Saddler Street in Durham leads from the Market Place up to the Cathedral. The blue bicycle in this photograph is parked on Saddler St. facing towards the market place at the point where Elvet Bridge joins it from the left. The person on the left is coming up the steps from Elvet Bridge.
The Bridge and the Street form a very narrow V where they join; Saddler St. is extremely narrow but provides the only vehicular access to the Cathedral, Castle, shops, pubs and five Colleges of Durham University. Elvet Bridge is medieval and has been widened, but not by much.
Thirty years ago both Bridge and Street were normal roads for everyday traffic, but you could not physically turn even the smallest of cars from one to the other in either direction. The solution lay in the Market Place, where a policeman had permanent watch standing in the middle in a box rather like a large telephone kiosk. The police box was officially a roundabout. Vehicles had to drive (e.g.) from Saddler St. down towards the Police Box and indicate to the officer by hand signals whether they wanted to turn left, go straight on or double back round the box and back to Elvet Bridge. Thus Durham was the only city in the country with a dedicated hand signal, a whirly motion in front of the face!
Elvet Bridge is now traffic free, as is the Market Place apart from the thoroughfare leading from Saddler St. in a straight line across one edge. Police box and hand signals are long gone, replaced by magic bollards and congestion charging.
These two young lads are sitting at the junction between Saddler St. and Elvet Bridge, minding their own business and enjoying an illicit cigarette. I had my camera at my waist hanging from its neck strap and pressed the shutter with my thumb. They didn't appear to feel a thing.
46mm, 1/50th sec @ f 5.6, ISO 400
Tags: Photo journalism
Portraits and people