UK Uncut Great British Street Party – 2012

May 26th, 2024

UK Uncut Great British Street Party: Waterloo, Barnes & Putney

UK Uncut Great British Street Party

In 2012 public services were being destroyed by cuts made by the coalition government with the Liberal Democrats having gone into the coalition government with the Tories after the indecisive 2010 election. UK Uncut decided to hold street parties in protest on 26th May 2012 and to call for a better and different future..

UK Uncut Great British Street Party

In the 2010 election the Tories had won 306 seats and Labour 258, but with 57 seats the Liberal Democrats could have formed a coalition with either party to form a government. Although a coalition with Labour would only have included 315 MPs, less than half the total of 650, the differing positions of the 28 MPs outside of the main parties would have made this a working majority.

UK Uncut Great British Street Party

Perhaps because they lied to him more effectively, Nick Clegg chose to form a coalition with the Tories. Probably the most important thing he hoped to gain from this was electoral reform – and the United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum resulted in a resounding defeat for the alternative vote system – a modified form of ‘First Past The Post’. What Clegg didn’t get was what he wanted, a referendum on proportional representation.

UK Uncut Great British Street Party

With an general election coming up on July 4th again under FPTP we can again see the urgent need for electoral reform. With FPTP we are more than likely simply to see Tweedledee replaced by Tweedledum rather than the more vital changes we need to deal with the urgent changes we need, particularly to deal effectively with the climate challenge, but also to move towards a more equal and united society.

UK Uncut Great British Street Party

But for now at least we are stuck with FPTP. Possibly the rise of the Reform Party will present a real challenge to our current two party monopoly, and though I’m very much not a supporter of their policies this fragmentation would certainly improve matters. Just a shame that no similarly positive split on fundamental issues has occurred within the Labour Party which has managed to successfully marginalise its right wing – or expel them – without a similarly important alternative party emerging. Perhaps because of a much deeper loyalty on the left to the Labour movement.

Wherever we live I think the best response to the continuing use of FPTP is to vote anti-Tory – that is for the candidate with the greatest chance of defeating the Tory candidate rather than for any particular party. The best result I think we can hope for in July is one that requires a coalition of several parties to govern. Politics would then have to move into an area of cooperation and consultation rather than the adversarial nonsense which now dominates our politics.

Clegg sold the country down the river for false gold, and joined the Tories in implementing a vicious series of cuts to public benefits from central government in almost every aspect of our lives.

UK Uncut stated:

"The government is slashing our public services and making the most marginalised people in our society pay for an economic crisis they did nothing to cause. It doesn’t have to be this way. In 1948 the UK’s national debt was far larger than it is today, but instead of cutting services and hitting the poorest hardest the NHS and the Welfare State were born.

So forget the Queen’s Jubilee and join the only London street party worth going to this summer – UK Uncut’s Great London Street Party. Let’s celebrate the services that are being destroyed, take the fight to the streets and party for our future, a different future, a better future, that we can build together."
 

The London event was one of several street parties organised in towns and cities across the UK. In London 4 blocks, one highlighting the welfare cuts, another the NHS, a third the disproportionate effects the cuts were having on women and the last mourning the effects they are having on democracy itself, met and finally entrained at Waterloo Station, travelling either to Putney or Barnes.

The destination was kept secret, and after we left the trains we followed bloc leaders with coloured umbrellas, only finding when we were almost there that the party was to take place in the short Putney street where Nick Clegg has his London home. They were on holiday elsewhere.

Police tried to stop the protesters at various points, including on the final street, but eventually had to let the party go ahead. People taking part seemed to be careful not to cause any damage, though some were pushed into hedges by police. But the protesters kept up the party atmosphere despite considerable provocation.

Later I heard that when the party ended at 6pm and people were making their way peacefully to Putney station they were attacked by a group of police, who were perhaps frustrated by not being allowed to attack the party earlier in the day when the press was present in large numbers reporting on the event.

You can read more about the party and see many more pictures on My London Diary at UK Uncut Great British Street Party


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Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur 2008

May 25th, 2024

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur: On Sunday morning 25th May 2008 I made my way to Red Lion Square in Holborn to photograph the Pagain Pride public procession. Later I went to Downing Street were protesters were meeting to march to a rally at the Sudanese Embassy calling for Sudanese war criminals to be brought to justice.


Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash – Red Lion Square/Russell Square

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

Pagans – or rather neo-Pagans had come to Conway Hall in the corner of Red Lion Square for a day of celebration of the ancient Spring festival of Beltane, celebrating coming out of winter and the springing of the world into growth.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

As well as their private celebrations inside the hall they were also taking part in a public procession, Pagan Pride, which goes the short distance to the fountain in Russell Square for a joyful celebration before returning to Conway Hall.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

Nature and the cyclical nature of the seasons plays a central part in pagan beliefs and Godesses and Gods linked with nature play an important role in their ceremonies.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

As I commented in 2008 nature appeared “not to be too kind to them as the rain bucketed down as the participants were supposed to gather, with only a few braver members (and some with umbrellas) coming out of the hall, but fortunately for them and the photographers it soon eased off, finally almost stopping as the parade got under way.”

That circular fountain in the garden of Russell Square “could have been designed with them in mind, with a strongly phallic character in the water jets, which in normal use rise and fall, but were left to flow at full strength for most of the ceremony.” In 2008 it was open for everyone to play in but on more recent visits I have noticed it is now surrounded by a fence.

At first the group danced around the fountain in rings with hands joined, but then many of them started to run through the centre, many getting soaked.”

Even the drummers, who at first stood on the edge providing a rhythm for the dance, eventually ran though the jets, and finally the Green Man also did so.

By the time the parade left the square for its return to Conway Hall I’d had enough, and my feet and legs were soaked.

I left with a friend to go and have a cup of tea before going to Whitehall for a very different event.

More pictures at Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash.


Justice for Darfur – London Protest; Whitehall – Sudanese Embassy

Around 200 people, mainly from the Sudan, had gathered opposite Downing Street for a noisy protest before marching to a rally at the Sudanese Embassy opposite St James’s Palace in London.

The Justice for Darfur campaign was supported by around 30 organisations including the Aegis Trust, an international organization working to prevent genocide, Amnesty International and Darfur Union UK, who organised this event together with Aegis Students.

The campaign began when the Sudanese government refused to had over two men to the International Criminal Court. Sudan’s former Minister of the Interior Ahmad Haroun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb were wanted on 51 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from persecution, rapes and murder of civilians in four West Darfur villages.

Haroun had even been promoted to be responsible for humanitarian affairs, and Kushayb, who had been in jail facing other charges when the ICC warrants were issued has been released.

In 2005 the UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes listed 52 people for investigation and placards named some of these calling for them to be brought to justice. They included Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir, Saleh Gosh, head of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Service, Minister of the Federation Government Nafi Ali Nafi and former Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman.

Earlier that month there had been fresh reports of beatings, detentions and shooting of Darfuri civilians in Khartoum and Omdurman but little had appeared in the UK mainstream press and they had sent no photographers or reporters to the event. It was one of those protests that later one photographer told me his editor dismisses as “tribal matters“.

More pictures at Justice for Darfur.


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UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel – 2013

May 24th, 2024

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel – On Friday 24th May 2013 UK campaigners met those who had arrived by Eurostar at St Pancras to march to the Mayfair hotel where UEFA was holding its annual congress. They demanded it to kick out Israel and protested against the UEFA under-21 men’s football final being held in Israel in June 2013.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

The event was organised by the London-based Red Card Israeli Racism Campaign founded by members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of al-Aqsa and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and followed protests at UEFA’s Swiss offices following a letter signed by 52 leading players deploring Israel ’s attacks on Gaza.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

Previously the Red Card campaign had led protests over the detention of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak detained without charge in 2009 while travelling from Gaza to a new club on the West Bank. He lost almost half his body mass in a 3 month hunger strike and was only finally released in July 2012 after appeals from the international professional footballers association FIFPro, Eric Cantona, Frédéric Kanouté and the presidents of EUFA and FIFA, as well as others from outside football.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

Israel’s participation in international football has long been controversial, and in 1974 they were expelled from the Asian Football Confederation of which they had been a founder member when several nations refused to play against them. They became a full member of UEFA in 1994. In February 2024 UEFA turned down demands from 12 Middle East Nations to suspend Israel from international competitions.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

International football is clearly a political football. And Israel’s team have clearly demonstrated their intention to use it as such when captain Eli Dasa held up a small sports shoe of a missing child hostage and talked about it ahead of a Euro 2024 qualifier against Switzerland.

The Palestinian Football Association called in April on FIFA/UEFA to suspend Israel from international competition and are asking other FAs to join them. FIFA is carrying out a legal assessment before it makes a decision on whether to agree to Palestine’s call to suspend the Israeli federation over the war in Gaza was repeated a few days ago at FIFA’s congress in Bangkok.

PFA president Jibril Rajoub was quoted by the BBC as saying “How much more must the Palestine football family suffer for FIFA to act with the same severity and urgency as it did in other cases?” and others have also accused FIFA and UEFA of double standards.

