Pride 2016

March 28th, 2017

I first photographed Pride back in 1992 and since then I think I’ve been every year except 2005 when I was out of the country, but I was wondering whether I could be bothered in 2016. It really has become so much of a corporate and commercial event that it has lost much of the interest it had for me. This year was the first for many that I didn’t bother to apply for accreditation, which given the large crowds and strict control of the procession and main events by stewards and police makes covering the event rather easier.

I’m not a great believer in accreditation for events. It often seems to be a way of controlling access to a small group of people known to the organisers – often including many who don’t have a press card. But at least accreditation for Pride is straightforward and I’ve never been refused when I have applied, unlike a few other events. But generally I feel a press card should be enough – and even that is usually unnecessary for the kind of events I want to cover and the way I like to cover them.

In the end I decided to go again largely because Movement for Justice had organised a Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride march to join the main Pride event. They gathered on Oxford St, a smallish group including London in Solidarity with Istanbul LGBTI Pride, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and others who feel as I do that ‘ the official event has been taken over by corporate sponsors such as Barclays and BAE systems and is a parade rather than a protest, no longer representing its roots.’

And they joined on the main Pride march at the end, where other political groups are generally marginalised. As they moved forwards to join in the march I walked back to the tube and left.

You can see some of my pictures from Pride in 1993-2002 in Ten Years of Pride based on the  work shown as a part of the exhibition Queer is Here at the Museum of London, Feb 2006 and touring.

More text and pictures:
Pride London 2016
Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride
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Brexit shock

March 27th, 2017

The Brexit vote came as a shock to most of us, not least to David Cameron who had planned the whole referendum as a way of keeping his even more right wing chums in Parliament quiet, certainly the biggest political mistake so far of this century. Though it was one which his colleague who succeeded him seems determined to worsen by refusing to make the kind of compromises over our divorce from Europe that might have made the split bearable.

The referendum result, although it confounded the media and the opinion pollsters, didn’t come as a huge surprise to those of us who had been following the campaign, and in particular the way it had been reported in the media, and in particular the BBC. While we had seen for years a hate campaign against Europe and migrants in the whole of the popular press, it was rather a shock to us that the BBC made such a determined effort to promote Nigel Farage and his delusional opinions (along with his mates from the Conservative Party) in the run up to the vote.

There were of course some at the BBC who tried to present the facts rather than the UKIP spin, but they seemed to have little effect on the news coverage, which gloried in reporting the ridiculous lies of the Leave campaign as if they made any sense, while failing to report at all much of the more sensible aspects of what was overall a rather lacklustre Remain campaign.

One contribution to this BBC failure was of course their continuing campaign to belittle Jeremy Corbyn, whose many appearances around the country arguing Labour’s nuanced campaign to remain in the EU hardly got a mention. But as on some other issues, BBC ideas about ‘balance’ also prevented a truly unbiased coverage – as when they give equal prominence to the views of those few climate sceptics as to the huge majority of scientific evidence for the man-made contribution to climate change.

So while the fairly narrow vote to leave the EU came as a shock, it was hardly a surprise, and its consequences almost certainly disastrous. That such a small majority should lead to such a momentous decision still seems an unbelievable idiocy on Cameron’s part to many of us. It should have been made clear when the vote was set up that a simple small majority would not be binding on the government.

Defend All Migrants was a reaction to this shock, and it was one that brought home to me the reality of ‘Fake News’, seeing an ultra-right US ‘news’ site operating at first hand. Their team at the protest had clearly not come along to report on the event, but to try and provoke a reaction by the way they behaved and the questions they asked.

While it might have been more sensible for the protesters to have ignored them it was actually inevitable that they would provoke some reaction – which was why they had come there. And as usual when trouble-makers try to protest and stir up the situation, eventually the police strongly advised them to leave. I’m not sure if they actually escorted them out of the park, but I’m fairly sure they would have done if they didn’t go without an escort.

