Do Not Bend

April 24th, 2019

The film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay produced by Grant Scott’s The United Nations of Photography casts an interesting light on photography in the UK in the 1970s at a time when I was just coming into the medium, though so far I’ve only taken a brief look at a few sections of it. The full film is over an hour and a half long, and I hope to have time to watch it all before long – when I may have more to say about it. If you don’t already know something about Bill Jay it would be worth reading the web site above before watching it.

It does contain insights from a number of photographers and others I’ve come across over the years, including a few I got to know fairly well at various times and one who is a good friend I visit regularly, and whose view on it I will be interested to hear.

It has already been shown at a number of screenings here and in the US, but Grant Scott and Tim Pellatt who were the team behind the documentary have now made the film available to view for free on Youtube.

Whaling or a woman?

April 23rd, 2019

I’m not sure why a protest against Japan’s plans to resume commercial whaling should be such a Conservative occasion as this clearly was, with a strong presence from the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation as well as Boris’s father Stanley Johnson and Tory MEP for the East of England John Flack as speakers.

Animal rights is an issue that cuts across party divides, but the more radical side of the movement including most of those I’ve photographed at protests against the annual slaughter of dolphins at Taiji cove outside the Japanese Embassy seemed to be missing.

I’m clearly not sufficiently aware of the political nature of conservation and animal welfare, and this does appear to have been organised by Conservatives for Conservative conservationists, with no speakers from Labour, Lib-Dem, Green or other parties in Cavendish Square.

But we did see some disgraceful behaviour by some photographers, pushing protesters and other photographers out of their way as they rushed to photograph conservationist and former Tory spin doctor Carrie Symonds, not for anything she had to say, but because she was Boris Johnson’s girlfriend. I try to avoid occasions where the paparazzi are at work, as on this occasion butressing their reputation as the scum of photography.

And unfortunately their rudeness and assaults were rewarded at least by the popular press, whose accounts of the event hardly mentioned whales and were almost entirely illustrated by pictures (some rather poor) of Symonds and gossip about her and Boris. For the media it was about the woman rather than whaling.

Of course I did photograph her too, and did file four of her in the 44 pictures to the agency from the event, rather more than of the others who spoke, and you can see those pictures along with many others at ‘No Whaling’ rally and march.

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

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

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Marzieh Hashemi arrest protest

April 22nd, 2019

The USA decided to move its London embassy a few years ago, and probably a major factor in the decision to go to Nine Elms was that Grosvenor Square was such a convenient location for demonstrations. The most notable of these was back on on 17 March 1968, when police horses ran amok in a relatively peaceful crowd that was filling the square. I can’t see myself in the videos but I’m fairly sure (it was the sixties, and if you can remember …) I was there and certainly remember the panic as out of control horses rushed towards me. I don’t think horses were used at the other protests I was at then, though I’ve seen them used at other London protests in recent years.


Not the embassy

It seemed an example of cruelty to animals (which the nation might be expected to violently object to) and also of cruelty to protesters, about which many would care little. Quite clearly those horses were frightened and out of control of their riders, who rode them into peaceful crowds heedless of the injuries that might be caused. The BBC and much of the other media described it as a riot, but the only rioters where the horses were deployed, well away from the embassy, were the police.


A part of the embassy

In recent years at Grosvenor Square there were probably several protests most weeks, mostly small but some sizeable, though virtually none reported in the media, where only protests abroad against regimes we don’t favour or those involving so-called celebrities seem normally to qualify as news.


This is the embassy

Things are certainly much quieter for the us at Nine Elms, which for many Londoners seems almost on the edge of the known universe. though actually it is only a short walk from one of London’s major transport interchanges at Vauxhall. But it isn’t just getting there that is the problem; the embassy is on a relatively minor road and its entrances hidden away some distance from that road. While people and cars move through Grosvenor Square, virtually nothing goes past the new Embassy which is still in the middle of one of the largest building sites in the country.