As a petition by some football fans calling on the English FA to support the suspension of Israel states: “It took FIFA/UEFA less than one week to ban Russia from international competition following the invasion of Ukraine. Apartheid South Africa was suspended from FIFA for ten years before being expelled in 1976 and was only permitted to re-join in 1992 as the apartheid regime was dismantling. In that same year, the Yugoslavia national team was suspended by FIFA from international competition as a part of UN-led sanctions against the former state during the Balkans war.

Palestinian footballer and former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak

You can read an account of the May 2013 march and the static protest outside the hotel in Park Lane on My London Diary with many more pictures. One of the speakers at this was former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak and he received a huge welcome and “the couple of hundred people present really sounded like a rather larger football crowd.”

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel.


Don’t hang Prof Bhullar!

Also on Friday 24th May 2013 I photographed a protest by Sikhs at the Indian High Commission against the intended hanging of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who had then served 18 years on death row following his conviction for involvement in a car bomb in Delhi. His conviction was based on a confession based on torture in police custody. The Indian Supreme Court commuted his sentence to life imprisonment in March 2014. More on My London Dairy at Don’t hang Prof Bhullar!.


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Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine 2014

May 23rd, 2024

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine – Another disparate set of protests ten years ago on Friday 23rd May 2014 had me rushing around London to document them.


Obama keep your promises – Trafalgar Square

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine

My working day began in Trafalgar Square where the London Guantánamo Campaign and others had come as a part of an international day of action coordinated by the US organisation Witness Against Torture, with protests in 40 cities in three continents calling on President Obama to make good the promise he had again made a year earlier to close Guantánamo.

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine

The campaigners many dressed in black hoods and orange jumpsuits stood in a long line on the North Terrace holding posters. Some had brought a giant inflatable figure of Shaker Aamer, a London resident, still there, held without charge for 12 years despite having twice been cleared for release.

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine

As spokesperson for he London Guantánamo Campaign Aisha Maniar stated:
In over five years as US president, Barack Obama has failed to deliver a change we can believe in on Guantánamo Bay. Twelve years of indefinite detention almost wholly without charge or trial for 154 prisoners has made the world an infinitely more insecure, dangerous, and lawless place… Obama’s words remain purely rhetorical. There is little intention to close Guantánamo Bay and the legal black hole it has created.”

Obama keep your promises


Defend University of London Garden Halls workers – Senate House

Obama, UoL, Ethiopia, Israel & Ukraine

At 1pm I was Senate House with members of the Independent Workers of Great Britain, the grass roots trade union to which many low paid workers at the University belong, as well as supporters from the Joint Shop Stewards Network and university students and staff. Both the UoL and the contractors Cofely and Aramark who they have outsourced the workers to refuse to recognise the IWGB, preferring the more compliant traditional unions. But most of the cleaners and others had left these after finding they were unwilling to stand up to the employers on their behalf and joined the IWGB.

London University announced the closure of three of its Central London halls of residence – the Garden Halls – without consultation with the IWGB and intended to make over 80 workers redundant at the end of June.

The IWGB had asked supporters to send letters to London University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Adrian Smith listing their demands that there should be no compulsory redunddancies and the the length of service of the workers be respected, as well as calling for meaningful consultation withe the IWGB and that workers transferred to other contracts should retain their pay, terms and conditions. They stated “the University bears responsibility for the treatment of these workers, regardless of the fact that their roles are contracted to private companies.”

Around 30 protesters were outside the main entrance to Senate House when I arrived and were drumming a very noisy demonstration while handing out leaflets and displaying banners.

Soon after they were joined by IWGB organiser Alberto Durango they left to walk around the outside of the building. Security had rushed to close the door on Montague Place but when the protesters reached Russell Square the doors to Stewart House, part of the University estate joined to Senate House they found an open door and around half of them walked in to protest noisily inside the building for a few minutes, still beating their drums before finding another exit into the Senate House car park.

Here the protest came to to an end with the IWGB’s usual message, ‘We’ll be back!’. The IWGB was balloting its members for strikes against both Cofely and Aramark.

More at Defend UoL Garden Halls workers.


Oromo and Ogaden against Ethiopian killings

I rushed to Parliament to meet Ethiopians protesting outside Parliament over the Ethiopian government’s killing of Oromo university students peacefully protesting the grabbing of Oromo land. The protest was coming to an end as I arrived but I was able to quickly take a few pictures

The protest was by supporters of the Oromo and Ogaden National Liberation Fronts founded shortly before the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie. Since then the military government, the Derg regime and the new Ethiopian state has continued the suppression of the Oromo, and initiated mass resettlements from Northern Ethiopia onto Oromo lands and moved millions of Oromo into camps run by the military.

The USA was found by BBC Newsnight and and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism exposed in 2011 to have worked with the the Ethiopian government in an alliance “using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression” with programmes of deliberate starvation of communities, and “of mass detentions, (and) the widespread use of torture and extra-judicial killings” against what they describe as terrorism.

