Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

Fox Sake May

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

I don’t usually work on Bank Holidays. Actually now they don’t have a great deal of significance for me, working as a freelance, they are just another day. I don’t drive so I’m not going to spend hours sitting in a traffic jam to some popular destination. Sometimes its a day or a weekend where we go away and stay with family who have an extra day off work, or we go out for a longish walk. But generally for us it’s a day just like any other.

This year, in our rather silly late May Bank Holiday (a kind of fixed Whitsun) there was a protest to tell the Prime Minister that the public are against having a vote in Parliament on the fox hunting bill. It’s a cruel and barbaric practice, chasing a terrified animal across country and often ending with it being torn apart by dogs. Something there should be no place for – like bear-baiting and dog fighting. Something that still goes on despite the act, and the efforts of hunt sabs – and often with police turning the other way so they can’t see either the illegal hunting or the violence against the sabs.

It has never been an effective way of controlling the numbers of foxes – and of course always depended on foxes being kept alive to hunt. Foxes can be a problem, as the bloody mess of chickens in one of my friends coops a few years back made only too obvious. But where necessary they can be killed humanely without making it a so-called sport.

I wouldn’t join the sabs because although I’m against it, there are many other things I feel more strongly about, but I rather admire them for standing up for their principles, despite the abuse and violence they are often met with. If we had a local hunt I’d probably go along and take pictures of that and try to expose what they are subjected to.

Despite a little celebrity support (and the little celebrity in this case was Bill Oddy) it was a protest that got relatively little coverage in the media, partly because the organisers determination to keep it well-behaved and entirely legal made it a little boring and predictable. The police were obviously expecting something rather more interesting and came in force, including some sniffer dogs, though I did wonder if they got extra overtime pay for working on a Bank Holiday.

And of course hunting is very much a class issue, more so now than ever. Keeping a horse is an expensive business, and packs of hounds even more so, though it does provide a small amount of employment in the countryside. So it wasn’t surprising to find Class War on the march, but like me they soon lost interest in the speeches opposite Downing St and went to the pub.

Class War were not standing any candidates in the General Election a couple of weeks later, but the Animal Welfare Party were, in Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency. And although their banner read ‘Maidenhead Says No to Fox Hunting’, Andrew Knight got only 282 votes, around a third of that of the Green Party and UKIP and was rather comprehensively eclipsed by May’s 37,718 – though perhaps they contributed to this being down by 1.1%.

And the Animal Welfare Party did get rather more votes than Lord Buckethead, Grant Smith, Howling ‘Laud’ Hope of the Monster Raving Loony Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance candidate Edmonds Victor, The Just Political Party’s Julian Reid and Yemi Hailemariam and Bobby Smith!

Keep the Fox Hunting Ban


Friday Protests

Monday, December 11th, 2017

I’ve had a few busy days and not had time to write on this blog, partly with several events to photograph, but also with other things to do and to worry about, but also with trying to get my main web site, My London Diary, a little more up-to-date with events. A diary should really be something you write up at the time, not as I’ve been doing recently around a month later. But should you click on the link above today when I post this, you should find that it only a day or two adrift – and later today it should include some of the latest pictures I’ve taken from Saturday.

Yesterday, Sunday, as I came around in bed the curtains were open and I could see snow falling, and when an hour or two later, having posted my daily picture of Hull I turned to post this onto Facebook I was greeted by picture after picture (mainly by rather bad picture after picture) showing people’s back gardens and streets with a little snow on them. I’d been wondering whether to go and photograph a couple of things in London, but decided not to; although I could have coped with the snow, our transport system would probably be on the blink. Later several of the things I’d had in mind were cancelled due to the weather, and there were reports of transport chaos. And more bad snow pictures.

It wasn’t much of a snowfall where I live (and today it has all disappeared and we are getting cold rain with the odd snowflake mixed in) and I decided not to bother to try and take photographs of it. We had snow rather better in the past, with weeks in the 70s and 80s where it lay inches deep – and drifts of a foot or more, with many suburban roads only passable with difficulty on foot and some closed to traffic for several days, and I felt I’d already served my share of snow pictures.

Today it feels quite good to look back to when days were longer and warmer around the end of May, and another Friday where I was busy, starting with a very similar event. Human rights group Inminds holds regular fortnightly protests about Palestine, usually on a Friday afternoon, drawing attention to the human rights abuses by Israel against the Palestinians, and calling for freedom for Palestine and for a boycott of Israel, and when I’m free and in London I try to cover these events, although often my visits to them are rather brief. The protest on this occasion was outside the Moorgate offices of the UK Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross, demanding it end complicity with Israel’s violation of the rights of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were then taking part in a hunger strike.