Behaviour like this by people who pose as journalists but are really political activists threatens all of us who work as journalists. I was disturbed that some colleagues took the side of these fake reporters whose activities are a real threat to the freedom of the press. Those of us who were there as genuine journalists faced no problems in reporting this event, but when people come along posing as journalists and acting provocatively it makes our job more difficult.

The rally proceeded and it was good to hear speakers from a wide range of organisations, all speaking up to defend migrants at a time when many were coming under attack after the vote to leave the EU – which had been widely seen as a way of cutting down migration to the UK. It isn’t likely to have a great effect on levels of migration, as we will still need people to come here to staff our hospitals, to work in old peoples homes, on our building sites, as agricultural workers etc – to do all the jobs that there are not enough people here qualified or willing to do.

And we will still have refugees seeking asylum, particularly while this country and companies based here encourage, fund and take part in perpetuating war and famine in countries around the world.

After the rally, many of those present took part in a march, which was to go to News International, home of The Sun and The Times, both of which have spread lies and scapegoated immigrants. As I wrote in a caption, ‘Murdoch hates Europe because unlike UK governments they don’t do what he tells them.’

Although it’s destination was clear, the route the marchers took certainly wasn’t, and those leading it turned down a side street on seeing more police ahead, and then got rather lost. There was much looking at maps on phones by those at the front and I began to wonder if they would ever find their way or keep wandering through the back streets of the city for ever.

I knew exactly where I was and decided I had walked far enough and was beginning to get hungry. When the march turned to the north, walking in exactly the opposite direction to its destination I decided I’d had enough and caught a bus for the station and my train home.

Defend All Migrants

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Hull Photos: 16/3/17-22/3/17

March 24th, 2017

Weekly digest of images posted to Hull Photos and my comments from Facebook

16 March 2017

Parts of the Old Town first got electrical lights in 1880, but the private company failed to supply power consistently and the lights went off in 1884. In 1890 the corporation got the power to make power itself and built this Corporation Electric Lighting Station in 1892 in Dagger Lane. But, according to the Victoria County History, the service grew from the original 33 customers to 960 by 1898 and a new and larger generating station was opened in Sculcoates Lane.

The door states that it is a Boiler Store for B Danby & Co Ltd, a plumbing, heating and electrical merchants in the North of England, was founded in 1891 by West Riding businessman Benjamin Danby and still in business, but the building appeared to be empty and derelict, and I think was demolished a few years later.

28r51: Corporation Electric Lighting Station 1892, Dagger Lane, 1981 – Old Town

17 March 2017

The former warehouses beside Railway Dock were listed Grade II in 1970. The listed eastern wing was demolished in 1972 and later the remaining parts converted into offices, commercial premises and flats. Unfortunately the 1845/6 No 7 warehouse, architect J B Hartley, lower than these with five storeys but with nineteen bays, on the north side of Humber dock was demolished in 1971, a tragic loss to the cityscape, now scarred by a near-motorway.

Railway Dock warehouses were next to Hull’s first railway station, Manor House Street or Kingston Street station (on the opposite side of Kingston St, opened as the terminus of the Hull and Selby Railway in 1840, and remaining in use as a goods station after passenger traffic moved to Hull Paragon in 1848.) The station was demolished in 1959 but Wikipedia states some sidings there were in use until 1984 and the lines are shown on the map I was using when taking these pictures.

In the foreground is one of several wagon turntables on the dockside. These were just large enough to take both sets of wheels on a wagon coming from the warehouse which would then be turned through 90 degrees onto a railway line running along the dockside. The wagons would be hauled and turned either by horses or gangs of men, or in some places were moved by chains running around a capstan attached to an shunting engine.

28r64: Former Railway Dock warehouse, Railway St, 1981 – Old Town

18 March 2017

J.B. Mirrlees became a partner in a Glasgow engineering firm making cane sugar processing machinery in 1848. Mirrlees, Watson & Yaryan Company Limited were excited by the engine patented by Dr Rudolf Diesel and visited him in Germany in 1897, taking out an exclusive licence for manufacture and sale of diesel engines in Great Britain. Their first engine, only the third diesel engine in the world and now in the Science Museum was completed in 1897. Unable to sustain the heavy development costs of these engines, they sold the exclusive licence in exchange for a non-exclusive licence in 1899.