In early May there had been mass killing by the authourites of Oroam University students and civiliams protesting peacefully against illegal forcible evictions of Oromo farmers from their ancestral lands around Addis Ababa under the governments Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan which will give their land to government supporters or sell it to foreign investors.

Oromo and Ogaden against Ethiopian killings


Support Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails – G4S Victoria Street

It was a short walk to the London HQ of G4S where campaigners supported by the Islamic Human Rights Commission were protesting in solidarity with the mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails demanding an end to Israels’s illegal policy of rolling Administrative Detention which can jail them for years without charge or trial.

The put up a stall and banners on the wide pavement outside the building and spoke to people passing, handing out leaflets. Some stopped to talk and mostly expressed surprise at what was happening in Israel, although one man stopped to argue, telling the protesters that no one was held unjustly in prison in Israel and there was no torture in Israel. He was clearly deluded.

The world’s largest security firm G4S provided security services for Israel’s prisons until December 2016 when pressure from this and many other protests led it to sell is Israeli subsidiary divesting from Israel’s military checkpoints and illegal settlements. After further protests the company to sell its decided to sell its remaining business in apartheid Israel in June 2023.

Support Hunger Strike in Israeli Jails


Solidarity with Ukrainian Miners – Holborn

Finally I joined Ukrainian Socialist Solidarity and IWGB trade unionists who protested outside the registered offices of London mining company Evraz who own mines in the city of Kryviy Rih in south-east Ukraine.

Kryviy Rih is the centre of the largest steel industry in Eastern Europe an has a population of around three-quarters of a million people. Miners there have protested as the unrest and devaluation in Ukraine has caused a rapid rise in the cost of living with a fall in real wages of around 30-50% and a rise of 20% they had been promised in April was not paid. In its place they were given an small “insulting” one-off handout.

The Independent Union of Miners of Ukraine has demanded an immediate doubling of the real wage “in the interests of preserving social peace in this country.” They say the main cause of the economic problems in Ukraine “is the greed of Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, who pay a beggar’s wage to workers, send all their profits off-shore and don’t pay taxes in Ukraine. In fact the oligarchs are almost completely exempt from taxes on their profits.” Evraz is owned by Russian Oligarchs Roman Abramov and Alexander Abramovitch who are based in the UK.

The protest took place after the Ukrainian union called upon the British public to picket the offices of EVRAZ plc and the offices of other Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs’ corporations in London and other cities in Europe.

But police attending the protest told the protesters these offices are cimply those of a firm providing accounting, tax, Human Resources and payroll services to various businesses and are not really a part of Evraz. Further protests were planned outside the Chelsea Football ground, also owned by Roman Abramovitch and for an EVRAZ Investor Day the following month which company chair Alexander Abramov is due to attend.

Solidarity with Ukrainian Miners


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End The Torture 2004

May 22nd, 2024

Pictures from the End The Torture – Bring The Troops Home Now protest 20 years ago today on 22nd May 2004.

End The Torture - Bring The Troops Home Now

Back in May 2004 I was still taking pictures using the Nikon D100, the DSLR camera that really first made professional quality digital imaging available outside of highly paid professional photographers. I’d bought this 6.1Mp camera in 2002, but for the first year or more used it in tandem with film cameras, not least because at first I only had one Nikon-fitting lens, a 24-85mm, equivalent on the camera’s DX-format sensor to 36-128mm on full frame.

End The Torture - Bring The Troops Home Now

With film cameras I’d been used to a much wider range of focal lengths, from 15mm to 200mm and while I could do without the longer end, I still needed film for wider images. But by May 2004 I had some new lenses, a Sigma 12-24mm (18-36mm eqiv) and a Nikon telephoto zoom that stretched out to 210mm, equivalent at the long end to 315mm.

End The Torture - Bring The Troops Home Now

Both were fairly large and fairly heavy lenses, but together with the 24-85mm gave me a full range of focal lengths. Though with only a single D100 body I probably spent almost as much time changing lenses as taking pictures. None of them would have impressed the kind of photographers who like to spend their time photographing test charts or pixel peeping, but they were certainly adequate for normal photographic work.

End The Torture - Bring The Troops Home Now

The pictures from the Bring The Troops Home protest on 22nd May 2004 show I was determined to use the entire range of my new lenses, perhaps not always entirely appropriately. I think sometimes I zoomed out too far with the telephoto and occasionally would have been advised to use a rather less wide view with the Sigma. But others work well.

The protest was called at short notice by the Stop the War Coalition, CND and the Muslim Association of Britain to respond to the atrocities being committed in Iraq, following the publication of pictures showing abuse and torture of Iraqis by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Some pictures were first published by CBS in April 2004 but more came out in May.

