MetroLand - Behind the Façade
I lived in the heart of MetroLand - Harrow in London - for 20 years and spent a lot of time exploring its history. Proclaimed as probably the best advertising campaign ever, the myth and fact of MetroLand lives on 70 years after its inception. My favourite poet - John Betjeman - was also fascinated by MetroLand and wrote extensively about it and made a magnificent documentary for the BBC which is available on DVD.
However, seventy years on the reality of MetroLand is now a little shabby and frayed around the edges. The wide sweeping avenues now seem narrow with cars parked on both sides of the road. The houses that people aspired to owning out in the country, away from a smoggy, over crowded London are now divided into flats or short term lets. The gardens are not so twee and English anymore and the alleys are used as a dumping ground for those citizens who cannot be bothered to take their rubbish to the tip or pay for its removal.
It is the alleys of MetroLand that really fascinate me. The councils have a programme to put gates on the entrances to these alleys to prevent 'fly tipping', reduce crime and drug dealing/taking. Eventually these byways will be lost along with their own character and styles of garages, sheds and in some cases air raid shelters.
My long term project was to photograph these hidden by-ways and shortcuts before they too are lost.