Mirrlees moved to Hazel Grove, Stockport to expand their manufacturing capacity and produced many innovative and successful engines, whose uses included powering WWI tanks as well as trains and ships and electricity generation. In 1969 they merged with Blackstone & Company, who had begun in the 1880s making agricultural implements in Lincolnshire. Both companies were a part of the Hawker Siddeley group. They became part of GEC-Alsthom in 1988 and disappeared in the early 2000s.

The office here was disused after the fishing industry moved from here to Albert Dock and St Andrew’s Dock was closed in 1975.

28v21: Mirrlees Blackstone Marine Diesel Engine posters, St Andrew’s Dock, 1981 – Docks

19 March 2017

The notice by the London and North Eastern Railway forbidding any unauthorized explosive materials being brought on to the docks was considerably the worse for wear. It had been there for some time, as it had been signed on behalf of the London and North Eastern Railway Company, which ceased to operate on nationalisation on 1 January 1948.

Explosive materials were of course vital in many ways for mariners, and included rockets and distress flares. The 1875 Act was not intended to prevent explosive materials being brought into the docks but to regulate their use and ensure safe handling.

28v24: Explosives Act 1875 Hull Docks Bye Law notice, St Andrew’s Dock, 1981 – Docks

20 March 2017

The World Championship Three Piece Suite, with a settee that ‘easily converts into a snooker table and is complete with all equipment‘ dominated the window display in a shop on the Hessle Road, and it wasn’t cheap at £799.95 – when the average UK wage was around £6000, and in Hull rather lower than that. At left a notice tells us that under the NARF credit plan it could be ours for only £79.95 deposit and 24 Monthly Payment of £38.40, an APR of 27.9%. Which takes up the total price to just over a thousand pounds, at a time when you could buy a freehold terraced house in the area for well under £10,000.

Living as most did in the area in small terraced houses, few would have had space for a snooker table, though the practicalities of using even this rather small table in a typical living room would have been tricky – it would need to be pulled into the centre of the room to allow players to move around all sides and pull back their cue to make a shot – and it would probably be tricky to keep the playing surface level in many houses even if the settee’s mechanism was sufficiently firm to support a player leaning on the outer edge, which seemed unlikely.

There was a good reason why there were Snooker Halls and tables in clubs. Few houses in Hull -or elsewhere – had the space for a proper full-size snooker table, though a friend’s house we often stayed at in later years in Newland Park did have a billiard room complete with full size table and bar. But there would have been few if any billiard rooms around the Hessle Rd.

I’m sure they sold a few of these on the Hessle Rd, though by 1981 the money from the fishing had mostly gone, but I’d be fairly sure too that those who bought them would have found them disappointing. I spent some time wondering whether the spelling of ‘LEASURE AND PLEASURE’ was deliberate and am still not sure. A notice by the dummy at right holding a cue informs us that his clothing is from the Leeds tailoring firm of Burras Peake who had a shop nearby at 266 Hessle Rd.

28v26: World Championship Three Piece Suite, Hessle Rd, 1981 – Hessle Rd

21 March 2017

This building at 82-4 Goulton St still stands and is now the Hull Training Business Academy, with the mosaic and a bas-relief above the door of the adjacent brick building. At the top of the mosaic is the message ‘serving the fishermen‘, an occupation then very much in decline thanks to the Cod Wars, though the lobby you can dimly see a statue of one, the subject of another of my pictures. The fishing boat is very much something from a different age to Hull’s trawler fleet.

Although the former Queen Mary Hostel of the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen was only registered by them in 1957 (according to the Victoria County History) the brick building seems clearly from the 1920s or 30s and both its appearance and name suggests that it was built during the reign of George V who died in 1936 (although Queen Mary lived on until 1953.) The extension on which this mural is situated could be from the late 1950s or 60s.