The march organisers stated “The whole world is horrified at the terrible pictures of torture of Iraqi prisoners now emerging. They are the tip of an iceberg of abuse – dozens of civilians have died in custody of British and American troops in occupied Iraq. We are demanding the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and for the Iraqi people to be allowed to govern themselves.”

At the rally there was an impressive array of speakers including Tonny Benn, Ken Livingstone, George Galloway, Lindsay German, Bruce Kent, Jeremy Corbyn, Jean Lambert and others from peace and Muslim movements and I photographed most of them on the march and as they spoke.

In Trafalgar Square the speakers were as usual on the raised area at the base of the column with a press area in front of that, and we are always looking up at the speakers. The longer lens let me get tightly framed head shots, but a few are perhaps too tight.

As well as speakers there were also theatrical reenactments of prisoner abuse by the ‘Theatre of War’ group with the march pausing briefly at various points for the three military personnel to abuse their roped and hooded victims. The also stood and performed on the plinth at the rally in Trafalgar Square.

Looking back at these pictures now I feel that perhaps because I had that long lens I concentrated more on the celebrities taking part in the event, and rather less than I would now on the bulk of protesters and their placards and banners. But I’m still pleased with a number of the images I made. Some I think could be improved by going back to the RAW files and reprocessing them in our now improved software to give them a little more contrast and clarity.

My London Diary has a little more about the protest and a much larger selection of the images I made at this event beginning some way down the May 2004 page. You can go directly to the pictures at END THE TORTURE – BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW.


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Free Palestine March & Rally 2005

May 21st, 2024

Free Palestine March & Rally – May 21st 2005. George Galloway, then MP for Bethnal Green, was clearly the man of the hour at the rally in Trafalgar Square, fresh back from his hearing in front of a US Senate committee. As I commented in 2005, “the senators were clearly outclassed and outgunned as Galloway gave them a verbal ‘Glasgow kiss.’ It was an impressively sustained performance of concentrated power, a pit-bull seeing off a pack of ineffectual spaniels.”

Free Palestine March & Rally

The crowd gave him “a tumultous ovation when he arrived at the Trafalgar Square rally” at the end of the march, and his speech there did not diappoint them. I commented “he has built up a great rapport with the many muslims now living in this country, not least in his own Bethnal Green constituency, the youths from Bradford were excited when he promised to come and visit their city.” Of course many things have happened since then, but it wasn’t surprising to see him elected for Bradford West at the 2012 by-election or more recently when he won the seat at Rochdale this February.

Free Palestine March & Rally

Galloway was not the only powerful speaker at the rally, with putting in his usual performance as “probably the best living political speaker at least using the english language” and Jeremy Corbyn, still a much underrated speaker, also showing what he could do. And there were others too, including Paul Mackney of the higher education teachers’ union, NATFHE.

Free Palestine March & Rally

The march from Embankment to Trafalgar Square had been reasonably large but not huge, though more had arrived for the rally. Waiting at the side of the march as it reached the square was human rights activist Peter Tatchell with a group from Outrage!

Free Palestine March & Rally

They supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice, but demanded an end to the “so-called ‘honour’ killing of Palestinian women, and the arrest, jailing, torture and murder of lesbian and gay Palestinians by factions of the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority.”

Free Palestine March & Rally

At first police stopped the group from getting to the march and handing out leaflets, but after a complaint by Tatchell they were allow to do so. Some march stewards tried to stop people taking the leaflets, but many did so and expressed their support.

You can read more about the event on the second May page on My London Diary under the heading George’s Triumph and the pictures begin at the right of this page.


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More Holderness Road Hull 1989

May 20th, 2024

More Holderness Road Hull 1989: Holderness Road is one of Hull’s major road, leading as it’s name suggests to Holderness, a rich agricultural area, largely of drained marshland to the north-east of Hull, between the River Hull and the North Sea. The road doesn’t begin in the centre of Hull but is reached either over Drypool Bridge along Clarence Street or over North Bridge along Witham, and starts where these two roads meet in East Hull.

Don Dixon, Family Butcher, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8o-13
Don Dixon, Family Butcher, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8o-13

Certainly the display of posters with a large pig peering at me over it was impressive, and Don Dixon Family Butcher claimed to be ‘A CUT ABOVE THE BEST’ and the shop is still serving customers at 236 Holderness Road in a parade of shops between Victor St and Balfour Street. It now has a web site with a wide range of meats on sale and gets some very positive customer reviews.

James Stuart, Statue, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8o-14
James Stuart, Statue, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8o-14

Probably few in Hull and even fewer outside the city now know who James Stuart (1836-1922) was but he was very well known and respected there during his lifetime and played an important role in the improvements in education and welfare of the people, both as a politician and a philanthropist.

