Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

Stand against racist surge

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Antonia Bright and Movement for Justice on the march

After the narrow referendum vote in favour of leaving Europe, the People’s Assembly and Stand Up To Racism organised an emergency demonstration against the xenophobia the ‘NO’ vote appeared to reflect and encourage, and calling for an end to austerity and for the defeat of the Tory government. Thousands marched to support people from abroad who live in this country including refugees and asylum seekers.

It wasn’t a huge protest, organised only shortly before and in a rather busy month when the university term was over and many people were either already away on holiday or getting into holiday mood, but even so the roughly ten thousand who made it dwarfed the rival counter-protest by the EDL. I left the main march to photograph a brief ‘flash-mob’ by cleaners and supporters at the CBRE main London offices close to the march route, and then hurried down to Marble Arch to try an find the EDL.

There were so few it would have been hard to find them without the police escort which was keeping it safe from anti-fascist – and easily outnumbered the EDL marchers, a rather dejected looking group of well under a hundred. There was no sign of them at Marble Arch where they were due to gather, but I saw the police a couple of hundred yards away down Park Lane and hurried after them to find they were leading the EDL a short distance down Park Lane to hold their rally inside Hyde Park.

EDL in Hyde Park

In the park the EDL rejected the pen the police had provided, telling the police they were not animals, and instead held a rally just in front of it, the speakers standing on the barriers and the small crowd surrounded by several ranks of police. My picture above shows of a man who was arguing with the police who were protecting the protest, mainly from the press and was I think complaining about us being allowed to take photographs. A woman walked past on the opposite side to where I was standing and shouted ‘Black Lives Matter’ and was handled roughly by EDL stewards while police turned their backs, but most of the anti-fascists had already left to join the larger march, and after a few minutes when there seemed to be little of interest happening I left too, catching the tube to arrive in Parliament Square for most of the rally.

Relaxing in the sun before the rally in Parliament Square

I caught the tube to catch up with the main march and photograph the rally in Parliament Square, where the atmosphere was very different, with people relaxing in the sun. The event seemed very much a pro-Jeremy Corbyn event, with posters, banners and hats supporting him.

Zita Holbourne of BARAC and PCS holds her drawing ‘We Stand with Jeremy Corbyn because he stands with us’

The event came at the end of a week in which both Angela Eagle and Owen Smith had announced they would challenge Corbyn for the Labour leadership (though Eagle withdrew a few days afterwards) but there was no doubt who those at this even supported – and so to did over 60% of those who were allowed to vote when the election took place.

The challengers only hope had been that Corbyn would not be allowed to take part, and 4 days before the march the NEC had decided they had to follow the very clear rules that the incumbent leader would be on the ballot without needing to gain the nominations of MPs and MEPs required to challenge him. Even the NEC’s desperate attempt to ban some 130,000 recently joined members (against party rules, but an appeal court ruled they could change the rules) seemed unlikely to affect the result.

Another member of the press as we were standing together photographing the speakers asked me how long I thought Corbyn could hang on. “Until 2020” was my reply, “and longer if he wins the election“. Now the election is coming rather earlier than expected, and his future will depend on the vote. Perhaps he will be Prime Minister until 2022, but if Labour fail disastrously he may be forced out earlier and the party could be faced with crisis; it’s hard to see how it can continue with MPs and a party apparatus that is so out of line with the views of the vast majority of its members.

End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out!
Peoples Assembly/Stand Up to Racism rally
EDL march and rally


Hull Photos: 13/4/17-19/4/17

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Pictures added to my Hull photos web site from 13th-19th April 2017

13th April 2017

Although Alexandra Dock was still in use, the West Wharf on the Humber bank was derelict, its railway lines disconnected and much of the decking gone. Further west the whole area around Victoria Dock was a desolate wasteland and it was hard to know where I was, the map I had providing few clues.

Victoria Dock had been opened in 1850, and two large timber ponds were added over the next 15 years. These were filled in and became timber yards with rail sidings by the 1950s. The dock closed in 1970, but development of the site with housing only began in 1987.

Alexandra Dock was built on land reclaimed from the Humber in 1881-5 and extended in 1899. West Wharf pier was added in 1911 and was 1,350 ft long, and had a minimum depth of water of 18ft. The dock was closed in 1982, but there were still a few ships in it when I took these pictures in August of that year, and some sand and gravel was still handled there in the 1990s. It looked as if the West Wharf jetty in the Humber had closed rather earlier.

The West Wharf was replaced by a riverside container terminal around 2010, which then became part of Green Port Hull, a development for Siemens to handle wind turbines.

The river side of the West Wharf was the original location of Hull’s famous ‘Dead Bod’ graffiti made in the 1960s by Captain Len (Pongo) Rood. This was removed into storage when the container terminal was being built and was exhibited in the bar of the new Humber St gallery as a part of the 2017 City of Culture.

