St Peter & St Paul, Candles, A Pub & Distillery

February 26th, 2024

St Peter & St Paul, Candles, A Pub & Distillery continues my walk on Friday 4th August 1989 in Battersea from the previous post, River Thames, St Mary’s, Church Rd, Chelsea Harbour & A Bridge. The walk began with Council flats, Piles of Bricks, A House Hospital and Brasserie.

St Peter & St Paul, Church, l21, Plough Road, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-74
St Peter & St Paul, Church, 121, Plough Road, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-74

I left the riverside and walked down Lombard Road and crossed York Road into York Gardens probably to find a pleasant spot to rest a while and eat my sandwiches before going through the gardens to exit on Plough Road close to the church.

St Peter’s Church is still very much alive now on Plough Road, but SPB looks very different to my picture in 1989. The first St Peter’s Battersea was built in 1875 but was seriously damaged by fire in 1970 and the church moved into the building in my picture which had been its church and school hall.

According to ‘Clapham Junction Insider’ Cyril Ritchert, the demolition of this Grade II listed building, “an accomplished example of the free gothic style“, was opposed by the Ancient Monuments Society, English Heritage, the Battersea Society and the Wandsworth Society but was approved by Wandsworth Council in 2010. The developers made a second application in 2015 before any building on the site had started. Google Street View shows the church still in use in 2012.

To finance the new church the developers had been granted permission for an 8 storey block of flats also on the site. Local residents were angered that the developers managed to game the planning system to eventually build a 10 storey block of housing with minimal affordable housing on the site.

Shop, St Peter & St Paul, Church, Flats, Holgate Ave, Plough Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989

The view of the church from Holgate Avenue shows clearly the position of the church on the edge of the Winstanley Estate to the north of Clapham Junction station. The view of the tower block Sporle Court is now blocked by the new 10 storey block on the church site. The trees at left are in York Gardens.

There is still a billboard and a shop on the corner of Holgate Avenue, but what was then BRITCHOICE is now SUNRISER EXPRESS POLSKI SKLEP. Holgate Avenue was until 1931 known as Brittania Place or Brittania Street and took its name from the Brittania beer house which was possibly in this shop, part of a group of two buildings at 38-40 Plough Lane which are the only remnants of the original 1860s development of the area.

Apparently the Revd Chad Varah, the founder of The Samaritans, was vicar at Saint Peter’s during the 1950’s. St Peter’s was amalgamated with St Paul’s at some time after 1969 – and St Paul’s had been amalgamated with St John in Usk Road in 1938.

Houses, Holgate Avenue, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-75
Houses, Holgate Avenue, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-75

According to the Survey of London, “Holgate Avenue, started in the 1920s, was Battersea’s first
successful slum-clearance scheme
.” Poorly built Victorian houses from the 1860s were replaced by these three-storey tenements built by Battersea’s Labour Council in 1924-37 to high standards with some impressive brickwork and detailing. Probably more importantly for the residents they were provided with electric cooking, heating and lighting facilities, unusual luxury for the time.

There was little land in Battersea for building and while the council would have liked to build single family homes it had to compromise with these. But at least tenants at most had only to walk up three flights of stairs, while most new council building by the LCC in the interwar period was in five-storey tenement walk-up blocks.

Price's Candles, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-62
Price’s Candles, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-62

I walked back up Plough Road to York Road, and continued my walk towards Wandsworth Bridge. There was no access to the River Thames on this stretch before the bridge, as the area was still occupied by industrial premises.

Price’s Candles on York Rd was built on part of the site of York House, the London residence of the Archbishop of York from which York Road got its name. You can read more than you will ever want to know about York House in All about Battersea, by Henry S Simmonds published in 1882 and now on Project Gutenberg, which also has a long section on the Belmont Works or Price’s Patent Candle Factory.

Price’s Candles was begun in 1830 by William Wilson and Benjamin Lancaster who had purchased a patent for the separation of coconut fats. They chose the name Price for the business to remain anonymous as candle-making was not at the time a respectable occupation.

They moved to this site in 1847 setting up a large factory and workforce, making candles, soap and other products with stearine wax for the candles and the by products of glycerine and light oils coming cocunuts grown on a plantation they bought in Ceylon. In 1854 they began to import large quantities of crude petroleum from Burma and developed paraffin wax candles. Later they developed processes to work with other industrial wastes, animal fats and fish oils. By 1900 they were the largest candle manufacturer in the world.

The company was taken over by Unilever in 1919, and became owned by other oil companies including BP, who sold part of the site which opened in 1959 as the Battersea Heliport. A few of Price’s buildings remain, though most with added floors, and the rest of the site is mostly new blocks of flats.

York Tavern, pub, 347, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-63
York Tavern, pub, 347, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-63

The York Tavern was on the corner of York Road and Usk Road in the late 1850s but was given a makeover later in the century in the typical 1890s Queen Anne style with fake gable facades. I can’t find a date for the closing of this pub but it was clearly very shut when I made this picture. The building was demolished in 2003.