Born in Preston in Lancashire, his family moved to Hull when his father became a preacher at the George Street Baptist Chapel. James became a seed merchant and founded a seed crushing firm, Stuart & Grigson, which later became a part of British Oil and Cake Mills Ltd and he became a director of BOCM.

He retired from politics in 1893 following his attempt to negotiate between striking dockers and employers which failed to stop violence from both sides. But he continued to take an active interest in the welfare of the people of Hull and was made an Honoray Freeman of Kingston upon Hull in 1894.

The now Grade II listed statue by William Aumonier was erected by Thomas R Ferens in 1924; the inscription on the plinth with a quotation from Stuart is difficult to read in my picture but given in full on the Hull & District Local History Research Group web site:

JAMES STUART JP

BORN 1836

DIED 1922

A CITIZEN OF HULL WHO BY HIS INTEREST AND DEVOTION TO THE WELFARE OF THE CITY WON THE REGARD AND ESTEEM OF ALL THOSE WHO KNEW HIM

I ALSO REMEMBER THAT I HAD A FATHER TO CONVINCE ME THAT AS I BEGAN A MATURE LIFE I WAS A CITIZEN OF A NATION GOVERNED BY DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES AND THAT IT WAS MY DUTY AS IT IS THE DUTY OF EVERY MANACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY AND OPPORTUNITY TO DO SOMETHING IN THE TOWN IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD AND THE NATION TO PROMOTE THE WELL BEING OF ITS INHABITANTS JAMES STUART 1906

ERECTED BY THE RT HON THOS R FERENS AS A TRIBUTE TO HIS MEMORY

East Hull Presbyterian Church, rear, 336, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8o-15
East Hull Presbyterian Church, rear, 336, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8o-15

There is still a driveway here between two shops, now with a larger notice for East Hull Presbyterian Church and without ‘PICTURE FRAMES AND POTTERY DOWN THIS YARD’ and its notice now covers the full width of the opening between Beds and Bookmakers.

The Church web site states it began in the 1970s when a group found “they could no longer sit under the liberal teachings of the church they had been attending for many years.” The church is part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales and you can read a number of its sermons including those on Satan and Hell, on the web.

East Hull Presbyterian Church, rear, 336, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8o-16
East Hull Presbyterian Church, rear, 336, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8o-16

Going into the yard I found both the church building and at left another notice for the FRAMES with a picture of a large pot.

Shades, Southwells, Floggits, 359-363, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8p-62
Shades, Southwells, Floggits, 359-363, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8p-62

Opposite the church entrance on the corer of Jalland St is a parade of seven shops which are three storeys rather than the two of most along this part of the road. The two at left of my picture, Flair Ladies Fashons and Shades do not fit in and I saw they must be later rebuildings, perhaps after war damage to what is otherwise a late Victorian row.

The 2004 Holderness Road East Conservation Area Asssement states that Jalland St was laid out mid-1880s, named after Boswell Middleton Jalland, who died in 1880 and had been Mayor of Hull in 1836 and 1846. It also confirms that this and another group featuring alternating Dutch and pedimented gables dates from the 1890s and that “357 & 359, similarly gabled, were unfortunately destroyed by enemy air raids during WWII and rebuilt, unsympathetically, post-war.” And they two properties could not even agree on a common look.

I particularly like the picture of the Humber Bridge, opened in 1981, in the first floor window of Floggits with the message ‘We DELIVER ANYWHERE IN THE HUMBERSIDE area“. These windows have now been replaced without their posters and with rather unsympathetic modern windows.

Humberside Majorettes, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8p-64
Humberside Majorettes, Holderness Rd, Hull, 1989 89-8p-64

The rather nice wide arched entrance at right has an attractive face over it, with a similar but rather annoyed looking head over the narrower door at left at Curtis House, 410 Holderness Road. This was a detached villa when it was built in the 1880s but in 1892 was extended ina vaguely Tudor style with further houses, Claremont, Elmhurst and Eastholme at 404-8, along with a two-storey mock-Tudor coach house.

The Irene Curtis School Of Dancing was created and run by Irene Curtis in 1950 and closed after she died in 1997. The school taught over 40,000 students many of whom gained medals in dance competitions. Humberside Majorettes or twirlers were apparently active from 1978-90 and were later continued by Alan Curtis after his mothers death as part of Arena Entertainments UK.

More on Holderness Road and East Hull in 1989 to follow.


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Circling The City Quiz 2019

May 19th, 2024

Circling The City Quiz: I don’t often now go out camera in hand with no specific aim in mind but Sunday 19th May 2019 was a day without any photographic plan. I was keeping my wife company on a sponsored walk and making sure she didn’t use her powerfully inverse sense of direction to get lost.