32n44: Disused Jetty, Alexandra Dock West Wharf, 1982 – Docks

14th April 2017

Another view of the entrance lock to Alexandra Dock, with the Hull tug Trawlerman moored in it, taken from the public footpath which crossed the lock gate here. In an arm of the dock to its right is the ship MAPÈß EPMOAOBA – the Maria Yermolova, a Russian cruise liner built for the Murmansk Shipping Company in 1974 at the Kraljevica shipyard named after Marshall Tito who worked there before the war. It was the first of eight similar ships built there under an order made by Leonid Brezhnev after a brotherly plea from Tito to save the shipyard. They were luxury ships for 206 cruise passengers with air conditioning in all cabins.

Behind the cruise liner is another vessel, but I can’t make out any details of it.

32n53: Entrance lock, Alexandra Dock, 1982 – Docks

15th April 2017

I took only three pictures in what was quite a long walk back from Stoneferry Bridge to my parents-in-law’s home on Loveridge Ave, around 2.4 rather dreary miles, though it seemed longer. Probably I was tired as I’d walked some busy and dusty roads on an August afternoon. I think nothing in those 3 pictures from 1982 remains. Only the second I took appears in my book and is the image I’m adding to the site today.

Stoneferry Bridge, a swing bridge across the River Hull built in 1905 to replace a ferry was replaced by two bascule bridges – one for each carriageway – in 1989-90. It’s an image that I might post later, but haven’t yet scanned.

The Kingston factory with its lodge and prominent sign appears to have disappeared without trace, and I’m no longer sure exactly where it was. The weeds growing in the yard suggest it was no longer in use but it is perhaps surprising that this small building does not seem to have been retained as a feature in front of a modern development as it was something of a local landmark.

The final exposure was a too tightly framed view of Cedar Villas, a wood-boarded frontage that was already looking rather derelict. I think I took this as a note to come back later to make a better picture, but by the time I did it had gone.

32o26: Kingston factory and sign, Clough Rd, 1982 – Beverley Rd

16th April 2017

The ISIS Oil Mills in Morley St, built for Wray, Sanderson & Co but more recently a part of Croda, were designed by Hull architects Gelder & Kitchen and built in 1912 and are a remarkable ensemble, though I think only the silo was Grade II listed in 1994. It was acquired in 1985 from Croda by Cargill plc and is apparently still crushing rapeseed – up to 750 tonnes a day to produce around 320 tonnes of rape seed oil and 420 tonnes of rape meal used in animal feed etc.

The large chimney beyond is ‘Reckitt’s Chimney’, the tallest in Hull, built to discharge sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere at a height of 463 ft. Scandalously this acid rain producing discharge continued until the start of the current century, when finally a desulphurisation plant was added – and a few years later the works closed. Reckits’s sold the plant, which produced large quantities of synthetic ultramarine, used in various products including Reckitts Blue laundry whitener in 1994 to Yule Catto and it later became part of Holliday Pigments, and then Hunstman. They are still the largest producer of synthetic ultramarine in the world but it now comes from their more modern French plant.

The barges in the picture reflect the importance of the River Hull for transport to the industries along the river in the past. There is now very little river traffic, but some very busy roads. The name of the nearest barge is something of a mystery, appearing to contain the letters ‘OTMOT’ which I can’t make into anything I recognise, but moored in front of the silo is ‘Ringplover’.

32o35: River Hull, barges and ISIS Oil Mills, 1982 – River Hull

17th April 2017

Bulk tankers parked in yard off the Stoneferry Rd on part of the Croda site. Presumably these were used for the bulk delivery of rape seed oil to food manufacturers.

32o45: 13 April 2017 Croda Premier Oils, Stoneferry Rd/Maxwell St, 1982 – River Hull

18th April 2017

The riverside path led from Alexandra Dock to King George V Dock alongside the Humber with much of the route running alongside a wooden fence which screened off the docks. On the Humber side were several wharves including one where ferries to the continent berthed.

Over the fence were a number of tanks or various sizes, including a large one with the name ‘UNITED MOLASSES’. There web site says that their storage capacity for industrial and food products – molasses, vegetable oils and related products – here is now around 32.5 cubic metres, with tanks from 40 to 2,600 cubic metres.

The company was founded in 1911 and first registered as United Molasses in 1926. It built its first bulk tank in Hull at Victoria Dock in 1911, which received its first bulk shipment of 1,800 tonnes of molasses from the sailing barque Sunlight in 1912. The company was acquired by Tate & Lyle in 1964 and they sold it in 2010 and it is now the UM Group.

32p16: Bulk storage tank, King George V Dock, 1982 – Docks

19th April 2017

A shed next to the footpath across Alexandra Dock entrance carries a notice from the British Transport Docks Board warning persons using the public right of way in Alexandra Dock that trespassers on the dock estate will be prosecuted. The notice, probably long gone, is no longer needed as the footpath in the dock was closed in 2012 for the convenience of Siemens and their wind turbine building facility here.