It was easier to photograph than most of their protests, partly because it was a new location, but also because there were specific posters for the event, and unlike some other of their protests there was little traffic and few pedestrians to get in my way as I was taking pictures; it was almost a private event, so photographs, mine and also those that Inminds itself take – had an added importance as the only way it reached the public.

There are accusations made that some of those who belong to Inminds are antisemitic, but protests such as this are clearly against particular illegal activities of the Israeli state and part of their campaign against the occupation of Palestine. I’m clear that it is possible to support the Palestinian cause without being antisemitic, though it isn’t possible to do so without being accused by some of antisemitism. I’m also clear that I’m not a member of Inminds, but a journalist who reports on some of their protests – as I do on protests by many other groups.

From Moorgate my next stop was Walthamstow Central, where parents and children were marching after school to a rally against education cuts. Photographing children has become difficult now, and photographers are always under suspicion if they point a camera at a child for whatever reason, and I did feel a little difficult doing so. In the past there were so many great photographs of children and I think it is a shame that we are now so inhibited about taking pictures of them. Of course there are terrible abuses of children and it’s right to do all we can to prevent the activities of abusers, but there is no real connection between those abuses and people taking pictures on the streets.

If taking photographs will not generally harm children, the changes in funding for schools certainly will, and that effect will be greatest in city areas such as London E17, where Waltham Forest schools were to lose over £25m from their annual budgets – £672 per pupil on average, with some schools losing over £1000 per pupil. It means fewer teachers – coincidentally also around 672 fewer in Waltham Forest, and at a time when numbers in schools are increasing. As a retired member of the NUT as well as a current member of the NUJ I have a particular concern.

I listened to a few of the speeches, but then had to leave, traveling back to the centre of London with the Victoria line taking me direct to Westminster. I’d missed the pre-election protest by Stop Killing Cyclists a few days earlier outside the Labour HQ, but this evening it was the turn of the Tories in Matthew Parker St, a short walk from Parliament.

There I photographed another child, wearing a face mask sitting beside his father who was lying ‘dead’ on the ground outside as a part of a protest against traffic and air pollution both killing cyclists in London. Not just cyclists of course, traffic and pollution both kill pedestrians and drivers too, but cyclists face a particular risk when riding amongst faster moving and much more massive vehicles, and breathing their fumes on the road.

Later enough of the cyclists lay down to fill the frame of my fish-eye lens – and the house in the centre behind them is the Tory HQ.  Money spent on making safe protected cycle paths encourages many more to use their bikes to get around the city, reducing transport pollution which currently results in over 9,000 premature deaths a year in London as well as much suffering from illness, and more people getting on their bikes also means more people getting a little exercise to improve their healths.  More people cycling also cuts traffic congestion – with an increase in road space considerably greater than the loss caused by building protected cycle routes. In fact the only downside is that it leads to greater traffic speeds and so greater impact damage when vehicles hit people, something that needs to be mitigated by greater use and enforcement of 20mph zones.

But policies are generally driven not by facts, not be research, not by safety but by lobbying of politicians and the prejudices of the press, also  firmly guided by the saloon bar ‘common sense’ (not that we still have saloon bars – but we still have the attitudes.) Neither of the main parties had a sensible road traffic policy and was willing to spend the amounts needed to encourage cycling by making it safer.

Red Cross act for Hunger Strikers
E17 Protest Against School Cuts
Cyclists Tory HQ die-in against pollution


Hull Photos: 3/11/17 – 9/11/17

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Still catching up with putting these weekly digests on line. You can keep up to date by following my daily posts on Facebook, and can of course see the pictures but not the texts on the intro page at Hull Photos. Comments and corrections to the captions and texts about the pictures are always welcome here or on Facebook.

3rd November

A group of three youngsters on bikes at the end of Essex St, with Cawoods (Fish Curers) smoke house behind them. They saw me taking pictures and were keen to have their picture taken. I’ve written more about Cawoods in earlier comments.

85-10j-26: Cawoods, Essex St, Gipsyville, 1985 – Hessle Rd

4th November

There is still an HB Motors in Hull, with a shop-front since around 2010 on Anlaby Rd, but these premises were a short distance away on Hawthorne Avenue, filling the area between the level crossing and Haddon St. This whole area has been extensively redeveloped this century.