John Watney & Co Ltd, Wandsworth Distillery, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-64
John Watney & Co Ltd, Wandsworth Distillery, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-64

Wandsworth Distillery on York Rd was founded by Richard Bush at Gargoyle Wharf around 1780. By 1874 it was owned by John and Daniel Watney. Gin was produced here, having become popular after heavy taxes were imposed on French brandy, and later particularly in the colonies to counteract the unpleasantly bitter taste of the anti-malarial quinine.

Acquired by Guinness, the distillery was demolished in 1992, and I photographed its occupation as the ‘Pure Genius Eco Village‘ by The Land is Ours in 1996. It was redeveloped as Battersea Reach housing from 2002 on.

More from this walk in another post.


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Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

February 25th, 2024

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth – On Wednesday 25th February I photographed a number of protests in London, starting in Westminster with the Free Shaker Aamer campaign, striking firefighters and welfare rights activists, then with tube workers at Edgware Road and finally outside Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton.


Free Shaker Aamer – Parliament Square

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

A protest opposite Parliament called for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he has been held and regularly abused for 13 years without charge or trial.

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

The Free Shaker Aamer Campaign had been holding weekly protests opposite Parliament whenever it was in session to remind government of the need for act over his release. He had long been cleared for release but was still held in the illegal prison camp with both US and UK governments dragging their feet as his testimony would be embarrassing to their security agencies, making clear their involvement in torture.

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

The protest was longer than usual as an international event was taking place at the nearby QEII centre and they wanted to remind delegates there of Shaker’s torture and imprisonment. Eventually the long campaign of protests by this and other groups led the UK government they needed to back his release in practice and he was finally released on 30th October 2015.

More pictures: Free Shaker Aamer at Parliament


Striking Firefighters block traffic – Westminster

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

Firefighters in England held a 24 hour strike on 25th Feb 2015 against the unworkable pension scheme the government intended to implement. They say that the devolved governments had recognised the problems in the scheme and made improvements but in England government ministers were refusing to talk with the union, simply ignoring requests for meetings. They accused the government of lies about the union, saying they were being labelled as militants despite them being ready and willing to enter into negotiations at any time.

After a rally in Westminster Central Hall, several thousand striking firefighters protested on the street outside Parliament before marching to Downing St. Their protest brought all traffic in the area to a standstill until they marched away.

They stopped outside Downing Street and refused to move, saying they would wait there until someone came out to talk to them. A senior police officer come to talk with Matt Wrack and the other FBU leaders there and was extrememly politie, taking Wrack’s mobile number before going away to see if anyone could be persuaded to come out from Downing St to meet the protesters.

I left them leaning on the barriers and looking into Downing Street waiting for someone to come and see them, though I doubted if anyone would ever emerge.

The Fire Service has also suffered like other public services from government cuts; in London these led to Mayor Boris Johnson making dangerous reductions, closing some fire stations and reducing equipment and staffing, which left the London Fire Brigade ill-equipped to deal with major disasters such as the Grenfell fire.

The FBU union later won a number of legal cases against the government over the changes that were made to the pensions scheme, leading to significant compensation for some members.

More at Striking Firefighters block traffic.


Welfare Advocacy not a Crime – DWP, Westminster

Welfare activists protested outside the Dept of Work & Pensions in Caxton Street as a part of the national day of action over the arrest of welfare rights activist Tony Cox. He had been arrested when he tried to accompany a vulnerable claimant to her job centre interview to argue for a fairer claimant agreement.

As well as several banners, one man was gagged in protest. By law claimants are allowed to have and adviser present with them at the interview, but when a claimant turned up with Cox, his interview was cancelled.

Cox and the claimant then left the job centre, but later in the day police arrived at his him and arrested him, charging him with threatening behaviour.

Welfare Advocacy not a Crime.


RMT protest Underground Job Cuts – Edgware Road Station (Bakerloo)

Around 20 RMT members handed out fliers at the busy Edgware Road Bakerloo Line station against the proposed 50% cut in station staffing and the closure of the ticket offices which they say will endanger the safety of both passengers and staff.

They got a very positive reception from many of the public going in and out of the station or walking past, although a PCSO came to harass and try to stop their picketing. Most of the public seemed to realise that staff do far more than sell tickets and offer service and protection to the travelling public.

Many promises were made to Underground staff and the public about how they would be protected when cuts were made, but most were later broken.

RMT protest Underground Job Cuts


Lambeth against £90m cuts – Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton

After taking some photographs of the protesting RMT staff I got on the Underground there, changing at Oxford Circus to take me to the end of the Victoria Line at Brixton.

There I walked down to Lambeth Town Hall on the corner of Acre Land to join around a hundred trade unionists, pensioners, library and other council staff, social housing tenants and other residents who were gathering for a lively rally outside Lambeth Town Hall.

A lively rally took place urging councillors who were arriving for the council meeting to reject library closures and other £90 millon cuts which were being passed there by the large Labour majority on the council. Labour then held 59 of the 63 council seats. Among the speakers at the rally was the only Green Party councillor, Scott Ainslie, who was to vote against the cuts. The Green Party gained four more seats in the 2018 council elections but lost three of these in 2022. Right-wing Labour councillors still have an overwheming majority and the council continues its policies which fail the community.

