The Permanent Way by Christian Sayer (Collated Observations 06)
Collated Observations is a series of regular photozines showcasing aspects of twenty-first century Britain through the lens of a different photographer each issue.
Volume 06 features a beautiful monochrome project by Christian Sayer, a Black Country based photographer interested in documenting edgelands, modernist architecture and the rhythms of capitalist urbanisation.
The Permanent Way: Slang for a railway track bed.
The South Staffordshire Line is an oft-forgotten, predominantly mothballed railway line which cuts across the breadth of the Black Country, stretching forlornly all the way from Dudley to Lichfield.
Originally opened in 1850, the line ran from Burton-on-Trent to Stourbridge, passing through Lichfield, Walsall, Wednesbury and Dudley, carrying both passengers and freight across the industrial heartlands of the West Midlands. Beeching's biting cuts began the death knoll for the South Staffs, with passenger service ending in 1964. The line limped on as a freight route, before the Lichfield stretch was closed in the mid '80s, followed by the Black Country stretch in the early 1990s.
The longest of the abandoned railway lines which wend their way across the Black Country, it survives as a corridor of edgelands, bordered by industrial units and wastelands, canals and A roads, woods and estates. Forgotten by the majority of residents, it is sparsely accessed by teenage smokers and first loves, flytippers and the homeless, graffiti artists and villains burning their getaway cars. It exists in a liminal space, with the echoes of the past mingling with an undercurrent of danger and uncertain futures.
The desolation of the line is however ending, with a substantial stretch from Dudley to Wednesbury being resurrected to form an extension to the West Midlands Metro. By the time you are reading this, large tracts of the line will be inaccessible with construction work in full flow. This zine documents the final days of the mothballed line and its immediate environs before it yet again feels the weight of rolling stock. The Permanent Way continues.
Limited run of 100 hand numbered copies.
210mm x 210mm.
40 pages cover to cover, perfect bound.
170 gsm paper.
Price includes UK p&p.
Published: October 2020