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Photograph of Ferrybridge B Power Station, Yorkshire, 1960s

Photograph of Ferrybridge B Power Station Yorkshire 1960s

Where once architecture served God, this image shows modern architecture serving industry and Mammon.

Photograph of Church of St Edward and Ferrybridge B Power Station, Brotherton, Yorkshire, England, taken in the 1960s. Eric De Maré /RIBA Collections

Eric e Maré described architectural photography as “building with light” emphasising the close relationship between the two disciplines of photography and architecture since 1839. He concentrated on previously neglected aspects of architecture particularly vernacular and industrial subjects which he and Jim Richards (editor of the Architectural Review) called the Functional Tradition. In turn this broadened our perception of where architecture might be found.

De Maré continued to extol the virtues of the Functional Tradition into the 1960s applying it to more modern industrial structures such as power stations, which he regarded as being a continuance of that tradition. This resulted in one of his most powerful images of St Edward, Brotherton dwarfed by the massive cooling towers of Ferrybridge Power Station. The analogy of God dominated by Mammon was a scene that quickly became popular with photographers such as Magnum’s Eve Arnold.

Image: Photograph of Church of St Edward and Ferrybridge B Power Station, Brotherton, Yorkshire, England, taken in the 1960s; image from RIBApix (number RIBA2825-22)
Architect: Pritchett & Son (church); Watson & Coates (power station)
Photographer: Eric De Maré (1910-2002)
Credit: Eric De Maré /RIBA Collections

Article by Jonathan Makepeace, RIBA
2 December 2016

Discover more

This is just one of over four million items in our world-class architectural collections at the RIBA Library – it's open to everyone and access is free. Visit the library to explore our collections of books, periodicals, drawings, photographs and models:

  1. Book
    Elwall, R., 2007.
    'Evocations of place: the photography of Edwin Smith'
    London: Merrell in association with the RIBA Trust
    Shelved at 77.036.6(42):92S // ELW [Reference]
  2. Photographs
    Views of Yorkshire photographed by Edwin Smith: 37 photoprints, including of Brotherton.
    Record control no. P008934 / Call/Ref. no. ESP/ENG/174-ESP/ENG/210

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