85-10j-32: HB Motors, Haddon St/Hawthorn Ave, 1985 – Hessle Rd

5th November

Bentleys Snowflake Laundry was a family firm established in Hull in 1890, becoming a private limited company in 1917 and changing its name to Bentley’s Industrial Services Ltd in 1979. It became one of the UK’s leading commercial laundry companies. The company, at one time in Plane St, by 2005 had large works on Harrow St and 140 employees, was sold up then with its three divisions going separately to different laundry operators. Thanks to a number of people on the Facebook group ‘Hull: The Good Old Days’ who worked at or lived near the laundry I can confirm that this shed was on Greek St. The whole site, which had its main entrance on Plane St, was redeveloped as a small housing estate a few years after I took this picture.

Presumably the name was intended as a reference to their service making linen as white as snow, but they share their name with the man from Vermont, USA who dedicated much of his like to making photographic images of snowflakes, Wilson Alwyn “Snowflake” Bentley (1865-1931). Probably the first person to successfully photograph them, he made thousands of pictures which showed every snowflake to be different, and his work established the six-armed dendritic pattern which has become synonymous with our idea of snowflakes, though it is only one of possibly over 80 forms they take.

85-10j-42: Bentleys Snowflake Laundry, Greek St, 1985 – Hessle Rd

6th November

A shop door at No 95 almost certainly on Greek St, on the corner of Carlton Villas. The shop was closed, possibly for good and seemed rather in need of the repair which was stated to be its speciality. Most of this area was demolished around 2012, but few of the streets were long enough to have a No 95 on them.

85-10j-43: Repair A Speciality, Greek St, 1985 – Hessle Rd

7th November

This shop on the corner of Greek St and Hawthorne Avenue was not demolished until around 2013. A helpful street sign in the image makes it easy to locate.

There were extensive demolitions in the area as a part of a government backed ‘Gateway Pathfinder’ scheme, started in 2002. The Hull and East Riding Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder was the last of nine schemes to be granted funding, and by the end of 2009 had received £113m, and a scheme for a further £400m to be spent in West Hull had been approved in principle, but the scheme was ended by the coalition government and ended early in 2011, with considerable hardship for many who lived in the area.

The letters B, B, E, C on the wall were something of a mystery to me when I took this, but are the initial letters of items the shop sold, and there are very faint traces of other letters in a darker paint, though it requires a little guesswork. Going down vertically at left was I think BACON, while the larger sign was for BUTTER EGGS and CHEESE.

85-10j-46: Shop, corner of Greek St/Hawthorne Avenue, 1985 – Hessle Rd

8th November
These sheds on the Hull Fair site in Walton St were demolished in 2009.

Hull Fair is one of the largest travelling funfairs in Europe, and the largest in England and it comes to this site for 8 days around 11th October each year. The first charter for the fair was granted in 1278, but the city celebrated the 700th anniversary in 1993, probably for good historical reasons – or perhaps they just didn’t notice it fifteen years earlier. Back in 1294 the fair – largely a market – lasted 6 weeks. It moved to the present 16 acre site in 1888.

85-10j-52: Hull Fair Site, Walton St, 1985 – Argyle St

9th November

One of many small businesses in Hull, Modern Systems would appear to have seen better days. A smaller notice on the gate at left gives the name J A Drury ‘Building Joinery Plumbing Free Estimates’.

The photograph was taken on one of my long and often rambling walks in West Hull, probably somewhere between Anlaby Road and Hessle Rd, and this property has been demolished and I was not able to find any trace of it or the business on-line.

But posting it in the Facebook group Hull: The good old days, Liz Cook immediately came up with a suggestion that I could quickly confirm. This building was indeed on Arthur St, and I could recognise the row of houses whose backs are behind it as being on Plane St. There is still a lamp post in the same place (though a different post), but the business has been replaced by a more modern semi-detached house.

I photographed in Arthur St on at least one other occasion, and probably went down it because I knew it was the street where my father-in-law had grown up and lived, one of a large family of Hoults, around the time of the First World War. In June 1907, the Hull Coroner Colonel A. Thorney concluded at an inquest “Congestion the lungs consequent upon measles, was the cause of the death of the seventeen months old child of Mary Hoult, wife of a boilermaker, of 57, Arthur-street” and a verdict of death from natural causes was returned.

