Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

Landlords, Turkey in Syria, Grenfell

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

In 2018 I began the day on 14th April with a tour of some of the plushiest areas of London on a tour led by the Land Justice Network. Land ownership in Britain, both in urban and rural areas is among the most unequal across the world.

As I noted on My London Diary:

Unequal ownership of land is the basis of the class system and the aggregation of wealth and inequality that have led to our present crisis levels of homelessness and degradation. Largely beginning with the Norman conquest, the battles over land have continued over the centuries, with the enclosure of common land and the current redevelopment of public land, particularly council estates, as private housing for the wealthy.

The Landlords’ Game

Much of the London Borough of Westminster is owned by the Duke of Westminster, and our tour stopped for informational speeches at various points in Mayfair and Park Lane, part of the Grosvenor Estate, now “an internationally diversified property group” founded in 1677 when Sir Thomas Grosvenor, whose family owned large areas in Cheshire, married the heiress of the manor of Ebury, which included much of what is now Mayfair, Belgravia and Pimlico. Wikipedia has a long list of the other properties around the world the group now own, and the 7th Duke of Westminster and is family fortunes is estimated at £10.1 billion – now 30, he was until his recent birthday the world’s richest person under 30.

The tour ended in another of the huge London estates, the Cadogan estate owned by the Cadogan family, which Wikipedia states covers 93 acres of Kensington & Chelsea and came from the daughter of Sir Hans Sloane who had bought the Manor of Chelsea in 1712 marrying the second Baron Cadogan. The family is said to be worth £6.7 billion.

I left the tour as it was coming to an end to walk back to Belgrave Square, named after one of the Cheshire villages owned by the Grosvenor family, where Hizb Ut-Tahrir Britain were protesting outside the Turkish Embassy against Turkish complicity in handing Syria back to Assad. Their criticisms of Turkey go back to the 1922 abolition of the Ottoman state and the Turkish recognition of the Zionist occupation of Palestine in 1949, and they see the Palestinian struggle for freedom as a part of the fight for an Islamic Caliphate across the Middle East.

But it was the 14th of the month and I was on my way to the monthly protests calling for justice over the fire which killed over 70 people at Grenfell tower. These protests have been silent marches, but the first event on this day at Kensington Town Hall was far from silent as bikers from the Ace Café including Muslim bikers Deen Riders and others taking part in a United Ride 4 Grenfell, from the Café on the North Circular Rd, riding to Parliament and then to Kensington Town Hall roared past the waiting marchers.

Coming up to four years later, we have still to see any justice over Grenfell, where the failures of the Kensington & Chelsea Council to have any real regard for the safety of residents, and by those who recommended unsafe materials and carried out the improper installation, those who gave false safety certificates, the politicians who decided essential safety measures were ‘red tape’ that should be cut, the Mayor who cut the fire service and others have not yet led to any prosecutions.

So far the prolonged enquiry has simply tried to shift blame onto the fire service, with unfair criticism of their incredible efforts to save victims and seems more and more to be a way to ensure that most of those who should bear responsibility escape scot-free. I’m not convinced that these silent walks are the best way to bring pressure to get some action – but at least on this day the bikers made some noise.

I went with the marchers for a short distance as they silently made their way back towards Grenfell, and then left. It had been a long day and I had much work to do to at home, filing my pictures of the events.

Grenfell silent walk – 10 months on
Bikers for Grenfell
Hizb Ut-Tahrir protest against Turkey
The Landlords’ Game


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

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.


UK Uncut Party against Freud

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Protesters meet at Kings Cross Station

Not Sigmund, but his great-grandson, a millionaire merchant banker responsible for government welfare reforms. The ideas behind many of the changes in the benefits systems which are having such disastrous effects on the lives of many and particularly those with disabilities, impoverishing many, driving some to suicide and driving the enormous growth in the need for food banks come largely from the work of one man, David Freud, now Lord Freud. A modern-day Scrooge promoting Victorian ideas, the man who launched a thousand foodbanks. Rather more, over 2000 by 2021.

