Posters, Pub, Mission, Gym, House & Flats, Leytonstone 1989

June 22nd, 2024

More from my walk on Sunday September 3rd 1989 which had begun in Stratford, from which some images appeared in my web site and self-published book ‘1989’, ISBN: 978-1-909363-01-4, still available. For those images which were in the book I’ll show the book pages here.

Posters, Pub, Mission, Gym, House & Flats
Posters, High Rd, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-44

Posters, Pub, Mission, Gym, House & Flats
Plough & Harrow, pub, 419, High Rd, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-45

London City Mission, Ferndale Rd, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-46
London City Mission, Ferndale Rd, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-46

The Victoria County History records an incredible number of missions in Leytonstone mostly formed in the late nineteenth century when this area must have seemed particularly Godless. This mission in Ferndale Road began about 1895 “when the five children of Henry Borton, a builders’ merchant at Wanstead, began holding evangelistic services in the Assembly Rooms. In 1901 their father built for them the present hall in Ferndale Road, designed in brick and stone with baroque features by T. & W. Stone. “

In 1948 the last of these children working there invited the London City Mission to take charge of the building and it became their central Hall. Google Street view shows it in 2008 as Christ Apostolic Church but by 2018 it had become Gospel Generation, “A Church Like No Other“.

Hyams Gymnasium, 857 High Rd, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-32
Hyams Gymnasium, 857 High Rd, Leyton, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-32

I can find little or nothing on-line about Hyams Gynasioum other than my pictures, but the building is still there this side on Gainsborough Road with its entrance on High Rd, but in very different use.

This is now The Walnut Tree, a Wetherspoon pub, and as often it has some history of the area it its web page, but this does not mention Hyams Gym. The figures on the building’s side have gone and its groundfloor windows have been bricked up but the rows of 8 or 9 upper floor gym windows remain.

Leytonstone House, Hanbury Drive, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-33
Leytonstone House, Hanbury Drive, Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-33

Leytonstone House has lost its Virginia creeper but otherwise looks much the same, though I think its surroundsings are now different.

Wikipedia statesLeytonstone House, built 1800 and Grade II-listed, was the home of Sir Edward Buxton, MP and conservationist, who with his brother played a big part in preserving Epping, Hainault and Hatfield forests. It housed Bethnal Green School for the juvenile poor from 1868 to 1936.”

Leyton Flats, Snaresbrook, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-21
Leyton Flats, Snaresbrook, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-21

Leyton Flats in Snaresbrook is not a tower block but a green space that is part of Epping Forest, largely open grass land but some woodland and two large ponds, Hollow Pond and Eagle Pond which is one of the oldest in the forest and swarms with swans, probably because many injured swans nursed to health by swan resuce organisations on the Thames have been released here. But people are more likely to be imprisoned as the Flats is also home to Snaresbrook Crown Court.

The house in the distance here is at 85, 85a and 87 Whipps Cross Rd, on the corner of Chadwick Road. Locally listed, The Gables was built in 1895 and was part of the Wallwood Park estate which was once the home of the Governor of the Bank of England William Cotton who died in 1845.

Leyton Flats, Snaresbrook, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-23
Leyton Flats, Snaresbrook, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-23

Another sculptural group of fallen trunks in the south-east corner of Leyton Flats.

Leyton Flats, Snaresbrook, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-26
Leyton Flats, Snaresbrook, Waltham Forest, 1989 89-9a-26

Men are fishing in the Hollow Pond on Leyton Flats, close to the Whipps Cross roundabout and Whipps Cross Hospital. The pond, the result of gravel workings, is also a boating lake. Water from the ponds may eventually find its way into the River Roding, but they have never as has been claimed fed the ornamental lakes of Wanstead Park.


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Stop the BNP, Olympic Allotments, End Deportation – 2008

June 21st, 2024

Stop the BNP, Olympic Allotments, End Deportation: Saturday 21st June, 2006. A Love Music Hate Racism/Unite Against Fascism march, a visit to the replacement allotments for the Manor Gardening Society and a curiously legal protest against deporting refugees to Iraq.


Stop the Fascist BNP – LMHR/UAF – Tooley St – Trafalgar Square

Stop the BNP, Olympic Allotments, End Deportation

The Love Music Hate Racism/Unite Against Fascism “Stop the Fascist BNP” march turned out to be a little of a damp squib, although a fairly colourful one, as only 2-3,000 people turned up to march from Tooley Street in Bermondsey to Trafalgar Square.

