Ever since I did photography at school, I have wanted my own black and white darkroom. However, I looked around jessops.com (online photography shop) and it seemed like it would cost well over £300 for the most basic "beginner" kit required, which I just could not afford. This route looked too expensive and too easy, I also figured I would need a room with running water and a sink, because that is what I used at school.
Two weeks ago I read a posting on photo.net from someone who had set up a darkroom in their bathroom (it sat on a board he placed over the bath) and other follow-up messages from people who had set up darkrooms in closets and basements with, shock, no running water. With this in mind, I contacted my parents and asked if I could convert the tiny storage room in their cellar into a darkroom (after all, it was already dark). I have picked up almost all the equipment I need for £20 (darkroom equipment is CHEAP right now): enlarger, lens, trays, print dryer, timer. All I need is a big water tank (in lieu of a sink), a safe light, a grain focuser and the software (paper, chemicals) and I will be in business (first print this weekend, hopefully).
I realise that this will never produce professional results, but that was never my goal. In my opinion, there are few things as rewarding as going through the process of making a print, and seeing the image slowly appear in the developing tank. If everything works this weekend, I will be spending the whole time underground breathing in poorly ventilated air and listening to Radiohead and REM making fuzzy pictures for my friends. Anyone out there with even a vague interest in photography with a little bit of money and room to spare owes it to themselves to try developing, it is as close to magic as makes no difference.