85-10j-55: Modern Systems Building Plumbing, Arthur St, 1985 – Hessle Rd

You can see the new pictures added each day at Hull Photos, and I post them with the short comments above on Facebook.
Comments and corrections to captions are welcome here or on Facebook.

Thursday Lates

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

I hate the early nights we have at this time of year, when sunset comes to London at around 15.52 and so many things, including most protests take place in twilight or darkness. So I look back with some warmth at my diary for May 25th, when the sun only set at 9pm, giving me some colourful sunset skies to watch from the train window on my way home.

Photographers notice the light more than others, or at least we should, though on some winter days I’ve been caught out by the falling light and only realised too late that my shutter speed in some auto mode has dropped far too low giving an unwanted motion blur to my subjects, often only noticeable when I zoom into the image. Viewing the whole image on the camera back can seem sharp even when images are unusable.

The answer I’ve now adopted on the Nikons is auto ISO. Working in Program mode and setting the minimum shutter speed to perhaps 1/100th and the maximum ISO to 6400 or even 12,800 more or less guarantees usable results except at more extreme focal lengths. Once I realise its getting dark, or have a need for flash or greater depth of field or stopping faster movements I’ll change the settings, but until then I find this works. The Nikons have an Auto setting for the minimum shutter speed, which takes into account the focal length of the lens, and does allow you to choose different settings, faster or slower, based on this, which sounds useful, but I think fails with moving subjects, where the fixed speed seems to work better.

But back in those longer days, I had no such problems. I started work at 4pm – which at this time of year is just after sunset, but towards the end of May was bright sunlight outside the building behind Harrods which houses both the Ecuadorian and Colombian embassies. A small die-hard group of supporters of Julian Assange was outside as they had been on so many occasions over the almost five years he had been holed up in there. His continuing detention is a monument to the stubbornness of Theresa May, but it is a pointless act which has cost us millions and harms us diplomatically. He should have been allowed to leave for Ecuador when granted immunity there.

Grant Assange Safe Passage


Protesting on the same pavement – and with some overlap both physically and in terms of people – were the Colombian Solidarity Campaign, demanding that the Columbian government end the use of force against the people of Buenaventura and instead tackle the social, economic and ecological problems that have led to the civic unrest there.

Photographically my problems were mainly that half of the protest was in bright sun and half in shade, giving a huge dynamic range. Even with careful exposure this still requires considerable post-processing to reveal shadow details and tone down the brightly lit areas.

Timing was also a problem, and although the protest was due to begin at 4 pm,  people only began to drip in slowly some time after that – and I had to leave before the event had really got going. South American time, as I learnt when I visited Brazil some years ago – is a rather different concept to English time.

Lift the Siege of Buenaventura

Axe the Housing Act were rather more punctual for their protest intending to make housing an issue in the snap general election which was taking place, thanks to a moment of madness on the Prime Ministers walking holiday.  Labour were still in disarray, with its centre and right MPs refusing to accept the zeitgeist that had moved the party membership to elect Jeremy Corbyn and were still acting like spoilt children who had lost their toys and encouraged and supported  by a Tory-dominated media were determined to undermine him in any way possible with a series of smears,  lies, coup attempts and party machinations.  Had they accepted defeat with any grace and got down to work for the party rather than for their own interests the election would never have been called, as Labour would have had a massive lead in the opinion polls.

But we had an election, and housing despite the effects of protesters which have put it on the political agenda, never became a major issue.  It’s an area where Labour still has a great deal of work to do, with many Labour councils still busy demolishing council estates and cosying up with private developers despite a new direction from the leadership which at the party conference a few months later called for policies based on housing people rather than realising asset values. Its a battle still to be fought, let alone won. Although the protest was called a vote for decent, secure homes this wasn’t generally a choice on our ballot papers.

The picture above shows Piers Corbyn (Jeremy’s elder brother) signing the poster-sized letter which the protesters were to deliver to Downing St, and the sun is still bright at ten to six, a time when now we would have passed through civil twilight and nautical twilight and be about to move from astronomical twilight into full blown night time.

Vote for decent, secure homes

I left the housing protesters as they left for Downing St and walked down to Tate Britain, where the PCS Culture Group were to picket the leaving party for retiring director Nicolas Serota. Staff there, many of whom are on zero hours contracts with lousy conditions from Securitas and are paid on or close to minimum wage – much less than the London Living Wage and something the Tate could not dare to justify for anyone it directly employed were asked to contribute to a leaving present for him of a sailing boat – and of course were not invited to his leaving party.