The shed was close to the entrance lock on the east side, and the brick tower at right can be seen in some pictures next to the berthed Maria Yermolova. The lower building in front of it looks as if it might have been of the hydraulic power system that was widely used in Hull’s Docks.

All buildings in the area appear now to have been demolished.

32p21: Alexandra Dock, 1982 – 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.

Defend Our NHS

Monday, April 24th, 2017

I hope our current General Election in the UK is going to be decided on policies rather than personalities, but I very much doubt it. So far we’ve seen Tory politicians and the media hanging on every statement by Corbyn and trying to twist it against him personally rather than argue about policies, and in terms of photographs, a Conservative Party ‘Information Officer’ (according to her LinkedIn profile) promoting a clearly Photoshopped image of a voter on the doorstep giving a ‘V-sign’ to Corbyn. The original image shows her raising her fist in salute, and the over-large male hand which replaced hers with its aggressive gesture apparently is that of George Bush!

One of the issues clearly at stake in the election is the future of our National Health Service. Under the coalition and Tory governments privatisation of this, begun under New Labour, has continued apace and another Tory administration would take it to a position that might be irreversible and on the path to a very different service, probably insurance-based and modeled on the hugely expensive US health system, advocated some years back by Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt among others.

Our NHS is clearly sick at the moment. Crippled by debts from New Labour’s disastrous Private Finance Initiative, always a bad deal but made much worse by the financial crisis which meant the government lost its gamble on rising inflation, and having to deal with an aging population alongside a population increase partly due to its success in raising life expectancy, and with higher expectations from new and often expensive treatments, it needs support and not the bleeding of resources to private providers and their shareholders.

Getting back to photography, the image above shows that my Nikon 16-35mm f4 is also ailing somewhat, giving excessive flare in difficult lighting conditions such as the low sun at this early evening protest. Fortunately Lightroom recently added a de-haze option with the adjustment brush that enabled me to reduce its worst effect.  I deliberately didn’t try to remove it entirely from the woman’s hair and the buildings behind.

Fortunately the light wasn’t a problem in most pictures, but it did perhaps mean I didn’t work so much in the sunlit areas.  Complex modern lenses like the 16-35mm have a lot of glass surfaces, and although the lens is quite well sealed these can attract condensation in wet conditions, and I suspect some mould growth may be at the root of the overall flare.

Auto-focus has also added to the complexity of modern lenses, with a need to move groups of elements rapidly and precisely inside the lens barrel. The 16-35mm is also an internal zooming lens, which helps by avoiding the pumping of damp air in and out which occurs with lenses that alter their length on zooming, but also adds to complexity. And adding vibration reduction increases that further.

So while reviewers write things like “like all Nikon professional lenses, the Nikon 16-35mm VR lens is built to last a lifetime” this may accurately reflect Nikon’s publicity, but unfortunately not my experience in real world conditions. After around four years of pretty intensive use it needed a very expensive repair, and a couple of years later seemed on its way to another – finally failing a few months after I took these pictures.

It has probably taken at least 400,000 images, so it hasn’t done badly. The cost per image works out at something below 0.4p, which doesn’t seem excessive. But lens lifetimes are considerably less than photographer’s lifetimes now unless you stick with simpler designs.

I still haven’t taken the lens in for a repair estimate, but I hold out little hope for its future and will be extremely if pleasantly surprised if it is not beyond economic repair. I needed a replacement quickly and ended up with a secondhand cheaper and lighter Nikon 18-35mm.  It seems fine, but I often find myself missing those 2mm at the wide end – the difference between 16 and 18mm is surprising.

There were a few other images where some overall flare was visible, but Lightroom generally solved the issue, and there was also some light cloud which helped at times.  But probably there were other pictures I just didn’t take because I could see the light would cause problems. Though at least with digital you can afford to take images that you probably wouldn’t chance on film.

Of course I wasn’t only working with the wide-angle, but also with a 28-200mm telephoto, in use on the D810 in DX mode – effectively 42-300mm, as in this image of Matt Wrack speaking from the top of the FBU fire engine which had led the march from St Bartholomew’s to the rally opposite St Paul’s Cathedral.

Junior doctor Aislinn Macklin-Doherty who led the march also spoke from there. It was hard to find a suitable viewpoint for photographing the speakers – and I would have liked to have included the dome of St Paul’s behind them to indicate the location, but couldn’t get the right angle or perspective. The fire engine needs the bar across in front of the speakers for safety but it doesn’t help in pictures, and my attempt at including one of the posters doesn’t work too well as in the photograph it reads ‘NHS Solidarit(y) NO’ which was not the message!

More pictures at Defend our NHS.


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My London Diary : Buildings of London : 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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More at Wood St

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Theresa May was just one of those protesting with the cleaners at Wood St on the 38th day of their strike at the CBRE City offices occupied by Schroders and J P Morgan, apparently by now the longest strike on record in the City. Or at least one of the protesters wearing a Theresa May mask. And support for the striking cleaners in the United Voices of the World union was growing, with groups from Unite the Resistance, the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, the IWGB, Class War and others at the event. If not really Theresa May.

