The amazing thing about the weathered timbers in the old breakwater constructions at Church Cliff in Lyme Regis was the woodgrain. Sinuous curves of ridges and grooves in the water-etched wood seemed to mimic the waves themselves, sometimes gentle, and sometimes with crashing surf. Tiny pale barnacles living in the grooves resembled sunny day sparkle spots on the waves, and were keeping company with small marine snails and black lichen taking advantage of the relative security offered by the wooden hollows.
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.
Some of the ancient wood that has long been buried in peat and clay deposited after the last ice age has wonderful textures and woodgrain patterns. Whole recumbent tree trunks have been emerging from the peat as a result of recent beach erosion at Whiteford on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. This wood is not fossilised but is preserved in its original state by the anaerobic conditions in which it was buried – in the same way that the bodies of the so-called Bog People were preserved.
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.
COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2014
All Rights Reserved
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.
All Rights Reserved