Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

More Rights Not Games

Friday, May 26th, 2017

The Rights Not Games protest in the previous post was the start of a week of actions by DPAC and others protesting in the cuts in benefits for the disabled.

The following day I began outside the British Medical Association headquarters at Tavistock Square, where Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group were protesting. They want doctors to confront the government over medical evidence from GPs being dismissed by Maximus fitness for work assessors working for the DWP, almost all of whom lack appropriate medical knowledge, and also for the BMA to stop advising GPs to charge patients for the letters they need to take to Work Capability Assessments. More at BMA Work Fitness Assessments protest.

From Tavistock Square I traveled to Bromley South, on the south-east edge of London, for a Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC ) and Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) protest at Bromley Job Centre Plus, which was supported by Bromley Cuts Concern and local trade unionists.

Many benefit claimants have their benefits stopped for various lengths of time for arbitrary and often trivial reasons, and job centre employees often (if not always) have targets set to encourage them to implement these ‘benefit sanctions’.  If your bus or train to get to the job centre is late or canceled and you arrive a few minutes late, you will be sanctioned. If you argue a lot you can also be sanctioned. If your father dies and you try to re-arrange an appointment to attend his funeral, or you child is sick and needs taking to hospital, your request will probably be refused – and if you go to the funeral or hospital you will be sanctioned – and so on.

Bromley Job Centre Plus has the second highest record for sanctions of job centres in Greater London – over the last 2 year period for which figures were available, 7, 524 claimants lost their benefits for various periods of time – including many for the longest allowed period of 3 years.   Between 2010 and 2015, almost a quarter of claimants were sanctioned at least once. These sanctions leave people destitute and desperate, and have led to a number of deaths though starvation or suicide and are clearly incompatible with a civilised society.

Denise McKenna from the Mental Health Resistance Network holds up the letter to staff at Bromley Job Centre Plus

The National Audit Office has reported that the Dept of Work & Pensions has not done enough to find why some job centres – like Bromley – sanction a far greater percentage of clients than others, and has called for a fuller inquiry into the effects of sanctions – which according to The Guardian the NAO report shows to be an “ineffective and hugely damaging racket” by Iain Duncan Smith.

Denise McKenna from MHRN invites me to go in with her to deliver a letter to the Job Centre Plus staff explaining the reasons for the protest but I get asked to leave when I photograph her handing it over. I understand that managers at the centre did not allow other staff to see the letter.

As well as their terrible record over sanctions, a worker at the Bromley job centre recently rang a claimant and left a message on her answerphone, but failed to ring off, and also recorded there a conversation with a fellow job-centre worker about the claimant, in which she referred to her as “some scrounging bastard that’s popping out kids like pigs“. Several claimants and their friends stopped to join in the protest and to tell people about the disgraceful treatment they had received in the job centre.

DPAC at Bromley Job Centre


Rights Not Games

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Sophie Partridge, Penny Pepper and John Kelly outside Parliament

DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts – always amaze me at their protests. If anyone doubts that people with disabilities have a great deal to offer society they should come and see how despite their problems they organise and run some of the most effective actions by any group, and this was one.

Of course many need some support to do so, and to live normal lives contributing to the community. And one of the cruelest acts of the government in recent years has been to remove much of that support, with the end of the Independent Living Fund. The ILF enabled so many to make a real contribution.

The Paralympic Games in London in 2012 made many realise the potential of a relatively small group of disabled people who have much to offer in the sporting field, but only a tiny proportion of the disabled have the wish or ability to succeed in sport. Others have talents in other areas but will only be able to develop and make use of these given the kind of support that the ILF provided. This protest was planned to coincide with the Rio Paralympics and to make the point that what the great majority of disabled people need is disabled rights, not games. Being disabled isn’t a game.

I don’t like to call these people disabled. In some ways many of them are rather more able in their particular fields than I would ever be, able in some areas to compete fully with those without disabilities.

Paula Peters leads the march to Downing St

DPAC had been in Parliament to lobby MPs on the publication of the report by Inclusion London ‘One Year ON’, evaluating the disastrous effects of cutting care and support funding for personal assistance following the closure of the Independent Living Fund in 2015.

They gathered on the pavement outside before marching up Parliament St and Whitehall to stage a ‘Pop-Up’ Street theatre performance on the roadway in front of the gates of Downing St, with poems, songs, spoken word and performances showcasing the creativity of disabled people and the contribution they can make to society with proper support.

Police attempted to get them to move off the road, but without success, though they did move to only block one of the two lanes – and police then directed traffic around them while the performance continued.