They came with a notice of eviction for Lord Freud

Freud went into journalism after his PPE degree at Oxford, working for 8 years at the Financial Times before becoming a merchant banker. It was Tony Blair who, impressed by his work raising finance for Eurotunnel and EuroDisney brought him into politics in 2006, asking him to produced a report on the UK’s welfare-to-work system. His 2007 report called for the involvement of private companies paid by results to get people, particularly single parents and those suffering from long-term illness and disabilities back into work and for a single benefit to replace the various benefits for working age people, combining Housing Benefit, Job Seekers allowance etc.

UK Uncut had brought a removal van and cardboard boxes, but…

His ideas were taken up enthusiastically by New Labour and incorporated into a White Paper in 2008, by which time Freud was an adviser to Gordon Brown’s government, but in 2009 he became a member of the Conservative Party, who made him a Lord and a shadow minister under David Cameron, becoming in the 2010 Coalition government Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Welfare Reform at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Police prevented the protesters reaching the house

There he began a programme against people on incapacity benefits, lone parents and the self-employed whose earnings were low, who he said were enjoying a lifestyle of living off benefits. After the 2015 election he was promoted to Minister of State at the DWP and given the job of expanding the Universal Credit scheme, retiring at the end of 2016.

Listening to songs and speeches on the road outside the house

On Saturday 13th April 2013 I went with UK Uncut supporters who travelled from Kings Cross to hold a lively but peaceful protest in the road outside Lord Freud’s home in Darmouth Park, Highgate against the bedroom tax, another of his ideas to disadvantage the poor. At the same time protesters from DPAC (Disabled Persons Against Cuts) visited the home of Ian Duncan Smith and delivered an eviction notice there.

At the party there was street theatre, games, a quiz and speeches about the bedroom tax and other measures against those on low incomes and benefits that Freud was bringing in. The bedroom tax hits particular groups such as foster carers, disabled people and single parents many of whom will be unable to meet the extra rent and will face eviction, including many now in homes with special adaptions for their disabilities. In social housing there simply are not the smaller properties available that the act is designed to force people to move into.

People are also hard hit – particularly in London where rents are high – by the strict limit of the benefits cap. Other measures, including cuts in legal aid and council tax benefits and the end to disability living allowances will also cause real distress, and those benefits that remain are getting a real terms cut by below-inflation increases. Among those speaking at the event were Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and journalist Owen Jones.

Who wants to evict a Millionaire?


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

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.


Any New Runway Is Plane Stupid!

Monday, April 12th, 2021

On a day when some of our Covid restrictions are being eased and when more people are apparently thinking about overseas holidays, it’s perhaps appropriate to think about the impact of flying on the future of our planet and the need to curb the exponential growth of air travel, particularly by the increasing number of ‘frequent flyers’. Personally I signed the Flight Free UK pledge not to fly in 2020 – and events later made that easy to keep – and I’ve signed up again for 2021.

Back in April 12th 2015 I spent a pleasant day in Harmondsworth, where a day of action was taking place against the revived plans for a third long runway for Heathrow Airport. A few years earlier I’d covered the local celebrations in neighbouring Sipson after building the third runway had been ruled out because of its environmental impact.

Of course nothing has changed to lessen that environmental impact, but years of continued lobbying on a grand scale, including setting up a fake PR organisation with spurious surveys – and a short-sighted and biased commission to expand aviation in the UK led the government to put the runway back on the table again, despite the growing awareness of the need to urgently tackle the environmental crisis which the planet is currently rushing headlong into.

Harmondsworth is one of the Middlesex villages surrounding what in pre-war days had been the village of Heath Row, full of orchards and market gardens, that I cycled around in my youth in the 1950s, when the airport was smaller and less obtrusive with many less flights and those mainly be smaller and quieter aircraft. Back then it was possible to enjoy the peace and quiet and largely rural nature of the area, even in those places such as Longford and Colnbrook directly under the flightpath. Although the Comet began to change things so far as noise was concerned it was only really around 1960 with the widespread use of the Boeing 707 that peace was definitively shattered.

Harmondsworth is still very much a village, a small place on the edge of the River Colne, with no through traffic in its centre which has a small village green, two pubs, a fine church and the Grade I listed Great Barn, the largest medieval barn in England to have survived largely and remarkably intact – and was recently saved from dereliction by a local campaign which led to its purchase and restoration by English Heritage in 2011.