Although I didn’t quite get the image upright and fully squared up when taking it, scanning and subsequent cropping has added a little more slant to this image, which I really should correct when I have time. Working as I did with a shift lens did usually enable me to correct verticals and horizontals in camera at a time when the kind of correction in software we now take for granted meant finicky darkroom work.

28v33: National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, Goulton St, 1981 – Hessle Rd

22 March 2017

I was photographing the cityscape and buildings and generally considered people likely to be a distraction from my subject, but as I wandered around the streets with a camera around my neck, people, especially children, would sometimes ask me to take their pictures, and I did as it seemed only polite, although with my camera set for photographing streets and buildings the results were sometimes blurred as people moved around rather faster than the buildings did.

This group of children were playing in a terrace off one of the streets soon to be demolished, and were sitting on the front step of a house which I think may already have become unoccupied. This, the second of two frames, is the sharper, except for the young girl who ran across as I made the exposure and a more interesting group.

At the time there was little of the exaggerated fear of strangers that some years later would have made stopping to take a picture like this without parental permission problematic. I and they knew that the were unlikely ever to see the picture I took; but perhaps now it is on-line they will see it – and I have posted it to one of the Hull Facebook groups for them.

28v36: Children on door step, West Dock Ave area, 1981 – Hessle Rd

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Fink notes

March 23rd, 2017

Although many photographers have worked with square format cameras, notably those made by Hassleblad and Rollei, few have really taken to the format and worked with it. Many always cropped their images, and saw the square format simply as enabling them to shoot in the same way for either a portrait or landscape format, with none of the problems of needing to tune the camera on its side. And some cameras really did make this a little of a problem. For those photographers who work with a camera on a tripod or stand it can also present some difficulties. But with the square format you just took the pictures and cropped whichever way you wanted afterwards.

What I like about Larry Fink’s photographs – most of them on square format ands presented as square is how he really gets the frame to work, getting in close to his subjects and using those edges in a really dynamic way.

The front page of his web site contains the text:

Viscerality is my perceptual mode. Simply spoken,it means that I want to touch everything that I love. Hopefully my pictures are a testimony to the love of the senses.

I’ve long thought of photography as being a very tactile medium and I’m at my happiest photographing people and groups of people at the kind of range where I could reach out and touch them, though often I have to work from a rather longer range.

Fink’s best-known work remains Social Graces, a book published by Aperture in 1984 (with a later Powerhouse edition in 1999.)

Born in Brooklyn, like others of a similar generation he studied paintings in the museums of that city, as well as photography with Lisette Model at the New School for Social Research. And he got to know many of the artists and literary figures living in the city.

Visura has a great portfolio of his images of ‘The Beats‘, taken in the late 1950s and published as a book in 2014, and you can read more about him and the book in The New Yorker. Olivier Laurent wrote about him on Time LightBox in 2015, and there is an interesting interview with him by Julie Ma on The Cut.

What prompted me to write this post was Fink on Warhol: New York Photographs of the 1960s which appeared recently in L’oeil De La Photographie.

I’ve owned several square format cameras over the years, including an ancient Rolleiflex (it cost me £35) but never really got into the cameras or the format.

She was ready

March 22nd, 2017

Benjamin Chesterton on his Duckrabbit blog posted last Sunday “She was ready and actually pushed the tweet button” about a series of pictures by Welsh photographer Dan Wood who “discovered photography through skateboarding” in 1995 and is a member of the Artist Collective: Document Britain which I have to admit I’ve never heard of before.

Duckrabbit writes about Wood’s ‘Shoot the damn dog‘, a project on his wife’s struggles with depression, post-natal depression and makes his point so well that I’ll leave you to read it. And when he asked Wood how she flet about him publishing the work, the reply he got from the photographer was that 3 years after he made the work, “She was ready and actually pushed the tweet button”.