Lambeth’s finances were stretched by the development of a new Town Hall or Civic Centre the cost of which roughly doubled from the original contract of £55 million ot £104 million. Policies such as the closure of libraries and the demolition and sale of popular and well-built council estates like Cressingham Gardens had already produced a great deal of protest in the borough.

The £90 million cuts passed at the council meeting later that evening have had a disproportionate impact on children, old people and the disabled who always rely on local services more than the average person. Council employees at the rally opposed the cuts not only because they feared for their own jobs, but because they knew those that remain in post will not be able to offer the public the same quality of service that they do at present.

Lambeth against £90m cuts


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Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies 2009

February 24th, 2024

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies – Tuesday 24th February 2009 was a long and varied day for me and included some serious issues that are still at the forefront of current news as well as some lighter moments – and I ended the day enjoying a little unusual corporate hospitality with some free drinks for London bloggers.


Al-Haq Sue UK Government – Royal Courts of Justice

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

First came Palestine, with Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq filing a claim for judicial review before the High Court of England and Wales challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s illegal activities in Palestine.

They were calling on our government – then New Labour under Gordon Brown – to publicly denounce Israel’s actions in Gaza and the continuing construction of the separation wall, to suspend arms related exports and all government, military, financial and ministerial assistance to Israel and to end UK companies exporting arms and military technology.

They also asked them to insist the EU suspends preferential trading with Israel until that country complies with its human rights obligations, and for the government to give the police any evidence of war crimes committed by any Israelis who intend to come to the UK.

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

Of course the court refused Al-Haq’s case, declining to deal with the UK government’s compliance with its international legal obligations and stating that their claim would risk the UK’s diplomatic “engagement with peace efforts in the Middle East“, something which seemed at the time to be absolutely zero if not negative. They also refused Al-Haq any right to bring the claim because it was not a UK-based organisation and “no one in the United Kingdom has sought judicial review of United Kingdom foreign policy regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza“.

Al-Haq Sue UK Government


Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Race – Guildhall Yard

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

It was Shrove Tuesday and I couldn’t resist the Pancake Race organised by the Worshipful Company of Poulters, and held – with the permission of the Chief Commoner, in the Guildhall Yard.

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

As I said, “It’s a shame that the Pancake Race is unlikely to feature in the London 2012 Olympics, because it’s perhaps the one sport in which Britain still leads the world, and we seem to have plenty of talent in training.

Poulters Pancake Race


Keep the Post Public – Parliament Square

Postal workers came out from a rally in Methodist Central Hall against government plans to privatise Royal Mail. The government argued they needed to do this to protect pensions and modernise the service.

Postal deliveries had been deliberately made uneconomic by earlier measures which have allowed private companies to cream off the easily delivered profitable parts of the service, while leaving the Royal Mail to continue the expensive universal delivery service – including the delivery of its competitors post at low regulated prices to more difficult destinations.

The government picked up the responsibility for the pensions when the post was privatised and the privatised post office has been allowed to fail on its delivery obligations. We now get deliveries on perhaps 3 or 4 days a week rather than 6, few first class letters arrive on time, and the collection times for most pillar boxes are now much earlier in the day – now 9am rather than 4pm at our local box. While privatisation was supposed to result in more investment it largely seems to have resulted in large dividends and higher pay to managers and the Post Office is in a worse state than ever.

Keep the Post Public


London 2012 Olympic Site – Stratford

I had time for a brief visit to the publicly accessible areas in and around the Olympic site where a great deal of work was now taking place with the main stadium beginning to emerge.

There were some reports at the time that the landmark building Warton House, once owned by the Yardley company with its lavender mosaic on Stratford High Street was to be demolished, but fortunately these turned out to be exaggerated, with only a small part at the rear of the building being lost. But all the buildings on the main part of the site had gone. Some others south of the mainline railway were also being demolished for Crossrail.

Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans


March of the Corporate Undead – Oxford St

I made my way back to Oxford Circus for the ‘March of the Corporate Undead’, a Zombie Shopping Spree complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

Police watched in a suitably deadpan manner (I did see one or two occasionally smile) as the group assembled and applied large amounts of white makeup before making its way along the pavement of Oxford Street, to the astonishment (and often delight) of late shoppers and workers rushing home.

We stopped off at Stratford Place, opposite Bond Street Station to toss some fried bankers brains in the frying pans and then there was a pancake race, holding up a Rolls Royce that was prevented by the police from driving through while we were there.

The parade continued, stopping for a minute or two under the bright lights of Selfridges before continuing to Tyburn, or at least Marble Arch, with more zombies joining all the time.

Hanging the already dead banker seemed a great idea, but getting a rope up over the arch was tricky. Eventually a severed hand gave sufficient weight to enable a rope to be thrown over the ornamental iron-work and the banker was soon hoisted up to dangle over the continuing revels below.