If I closed my eyes there would be nothing to tell me that these people were disabled as they performed, and of course there are many with disabilities, including several who spoke at the event, that have disabilities without any visible signs. As well as DPAC and Inclusion London, other groups supporting the protest included Winvisible, campaigning for women with visible and invisible disabilities and several mental health groups.

More at DPAC against cuts in care & support.

Hull Photos: 11/5/17-17/5/17

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

11th May 2017

A little downstream from the Hull Exhaust Centre, visible at left was another viewpoint, I think from a derelict wharf on the River Hull. This image, looking upstream, shows barge Torch, with number 22, owned by Hull’s Gillyott and Scott, a major tug and lighter owner formed in 1964 by amalgamation of the five companies of William Gilyott, John A. Scott, T.F. Wood, Furleys and John Deheer. Gilyott and Scott (Transport) Ltd also owned lorries. The barges are said to have been sold to Dave Hornshaw of Hornshaw Water Transport in Goole.

The buildings on the East bank are some of those on the Morley Street ultramarine works, then still part of Reckitt’s – with Hull’s tallest chimney a little out of the frame to the right. Most or all have now been demolished.

32r13: River Hull from Bankside, 1982 – River Hull

12 May 2017

The street name ‘Park View’ was helpfully painted on the side of this row of small terraced houses off Sculcoates Lane, probably because the official street name had been on a house already demolished. This row of houses was built facing the Cottingham Drain – now culverted and presumably under the grassed strip to the right. The drain was built around 1770 and drains into the River Hull close to High Flags; it was culverted in the 1960s, and several sections including this one are now cycle paths.

The houses at right are the backs of buildings on terraces off Beverley Rd. The name Park View suggests that the houses in this row are older than those – as too does the fact that these are still standing. Though I was perhaps wishful thinking and I doubt that they will ever have had much of a view of Pearson Park, hidden behind the Dorchester Hotel (around that time owned by my wife’s cousin Billy) and other large buildings on the opposite side of Beverley Rd.

Wishful thinking too in the advertising hoarding, showing a very different and tropical scene to that in front of me when I made this picture, though like Bacardi Rum, Hull too has character all of its own. And XWJ633T is an excellent example of a ‘Woodie’ Morris Minor Traveller.

32r22: Park View and Cottingham Drain (culverted), 1982 – Beverley Rd

13th May 2017

Queen’s Terrace off Sculcoates Lane was about to be demolished, and one house was already empty and derelict, but the others were still mainly occupied. Like many other Hull streets, a series of short blind alleys – terraces – ran off at right angles to the street to enable the maximum utilisation of space, with houses on one or both sides.

Coming from the Beverley Rd, Sculcoates Lane turned sharp right immediately after crossing the Cottingham drain – culverted when I walked along it, but still noticeable as a wide grassed patch, then after a few yards the road turned back to the left (while a row of houses, Park View, continued facing the drain. A few yards along the road, first came Mary Ann’s Terrace, then Queen’s Terrace, followed by Walter’s Terrace. Finding terraces was often difficult, as for some reason the street plans didn’t include their names. There were also several Queen’s Terrace in different streets across Hull. This one was immediately to the east of ‘The Wood Shop’ at 24-28 Sculcoates Lane.

Some of the houses in the area were already demolished, and the rest seemed likely to go in the very near future. There was a small shop at the start of Queen’s Terrace, though I think it may have been 30 Sculcoates Lane, despite the street name on it, then a few houses. The shop, described in earlier directories as a beer shop, was an off-licence, and while licensed to sell beers, wines and spirits also sold ice cream, sweets etc, and I think I may have occasionally called in for a Mars Bar or a can of 7 Up on my walks.

32r23: Shop on corner of Queen’s Terrace, Sculcoates Lane, 1982 – Beverley Rd

14th May 2017

A woman walks down Queens’s Terrace, off Sculcoates Lane. The 1948/9 Six Inch OS map shows a gap in the houses along the street here, as well as many other properties around also missing compared to pre-war maps, suggesting considerable bomb damage in the area. Kids growing up after the war in Hull had plenty of such informal playgrounds, often like this one with a wicket painted on the wall. I didn’t ask the woman, who I think had walked out of the open door at left, if she was ‘Angie’, the name also on the wall. The run of buildings on the right had side of the street appear to have been demolished some time after the war.

Although most Hull terraces are ‘blind’, often with just a brick wall separating them from a terrace off the next street, Queens Terrace always had an alley or tenfoot through into Tunis St (and on further to Exchange St.) The two houses at the right in Tunis St are I think still there, though somewhat altered, with the small bathroom windows replaced by ventilators.