With campaigns that continue for such a long time, it’s difficult to keep coming up with different pictures and not get into a rut. Having some new people present helps, and also finding different viewpoints. And sometimes rather different things happen.

I try hard to find a different view, but not just something different for the sake of it, something that makes sense. A woman on a bicycle taking part in the protest provides a possibility, and I was fortunate that she chose to stop and briefly hold up a poster as the marchers behind her halted briefly on their way to the CBRE Offices.

One of the reasons I like to use different lenses is to add some variety to the images, but it’s also vital that they give you different ways to work. With the 16mm fisheye I am able to get very close to the protesters, giving a very different viewpoint. I was certainly in touching distance of the woman wearing the red IWGB flag.

Cleaner Victor Ramirez is a very powerful and emotional speaker – though my Spanish isn’t up to following much of what he says – but the speeches are normally translated by one of the other union members. I wanted to express something of his intensity and it seemed appropriate to use a big close up using a telephoto to do this – you can see 2 other pictures of him from the series on My London Diary.

They were taken with the 28-200mm, used at full frame on the D810, at a focal length of 112 mm, with exposure at ISO 800 of 1/250 at f8. I’m not sure whether it would have been better to use a smaller aperture to try and get the placard legible, but you can read the message in many of the other images, and the out of focus background makes Victor stand out more strongly. I don’t often make great use of ‘differential focus’ and usually like to have everything sharp. I’m certainly not the kind of photographer who worries much about the ‘bokeh’ of lenses, but I think the out of focus areas look OK in this image.

I was pleased though that f8 gave me sufficient depth of field to render both Victor’s hand, face and ears sharply.  I’m sure I will have focused on his eyes.

Solidarity for Wood St cleaners


PIP Fightback

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

One group who are hoping the Theresa May will lose her election gamble must surely be disabled people, who were singled out by Tories, at first under the coalition government, for special treatment, ‘welfare reforms’ that were designed to cut costs and have resulted in the deaths of a considerable number. Ministers, particularly Iain Duncan Smith, mistakenly saw them as an easy target who because of their disability would be limited in their efforts to fight back.

It isn’t entirely fair to blame the Tories, who were partly just ratcheting up the screw that had already been set up by New Labour with their introduction of inappropriate tests designed largely to cut costs by denying benefits, administered in a tick-box fashion by inadequately trained operatives working for unscrupulous companies who were given financial incentives to fail claimants – and not penalised for the fact that around 70% – more than two out of three – of those who appealed had their appeals upheld.

So many of those who were found to be fit for work died shortly afterwards that the DWP decided it wouldn’t keep details. Others have died even more directly because of losing their benefits. One of the banners at this and other protests, held below by the sister of David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier who starved to death after losing his benefits, lists around a hundred people whose deaths were due to sanctions and benefit cuts, but these are only the tip of an iceberg, with many going unrecorded.

‘Cuts Kill’ say some of the placards – including one with a cleaver being held by a woman in a wheelchair.  I didn’t pose this picture, but took advantage when she lowered it during the protest at the Vauxhall PIP consultation Centre in Vauxhall, one of the centres where ATOS carry out sham Personal Independence Payments ‘assessments’ on behalf of the DWP.

Later I joined with a larger group of protesters in Westminster who were protesting against the Personal Independence Payments. The organisers of the protest, DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network) and WinVisible ((Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities) say that the day of protest against PIP was organised because:

The evidence shows that even more genuine claimants are having their lives blighted in an exercise whereby their benefits are removed for months on end, in many cases leading to a serious deterioration in the health conditions and Mental Health issues, and in a growing number of cases, premature deaths.

Disabled people have led the fight against the Tory government – because for many of them it is quite simply a matter of life or death. Some have seen many of their friends already die because of these policies, and others being unable to continue the independent and productive lives that benefits had allowed them.

At this protest they held a rally on the pavement outside outside the Victoria St offices of Capita PLC, before briefly blocking the road, one of the main routes in Westminster and then marched to the offices of the DWP for a second rally and finally continuing to Parliament for a short stop on the roadway in front, and finishing by going to College Green, where the broadcast media gather to interview politicians.

This was roped off with police to keep the public at bay, but disabled protesters are made of sterner stuff and made their way onto the green, just a few yards from the TV crews, almost all of whom studiously ignored them, though I think their banners and chanting may have appeared in the background of some interviews.  But with the exception of a few foreign news crews, protests in the UK are generally not reported.

Disabled PIP Fightback blocks Westminster
PIP Fightback at Vauxhall

Todd Webb

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Todd Web (1905-2000) was one of those photographers i’ve known about for a long time, and have admired pictures by, but never got to really find out more about him and his work. I was reminded about him a few days ago in a feature about his New York photographs on the Lens blog.