It was good to be able to visit the barn again – volunteers now keep it open on selected days – and to be able to wander through what John Betjeman described as “The Cathedral of Middlesex”. Later the Datchet Border Morris performed in the barn, and also outside the pub and in the recreation ground where a tree was planted. The Morris dancers I think give a greater sense of its scale.

Local politicians including John McDonnell who has been the area’s MP since 1997, but also all but one of the candidates (except one) standing for the seat in the then forthcoming election came along to speak at the rally on the airport’s proposed new boundary, just a few yards south of the village green – and including most of the housing in the village.

The one missing candidate also supported the rally and opposed airport expansion but there had been a mix-up over dates which made him miss the event. As Labour, the UKIP, Green and Conservative candidates all spoke to oppose any airport expansion, as did several local residents, and campaigner John Stewart of HACAN, and the five polar bears who had recently protested inside one of the Heathrow terminals came along with their banner ‘Any New Runway Is Plane Stupid‘.

Heathrow Villages fight for survival


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

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.


Tottenham, Hackney and The Times

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

I took the Underground to Seven Sisters, pausing while I waited for a bus to take a few pictures of the shops that would be lost with the redevelopment of the ‘Latin Village’ along with that thriving indoor market. For once I had a clear view from the bus and I took a few pictures as it made its way north to Tottenham job centre. I arrived earlier than expected and walked on the short distance to Tottenham’s new ground, officially opened the previous week, before walking back to photograph the protest I had come for.

The stadium did seem quite impressive from the outside, though like many others I was less impressed to hear that the football club are keen to pay TfL to change the name of the railway station in White Hart Lane to ‘Tottenham Hotspur’. I’m pleased to see that it still has its old name now, 149 years after it opened with it. Spurs wanted the change because it would increase the chances of finding a sponsor for the new stadium, but there was considerable opposition. And while there is precedent – Gillespie Road on the Picadilly line was renamed Arsenal in 1932 – since that team has now moved from their old ground it perhaps wasn’t a good idea.

The protest outside the Tottenham Jobcentre Plus was organised by the North London Revolutionary Communist Group and others and was one of many that have been taking place regularly outside job centres calling for Universal Credit to be scrapped. UC was badly thought out but even more poorly implemented, both thanks to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2010 to 2016. Designed both to rationalise and cut benefits, it incorporates a delay typically of five weeks between the old benefits ceasing and UC being paid, leaving many with nothing to live on. Some minor improvements have been made, including the availability of loans, but those on benefits are not really in any position to repay loans. Together with a harsh benefits sanction regime which had meant some claimants have lost benefits for long periods for relatively trivial reasons – such as being a few minutes late for an appointment – or having an accident on the way to one, this has resulted in a huge growth in reliance on food banks and even some deaths due to starvation and being unable to heat homes. Many have been forced into huge rent arrears – and in 2018 one in 38 of new claimants became homeless because of evictions.

The campaigners were still handing out leaflets and talking to clients going into the job centre and leaving when I caught the bus to make my way down to Bethnal Green. The weather, with sun, blue sky and some clouds was perfect for continuing my project making panoramic images of the Regent’s Canal in preparation for a show to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its opening in 1820.

As well as pictures showing the canal I took a few more on my way to Bethnal Green, as well as walking around the area, then along the canal west to Broadway Market.

It was then time to get on a bus again, to make my way to the offices of News Corp at London Bridge, where Transmission, a group supporting the rights of trans people, were protesting outside the offices of The Times newspaper against their publication of transphobic articles.

They say the paper has published an unfair article by Lucy Bannerman against the Tavistock Centre and medical services for trans children and has earlier targeted the trans charity Mermaids and ostracised trans athletes for competing in sports.

More on My London Diary:
Times end transphobic articles
Regent’s Canal
Scrap Universal Credit Jobcentre protest
Tottenham and Spurs

Bad Ass and Beauty – Mao Ishikawa

Saturday, April 10th, 2021

I am seriously considering buying another photography book. For the last ten or so years its an area there has been a moratorium on in this household, as we live in a smallish house that is overflowing with books, mainly photographic monographs, many of which came as review copies, but with a hefty core of key volumes I paid real money for, including some long ago when I had little or no cash to spare.

