Sunday, 26 June 2016

Landscape as political transect

Tower Hamlets (32.5 % Leave  67.5 % Remain)

It is the afternoon of Saturday 25th June and my train draws out of London’s Liverpool Street Station amid a thunderstorm, heading east for Ipswich and Norwich.  It is a grubby poorly upholstered train with many empty first class carriages whilst the rest of us are crammed into the other half of the train.

As the train leaves the station I can see a familiar mix of Victorian terraces interspersed with post-war social housing. 

Newham  (47.2 % Leave  52.8 % Remain)

The Olympic Park, Westfield shopping centre, and high-rise student accommodation.
Cranes, tents, and half-finished buildings in the rain.
Cemetery, pylons, overpass.
Car parks, transport depots, inter-war retail units.

Barking and Dagenham (62.4 % Leave  37.6 % Remain)

Petrol stations, big box Wickes store.
The train slows slightly but does not stop at Chadwell Heath station.
Semi-suburbia and standardized poor quality new build housing.

Havering (69.7 % Leave  30.3 % Remain)

Sports playing fields and multiplex cinema.
We pass through Romford and Gidea Park stations.
Pylons, undulating suburbia, copses.
We are now leaving the administrative boundary of London and entering Essex.

Brentwood (59.2 % Leave  40.8 % Remain)

Sewage works
We pass over the M25 orbital
Splash of green graffiti
Pipe sections by the railway tracks
Heaps of gravel, greenhouses.
Fields fringed with white flowering umbellifers.
Bird on a wire.
Isolated homestead near the tracks.
Muddy brook and country lane.
The white of willow leaves flashing in the sunshine against a dark grey thundery sky.

Chelmsford (52.8 % Leave  47.2 % Remain)

We draw into Chelmsford station, the tracks lined with buddleia, elder, and sycamore.

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