2015 – My Year in Pictures

So as this year winds down I’ve once again put a post together showing ‘My Year in Pictures‘ and have included in it pictures from many of the subjects that I’ve covered throughout the year ranging from news and feature stories, long-term projects I’ve been shooting, other events I’ve photographed for myself from things that have happened or ‘standalone’ pictures….now there’s quite a few here! So sit back and feel free to have a look through and I hope you enjoy them.

All the best for Christmas, New Year and the holidays (…especially to all the freelance photographers out there because we don’t get holidays).

We can’t afford them! 😉

Cheers folks and thanks for looking at my pictures over the last year…

 

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© Licensed to London News Pictures. 05/01/2015. Saltburn, Cleveland The beautiful light of dawn lights up the sky and reflects off wet sand around an area called Huntcliff near Saltburn. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

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Photographer: Ian Forsyth Contact Number : 07786 076618 Copyright Ian Forsyth 2014

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A recently built stables complex was destroyed by strong winds through the night in Saltburn, Cleveland. The stables, owned by Melissa Coupe of White Heart Lodge on Saltburn Lane housed two miniature Shetland ponies, Locket and Queenie and they were both inside the stable as it was lifted up from its foundations and came crashing down on a nearby road. Both ponies were uninjured.

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© Licensed to London News Pictures. 13/01/2015. Whitby, United Kingdom A fishing boat heads out at first light from the North Yorkshire town of Whitby ahead of further bad weather that is expected to sweep across the country over the next few days causing further disruption and chaos. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

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© Licensed to London News Pictures. 03/02/2015. Levisham, United Kingdom The moor road between Pickering and Whitby on the North Yorkshire Moors remains open after heavy overnight snowfall as bad weather continues in parts of the country. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

© Licensed to London News Pictures. 05/02/2015. Castleton, United Kingdom Andy Thompson from K and N Drinks ensures that the beer is delivered to The Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge on the North Yorkshire Moors as further bad weather has caused disruption in many parts of the country this week. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

© Licensed to London News Pictures. 06/02/2015. York, United Kingdom Gunners from 88 Arracan Battery 4th Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 21 gun royal salute using three 105mm Light Guns to mark the 63rd anniversary of Her Majesty The QueenÕs accession to the throne. The salute took place in the Museum Gardens in York which is one of 12 saluting stations across the country, including London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff, and is the only one in the North of England. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

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© Licensed to London News Pictures. 09/02/2015. Saltburn, United Kingdom. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

© Licensed to London News Pictures. 09/02/2015. Saltburn, United Kingdom. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

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Photographer: Ian Forsyth Contact Number : 07786 076618 Copyright Ian Forsyth 2015

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Soldiers from K (Hondeghem) Battery 5th Regiment Royal Artillery stand on parade in the grounds of Richmond Castle during a ceremony to present Afghanistan operational medals on March 26, 2015 in Richmond, England. The Battery held the medal parade to mark the end of the Regiment's period of operations in Afghanistan and their deployment on Herrick 20. It was the final Herrick medal parade from Regiment's based in Catterick Garrison. Copyright Ian Forsyth 2015/Getty Images

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© Licensed to London News Pictures. 10/04/2015. Saltburn, United Kingdom A large pod of Dolphins swam close to the pier and beach at Saltburn by the Sea in Cleveland as hundreds continue to enjoy the hot weather. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

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© Licensed to London News Pictures. 13/05/2015. Whitby, United Kingdom Lol Hodgson, the Baliff of the Manor of Fyling carries out the ancient Penny Hedge tradition in Whitby. The beginnings of this ancient custom dating back to around 1159 are unclear but some say it was penance for the accidental killing of a hermit who was a monk at the abbey. Others say it was to mark a safe landing place or to mark a garth or enclosure or simply to keep out animals. However this now symbolic custom takes place each year on the eve of Ascension Day on the banks of the River Esk in Whitby and is constructed with nine upright hazel stakes driven into the mud with an ancient mallet and nine 'tethers' or pliant branches to intertwine the stakes. Completion of the hedge is followed by three blasts on an ancient horn and the cry of "Out on Ye" is repeated by the bailiff. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

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© Licensed to London News Pictures.16/07/15 Harrogate, UK. A man sleep with his cattle after spending the night sleeping in the cow sheds on the final day of the Great Yorkshire Show. England's premier agricultural show has seen three days of showcasing the best in British farming and celebrating the countryside. The event which attracts over 130,000 visitors each year displays the cream of the country's livestock and offers numerous displays and events giving the chance for visitors to see many different countryside activities. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

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<> on October 1, 2015 in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, England.