On Lensculture you can read an interview with Wood about the project he began in 2013 ‘Suicide Machine‘ after the town where he lives, Bridgend, was named as having an unusually high suicide rate, along with a set of images of those who live there from his book of the same name. They were taken on his Hasselblad 500CM using colour film, and Wood still sees film as central to the way that he works: “it’s always been about film for me: shooting, developing, printing, scanning, the cameras, I love it all, especially the pace in which you work.”

You can see more of his work on his own web site, including both black and white and colour work, much based on Wales, but also elsewhere.

Street talk

March 21st, 2017

Thomas Stanworth asks Is Street Photography Killing Itself?, and gives an excellent summary of some of the reasons why so much of it is boring and pointless, along with many images culled from the web to support his case. It’s an article that will probably be reacted to with some forceful comments, particularly from those who either haven’t bothered to read it or who have failed to understand it.

Personally I’ve never been convinced ‘street photography‘ was ever alive. I’ve written a little before about it and my feeling that it is not a real or useful category, something which I think becomes entirely obvious if you read it’s ‘bible’, Westerbeck & Meyerowitz’s ‘Bystander. Fortunately almost none of those whose work is in its pages considered themselves as a ‘street photographer’; they were all taking photographs on or from the streets – as opposed to working in a studio – but they all went on to those streets with particular ideas and stories they were interested and involved in photographing.

The problem with most so-called ‘street photography’ I see now is simply that it is vacuous. Stanworth uses a lot of examples and explains the point well, and there are a couple of sentences in the middle giving a little advice to those who must be street photographers that I think really the crux:

“However, just engaging in the subject of photography helps. Learning a little more about yourself helps. Learning about the people and environment around you and your thoughts and reactions to it helps. The sad truth is that most of our effort in photography amounts to nothing.”

‘Street photography’ in general is, as he said, seen as ‘cool’. It is generally cool in that it is unengaged, using a small ragbag of tricks to produce images as deep as the average street puddle.

In his final sentences Stanworth again makes his views clear:

“And here we are back to the supreme importance of relationships, expression and connection. Without these things, both just become repetitive, predictable acts that lose their lustre.”

For a quite different piece of writing by Stanworth, I’ve also been reading his review of the Fuji X100F on his Photofundamentalist blog. It’s very much a photographer’s review rather than the technical tour-de-forces that sites such as offer, and one that complements their work well.  It makes me think I really ought to buy one, though having also read his view on the Ricoh GR I think I might find that more useful – if I can live without an optical viewfinder, though there is a rather expensive external accessory that will fit in the hot shoe.

His photography is also worth a look.

Frank thoughts

March 20th, 2017

There are two books that should be on every photographer’s bookshelf, and I think you can hardly call yourself a photographer unless you have a well-thumbed copy of both. Neither is a perfect work, but both are exemplary. One of them is Robert Frank‘s ‘The Americans‘, published first by Robert Delpire in Paris in 1958, and available in numerous editions since. That original edition would no set you back around £2,500, but you can buy more recent editions secondhand from around £25, less if you strike lucky. Most have been based on the first US Edition from 1959 published by Grove Press with it’s introduction by Jack Kerouac, but I would probably now recommend the Steidl 50th anniversary issue, which you can read more about on the 5×4 blog – and some of the comments there are also worth reading.

Kerouac was an important figure in my later teenage years, though only through his ‘On the Road‘ and other books, which together with Miles Davis dominated those times. I still remember the expression of distaste with which my Grammar School headmaster handed over the ‘Evergreen Original’ of Doctor Sax, with its inscription ‘Academic Year 1961/62 Awarded to P. G. Marshall for distinction in academic work‘. What a shame that then I didn’t then know about that other Grove Press volume by Frank, a copy of which now fetches around $4,500.