Back on the main road in front of the embassy, there is nothing to tell you that this is the US Embassy, though the building itself, on the other side of a garden and lake, is made distinctive by some odd wrapping on three sides (but not that actually facing the road.) Unlike in Grosvenor Square, there is no giant eagle on its roof, and the US flag, rather than being on the roof, is hidden away behind the embassy.

It’s hard from the pavement in front of the pedestrian entrance to the embassy site to get a convincing view of the building, as it is too close for the widest rectilinear lens. Bits of it – as the top two images show – are not that distinctive or convincing, and to get the third image I had to use a fisheye lens. As usual I’ve converted the image using Fisheye-Hemi to make the side walls straight, but the top of the building does retain a curve. The latest version of this utility is now available as a Lightroom export plugin, making it no longer necessary to use Photoshop for the conversion.

I had two main reasons to attend the protest, first that it was about the mistreatment by the FBI of a fellow journalist, but also because it seemed a clear case of Islamophobia, FBI harassment of the Muslim community.  America never really was the ‘land of the free’ so far as many of its inhabitants were concerned, or for the rest of the world, but things have got even worse since 9/11 and such shameful US activities such as the illegal rendition and detention of detainees in Guantanamo.

More about the event at Marzieh Hashemi arrest protest.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images

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Arms Dealers feast while Yemen starves

April 21st, 2019

I didn’t much enjoy taking pictures outside the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London’s Mayfair on a cold January night. The pavement is fairly narrow and fairly dark, and it was very crowded, with a lot of pushing and shoving, with some police getting rather more physical than the situation demanded.  And police took no notice when some of those attending the dinner assaulted the protesters. At least they hadn’t brought their weapons with them.

Of course we shouldn’t be selling arms to be used in Yemen. I’d be happier if we didn’t have one of the larger arms industries in the world, which despite claims about strong export controls is still happy to sell arms to countries where we have serious human rights concerns. We still sell them to over two thirds of the countries on that list – including Saudi Arabia, which is using them in Yemen.

Although it makes big money, the arms industry employs relatively few people – around 140,000 according to the industry body. There surely must be better ways to employ these workers, many who are highly skilled, than in making arms to kill people.

And it is obscene of the Aerospace, Defence and Security industry to hold a luxury dinner celebrating their activities causing death, starvation and devastation across the world. Since Saudi Arabia began its bombing of Yemen in 2015, the UK have continued to supply weapons costing almost £5 billion putting 14m Yemeni people – mainly uninvolved civilians – at risk of famine and starvation.

I arrived after the protest had started, a little earlier than advertised, and it seems that neither the hotel or the police had really prepared for the inevitable and widely advertised protest. Traffic was still flowing on the lane next to the pavement, putting protesters and passers-by at risk, and the barriers were perhaps poorly placed.

Police began handling demonstrators rather roughly, and at least one or two officers were clearly enjoying themselves doing so, while others were clearly trying to treat people carefully. There does need to be some system for officers to report rogue fellow officers and clean up the police. Policing is a difficult job and needs the support of those being policed and this is clearly eroded by the behaviour of some.

I wasn’t too badly treated by police, though as often one or two deliberately moved in front of me to prevent me getting a clear view of their colleagues and I did at times get pushed a little more roughly than necessary. But at one point I was knocked into the road by a protester who had been bodily thrown in my direction by police, but fortunately there was no traffic in the nearside lane at this point.

For obvious reasons I don’t have a picture of that incident, and others were blurred as I was pushed or people were rather rapidly moved. The pictures I took with flash were as expected rather better with subject movement, but even some of those were blurred.

More at Stop Arming Saudi while Yemen starves
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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images

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London solidarity with Russian anti-fascists

April 20th, 2019

While some of my anarchist friends are always happy to be photographed, others fear being identified in pictures, and have very negative feelings towards photographers. I sometimes am told that I should blur all the faces in pictures that I publish showing anarchists and aniti-fascists, something that in general I am not prepared to do. Generally I reply that if people are in public and wish to hide their faces they should ‘mask up’. It usually makes my pictures more dramatic too.