32r24: Queen’s Terrace and Tunis St, Sculcoates Lane, 1982 – Beverley Rd

15 May 2017

The River Hull is out of sight between these two large objects that it amused me to join together in the picture. Reckitts had originally relied on imported ultramarine to use in their ‘Reckitt’s Blue’ washing additive, but began to make their own when it became difficult to get supplies because of the Austro-Prussian wars in the 1860s. In 1884 they built a large factory to make it in Morley St, making use of water from the RIver Hull and discharging some fairly noxious effluent back in exchange.

But the major pollutant was sulphur dioxide which was simply dispersed into the atmosphere through a chimney, perhaps the shorter one towards the right of the picture, making rain in Hull highly acidic. In the 1970s the company had a taller chimney built, at 141m Hull’s highest building by quite a margin, so that the pollution could then be carried across the North sea to kill the forests of North Germany. At the time it was the tallest structure in the world to be built by the continuous pouring of concrete, and high winds during the construction caused a few slight kinks (some say that a short strike by workers on the project also had the same effect.)

Shamefully it was only early in this century that the owners of the plant – by then Holliday Pigments – installed flue-gas desulphurisation plant. Having done so they then closed down the plant in 2007, transferring production to their more modern plant in France. Although no longer used for whitening whites in washing machines – Reckitt’s Blue went out in the 1950s, replaced by organic optical brighteners – ultramarine is still in demand for other purposes.

There is still a pipe bridge across Bankside, just to the north of the railway bridge, but it has a smaller diameter and the pipe curves down at the end. This was also present when I took this picture a little further to the north. There is now a gantry across the street in a similar position to protect the pipe against collisions with tall vehicles, and presumably the pipe is at the same or higher level than the Hull rail bridge, which protects it from traffic from the south. It is possible that this large pipe was a similar protection rather than an actual pipeline across the road.

32r25: Pipe bridge, Bankside and Reckitt’s Chimney, Morland St, 1982 – River Hull

16 May 2017

The Hull and Barnsley Railway’s Hull Bridge was built in 1884-5 and is a steel bowstring swing bridge which was Grade II listed in 1994. The company, its full name the Hull Barnsley & West Riding Junction Railway and Dock Company (HB&WRJR&DCo) never quite managed to reach Barnsley, but in 1885 it opened a new dock, the Alexandra Dock, in East Hull. To reach there, the line had to go over the River Hull, and to preserve navigation rights it had to be a swing bridge. The square brick building at left (also listed) houses the operating cabin, though I think the bridge seldom opens and if required to do so uses an auxiliary winch on a break-down truck brought in for the occasion rather than the original machinery, which was hydraulic, but powered by steam.

The River Hull Bridge was a smaller version of one over the Ouse near Drax on the H&BR which was dismantled in 1976 but the Hull bridge remains in use.

The railway was mainly for goods, with goods station at Alexandra Docks, Burleigh St, Sculcoates, Dairycoates and Neptune St. There were passenger stations on the Beverley Rd and at Cannon St to the north of the city centre, and industrial branches to National Radiator and the British Gas Light Company at Bankside.

The railway became a part of its competitor around Hull, the North Eastern Railway in 1922, and then was merged into the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1923. The following year passenger services from Cannon St ended, with a link allowing trains to run into Paragon Station.

In 2007, work began to increase the capacity of the line over Hull Bridge to the King George Dock with some of the line which had been converted to single track going back to double and new signalling, and the line was re-opened in 2008. The section of line over the bridge is still only single track. Since then further work has been carried out, including galvanising 15 tonnes of structural steel for the bridge. There are no passenger services on the line but significant goods traffic.

32r26: Hull swing railway bridge and River Hull from Bankside, 1982 – River Hull

17 May 2017

I think these two young boys were outside their house on Goddard Avenue, which certainly has some miniscule front gardens like these, though it could have been another street in the area. The display of toys was for sale and I think I may have bought a small lorry from their stock.

Roadside sales such as these were fairly common during the school holidays in Hull.

32r23: Pavement toy sale, Goddard Avenue area, 1982 – Springbank

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.

Vigil for Dalian at IPCC

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Although I always like to create a series of images that tell the story of any event, sometimes a single image seems to sum up everything, and at Justice for Dalian Atkinson at IPCC at the start of September, I felt this image did.

The placards make fairly clear what the protest was about, although they don’t mention the details of the particular case – Dalian Atkinson, a former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich striker dying after being tasered by police outside his father’s home in Telford on August 15th.

Also missing is any real indication that this protest is taking place outside the IPCC,  the body set up to investigate complaints against the police which many see as compromised with many of its staff being recent former police officers and having a miserable record in so many investigations.