What brought these thoughts to mind was an article ‘The Man Who Saw America‘ by Nicholas Dawidoff published in the New York Times magazine on July 2, 2015 which for some reason was posted twice on my Facebook news feed this morning. He writes a little about the pictures, but mainly about the photographer and his life. I’ve no idea why the article has resurfaced now, but if you are coming new to ‘The Americans’ it isn’t a bad read. I think it should have said rather more about Frank’s first editor, Robert Delpire and his contribution to the work, and having to refer to Frank’s film of the Rolling Stones on tour as “[expletive] Blues,” seems odd. You can read about the film (which I find rather painful to watch for more than a few minutes – it’s available in parts on YouTube but part missing because of a copyright claim) and its significance in the the New Yorker.

The second book? Surely I don’t need to tell you.

Hull Photos: 9/3/17-15/3/17

March 17th, 2017

My weekly digest of pictures added to Hull Photos

9th March 2017

Taken from a position which is now occupied by Princes Quay, the new housing at the left is on the other side of the dock in Princes Dock St. The squat warehouse block is on the Castle St corner and is now a chain Italian restaurant where I had to eat with my family recently. The low dockside sheds of Humber Dock have all gone, but the taller warehouses remain. One fine listed block had already been demolished when I made this picture.

Somewhat oddly, the collapsed end of a shed at left has the old name for Hull, ‘WYKE’ on it, too small to read on-line, and it was this together with the cross made by a beam and a shadow to the left that made me stop at this point and admire the shapes strung along the horizon, including the two boys fishing and ending at the dockside bollards at right. Near the centre the vertical pole supporting telephone wires that surely now led to nowhere. Unusually I took four frames, obviously working with the situation until I was satisfied with this one and wandered further onto the dockside but took no further pictures here.

28q41: Princes Dock, Waterhouse Lane, 1981 – City Centre

10th March 2017

Most of this picture is a reflection in the shop window of a commercial stationers, with a notice reflecting the gloomy nature of business – I think the business had either closed or was about to close down.

On the east side of Paragon Square you can see two banks and then the War Memorial, and to the north is Binn’s department store, still trading but now called House of Fraser. Next down Ferensway was a large C&A, now Poundland. The Midland Bank was taken over by HSBC in 1992, though they only changed the name in 1999. This branch had closed by 2008 and the lease was up for sale and Barclays soon moved out leaving the whole frontage to Bronx, a men’s clothing store selling fashion brands with branches in Hull and Huddersfield.

I appear in a ghostly and largely headless fashion just to the right of that notice.

28q53: Stationers, Paragon St, Hull, 1981 – City Centre

11th March 2017

The Midland cafe, a few shops up from Osborne St on the east side of Midland Road, was closed when I took this picture, with a small notice at the bottom right of the right-hand window ‘All Enquires to 227608‘ (sic). It opened later as the Midland Juice Bar, but I think was demolished not long after for the building of Owbridge Court.

An article by Ann Godden on the Hullwebs History of Hull site informs me that this development by the William Sutton Trust in 1990 was on the site of the Cough Mixture Factory, which Walter Thomas Owbridge had bought in 1894 to build a larger factory to make Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. He had invented this in 1874 and it had become a favourite with fishermen working in arctic waters. While he demolished most of the site for his factory, the shops on Midland St were left intact. Owbridge’s was sold to a Dutch pharmaceutical company in 1959, and production in Hull stopped in 1971, with the factory closing the following year.

28q61: Midland Cafe, Midland St, 1981 – City Centre

12 March 2017

Another image of a reflection in a shop window, from the west side of Midland St which shows the opposite side, with J Hawkins Newsagent and the ornate building occupied by Joynsons on the corner with Anlaby Rd. Above one of their windows at the right of the image is the text ‘Scales & Slicers’ in a ‘modern’ and hard to read face.

A carelessly flung down drop-handlebar bicycle on the pavement outside the newsagents reminds me that Hull, flat and reasonably compact, was still then a city where the rush hours were dominated by crowds of cyclists rather than cars.

28q62: Shop window reflection, Midland St, 1981 – City Centre

13 March 2017

Myton Bridge, apparently officially opened in 1980 but only completed the following year provided a new viewpoint on the river. Its site was around 50 yards to the north of where there had earlier been a ferry and from 1865 a footbridge across the river which closed in 1934, South Bridge. A toll bridge, it was also known as the Ha’penny Bridge, and was a great shortcut for many who worked at Victoria Dock immediately to the east of the river.