March of the Corporate Undead

This was an anticapitalist event and in particular aimed against bankers and the huge amounts of cash given to them to in the aftermath of the 2007-8 financial crisis which was seen as rewarding the very people who had caused the mess the system was in. The mass of the population was having to suffer cuts in services under a severe austerity programme while bankers were still pigs in clover. The UK has become a very unequal society over the years since 1979 when Thatcher became Prime Minister. The the top 10% got 21% of the UK income, by 2010 it was around 32%.

I left to go to a meeting of London bloggers – and enjoy a few free drinks thanks to Bacardi. The blue and green Breezers seem to me just right for zombies, though I’m afraid after tasting one I went for the beer instead. But I think the zombies on Oxford Street were more alive than those in the corporate world.


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River Thames, St Mary’s, Church Rd, Chelsea Harbour & A Bridge

February 23rd, 2024

River Thames, St Mary’s, Church Rd, Chelsea Harbour & A Bridge continues my walk on Friday 4th August 1989 in Battersea from the previous post, Battersea Park, Flour Mill and Somerset Estate. The walk began with Council flats, Piles of Bricks, A House Hospital and Brasserie.

House boats, Mooring, River Thames, Chelsea Wharf, Kensington & Chelsea, Battersea Church Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-35
House boats, Mooring, River Thames, Chelsea Wharf, Kensington & Chelsea, Battersea Church Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-35

The churchyard of St Mary’s Church is on the riverside and back in 1989 was the first place I could access the river in Battersea upstream of Battersea Bridge. The churchyard was closed for public burials in 1854.

The moorings here look rather crowded. At Spring Tides the river comes into the churchyard at high tide and I think people living on the houseboats here would need wellingtons, but the tide was low when I made this picture. On the west side of the churchyard is a slipway and past that was Church Wharf, part of Battersea Wharf. Immediately on the corner of the slipway until fairly recently was the Old Swan pub. Once a solid Victorian building it had been replaced in the 1960s by a strange building with much wooden planking and large windows which had become a punk venue in the 70s before closing, being squatted, and becoming derelict and then perhaps conveniently burning down. The block of expensive riverside flats which replaced the pub is named Old Swan Wharf.

St Mary's, Church, Battersea Church Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-21
St Mary’s, Church, Battersea Church Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-21

St Mary’s Church is a real gem, Grade I listed, built in 1775-77, architect Joseph Discon, though the painted glass in its East Window is said to date from 1631, attributed to Bernard van Linge and transferred from the previous church building on this site. The stonework around this window is even older, dating from 1379 when the church was owned by Westminster Abbey and they sent one of their masons over for the job.

Bomb damage in the 1940s gave the then vicar the chance to smash some of the “very bad Victorian stained glass” which made the interior gloomy and there are now four modern stained glass windows. One commemorates William Blake who was married here in 1842 and another J M W Turner who was rowed across from his Chelsea house each day and sat at the vestry window to paint his riverscapes. The famous 18th century botanist William Curtis is commemorated in the third, while the fourth is for the US “archetypal traitor” General Benedict Arnold, given by an American donor.

Houses, Battersea Church Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-24
Houses, Battersea Church Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-24

At the extreme right of this picture is a sign pointing to the riverside walk which began next to the slipway beside the church and in the centre is the rather ugly riverside development of Valiant House, in 1971 one of the earlier blocks of luxury riverside flats. The Survey of London quotes it being described as ‘luxurious and dismal, a high security complex which afforded views of the river as well as the rubbish tips on Chelsea
Reach
’. It took its name from the former concrete works on part of the site at Valiant Wharf, and perhaps the only mitigating grace of the development was that it provided a narrow riverside walkway, though a little narrow.

The houses at left, probably mainly Victorian with various alterations now look rather different but the facades along the street remain.

Houses, Battersea Church Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-25
Houses, Battersea Church Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-25

A few yards along the street with an attractive curve leading to Battersea Square the view here seems little changed now. You can see the Grade II listed Raven (no longer a Pub) just to the left of the traffic light.

Lamp post, River Thames, Chelsea Wharf,  Kensington & Chelsea, Vicarage Walk, battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-13
Lamp post, River Thames, Chelsea Wharf, Kensington & Chelsea, Vicarage Walk, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-13

The view across the river to Chelsea Harbour. Planning permission was granted for this huge riverside development in 1986 and building proceeded rapidly. By 1989 from across the river it seemed complete and very different to what Sands End would have looked like when Nell Gwyn lived here or when it was a coal dock for the gas works and railways. The old coal dock, became a somewhat shorter marina. The 18 storey tower was erected at a rapid pace, with at one point gaining a new floor every 4 days, and was topped out in six months.

The 310 luxury flats in the new development were marketed with prices starting at around £2 million per property and have 24 hour security patrols and porterage.

Being towed by a tug upriver are empty containers which have carried London’s rubbish away downstream and are now returning upstream to the refuse depot at Wandsworth for refilling with the barge sitting considerably higher in the water. I think this general waste now mainly goes for incineration at Crossness.