Those who have been to the IPCC might recognise the distinctive foyer behind the figures, but this is an office block shared by a number of organisations, and the IPCC only gets a mention fairly small on the inside wall, virtually impossible to include in pictures.

But it is a background that has a powerful emotional effect, resembling a building going up in flames, bringing memories of images of uprisings such as that which followed the 2011 shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham. The image was made late in the day as light was failing, bringing out the effect of the interior lighting.

Of course it is very much a picture about attitudes, and how these are expressed in body language and facial expressions. It was a situation I saw the potential of and moved to get in what I hoped was the right place to photograph.  It might have been slightly better without the person whose denim jacket intrudes at the left but this isn’t a great problem.

I suspect I have slightly darkened that corner in post-processing to make him less obtrusive, though without going back to the RAW file I can’t be sure. There will also be other minor areas that needed some attention, for example to bring out more clearly the expressions on faces, and that white shirt on the police officer will almost certainly have appeared a little too bright. The camera doesn’t ever record the scene as I saw it, particularly when lighting varies across the subject as in this case.

Things get even worse of course when  you start using flash, but fortunately there was enough light to work without. The image was taken on a Nikon D700 with the 16-35mm lens at 19mm. Using ISO 1600 the exposure was 1/125 at f5.6.

Another picture from the same event adds some more detail about the protest, with a list of a few of the names of those who have died at the hands of the police, as well as a view of the interior of the foyer with a man sitting at the reception desk.

I’d hoped that the third image here would be stronger, but this was made with a much longer focal length – equivalent to 225mm, and at 1/125 f5.6 there wasn’t enough depth of field. It’s surprising given the fairly close focus distance that the lack of depth of field isn’t more apparent, and given the focal length I was fortunate to avoid camera shake. Adding contrast in Lightroom helped, as did increasing sharpness and clarity in some areas, but didn’t quite rescue it – and I think is just a little overdone.

Limited depth of field can also be a good thing, though generally I prefer images that are sharp all over – as my brain usually imagines the scene in front of my eyes. This was made with the 28-200mm lens wide open at 58mm (in DX more – so 87mm equivalent) which gives an aperture of f4.8 and creates (rather fortuitously) what seems to me a pretty ideal balance between the sharp foreground and the slightly soft background.

More pictures at Justice for Dalian Atkinson at IPCC.

UberEats Under Pays

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

I rushed to get to the address I’d been given on time for the protest by UberEats delivery drivers, but arrived to find nobody there on Bermondsey St but two photographers I know who were wondering if they’d come to the right place. Eventually one or two protesters arrived but there was still no sign of the Uber riders. I walked into the yard where the Uber offices were and the security standing around outside there told us that the protest had been called off.

Of course I didn’t believe them. There wouldn’t be security hanging around in the yard unless there was going to be a protest.

Fortunately for once my phone still had some charge and I was able to find a video of them setting out from somewhere near Aldgate, and so we waited and waited and eventually saw the peloton coming around the corner from Tanner St.

Most of those taking part were delivery drivers, but there were also some supporters on bicycles, including a few I recognised. The drivers were being supported by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain – Couriers and Logistics branch, and also getting advice from other unions that are leading the fight against bogus self-employment and the ‘gig economy’.

Uber changed the way it pays drivers, having at first offered enough to make a living to entice people to come and work for it. Now the payment has changed, and drivers say they are working for as little as £3.22 per hour, less than half the minimum wage – and they have to provide and maintain the bikes they ride and pay insurance and  petrol.

Imran was one of the first to publicly complain about the terms, and he holds up his phone to show that his access to the Uber App which is how drivers get work has been blocked – effectively sacking him.

The drivers wanted to speak to the management but were not allowed into the office to do so. Eventually Uber agreed to let a small delegation in, and the drivers held a show of hands to do so. But when the small group went inside they found the managers were not prepared to speak to them as a group but wanted to pick on them one by one, and they walked out.

One picture that I missed was of one of the managers leaning out of the window and giving a sign to the drivers with his middle finer. He quickly moved inside when he saw he was being photographed and my picture was too blurred to be usable. A shame as I think it would have summed up perfectly the management attitude.

I left as the drivers were beginning to move off in small groups to picket outside some of the clients where other Uber drivers would be picking up orders across the evening, hoping to persuade the riders who came for them to join the strike – and join the union.

Uber’s contention that these riders are self-employed seems unlikely to be upheld in the courts, rather simply seen as a way for the company to evade its duties as an employer. They should be on a payroll, with national insurance contributions, pensions and proper rights as workers. And while there is a case for flexible contracts, these need to ones that give workers a living wage for the hours they are available to Uber. Existing labour laws may cover this, but if the courts fail to clarify this then new legislation is needed.