Stop the BNP, Olympic Allotments, End Deportation

Perhaps Stop the War’s failure to capitalise on the mass following it gained with the largest ever demonstration in the UK in 2003 had discredited the idea of huge marches. Like Stop the War, Unite Against Fascism was seen by many as being largely a front for the Socialist Workers Party. The anti-fascist magazine Searchlight had disaffiliated from them in 2005, arguing for the need for new tactics and in particular to work in communities where the BNP were exploiting real problems rather than just opposing them on the streets and calling them fascists.

Stop the BNP, Olympic Allotments, End Deportation

A bigger march would have been better, but more importantly for the audience which Love Music Hate Racism was attempting to reach it needed to be much more of a free and fun event.

Stop the BNP, Olympic Allotments, End Deportation

The band who played at the start of the march were restricted to a single number, when they could well have played much more, and there was hardly any music on the march – I only saw one small marching band. Where were the great sound systems for people to dance behind?

And as I wrote, “I was frankly appalled by the attitudes of the stewards towards photographers, almost as if the event was trying to hide from publicity. I’ve had less hassle when photographing the BNP.”

More pictures at Stop the Fascist BNP – LMHR/UAF.


Manor Gardening Society – New Allotments – Marsh Lane, Leyton

The Manor Gardens Allotments fight to stay in place for the 2012 had failed. The gardens had presented the opportunity for the Olympics to show a real commitment to green ideas – and of course they had zero interest in really doing so. Green publicity stunts and lies yes, but Green actions and real content you had to be joking.

As I wrote “London in 1948 did really put the modern Olympics back on course, and it did so on vision and a shoestring – and even ended up making a profit. 2012 will be different in every respect. A commitment to corporate profit at high cost to the public purse appears to be the only vision on display, and a legacy of debt and environmental disaster seem to be the most likely outcomes.

All tenants were evicted in late 2007 and the allotments were moved onto some common land in Leyton at a cost of £1.8 million, but the job was done terribly badly. They even took soil from the allotment site, but heat-treated it, killing all the life in it. Healthy soil is full of life – and as well as killing weed the treatment has killed off the microorganisms it needs, as well as larger creatures such as worms.

The soil was dead – and would take years to recover. Over much of the site it had been heavily compacted by heavy machinery working on the road andhad almost zero drainage. Whole areas were waterlogged. The only healthy crops I saw were in grow-bags.

I commented: “Of course it doesn’t look like the old Manor Gardens – more like some kind of prison camp, but I was pleased to see again many of those from the old site, making a good job of getting things growing again. One thing that hadn’t changed was the community spirit and the welcome – and the splendid salad and other food.”

The New Lamas Lands Defence Committee had campaigned against the loss of common land, but were assured it was only temporary – but there is now a permanent site there. In 2016 some of the tenants of the Manor Gardening Society were allowed to return to a small site at Pudding Mill, on the Bridgewater Road in Stratford. Two thirds of this site is now under threat from a development proposed by the London Legacy Development Corporation along its southeast which will put it under permanent shade.

Manor Gardening Society – New Allotments


Tent City – Stop Deporting Iraqis – Parliament Square

Voices UK had organised a 24-hour ‘Tent City’ starting at noon on 21 June, Midsummer Day as a deliberately illegal demonstration in Parliament Square, at the centre of the SOCPA restricted zone.

Much to their surprise, 4 days before it began they received an e-mail from a police office with its subject “Tent City Demonstration” and the message “I would like to inform you that an application has been received for this demonstration and it will be duly authorised“.

They had not made an application and could only think that the police had themselves applied rather than have to police an intentionally illiegal protest. Although it was now legal under SOCPA, the protest was still in breach of Westminster City Council by-laws and a couple of their heritage wardens came out to give letters telling them so – apparently accompanied by the police officer who had sent the email.

Fighting is still taking place in Iraq involving various factions as well as the occupying US and UK forces. Many Iraqis will still be at risk of their lives if they are returned.

But for the Home Office – then under Labour Home Secretary John Reid, deportations are largely a matter of numbers, not of people. Things of course got even worse in later years under Theresa May, Amber Rudd, Sajid Javid, Priti Patel, Suella Braverman and James Cleverly, but I expect little change whoever wins our current election.

Tent City – Stop Deporting Iraqis


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Rathayatra – the Festival of Chariots – 2004

June 20th, 2024

Rathayatra – the Festival of Chariots: Every year in June or July people pull huge decorated chariots through the streets of London. The first festival here took place in 1969 but such chariot festivals have taken place in India since 1150 CE.

Rathayatra - the Festival of Chariots

In 1968 three American couples came from San Francisco and organised London’s first Rathayatra festival, on July 27, 1969. The deities Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra made for this are still worshipped in London.

Rathayatra - the Festival of Chariots

International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) or Hare Krishna, a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu religious movement founded in New York in 1966 became well jknown in the UK particularly because the Beatles had visited India in 1967 and they became friends of thye Hare Krishnas with George Harrison particularly promoting them.

