The Last Poppies of Blidworth Meadows [Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400]

Images shot on Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 in Lomography LC-Wide

When I was living in Shanghai, going out with my camera and finding something to shoot was easy. It wasn’t necessary to have anything particular in mind. You could just wander around and come back with a perfectly publishable set of random scenes like this, for example.

Now I’m back in my small village in the middle of England though, it’s not quite that simple. I’m still not really into landscape photography enough to do it just for the sake of doing landscape photography. Not without a story to tell alongside it.

But what follows isn’t just a bunch of landscape shots loosely held together only by their genre. Shot on Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 in my Lomography LC-Wide, it’s a recording of something that might not happen again in my village.

And that means there is a story to tell.

What are the Blidworth Meadows?

My village of Blidworth sits in North Nottinghamshire, about five miles outside of Mansfield and twelve miles from Nottingham itself.

In the middle of it, behind the library and the chippy, is an area known locally as The Meadows. There you’ll find a playing field with a small kids play park and a couple of much larger farmer’s fields, along with a few houses nestled in the serenity of it all.

I’m not sure exactly what the farmers grow on their land, but I do know this. In between harvests, you often got the red spectacle of thousands of poppies sprouting up by themselves.

But now, thanks to the unstoppable force that is development and someone wanting to build 80 or so houses there, you won’t do for much longer.

In fact, as the title of this piece suggests, this could well be the last time we see them.

To be fair, looking back at the history of Blidworth does reveal a story of occasional development and expansion. I suppose the same would be true of the vast majority of conurbations in the world.

The first recorded mention of the place was in the Domesday Book – a national survey undertaken for William the Conqueror back in 1086 – when its population was five households.

By the end of the 19th century, there were around 150 houses concentrated around what is now known as Old Blidworth, with a population of around 2000. These numbers rose quickly again in the 1920s when a colliery was constructed and a large estate was built for the miners and their families to live in.

Further developments throughout the 20th century led to more housing estates being built as the village grew again, and these continued after the pit was closed in 1989.

Looking at a map and knowing the geography, it seems most of these additional developments were added onto the outskirts of the village. This meant that although Blidworth was expanding, it mainly expanded outwards.

Unfortunately, the latest one isn’t quite like that.

Problems with building a new estate on The Meadows

If you were to simply look at a map of Blidworth, it may appear that The Meadows are a fair enough location to build more houses – especially with all of the space available to the west of it.

But that belies a few issues on the ground that may not be obvious when just looking at a satellite image.

First is the road access, which will see all of the residents using one of two small junctions at either end of the estate to get onto the main road. You wouldn’t need many of the houses to be two-car households for this be a hundred extra vehicles going out and coming into the village every morning and evening.

The small doctor’s surgery and local school will also have a lot more demand put on them for appointments and places in class.

The loss of the green space for everyone and the views and tranquillity for the people who live nearby is immeasurable too. I might be looking to just give up and sell my house if this development was about to land outside of my living room window.

This is all concerned with once the thing is finished too. I’m still unsure how long we’re going to have a building site in the middle of the village, along with the noise, dust, and heavy site traffic that will bring.

All of these issues, and probably some others that I’ve forgotten, were why a lot of people wrote to formally protest the plans.

This helped get the number of houses down from the original 99, but ultimately the powers that be decided that money was more important than everything outlined above.

So at the time of writing, that leaves us here. Where the only thing running through this field are these lovely metal fences.

blidworth meadows poppies

My own thoughts on building on The Meadows

Whenever there’s a story like this, it’s easy to throw the word nimby around. But it’s also easy for those looking in from the outside to not truly understand what those close to the situation are actually faced with.

I wrote one of those aforementioned letters of protest myself, because I didn’t think it was a good idea to build on this field. That doesn’t mean I’d be against any further development of my village, though. I just believe they’ve chosen a terrible spot to do it.

There is so much space just outside of Blidworth that it seems illogical why they’d want to shoehorn this thing into the middle of it instead of expanding outwards again.

It’s surely harder for them to accomplish and will arguably make living there less pleasant than if they’d have given people the space and views of a new estate next to the fields and forest at the edge of the village.

They’d have been met with far less opposition too. Not that I can speak for anyone else, but I don’t think they’d have gotten any from me. I know there’s a housing shortage in the country and I’d have been quite happy for them to have built on the outskirts.

So I don’t think this is nimbyism from me. I don’t mind new houses in my back yard, because they need to be built somewhere.

I just wish they’d have picked a more suitable spot in my back yard.

Some final words on the film and camera I used here

This is a photography blog, lest we forget, and I normally talk a little about the gear I use on these kinds of posts. So let’s wrap up with that here too.

I usually buy my film online, but I remember getting this roll of Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 from Boots in Mansfield, along with a roll of Ilford FP4. I don’t know how much film they sell these days, but judging by how much they had on the shelf, I’d guess not much.

Having shot only some of this roll in town after buying and immediately loading it in the Lomo LC-Wide, I had a bunch of exposures still to get through when I got home. So one sunny afternoon before work, I took a walk up to The Meadows while the poppies were still there.

This was the first roll of anything I’d shot in the Lomo which means I wasn’t sure how they’d come out. All I knew was that shooting it was a lot more fun than the Yashica Electro I’ve used for a few years.

In fact, in terms of size and weight, simplicity, and that very wide 17mm lens, I’ve found the LC-Wide to be very enjoyable to use every time I’ve taken it out. The Meadows was just one of the first times, and it’s been the same ever since.

I’ve also been impressed with the results it’s given me. Although seen as a bit of a novelty camera, I think it could become a very regular shooter for me. I just love what that 17mm lens does.

The Superia X-Tra did well also, I think, and it’s a film I’ll shoot again too. You can save yourself a trip to Boots and get some from Analogue Wonderland, from Amazon, or from B&H Photo if you want to give it a go yourself.

You never know when you might want to document on film something happening for the last time too. 🙂

Fujifilm Fujicolor Superia 400 Color Negative Film ISO 400, 35mm, 36 Exposures
  • Great for Action or Low Light Shots
  • Exceptional Color Reproduction
  • Patented 4th color sensitive emulsion layer

If you enjoyed that post, why not take a look at these others to stay inspired or learn more about some other films I’ve shot and reviewed:

  1. The first shots from this same roll of Superia X-Tra 400
  2. Shooting another Fuji film out in Shanghai
  3. Some colour street shots on Kodak Portra 400

And if you think others will enjoy this post on the last poppies of Blidworth Meadows, help them find it by giving it a share 😀

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