The M25 Motor Wey

I’m often asked where I find my subjects for some of my personal portraits; the answer is simple – if I see someone interesting I go up and ask them! Take Chas for instance; I have regularly cycled past his long boat on the Wey Navigation just underneath the M25 motorway bridge, and often thought he would probably make a great subject, but the problem was his boat was on the other side of the canal so it was difficult to make contact with him.

Chas’ boat moored on the Wey Navigation under the M25.

So in the end I had to use a well known aerial map app to find a way of driving to his mooring (It’s not easy) and then went and knocked on his gate (it’s a secure mooring) and asked if he would let me photograph him.

Now when I say he lives under the M25 I mean it; that’s the M25 bridge crossing the water just behind him in the photograph below. Chas has lived there since the 80’s and has a photograph of the bridge straddling the canal but without being attached to the main carriage way when the M25 was being built.

I asked Chas how he managed to stand the noise, and he replied that you get used to it; in fact you notice when it goes quiet so Chas will pick up the phone and report an accident on the M25 to the police! I must admit that I stopped being aware of the noise after a couple of hours photographing Chas.

Not long after I took Chas and fellow boat owner Mick’s portraits at their moorings Mick sold his boat (he actually sold it the Monday after I photographed him) and Chas moved to land to live in his home nearby. I’m often asked why I am interested in taking photos of everyday people and my reply is always the same – “Today is tomorrow’s history”.

Chas and Mick’s portraits were featured in my exhibition at Chertsey Museum, and in the accompanying book called Portraits Of Runnymede a copy of which resides in the museum.