Rathayatra - the Festival of Chariots

He persuaded Apple Records to release a single “Hare Krishna Mantra” released in August 1969, and funds from this enabled them to set up a temple in London. They outgrew this and in 1973 Harrison bought a manor house with extensive grounds in Radlett, Hertfordshire which he gave to them as was renamed Bhaktivedanta Manor.

Rathayatra - the Festival of Chariots

The first occasion I photographed the procession was on 20th June 2004 when I followed the procession from Hyde Park to a festival in Trafalgar Square. Here I’ll reproduce (with corrections to case & spelling) what I wrote back then, along with a few of the pictures I took.

“Sunday the streets of London were alive to the sound of ‘Hare Khrisna, Hare Krishna , Krsna Krishna , Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare….’ as several thousand supporters pulled three 40ft tall decorated wooden chariots from Hyde park to Trafalgar square to celebrate the Indian festival of Rathayatra – the Carnival of Chariots.

An extension from Hinduism, Krishna Consciousness isn’t my thing, involving abstinence from alcohol, coffee, meat, onions, mushrooms and sex except for the purposes of procreation.

The movement has come a long way from its roots in New York’s Lower East Side in the flower-power years, but still seems a part of those times.

All respect to the sincerity, honesty and friendliness of these people, and it was a great show, the biggest in London yet, but a few hours of being kind and good and aiming for perfection was enough to last me the year.

I also photographed the festival in several later year and put accounts and pictures on-line.
You can find more pictures from 20th June 2004 on My London Diary.


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Rip Down the Ripper Facade! – 2016

June 19th, 2024

Rip Down the Ripper Facade! On Sunday 19th June 2016 after the ‘Jack the Ripper Museum’ tourist attraction on Cable St had not yet complied with the planning decision against its facade and shutter, Class War and supporters, including London Fourth Wave Feminists in cat masks, protested outside with toy plastic hammers offering to take it down for them.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

The so-called museum is a tacky tourist attraction that glorifies the killing of working class women but got planning permission and attracted support for promising to provide a museum promoting the history of East End women.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

Before going to the protest I’d been to a temporary exhibition being held in nearby St George in the East church, which shows some of the real history of women in the area, and was rather more interesting than the gory speculation for prurient tourists in the shop.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

I photographed the Class War protesters, led by women carrying the Class War Womens Death Brigade banner as they marched to the shop. Several were carrying inflatable plastic hammers but the threat to remove the shutters was purely symbolic.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

They crowded around the facade with their banner and several stuck Class War Womens Death Brigade stickers on the facade where police were protecting the doorway and stopping them from entering.

Several black-clad protesters then arrived and the scene was enveloped in bright red smoke.

I moved back both because taking pictures inside the smoke seldom works very well and also the smoke was getting in my lungs and it didn’t feel good.

Unlike at previous protests there was no sign of the shop owner, but the two women staff he had employed to run the shop watched out of the windows. But one of the protesters was wearing a mask of his face.

London Fourth Wave Feminists were wearing cat masks but also held posters expressing their opposition to the shop and calling for an end to male violence against women.

There had been a billboard opposite the shop which advertising the real exhibition about the lives of East End women but this had been vandalised, perhaps by friends of the ‘museum’.

It wasn’t then clear when or how (or even if) Tower Hamlets council intended to enforce their planning decision, and their stated opposition to the grisly shop seems to have been rather half-hearted.

Although police had come to protect the shop against this protest, and had stopped any of the protesters from entering, they had largely stood and watched, and at times some officers appeared rather amused by what was happening. By the time the protest finished the windows were fairly well covered by stickers and egg had been thrown onto one of the signs the shop had been asked to remove.

More pictures on My London Diary at Rip Down the Ripper Facade!


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Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens – 2016

June 18th, 2024

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens: On Saturday 18th June 2016 I went to three events all with a connection with housing. First was a protest against the 2016 Housing and Planning Act passed the previous month, after which I briefly visited students celebrating a victory at UCL before going to South London for an Open Gardens event at an estate which Lambeth Council want to demolish.


Axe the Housing Act March – Hyde Park Corner

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens

Protesters marched from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament against the Housing and Planning Act which tenant and housing groups, councils, academics, trade unions and communities say will deepen the current housing crisis, removing security from many tenants and will result in the demolition and selling off of almost all social housing.

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens

The Act extends the ‘Right to Buy’ to housing association tenants and allows councils to sell vacant ‘higher value’ vacant council homes to fund this.

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens

It brings in mandatory rent increases for households in social housing with a combined family income of ore than £40,000 in London and £31,000 elsewhere with their rents increasing over time to market rents. Amendments made this slightly fairer by limiting the income considered to the taxable income of two main household earners and excluding most of those receiving benefits from the calculations.