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Hundreds attend a torch-lit procession to the top of the Eston Hills that overlook Teesside on October 24, 2015 in Eston, England. The rally was organised by the group, 'The Friends of Eston Hills' a local community group who wanted to create an opportunity for people to come together to show their support for the steelworkers of Teesside. Over two thousand workers at the SSI UK steel site at Redcar lost their jobs recently following the closure of the blast furnace and coke ovens bringing to end an over 170-years of steelmaking on Teesside.

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<> on October 27, 2015 in Whitby, England.

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01/11/15 Saltburn, UK. Beach anglers take part in the annual Jim Maidens memorial beach fishing competition this evening in Saltburn by the Sea in Cleveland. The competition is held each year to mark the death of the Saltburn plumber and keen fisherman Jim Maidens, who died in 1998 when he was killed after being swept overboard from his boat ÔCorinaÕ close to the beach at Saltburn. Around 70 fishermen and women attended the event which helps to rise money for the RNLI and the Great North Air Ambulance Photo credit : Ian Forsyth

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© Licensed to London News Pictures.02/11/15 Redcar, UK. A family of swans glide over one of the small lakes at Coatham Marshes next to the SSI steel blast furnace in Redcar this evening. Photo credit : Ian Forsyth/LNP

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Members of Saltburn Fire and Rescue use their new turntable ladder to go up and check the stability and assess the damage caused by strong winds to the roof of a property on Marine Parade in Saltburn by the Sea. The property had its roof torn off by the high winds at the weekend resulting in the evacuation of all the residents in the building.

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Members of Cleveland Police carry out a search of an area at South Gare near Redcar and find a large quantity of 5.56mm ammunition discarded on the beach.169001A

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See more of my work on my website and blogs… HERE

Images copyright Ian Forsyth 2015

All rights reserved.

No usage without arrangement.

Rosedale Country Show

A mainstay of the country show calendar Rosedale Show in North Yorkshire attracts hundreds of visitors and entrants from across the North Yorkshire region and remains as popular as ever. Here’s a few from the show today…

 

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#Countrypeople

See more of my work on my website and blogs…. HERE

Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth 2015. All rights reserved.

No usage without arrangement.

An honourable thing

On Friday 13th March, 2015 a National Service of Commemoration is due to be held in the UK to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan. The event is an opportunity for the country to collectively pay tribute to the contribution made by all those who served in Afghanistan and who worked in the county from 2001 to 2014.

The conflict came at a heavy toll with the number of deaths in Afghanistan standing at 453 British service personnel and MOD civilians. It was a controversial and incredibly complex conflict with the situation in the country changing so often it was almost impossible to keep track of what was going on at times.

Despite the higher-level political situation that caused the governments of countries involved in Afghanistan headaches over the years during the conflict and despite what opinions you may have on Afghanistan and the part our country played in it one thing that I believe needs to be acknowledged is the commitment and sacrifice made by all those personnel who served there.

 

During 2010 in my role at that time as an Army photographer I was sent over to Afghanistan on a short but very busy trip. The outline brief was to cover a range of stories to document various aspects of military life. I covered subjects such as the initial refresher training that all military personnel that regardless of their job must go through when they arrive ‘in theatre’. I covered some of the important and life saving work conducted by medical personnel and RAF crews. I photographed a visit by the Prime Minister, David Cameron as he met and spoke with some of the troops in Camp Bastion. Along with this I also looked at the training and mentoring of Afghan Army soldiers who were key in the longer term plan for them to eventually take over all military operations in the country.

I then headed to the ‘Green Zone’ and covered Royal Engineers who were clearing main routes of Improvised Explosive Device’s that would allow safe passage along the roads for the military and the local civilian population.

For the final stages of the trip I joined patrols into the ‘Green Zone’ with soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles based in the Nahr-e Saraj region of Helmand Province and soldiers from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment who patrolled daily from patrol bases in the Shah Zad area.

The ‘Green Zone’ is a narrow strip of lush vegetation which cuts through the desert province of Helmand along the Helmand river. The nature of the ground had provided ideal fighting ground for the Taliban, offering a degree of cover unavailable in the surrounding desert. It was in this area that British Troops saw some of the most intense fighting during their deployment.

 

Below are some of the photographs that I shot during that trip to Afghanistan and I will go on to discuss the part that Royal Wootton Bassett had in commemorating those troops killed in Afghanistan and before that Iraq. Then I’ve included a couple of photofilm pieces that I produced after I returned from the deployment. You’ll find the links to them below the pictures…

 

LAND-2010-070 C17 Crews 0016The view from a C17 transport aircraft as it flies over Afghanistan before landing at Camp Bastion loaded with troops and equipment.

