The spire of All Saints Church is a familiar sight in Newcastle; most residents and visitors will have seen it on the skyline, perhaps when crossing the Tyne Bridge, but not everyone will know how to locate the building on the ground. Fewer will have been inside, and fewer still have been able to access the clock tower … read on to see how I fared in this regard.
The Church in it’s current form was opened in 1789, although it is believed that a church existed on this spot as early as 1286.
I was able to visit the church on the Heritage Open Days back in September 2010 – I don’t think it was opened in 2011 but perhaps it will be in future. The really unusual architectural feature of the building is that it is elliptical in shape, as demonstrated below:
On the day I visited the sun was shining strongly through the windows creating an enormous contrast range. The scanning process combined with an adjustment brush in Lightroom was used to get some detail in the view through the windows and on the foreground seats. I have an ongoing activity to get a decent darkroom print from this negative; a straight print gives completely white highlights and I’ll need a lot of custom cut-out shapes to burn in each window – should keep me busy for a while !
The roof is a very striking feature, though in need of some repair; the white patches are not faults on the negative, they are holes in the plaster.
The organ pipes are very photogenic with a yellow pattern on the surface:
However you can see that it’s a long way off being playable:
After my first visit to the Church I learned from flickr contacts that the Bishop in charge had agreed to open up the clock tower a few days later to allow photographers to ascend; so I got myself down there for the return visit. Before ascending I was asked by the Bishop to sign a disclaimer for any accidents that might happen …. hmmm … sometimes these health and safety precautions can seem a little over the top but in this case there were some real risks present.
The Mamiya RZ67 was left at home today as I new it would be too heavy to take up the clock tower and there probably wouldn’t be room for the large tripod I use to support it. Armed with a Yashicamat 124G twin lens reflex, a 35mm SLR, backpack, and tripod, I set off on the ascent, feeling like Captain Scott (“I might be gone some time”)
The photo above will give you an idea of what it’s like; trivial if you happen to be keen on rock climbing but a bit more difficult than I was prepared for. I made it as far as the level above the top of the ladder seen above, then, er, chickened out. With nobody in sight above or below, I decided that climbing another vertical ladder with backpack and tripod wasn’t worth the risk for a photograph.
So I descended to the level of the clock mechanism which you can just see above). This was a good spot for photos and it reminded me of old films where the hero climbs across a clock face (maybe Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, and of course Basil the Great Mouse Detective).
It was really crowded up there and I stretched the tripod either side of the click machinery to get this shot, using a Canon EOS300 35mm SLR with a Sigma 24mm.
There’s lots of interesting old buildings around Newcastle, and this is definitely in my top ten.