This part of the river was the Old Harbour, where the port grew up before the docks and was still in use, with sand and gravel on the wharf at the right and barges moored two or three deep along the Old Town wharves.

Until the road leading to this bridge was upgraded in preparation for the bridge as Castle St, the section from Princes Dock Side was named Mytongate, and the area to the west of the Humber Dock was supposedly the site of the ancient hamlet of Myton; Myton St still runs from Osborne St to Castle St.

Engineers will find the design of Myton Bridge interesting, and it is described as a “cable-stayed bridge with fan system“. A swing bridge, the main span is 55 metres long and 32 metres wide, and it’s height was apparently restricted because of the need to be unobtrusive in its location next to the old town. It hardly achieves this, and the tall pylon with the control centre high above the roadway certainly doesn’t help.

The height of the bridge itself is enough to give a good views, and when I took this picture there was virtually traffic-free and I could easily walk from side to side. Now you can still walk across, but two new footbridges nearby are more pleasant as this bridge, the main route to Hull’s working docks, unceasingly carries very heavy traffic.

28r12: River Hull upstream view from Myton Bridge, 1981 – River Hull

14 March 2017

The Fish Street Day Schools were built in a Venetian Gothic style in 1871, next to the former Grammar School, the doorway at the left being for an external stairway to that school. Built by the Church of England, the Fish Street Schools soon became a board school.

The Fish St Schools were Grade II listed in 1994. The adjacent former Grammar School, built in 1583 as the Hull Merchant Adventurers’ Hall was the Grammar School from 1766 to 1878, and later the Choir School for Holy Trinity opposite, and was Grade II listed in 1952.

Both properties were renovated in the late 1980s and became the Hands-on History Museum, now only open to the public on a couple of Saturday afternoons each month.

28r36: Fish Street Day Schools, South Church Side, 1981 – Old Town

15 March 2017

An open market had been held in front of Holy Trinity, Hull’s Parish Church, since medieval times and was still there three days a week. Now the open market has gone it has been renamed Trinity Square and enlarged by the removal of the wall that enclosed a churchyard area in front of the church, as well as the trees inside it. Both this square and the adjacent covered market are getting something of a makeover for 2017, though this was still in progress last month with the square still full of orange barriers around the new mirror fountains and other areas of paving.

In the background are the Old Grammar School, Fish St Day Schools and on King St, the London and Manchester Warehouse (Grade II listed in 1973) and other late 18th century listed buildings on King St. The Venetian window is above the archway into Prince St, a a rather rundown 1770s Georgian terrace more recently transformed (as the Hull Daily Mail said) into “a picture postcard curved row of terraced homes“.

28r45: Open Market, Market Square (now Trinity Square), 1981 – Old Town

You can see the new pictures added each day at Hull Photos, and I post them with the short comments above on Facebook.
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Cleaners deserve a living wage

March 16th, 2017

I rather like the effect of the diverging verticals in this image, though its something I try to use sparingly. But it seems in this image to lead the eye down to the subject in the centre of this ultra-wide image, Cleaners from the United Voices of the World union protesting for a living wage and for fairness in the way they are treated by their managers on the 10th day of their strike.

As a documentary photographer and a journalist I hold dearly to the principles of recording events accurately; our work has to retain its integrity to be of any worth. That does sometimes require keeping a certain distance, needing to be careful not to interfere in the events I’m photographing. But although that means I won’t hold the banner or blow the horn, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a point of view, and any set of photographs is to a certain degree subjective.

I wouldn’t be here photographing this protest if I didn’t think that all workers have a right to proper treatment and a living wage, and that it was important. Our major media outlets don’t think strikes and protests like this are news and are unlikely to publish my pictures, but I disagree.

It is a dispute that involves issues which are vital about how we live together, issues of fairness and equality, and ones that are brought sharply into focus here, at the centre of one of the world’s great financial centres, the City of London, by the naked greed of some of the wealthiest people and companies in the world.