LAND-2010-070 C17 Crews 0021The pilot of a C17 transport aircraft checks the cockpit instruments before landing at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

Reception, Staging and Onward IntegrationAfter arriving in Afghanistan British soldiers march through a dust storm on their way to rifle ranges to continue their mandatory

Reception, Staging and Onward Integration (RSOI) training before deploying from Camp Bastion to their final locations.

Reception, Staging and Onward IntegrationBritish soldiers sit in on a briefing as a heavy dust storm blows over the desert as they conduct their mandatory

Reception, Staging and Onward Integration (RSOI) training at Camp Bastion.

Counter Improvised Explosive Task Force.A soldier from the Counter Improvised Explosive Device Task Force briefs newly arrived soldiers

on the methods of finding and clearing Improvised Explosive devices as a Blackhawk helicopter flies past.

British soldiers undergoing RSOI - Reception Staging and Onward Integration - training in Camp Bastion in Helmand province prior to deploying to their units in various areas around Helmand province.

British soldiers practice and refresh their patrolling skills as they undergo RSOI – Reception Staging and Onward Integration – training in Camp Bastion.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron visits British Troops based in Afghanistan.The British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to British Troops in Camp Bastion.

Hospital staff at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Corporal Samantha Wadelik lives in Glasgow and worked in Wishaw General Hospital as a Reservist.

She was serving in Camp Bastion Hospital as a Radiologist.

Soldiers from Burma Company The 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment are currently based in Patrol Base Shah Zad in the Green Zone in Helmand Province and along with Somme Company who are based at Check Point Taalanda are providing security for the clearance of Route Dorset.

Royal Engineers destroy an Improvised Explosive Device during the clearance of ‘Route Dorset’ in the Green Zone.

Afghanistan National Army soldiers graduate from training

An Afghan Army officer speaks to his troops during a graduation ceremony for around 100 Afghan Army soldiers at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan. The camp, situated next to Camp Bastion is the base for 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Corps who at that time played the lead role in the training of new soldiers in the Afghan Army.

Gurkhas on patrol in Helmand

Gurkhas from C Company 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles cross a stream as they patrol from Patrol Base 2 in the

Nahr-e Saraj region of Helmand province in a joint patrol with soldiers from the Afghan National Army.

Gurkhas on patrol in Helmand

Gurkhas from C Company 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles discover a field of cannabis plants in a compound in the Green Zone.

Gurkhas on patrol in Helmand

A radio operator from C Company 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles patrols through long grass in the Nahr-e Saraj region of Helmand province

  during a joint patrol with soldiers from the Afghan National Army.

Gurkhas on patrol in Helmand

A Gurkha soldier from C Company 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles sits in a field in the Nahr-e Saraj region of

Helmand province as the patrol pauses.

A shura or meeting is held near to the base of B Company 1 Royal Gurkha Rilfes to discuss amendments to the route of Route Trident, a new road currently being built eventually reaching across 1 Royal Gurkha Riles area of operations with the intent being able to allow greater freedom of movement for the local Afghan population.

A shura, or meeting is held with local elders in the ‘Green Zone’ to discuss the building of a new road that would allow greater freedom of movement for the local Afghan population.

Gurkhas on patrol in Helmand

An Afghan man sits on the outskirts of a village in the Nahr-e Saraj region of Helmand province.

The mortar line fires from Patrol Base 4 in Helmand Province to support ground troops as they return to the base following an operation.

The mortar line fires from inside Patrol Base 4 in Helmand Province in support of ground troops.

The mortar line fires from Patrol Base 4 in Helmand Province to support ground troops as they return to the base following an operation.

A vehicle is illuminated with the red glow of its interior lights at dusk at a Patrol Base in Helmand Province.

The mortar line fires from Patrol Base 4 in Helmand Province to support ground troops as they return to the base following an operation.

A soldiers travels to Patrol Base 4 in Helmand Province in the back of an armoured vehicle.

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A soldier from the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment poses for a picture holding his GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun).

Soldiers from Burma Company The 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment are currently based in Patrol Base Shah Zad in the Green Zone in Helmand Province and along with Somme Company who are based at Check Point Taalanda are providing security for the clearance of Route Dorset.

A machine-gunner from Burma Company, The 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment waves through his fellow soldiers during a firefight

in the Green Zone in Helmand Province.

