Sunday, December 19, 2010

Denham, Buckinghamshire


Corrugated iron to the fore

Regular visitors to this blog will know all about my enthusiasm for corrugated iron as a building material. Barns and, especially, churches, made of the material have caught my eye in the past. So it will come as no surprise that I’m also keen on corrugated iron railway architecture. These are amongst the humblest examples of their kind, but are not without a certain flair. They’re called pagoda shelters, and were a form of building introduced by the Great Western Railway in about 1904 as a way of providing cheap platform waiting space at small stations and halts.

These particular examples are at the station at Denham Golf Club, which came along a couple of years after the club itself was founded in 1910. I found out about them from Peter Ashley, photographer and chronicler par excellence of Unmitigated England, who supplied the photograph in which the wrinkly surface of the metal stands out like magnified corduroy in the sun. They have been repainted since this picture was taken, but are otherwise the same.

He and I both like the way in which corrugated iron’s propensity to yield to a gentle curve has been put to use in the galvanized roofs of these little buildings, giving them their pagoda-inspired outline. This care with a humble building comes from another age, an age in which, as Peter has said, ‘it is not difficult to imagine plus-foured golfers arriving here and lighting up their Player’s cigarettes in the dim recesses of the iron shelters’. The Players (though not, perhaps, the players) may be gone, but these unassuming shelters have survived from another age.

15 comments:

Terry said...

It throws those beautiful shadows. Thanks.

Philip Wilkinson said...

...and Peter Ashley's photograph, with its high contrast, has caught the shadows well.

Jon Dudley said...

Oh yes! Although not constructed of redundant tram-car bodywork there is something of the Rowland Emmett about these buildings. They're amazingly durable aren't they?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Jon: I thought you;d like these. H'm: 'redundant tram-car bodywork' - that'll be my next challenge then.

Jon Dudley said...

Would that we could find such buildings...the Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway beckons.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Ah, the F.T. and O. As the Festival of Britain Pleasure Gardens Guide put it: 'not a wall left upright or a beam in line'.

Ron Combo said...

I have a simply wonderful book "Great Western Railway Halts (Vol I)" published by the Irwell Press. An utter symphony of corrugated iron and a present from the aforesaid Peter Ashley. Still waiting for him to give me Vol II actually from his vast collection of corrugated iron-related literature.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Right. Better look out for that one. On Mr Ashley's shelves if necessary.

Jon Dudley said...

I thought Ron was taking the...but no!, and what's more there appears to actually be a Volume 2...as follows -

"A delightful if somewhat belated second volume, detailing all GW halts from M to Y, with additional information on A to L (volume 1) being included in an appendix. The character of the subject is revealed as being very varied, from downgraded stations to vestigial huts on the ground, and most of the places identified are illustrated photographically. There are some very charming views not least of which are three shots of Avoncliff at the end of the book, amazingly still open and recognisable in 2002."

Esoteric or what?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Jon: Almost too good to be true, isn't it?

historo said...

I was wondering how the designers/ builders managed to achieve the concave shape - pagoda inspired roof of that halt station. The solution, I think, was very simple and practical- they used the semicircular profile corrugated iron sectors employed in hangar or similar quick montage halls and turned them upside down, thus achieving that pagoda roof profile. An excellent example of British ingenuity!
Valentin Mandache,
Bucharest

R Francis said...

Do you know this church in Hythe Kent
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2679/4438699352_bee16dfdf7_t_d.jpg
Worth a little detour.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thanks for pointing me in the direction of this church, which I've not seen.

Alan Terrill said...

A nice little building. I love tin chapels and had a go at building one for myself a couple of years agao. You can see it at http://www.shedworking.co.uk/2008/11/alan-terrills-corrugated-iron-shed.html

Philip Wilkinson said...

Alan: Thanks for the link. As soon as I saw it, I was reminded of the Spa Buildings at Tenbury Wells, the very first building I ever blogged about.