We do have some control over our appearance in public, and many hide all or part of the time behind masks or other face coverings, make-up or even beards. But if we are in public we will be seen by others, and also photographed, if only by the many security cameras that litter our streets and public  and private buildings.

Many are particularly suspicious of being photographed by the press, feeling that any pictures will  be used in a way that discredits them. Clearly there are photographers working for some publications who have these as an aim, but I’m not one of them, and those who know me generally know they can trust me, although once a picture goes to an agency I will have little or no control over how it is used.   It’s certainly important to think carefully about what you do and don’t file.

Although I don’t believe their fears of being photographed have any real foundation (or sense), unless there seems to me a good public interest  reason to do so I will try to avoid taking pictures of people who clearly do not wish to be photographed.

Quite clearly at the rally in front of the Cable St mural to oppose racism, xenophobia, fascism and the upsurge of far-right populism and to show solidarity with Russian anti-fascists there were people who did not want to be photographed,  and both I and the videographer who was recording the event for the organisers were careful to avoid upsetting them. It did make for a slightly edgy situation, and there were a few times I would have liked to take a picture but did not. Except for the images of those speaking at the event, I think for all of the pictures which are dominated by a single person or small group I asked permission before making the picture. There were very few who said no, though one did hold the placard I was interested in up in front of his face.

There were half a dozen other freelance photographers who had come to photograph the event, but I think I was the only one who took pictures during the rally, with others waiting in the street outside the public park until people came out for the march – and all those who were camera-shy were appropriately masked up.It ws during the march, and particularly as it passed under the railway bridge that it became most dramatic. But although I like to make dramatic pictures when I can, the most important thing is to tell the story, and I wanted to include the pictures of the speakers and banners underneath the mural, as well as some of the rather short rally in Altab Ali park at the end of the march.

More pictures, text and captions: Solidarity with Russian anti-fascists

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Bread & Roses

April 19th, 2019

Back in 1910, a Chicago factory inspector Helen Todd, speaking at an event launching a new campaign for votes for women picked up on a comment made to her by a young woman worker that votes for women would mean “everybody would have bread and flowers too”, elaborating it in her speech, quoted in part in Wikipedia:

“… life’s Bread, which is home, shelter and security, and the Roses of life, music, education, nature and books, shall be the heritage of every child that is born in the country …”

Later that year, Todd was involved in the Chicago garment workers’ strike led by The Women’s Trade Union League, making a number of speeches, and “We want bread – and roses, too” was one of the slogans used by the strikers. It was soon picked up by others, including James Oppenheim who published a poem, ‘Bread and ROses’ in 2011, and by a number of leading suffragettes and women trade unionists including the Polish-born American socialist and feminist Rose Schneiderman of the Women’s Trade Union League of New York, with whom the phrase became associated.

It was the 1912  Lawrence textile strike, often known as the Bread and Roses strike, that made the phrase well-known.  Most of the unskilled work in the mills was carried out by immigrant women, and at the start of the year they found without warning that their wages had been cut because of a new Massachusetts labour law which cut the working week for women and children fromf 56 to 54 hours.

The established unions were not concerned with the loss of pay as they mainly represented the skilled white male workers who were unaffected. The IWW came in to organise the immigrant workers, who had come to the USA mainly from countries in southern and eastern Europe and the Middle East – and spoke around a couple of dozen different languages.  They set up relief commitees and organised large and noisy protests where some women carried a banner “We want bread and roses too.”

The employers and the authorities hit back with force and dirty tricks, including arresting the union leaders on clearly false murder charges and getting the firemen to turn their hoses on the marchers in freezing weather, but newspaper coverage of this made the strike a national outrage, eventually forcing the employers to agree to almost all of the strikers demands, including a  a 15% pay raise, double pay for overtime, and an amnesty for strikers.