Unlike some other reviewers, I’ve never relied on selling off review copies to get a decent income, and never asked for copies of anything I didn’t intend to review, though there were a few sent unasked that I felt it best to hold my silence about and gave away. Since I gave up reviewing books (and ran out of space) virtually the only books I’ve bought or occasionally been given, have been by photographers I know or have known personally. Even then I’ve been fairly selective in my purchases.

Most of what is currently being published holds little attraction for me – even if by photographers I admire, certainly those that are well-known. I don’t need yet another book of pictures by Henri Cartier Bresson or Paul Strand or Eugene Atget et al, as even if these may contain a few images not already on my shelves they are probably less interesting than those already there. And there are relatively few published works by contemporary or previously unknown photographers that seem worth buying.

Bad Ass and Beauty – One Love is a 408 page retrospective of the work of Okinawa born photographer Ishikawa Mao, born in 1953 and, according to her publisher’s web site (like the book in both Japanese and English) “contains all 15 series of Ishikawa’s works, from her early work ‘Akabanaa’ to her latest work ‘The Great Ryukyu Photo Scroll’, as well as essays by various experts, a chronology of Ishikawa’s life, and a bibliography.” It is published to accompany her first solo exhibition at a museum, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum.

I learnt of the book through Jörg M. Colberg who recently published a highly appreciative post Bad Ass and Beauty on his Conscientious Photography Magazine. Usually his perceptive reviews put me off buying the books he writes about, but this was an exception.

The Japanese price for the book, 3960 Yen, corresponds to around £26, and I considered first buying it from Japan, but found the carriage cost made this uneconomic. There are suppliers in the UK at various prices, and should I yield to the temptation I would probably go with Beyond Words, who are currently taking advance orders and have a sensible price and carriage costs.

Although it was Colberg who first alerted me to the book, my interest in it was greatly raised by another author, Ross Tunney, whose 2017 PhD Thesis at the University of Tasmania, with the lengthy title Between ‘Reality’ and Representation: Photographic Ambiguities of Place and Identity in Japan’s Postwar Modernity you can read online.

I can’t claim to have read all 351 pages, but the work looks at projects by seven Japanese photographers, including two of my favourites, Issei Suda and Shomei Tomatsu, as well a Mao Ishikawa’s ‘Hot Days in Okinawa‘, and his chapter on her work gives rather more information and insight into her work, reproducing a number of images which it discusses.


London, Sat 9th April 2016

Friday, April 9th, 2021

Over a thousand campaigners had come to applaud those who had occupied the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill for 10 days to oppose Lambeth Council’s plans to turn the building into a fee-charging gym run by Greenwich Leisure Ltd, leaving just a small unstaffed room with a few books in place of a proper libary. The occupation made national headlines and attracted the support of many leading authors.

After the occupiers emerged to rousing cheers there were some short speeches before campaigners set off to march via another closed library to a rally opposite Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton, but I left them at Loughborough Junction to catch a train to my next appointment. The library was miraculously opened on a reduced scale a couple of weeks before the 2018 council elections and in 2020 a lottery grant was given to the Carnegie Community Trust to run the library – an organisation linked to Labour councillors – rather than the community organisation the Friends of Carnegie Library. Security during the 2 years of closure cost the council three times as much as keeping the library open would have done, and the basement excavations for the gym ended up costing Lambeth over four times their original estimate.

In Whitehall around 2,000 protesters blocked the road in front of Downing St calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to resign because of the lack of trust about his financial affairs following the revelations in the Panama papers. Many protesters had come in party mode, with flowered garlands, Panama hats and suitably Central American dress or pig flavoured posters.

The party was still continuing but in a more angy mood when I returned several hours later have covered three other events, although there were fewer protesters. I was pleased to photograph two people in pigs heads – referring to the initiation ceremony Cameron had gone through when a student at Oxford for the “ultra-exclusive, ultra-posh Piers Gaveston Society” (which he later denied) with the placard ‘He’s Got To Go’. Despite the damning revelations of the Panama Papers against the ultra-rich and the offshore finance industry little if anything has changed.

