I think it was a side effect of seeing the boats aground when I visited Lunedale and Glasson Docks, but I’ve started to develop an obsession with the carcasses of abandoned ships and boats, and so when fellow photographers have posted such images on ViewBug I’m straight into action with Google to assess their accessibility to me when I’m on my travels.
Which is why when heading north to Glasgow from Liverpool it was an easy detour to visit Fleetwood, though of course easy is a subjective word. In reality, because Fleetwood is at the tip of a peninsula it’s a bit of a trek to reach, but it proved to be worth the effort.
The vessels I sought are a little outside of the town and at the end of a long cul-de-sac where a nature reserve on the Fylde estuary is most people’s objective. This meant that I had to make a separate journey to reach the town itself where two lighthouses awaited me, and two interesting ones at that.
The town’s character owes much to the efforts of a 19th century landowner (Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood) who sought to develop the town into a successful resort, but perhaps due to its relative isolation he failed. The two lighthouses and a large hotel that overlooks the coast are the most significant remnants of his efforts which were realised with input from architect Decimus Burton. None of the striping or white paint associated with many lighthouses, the taller of the two (know as the Pharos after its Egyptian predecessor) is a little inland, and looks a little incongruous standing at the end of a residential street. The smaller, lower light is known as the Beach Lighthouse being right on the shoreline. There is actually a third light, not designed by Burton and no longer active, making Fleetwood unique in the UK for the number of lights.
But on to my main objective. Plenty of active birds to distract me on the fringes of the estuary (no Albatross though!)
Fleetwood did achieve commercial success after Hesketh’s era, largely due the fishing industry, though this declined in the second half of the twentieth century during the era of the “Cod Wars”. Unused and unneeded, many of the vessels were grounded on the mudbanks to be forgotten in their years of decay.
I’d hoped for moody skies to give some atmosphere to the “graveyard” scenes, but of course the skies were at their bluest, forcing me to experiment with adding cloud in post production for one of the shots below. In the end perhaps I should have been grateful that the sun was shining. The terrain on which the hulls are rotting is wet and muddy and fractured my a myriad of channels draining into the river. Not a place for kneeling to get a better angle, nor a place to put your camera bag down while you set up a tripod. Even crouching to compose a shot was cause for nerves as my feet slid easily beneath me. Just as well it wasn’t Mac weather.