‘Bread & Roses’ was the inspiration for the Women’s March in London (and similar events elsewhere around the world) on January against economic oppression, violence against women, gender pay gap, racism, fascism, institutional sexual harassment and hostile environment in the UK, and called for a government dedicated to equality and working for all of us rather than the few. Many of those organising the event and taking part, like those who struck in 1912, were from our migrant communities, and there are certainly similarities between the IWW’s tactics in the 1912 strike and the activities of some of the smaller independent unions that are now active with low-paid workers.


Speakers with scripts in orange folders and directed by a BBC camera crew

The march began outside of the BBC, with a few speeches on the steps of the BBC church, All Souls in Langham Place, in a rather curious short rally that appeared to be both scripted and stage-managed by a small camera team from the BBC, who were directing the women who spoke, and generally barging their way through some of the protesters and photographers. I was told they were making a documentary about a group of the women, but if so they clearly have a very different idea of documentary to me, and it seemed more like a play. Other than that of course the BBC as usual ignored both this march and any other protests taking place in London on the day.

More at Women’s Bread & Roses protest

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images

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Brexit Warms Up

April 18th, 2019

Although inside Parliament Brexit seemed to be in the same rut as it had been since the ridiculous decision to invoke Article 50 without any real plan or consensus as to what Brexit actually meant – enshrined in Mays mantra ‘Brexit means Brexit’ – things outside seemed to be hotting up. The Tories had the strange notion that entering negotiations was like were playing a poker hand rather than trying serious discussions with our European partners over how the difficult process might be best arranged, and there were so many legal arguments about how the referendum was carried out that should have been played out before the decision was taken. So many things called the result into question that it seems clear that had it actually been a binding referendum it would have been declared null and void.

Obviously I voted to remain largely because I felt the country would have much greater control over its trade negotiations as a part of a much larger entity than as a single smaller body and because I value some of the associations and benefits we have built up in cooperation with our European neighbours. And some of our deprived areas – and we have some of the worst in Europe – have benefitted greatly from money from Europe financing projects in a country where our national governments have so clearly favoured London and the surrounding area.

The referendum did not show a decisive majority in favour of leaving Europe, but a nation roughly split down the middle, and was the kind of result that another vote a few months earlier of later could well have reversed. And had we used other versions of eligibilty to vote it might well have been different. Hugely important constitutional change like leaving Europe should only have been triggered by a much more significant vote than a simple majority.

But we are where we are, even if nobody quite knows where that is at the moment. I went to Parliament to photogrpah on the morning when May’s deal was coming up for a vote – and the only sure thing seemed to be that virtually nobody though it was acceptable – and when the vote came there was a huge majority against it. I’m not sure if Brexit will come to a sensible conclusion, or exactly what that might be. Perhaps to revoke Article 50 and schedule another referendum, perhaps with the stipulation that it would only be binding on the government under similar conditions to those that have been imposed on trade union strike ballots!

The pavement opposite Parliament and beside College Green was pretty crowded in parts on this morning, and the group one of my colleagues calls the ‘yellow pests’ was out and very vocal along with the more reasonable protesters on both sides, harassing Steven Bray and his SODEM supporters and apparently any MP they could find, though I wasn’t a witness to that today.

More at Brexit protest against May’s Deal.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Pride Not Profit

April 17th, 2019

My fourth volume in the Café Royal Books series of publications came out a few days ago, with the title ‘Pride Not Profit London 1993–2000‘. You can page through it on the web site.

The cover picture, taken in 1997 and shown above, has Sisters Dominatrix and Ophelia Balls of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence and is printed across both front and rear, with the title filling the rather empty space at top right. I was pleased to find this image which I think makes a good cover; images I’ve taken with a suitable space at top right are remarkable rare.

I began photographing Pride in 1993, rather late in the day but at a time when my interests in photography were moving from the urban fabric towards a more direct approach to people and social issues. Pride then was very much still a protest rather than the corporate funded spectacle it has now become, but the times were clearly changing, and seven years later, in 2000 some of those on the march were carrying signs reading ‘Pride Not Profit‘, providing the title for this small collection of photographs, most of which appeared in a larger selection shown as a part of a Museum of London travelling show, ‘Queer Is Here‘ in 2006. You can see that larger group of images on-line.