Soldiers from Burma Company The 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment are currently based in Patrol Base Shah Zad in the Green Zone in Helmand Province and along with Somme Company who are based at Check Point Taalanda are providing security for the clearance of Route Dorset.A Section Commander from Burma Company The 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment moves, under fire, along a ditch giving

orders to his men as a machine gun fires in support behind him during a patrol in the Green Zone in Helmand Province.

Remembrance DaysA young soldier sits and rests in a compound immediately after a heavy firefight in the Green Zone.

As the commemoration service is due to take place it might also be fitting to mention the town of Royal Wootton Bassett. A small town in northern Wiltshire. It became known throughout the country and the world as a town that honours the servicemen and women killed on operations both in Iraq and then Afghanistan. Starting off with a small number of people who noticed that the funeral cars were passing through the town some members of the British Legion then stopped and acknowledged the passing vehicle. In a short space of time this show of respect grew until it was not just the people of Wootton Bassett who attended but people from all over the area and indeed the country made the trip there.

Each and every time, regardless of weather or time of day the road through the centre of town was lined with people who all fell silent as the cortege approached. Family members standing with quiet dignity in their grief moved forward with flowers and placed them on the passing car. Current and former servicemen and women standing in uniform saluted. The Standards held proudly by members of the Royal British Legion were lowered. Young people looked on and a wave quiet respect passed across the gathering crowd which had come to represent the collective grief and sadness of a country.

Remembrance DaysFamily members of a soldier killed in Afghanistan hold yellow roses as they wait the arrival of the cortege in Royal Wootton Bassett.

Remembrance DaysThe body of a soldier killed during operations in Afghanistan is repatriated back to the UK.

Remembrance Days

The cortege for two soldiers killed in Afghanistan passes through Royal Wootton Bassett. The town became renowned across the world

for the way it became the focus for the grief of the public and for the country and also for the way

it honoured those killed during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq with the dignified way they greeted the cortege as it passed.

Remembrance DaysAn image I shot on a small grassy hill outside the RAF Brize Norton base. After the repatriation ceremonies for troops killed in Afghanistan were

moved here from RAF Lyneham. It shows the diversity of people from all backgrounds and all ages who all felt an obligation

to attend a repatriation and show their respect to a soldier killed during operations.

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The following are a couple of multimedia pieces that I put together on my return. Some of the pictures appear in both films but hopefully they give an idea on the conditions, the environment and the people in Afghanistan.

The Poem

In one of the patrol bases I visited I was shown a poem written by a British Army officer, Lieutenant Ryan Davies. After chatting with another officer, Lt Jennifer Macmaster who served with the same unit I asked her if she would read out the poem as I recorded her voice. I then used some of my photographs from the trip to accompany the eloquently read poem and produced this piece:

 

Courageous Restraint

Several months later I was photographing the Saltburn Folk Festival. During the course of the weekend I ran into one of the musician’s called Bob Fortune . Bob is a very accomplished Folk musician and after chatting to him he kindly gave me one of his CD’s. One of the songs on the CD was called ‘Afghanistan‘. He had written the song for his daughter who at that time was a soldier serving in Afghanistan with the British military.

I knew that the song would make a good soundtrack to a multimedia piece so after asking Bob for his permission to use the track to accompany some of my pictures I laid the track over some of the pictures to produce the following:

 

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As for me this trip was a fitting conclusion to my military career and was my final trip to a conflict zone. A couple of years later and following a career that had spanned 22-years including nine operational deployments to areas of conflict around the world I finished my Army service. From a young soldier patrolling the streets of Northern Ireland, through Bosnia and then Kosovo and to the Iraq war in 2003 and finally to Afghanistan. I have visited some of these places on more than one occasion and each time it is a challenging, demanding and dangerous environment. An environment that unless you have been there it is difficult to comprehend.

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Over those years, in my previous job before becoming an Army photographer, I’ve lived for days at a time in a hole in the ground. Heard my belly rumbling as I’ve needed a good meal. Gone weeks at a time without the means to have a good shower. Had rats crawl over me. Seen extremes of heat, cold and wet. I’ve seen and smelled the mass graves of those poor souls murdered by Serbs. I’ve called in artillery fire several times onto Iraqi positions. I’ve been spat at and called some very imaginative names and I’ve had bricks and stones thrown at me. I’ve seen senseless and cruel acts. I’ve been shot at numerous times – occasionally coming closer than one might particularly want! I’ve had RPG’s fired at my vehicle and I’ve been on the receiving end of many mortar and rocket fire attacks but you know something…none of that matters. Not really. As it all comes with the job. It’s all part of the game and it was something you accept without moaning and thankfully I was able to end my career without injury.