Protesters outside Channel 4 on the Horseferry Road were calling for a ban on the Grand National horse race taking place today. Already 4 horses had been killed following accidents at this year’s meeting at Aintree – and around 46 in the last 15 years.

And at the Polish Embassy in Portland Place several hundred Poles and supporters protested in solidarity with the large protests in Poland against the bill proposed by the Law and Justice Party (PiS) which will outlaw abortion in all cases, protecting the life of the unborn child even where this may cause extreme distress or even death for the mother. They hung wire coathangers – the traditional crude tool of back-street abortionists – on the embassy door and fence. Huge protests continue in Poland where a near-total ban on abortion came into effect in January this year after the Consitutional Court ruled that a 1993 law allowing abortion in cases of severe and irreversible foetal abnormalities was unconstitutional.

Colombia has a long history of protests and their violent repression, at least since the late 1940s when the assassination of the Liberal presidential candidate provoked riots across the country, with a brief period of respite under a ‘National Front’ in the 1950s. But from the 1960s on the country suffered an armed conflict, with the USA encouraging the military to attack leftist groups in the rural areas and the involvement of right-wing paramilitaries and mercenaries for multinational companies in human rights abuses in the fight against guerilla groups such as FARC. Drug cartels have also played an increasing role in the violence since the 1970s.

The government negotiated a peace deal with FARC which was rejected by a referendum later in 2016, but a revised deal was ratified by Congress shortly after. However agreements reached were largely dismantled by a right wing government voted in in 2018 and since then protests and police repression have again risen. Colombia, according to the World Bank, is the seventh most unequal country in the world.

A protest took place in Trafalgar Square on the same day as protests in Colombia against political persecution, calling for an end to paramilitary killings. People want peace, human rights and democracy in Colombia.

More at:
End Killings in Colombia
Party against Cameron
Don’t Criminalise Abortion in Poland
Stop Grand National horse slaughter
Cameron must go!
March to Save Lambeth’s Libraries
Carnegie Library Occupation Ends


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

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.


Latin Village, Zuma, Boat Dwellers & Syria

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

A human chain surrounds the block containing the Latin Village at Seven Sisters

Four Years ago today on Saturday 8th April 2017 I was travelling around London photographing a very varied set of protests, ending the day at Seven Sisters where London’s most vibrant community market has been under threat since 2006.

The Latin Village or Seven Sisters Indoor Market a few yards from the Underground station exit on the High Rd is a vibrant place in an Edwardian building, Wards Furnishing Stores, a department store which closed in 1972. The ground and mezzanine floors of part of the site house around 60 independent businesses, mainly run by people of Latin American origin but with others from the Caribbean and Middle East and when open it is a vibrant area to walk around, full of music. Covid has of course meant its closure, and the building owners Transport for London in 2010 closed the mezzanine area as unsafe and banned the on-site cooking of food which had been such an important aspect of the market.

Haringey Council and developers Grainger PLC want to clear the site and replace it with a “mixed use development” which would include expensive flats and chain stores – and although it may include a small market it will lose the character of the Latin Village and almost certainly be at rents which would make any of the current businesses uneconomic. Protests against the plans are still continuing.

My work had begun outside South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, where a large group of South Africans were protesting in defence of South Africa’s democracy and calling for the removal of President Zuma.

Jacob Zuma had been president since 2009, and had a long history of legal challenges both before and during his presidency, particularly for racketeering and corruption, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Zuma Wikipedia states his time in office is estimated to have cost the South African economy around 83 million USD. Facing a vote of no confidence he finally resigned in February 2018, succeeded by Cyril Ramaphosa, who has also been criticised for various financial irregularities and his call for action against striking miners which resulted in the Marikana Massacre in 2012 in which 34 miners were killed by South African police.

In 2012 the Canal & River Trust (CRT), a charity, took over the running of our canals and rivers from British Waterways and since then have begun a series of evictions of boat dwellers who do not have permanent moorings. The say that it is unlawful for the CRT to impose limitations on their right to live on boats unless they meet arbitrary limitations based on a minimum distance or movement or pattern of travel.