Instead they launched their annual Golden Boat Awards, naming Serota as the first recipient for his services to the cause of privatisation, casualisation and low pay at the Tate. They demand an end to this cheapskate use of facilites companies to provide staff who should be employed directly with acceptable conditions and pay.

It was around 7pm when I left the Tate, still two hours before sunset.

Golden Boat Award for Serota


November 2017 complete

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Zambia’s The Post reports the exposure of mining company Vedanta’s tax fraud

November was another busy month for my posts to My London Diary, and it seems there are ever more things to protest against. But undoubtedly the most moving event was the monthly silent march for Grenfell Tower, the first time I had been on this. In contrast towards the end of the month I went on a very noisy demonstration about that same disaster.  There was yet another protest at Yarls Wood, against a cruelly unfair system of immigration detention, a rather long and tiring day for me.

Nov 2017

‘Toxic Tour’ shames mining companies

Protesters visit Grenfell councillors
End Slave Auctions in Libya

CAIWU protests for blacklisted Beatriz
Protest at Turkish LGBTI+ ban
Zimbabweans celebrate Mugabe’s resignation
Homes for All Budget protest
Budget Day Brexit Protests
IWGB protest London Uni outsourcing

Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 12
Students march for free education
Silent Walk for Grenfell Tower
Another Canada Goose animal cruelty protest
Orange Lodges Remembrance Day parade
Remember Refugees on Armistice Day
Close Canada Goose for animal cruelty
Silent Remembrance Peace Vigil
ORAL Squat empty NatWest Bank
Vigil for Islington cyclist killed by HGV

LSE against Homophobia
Picturehouse Strike for a Living Wage

Class War back at the Ripper
Equal Rights & Justice for Palestine
Maria Spiridonova – Armed Love
Vigil for Daphne Caruana Galizia
Mexican murders Day of the Dead vigil

London Images


Hull Photos: 27/10/17 – 2/11/17

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Still trying to catch up with putting these weekly digests on line, but getting diverted by other things. You can keep up to date by following my daily posts on Facebook, and can of course see the pictures but not the texts on the intro page at Hull Photos. Comments and corrections to the captions and texts about the pictures are always welcome here or on Facebook.

27th October 2017

Another view of Wellington St – little had visibly changed since my previous picture two years earlier. Behind the wholesale fruit and vegetable sheds is one of Hull’s still existing smoke houses, though this one was apparently built for bacon rather than fish. It has recently been restored.

85-5k-32: Fruit Brokers and Smoke House, Wellington St, 1985 – Old Town

28th October 2017

It was a busy high tide at the mouth of the River Hull, with Newdale H going upstream and through the Myton Bridge which opened for it, and a grab dredger operating at the mouth of the river (on the left in this picture) and then watching as a tug turned the trailing suction hopper dredger Bowstream around in the River Humber at the mouth of the Hull and then towing it into the Old Harbour where it berthed on the east side.

85-5k-45: Bowstream being towed into the Old Harbour, 1985 – River Hull

29th October 2017

A man pushes his bicycle along the pavement on Subway St, off the Hessle Rd. His bike is loaded with lengths of old piping, probably reclaimed from houses in the area awaiting demolition and he is presumably taking them to a scrap merchant. The houses here are all soon to be demolished, along with R E Powell, who will no longer be selling fish here.

It’s hard to place this exactly on Subway St, as there are few clues, though the distant view of Hessle Rd is clear. Powell’s could be on the corner of St Andrew St, which no longer exists. At the right of the picture is the corner of a fish smoke house, and there is still one in Subway St, but I think that is further south from Hessle Rd, and the one on the edge of this picture I think is one that has been demolished. More of it can be seen in the next two pictures I will post.

85-5l-44: Subway St, 1985 – Hessle Rd

30th October 2017

A fish smoke house, I think in West Dock Avenue, seen from Subway St. So much in this area has been demolished that it is very difficult to find exact locations for these pictures. This was taken just a few feet away from the previous image, and the brick wall at left is on the right of that picture, with the side of the smoke house.

85-5l-45: Fish Smoke House from Subway St, 1985 – Hessle Rd

31st October 2017

Another view of the back of the site with a fish smoke house taken from an empty plot on Subway St

85-5l-46: Fish Smoke House from Subway St, 1985 – Hessle Rd

1st November 2017

A view alongside the Fish Dock entrance lock. Although St Andrews Dock had closed there were still a few offices open here as well as by the end of William Wright Dock which was now the fish dock, with cars parked here – and there is still a fluorescent light on inside Humberside Driver Training Services Ltd, part of C E A Towne (Ship Riggers) Ltd.