Far more importantly however, during all those mad and chaotic moments I’ve also met some of the bravest, skilled and most dedicated people there are. From all branches of military service and civilian agencies whose commitment, fortitude and sense of humour in the face of complete madness continues to inspire and offers a reality check to draw on when I’m faced with some of the problems that we all face in the course of our regular daily lives. Then there are the civilians. Caught up in situations that nobody wants to be in. Often without any fault of their own and yet despite horrific circumstances still retain, in some cases at least, a sense of hospitality and decency. So for me on what was my final trip in my career, Afghanistan was another opportunity to once again see all of those things and to see the honour and dedication with which people continue to do the things they are asked.

There were however some real issues and problems with our involvement in Afghanistan. Many of these problems will continue to plague the country and will continue to do so for years to come. Some may never be resolved. Hanging over all of this was of course the increasing British fatalities that was gradually wearing away at the resolve of the country to continue with involvement in a conflict thousands of miles away and as an Army Photographer I photographed, as was part of our role, far too many repatriation ceremonies to be under any illusion that it was all going to come for free.

There is always going to be a cost. Both in terms of economics and far more importantly and tragically a human cost. On all sides. But despite the opinions people may have about our involvement in Afghanistan and whatever political views may be held, to which people are absolutely entitled, I also believe that for those men and women who were willing to meet that cost and who put themselves in the places where the danger was very real, some of whom you see in the photographs, then a small acknowledgment of that by the country is the honourable thing to do.

 

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See more of my work on my website and blogs via the link… HERE

Images copyright Ian Forsyth / Crown Copyright

No usage without arrangement

Pitmen’s Pride

From early morning on the twelfth of August in 1871 groups of miners and their families made their way steadily towards the City of Durham. Like small conquering armies they headed towards the cathedral city along the small roads and tracks that snaked through the countryside marching behind heavy canvas banners held aloft by those at the head of the column. Many travelled by foot but some rattled their way towards the city on horse drawn wagons. The pitmen, whilst a little apprehensive about the welcome they might receive from the city folk marched proudly and with purpose.

The city people were not happy that these pitmen were making their way towards their city. They were, in the eyes of those who lived within the relative comfort of the city, a race apart. Living hand to mouth in small isolated villages they eked out a meagre existence. These pitmen who lived constantly within earshot of the clatter of the winding engines and who were always covered by the ever present black dust that permeated everything they owned. Living in their small homes engulfed with the sulphurous fumes that spewed from the ventilation furnaces they appeared, at least to the city dwellers like marauding clans. Coming into their city and taking pleasure in the ale-houses, gambling at pitch and toss or wagering on cockfights. On their way to town they poached the squire’s pheasants and game and stole turnips from his fields and if all of this wasn’t bad enough it was their smouldering discontent, which could erupt at any moment into riot, that was feared most.

 

These days the Durham Miners Gala is no less lively or busy. The people still come but these days they make their way into town in buses or cars rather than making the long walk. People are still partial to the odd pint…or several and in its recent past even the odd fight…or several have been known to break out. But generally speaking the Gala, or ‘Durham Big Meet’ as it is called locally is a little less troublesome. There is a little less of the smouldering discontent and more of a carnival atmosphere pervades. But some still remains. As the speakers, including long time Labour MP and former miner Dennis Skinner address the crowds at the racecourse once the march through the town has ended the political and trade union rhetoric is strong. Feelings remain high among the gathered crowds who listened to the speakers. It always will be in what remains a strong Labour and union area. But in as far as the pits are concerned the winding engines have slowed to a halt. The black dust has now settled. The sulphurous fumes no longer rise into the air and where once a hundred mines made up the mighty Durham coalfield today none remain.

 

Events this Saturday began with many hundreds of people coming together in the Market Place – the main assembly point for the start of the parade through Durham. The colliery brass bands play with vigour as they are followed by their respective banners. Carried by proud men from the outlying towns and villages. Behind these come those with allegiances to those former great colliery villages and together they begin the march from there to the racecourse. Many hundreds of people stand watching along on the route and applaud them as they pass. As they come to the County Hotel on Old Elvet they pause as each band plays a tune to the union leaders the invited guests and local dignitaries who greet the march as they look down from the hotel balcony before stepping off again on the last part of their journey through town.

With thousands of people watching or taking part in the procession it can take three to four hours to pass the County Hotel but an amazing atmosphere of street theatre is created making the occasion more a fiesta than a march.

