Socialism is Survival

May 29th, 2020
Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’

In 2008 Richard Wilkinson wrote an opinion in The Guardian, ‘Follow Cuba’s emissions standard‘ in which he states:

“According to the WWF, Cuba is the only country that has managed to combine an environmentally sustainable footprint per head of population with an acceptably high quality of life as measured by the UN Human Development Index. And if Cuba can do that without the latest and most economical technology, how much easier should it be for us?”

Follow Cuba’s emissions standard

Part of the reason for this is, as he also states, that resources in Cuba, though relatively limited are shared much more equally than in market-led democracies such as the UK and the US. He makes the point that material differences between people are destructive, reducing well-being and quality of life and leading to many social problems, and that wealthy societies such as our should be concentrating on reducing inequalities rather than pursuing economic growth.

Cuba Leads the Way

To put it simply, we already have enough, and the important thing is now that everyone gets a decent share. We don’t need exact equality, but we do need to avoid the kind of indecent excess we now see, with the rich with more money than they can ever sensibly spend and the poor unable to afford decent food and safe housing, with too many sleeping on the streets or in overcrowded properties, often with little or no security of tenure and too many in jobs on less than a living wage and often zero hours contracts.

Smach Capitalism! Save Our Planet!

The biggest challenge we face as a world and as a nation is of course not the largely irrelevant matter of Brexit but climate change, and inequality also drives that – both directly by the senseless consumption of the ultra-rich and the poor quality environment of the poor, and indirectly by the encouragement to consume of living in the same society as those who feature most largely in our advertising and media coverage. We are going to have to make huge changes to survive, cutting down our footprint on the world’s resources to perhaps a quarter of the current UK levels, a change that it is hard to see a market-led capitalist system adapting to. And while Wilkinson suggests it should be easier for us, I think our current wealth and political system probably make it impossible. At least without a real revolution.

The Solution is Socialism

The Revolutionary Communist Group put it more starkly and simply than Wilkinson: “Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’ but also base their conclusion on the closest we have in the world to a socialist state, Cuba. Despite punitive economic sanctions imposed by the USA (and perhaps sometimes as a result of them) Cuba under communism has made enormous strides in some areas, producing universal literacy and one of the leading health services in the world – and its medical services are one of the country’s main sources of foreign income. Increased life expectancy – to values similar to much rich countries such as the USA and UK – in a roughly static population is now presenting familiar problems. Energy use has remained relatively low with per-capita consumption only around a quarter of that in the UK.

Of course that isn’t the whole story, though it is perhaps difficult to know exactly what is, as all sources of information about the country reflect considerable bias. Many in the RCG have been to Cuba and seen the country at first hand, but what and who they saw will to some extent be affected by their own political affiliations and those of their hosts. Much of the more commonly spread information in the media comes from émigrés who left the country because of their dissatisfaction with the situation and the regime, or from anti-communist individuals and and capitalist organisations.

‘Practically Perfect In Every Way’

Castro and his guerrilla band took the country back from one of the worst and most corrupt governments in history, a dictator who had seized power in a military coup in 1952, but haven’t managed to eliminate corruption – though it is now said to be is the 60 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries by Transparency International. It would be hard not to admire a country which has withstood the sanctions and intrigues of the USA for so many years. Castro himself was apparently the target of over 600 assassination attempts by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency but died of natural causes in 2016.

You can read more about the protest and rolling picket outside various temples of consumerism on Oxford St at Cuba leads on climate say RCG.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Another cycling problem

May 28th, 2020

My cycling for exercise continues, but not entirely without incident. I had a day off from exercise on Saturday, when the furthest I went was to walk to the bottom of our garden, perhaps around 30 yards. I got more exercise from the twenty or thirty times a day I walk up and down the stairs, though its only 13 steps.

Staines Reservoir South

Sunday I did get on a bike, for a leisurely ride with Linda, mainly along cycle paths and bridleways. We locked our bikes at the bottom of a footpath that leads up the side of one of the Staines Reservoirs to the path between them. It’s apparently a top bird-watching site, but all we’ve ever seen there is the occasional duck and gull. There was a small bird sitting on a post too far away to identify but possibly a pied wagtail, common around here.