Designing a book like this always means making compromises, and it was impossible to include all of my favourite images, but I was pleased with the rhythm and flow I think I managed in this small sequence of 19 images. As usual you can page through the book on the Café Royal site, thopugh the images I think look rather better on the page. It isn’t perfect printing but I think it serves the subject matter well.

Pride has changed very much since I took these pictures, so much so that last year I couldn’t motivate myself sufficiently to photograph the actual parade, and in 2017 I only photographed the alternative parade that preceded the main event when protesters were refused permission to join it – in Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights reclaim Pride.

If you are quick you can take advantage of the current sale offer on Café Royal Books, £27 for ten books, though as it says “Books selected at random from currently in-print titles” I’m not sure you will get this one. But there are many on the current list that are worth having.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

March 2019 complete

April 16th, 2019

It should have been easy to finish getting My London Diary on-line for March, as minor ill-health meant I was unable to take pictures for ten days, so I covered rather fewer events. But it is increasingly a struggle to get it done.

For some years I’ve been wanting to move away from Nikon to smaller, lighter cameras which would be less tiring to carry. I’d hoped that the Fuji X cameras would do the job, but although the lenses are superb, the cameras are just not responsive enough. Over a few years and several models they improved in various ways, but they still (I’ve not tried the latest) don’t provide the confidence that when you press the shutter release they will take a picture. Sometimes the fastest way to wake them is to turn the camera off and on again, and in the second or so it takes for them to respond the picture has gone.

This month, should you care to examine the EXIF data, you can find pictures made with Nikon, Olympus and Fuji cameras. I think the Olympus can probably do almost everything I need, despite its sensor size only half that of the Nikon and the smaller file size, but I’m still evaluating the results. The camera I have is the OMD EM5II, which seems ridiculously cheap for what it offers.

Mar 2019

Freedom, justice & equality for Palestinians
Climate Protest at Barclays Bank


Kurds support hunger strikers
Fridays for Future climate protest
Brexiteers protest Betrayal
Vigil and protest for Christchurch victims


8th Anniversary of the Syrian Revolution
No to Racism, No to Fascism
Remember Fukushima 8 years On
No more deaths on our streets


London Schools Climate Strike
Million Women March against male violence
Blood of Our Children – XR


Women’s Strike Red Feminist March
Camden Panoramas
Global Women’s Strike
Graffiti at Leake St
Yellow Vests applaud Kurdish protesters


Rally supports Kurdish hunger strikers
Sudanese support the non-violent uprising


Algerians say no 5th term for Bouteflika
Scrap Universal Credit
End Japanese dolphin slaughter
Black Cab Drivers blockade
Weekly climate protest
Plastics protests in London

London Images

London 1979 (5)

April 15th, 2019

Continuing the series of posts showing work taken in London in 1979 as posted to Facebook with comments an image at a time in the first half of 2018.

Previous post in London 1979 series
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London Photographs 1979 – Peter Marshall


North Acton, Ealing, 1979
19h-41: power station, railway, trucks, cooling towers,

Acton Lane Power Station was first built in 1889 by the by the Metropolitan Electric Supply Company Limited, becoming a part of London Power Company Limited in 1924, and one of the four stations of the London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority in 1925.

The old station was replaced by Acton Lane ‘B’ station with its 3 cooling towers begun in 1950. It was mostly between the west coast mainline from Euston and the Grand Union Canal with another railway line crossing along its eastern border. Several pipe bridges still cross the canal, but the coal to run the turbines came by rail rather than canal. Still in use when I took this picture, it closed in 1983. The cooling towers have gone but the site is still in use by the National Grid.

Rail enthusiasts may be able to tell me more and perhaps pinpoint the exact location from which I took this picture, which I think may have been from the bridge on Old Oak Lane, but the scene has changed considerably since 1979.