Housing Act, Student rents & Open Gardens

The Act removes security of tenure for most council tenants. New tenants will only get fixed term tenancies generally from 2-5 years, with some longer tenancies agreed for those with a disability or children living at home until they reach the age of 19 following pressure from the House of Lords.

The Act reflects and emphasises the Tory view that social housing should be a very limited resource only supporting the the very poorest in society, second-class citizens, with the landlords and house builders being able to make profits from the rest of us. But housing campaigners generally see it as by far the most cost-effective way to provide for one of our basic human needs and also argue that it can provide an income for local councils to support other vital services.

The protesters urged councils to refuse to implement the Act and call on people to stand together to boycott the pay-to-stay tax, resist evictions and block regeneration and estate demolitions.

Among the speakers before the march began was Richard Livingstone, a councillor from the London Borough of Southwark, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Financial Inclusion and formerly responsible for housing in the borough.

Southwark is a borough with an appalling record on housing and estate demolition and many at the protest were appalled at his presence calling Southwark’s demolition of the Heygate and Aylesbury a shameful example of exactly the kind of social cleansing this protest was against.

Many feel that many Labour councillors and officers are now careerists, driven by political or financial advancement rather than caring for the people in their borough. A number have earned themselves highly paid jobs with developers and other companies in the housing sector.

I left as the march moved off towards Parliament and made my way to UCL.

More at Axe the Housing Act March.


UCL Rent Strike Victory

It was good for once to be able to celebrate a victory, after after the Complaints Panel at UCL decided that the residents of Campbell House West will be compensated in full for the final term last year – up to £1,368 per student.

They determined that UCL Management “Not only demonstrated a lack of empathy towards students’ circumstances and an understanding or appreciation of what would be an acceptable student experience, but was disingenuous to the students concerned.”

So the mass protest that had been planned, an Open Day Manifestation, turned into a celebration of their victory, and also to show their determination to continue their campaign to cut student rents.

I left after a brief visit, missing the lively victory march around the West End with flares and the helium-filled balloons I had watched them preparing.

UCL Rent Strike Victory


Central Hill Open Gardens Estates – Upper Norwood

Lambeth’s Central Hill Estate is a popular and well-planned estate of considerable architectural interest in good condition under threat of demolition by Lambeth Council. Like some other estates it has been refused listing probably on political grounds. The properties, completed in 1974, were well built and are generally in good condition though suffering like most council estates from a lack of proper maintenance and in need of relatively minor refurbishment.

This was one of the estates under threat of demolition by Government Housing policies, council regeneration programmes and property developers which were welcoming visitors to open day events as a part of the Open Garden Estates initiative by Architects for Social Housing, ASH.

There was a display of the alternative plans for the estate by ASH showing how the council’s aims of increasing the capacity of the estate could be achieved without any demolition and at a much lower financial and environmental cost.

Lambeth Council had refused to make any serious consideration of these plans, almost certainly because although the cost would be much less, they would not provide the profits to the developers from the high market value sales of new properties and market rents, and the costs of the ASH scheme to the council would be greater.

One of the visitors to the open day was Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood Helen Hayes, who stormed out after being questioned why she was attending when she had given her backing to Labour councillors behind the plans to demolish the estate.

Also at the open day were various food, book and other stalls, a music performance, film show (I watched a film about how Southwark Counci had mistreated the residents of Myatts Fields) and a Marxist puppet show as well as estate tours. I’d visited the estate several times in the past and had photographed parts of it in the 1990s as well as more recently in February 2016 when I wrote more about it and Lambeth’s plans to demolish.

Although New Labour’s ‘Regeneration’ policy possibly had good intentions, its results have often been disastrous, and Labour really needs to rethink its whole approach to council-owned housing.

As I wrote in 2016: “‘Regeneration’ has resulted in huge transfers of public assets into private hands, in a wholesale loss of social housing, and in social cleansing, with people being forced outwards from London, unable to afford either the laughably named ‘affordable’ properties or those at market rates. It has meant the dispersal of functioning communities, in widespread and arguably fraudulent under-compensation of leaseholders, and in a great deal of sub-standard buildings, often to lower specifications of space and worse design than those they replace.

More people were arriving at the event when I left to go home and I was sorry to have to miss some of the activities planned for later in the day.

The estate is still standing and the fight to save it continues. In March 2024 Lambeth Council set up a contract with consultants to reappraise the plans for estate ‘regeneration’ at Cressingham Gardens, Central Hill and Fenwick. Perhaps it will come up with some more sensible proposals …

More at Central Hill Open Gardens Estates.