85-5l-56: St Andrew’s Dock, 1985 – Docks

2nd November 2017

Yet another dredger – the Grab Hopper Dredger Redcliffe Sand moored in William Wright Dock. 1424 tons and built in 1964 by C. Hill in Bristol for British Transport Docks Board, she was sold by Associated British Ports in 1989 and after several owners was renamed Ribel in 1992/3 and scrapped as a total loss in 1996 in Beirolas, Lisbon.

William Wright Dock, at the west end of Albert Dock, had become Hull’s fish dock in 1975 when the neighbouring St Andrew’s Dock closed. The rather ancient-looking wooden Hull telephone box had clearly seen better days but I think was still in working order.

85-5l-65: William Wright Dock, 1985 – Docks

You can see the new pictures added each day at Hull Photos, and I post them with the short comments above on Facebook.
Comments and corrections to captions are welcome here or on Facebook.

Ten female photojournalists

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

This great article, 10 World Press Photo Awards, 10 Backstories Ten female photojournalists share the stories behind their iconic award-winning images, put on-line by photojournalist Yunghi Kim needs no further comment from me.

But if anyone is still unaware of Yunghi Kim‘s own work  do follow the link above to her web site and to Contact Press Images, an international and independent photojournalism agency founded in 1976 in New York City by French-British journalist and editor Robert Pledge and American photojournalist David Burnett, with some interesting photographers (and one largely non-photographer) on their list.

Yunghi Kim has also been a leader in getting photographers to register their copyright in the US and to take action against infringers. One her web site she writes that “Every penny recovered from the unauthorized use of my work is put towards” the Yunghi Grants made each year since 2015 which give $1,000 to each of ten photographers selected from the Facebook group Photojournalists Cooperative “in recognition of the values and principles all of us hold as essential to our creative and productive well being.” See the 2016 awardees here.

Brooklyn’s Sweet Ruin

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Sixteen years ago, with Mike Seaborne, who was then both a photographer and Senior Curator of Photographs at the Museum of London, I agreed to set up a web site dealing with one of our great shared interests, photography of the urban landscape. I had some web space for it, wrote the site registered the domain in December 2001 and the site was online for the start of 2002, with pictures by Mike and myself.

It was never our intention that the site should be limited to just our own work, and from the start there was an invitation to submit work, both photographic essays and theory, that fitted our ideas of urban landscape photography, and I tried hard to include some definition of what we were looking for.

As well as the ‘contribute’ page which was a part of the original site, which began with the message:

We welcome critical essays on urban landscape and small bodies of urban landscape work by photographers, although we are unable to offer any payment.

and continued to give some details, at the start of the following year I added another page, which attempted to explain my definition of urban landscape, with some example images.  We had added a few of the many submissions Mike and I had received, but far too many were just from people who made pretty pictures in the urban environment without any real intention to say anything about the city.

But there have been other submissions over the years which have have given us a great thrill to receive and one of earliest of these was by Paul Raphaelson, whose work ‘Wilderness‘ we added to the site in 2005.

So I was delighted to get an e-mail from Paul a day or two ago announcing his new book, Brooklyn’s Sweet ruin.


You can see some of the pictures from this project on Paul Raphaelson’s web site, along with more of his work, and they appeal to me greatly. I’ve long had an attraction to decaying former industrial sites – which you can see in some of my own work both on Hull and in London’s docklands and estuary – and Paul’s images have a clarity and elegance that I admire, along with some fine colour. I’ve not seen the actual printed book, but it appears to be a fine publication, available from Amazon through various UK suppliers.

Both Mike Seaborne and I have moved on considerably since we set up the site, and although it is still on line and still open to new contributions, we haven’t really been keeping it up to date. As readers of this blog will know photographing protests around political issues have been engaging much of my time, and this year I’ve been putting another image from my work in Hull in the 1970s and 80s on line every day as a contribution to Hull’s year as UK City of Culture both on the Hull web site and on Facebook. Next year as well as adding some more images on the Hull site I also hope to put a new site about my work on London Buildings from 1986-2000 on-line, most of which has not previously been published.