On arrival at the Racecourse a platform awaits for the speakers to address the crowds. The racecourse quickly fills up with everyone sitting around on the grass. A thousand picnics. There is a lot of drink. Around the perimeter of the field there are food stalls, funfairs and rides offering excitement and thrills to those willing to have a go. Bells, whistles and loud music rise up from the showground amusements in an endless and confusing din as they compete for trade. The smell of food floats through the crowds. Burger stalls. Chips. Candy Floss. Ice cream. Children run playfully amongst the crowds. Younger people drink and have a laugh. Groups of lads show off to groups of girls. Groups of girls show off to groups of lads. Older people and families sit amongst them. The banners that were carried with pride through the city are now all secured to the perimeter fence. Colliery and town band instruments placed carefully at the foot of them. Marking their spot.

 

This year is the 30th anniversary of the miners strike and Durham Big Meet remains a colourful tapestry of traditions and working class history. Police said around 100,000 people attended this meet – the biggest attendance since the miners strike. It remains more about the people than the politics. This is how it should be but both are intertwined. It is about the people who take part or line the streets. Especially for the younger people or children who will come to know and understand an important part of their regional history. It remains a source of great pride and long may it be so and yet it is also tinged with some sadness. Sadness for an industry lost forever to the people of the Durham coalfield.

 

The following poem is by John McNally.

A miner of the Morrison Busty Colliery, Annfield Plain.

The Durham Big Meeting

I see them invade our fair city, their coloured banners high.

I hear the martial music, as each lodge goes marching by,

My heart is filled with northern pride that all we miners know,

And I, with teaming thousands more, reflect an inner glow.

Oh! Come you Durham miners, come across the River Wear,

With many a laugh, and many a song, and many a hidden tear.

With banners fluttering in the breeze, and many a head held high,

Each Lodge comes gaily into view, and then goes marching by.

As I pass the County, each band outplays the rest,

For there the miners’ leaders stand, with many an honoured guest.

I wonder what our leaders feel, like generals, as they view,

The best shock troops of Europe were never quite as true.

They must be proud, Sam Watson, Jimmy Kelly, and the rest,

To know that passing years have proved they really stood the test.

Above the River Wear so proud, erect, serene,

The beautiful Cathedral lends its grandeur to the scene,

As it has done through all the years the miners rallied here,

A monument to all their hopes, and to their God so near.

So yearly let it still unfold, this pageantry so dear,

And let the miners’ lodges march across the River Wear,

And, we’ll be there, we Durham men, to give a Durham greeting,

To welcome all the miners as they come to their BIG MEETING.

Below are a few of my shots from the day…..

Durham Miners GalaOne of the colliery bands and their banner stops outside the balcony of the County Hotel to play in front of large crowds

Durham Miners Gala

Nora Newby, 80, from Chilton is one of the first to arrive. Standing in the same spot from 6am for 59 years.Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala

Former miner Billy Huitson, 88, stands and salutes one of the colliery bands as it arrives at the County HotelDurham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners Gala Durham Miners GalaDurham Miners Gala

Durham Miners Gala Long time Labour party politician and former miner Dennis Skinner addresses the crowds on the racecourse

Durham Miners Gala

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CAMERA INFO – All my pictures from the day were shot with a Fuji X-Pro 1 fitted with an 18mm f2 lens (27mm equivalent) and a Leica M9 fitted with a 50mm f2 Summicron lens. The Summicron lens was also fitted with a 3 stop ND filter allowing me to shoot at wider apertures in the bright sunshine. All pictures were subsequently edited using Lightroom 5.5 and Photo Mechanic. Some minimal dodge and burn techniques were used on some of the pictures using Photoshop CS3. No excessive manipulation of any images was carried out and any editing was in line with what could be achieved in a traditional darkroom.

 

See more of my work on my website and blogs via the link…… HERE

Images remain copyright Ian Forsyth / London News Pictures 

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Melting pot for the imagination

If you happened to drive through the east Cleveland town of Redcar and then continued through what’s left of the small village of Warrenby – where before they were demolished all the streets happened to be named after marsh birds – and continue on past the collection of small business premises and car garages that are staggered either side of Tod Point road there lies a small roundabout.

If you don’t know the area and reach this roundabout then you have two options. Either assume the road ends there and you’ve gone the wrong way before going all the way around it and heading back the way you came or the alternative, and far more interesting choice is to follow the small road that leads off to the right.

If you decided to take this road then very quickly you would cross a railway line that unless you watched your speed you would fairly rattle your suspension!