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Sheep Drive Across the Thames – 2006

June 17th, 2024

Sheep Drive Across the Thames: The sheep drive from Southwark Cathedral to Smithfield Market on Saturday 17 June, 2006 organised as a part of the London Architecture Biennale and if not really leading the sheep, accompanying the sheep over the Millennium Bridge were architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in Biennale “Trust me, I’m an architect” T-shirts as well as Freemen from the Butcher’s Company.

Sheep Drive Across the Thames

The right dates back to the establishment of Freemen of the city, and was first recorded in 1237. Freemen were allowed to drive their sheep across London Bridge – then and for many years the only bridge across the River Thames – without paying the normal Bridge Toll, giving them an important commercial advantage when taking sheep from south of the river to the Wool Exchange or Smithfield Meat Market.

Sheep Drive Across the Thames

It wasn’t just sheep but applied to any livestock such as cattle, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese although some of these might be difficult to drive, and so far as I’m aware there have been no modern revivals involving anything but sheep.

Sheep Drive Across the Thames

Freeman also gained other important privileges, such as immunity from being taken to serve on ships by the press gang and being allowed to carry your sword drawn against muggers when walking around the City.

Sheep Drive Across the Thames

In 2006 there were no signs of the press gang and I didn’t see any of the Freemen present carrying swords. Nor were any convicted of murder or treason and allowed to claim the rather doubtful privilege of being hung by a silk rope.

So far as I’m aware first modern revival of the sheep drive came during the Millennium celebrations when the Lord Mayor Sir Clive Haydn Martin arranged for the driving of some pedigree sheep across London Bridge by some members of the Livery Companies – though carefully avoiding the two who might have sheared or slaughtered them, the Woolmen and Butchers.

The London Architecture Biennale in 2006 made use not of London Bridge, but the pedestrian Millennium Bridge and this was certainly the first sheep drive across this, fortunately long cured of its initial wobbles, though I did rather wonder if the event might exceed its design loadings. This was perhaps why the police insisted on holding up spectators until the flock had cleared the bridge, much to the annoyance of me and the other press who felt a Press Card should have let us through.

Since 2006 there have been more sheep drives – in 2008 by World Tradeers and in 2009 for the 800th anniversary of Old London Bridge, by the City whose then Lord Mayor David Lewis was the grandson of a Welsh sheep-farmer. And in 2013 it became the Great Annual Sheep Drive organised for Freemen of the City by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, held on London Bridge in September (though in recent years on Southwark Bridge.)

In 2006 around 30 sheep had brought to a pen at Southwark Cathedral by farmer Andrew Sharp who was a stallholder in Borough Market, and came with several shepherds to help and was also aided by members of the clergy including the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler.

Also facing the cathedral were a small and noisy crowd of animal rights protesters. As I commented, “here the sheep were being treated well, by people who so obviously cared for them. You can’t be a successful sheep farmer without having a feeling for and and understanding of them and a dedication to care for them.” Probably for the sheep the most disturbing thing of their day out in London was the shouts of the protesters.

I took pictures of the start of the procession and then of the flock and those accompanying it as far as the south end of the Millennium Bridge. Some of the protesters had followed as well. Police then stopped everyone then behind the sheep of while the crossing continued. A few minutes later we were allowed to proceed and I caught up with the sheep as they reached St Paul’s Cathedral and walked with them to Smithfield Market.

The drive ended in Smithfield, with the Sheriff of London opening the Bartholomew Fair by cutting a number of pink ribbons. I took a few pictures around the fair, and of the flypast taking place for the Queens official 80th birthday before going to St John’s Wood where mounted soldiers were coming back to barracks with a gun carriage before joining a guided tour around the trees in the area.

More pictures from the Sheep Drive as well as the other things I photographed on the day beginning here on My London Diary


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March of the Human Rights Jukebox – 2007

June 16th, 2024

March of the Human Rights Jukebox: On Saturday 16th June I went to South London to photograph this event and put many pictures and a fairly long text on-line on My London Diary.

March of the Human Rights Jukebox

Here I’ll share the text (with some corrections and links added) and just a few of the pictures – you can see many more of these on My London Diary. You can read about the Human Rights Juke Box on the South London Gallery site, and on Isa Suarez’s web site.

March of the Human Rights Jukebox

So this is what I wrote in 2007:

I joined the ‘Human Rights Jukebox’ in its progress from the Camberwell Magistrates Court to Peckham on Saturday 16th June. An event in the Camberwell Arts Week, the ‘March Of The Human Rights Jukebox’ was organised by Isa Suarez, who had a one-year artists residency in Southwark in 2006.

March of the Human Rights Jukebox

The juke box included thoughts on people’s rights from many residents and diverse groups in Southwark, some of whom marched with banners along with it.