Spot the bird – possibly a duck

We cycled on and took a path to Stanwell Moor, returning to Staines along the bridleway which leads down beside the King George VI reservoir, rather bumpy for cycling but usually deserted, though for some reason we met several largish family groups walking back from Staines Moor. People do go there to paddle in the River Colne in hot weather.

Wraysbury River and M25

Monday I again went to Stanwell Moor, but taking the rather better bridleway beside the M25. It gets a little narrow after a small Thames Water site beside the Wraysbury River, and I put on a face mask for this and the next section where its seldom possible to keep proper distancing when passing others – though there were very few I passed going in either direction. It’s difficult to know why the river is called the Wraysbury River (or Wyrardisbury River) as it doesn’t go to Wraysbury; a stream from it does flow to join the Colne Brook which does – or why locals have always called it the Wraysbury River rather then the River Wraysbury – which Google maps confounds by changing between the two at the Staines By-pass, but the many streams of the lower Colne are altogether something of a mystery.) I made a short diversion at Leylands Lane walking along a narrow footpath that leads to a weir on one of the at least 3 streams of the River Colne here, then retracing my steps to Horton Road to go past the former mill on the main stream there before continuing on to Stanwell Moor Road to return to Staines along the now resurfaced cycle path. What used to be an often painful ride with concrete blocks not quite meeting every few yards jolting the buttocks is now smooth tarmac and a pleasure to ride.

River Colne, Horton Road, Stanwell Moor

Tuesday I decided it was time to face a proper hill again, rather than just the odd railway and motorway bridge we have in our part of Middlesex, and made my way up Egham Hill and Middle Hill to Englefield Green. This time I changed to my smaller chainwheel before the ascent (I’ve learnt it takes a little nudge from my heel to actually get it to move), and while I didn’t find the hill easy arrived at the point I gave up last week feeling much healthier. But I was very much panting for breath, far more than normal. Though I’ve fortunately not had real breathing problems, whatever virus I’d had and still haven’t completely shaken off has clearly left me with some reduction in lung function, and I needed to take a few minutes to get my breath back before continuing on the gentle rise.

Cemetery, Englefield Green

Once at the top it was a really pleasant ride through the village, stopping briefly to take a couple of photographs at the cemetery, then again as I went downhill past Royal Holloway College, and I was really enjoying the ride along the shady undulating road towards Virginia Water when disaster struck. Finding a steeper than expected short section of road I pulled rather enthusiastically back on my gear lever to change down, and shuddered to a halt with a loud grating sound. There is a stop on the rear dérailleur which should have prevented the chain going too far, but somehow it had jumped over the largest sprocket into a narrow gap between that and the spokes and was jammed solid.

Great Fosters

I pulled the bike to the side of the road and found an old glove I carry for dealing with chains, and tried to pull the chain out. It wouldn’t budge. I pulled and pulled – nothing. After several minutes I carried the bike across the road to where there was a pavement and continued. I was feeling pretty desperate; not only could I not ride the bike in this state, but I couldn’t even wheel it – I would have to carry it to move it. I tried harder, now using both hands and not caring about getting oil on me, and took the chain off the chainwheel so there was more to get a handle on. I could now try from both ends of the jam. Finally I got one link out, pushing it away from the wheel as well as pulling, and was encouraged. I thought I could help it a little by turning the wheel, and kept on. Eventually another link came free. I tried harder from the other end of the jam and got another link free, but it was still stuck almost a third of the way round inside the sprocket. I kept trying and finally several links from the other end came free, but there were still two or three firmly stuck. They had to shift I thought, and used all of my weight to jerk the chain out and finally it yielded. It had taken me 20 minutes to free it.

I carefully rerouted the chain to its correct position and set off, taking things easily in case there was any more damage, but it seems to be OK and I got home without any problems though half an hour later than planned – and needing to wash myself and my trousers to get the oil off. I checked the gear setting carefully before my next ride.

Fortunately, Wednesday’s ride was uneventful.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


More from Page 5

May 27th, 2020

The previous post Page 5 of my London 1986 pictures looked at some from Hoxton and Islington and there were many more in the album that in my post, including a number form Shoreditch. Later in July I returned to Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse and the West India Docks with a few other images from Greenwich, Finsbury and the City.