Permanent moorings are expensive – perhaps £6,000 a year along with a licence cost of £1,000, so families who live on boats because they cannot afford houses are being priced out, with moorings going to the wealthy who often only use their boats for a few weeks each year, gentrifying the canal and destroying communities who live on boats. Boat dwellers came to Embankment Garden to picnic and hold a rally against the CRT. As well as opposing evictions they also called for proper maintenance of locks, bridges and waterway banks, more mooring rings, more water taps and more sanitary facilities.

Syrians gathered a Marble Arch for a march to Downing St calling on the UK government to support Syrians against the use of chemical weapons by President Assad’s forces in Syria.

They say that the attack four days earlier at Khan Sheikhoon near Idlib, like that on Ghouta three years previously, used Sarin nerve agent, this time killing over 100 and injuring over 400. Unfortunately our government, along with that of the US, has firmly set itself against any real action in Syria, despite encouraging the uprising against Assad, and is leaving it to Russia (and later Turkey) to ensure that the revolution fails.

More pictures from all these events on My London Diary:
Human Chain at Latin Village
Against Chemical Warfare in Syria
Boat dwellers fight evictions
Zuma Must Go


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

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.


More from Battersea & Clapham, 1988

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

I often went to Battersea in the 1980s though more often to look at and discuss photographs at the Photo Co-op which was based in Webbs Road than to take pictures. I wasn’t deeply involved but became a regular attender when they set up a ‘Men’s Group’ to look at issues around gender from a male perspective, though I don’t think I contributed much to it.

Altenburg Gardens,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-32-positive_2400
Altenburg Gardens, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

I was a little put out when the Photo Co-op changed its name to Photofusion and moved to more extensive premises in Brixton, though I did usually attend openings there and contributed quite a few pictures to its photo library.

With its new name and much improved premises it became a larger and less intimate organisation – and it’s location was also less convenient for me, with a half hour bus journey rather than a ten minute walk from Clapham Junction. And although London buses are generally very frequent (and in most respects now much improved) I spent too much time waiting at a draughty bus stop in Brixton on my way home after openings.

Gardens,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-33-positive_2400
Battersea Library, Altenburg Gardens, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988
Battersea Library, Altenburg Gardens,  Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-34-positive_2400
Battersea Library, Altenburg Gardens, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

This charming Arts & Crafts style reference library by Henry Hyams was built in 1924 for the Metropolitan Borough of Battersea, adjoining the older library building and was Grade II listed in 1983.

Lavender Hill, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-23-positive_2400
Lavender Hill, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

Although several properties in this picture were for sale, there is no estate agents on this stretch of street and I think it is hard to find one in my pictures of the area. Walking up Lavender Hill more recently it seemed hard to find a shop that wasn’t an estate agents, which seem to be about the only profitable businesses left in London. Huge rises in property prices and increased mobility due to gentrification have created an enormous expansion in this area.

Wandsworth Rd, Newby St, Lambeth, 1988 88-2e-13-positive_2400
Wandsworth Rd, Newby St, Lambeth, 1988

Unless you ride a bike it’s easy to forget that parts of London are quite hilly as this slope down towards the River Thames from Wandsworth Rd in Clapham demonstrates.

Bingo, Wandsworth Rd Snooker Centre, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988 88-2e-12-positive_2400
Bingo, Wandsworth Rd Snooker Centre, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988

Built in 1909 it was one of at least 24 Temperance Billiard Halls in South London built for the Temperance Billiard Hall Co. Ltd, founded in Pendelton Lancashire. Like most or all of those in the early years it was designed by Norman Evans, and there are other examples nearby in Clapham High St and Battersea. Despite this alcohol-free start, the building later became a bar and even a night club.

Until a few years ago it was Rileys, offering a Bar with Pool and Snooker tables. In 2015 the building was gutted, retaining its facade with a rather ugly plain block replacing the rear of the building, now a hotel. It’s something of a mystery how planning permission was obtained, although unlike several others, this hall was not listed. Probably the panels across its frontage shown in my picture were part of the reason for this, and at least the conversion to a hotel has revealed or provided an unencumbered aspect, even if it is only a brick or two thick.