March of the Human Rights Jukebox

At the start of the event, the Dulwich Choral Society performed a specially composed piece by Suarez, using words from the ‘jukebox’. On Clerkenwell Green we stopped for a impassioned recital (in French) by a Black African poet, and in front of the old baths in Artichoke Place (now the Leisure Centre) there was a long performance by Deadbeat International as well as a short song by three musicians that left us wanting more.

Deadbeat International also performed at various other points on route, including another energetic set at Peckham Library. The march was led into Peckham by a rapper, with some forthright views on human rights.

Accompanying the jukebox were the live art group ‘mmmmm‘, Adrian Fisher & Luna Montengro, covered from head to foot in sheets of paper containing the complete text of the UN Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, in both English and Spanish as well as the pages of a world atlas.

In front of the library at Peckham, mmmmm completed the event by unpinning the sheets from each other one by one, reading the clauses and feeding the sheets into a shredder (and when this gave up, tearing them up.)

Each then poured cold water over the other and threw the shredded papers, so that they stuck to the wet clothes and skin. Finally we were all invited (in what we were informed was an Argentine custom) to jump once into the air for each of the 30 clauses of the declaration.

On the way to the event, I’d jumped off the bus at the Oval, where ‘Stop The War’ and other demonstrators were protesting. Gordon Brown was apparently expected to arrive at 12.00 to watch some kind of game there. It was a very different kind of action to the ‘jukebox’ though both were political and art in their different ways, although only one gets Arts Council funding.

Also dropping in at Peckham Library were a group of young cyclists from the go-kart track in nearby Burgess Park. They were a lively crew and everyone seemed to want to be photographed.

More pictures:
Stop The War Demo
March of the Human Rights Jukebox


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Magna Carta, Cleaners & Detention – 2015

June 15th, 2024

Magna Carta, Cleaners & Detention: 15th June is Magna Carta day and Monday 15th June 2015 marked 800 years since King John was forced by the barons to sign the great charter at Runnymede. Most years the date is mainly marked by a local fair on the closest Saturday in Egham High Street the nearest town to Runnymede, but in 2015 there were various more national celebrations.

Unless you were a king, archhishop or baron in 1215, Magna Carta was of little relevance to you. Contrary to popular opinion it gave no rights or protection to the common people and, as Wikipedia tells us had little immediate effect in any case, as “Neither side stood by their commitments, and the charter was annulled by Pope Innocent III, leading to the First Barons’ War.”

Magna Carta, Cleaners & Detention

Back in June 2012 I had sat around in a circle with the Diggers, then camped at Runnymede, on the grass next to the US Bar Association’s Magna Carta Memorial, where we had listened to a history lecturer from nearby Royal Holloway University about the charter and the lesser-known but more relevant to the common man ‘Charter of the Forest’ which came shortly after. It was at this meeting that plans were made to celebrate the event in 2015 with a people’s free festival in the woods on the hillside above Runnymede.

Magna Carta, Cleaners & Detention

Unfortunately the establishment thought otherwise and in a clear case of ignoring the rights supposedly granted to us in Magna Carta, police swooped on the eco-village where the festival was being prepared three days before, suppressing the event in an unfair, arbitrary and almost certainly illegal manner.

So while I might otherwise have been enjoying myself at the free festival, instead I travelled up to London to photograph several events there mainly connected with Magna Carta Day.

Truth & Justice Magna Carta Day Protest

Magna Carta, Cleaners & Detention

I began outside the Royal Courts of Justice where the Campaign for Truth & Justice was accusing the judiciary of unlawful convictions, false imprisonment, denial of access to court & perverting the course of justice over child abuse, forced adoption and paedophilia.

Magna Carta, Cleaners & Detention

Above their heads was a banner with its message superimposed on a St George’s flag citing Magna Carta. Some of those taking part had been victims of child abuse, while others claimed to have been treated badly in the family courts where gagging orders had been used to prevent them from talking about their cases or seeking any redress. And we have certainly seen many cases of miscarriages of justice – including the convictions of the Guildford Four (1974), The Birmingham Six (1975), The Maguire Seven (1976) and Judith Ward (1974) as well as many others which have received less publicity.

But as the trial and conviction of Carl Beech for perverting the course of justice and fraud in 2019 made clear, many of the allegations over paedophilia against public figures have been unfounded.

Voice for Justice UK Magna Carta Protest

From there I went to Old Palace Yard opposite Parliament, where the right-wing Christians For Justice UK were holding a Magna Carta Day rally against the increasing human rights legislation which right-wing Christians feel maginalises and prevent them expressing their faith.