LSE Cleaners Strike for Equality

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

As a photographer I see it as my role to record events and not to set them up, but sometimes that does mean not quite getting the pictures that I would like. But I think it vital to place integrity above impact, though of course I work hard to make pictures that tell the story as best I can.

I’d earlier walked several times past a poster in one of the many street-facing windows of LSE buildings which celebrated the LSE’s record in fighting inequality, and thought it was one which spoke to the central theme in the dispute between the cleaners and the LSE, and thought it would be good to use it in a picture.  So as students marched past holding the appropriate banner I tried, but rather failed as you can see above.  The marchers were walking quite fast and there were a number of parked bicycles at my right that made it difficult to get into exactly the right position, and I was a foot or so too far back to keep ahead of the banner by the time I could take the picture.

Had I been setting this up I would have had a second chance – and more, but the moment had gone as soon as I pressed the shutter. It would have been nice to have had the letter ‘I’ at the start of the word ‘Inequality’, to have got the gut carrying the rear pole of the green banner to move a little to the right, to have moved a little to my right and framed the poster and the banners a little more tightly…  But that would not have been how it happened.

Of course there are some posed images in my set LSE Cleaners strike for equality on My London Diary. But they are pictures that those taking part set up and posed themselves in, not ones that I imposed on them.  Sometimes other photographers do set up pictures and I sometimes also photograph these, though I try to make clear in the caption with phrases like “pose for photographs”. But generally I photograph things that happen as they happen, though of course I impose my own order on them. Though I do like a bit of chaos, which can help to get away from the clichés.

There was perhaps a little more chaos two weeks later when ‘Life Not Money at the LSE’ staged a somewhat surreal happening in the cleaner’s support. Though perhaps my rather deadpan description at End Gross Inequality at the LSE does it little justice:

The group sprayed chalk slogans on the road chanting ‘London School of Exploitation’ in a wide range of silly voices and then performed a short play in which a character playing the LSE director tore the shirts off the backs of several cleaners and boasted about his huge and rapidly rising salary.

The tall buildings surrounding Portugal St created a rather eerie echo as the players chant loudly ‘London School of Exploitation’ in a range of silly voices, and the interruption of proceedings by a cement mixer and a man on some kind of cherry-picker (what a useful photo accessory that would be) somehow added to the event. But I did feel it was one event where sound and movement would have helped, though I think it would have needed a team with several cameras to film it adequately.

It wasn’t too easy to follow the finer details (such as they were) of the playlet that ended the performance, with several cleaners having the shirts stripped off their back by the ‘LSE Director’, a little rogering and a lot of tinsel, but I did my best.

LSE Cleaners strike for equality

End Gross Inequality at the LSE


Hull Photos: 20/10/17 – 26/10/17

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Another week of my daily postings to Hull Photos which are continuing through all of Hull’s 2017 year as UK City of Culture. You can follow them daily where each picture appears, but the pictures appear with comments on Facebook – and in the weekly digests here.

Comments and corrections are welcome here or on Facebook.

20th October 2017

A second picture of Ellerman’s House at the end of Bishop Lane Staithe taken from just a few yards further down the riverside path shows the river frontage of this building, converted to flats around 2000. The shed bridging over the path and overhanging the river in this picture has now gone, though there is a faint echo in some cantilevered balconies on the converted building. Also gone is the Clarence Flour Mill in the background, and the barges, with only the museum trawler Arctic Corsair moored a little upstream from here.

The listed buildings on the north side of Bishop’s Lane Staith were for some years the Ellerman’s Wilson Line Bishops Warehouse (listed Grade II, “Former warehouse, now flats. 1655, rebuilt c1800, converted c2000”). John Ellerman from Hull was a man noted for being unnoticed, highly secretive and shunning all publicity, but he was made a baron in 1905 for supplying ships to the government during the Boer War. He became Britain’s richest man, leaving over over £36 million, mainly to his son, when he died in 1933.

John Ellerman was born at 100 Anlaby Rd in 1862, but moved away from the city. He started his shipping company in 1892 when with two others he bought 22 vessels from the executors of the Liverpool-based shipping firm Frederick Leyland and Co Ltd. The company expanded through a series of acquisitions and became Ellerman Lines in 1903, with offices in Liverpool, Glasgow and London, becoming the world’s larges shipping company. During the First World War, Ellerman, then the wealthiest man in Britain, bought the Wilson Line of Hull for about £4.3m after the Wilson family had been devastated by the sinking of three of its largest vessels and renamed it Ellerman’s Wilson Line. It continued to trade seperately until 1973. Despite this, Ellerman remains almost unknown in Hull, and doesn’t even rate a mention in the most detailed book on the history of the city.