Moorings, River Thames, Railway Bridge, Albion Quay, Lombard Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-16
Moorings, River Thames, Railway Bridge, Albion Quay, Lombard Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8b-16

Battersea Railway Bridge was built in 1863 and has been strengthened and refurbished in 1969 and in 1992 after I made this picture.

It provides one of relatively few links between railways south of the Thames and those to the north and is used by Overground and mainline trains running between Kensington Olympia (and points north) and Clapham Junction. It is also used by goods traffic which could use Battersea’s extensive rail network to run almost anywhere in the South.

The stretch of walkway by the river leading here through the narrow Vicarage Gardens next to Vicarage Crescent had been opened up some years earlier. But there was still little access to the river beyond the railway bridge. Since then the riverside path now continues through one of the railway arches.

There are plans for a foot and cycle bridge across the Thames next to the railway bridge, but although a start has been made on this project and planning permission was given by both Wandsworth and Hammersmith & Fulham in 2013 I think funding remains a problem; but Wikipedia states ‘The forecast opening date is 2025, taking 18 months to build and audit.’

More on my walk in August 1989 in a later post.


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The Raven, Villas, Mansion Flats & A Bridge

February 21st, 2024

The Raven, Villas, Mansion Flats & A Bridge continues my walk on Friday 4th August 1989 in Battersea which began with the previous post, Council flats, Piles of Bricks, A House Hospital and Brasserie.

The Raven, pub, Battersea Church St, Westbridge Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-56
The Raven, pub, Battersea Church St, Westbridge Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-56

Also at the edge of Battersea Square, on the corner of Battersea Church Street and Westbridge Road is The Raven pub, probably the most significant building in the area, built here in the mid seventeenth century and open as the Black Raven in 1701. Grade II listed it has had various alterations since then but is the only remaining pre-Victorian building in the area. Its value was recognised by a very early listing made in 1954, although it had been extenisvely rebuilt in 1891

Unfortunately this is no longer a pub, but Melanzana, a independent ‘bar-trattoria-deli‘ which according to Camra no longer serving any real beer. You can drink Peroni or wine with your pizza or pasta. I don’t think its interior retains anything of historic interest.

Skips, House, 26, Westbridge Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-41
Skips, House, 26, Westbridge Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-41

Another image about gentrification. I’d walked back east along Westbridge Road towards Battersea Bridge Road. I think this house was being converted into four flats. This was a significant area of early middle class development in the area in the 1840s with villas with long rear gardens in contrast to the much more downmarket development of what was rapidly becoming an industrial area.

House, 4, Westbridge Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-44
House, 4, Westbridge Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-44

This and its neighbour at 2 Westbridge Road are a pair of Grade II listed Gothic villas dating from 1845, just a few yards from the junction with Battersea Bridge Road. They are included in the Westbridge Road Conservation Area, much of which was developed by 1865. The appraisal describes them as “napped flint faced Gothic villas, quite unique in the district” and gives a further description of them along with a photograph from across the street taken in winter.

In August when I made my picture the houses were largely hidden by the leaves on the trees in their garden. But my view through the open gate does show the statue in the niche at the top of the building more clearly. The pair of houses also have an unusual front wall and gates.

Cranbourne Court, 113-115, Albert Bridge Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-45
Cranbourne Court, 113-115, Albert Bridge Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-45

A number of blocks of mansion flats were built in the 1890s on the edges of Battersea Park along Prince of Wales Drive and Albert Bridge Road, their position with views across of the park making them attractive to wealthier middle-class tenants who needed to live close to the West End. Chelsea was too expensive but this area was only just south of the river and not really in those dangerous areas where posher Londoners (and taxi drivers) feared to go. Apparently adverts for some of the new blocks gave their address as Chelsea Reach, Battersea – estate agents today are still often rather inventive in their descriptions of locations.

According to the Survey of London, almost 1,000 apartments were built here between 1892 and 1902.

The development here was suggested by architect and property speculator John Halley, who had moved south to London from Glasgow in the 1880s and had already put up blocks in Kensington. His plans were too dour for London, resembling Glasgow’s tenements, and he teamed up with another architect William Isaac Chambers who pimped them up for London tastes, though other architects made changes too as The Survey of London article recounts.

Cranbourne Court was one of the last blocks to be built, with Halley again involved along with one of his earlier co-developers, Captain Juba Page Kennerley, “a colourful character who had dabbled in a variety of dubious money-making schemes” and who was “indicted for theft and declared bankrupt” in the early 1890s. An undischarged bankrupt, he had set up a building company under an alias ‘Cranbourne & Cranbourne’ who built this block in 1895.

Albert Bridge, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-31
Albert Bridge, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-31

Albert Bridge is a curious mixture, built as a modified cable-stayed bridge using the system patented by Rowland Mason Ordish and William Henry Le Feuvre in 1858. This made use of a normal parabolic cable to support the central span of the bridge but used inclined stays attached to the bridge deck and connected to the octagonal support columns by wire ropes to support the two ends of the load. Ordish’s designs, made in 1864, were only built in 1870-3.