Circling The City Quiz

Circling The City Quiz

The walk was organised by Christian Aid and came at the end of the annual Christian Aid week which always takes place in the second week of May (this years it was 12-18 May.) There are events organised by churches across the country as well as some door-to-door collections (the largest in the UK, though these are becoming increasingly difficult), as well as regional events like this walk. You can add your donation at this link.

Circling The City Quiz

Circling The City Quiz

Christian Aid was founded at the end of the war in 1945 to give aid to the millions of refugees and displaced people in Europe, but now works with grass roots groups of all faiths (and none) in 24 countries across the world. This year its appeal was focused on Burundi where over 70% of the people face hunger and poverty every single day.

Whatever one feels about the faith that motivates its work, I think it is one of the better large NGOs in various ways. As well as working with local grass roots partners in the countries where it gives support, its activities in fund-raising in the UK are also very important in educating many across the country in development issues and the problems faced by ordinary people across the world.

We were given a very clear map and guide to take us around a series of churches in the city – mainly of course rebuilt by Christopher Wren and his co-workers after the 1666 fire, most of which were open for the event and some were offering refreshments. So our progress was slow and a few were closed by the time we arrived, but I was able to take some photographs inside 8 or 9 of the the dozen on the route we followed, including a couple I don’t recall having been inside before.

Here I’ll mainly post some of the pictures I took on the streets as we made our way around the city, along with a few from the churches.

I’ve deliberately not captioned them so those who know London can have a little fun in trying to work out where they were made. If you can get more than ten out of the fourteen you know London pretty well, and anyone who gets all 14 deserves (and probably already has) a London Green Guide badge. Unfortunately I can’t award these and you will need to take a course to get one.

You can check most of your answers in the post on My London Diary at City Churches Christian Aid Walk.


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Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka – 2013

May 18th, 2024

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka: On Saturday 18th May 2013 I began work outside Parliament at a protest against Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, then went across the Thames to the Festival Hall for the start of a march to defend the NHS before going the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a ‘murder scene’ in solidarity with hunger strikers at Guantánamo. There I also photographed a woman protesting for the release of her husband arrested 9 years ago by US forces in Iraq. Finally I met a march by several thousands of Tamils calling for and end to the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka. You will find much more detail (and many more pictures) on each of these protests at links below to My London Diary.


End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

65 years after 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes as refugees in the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) when Israel was created, Palestinians call for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing and a boycott and sanctions until Israel complies with international law.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Several hundred people came to the protest, including a group of extreme orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who see themselves as guardians of the true Jewish faith, and reject Zionism, as well as many of Jewish or Palestinian origin. As well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign the protest was also supported by many other groups – a long list on My London Diary – and speeches were continuing when I left for another event.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

More about the Nakba and the protest at End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing.


London Marches to Defend NHS – South Bank to Whitehall

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Thousands had gathered by the Festival Hall to march against cuts, closures and privatisation of the NHS, including many groups opposed to hospital closures around London, trade unionists and others concerned the the government is ending the NHS.

An unprecedented coalition of Londoners, including medical staff, trade unions, health campaigners, patients and others have been alarmed at what they see as an attack by the government on the principles that underlie our National Health Service and the threats of closure of Accident and Emergency facilities, maternity units and hospital wards which seem certain to lead to our health system being unable to cope with demand – and many lives put at risk.

You can read more about the crisis in the NHS in 2013 in the post on My London Diary, but of course this has continued and is still making the news. Despite their protestations it seems clear that the Tories are trying hard to run down the NHS so that the population lose its trust and love for our universal free public – and would allow them to eventually replace it with US-style insurance based healthcare which would greatly increase costs and generate huge profits for private health companies.

I went with the march across Waterloo Bridge and down Strand to Charing Cross, leaving it as it was waiting to enter Whitehall for a rally there.

More information and pictures at London Marches to Defend NHS.


Guantánamo Murder Scene – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

London Guantánamo Campaign staged a ‘murder scene’ at the US Embassy on the 101st day of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike in which over 100 of the 166 still held there are taking part, with many including Shaker Aamer now being forcibly fed.

As I arrived there were 8 black-hooded ‘prisoners’ in orange suits lying on the pavement, the number of prisoners who have died there in suspicious circumstances who had previously taken part in sustained hunger strikes. At least seven of them had the cause of death reported as ‘suicide’.

Other protesters drew lines around the bodies on the ground and surrounded the area with ‘Crime Scene – Do Not Enter‘ incident tape. The bodies then stood up and there was a short enactment of forced feeding by a man wearing an Obama mask.