Uber is currently expanding its UberEats service to other UK cities, but the Financial Times recently reported it as having “a backlash from investors and employees” over “its ‘toxic’ culture, sexual harassment allegations and leadership issues2 and a legal battle over IP rights with Google.

More at UberEats couriers strike for Living Wage.

Phulbari Vigil

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

According to GCM Resources plc:  “The combination of high quality coal, a large coal resource, thick seams, highly competitive average stripping ratio, low operating costs, a project life of over 30 years and easy access to markets make Phulbari a world class coal project.”

But campaigners say the mine would displace 130,000 farming families, destroy 14,600 hectares of fertile land, threaten clean water resources and have a devastating impact on one of the world’s largest mangrove forests and UNESCO heritage site, the Sunderbans.

BHP Billiton sold the mineral rights it bought in 1994 to Asia Energy in 1998, according to Wikipedia, as it thought because the seam was too deep, at 151m below the surface. Asia Energy was incorporated in London in September 2003, later becoming Global Coal Management and now GCM Resources plc. Its rights to mine Phulbari are said to be its only major asset.

There were huge protests against mining at Phulbari in Bangladesh in 2006, said to involve 70,000 people. At one large protest three people were shot dead and 300 injured. Protests and strikes continued but protests at the mine site were banned by the Bangladesh government.

Press reports stated that Bangladesh had withdrawn the mining rights, and the shares crashed. The company  apparently deny the rights have been withdrawn, but when trading resumed the shares, which a few months earlier had been at 665p, were trading at 95p.

Despite pressure from GCM and the US government to go ahead with the project, Bangladesh announced in 2015 that it has no plans to allow open-pit mining at Phulbari and will instead import coal to run two large coal-fired power stations to be built by 2030. The GCM share price which hit an all-time low of around 3p has shown a recent increase to almost 30p, probably as a result of the election of Trump as US President, but may also reflect some attempts by GCM to diversify.

The protest outside the London Stock Exchange was a vigil for three villagers shot dead and two hundred injured at a mass protest in 2006 ten years ago, and called on the Stock Exchange to de-list GCM from the London Alternative Investment Market, a marketplace with little regulation and which allows companies either to comply with these rudimentary rules or to explain why they are not complying.

The protest took place on a fairly narrow pavement, and police were worried about this being blocked, but the protesters from the Phulbari Solidarity Group were very persuasive and the police relented. Barriers for roadworks prevented people from walking out into the traffic and it was only possible to take an overall view of the protest by using a fisheye lens.  I had to wait for some time to get a clear view as the pavement was quite busy with city workers going to lunch.

10 Years of Resistance to Phulbari


Stanley Greene (1949-2017)

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Stanley Greene, one of the finest photographers of conflict around the world over the last 30 or so years has died in Paris age 68 after having suffered with liver cancer for some years. His father was a part of the Harlem Renaissance, and he trained to be a painter, joined the Black Panthers and refused to serve in Vietnam. Meeting Gene Smith changed his life, and Smith gave him space in his studio and persuaded him to study both the technical an aesthetic aspects of photography, first at the School of Visual Arts in New York and later at the San Francisco Art Institute.

More than any other photographer, Greene in his later career (after working in music photography, newspaper work and then fashion) became a photographer truly in the spirit of Gene Smith; as I wrote some time ago, he was “haunted by the ghost of Gene Smith and the nagging of his example and his advice to photographers “You have to give something back.”

Greene though widely published was more of a photographers’s phtoographer than one widely known to the public, and at times suffered because his work was too uncompromising and too raw for editors. I’ve written a few articles about him since I came across his work and was truly bowled over by it back in 2004 – when my reaction was to write and publish a 2000 word essay on him for the web site I was then working for. You can read a little of that in Stanley Greene, and a later article about how I missed meeting him in Brixton two years ago.

Rather than read more by me, I suggest you go to Time to read Olivier Laurent‘s STANLEY GREENE – The death of a poet, illustrated by some of Greene’s images and including a video of Green himself talking and below that, HIS LIFE, HIS LEGACY in which around 15 photographers and editors who worked with him reflect on his impact.

There is also ‘Stanley Greene, Teller of Uncomfortable Truths, Dies at 68‘ by James Estrin on the NY Time Lens blog, and doubtless there are or will soon be many more obituaries.

Hull Photos: 4/5/17-10/5/17

Friday, May 19th, 2017

4th May 2017

When I took this picture it struck me as being a statement about the state of Hull’s fishing industry, once so important but largely brought to an end by the Cod Wars. But the final settlement in 1976 was largely a matter of the Cold War rather than fish that settled Hull’s demise, with Iceland threatening to withdraw from NATO over the issue. This would severely have restricted NATO surface and submarine movements in the North Atlantic, between Iceland and Greenland and also between Iceland and the UK, and would have allowed Soviet submarines access to these waters.