River Thames, Albert Bridge, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-35
River Thames, Albert Bridge, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-35

When the Chief Engineer of the Metropolitan Board of Works Sir Joseph Bazalgette inspected in the bridge in 1884 he found corrosion of the staying rods had made the bridge unsafe and he added steel chains and a new timber deck.

In 1972 the bridge was again found to be unsafe, and the LCC added two concrete piers to support it in mid-river, turning the central section into a beam bridge, though the earlier cables and stays remain in place.

This was one of London’s earlier wobbly bridges (along with Battersea Bridge) and because of its closeness to Chelsea barracks a notice was attached to this “Albert Bridge Notice. All troops must break step when marching over this bridge.” It was feared that troops marching in unison could set up a resonance such as that which had been blamed for the collapse of the Broughton Suspension Bridge in Salford in 1831. The notices now on the tollboths date from 1965 but are said to be replacements of earlier notices on the bridge.

River Thames, Albert Bridge, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-34
River Thames, Albert Bridge, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-34

The view upstream from the bridge across the River Thames past Battersea Bridge to tower blocks on the 1970s World’s End Estate and the Lots Road Power Station.

I walked on into Battersea Park where the next post about my walk will continue.


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Pancakes, A Farm & Another London – 2007

February 20th, 2024

Pancakes, A Farm & Another London: My working day on Shrove Tuesday, 20th January 2007 began in Guildhall Yard in the City of London, where by permission of the Chief Commoner the Worshipful Company Of Poulters were holding their annual charity pancake races. The Poulters got their charter to regulate the sale of poultry and small game in 1368, but their pancake races are a rather more recent tradition, first run in 2005.

Pancakes, A Farm & Another London

Music for the event came from the Worshipful Company Of Musicians (1500), time-keeping was by the Worshipful Company Of Clockmakers (1631) and a starting cannon for each of the many races was provided and fired by the Worshipful Company Of Gunmakers (1637.)

Pancakes, A Farm & Another London

Although this is a charitable and fun event it fully demonstrates the competitive spirit at the heart of the city. More pictures on My London Diary.

Pancakes, A Farm & Another London

From Guildhall I rushed to another pancake event on the edge of the City, the Great Spitalfields Pancake Race at the former Trumans Brewery, arriving very out of breath just in time to see the finish of the final race and to photograph some of those who had taken part in fancy dress and the prize-giving.

Pancakes, A Farm & Another London

As I commented, “the atmosphere was considerably less restrained than in the City.More pictures.

From there a short walk took me on a visit to Spitalfields Urban Farm, one of a number of urban farms set up in the 70s and 80s (1978 in this case) on waste land. This area had formerly been part of a railway goods depot next to the line out of Liverpool Street. It now provides an environmental education and a great deal of enjoyment to people of all ages in the local community.

I was meeting with other photographers later in the day, and still had time to stroll in a leisurely fashion through Spitalfields to Shoreditch to catch the bus, making a few photographs on the way. Back then there was relatively little graffiti on the walls around the disused Spitalfields station and Brick Lane, but now its hard to find a square inch of wall not covered with it. I was photographing in a dark alley leading through to Bishopsgate when a hooded figure strolled past me. Despite the media stereotyping of ‘hoodies’ I couldn’t feel he was in the least threatening; if anything rather more like a monk. More pictures on My London Diary.

I met a group of photographer friends for a meal at an Italian cafe in New Malden and then we went on together to Kingston Museum, where the show ‘Another London‘ including my work along with that of Paul Baldesare and Mike Seaborne was then showing. Of course it closed years ago, but the web site featuring work from it is still on-line.

Pancakes, A Farm & Another London

As the introduction on the site states, the show features “the London of the suburbs, of its deprived areas and of its various ethnic groups” with work by myself an Paul “in the tradition of ‘street photography‘” and Mike’s panoramic urban landscapes some “using the viewpoint offered by the front seat of London buses.”

Another London


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Hull – More Than The Deep: 2017

February 19th, 2024

Hull – More Than The Deep: I haven’t often posted about Hull on here, but it was the city where I first carried out a serious photographic project which was shown at the city’s art gallery in 1983, and one I have continued to photograph over the years, though rather less regularly since 2000.

Hull - More Than The Deep

I didn’t really choose to photograph Hull, but I did chose to marry a woman who had grown up in the city and whose family home was still there, and it was a place where I found myself with time on my hands when visiting her parents usually for a couple of weeks most summers and often for shorter periods at Christmas or Easter.

Hull - More Than The Deep

We still have a few friends in the city, although most have now died, and our visits are less frequent. Back in 2017 Hull was enjoying its year as UK City of Culture and we were visiting partly to enjoy some of that but also to meet a few friends. I was also trying to generate some interest in my pictures of the city from the 1970s and 1980s, but plans for a show fell through.

Hull - More Than The Deep

Sunday 19th February 2017 was also a day when we met with some of our family who had come to Hull both to meet us and to visit Hull’s major tourist attraction, The Deep and we met them for lunch there and I took a few pictures from its viewing platform.