And the response of the employers to the cleaners claims for a decent wage and proper treatment? To take them to court and try and get an injunction against them striking, probably spending as much or more on that as it would have cost to come to a sensible settlement.

The court made things worse, although turning down the injunction against striking, by imposing conditions on picketing (a practice already well covered by law) but also by imposing legal costs on the cleaners’ union which were actually greater than the total assets of the union, a grass roots organisation totally funded by the subscriptions its low paid members.  It was a striking demonstration of how our legal system, despite its ideals, is a system for the rich and institutionally biased against the poor.

At the end of the protest outside the offices at 100 Wood St (at a distance carefully measured to meet the terms of the injunction) the cleaners and supporters marched off to protest outside the office of the building management company CBRE, the largest commercial real estate company in the world, who manage the building for the richest man in Europe, Amancio Ortega (and the companies whose offices it houses include Schroders and J P Morgan) though the dirty work of managing the cleaners badly and paying them poorly is outsourced to a small cleaning company.

It got rather crowded around the entrances to the CBRE offices, which is where the full-frame 16mm fisheye came in useful (corrected as usual with Fisheye-Hemi.) When I’m using it for landscape or architecture I usually take great care to keep the lens upright, where I work with it using the built in markers of the D810, when small triangles at centre right and centre bottom of the frame show you have the camera straight and level, but there isn’t the time or need to be so precise when photographing protests, and the D700 used for these pictures lacks this feature.

UVW Wood St Strike Day 10

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Ripper Facade

March 14th, 2017

Class War, London Fourth Wave Feminists and many more including local residents and Tower Hamlets council were all appalled when the shop that had been given planning permission to open as a museum celebrating the women of London (and for which a number of people had given services without charge in aid of a good cause) turned instead to be a tacky tourist attraction romanticizing London’s most celebrated killer of women, Montague Druitt, whose body was fished out of the Thames on December 31, 1888, better known as ‘Jack the Ripper’.

Since there could be no trial, although police at the time were apparently convinced enough to abandon their inquiries, an industry has grown up around various theories as to the murderer’s true identity with almost every prominent Victorian male being put under the spotlight.

One American crime novelist who believes artist Walter Sickert was the man responsible even went to the extremes of spending £2 million buying 32 of his paintings – and attracted the opprobrium of the art world by destroying one of them – in her unsuccessful efforts to find any evidence that would impress even the most gullible juror. But efforts such as hers have certainly stoked interest in the case.

The man hoping to make money out of the prurient interest in this series of horrific crimes against innocent women by promoting speculation as a tourist attraction is Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, and although he has been present during some previous protests, this time he only appeared on the mask worn by one of the women, leaving two female staff to run the shop.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade! came after Tower Hamlets Council refused planning permission for its facade and shutter, and since it was still unchanged, Class War’s fearless Womens Death Brigade came along with the tools to take it down – or at least an inflatable hammer.  Their other armaments were stickers, which were soon liberally covering the windows.

The feminists came armed with posters and wearing cat masks, and some hooded characters in black arrive with a smoking red flare, which rather got in the eyes of police and this photographer.

I like to work as close as possible to those I’m photographing, usually working around the wider end of a 16-35mm zoom.  But when smoke fills the air, it also obstructs the light as well as your lungs, and you really need to move back.

The worst damage that the facade actually suffered at this protest was when an egg or two was thrown at its sign – and again I got just a little splattered as it splashed off.  Mostly the protest remained good natured, though with a lot of noisy theatre.  Stickers generally peel off without damage, and egg can be washed off.

Despite that, two people were arrested and charged with criminal damage, though I have no idea what this damage was. The charges against one of them have been dropped, but the second prosecution is continuing.  The ‘museum’ appealed the planning decision – and lost. They are to be allowed to keep a small hanging sign, but have already had to take down the illegal signage and have until 31 May to remove the unauthorised shop front and roller shutter.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

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