Exactly a year ago I set out on a bright spring morning with the idea of taking pinhole photos of GLC fire stations in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
How did I get here?
Almost a year before that I’d worked on a proposal for a new technical college on Parnell Road in East London, on the site of Bow Fire Station, which had been closed by Boris Johnson in 2013. I hadn’t known any of this before, and I wasn’t familiar with Parnell Road, but I felt a twinge of sadness when I saw the site photos, the fire station was a twin of Homerton Fire Station near my home, a handsome late 60s low block building, with orderly openings trimmed in black and those distinctive red doors. That fire station lends an unmistakable civic character to the High Street it sits on, enhanced of course by the public library of a similar era a little further along. 
I thought how different the High Street would feel without those buildings, and of the way in which the reduction of public services reduces the civic nature of cities, the backdrop to our lives. Do we become less civic as a consequence?

Homerton High Street: The fire station and adjacent library

I wondered what the loss of the fire station on Parnell Road would do to the character of this - mostly residential - neighbourhood. And then I learned the 60s fire station on Kingsland Road had also been closed and slated for demolition. I wanted to record them before they were gone.

And the pinhole cameras? I hadn’t used them for years, but I had just joined the local community darkroom and thought I’d set myself project. The last images I’d made with them were of the Moorfields Highwalk, which has now been demolished for Crossrail, so they seemed apt as a form.

I made a journey that took me from Homerton High Street, to Stoke Newington High Street, to Kingsland Road, Bethnal Green Road and finally Parnell Road, five humble well proportioned buildings, not exactly the same, but all of a close family. All ascribed to no specific architect but simply GLC Architects; I like that.

Homerton Fire Station
Stoke Newington Fire Station
Kingsland Fire Station
Bethnal Green Fire Station
Bow Fire Station