Hull - More Than The Deep

I’d gone out immediately after breakfast for a long walk around some of my favourite areas of the city which I had photographed in earlier years. Then I had been working mainly with black and white film, interested in the changes taking place in the city and surprised at the way it seemed to be disregarding much of its heritage, and recording aspects that seemed unlikely to survive. I’d also taken some colour pictures and had included some in my show there, but they perhaps more reflected my interest in colour than my interest in the city.

But in 2017 I was working only on digital, so everything was colour and I was also making some panoramic colour images – again digital.

It was late afternoon by the time we said goodbye to our family, and Linda decided she would like to go for a walk around Beverley, a town seven miles away. The bus service to there is slow and infrequent, but as I wrote “it has the advantage of setting you down at the bus station immediately next door to Nellie’s.”

Beverley is an old market town, well known for its Minster and full of old buildings. It was too late for us to visit the Minster, but not for a visit to one of its Grade II* listed buildings, The White Horse Inn, generally known as Nellies, taken over by Samuel Smith’s brewery in 1976. And although they have modernised the pub in some ways, much remains as it was – and my pictures were taken using its rather dim gas lighting. It’s a place people come from around the world to see, though fortunately not in such large numbers to swamp it.

Afterwards we still had some time before the last bus back to Hull left and went for a walk around the town including Beverley Bar, the Minster and the Monk’s Walk and I made a few pictures, all hand-held.

Back in Hull we had a walk through the town, mainly deserted at night to the house where we were staying in Victoria Dock Village, and there was time for a few more pictures.

There are many more pictures from the day on My London Diary, and many have captions too:
Beverley and Nellie’s
Around the Town
The Deep
More Hull Panoramic
Wincolmlee and Lime St


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Global Civility and Stratford Marsh – 2006

February 18th, 2024

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh – On Saturday February 18th 2006 I photographed one of the continuing protests around the world which followed the publication by a Danish magazine of cartoons featuring images of the Prophet Mohammad in Trafalgar Square, then took the underground and DLR to Pudding Mill Lane station on Stratford Marsh to take more pictures of the area which was to be demolished for the London Olympics.


Proclamation for Global Civility – Trafalgar Square

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

Muslim protesters packed Trafalgar Square for a protest by the Muslim Action Committee over the publication of the cartoons which they regard as blasphemous, but also to publicise a ‘proclamation of global civility‘. The key points of this were the recognition of human dignity as a fundamental right, the need to good manners and etiquette in serious debate, a desire to avoid irresponsible behaviour and to underline the significance of mutual respect for a harmonious co-existence.

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

The protest in London was kept in good order by stewards who remonstrated with some of the demonstrators who were in some way not behaving as they thought they should, and also moved photographers away from them and some other groups. But other protests around the world were much less restrained and news agencies that same day reported rioting outside the Italian consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which at least 10 people were killed as well as the storming and burning of Christian churches in northern Nigeria with at least 16 deaths.

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

“As I pointed out in my report in 2006, human dignity was recognised as vital in “the preamble to the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 217 of 10 December 1948. That declaration also contains a number of important safeguards such as ‘the right to freedom of opinion and expression‘ and states ‘in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.'”

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

There are still many countries around the world where the principles of human rights in that declaration are not observed, including in many in the Muslim world.

Manners and etiquette are clearly very different in different societies and different religions certainly have very different views, particularly over blasphemy and apostasy. In the west we now prioritise freedom of speech and look back in horror at the Spanish Inquisition and trails for heresy and blasphemy, although in England and Wales, the ‘blasphemy’ and ‘blasphemous libel’ laws were only abolished in 2008, and in Scotland in 2021, while they are still in force in Northern Ireland.

The last conviction for blasphemy in England and Wales was in 1977 when the editor of Gay News received a suspended prison sentence after publishing the poem ‘The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name’ by James Kirkup, and in Scotland it was more than a century earlier when a bookseller was jailed for 15 months in 1843, though until 1825 it had been punishable by death.

While we may find some of the cartoons that were published offensive, it clearly does not justify the irresponsible behaviour and criminal actions of some Muslim mobs protesting against them.

Away from the stewards as I wandered through the crowd I was generally welcomed by the protesters, with many urging me to take their pictures. I left as the speeches, most of which I could not understand as few spoke in English, were finishing and people were getting ready to march,

Scroll down the February 2006 web page for more.


Stratford Marsh – River Lea, Stratford

I’d first photographed Stratford Marsh back in the early 1980s as part of a wider project on the River Lea, once a large and important industrial area in London, but like most of British industry falling into decline, accelerated by the policies of the Thatcher government determined to transform Britain away from manufacturing and into services.

Stratford Marsh was then full of largely small businesses employing local people and many still remained in 2006, though already blighted both by government policies and the tax breaks given to the nearby Docklands area. Now Olympic blight had set in with the whole area to be remodelled, and there were also areas which would be demolished for Crossrail.