But once you cross over it…

You have crossed quite literally a line into a place that is truly a surreal and conflicted mix of heavy industry, natural beauty, cutting edge technological advances, history and traditional ways of life that are now either hanging by a thread. A very frayed thread or thriving against all the odds.

You will find wide open spaces that especially through the bleakness of a grey and windy day provide an exhilaration like you get when standing on the top of a high mountain with the wind in your face and yet at the same time an equally crushing sense of claustrophobia as the dark walls of industry close in around you. Both clash together like a wave smashing against a sea wall.

The area you’re now in is called South Gare – a man-made area of reclaimed land and breakwater on the southern side of the mouth of the river Tees. Constructed from January 1861 to 1884, using 5 million tonnes of solid blast blast furnace slag and 18,000 tons of cement that were cast and moved into position along the banks of the river Tees. No mean feat. These were then back filled using around 70,000 tons of material dredged from the river bed!

Coming in at a cost of £219,393 the Gare opened on 25 October 1888 and offers a safe harbour in stormy weather to ships off the coast and allowed for the dredging of the river Tees entrance.

During the construction of South Gare a rail line was also built from the Warrenby iron works to help carry the men and materials. When construction was complete the rail line was used, wind permitting, with a sail ‘bogey’ to help move visitors, servicemen, lifeboatmen and lighthouse crew members out to the lighthouse and gun installations close to the end of South Gare that guarded and protected against a multitude of possible offenders either through the actions of man or nature.

So as you drive past the steelworks along the tight road littered with pot holes many of which are more akin to the craters left after an artillery barrage rather than your average pot holes you pass by the man-made fire breathing monolith of steel representing the industrial heritage of Teesside. Operating fully, then closed down, then re-opened again by SSI Industries to breath life, as well as the occasional smell of sulphur into the region the works, especially at night, offer up an impressive sight as the blast furnace flames and smoke reach skywards and the sirens shriek in the darkness.

UPDATE: Sadly the blast furnace nows sits quietly after the closure of the furnace in 2015 and steel production was halted.

Beyond the steelworks the road turns and runs through the high banked sand dunes draped with Marram grass that sways lazily in the breeze.

You might then, if you look through the dune slacks (or dips) and if it’s low tide catch a glimpse of the wreckage of an old ship. Held fast in the unrelenting grip of Bran sands as it slowly rots away with the ebb and flow of each new tide. The name of this vessel and the story of how it came to be held here is unknown to me – so use your imagination and you could make up some really interesting tales of dramas on the high seas to entertain your kids! Some real ‘Boys own’ adventure stuff!

The observant will also see what is left of the defences. Bunkers, pill-boxes, look-out posts, former gun emplacements – all remnants of the strategic defence the area had during World War Two. Many are now overgrown or toppled having served their purpose. Nature wins.

Further along you then pass Paddy’s Hole.

Paddy’s Hole is a small harbour in the lagoon on the Teesmouth side of South Gare constructed from the same slag used in the larger construction of the Gare. It is named Paddy’s Hole because of the many Irishmen who helped build the South Gare. It forms a safe area for the small fishing boats to tie up. Although the amount of boats that actually put out to sea now is reducing with depressing regularity as the fishing industry wanes..

Although some hardy and brave souls do still do manage to make the lonely trip through the sea fret and cold early mornings and make their way out of the mouth of the River and into the grey north sea although more to check their lobster and crab pots now rather than for fish. Quotas, low fish prices, the general effects of overfishing and increasing seal populations have all reduced the worth and a decent living that could have been made with 20ft of net has gone and you now need 40ft or 60ft to catch the same. But then the prices have dropped. It’s a vicious cycle. The seals don’t seem to mind.

Many of the fishermen who owned and operated these boats are part of the South Gare Fisherman’s Association and along with their rod wielding brethren who fish from the end of the breakwater own some of the ‘Green Huts’ tucked discreetly into the dunes.

Those huts with the smell of coke and wood burning stoves drifting on the morning breeze out of the stovepipe’s. Constructed from wood gathered together over the years some are built from reclaimed wood left after homes were demolished in the Southbank area of Middlesbrough a number of years ago. Each conforming to the code of using green paint to help them blend into the landscape and yet as different and individual on the inside as their respective owners.

Each owner conforming to the old rules of no women being allowed on the site after 8pm in the evening. Despite the severity of wind, rain or storms that might sweep across this area over the years the huts remain standing. They might take a beating every once in a while but they remain. As do their owners. Holding on.