There are plenty of places you can read about his life story, and he certainly lived through interesting times and was certainly one of the better photographers inspired by the work of people like Edward Weston and those others who turned away from pictorialism to a sharp and detailed modernistic approach in the 1920s and 30s. He very much moved in the circles of those better known than he was, from being in the same Detroit camera club as Harry Callaghan when he first became seriously involved in photography in 1938, and completed a ten-day workshop with Ansel Adams in 1940 before serving as a US Navy photographer in World War II.

After war service he moved to New York at the start of 1946 to be a professional photographer, sharing an address with Callaghan. He became friends with the aging Alfred Stieglitz and his partner Georgia O’Keefe, who introduced him to other leading names in photography at the time, including Beaumont and Nancy Newhall. Webb got a part-time job at the Museum of the City of New York, documenting their collection one day a week, and Beaumont, then head of the photography department at MoMA, persuaded the MCNY to put on a show of Webb’s personal work in 1947.

Now, 70 years later, Webb has another show there, A City Seen from April 20 – September 4, 2017, as well as one at the Curator Gallery in NY’s Chelsea. The MCNY show is said to be the first major gallery show of his work since his 1947 show there.

Just as he was becoming well known as a photographer in New York, working for Fortune magazine where Walker Evans was Staff Photographer (Webb said he tried hard to make  his work not too much like that of Evans), and for Roy Stryker at Standard Oil, Webb left for Paris, where he got married to an American woman and lived for the next four years, producing some of his best photographs. Moving back to New York, he got Guggenheim fellowships in both 1955 and 1956 to photograph along the trails taken by the US pioneers traveling west. In the 1960s he moved to Santa Fe, and made a number of pictures of Georgia O’Keefe, published as Georgia O’Keeffe: The Artist’s Landscape.

In the 1970s he lived with his wife for some years in Provence, and for a briefer period in Bath, England, finally moving to Maine, where he lived and worked until his death in 2000. Webb was driven by his love of photography and apparently spent his time pursuing images rather than promoting his career, and his work – as you can see from the links below, deserves to be better known.

Todd Webb – ICP has a good selection of his work on-line.
Todd Webb Archive – work from New York, Paris and O’Keefe.
Gothamist has an informative interview with the curator of his NY show at the Curator Gallery April 20-May 20 2017.
Fortune Magazine  has a good feature about his two current shows in NY.

Hull Photos: 6/4/17-12/4/17

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

A picture is added daily to ‘A View of Hull’, my Hull photos web site at and I also post them with these comments on Facebook.

6th April 2017

32m65: Princes Dock from Monument Bridge, 1982 – City Centre

The railings are still their, though now rather more smartly painted, but the dock bridge seen through them has gone. Many of the buildings around the dock are still there, along Princes Dock St, the rather dumpy warehouses on Castle St, their considerably more elegant counterparts at Railway Dock. The dockside sheds are long gone, and the white building near the right edge, The Earl De Gray pub, is under threat of demolition. Built as the Junction Dock Tavern in the 18th century (some say as early as 1720, other sources place it later) , and altered considerably in Victorian times it was Grade II listed in 1994.

The Earl de Grey was known to sailors around the world, serving their needs when they hit port for perhaps 180 years, described as “a seedy dive populated by drunken sailors and women of the night” and latterly by transvestites it closed around 2000. Four years later after an expensive face lift it opened again, but not for long, closing again the following year.

Earl de Grey and Ripon (later Marquis of Ripon) was installed Lord High Steward of Hull in 1863. He was a Liberal politician who was even born in Downing St (his father was PM at the time) and became one of Hulls two MPs in 1852 but both Hull MPs were unseated the following year because of widespread corruption in their election (though not by them.) He was then elected as MP for Huddersfield. Later he served for four years as Viceroy of India, and introduced a progressive bill in Parliament calling for great rights for native Indians – which Parliament rejected. He later became Leader of the House of Lords.

High Steward of Kingston upon Hull is a ceremonial title which Hull City Council has given occasionally to prominent people with some association to Hull since the sixteenth century. In the old days it included gifts of ale, and so the renaming of the pub was appropriate. Though the office was abolished in 1974, for some deranged reason it was revived in 2013 and awarded to Peter Mandelson of all people. His only qualification for the post appears to be that his grandfather Herbert Morrison had previously held it.

The pub used to be noted as the home of two very voluble parrots, Cha Cha and Ringo, noted for their mimicry of the drinkers. And in 1985, when some of these came back and robbed the takings, they stabbed Cha Cha to death in case the bird might reveal their identity. Cha Cha was buried under Castle St and Ringo, heart-broken by the loss of his mate, never uttered another word. When the pub was made over and re-opened in 2004, the two of them were replaced by a single plastic macaw, not quite the same. Though it probably wasn’t why it failed.

There were plans to pull it down and build another hideous hotel (which seems to be fast becoming a Hull speciality) but apparently now the Highways Agency would like to disrupt the city even more – Castle Street has already swallowed up too much of Hull’s heritage, smashing its way through the Old Town (there is a petition against this.)