Thomas Memorial, Church of the Nazarene, Temperance Billiard Hall, Battersea Rise, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2d-25-positive_2400
Thomas Memorial, Church of the Nazarene, Temperance Billiard Hall, Battersea Rise, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

Another Temperance Billiard Hall in Battersea, also unlisted. Again it is no longer a Billiard Hall and is now a pub, with a rather large new building behind. It remained in use as a busy snooker hall until the mid 1990s, open – and usually busy – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Converted as the Faraday and Firkin, a brew-pub, which opened in 1997, it later became O’Neills and is now The Goat.

The front of the church at left partly dates from 1823 when the building was owned and lived in by local merchant William Mellersh who enlarged it from a cottage dating from the 1750s. In 1858 it became the home of the Wandsworth District Board of Works who extended and embellished it, naming it Mellish House, there were further additions behind but it still became too small after Battersea gained its independence from Wandsworth in 1888 and they built a new town hall on Lavender Hill.

Still owned by Battersea, it served various purposes including being home to the Boy’s Brigade and the YMCA from 1890 until 1915. It was then bought by the International Holiness Mission founded in 1906 by Battersea drapers and pentecostalists John and David Thomas and was renamed the Thomas Memorial Church after David Thomas died in 1938. The IHM joined the Church of the Nazarenes in 1953. A major internal refurbishment was begun in 2011 with the church closing and reopening, still as a Nazarene church but known as Fresh Ground London.

More in 1988 London Photos.

Deaths, Bedroom Tax & Feathers

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

After a day resting and recovering from our 3 day walk along the Thames Path in 2013 I was ready to go up to London again on Saturday 6th April.

Sikhs had come to London at Vaisahki for a protest against the “ongoing and, disturbing atrocities that are being committed in the Republic of India, that, infringe the basic human rights of the minority communities, which includes but is not limited to the Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and Dalits (India’s untouchables).

In particular the Kesri Lehar (I Pledge Orange) campaign was protesting against the death penalty in India, with over 470 prisoners in Indian prisons on death row, though actual executions are rare. The House of Commons shortly before this protest had debated and agreed a backbench motion welcoming the Kesri Lehar petition and calling on India to abolish the death penalty.

One of those on death was Balwant Singh Rajoana, sentenced for his part in a suicide bomb attack which killed a former Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh and 17 others in 1995. Sikhs say that Beant Singh was responsible for the extra-judicial killing of over 25,000 Sikh civilians in a brutal attempt to eliminate Sikhs calling for an independent state.

Balwant Singh Rajoana was sentenced to death in 2007 and was due to be hanged in 2012, but execution was stayed after some Sikh organisation appealed for clemency. But in 2013 there were renewed demands for his execution. This did not happen and in 2019 his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

Campaigners also called for the release of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who has been on death row in India for 18 years, for his alleged involvement in a car bomb in Delhi in 1993. They say there is no evidence to connect him with the attack. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in March 2014.

A rather smaller protest at Downing St had been organised by the Counihan-Sanchez Family Housing Campaign from Kilburn against the unfair Bedroom tax and benefit caps which are effecting so many people and called for the GLA to build more social housing. The family’s own problems with Brent Council have made them very aware of the huge problems faced by many others across London and elsewhere and how cuts and sanctions have had a cruel impact on so many.

Also at Downing St, members and supporters of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) were calling for the UK government to support an enquiry into Iraqi attacks on Camp Liberty in Baghdad where its members are held. They had been given refuge in Iraq by Saddam Hussein and gave up their arms when the US invaded Iraq in return for US protection. But the US hand over control of their camps to Iraq in 2009 and there have been a series of attacks on them by Iraqi security forces sympathetic to Iran, with over over 50 being killed, more than a thousand injured and many arrests.

Later in 2013 the United States organised a move of the roughly 3,000 members of the group to a new base in Albania, providing a $20 million donation to the UN refugee agency to resettle them. The USA has continued to support them as a government-in-exile for Iran and they are also apparently supported by them in covert operations continuing in Iran against the current Islamic regime. There are groups of the PMOI and supporting organisations in a number of European Countries and the UK as well as in the United States, though they are generally thought now to have little support in Iran.