Looking beyond the huts and a kilometer and a half out to sea you will see the wind farm. The jewel in the EDF energy crown along the northeast coast. Twenty seven modern sentinels to environmental technology standing tall at 126 metres and when all are fully turning produce enough low carbon electricity to supply the annual needs of approximately 40,000 homes, or the equivalent of most of the households in Redcar and Cleveland. It will they say, offset the annual release of approximately 80,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Like two gangs nature faces off in a constant battle against the industrial. Facing each other across the breakwater.

Both fighting for control of the environment.

Perched at the north end of the breakwater is the Lighthouse. Built in 1884 and currently owned by PD Ports it stands 43 feet high on blocks of concrete weighing from 40 up to 300 tons. Using a paraffin wick lamp initially until around 1955 when it was replaced with a mains powered 500 Watt tungsten filament incandescent light bulb with a back-up generator, just in case.

Flashing every 12 seconds when in use it can be visible out to 17 nautical miles (20 miles) giving warning to those heading into Teesport or making their ways along the coastline. The frequent container ships turning and meeting up with the pilots whose headquarters are based on the breakwater. Those pilots who, regardless of conditions clamber aboard unfamiliar ships before guiding them safely through the meandering Tees until they are safely moored at their respective docks ready to load or deposit their cargo.

South Gare. Sitting at the end of the river Tees. Opening the way to the Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, Forties and German bight fishing areas and gateway to Holland, Denmark and Norway. With its sand-dunes and grasses in the foreground, and its varied wildlife – foxes and deer can be seen making their way cautiously through the scrubland. With the sea birds both home grown and more exotic dropping in on their travels. With the on-going conflict of the industrial versus the natural. With its visible and invisible history.

It truly becomes a melting pot for the imagination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

North East SurfingSunlight breaks through clouds over the steelworks

DSCF0152A tanker makes her way down the Tees and out to sea

South Gare on TeessideSteelworks at night

Huge waves crash against the lighthouse in the area known as South Gare on Teesside.Heavy seas crash over the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater

IF2_9289.NEFWarning

Surf_0076.jpgSitting on the breakwater

South Gare on TeessideLights shine through on a radio mast in the early morning fog

South Gare on TeessideA tanker heads out through early morning sea fret

DSCF0223Sunset at Paddy’s Hole

South Gare on TeessideA single fishing boat heads out in the first light of morning to check the pots

South Gare on TeessidePaddy’s Hole

South Gare on TeessidePaddy’s Hole

South Gare on TeessideA fisherman heads out to his main boat at first light

South Gare on TeessideReturning safely to shore from their larger fishing boat after anchoring her in Paddy’s Hole after a morning at sea

South Gare on TeessideThe pots stacked up

South Gare on TeessideOld chains and ropes, many unused for a long time fasten boats safely in the harbour

South Gare on TeessidePaddy’s Hole

South Gare on TeessideFish heads

South Gare on TeessideSun rise over Paddy’s Hole

South Gare on Teesside

South Gare on TeessidePaddy’s Hole

South Gare on TeessideA fisherman digs for bait at low tide on Bran Sands

IF2_9268.NEFPots and hut

South Gare Fisherman's huts

Fisherman at South Gare Fisherman’s Association

South Gare on TeessideSouth Gare Fisherman’s Association

Freezing fog at South Gare, Teesside

South Gare Fisherman’s Association

South Gare on Teesside

South Gare Fisherman’s Association

South Gare Fisherman's huts

South Gare Fisherman’s Association

South Gare Fisherman's huts

A fisherman sits inside his hut at South Gare

IF1_8762Fisherman Colin Oliver

IF1_8796

Fisherman Graham While

IF1_8818

Fisherman James While

L1004256.jpg

A man cycles through snow towards the steelworks

2IF_5552Steel production

IF1_7247EDF energy off shore windfarm

IF1_7276EDF energy off shore windfarm

Freezing fog at South Gare, TeessideRunners follow the shore line in front of a wind turbine

DSCF0126Former World War Two gun emaplacement

IF2_9236.NEFPillbox

IF2_9282.NEFDefences from WW2

South Gare on Teesside

Wreck of a boat on Bran Sands

Freezing fog at South Gare, Teesside

Winter in the dunes

IF1_4113A fox crosses the road

IF1_4121A fox out and about in the bushes of South Gare

IF2_1712Seabirds of many breeds drop in to the area

IF1_4085Swan’s arrive during winter

IF1_8048Seabirds are in abundance on the dunes

IF1_8074-2Local woman Alison Wake feeds the seabirds almost daily

L1004187Winter at the gare

IF1_7999.jpgA dumped mattress

DSCF0078Some of the waste washed up onto the shoreline

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