New Crane Wharf, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-7i-23_2400
New Crane Wharf, Wapping
Gun Wharves, Wapping,  Tower Hamlets         86-7i-32  Thames foreshore, Wapping High St, W 86-7i-31_2400
Gun Wharves, Wapping
Rotherhithe from Wapping, Tower Hamlets v 86-7i-35_2400
Rotherhithe from Wapping
Limehouse Dock entrance, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-7j-46_2400
Limehouse Dock entrance
Limehouse Dock, Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-7j-51_2400
Limehouse Dock
West India Dock, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets  86-7k-65_2400
West India Docks

These are just a few of my favourite pictures from the 100 on page 5 of my Flickr album of pictures I made in London in 1986. Clicking on any image will take you to a larger version on Flickr.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Page 5: Micawber St

May 26th, 2020
Micawber St, Hoxton, Hackney 86-7f-66_2400

The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists Micawber as a word meaning “one who is poor but lives in optimistic expectation of better fortune“, derived of course from the clerk in Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield famous for his belief that “something will turn up” and the principle he expounds:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Macawber St, Hoxton, Hackney 86-7f-51_2400

Wilkins Micawber is said to have been based on Dicken’s father who also spent time in a debtors prison. In the novel Micawber gives his address as Windsor Terrace, City Road, and in the 1930s this street is in Hoxton, close to the Islington border in north London which runs across the north end of Windsor Terrace, previously Edward St was renamed after him.

Micawber St, Hoxton, Hackney 86-7f-52_2400

It seemed a suitable location for a bookie’s shop, (and there is a pub opposite) but it had clearly gone out of business. The building is still standing though rather altered, at the end of a row of Victorian housing but the area has changed considerably. As well as modern developments since I took this picture, parts had already been rebuilt after the Blitz with what was left of Windsor Terrace being redeveloped in the 1950s, and the Wenlock Brewery on Micawber St, site of a terrible wartime tragedy when bombing caused a leak of ammonia gas into its basement which was used as a local air raid shelter was demolished shortly after. That site is now the home of the Child Poverty Action Group.

Wenlock Basin, Regent's Canal, Hackney 86-7g-64_2400

Micawber St runs across the south end of the Wenlock Basin on the Regent’s Canal, but I don’t think there is anywhere where the basin is visible from the street.

St Luke's Vestry, 1896, Wenlock Rd or Wharf Rd, Islington 86-7g-34_2400

Another nearby building, erected in 1896 by St Luke’s Vestry. You can see these and other pictures on Page 5 of my Flickr album 1986 London Photographs.

Richmond Ave, Islington 86-2d-42_2400
1986 London Photographs. To go to page 5 use this link instead

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


John Pfahl (1939-2020)

May 25th, 2020

I was interested to read the appreciation of the work of John Pfahl by photographer, photo critic and historian Bruno Chalifour published by A D Coleman as a guest post on his Photocritic International web site, not just for the information it gives about Pfahl who died in April, a victim of Covid-19, and his work but also for its insight into some of the political aspects of photography and photographic history.

Although I’ve been aware of the work of John Pfahl more or less since I first started my serious interest in photography in the 1970s when I think I first came across his work in the pages of one of the US magazines, probably Popular Photography, he wasn’t a photographer who particularly inspired me, perhaps because I found his work a little academic. So although I have books with his pictures in, particularly Sally Euclaire’s ‘ The New Color Photography’ (1981). I didn’t buy a copy of his Altered Landscapes also published that same year by The Friends of Photography, and have failed to acquire any of his later publications.

Chalifour talks about the “Rochester camp of photography“, to which Pfahl belonged, being in opposition to the MoMa school around its curator from 1962-91 John Szarkowski: “Szarkowski — still echoed nowadays by non-rigorous if not lazy art critics, curators, photo historians and researchers — did not consider that there was any serious color fine-art photography before the William Eggleston show he mounted there in 1976.” But Pfahl studied on the “first graduate-level program in color photography in America” gaining his MA at Syracuse University in 1968.