It was good to leave what had been rather intense protests and go on to something in a much lighter mood in Trafalgar Square. I think the first International Pillow Fight Day was in March 2008, when I photographed it in Leicester Square. In 2013 the event, organised by the urban playground movement, was taking place in 90 cities across 30 countries.

The aim of the event is to get people away from “passive, non-social, branded consumption experiences like watching television” and to consciously reject “the blight on our cities caused by the endless creep of advertising into public space.” The organisers hope this will result in “a global community of participants, not consumers.

The authorities frown on it, possibly as a subversive activity but perhaps because it makes something of a mess, as pillows inevitably break and feathers fly, leaving the ground covered with them after the event. Or perhaps they are just killjoys. Royal Parks police had prevented a fight in Hyde Park earlier in the day but the Heritage Wardens were overwhelmed by the numbers who had come to Trafalgar Square and were unable to stop. A small group of Westminster Council workers were standing on one edge ready to clean up afterwards.

The feathers and dust do make these events something of a health hazard, and it would have made sense to wear a face mask – but back in 2013 these were only seen on Japanese tourists. Probably a once a year exposure to dust and feathers isn’t a huge risk, but this year they did rather get down my throat and I withdrew once the air was thick with them, deciding I’d taken enough pictures.

Feathers Fly in Trafalgar Square
PMOI Protest Iraqi killings
No to Bedroom Tax & Benefit Caps
Vaisakhi “Save a Live” Vigil

Battersea 1988

Monday, April 5th, 2021

Tool shop, Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-63-positive_2400
Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

Clapham Junction is claimed to be Europe’s busiest station with over 2000 trains a day passing through and around 60% of them stopping, including all of those I take into London. And like many others, I’ve often changed there to trains for destinations across the south of London and further afield, and less often exited to take buses.

Service Centre, Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-65-positive_2400
Service Centre, Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

But in February 1988 I left the train with the intention of taking photographs of the area around the station – which is not in Clapham which is a 10 minute bus ride away, but in Battersea. Over the years the area has also become referred to as Clapham Junction, and parts are also called by the names of some of the major streets, such as Lavender Hill and Northcote Road, but I’ve simply called it Battersea in the captions to my images, which also include the name of its London Borough, Wandsworth, the area a mile or so to its west.

Tool shop, Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-63-positive_2400
Tool shop, Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

In the short days of February I tended to photograph more in the areas that were within easy reach of my home so as to make the most of the light; I could leave home and be standing on the street at Clapham Junction in around 35 minutes.

Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-55-positive_2400
Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

The area to the south of the station, particularly down St John’s Road is a major shopping centre for this area of London, so it is perhaps not surprising that many of my pictures were of shops.

Belleville Rd, Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-51-positive_2400
Belleville Rd, Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

It was also a time when I was finding an increasing interest in how shop interiors, particularly those of small businesses with low set-up costs, reflection the areas and customers they served. Hair-dressers, shoe repairs and other independent small businesses very much came from the communities they served.

Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-53-positive_2400
Northcote Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

Many of these businesses are now gone. Few people now get their shoes repaired – and like some other areas they are now largely served by franchises. Tastes in various areas have changed, often dramatically, and of course in recent years shops have been hit by a move to on-line in many areas.

St John's Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-43-positive_2400
St John’s Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

My apologies for some technical deficiencies in some of these images, most noticeable in some of the skies. Unfortunately this is a result of considerable under-development, probably resulting from an exhausted or incorrectly replenished developer. Digital retouching could improve them, though probably not entirely eliminate the effect and it very time-consuming. But the blemishes, though annoying, don’t prevent you seeing the subject, so I’ve published these here and on the web despite the blemishes, though I have never shown prints from them.

St John's Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988 88-2e-42-positive_2400
St John’s Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1988

If you walk down these streets today – or when the ‘non-essential’ shops re-open, expected to be on 12 April you will see the differences from 1988. The streets around Clapham Junction now look rather more like those in any main street around the country and the area has been considerably more gentrified.

All from my album https://www.flickr.com/photos/petermarshall/albums/72157715589148871/with/50254685063/ 1988 London Photos – and clicking on any of the images here should take you to larger versions there from which you can browse the album.