Others held placards and posters, some including quotations from Thomas Jefferson and other historic and prominent Americans, and there were speeches about the events in Guantanamo, where British resident Shaker Aamer was still held despite having been cleared for release. You can read more, including a statement by one of the organisers, on My London Diary.

As I left some of the poems written in Guantánamo by Shaker Aamer were being read.

More at Guantánamo Murder Scene.


More US Embassy Protests – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Also protesting outside the embassy as she has for a number of weekends was Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye, born in the US and currently living in Birmingham, whose husband Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen, was arrested in Iraq by American forces in 2004 and turned over to Iraqi custody in 2011. He was tortured by the Americans when held by them, and his now being tortured by the Iraqis. He is also on hunger strike. His young daughter Zeinab came and spoke briefly to the Guantanamo protesters, telling them that she wanted her daddy to be released.

Later she was joined by a small group of Muslim men and boys who stood with her.

It was a busy day for protests at at the US Embassy were a small group of supporters of Syrian President Assad, including some from the minor Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who had come to protest against western intervention in Syria.

More about these protests at More US Embassy Protests.


Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide – Hyde Park to Waterloo Place

Finally I rushed away to join thousands of British Tamils and dignitaries and politicians from India, Sri Lanka and the UK who were marching through London on the 4th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre. Many were dressed in black in memory of the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka and some wore the tiger emblem and called for a Tamil homeland – Tamil Eelam.

Tamils are disgusted at the lack of response by the UK, the Commonwealth and the world to the organised genocide that took place and is still continuing in Sri Lanka, of which the massacre at Mullivaikkal four years ago was a climax. I noted on My London Diary that I could see no other non-Tamil photographers covering the event.

On My London Diary you can read a statement by the British Tamil Forum who had organised the march. I left as the rally in Waterloo Place was about to start, partly because I was tired but also because I thought few of the speeches would be in English.

Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide.


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Pratts Bottom Village Fete – 2008

May 17th, 2024

Pratts Bottom Village Fete – Saturday 17th May, 2008. I have to admit that until shortly before I went there I’d never heard of Pratt’s Bottom, one of those many amusing British place names. Locals seem now to prefer it without the apostrophe, (and Fete without its circumflex) although Wikipedia largely sticks to its use.

Pratts Bottom Village Fete

This ancient Kent village was once home to members of the Pratt family who owned large areas of Kent as well as bits of Wales, Sussex and London. Wikipedia tells me that Sir John Pratt was Lord Chief Justice of England from 1718 to 1725. One of his sons was raised to the peerage in 1765 and sensibly took the name of Baron Camden rather than Pratt (and later added Viscount Bayham and Earl Camden to his titles.)

Pratts Bottom Village Fete

The name change was fortunate for residents of that area of North London we know as Camden Town, who otherwise might be living in Pratt Town in the London Borough of Pratt. Though South Londoners might find that amusingly apt.

Pratts Bottom Village Fete

The Bottom in the name is simply indicating that this was a valley. The community web site says that until the 1830s it was on the toll road from London to Hastings and was the haunt of smugglers and highwaymen including Dick Turpin, a man who certainly got around to pubs as well as York.

Pratts Bottom Village Fete

Now it seems pretty remote, and its hard to see why it was hijacked into the London Borough of Bromley in 1965, particularly when highly built-up areas such as Staines and Stanwell in the west were evicted – and are still outside Transport for London’s Zone 6.

I’d previously photographed a number of the May Queen festivals in London, particularly those at Orpington, just a couple of miles to the north-west, where the organisers there had told me that I should visit the Pratts Bottom Village Fete – and so I decided to go there in 2008, a week after I had photographed the 96th London May Queen being crowned at Hayes.

Here’s what I wrote about my visit to Pratt’s Bottom in 2008:

I’d never been to Pratts Bottom before despite the enticing name, so the traditional English Village Fete seemed worth attending, particularly since it includes a procession with several May Queens, including those from Orpington, Green St Green and Petts Wood, along with Pratts Bottom’s own May Queen.

Pratts Bottom, despite being in the London borough of Bromley seems very much out in the country, beyond the leafy suburbs. Unfortunately, thanks to a confusion over times (and only an hourly train service) I arrived just as the procession reached the village green. And unfortunately for all of us it was raining.

As well as the May queens, and a childrens’ fancy dress contest, there were a full range of stalls along the village green and some other activities in the village hall, not to mention the Bulls Head, where I was not surprised to find the Morris men.

I waited to see the Morris dancing, then rushed off down the hill to catch a train home. A fine but steady rain was still falling, and the heavy damp air was filled with the heady scent of hawthorn and cow parsley. It seems odd that this area is included in London while highly built-up areas such as Spelthorne are excluded.

Many more pictures at Pratts Bottom Village Fete.


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