North Acton or Harlesden, Ealing/Brent, 1979
19h-44: house, works

I’ve no real recollection of the whereabouts of the fiefdom of ‘Govin the Hulk’ whose name is on the gate or fence at the right of this picture, but previous and following frames were made on the platform at Willesden Junction, and it seems as if I arrived there, took a short walk and then returned.

The careful positioning of the frame edges and retention of verticals show that it was the pattern of the image with its interlocking planes that interested me rather than the particular location or use of these buildings, which appear to be commercial rather than domestic.

I think it likely that this will have been taken on an Olympus OM camera, probably the OM1, and using the 35mm shift lens which around this time became my most-used lens. This lens had two sliding panels at its rear which enabled it to be moved horizontally or vertically relative to the camera body, enabling the film to be positioned anywhere inside the image circle – which was roughly that of a medium format 35mm lens. It was of course particularly useful with tall buildings where it would enable you to keep verticals upright while working much closer to the building, and avoiding the much of the empty area between the camera and building. It would give a similar result to taking the picture with a 24mm and then cropping much of the bottom and both sides.

Being essentially a medium format lens with a specially adapted mount, it came at medium format prices. Having long lusted after this rare and expensive beast I walked out of the station at Hull and across Ferensway to Hilton Photographic and found a secondhand one looking at me from the window. I’m not sure they really knew what it was or perhaps they doubted if anyone in Hull would want such an unusual item, but the price was very reasonable and within minutes it was mine.


Willesden Junction Station, Brent, 1979
19h-45: house, works, brent

Willesden Junction is a complicated station with upper and lower level lines and platforms, with services from London Overground, Bakerloo Line underground and National Rail. This view is of the high level line going south from the station. The bridge at left carries a footpath from the end of Station Approach to Salter St, running parallel and close to the West London Line, still an interesting walk for lovers of industrial urban chaos. The lonely looking signal box was still there last time I travelled, though probably long out of use.

Th North London line which ran from Richmond to Broad Street and was among those listed for closure by car industry propagandist Dr Beeching in 1963, and was only saved by a massive popular campaign. It was again threatened in 1970-71 and another campaign was needed to keep it running. A few years after I took this picture Broad Street station was closed (its site now the Broadgate development next to Liverpool St Station) and the Richmond service joined to the recently opened CrossTown LinkLine service from Camden Road to North Woolwich, using old redundant Southern Region stock, but serving several new stations and was renamed the North London Link.

It remained something of a secret service, thanks partly to some well-hidden stations with rather obscure names, though important to many Londoners as a way to get to work particularly in the tube-free East London areas it now served, linking them to the Underground at Highbury & Islington.

In 2006 the section between Stratford and North Woolwich was closed (later becoming part of the DLR and the Canning Town to N Woolwich section becoming part of Crossrail.) The Richmond to Stratford line was transferred to Transport for London in 2007 and is now part of the London Overground service, much improved with new trains and an increased frequency of service.

The service has always been slow, though for a couple of years from 2000-2002 there were around 5 faster services a day run by Anglia Railways from Ipswich to Basingstoke, calling only at major stations such as Willesden Junction, and providing a direct link for me from Staines. But apparently it attracted few other passengers and my occasional use failed to keep it open.

There were no passenger services from here on the West London Line to Clapham Junciton in 1979; stopped in 1940 they only restarted in 1994. Again the service has improved greatly since taken over as London Overground, with several new stations.


Tubbs Rd/Station Rd, Harlesden Brent, 1979
19h-65: street, shop

Beta Books was on Station Rd in Harlesden, though the station a few yards around the corner to the left is Willesden Junction.

I was perhaps a little slow in taking this picture of the man walking away from me, which the low level of the camera helps to give a slightly sinister cinematic feeling, enhanced by the dark printing (and unintentional underexposure.) One of my preoccupations at the time was in trying to react rapidly and instinctively to situations, and getting away – at least at times – from the careful and precise construction of some of my images. But it sometimes gets hard to distinguish between carelessness and deliberate and intentioned carelessness.