In 1971, The founder’s son, also John Ellerman gave the funds from Ellerman Lines to set up a charitable foundation, the Ellerman Foundation, which supported Hull’s 2017 City of Culture programme with a grant of £200,000 to Hull Truck Theatre Company.

85-5j-36: Ellerman’s House & River Hull, 1985 River Hull

More about Ellerman.

21th October 2017

A similar tank to this still stands on the corner of Hodgson St and Lime St, part of the bulk storage facility of IBL Bulk Liquids, though while the ladder still looks the same, the skin of the tank is now different. IBL was formed in Hull in 1947.

85-5j-41: Shadow on bulk storage tank, Lime St, 1985 – River Hull

22nd October 2017

Another picture of one of the few remaining old houses in the area close to Wincolmlee, Victoria House, built around 1840 and still standing.

The ornate entrance into the yard, described in the Grade II listing text written 9 years after I made this picture as “wooden doorcase with enriched scroll bracket to cornice and panelled recess with C20 door” is now gone, with just a faint trace in in the brickwork as a reminder of its loss. When I took this picture the building was in use by a printing firm.

85-5j-61: Victoria House, Cooper St, 1985 – River Hull

23rd October 2017

The padlocked door to this building with the IN boldly marked also less clearly has a Champion spark plug logo, which clearly suggests the nature of the business which went on, or once went on, inside. The empty hole in the upper floor perhaps suggests the building was no longer in use, and I think it has since been demolished as I can no longer see it in the area. It was the next picture I took after the previous image on Cooper St and the frame after shows Paul’s granary on Wincolmlee, but my walks often wandered considerably

Perhaps what made me stop and take a picture was the twin four rod aerial, which I don’t recall having seen elsewhere, perhaps for CB or Ham radio or could it be for a taxi service? I hope someone can tell me more.

85-5j-62: Industrial premises, Green Lane/Wincolmlee area, 1984 – River Hull

24th October 2017

The road side of Paul’s riverside granary building next to Scott St Bridge, with a regular pattern of reinforcements and bricked up windows.

The raised pavement here is presumably because of frequent flooding on the low-lying road. The Cottingham Drain, now culverted, entered the River Hull a few yards off the left edge of the picture. Just a few yards further on is also the Beverley & Barmston Drain. The area is known as ‘High Flags‘, said to be because of the large flagstones of a wharf used for handling whale oil, but perhaps because of this raised path beside the road. High Flags Mill is a little further upstream, on the bank of the River Hull a little north of the ‘Barmy’ drain.

85-5j-63: Bricked up windows on Granary, Wincolmlee, 1985 – River Hull

25th October 2017

A more than usually artistic spray paint addition to the wall and porcelain of the urinal, with a undoubtedly female figure facing the male member of the user of the facility.

Hull had a large number of these street urinals, simple enclosures with tall walls and no roof, around the city, and they remained well-used both by workers during the day and by drinkers at night, when it wasn’t unusual for their to be a queue snaking outside some of the more popular locations. It isn’t entirely clear why the council decided they were no longer required, and their removal certainly led to a huge rise in men urinating in the streets at night. Public conveniences across the country were shut down around this time in a huge wave of anti-gay sentiment, and the provision of these male-only locations led to a demand by some for their closure rather than the more logical provision of new facilities for women.

As a then undiagnosed diabetic who spent long hours wandering the streets I felt their loss sometimes rather keenly. You can still see the traces of this structure with some glazed bricks in the wall and lying on the ground beside it overlooking the River Hull, and a little angle of brickwork provides some slight privacy for those still using it for its former purpose.

85-5j-64: Scott St Urinal, 1985 – River Hull

26th October 2017

A smokehouse with 15 chimneys along its peak must be one of the finest examples of the type in Hull. Although it is still standing it has been considerably altered and all the chimneys have gone.

Despite their significance in the history of the city, none of the nine existing buildings on the local list has been given national listing – something that would certainly have been appropriate as a part of the celebrations of Hull2017.

85-5k-14: Fish Smokehouses, Subway St, 1985 – Hessle Rd

You can see the new pictures added each day at Hull Photos, and I post them with the short comments above on Facebook.
Comments and corrections to captions are welcome here or on Facebook.