I reported that I listened to “ two speeches which appalled me, and appeared to have no connection with my idea of freedom, reminding of various short-lived ultra-right political groups such as the Freedom Party, formed in 2000 by ex-BNP members” and concluded “that this was a rally that was protesting the freedom to be a bigot rather than any real idea of religious or other freedom.”

Cleaners International Justice Day

But the day was not simply about Magna Carta. The protest by the PSC trade union outside HM Revenue and Customs in Whitehall was one of protests in over 50 countries on the 25th International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Guards.

This remembers the day in 1990 when Los Angeles janitors were brutally beaten up by the police during a peaceful demonstration against their contractor trying to get union recognition and better rights. Since 1990 this day has become international, spreading to over 50 countries and with protests -some very small like this – now taking place in over 70 cities around the world.

Close Yarls Wood, End Detention!

This was also the International week against detention centres, calling for the closure of all immigration detention centres with protests taking place in eleven cities in the UK, USA, Belgium, Greece and Spain.

The London protest was led by the All African Women’s Group who held a rally in Parliament Square before marching to Downing Street with a report on rape and sexual abuse in Yarl’s Wood.

Among the speakers was whistleblower Noel Finn, a former mental health nurse at Yarl’s Wood who revealed publicly details of the abuse of women there after his complaints through the proper channels at the detention prison were not acted on. A number of members of the All African Women’s Group spoke about their own experiences when held in the detention prison. Others who came to speak in support included MPs Dianne Abbott, Kate Osamor, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell as well as Antonia Bright from Movement for Justice, Peter Tatchell and Selma James.

The protest demonstrated in several respects the increasing limitations on our freedom to protest. Protests are now prohibited on the main grass area of the square and they had to hold the rally on the narrow pavement area, inevitably spilling over onto the roadway because of the large number of people present.

After the rally had been taking place for around 20 minutes a police officer came to try and stop them using a public address system, now illegal in the square without authorisation from the Greater London Authority or Westminster Council. They argued and refused to stop, and with several MPs waiting to speak the officer finally left.

And when the protesters tried to had in a letter at Downing Street it was initially refused. Apparently you now need to give a week’s notice to hand in a letter. After some discussion a police officer agreed to take the report and ensure it was delivered to No 10. I don’t know whether it did eventually get there.

Close Yarls Wood, End Detention!
Cleaners International Justice Day
Voice for Justice UK Magna Carta Protest
Truth & Justice Magna Carta Day Protest


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Grenfell – 7 Years On

June 14th, 2024

Grenfell – 7 Years On: Seven years after the terrible fire that killed 72 people in Grenfell Tower and left many others traumatised we still have no justice. None of those whose deliberate actions and failures that set up this firetrap and made a disaster virtually inevitable has yet to be brought to court.

Grenfell - 7 Years On
Pictures here are from the first anniversary of the fire on Thursday 14th June 2018. You can see my account of this and more pictures on My London Diary.

Grenfell - 7 Years On

The inquiry dragged on and although it has ended taking evidence its final report has been delayed and delayed. Initially due in late 2023 it is now expected to be released in Autumn 2024, although that may well be delayed yet again.

Grenfell - 7 Years On

When it does come it will almost certainly be too little as well as far too late. Grenfell was a crime and the major criminals were obvious from the start. The inquiry – as it was always meant too – has tied the hands of the police in pursuing the criminals and bringing them to justice. It seems doubtful there will be many if any prosecutions and if they take place they are likely to be only for minor offences.

Grenfell - 7 Years On

I don’t think anything much of significance has emerged from the years of the inquiry that was not already evident in early reports on the fire – such as that published by Architects for Social Housing in July 2017, although we have some more detail. But the inquiry has mainly served as an opportunity for some involved to take part in buck-passing and blame others or to claim ignorance of the obvious.

And of course to generate considerable incomes for the lawyers, who have had a field day thanks to the excessive adversarial nature of the inquiry. The delays in publishing the report are all down to the inquiry having to consult with those who are named in it. We urgently need a streamlined process for such inquiries – and this should almost certainly involve prosecutions of the more obvious criminals before the inquiry begins.

But although the grass has grown longer, Grenfell Tower is still there as a reminder of the terrible events which began which shortly before 1am on Tuesday, 14 June 2017. Although by the first anniversary in 2018, from which the pictures here come, its scarred and blackened bulk had been hidden by white sheetong. But at the top was a grey panel with a large green Grenfell heart and the message ‘Grenfell – Forever In Our Hearts‘.

As I wrote in 2018, “Some felt it should have been left standing uncovered – particularly as the disaster was caused by covering up the building to make it look nicer for the academy at its base. Without that covering the fire would have been a minor incident with no loss of life.”