Without these considerations a settlement would surely have been reached that kept the deep-sea fishing industry alive, if at a lower level than before. The British government under James Callahan sacrificed our deep sea fishing to the military hawks. Hull became a victim of the Cold War as well as World War II.

The picture was I think taken from the near the top of the steps up to the footpath which still leads across the roof of some of Albert dock sheds between the dock and the Humber, still one of Hull’s most interesting experiences. Around 20 years after I took this picture it became a part of the Trans Pennine Trail and European walking route E8. There are 3 blocks of barrel-vaulted sheds, each with 7 vaults alongside the Humber, designated from the east as A, B and presumably C. The footpath comes up from beside the entrance lock to the east end of block B, then goes along the top of this and block C, at the end of which steps lead down and the path continues beside the Humber. These boxes were I think in the space between blocks A and B – with a little of block B visible at top right. There is then a short drop down which hides the roadway to the narrow quay with the tee-head mooring bollard (numbered 205) and the Humber beyond.

32q21: Empty boxes, Albert Dock, 1982 – Docks

5th May 2017

Taken through the girders of the steel swing bridge which took the road and a single rail track across the entrance lock to ALbert Dock. This bridge was across the centre of the lock was later replaced by a much less sturdy structure taking just a footpath across close to the other gate. The footpath also runs across the inside dock gate as an alternative route.

Albert dock was full of vessels but there was very little movement in or out of the dock and Hull’s fishing fleet was largely idle. Fish were I think still being landed, but now by Icelandic vessels.

32q11: Albert Dock from swing bridge, 1982 – Docks

6th May 2017

Humber Dock is now Hull Marina, and crowded with yachts. The distinctive tall 3-bay No.13 warehouses on Railway Dock are still there along with some of the city centre buildings on the horizon, but the rest have long gone.

Another small ship is moored beyond the Coquet Mouth but few details are visible, and this side of the dock is otherwise empty. The Coquet Mouth is a small (171 Gros tons, 30.84m × 7.85m) Grab Hopper Dredger, presumably there to dredge the DOck for use as the marina. She was built in 1955 by W.J. Yarwood & Sons Ltd at Northwich and a few years ago was still working at Goole.

She replaced an earlier dredger of the same name which was sunk by a mine in 1940, which got its name from the River Coquet, which flows into the North Sea at Amble, Northumberland. The ship was on sale in 2012 for £ 54,995 described as a Barge Mooring Vessel for possible conversion to a houseboat, but is I think still around, with some fairly recent images showing her in dock at Hull and on the Humber.

32q13: Humber Dock from Wellington St, 1982 – Docks

7th May 2017

Inge, moored here in Albert Dock in 1982 had a small taste of fame when she was hired to make a Christmas episode of ‘Only Fools and Horses’, ‘To Hull and Back’ in 1985, in which Del and Rodney go in it from Hull to Holland with experienced sailor Albert – whose experience turns out to have been only in the engine room rather than on the bridge – to buy diamonds with counterfeit cash to smuggle back to Hull, getting lost in the North Sea on both outward and return journeys.

Coming back they follow the Hull – Zebrugge roll on – roll off ferry MV Norland but at first this takes them to Zeebrugge rather than Hull – so they wait and follow it home. I rather suspect the Inge would not have been capable of keeping the ferry in sight for long with the ferry’s maximum speed of 19 knots.

Inge was owned by Humber Divers and used for survey work both in 1985 and when I took this picture in 1982. The divers used it to explore a number of wrecks along the east coast – particularly World War II aircraft – where a smaller vessel than their main one was adequate. The company went in to voluntary liquidation in the late 1970s.

At the right is the Albert dock entrance.

32q31: Inge moored in Albert Dock, 1982 – Docks

8th May 2017

The public footpath, now part of the Trans Pennine Trail, is on the extreme left of the picture behind the fence and the view is along most of the three blocks each of 7 barrel vaults beside the Humber, though it gets hard to distinguish the roofs in the distance. The curve of the Humber shore with Hull’s Eastern Docks and then the cooling towers at Saltend and on towards Spurn still looks similar today, though with rather fewer cranes.

32q42: Public footpath across roofs of dockside buildings, Albert Dock, 1982 – Docks

9th May 2017

From the public footpath on top of the dockside sheds between Albert Dock and the Humber I could see a small vessel moored in the river, its anchor chain clearly visible in a large image, but its name just too indistinct to make out. It appears to be a coastal tanker, similar to those often seen in the River Hull and making their way up the Humber towards Goole. Although static, he ship has a slight wake as the tide flows out past it, and its outline disturbs the otherwise careful near-symmetry of the composition.

