of yours, such landscape reminds me of my familial homeland of Lower Midwest and Upper South, specifically the overlapping regions of Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachia, Ohio Valley, and Kentuckiana — in what is called the Eastern woodlands.

    It’s also the land of Cormac McCarthy’s childhood and young adulthood. And it’s where those like Daniel Boone explored and settled. This was the original homeland of well known tribes like the Cherokee and Shawnee. It was the first frontier, an important meeting point of cultures and trade.

    This sprawling area includes major sites of coal mining along with the largest global source of limestone near the surface, in which some of my ancestors worked. This part of the country is densely packed with mountains and valleys, rocky landscape and caves, rivers and streams, railroads and bridges. Plus, there are the remains of old industry and forgotten rural areas.

    It has the mood captured in your photograph above. Of course, there is the cultural connection as well. Many Scots-Irish, Scots, Irish, and Welsh settled in this part of Eastern United States and then many of them headed West, with some concentrating in the Pacific Northwest to work in the lumber industry.

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