Beta Books probably appealed to me because of a mention in David Lodge’s 1975 tale of two campuses ‘Changing Places’ of the Beta Bookshop, “a favourite gathering place for radicals into which the police had lobbed so many gas grenades it was said you could tell which students in your class had bought their books there by the tears streaming down their faces”, though his was in a thinly disguised Berkeley, California, rather than Harlesden.

The partly visible shop to the right of Beta Books is ‘Orbitone’, a record shop owned by Jamaican born Sonny Roberts and the home of his Orbitone label, noted for both reggae and Nigerian music. The first Orbitone release was in 1972 and the final release in 1987 and the shop closed around that time. Roberts, who came to the UK in 1958 in his mid-twenties first worked as a carpenter but soon found he could make a better living as a DJ and then a record producer and was apparently the first Jamaican to set up and own a recording studio in the UK in 1961.

This row of shops became Brazilian in more recent years, with the book and record shop being incorporated into the ‘Brazilian Emporium’. The bookshop is now a ‘Hamburgueria & Tapiocaria’.


Tubbs Rd/Station Rd area, Harlesden, Brent, 1979
19h-66: street, shop

Wanted Urgently says the sign at the right of the small premises of Iron Steel & Metal Merchant J Bridges & Sons, somewhere not far from Willesden Junction. But I think the time was gone, despite the further injunction ‘Time to Sell Your Scrap!!!’ at the left, and it is unlikely that the time really was 3.23 as the clock behind a broken glass circle shows. The place is boarded up, part covering some of the signs, the doors padlocked.

In front stands some scrap, a broken Hotpoint machine and a bin overflowing with rubbish. I like the description ‘Iron, Steel & Metal…’ though elsewhere it has the more precise if misspelt ‘Ferous and Non Ferous Metals’.

There are also two different listings of the same telephone number, one with the Harlesden ELGar exchange and the other with the all-figure 965 which replaced it in 1966, while at right the numbers are painted over.


R Tealing Ltd, Borough Market, Southwark 1979
19i-11: doorway, barrow, market trader,

There was until recently a fruit and vegetable wholesaler, R Tealing (Covent Garden) Ltd, a private listed company operating in the New Covent Garden Market, registed in 1974, though only since 1975 under this name, and I imagine that this was a part of the same or an associated enterprise. In 1979 Borough Market was still a real vegetable market with none of the trendy foodie places which now attract tourists in their droves.

I never got there in the early morning to really see the real market at work, between around 2am and 8am, though there is the attraction of a special market licence at The Market Porter, open Mon-Fri 6.00-8.30am, one of only three remaining London pubs with an early licence.


St Mary Overie Wharf Offices, Borough Market, Southwark, 1979
19i-13: cobbles, office, street, warehouse

G L Stansall (Wholesale Grocers) Ltd was dissolved in 1981. Although the address is given as St Mary Overy Wharf I think this may have been the neighbouring premises of Stave Wharf which was across a narrow roadway.

I had visited and photographed this area in 1978 and returned as they some of the warehouses were being demolished. The brick-built warehouse at St Mary Overy’s Wharf was erected for Mr. George Doo in 1882 and was in the following year the first customer of the public hydraulic supply network set up by the wharves & Warehouse Steam Power & Hydraulic Pressure Co. (renamed the London Hydraulic Power Co. in 1884) which powered its external cranes and hoists.

Built as a granary, the lower floors became a general warehouse. The building was taken over by Cole & Carey, general wharfingers, in 1890, and they continued to use it for some years after the premises were bought by the Proprietors of Hay’s Wharf. There were various tenants from the late 1960s, and G L Stansall was the last of these, leaving behind shelving with food tins, sacks peanuts and boxes of liqueur chocolates when they quit.

Part of the roof was destroyed by fire in 1979 and all except a small section at the southwest corner demolished soon afterwards and replaced by modern structures in a similar brick but with considerably less individuality. It is a bland but not entirely out of character redevelopment which more or less retains the same streets and passages but little of the atmosphere.

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

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