Of course there was serious colour photography even before that, including by a number of European photographers (who certainly didn’t count either in New York or Rochester.) But it was still true for most of us at the time that real photography was black and white, and while there were books largely for amateurs on colour photography, my own real training in the medium came from Johannes Itten‘s The Art of Color, published in 1961 based on his teaching at the Bauhaus, a copy of which I found in the 70s in my local library (many years before the cuts.)

Chalifour also mentions another Rochester linked problem, in that “Most of Pfahl’s work until the 1990s was printed on Ektacolor paper” and is thus showing signs of fading. The George Eastman Museum apparently has two sets of his major series, one for display, research and exhibition, and the other kept in the dark in cold storage. Kodak’s colour materials were notoriously fugitive, and having read the research many of us switched to Fuji in the 1980s. Some of his work was printed by the expensive but much more stable dye-transfer process. Pfahl was also an early adopter of digital printing, using the Iris/Giclée process for projects in the 1990s.


As I go through my own old slides, produced from around 1970 to 1985, I’m painfully aware of the limitations of older colour processes, with many images faded beyond repair and others requiring time-consuming restoration and much digital tidying to remove ingrained spots and mould. Fortunately images taken on Kodachrome have survived well, but Kodak’s card mounts are a problem, producing stray fibres and dust around the edges as well as masking too much of the image. I should put them in proper mounts before re-photographing them but it takes too long. Fortunately much of the pictures towards the end of this period before I switched to colour negative were made on Fuji films.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


More exercise-2

May 24th, 2020

Thursday I did another photographic ride, quite a lot on various footpaths and exploring small park and woodlands, more than covering my ten miles but at a more leisurely pace. The temperature was well up in the twenties and there was little or no wind and it got very hot in the sun. The pictures here come from this ride.

It was too hot on Thursday night for me to sleep well and I woke on Friday not feeling at my best, with a slight stomach upset and feeling just a little chesty. It was a pleasant temperature – 19 degrees – but rather windy as I set out at 10am for my exercise ride. Wind is a pain for cyclists though it helps to have it behind you but it always seems to be more of the time against, and adds to the effort. I’d decided on a route through some back streets and I got lost, ending up in a dead end behind some houses.

I stopped and got the map out, and found I had cycled too far up a hill and would have to go back around 600 metres. Next I had problems with my gears, finding a very steep short rise and being unable to change down to my lower set on the smaller chain wheel, and coming to a halt. Eventually I managed to move the chain, but made several unsuccessful attempts to start of the steep rise before having the sense to ride across to get started. I struggled up, and at the top simply collapsed. My heart was racing, I was panting heavily for breath and felt slightly sick and rather shaky, and I had to keep sitting on the pavement for around five minutes before I felt well enough to get up.

I thought about giving up and turning for home, but decided since the hill ahead wasn’t as steep and I’d now got my gears more or less sorted to try to carry on. I crossed the main road and struggled on up the hill until I was more or less at the top and then stopped. I was still feeling pretty rotten and decided there was no point in carrying on. I turned around and made for home by a slightly more direct route. For the first half mile I didn’t even have to pedal. But I didn’t quite make my ten miles, just a little over seven before I reached home for a rest on our sofa.

Perhaps I will have to rethink my exercise schedule, though it may be enough just to make myself take it a little easier on the hills and give up and walk rather than forcing myself to ride. It would be easy to avoid hills altogether by staying in south-west Middlesex, one of the flattest areas of the country. All the hills here are man-made, railway and motorway bridges and a little over-generous infill of some gravel sites and none present a great challenge to even elderly cyclists.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Reporters Associés

May 23rd, 2020

The Eye of Photography has just published a series of articles by Louis Le Roux (in English translation) about the Paris photo agency Reporters Associés, founded in 1953. Le Roux joined them as a lab worker a few months later and eventually became the head of the agency, one of first generation which pioneered the “French photojournalism” of the second part of the 20th century, serving the rise of magazines such as Paris Match, Stern, Jours de France…

In part one of the five part series he brings to life some of the problems of working at the time, starting with a primitive darkroom around the same size as my own boxroom darkroom at home, and with the same lack of facilities, without running water or sink, though in a much grander house on Avenue Frochot.  

