A new exhibition celebrating the working life of Bristol Temple Meads opens at 2:30pm on Wednesday 4th December – using photographic techniques that are as old as the station itself.

‘Reverberations’ is a series of 12 large-scale portraits commissioned by arts organisation Knowle West Media Centre and part of the Bristol Temple Quarter Commissions project, which aims to engage people with the past and future potential of the city district. The photographs are displayed on Platform 15.

When Temple Meads Station opened in 1840, William Henry Fox Talbot was busy inventing “photographic drawing” not too far away at Lacock Abbey near Bath. His creation of the calotype (or salt print) paved the way for modern photography by enabling images to be reproduced many times.

Using Fox Talbot’s hand-crafted techniques and water from the River Avon, photographer Mark Perham’s portraits reverberate with the unseen energy, rhythms and meticulous graft that keeps Temple Meads running every day.

The portraits show people working at the station in years gone by, including:

  • David Crafer, who worked in the railway signal boxes for thirty years, and is photographed re-visiting the soon to be demolished signal box at Temple Meads.
  • Joey Stephens, who currently works at Temple Meads and was responsible for getting the Union Jack to fly on top of the station, and is photographed in the disused wine cellars that form part of the network of tunnels under the station.

Photographer Mark Perham says:

“You can feel the history of Temple Meads station reverberating through everything and everyone. I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph the people who work here and hear their fascinating stories.”

First Great Western’s Station Manager for Bristol Temple Meads Glyn Beck said:

“At First Great Western we are committed to supporting the communities we serve and are delighted to be able to offer Bristol Temple Meads as a venue to host this exhibition.

“Over 27,000 passengers a day pass through the station, supported by our helpful and friendly staff.

“Building on Inky’s installation, and Luke Jerram’s platform 3 sculpture, it is wonderful to once again be able to work with Bristol artists to improve the station environment for all.

Melissa Mean, Arts Producer at Knowle West Media Centre, says:

“The portraits highlight the fact that the Enterprise Zone is far from a blank canvas. It is a place with a rich past and present thanks to the grit, graft and creativity of the many people who live and work here.”