But what is most noticeable about the picture is what isn’t there. Much of Prince’s Dock was soon to be covered by the Princes Quay shopping centre on stilts, which opened in 1991

7th April 2017

It is hard to relate this riverside warehouse, at 11 High St (or ‘Little High St’) just south of Blaides Staithe and north of Drypool Bridge, exactly to the structural boundaries shown on old maps, but I think it was the Phoenix Warehouse of Spear, Houfe & Co. Ltd. There is some lettering on the building but it is difficult to make out much of it and there seem to have been at least two names written over each other in some places. One of these at the lower left could be ‘Phoenix’ and at top right it is more clearly ‘E & Co Ltd’. There are a few distinct letters but not enough to make any sense of, and my photograph isn’t quite as clear as it might be. The plate on the side is for W & T SPEAR Co Ltd, a company that owned a number of warehouses and commercial buildings in Hull.

The building was probably Victorian, possibly earlier, and was in poor condition; it was demolished not long after I took this picture. Had it remained standing a few more years it would have been listed, and if it were beside the Thames in London would doubtless have been converted into luxury flats. In Hull, the site remains empty over 30 years later and has only been used since demolition for car parking.

32n25: Derelict Phoenix Warehouse, Spear, Houfe & Co. Ltd., High St, 1982 – River Hull

8th April 2017

The view of the east bank of the River Hull looking upstream from Drypool Bridge with a number of boats in various states of disrepair moored. The largest is the Kenfig, a grab hopper dredger built in 1954 (possibly by Richard Dunston at Hessle) for Port Talbot and renamed Hedon Sand in 1984. It was one of the dredgers used to clear the passage into Humber Dock for the Marina, and was later scrapped at New Holland. Kenfig is a Welsh village near Bridgend on the Bristol Channel notorious for the number of wrecks around it, on the Scarweather and Nash sands, Tuskar rock and Sker point.

Unfortunately the rather elegant six-story brick industrial building has been demolished though the lower structure beyond it is still there, a part of the Gamebore cartrdige site.

32n26 – View upstream from Drypool Bridge, East bank of River Hull, 1982 – River Hull

9th April 2017

Victoria Dock had closed in 1970, a dozen years before I took this picture, and was largely empty, with occasional signs of its previous use – a few buildings, railway lines and yards. It was hard to know where I was when I took this, although my map showed many railway lines going through the timber yards, some had clearly been out of use for some some years before the docks closed.

The large shed at left is identified by the number 4, but I am unable to identify the exact location of this image taken on my way through the dock to the Hedon Road and back into town. I think it may have been near Earle’s Road, but perhaps someone seeing this will be able to correct me.

32n32: Victoria Dock, 1982 – Docks

10th April 2017

I am not sure, thirty five years after I took the picture, whether these surprisingly anonymous buildings were inside or just outside Victoria Dock, possibly on the Hedon Rd. I took them on my way out from the dock to walk to the city centre and catch my bus. The next exposure I made was I think on the Hedon Rd. Again I’d welcome information from anyone who recognises the location.

As a photographer, I carefully composed the image with its interlocking shapes and the various rectangles in differing planes across the frame. But if I took any note of the location, it is long lost.

32n33: Victoria Dock or Hedon Rd area, 1982 – Docks

11th April 2017

I photographed this boarded up shop on the corner of Church St at its junction with Great Union St, and expected it to be gone next time I walked past. Surprisingly both it the cafe which adjoined it under the same roof on the left are still there, though now a single business with a new frontage and re-roofed. The neighbouring three storey building which was to its right and is shown in another picture I too is also still standing, and they all look in rather better condition than in 1982.

In 2008 the hairdressers and cafe were both ‘Sue’s Drypool Feast Cafe’ but it is now the ‘Take a Break Cafe’, with much the same advertising. I kept meaning to have breakfast there during my recent stay in Hull, just a few hundred yards away, as it was highly recommended by some, but I just didn’t feel up to a hearty English breakfast the mornings I was there. Perhaps next time.

32n36: East Hull Hairdressing Salon, Church St, 1982 – East Hull

12th April 2017

The public footpath along the bank of the Humber used to lead across the dock gates of the Alexandra Dock, giving views into the dock. In 2012 this footpath was diverted as a part of the Green Port development away from the Humber to take a much longer route around the outside of the dock to enable the easier movement of wind turbines from the new Siemens facility to the rigs that take them out to offshore locations, which are too large to enter the dock but moor on the Humber bank.

It’s a shame that a better solution could not be found – perhaps with some short lengths of roofed concrete tunnels to keep the path by the riverside. The path is a part of the Trans-Pennine trail and the alternative – with artworks and orientation boards – seems something of an insult to real walkers. There is a viewpoint provided, but along much of the route views are obstructed by earth banks, parked lorries and an unnecessarily fine mesh fence.