The second part looks in detail at Lova de Vaysse, real name was Vladimir-Lev Rychkoff-Taroussky (1921- 1983), the boss of the agency.

Part 3, The Fifties of the Rolleiflex, looks at the change from the press cameras using glass plates to film-based photography and some of the reportages carried out by the agency as well as giving some details about materials and storage of negatives and prints.

The fourth part of the series looks at the Agency’s peak in the 1960s when it covered all major events and a rapid change to 35mm took place, at first with Leicas and then Pentax, Canon and Nikon SLRs. While the square format of the Rollei meant that virtually all images were cropped in the darkroom, Le Roux comments “There will be less and less need to crop photos. The framing will be done directly by the photographers thanks to the change of lens. Besides, photographers don’t really like having their shots cropped.” And finally the agency got a proper modern darkroom and had to begin to cope with the move to colour.

In the final part Le Roux talks about some of the photographers who worked with the agency in the 1960s, and about the loss of their contract with Stern. Many of the best photographers were leaving to join newer agencies such as Gamma, and Le Roux, seeing the agency had no future he resigned. Two months later it was bankrupt.

It’s a well illustrated insider’s story into a period of great change in photojournalism, and well worth reading.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


More Exercise

May 22nd, 2020

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up, but I decided on Saturday that I needed to take more exercise. Partly because I’ve put on a pound or two in weight, partly because of the example of a friend who reported he was going for a cycle ride every weekday and partly because I now have not just one re-usable facemask but two, one an expensive cycling mask and the other a rather nattier model, sent me by one of my daughter-in-laws made by a shop local to her, fabric with a camera motif, and I felt I should make use of these.

So on Sunday I went with Linda for a uneventful several mile stroll around our largest local open space, exploring some of its most remote corners (and inadvertently surprising a young couple embracing in the undergrowth who leapt up guiltily smoothing down clothing as we walked past.) As you can see above it was really crowded, with two family groups visible in the scene.

Someone’s dog not observing social distancing

And on Monday I went out on the Brompton for a longish but fairly leisurely ride, in part exploring the lower reaches of one of our many local rivers, the Ash, continuing a small local photographic project I’ve applied myself to occasionally through the lockdown. It’s taken me to small corners and green spaces I’d previously not been aware of. The pictures below are from this ride.

The Ash flows into this Thames backwater close to here

Tuesday was time for some more serious cycling on a bigger bike with no stops for taking pictures, and I made a start on the first of a series of several roughly ten-mile circuits starting from home. There are a number of constraints, some geographic, others self-imposed to these rides. As far as possible I’m trying to avoid both busy roads and poor off-road surfaces -which both slow you down and tire you out – though some of our roads are now hardly better with rough surfaces and needing a constant watch to avoid the many potholes.

This area has the Thames running through it, with few bridges and a towpath that in parts gets too crowded for cycling. Motorways – the M25 and M4 are also barriers, and there are large reservoirs and former gravel workings which have caused road closures and diversions.

Tuesday’s ride took me around gravel pits to Wraysbury and around the Wraysbury Reservoir, returning to Staines on a bridle path alongside the M25 which slowed me a little. There was a short section at Poyle full of lorries where I had to wait a couple of minutes to cross the road to the unmarked track to take me over the M25 and to the short stretch of road leading to the bridleway, but otherwise little traffic.

Wednesday’s ride was trickier in terms of navigation as some of the roads were less familiar. I stopped to check my map after struggling up the slope to cross the motorway and found I should have turned left a couple of hundred yards earlier to go south towards Thorpe, where again I had to stop and get out the map to check I was still on route. And coming in to Chertsey I decided to try a different approach and ended up cycling rather further than necessary before I eventually found my way into the town centre. From there across the bridge and back to Staines I was on familiar territory. Next time I’ll know my way and keep to the route and it will be at least half a mile shorter.

I cycled extensively around this area back in the 1950s but things were rather different then, with no motorways and rather less traffic. During the early weeks of the lockdown it felt a little like the old days, but now local traffic seems to be getting more or less back to usual.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


A People’s Vote

May 21st, 2020

Around a million people came to the start of a march from Hyde Park last October to call for a referendum on the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson. Although when we held the referendum in 2016 a small majority won the vote to leave Europe, by the time it had actually become clear what this would really mean many had changed their minds.

