On a three mile stretch of the Bath Road connecting Heathrow to Slough stands the desolate Riverside Café.
A haven for long haul truckers. With its weather beaten white concrete walls, prison-like barred windows and a brown moss rich roof, the café doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a truck stop. A remnant from the past, untouched and unaware of modernity; a sort of oasis providing truckers with life’s sustenance.
Riverside, a saloon that has managed to cross time into the unsettling contemporary world. This is the modern equivalent to what Hollywood depicts in its westerns. Only the cowboys are truckers, their wagons trailers, and their horses are the diesel guzzling cabs that produce over 300 horse power. Riverside Café inhabits its own realm; an outdated slice of the old world stubborn and refusing to transform with time.
I’ve journeyed through this road for many years wondering what lives inside the mysterious café. I’ve fictionalised the sort of characters who have ventured in and questioned the type of secrets this café is keeping from us mere mortals – my imagination searching to create reality out of nothing.
Only a stone throw away stands the infamous Spearmint Rhino with its eye-catching blue neon light and a dancing woman logo. We are all familiar with the old trucking tale of truck stops that hosted special nights and have heard of things truckers do out of loneliness in those crooked truck stops. If so, what secret is Riverside Café keeping?
My curiosity, reaching the point of sabotaging my everyday thoughts, I decided maybe one day, just one of these perfect days I’ll buy a truckers cap, a flannel shirt, stone-wash blue jeans and venture in at night undercover. But until I find the audacity to do so, Riverside Café stands as an embodiment of the trucker’s soul; lonely, beaten and in need of TLC.
Christopher Omale is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker and holds keen interests in culture, arts, and international relations.
The visuals in this featured story were shot with a Minolta X300 on an Ilford XP2 film.