The opposite bank appears to be fairly empty, except for trees, though in the distant haze above the bank above the bridge of the ship I can see the towers of oil refineries, presumably the Lindsey refinery at North Killingholme and its neighbouring Humber refinery at South Killingholme, though these are invisble on the small web image. To the right is a tall chimney and further right still a long line of buildings.

32q66: Dockside shed roofs and the Humber, Albert Dock, 1982 – Docks

10th May 2017

A picture from a virtually identical viewpoint to one posted earlier from another walk along Bankside, taken through the gate to a wharf on the River Hull at Hull Exhaust Centre but with a landscape rather than a portrait view which gives a very different picture. Included at the right of this image are a number of moored barges, the Croda Isis Oil Mill and closer buildings which I think are a part of the Reckitt’s ultramarine works, established here in 1884.

One of the barges clearly has the name ‘TIT’ and the number 52 on its stern, and the closest vessel is possibly ‘JOLLY ?’. At the left of the picture the sheds on the west bank are clearly more modern, and beyond the Exhaust Centre is a van for Firdale Foods, a Boston, Lincs based meat and poultry company which was dissolved in 2000.

The Grade II listed Isis Oil Mill in Morley St were built in 1912 for Wray, Sanderson & Co (architects Gelder & Kitchen.) In 1947 the company became part of Premier Oil and Cake Mills Ltd and was acquired by Croda in 1967. In 1985 it was bought by Cargill Ltd and is still in business crushing rape to make rape seed oil and other products.

32r15: Hull Exhaust Centre, River Hull and Croda Isis Mill from Bankside, 1982 – River Hull

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Photo London

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Photo London opens to the public today – and I went to the Press View yesterday. I found it rather tiring, not least because I was determined to see everything I could on one day, and also had a couple of protests to photograph, at Canary Wharf and on Northumberland Ave.

I’d recommend taking it rather easier. The days start at noon, and I’d suggest doing an hour or so and then retiring for a leisurely lunch – if you want it on the cheap there are a couple of Wetherspoons not far away at Holborn, because you will be in need of refreshment, and a little food to keep you going. And for a tea break later there’s a Sam Smiths pub a short way west on the other side of the Strand. I made the mistake of tackling the show alcohol-free, and found it difficult. Best take a friend or two for support too.

As this may suggest, I find it a difficult event, though I’m still pleased I made the effort, because there certainly are works worth seeing, even if many of them are old favourites. But for me its rather too much like going to Mayfair – the smell of money disgusts. Silly things on sale at silly prices. And far too much work that is corporate decor rather than any significant photography. But it is still worth making the effort, as there is nothing like it unless you make a trip to Paris or further afield.

I enter the corridors in what is something of a truffle hunt, looking for photography among the heaps of arty rubbish. Its not actually quite that bad, but there are a number of extremely depressing galleries exhibiting and encouraging some extremely trite photography. But there are a number of things worth finding, though nothing that would get me taking out my cheque book (I do still have one and a reasonably healthy bank balance) at the asking prices. Even for pictures I really like there seemed to be one or two noughts too many. The problem is that photography is no longer just supporting photographers but supporting a huge superstructure of galleries, curators, gallerists – and expensive shows like this. And actually not supporting enough serious photographers.

Photo Paris – which I’ve been to half a dozen times – seems to do it much better. A wider range of work – and rather less of the dull arty stuff, and set in a less confusing space. And Paris and France has much more of a photographic rather than an art culture – and considerably less of a class-based nature.

I liked seeing the giant Klein murals – at their best on the outside of the Pavillion and one of the more impressive aspects of the show. Magnum’s contribution with the prints swapped by David Hurn was also a fine display. Back when I began in photography, the kind of print-swapping that this exhibits was widespread – virtually all of us swapped prints with other photographers that we knew.

Swapping prints wasn’t – as the wall text of the Magnum show suggests – a bright idea of David Hurn, who did extremely well out of his exchanges and was fortunate to be able to keep up the practice with his Magnum colleagues after it had largely died out elsewhere, and in almost every instance the wall shows he got the best of the deal. But in what seems to me a supreme irony is that the practice was stopped by the rise of the galleries which Photo London represents, with a corresponding increase in the price of photographs. Many photographers now have to sign contracts which prevent them swapping prints, and commit to limited editions which make swapping more difficult.