But we had a government driven by a small group of people determined we should leave whatever, and whose whole existence was predicated on getting Brexit done and prepared to lie and lie again to do so. Some at least of them stood to make millions or billions out of leaving, and others feared that European legislation might soon force them to pay the large amounts of tax they are avoiding.

Facing them was an opposition which was divided over Europe and with a large group of MPs and officers whose main aim wasn’t to provide meaningful opposition to the government but to undermine and replace their leader. Their activities had already lost enough seats in the 2017 election to deny Labour a chance of leading a government and they were hell-bent on making sure of a disastrous result in the next which was expected before long and took place in December.

The Lib-Dems had shot themselves in the foot in July’s leadership election and that left only the 35 SNP members and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas as an effective opposition.

So while this huge protest was an outpouring of feeling representing a large proportion of the public who feel that now we knew more about what Brexit we should be asked to make an informed choice on whether to leave Europe, it stood little or no chance of success.

Although it is now clear that staying in the EU is far better than any deal that Johnson can negotiate – and that the Tories will do their utmost to reach a ‘no deal’ exit – nothing short of the kind of huge-scale popular revolt that would bring the government down can stop it. The people I was photographing on the streets of London were certainly not the kind of popular mob that would need, and it is difficult in these times to see how that could be achieved – except perhaps by a government ban on Strictly, that Bake Off and the Archers.

More pictures at March for a People’s Vote.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Back to 1986: Page 4

May 20th, 2020
Broadway Bakeries, Brougham Rd, Benjamin Close, Broadway Market, Hackney 86-6m-35_2400
Borough Market

Returning to my London pictures for 1986, and to page 4 of my Flickr album 1986 London Photographs.

The Oval, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6m-65_2400
The Oval, Bethnal Green

1986 was the year I began to photograph London in depth, and the album reflects this, with 1370 black and white photographs, a fraction of the number I took that year. The hundred on page 4 are from the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and include pictures from Dalston, Shoreditch, Hackney, Bethnal Green, Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Whitechapel and other parts east of the city. There is just the odd image from elsewhere in London.

War Memorial, Cyprus St, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets86-6o-31_2400
Cyprus St, Bethnal Green

Unlike in some earlier years the routes for my walks around the area were carefully planned, with research from a number of published sources, though information was much less readily available than now before the days of the world wide web. Of course I didn’t always stick to my planned routes, but I did carry a notebook to write down where I actually went and even sometimes some details of what I was photographing.

Hessell St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets
Hessel St, Whitechapel

One of my major resources was of course maps, both new and old, not just for the streets but also for the other information included on them. Some marked industrial areas in brown, most showed churches and public buildings and some gave names of various features. The invaluable series of reprints of old 1:2500 OS maps was begun by Alan Godfrey in 1983, but few were available in 1986. I now have a very large collection.

Kingsland Basin, Regent's Canal, Hackney 86-7c-26_2400
Kingsland Basin

My aim was to not to walk along every street (as the woman who produced the London A-Z was sometimes said to have done) but at least to look down nearly all of them, and to photograph all buildings of interest as well as other things I found on my journeys. Later when I had bought a scanner I produced enlarged versions of the A-Z pages, printing them on a black and white laser printer and used highlighter pen after I came home to mark where I had walked. These both showed me any areas I had missed and helped me, together with the notebooks, to mark on the contact sheets where the pictures were taken.

Nuttal St, Hackney 86-7c-36_2400
Nuttal St, Hackney

I mostly travelled by train or underground so often several walks started from a particular station, and perhaps along the same streets close to them. There were also some areas that particularly interested me, either for simple visual reasons or because they were obviously changing, to which I returned.

I’ve posted some of the pictures on this page previously on >Re:PHOTO and I’ve tried to find others to put on this post. You can see all of the pictures – 100 on page 4 – on Flickr – where you can view them larger than on here – by clicking on the link or the image below.

Russia Lane, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6l-66_2400

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.