As I wrote back then and I think my pictures show:

It is still an intriguing area, where a few yards can take you from wilderness to industrial wasteland, from dereliction to busy workshops (though most were closed on a Saturday afternoon.) Parts are visibly closing down, with compulsory purchase orders hanging on lamposts, some footpaths closed and factories demolished.

There was one small sign of a kind of regeneration. the unusual lock between the Bow Back Rivers and Waterworks River at Baker Road, for many years derelict, at last seems to have been replaced.

My London Diary – Feb 2006

There are many more pictures from this walk – and others – on these pages on my River Lea site.


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Council flats, Piles of Bricks, A House Hospital and Brasserie

February 17th, 2024

My walk on Friday 4th August 1989 began at a bus stop on Battersea Bridge Road more or less opposite where I had caught a bus at the end of my previous walk

Shuttleworth Rd,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7o-14
Shuttleworth Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7o-14

McCarthy Court is set just a few yards back from the road and I think this picture of it was possibly taken in Bridge Lane. Its two long blocks, one 4-storey and the other 2-storey were built for Wandsworth Council in 1978 with an inner garden between them and they contain 42 one bedroom flats and 36 two bedroom flats. The estate, now with a mix of council tenants, leaseholders and private tenants since 2005 has been managed by the McCarthy Court Co-operative whose board consists of estate residents with one council nominee. I assume McCarthy was the name of some local councillor or officer but perhaps someone in the area can tell me.

It had been planned, as the Survey of London recounted in 2013 as a part of a much larger development by the then Conservative government, but permission for much of this was denied by the Ministry of Housing and Wandsworth was told the houses over much of the site were sound and could be renovated. Writing about these pictures now I often wish that this survey had been available when I was photographing the area, as there were few published sources then.

Bridge Lane,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7o-15
Bridge Lane, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7o-15

The first Battersea Bridge was a toll bridge which replaced a ferry across the River Thames to Chelsea and was opened to pedestrians in 1771 and to horses and carts the following year. Designer Henry Holland had been forced to cut costs and the bridge was narrow and dangerous both to users and river traffic, but with some reinforcement it lasted until 1885, the last wooden bridge over the Thames. This bridge was painted by almost every significant British painter of the age including Turner and Whistler.

Presumably Bridge Lane used to lead to the bridge, though it now stops short, and may in earlier times have led the the ferry. These houses on Bridge Lane are presumably Victorian and may have been among those saved from demolition by the Minstry of Housing in 1968, though I think these are what is now number 1 and 2 on the north side of the road, despite the number 9 in my picture and 15 on one of the doors.

Bridge Lane,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7o-16
Bridge Lane, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7o-16

An interesting use of piles of bricks on top of both rectangular and cylindrical columns on the gate and steps to this house. I don’t think these have survived.

Back in the 1960s the Tate Gallery had paid Carl Andre a little over £2,000 for a pile of bricks, causing huge controversy over what many considered a waste of money. These seemed to me rather more interesting.

Fence, Orbel St, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-64
Fence, Orbel St, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-64

Bridge Lane ends at Surrey Lane and I turned west down it and then down Orbel Street. The estate here was built in the 1870s and 80s, and the northern side of Orbel Street is lined by semi-detached two storey houses with only vestigial front gardens.

You can stil see the short section of fencing between the two doorways of 70 and 72 on the street, unusually ornate for these houses, but the gate and the section fronting the pavement has gone. With the leaves from the shrub behind I felt I could almost be in the Palm House at Kew.

The House Hospital, 64 Battersea High St, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-52
The House Hospital, 64, Battersea High St, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-52

Not a medical establishment, The House Hospital at 64 Battersea High Street was for me symbol of the rapid and considerable gentrification of the area taking place as the industries were moving out. It offered replacement doors, at a price unspecified, fire places, baths, basins, taps etc. The site at 64-66 had built in 1975 for the factory of Allen and Ernest Lambert, who called themselves the Allen Brothers and made cigars. It later became a pipe factory for Imperial Tobacco until around 1930. According to the Survey of Londonin the late 1950s they were occupied by the Ductube Company Ltd, makers of inflatable tubing for laying ducts in concrete.”

The building at right and the factory site behind has since been redeveloped as ‘Restoration Square‘. Number 64 and therather dull block at left, Powrie House, remain.

Bennett's Brasserie, London House, Battersea Square, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-55
Bennett’s Brasserie, London House, Battersea Square, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8a-55

James Bennett was a linen draper, who named his business premises very visibly ‘London House’. Originally in a Georgian building on the right of this picture he added to this in a matching fashion across the middle and left of my picture in 1866. I think the ground-floor addition of Bennett’s Brasserie is rather later. The builidng is locally listed. I think ‘London’ was perhaps a suggestion that he sold fine fabrics, not the coarser ‘Manchester’ cloth, as Battersea was clearly back then not in London.

Gordon Ramsey took over the Brasserie in 2014 as a restaurant, but this closed in 2022.

Battersea Square had more or less disappeared off the maps by the 1970s, but the name was restored and considerable work carried out on the area after it was designated as a Conservation Area – the work was more or less complete when I made these pictures in 1989.

More from Battersea in a later post about this walk.


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