The tug Trawlerman was built in Hull by Humber Ironworks & Shipbuilding in 1963. In 1986 she was renamed Argo Cape and in 2006 became Alsadiq 4. Her last known owner was the Dubai company Iktra Shipping & Sea Transport and she was registered in the small island state of Comoros in the Mozambique Channel, but may have been scrapped as no details are available of her current location.

In the background you can see the distinctive building of Hull Jail, immediately across the Hedon Road from the dock.

32n41: Hull Tug Trawlerman in Alexandra Dock entrance lock, 1982 – Docks

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Police Station Occupied

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Sometimes I look at the pictures long after an event and realise with a start that I forgot or failed to see what would have been an obvious picture, and in this case, when Focus E15 briefly occupied a police station, it was a good, clear image using the sign above the door which read ‘POLICE’. It is visible in a number of pictures, but clearly I hadn’t managed to take one that really made good use of it.

Of course it may not have been that I hadn’t wanted to or even tried. Sometimes I can see possibilities, but they don’t happen spontaneously – and it goes completely against my principles to set things up. Looking through the 45 or so images on-line in Focus E15 Occupy Police Station it seemed fairly clear that I was aware of the sign and I wondered why I hadn’t managed to make better use of it.

So I went back to my backup of the day’s work on my NAS, a Drobo 5N that sits to my right, and went through the pictures for the day – around 330 of them. So many have that sign in them that it was clear I was trying hard to include it, but didn’t manage to do so well enough to for  those pictures to make the web page. People just didn’t stand and set up things in the right place. Perhaps the best attempt was the image above, though it might be better had I taken it in portrait format – like this:

but I can see why I chose not to use this, as it definitely isn’t a flattering angle for Jasmin Stone. And while I don’t set out to flatter I try to present people well.

I can also see other images in the set that are on-line that I’ve framed to get that word in, notably where a police officer comes to talk with the protesters:

but at the critical moment, where the expression on the officer’s face and those of the protesters are at their most interesting, one of the protesters waves a Focus E15 flag in front of that word.  I can almost feel myself shouting ‘CUT!’ and saying ‘OK, lets run that scene again, and this time can we keep the effing flag to the left of the doorway’, but this isn’t a film set, and I’m not a director.

It is there in my favourite frame from the set, but rather in the background, but I’m fairly sure that would be why I was standing where I was to photograph Jasmin speaking. It was slightly tricky to take pictures, as it was a busy road and the pavement isn’t particularly wide, and there was a steady stream of people walking past as the annual Newham show was taking place in the park down the road.

Of course this wasn’t the only thing to photograph. This was the pavement outside and the occupation was taking place up above, not quite inside the building, but on the balconies.  Here’s just one picture of that, with one of the ‘occupiers’ holding up a ‘selfie stick’ which E15 produced so that people could pose with Robin Wales, the feudal Labour Mayor of Newham who features in their posters as ‘Robin the Poor’ and who had to apologise for his arrogant and rude behaviour to Focus E15 at a previous ‘Mayor’s Newham Show’ – not a previous Mayor’s show, but a previous show – the Labour Party machine in Newham, essentially a one-party state – runs the voting to ensure that no-one but Robin from the party can stand as mayor.

I’ve written a longer than usual article about the afternoon and Focus E15’s campaign at  Focus E15 Occupy Police Station where you can view my selection of pictures from the afternoon.

Black Lives Matter

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Sir Henry Tate, looking down on a part of the crowd in Windrush Square, Brixton was a sugar manufacturer who made a fortune out of refining and selling cane sugar here in the UK. Although his business had no connection with the slave trade, which had ended in the British colonies around 1840, a few years after the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act and Tate only began in the sugar business in 1859, his was clearly a colonial business, making its profits from the sugar grown by freed slaves and their descendants in the colonies, notably Barbados.

Tate was a great philanthropist, giving generously to colleges and hospitals and endowing south London with four free libraries, at Streatham, Balham, South Lambeth, and Brixton and treated his own employees well, building a dance hall and bar for them opposite the Silvertown factory. And of course in 1897 he gave his art collection to the nation, paying most of the cost for a gallery to house on Millbank – which has officially borne his name since 1932.

Although the sugar he made the profits on came from workers in the Empire, I’m not aware that any of Tate’s philanthropy extended to them, but he did provide the library outside which the protest I was photographing took place, and the gardens, now known as Windrush Square in which we were standing were given to the public by Tate’s wife after his death, in keeping with his wishes.

Many of those who came from the Caribbean to Britain in the post-war period, starting with those on board the Empire Windrush in 1948, found work in and around Brixton after the first arrivals were housed temporarily in the no longer needed deep shelter on Clapham Common. And for some, that Tate Library was their university and the gardens outside a popular meeting place. It was renamed Windrush Square as a part of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the ship, but a few years later was the subject of a savage makeover by Lambeth Council (whose offices are opposite) designed largely with the objective of making it an unpleasant and windswept place to discourage any gatherings there.