I continued “The academy in front of the tower was also built without proper regard for access for fire engines to fight the fire when it happened. To make things worse, Boris Johnson had cut the fire service drastically and they no longer had the equipment to fight the fire in the upper stories – it had to come from Surrey – and successive governments had removed regulations and cut safety inspections (they called it ‘red tape) which would have prevented the inferno.”

Here are the details from the Grenfell United web site of the 7th Anniversary Silent Walk:

Join us at the Silent Walk on 14 June 2024 to mark 7 years since the Grenfell Tower Fire. We will gather at the Nottinghill Methodist Church from 6pm and the walk will begin at 6:30pm. There will be speeches and a call to justice at the end.

Please walk in silence with us to show those responsible we are not going anywhere until we see justice.

Grenfell United

You can see more from the first anniversary walk in 2018 at Massive Silent Walk for Grenfell Anniversary Among those taking part were both then Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott.


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Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s – 2004

June 13th, 2024

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s: Twenty years ago on Sunday 13th June 2004 I had a day out in London, beginning with a walk beside the Thames at Greenwich, then coming to Westminster for a bike festival in Trafalgar Square and then a rather peaceful ‘War in the West End’ in Leicester Square. You can find what I wrote then about all these a little way down the June 2004 page of My London Diary.


Greenwich to North Greenwich Walk

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s

I’d decided to get up early on Sunday and take a walk by the River Thames in Greenwich. Unfortunately engineering work meant no trains were running there so I had rather a long bus journey from Waterloo to get there. At least there was little traffic to hold the bus up.

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s

I began with a walk around the grounds of the former Royal Naval College, now Greenwich University before taking the path past the power station and along Ballast Quay an on.

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s

The path was open to North Greenwich and I made my way along it. Some of the pictures I made are now difficult to locate as this whole riverside is getting replaced by blocks of flats.

I didn’t put many images on line in 2004, as most viewers were still on slow internet connections. Further on towards North Greenwich there is still – at least the last time I walked along here a couple of years ago – an aggregate wharf with huge piles of sand and gravel on the landward side.

One of the huge gasholders at Greenwich was still standing in 2004, since demolished, and across the river Canary Wharf tower for long the only tower on the site was now almost hidden by others sprouting around it.

Eventually I could see the Millennium Dome looming above the sand and gravel which I felt “perhaps looks more at home in this almost lunar landscape” and I knew I was not far from North Greenwich station where I could catch the tube to Westminster.

More pictures on My London Diary.


Bikefest – Trafalgar Square

Bikefest was the first bicycle festival in Trafalgar Square, but I was surprised to find that bicycles were not allowed on the square. Though perhaps they would have got in the way, but it would have been nice at least to have had some temporary secure bike parking.

Except of course those taking part officially in the event including Team Extreme performing on the half-pipe and some great cycle powered musical systems such as Rinky-Dink.

But I had agreed to meet one of my sons there and he managed to smuggle his unicycle in to the event. But by the time I found him he had already been hassled by the heritage wardens (who I described as ‘Ken’s SS’) but he still decided to have a go at riding in the fountains where he could not possibly be endangering the public.

But he had hardly got going when he was ordered out and made to leave the area, though he did so riding the unicycle after a few quick bounces to shake off the water.

I went back to watching Team Extreme and taking a few more pictures, although I found it hard to convey quite how extreme they were, before leaving to join the Second World War in Leicester Square.

More pictures begin here on My London Diary.


West End at War, Leicester Square

Westminster Council had organised a festival turning Leicester Square into 1940’s London for the weekend, going back 60 years to 1944.

Although 60 years ago bombs were still falling on Westminster and rationing made life difficult (though for the wealthy – and there were plenty in Westminster – the black market was flourishing) the West End was full of servicemen on leave and many servicewomen determined to have fun, “letting their hair down” in cinemas, on dance floors, in clubs, pubs and hotels.

I found the scene in the square rather sad, although obviously a lot of effort had been put into the displays and performances and there were a few 1940s dressed re-enactors among the crowds in modern dress.

60 Years earlier Allied troops had landed in France on D-Day to fight to reclaim Europe, but the previous Thursday we had seen a large vote here in the European Parliament election rejecting it with both Conservative and Labour votes well down and the Lib-Dems coming in 4th place behind the UK Independence Party.

Things of course got worse in 2016, when the leave vote gained a small majority over those wishing to remain. Although the vote was not binding, stupidly Tory Prime Minister David Cameron had promised to abide by it – rather than more sensibly pointing out that a major constitutional change such as this should require a substantial majority rather than a momentary electoral whim – as would surely have been the case if we had a written constitution. And for once a politician kept his promise.

The latest opinion poll (May 1st 2024) has 55% saying we were wrong to leave against 31% thinking we were right with 13% of Don’t Knows.


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