Whitstable Woodgrain 1 – 9: Rust-stained woodgrain in old railway sleepers recycled as fencing at Whitstable Harbour, Kent, England.
Information boards in the harbour area at Whitstable say that in the late 1820’s a company was set up to build a railway line linking Canterbury and Whitstable and to construct a new harbour there. The railway opened in 1830 and was the first to carry passengers in trains drawn by steam power. At that time, on the hilly sections of the route, the trains were pulled on ropes reeled in by stationary steam-driven winding machines. Stephenson’s Invicta locomotive hauled trains along the flatter section of the line near Whitstable. Because of its seaside connections the railway was popularly known as the Crab and Winkle Line. The harbour was built two years later in 1832.
Eventually trade declined in the harbour and the railway closed in 1952. It is interesting to speculate whether the old timbers shown in these photographs with all their wear, rust stains, and drilled holes are the actual wooden sleepers from that old Crab and Winkle Line.
There is a lovely avenue of mature beech trees where I live. Sadly, because of the recent high winds and storms, one of these magnificent trees had to be felled as it was unsafe. Once it had been cut up you could see why. The base of the trunk was rotten and the fungal infection had spread throughout, leaving incredible patterns revealed in the cross-sectional slices of timber remaining on the ground. There was abundant beech mast and numerous small beech seedlings on the ground around the tree stump, so I hope that another tree will grow to replace the lost mighty one.
Cross-sectional views of weathered wooden posts on the harbourside, showing remnants of green paint that highlight the wood texture, and also with patterns of radial and concentric splits appearing along the wood grain as the wood dries out and begins to rot.
These wonderful textures, swirls, whorls, and grooves – sometimes dotted or patched with black or white – are natural abstract patterns of woodgrain (growth layers) decorated with encrusting lichen – photographed on a single large heavily-weathered and etched driftwood tree trunk washed up on a basalt-covered beach of the Oregon coast.
Old timbers provide a fascinating array of textures, patterns and colours. These photographs show some details of the planking on an old boat wreck on the beach. The grain of the wood has opened up with the weathering process. In the knots, the wood has split into radiating segments like the muscles in the iris of an eye. Most of the paint has been abraded by wind-blown sand but a few layered flakes of pale blue and pink colour remain. The brightest colouring results from the corrosion of large iron rivets or nails. The rust has seeped out into the surrounding timber and stained it bright orange and in some places has given it a varnished texture.