Or, for this week….”The Duke Gets A New Livery”.
I have written before about the “Duke of Lancaster” an abandoned passenger ferry berthed just a long the coast from me. Nicknamed “the Funship” it has been used as night-club and a storage facility, but in recent years it has become a rusting hulk, no longer in use. I first saw “the Duke” whilst travelling on the train to a photography exhibition in Birmingham. Instantly, I knew it would make a great subject, all that rust against the white of it’s hull.
The “Duke of Lancaster” is in quite a good spot to be seen by trains passing from Holyhead to London, it’s visible from the main coast road and the North Wales Coastal Pathway passes along both sides of “the Duke”. That photo was taken over two years ago and since then “the Duke” has got worse
A couple of weeks back I was passing “the Duke” when I spotted something different about it. Someone had managed to get onto the dock, not an easy task, and painted graffiti on the hull.
It had to happen sometime, it was just too big a target, but getting on that dock is not easy. One side, the side you can see here, is protected by the river and lots of razor wire. The other side has a high fence and razor wire as well, which stretches right into the sea.
To get access to this part of the coast I had to clamber over rocks and rubble which seems to have been dumped to try and prevent access to this particular part of the beach. The razor wire stretches right down to the low tide mark so getting onto the dock would not be easy.
The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that the “graffiti” was not done during the night. First of all the height of that blue piece of art, ladders or staging were needed to reach that high. Secondly, there’s no artificial light on the dock after dark, so some form of lighting would have been required to work at night. It would have been seen from the road.
So what does it mean for “the Duke?” First of all he’s starting to get famous. As the project grows and more art is added, coverage in the local press has grown.
Since this photograph was taken, more art has been added and I’ve got a planned trip this week to photograph the recent additions. Access to the dock is still not allowed, but there has been talk of the dock eventually being opened. I think that’s a long way off, as UK Health and Safety rules are very restrictive and a lot would have to be done to the dock to enable it to be open to the public.
Getting to “the Duke” is not easy. The North Wales Coastal Pathway is designed for ramblers and cyclists, not cars. Near “the Duke” it’s slippery and muddy when wet and in the summer months rutted and uneven.
You can see the path here. That bridge carries the main Holyhead/London railway line and is one of the reasons “the Duke” failed as a night club. You can’t get large vehicles under the bridge. It’s too low. I’m 6’ 2” (187 cm) and I have to duck to get under. In an emergency rescue crews would not be able to get their vehicles to the dock.
The project to cover “the Duke” in street art is a great idea. It means I can go and photograph and get different photographs every time I visit. Other photographers in the area are showing an interest in “the Duke” and are visiting to photograph. Local press have been covering the project and eventually it might be picked up by the nationals. This in turn could lead to a renewal of interest in the “Duke of Lancaster” which can only be good for tourism and the local economy.