Despite this it remains a centre for the community, and several hundred gathered there for a rally and march in Memory of Alton Sterling, shot several times at close range while held on the ground by two white police in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile, killed by a Mexican-American police officer in St Paul, Minnesota, two of the latest black victims of police violence, and to show solidarity with those murdered by police brutality, both in the US and here in the UK.

Police, here and in the USA, don’t just kill black people, but the victims of police killings are certainly disproportionately black, and Brixton has history of such events, including the deaths of Ricky Bishop, Sean Rigg and Olaseni Lewis. The situation is clearly even worse in the USA than here largely because all police carry guns, but at the annual commemoration of the lives of those killed in custody in London a list of several thousand who have died in suspicious circumstances is carried at the front of the procession down Whitehall.

One poster in particular – I think from a US source – had a message worth quoting in full:

“Yes, ALL Lives Matter. But we’re focused on the Black Ones right now OK? – Because it is very apparent that our judicial system doesn’t know that. Plus if you can see why we’re exclaiming #BLACKLIVESMATTER you are part of the problem.”

Speaker after speaker, all I think black, though there were a significant number of white supporters in the crowd – mainly at the back, wanted to have their say, and the rally went on much longer than had been planned.  So long that I was unable to stay for the march, which later I was told went to Brixton Police Station, where several young black men have died over the years in suspicious circumstances, blocking the road and bringing traffic on the busy road through Brixton to a stop for several hours.

Brixton stands with Black victims

More Brexit

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

It remains difficult to see anything positive coming out of our vote to leave Europe, and it seems to have brought out a number of the worst sides of parts of the British public, with an increase in racist attacks and bullying. Another Europe is Possible hosted a rally opposite Downing St against this climate of fear and hatred after the Brexit vote, calling for an end to scapegoating of migrants and Islamophobia.

Its long seemed irrational to me to allow the free movement of capital but to restrict the movement of people; if the market is a good enough mechanism for one it should be for all, though perhaps we might be better with a certain amount of planning and intervention in both. But certainly we don’t need the kind of draconian measures that the UK currently takes against migrants in general and refugees and asylum seekers in particular. The contribution that migration has made both economically, in maintaining essential services and in broadening our culture during my lifetime has been enormous and a genuinely free press would welcome and praise it – and politicians would then not be able to stir up the kind or racist and xenophobic responses that were behind many of the votes to leave Europe.

I arrived as Anna from Movement for Justice was speaking about the terrible injustice and maltreatment of asylum seekers in our detention prisons such as Yarls Wood, and photographed her framed by MfJ posters; a still image doesn’t tell us what anyone was saying, but the posters make MfJ’s arguments clear.

Of course we can’t ignore the Brexit vote, close though it was, but it is still worth fighting for the kind of Brexit it is going to be, keeping up the pressure on Theresa May (and her possible successors) not to throw out the baby with the bathwater as they currently seem determined to do.

Another of the speakers as Syrian activist Muzna Al-Naib, urging the UK to take action over the atrocities of the Assad regime and to offer real support to the Syrian people and to offer refuge to more than the small handful of Syrian refugees that have already managed to come to the UK –  largely despite the efforts of our government.  Her’s was a message that called for love and for unity of peoples and again a banner on the barrier she was speaking behind seemed appropriate.

The Europe, Free Movement and Migrants protest ended with many of those present leaving to go to the Green Park Brexit Picnic,  and while many marched there, I took the tube. The picnic had been advertised as an opportunity for people to come together and debate the future under Brexit, though the great majority of those attending were obviously still feeling upset and cheated over the result of the vote obtained by an essentially dishonest campaign.

Those at the picnic were splitting up in to small groups to debate various aspects of the future as I arrived , some very small like that above, which seemed to me to be seceding into a small island of Europe in the sea of grass, and others considerably larger, circles with perhaps 20 or 30 or 40 people, and they were getting down to some sensible, organised and at times fairly heated discussions.

One group stood out, Brexit supporters who had come to counter the protest with their own ‘picnic for democracy’ organised by Spiked magazine calling for ‘Article 50’ to be invoked ‘NOW!’ They stood out in several ways, not least the number of empty cans and wine bottles and it was clearly in that respect a rather better party than the rest. I started to photograph them and got sworn at and threatened by one or two people who recognised me from right-wing protests I had photographed, but then they found a new outlet for aggression as the march from Downing St arrived with posters against Brexit and were joined by people wearing t-shirts with the message ‘Spread Love Not Fear’ and calling for ‘Hugs for Immigrants’ rather than hate.

There was some angry name-calling and posturing, but people from both groups came across and tried to calm things down, and stopped what had seemed an inevitable fight from developing.  The shouting had attracted the TV crews covering the event, and there was then a little largely good-natured jostling to get greater coverage from the cameras.

Having taken my pictures, I moved a few yards away and sat down to eat my own rather late sandwich lunch, after which as things seemed to have calmed down I decided to leave to cover another event.