It’s a shame too that such a small section of the show is devoted to photographic books, although some galleries also have them on their stands. The book is I think most often the ideal representation of photography, and I felt this on looking at one of the two large sets of Korean photography on the east and west sides of the Pavilion. While the trees by Bae Bien-U certainly gained something from being more or less life-sized (though I did think I’d rather go and walk through a real wood – which I can do at a short bike ride from where I live) the images by Noh Suntag on the west side seemed to me to gain nothing from their scale – and would be better seen in a book.

I did enjoy the opportunity to see Isaac Julien‘s 1989 film ‘Looking for Langston‘ – Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes – though I didn’t have time to sit through the full hour-long movie, and there is only seating for a handful – I might drop back later, but felt the still images in the Pavillion were disappointing. Perhaps the images that inspired the film – particularly those by James Van DerZee and Roy Decarava – would have been a better accompaniment.

The work by Taryn Simon, the show’s ‘Master of Photography‘ was to my mind hardly appropriate, though of some mild interest, largely in showing how differently those who live in Iran see the world through internet search engines. I did try a couple of search terms myself – and got rather different sets of images returned for the UK than those I get from home from Google, and I wonder why – perhaps the search results are heavily influenced by cookies.

Other disappointments were that I was unable to see Matt Collishaw‘s ‘Thresholds’, a virtual reality recreation of W H F Talbot’s 1839 show in Birmingham; although we got him talking about it at the Press Launch. It sounded interesting, though again not photography. Jurgen Teller‘s special exhibition was also supposedly a highlight, but I found little special. His work has always seemed something something of the Emperor’s new clothes to me, though of course on the wall it was women who were without them.

I’m sorry to be rather negative. It would be good to have a real photo-festival in London, and most years recently we have done in the East London Photomonth, taking a rest this year. Photo London is a dealer show for wealthy collectors, and there were fools getting parted from their money today, but there are also a few crumbs which fall from those over-priced tables that make a visit for the rest of us worthwhile, even if we have to put up with much that lacks photographic interest.

Photo London continues until Sunday but if you can’t make it you can look at last year’s show on line in an impressive virtual tour. The pictures are shown in enough detail to recognise, but not really to view them, but at least you avoid the crowds. And the £29 for an adult day pass. The 2016 show was I think more interesting than this year’s event which I assume will also appear similarly at some time as I think I saw it being made today.

Tottenham Remembers

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The day after Black Lives Matter London in Altab Ali Park I went ot another event remembering the anniversary of the shooting of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham on on 4 August 2011.  Reading the accounts related to his shooting, including the subsequent trial of one of those with him and the inquest, for example on Wikipedia,  it is impossible to tell exactly what took place, but certain that the police lied, contradicted themselves, issued false statements and briefings and attempted to frustrate the inquiries into the case.

It is also clear that the police failure to communicate sensibly with either Duggan’s family or the wider community about the shooting was the spark which set off the riots.

The only possible conclusion seems to me that the police immediately realised that the team who had killed Duggan had done so illegally and had then swung into huge if rather badly coordinated attempts to cover up their actions. Given the published evidence, the jury verdict reached by an 8-1 majority that the killing of Duggan was lawful seems ridiculous – but as so often the police had got away with it.

Certainly for much of the community in Tottenham there was no doubt that this was another extra-judicial murder by police, and he is just another of the list of their people murdered by them, including Cynthia Jarrett, Joy Gardener, Roger Sylvester, and, more recently,  Jermaine Baker, shot in 2015 in Wood Green.

Tottenham remembers Mark Duggan started at the centre of the Broadwater Farm  estate, which became notorious at the time of the 1985 riots, which began after police raided the home there of  Cynthia Jarrett, who died. Her friends and family demanded an inquiry but the neighbourhood rioted and 500 police were sent into forcibly end it. One, PC Keith Blakelock, tripped and fell ot the ground where he was surrounded by a group of people and kicked and stabbed to death.

Police occupied the estate for the next two months with dogs, surveillance equipment and helicopters. Police made 379 arrests and six people were charged with murdering PC Blakelock – and three men were convicted of his murder, but had their conviction s quashed on appeal over irregularities in the police interviews. Two police interviewers were charged with perverting the course of justice and falsifying evidence – but were acquitted.

Police investigations into the murder continued, with a considerable amount of police harassment of some of the suspects and ten men were arrested in 2010. One stood trial in 2013 and was acquitted. He stated he wasn’t present when the murder  took place and did not know who carried it out.

The atmosphere as people gathered for the march was a little tense. The media haven’t treated the estate or its residents fairly over the years and don’t trust them. I felt in a better position than most as a number of the main figures taking part know me and my work over the years, and that I’ve always tried to be fair and state their case accurately.

There were a number of people taking part whose relatives have been killed by police, including Mark Duggan’s aunt and mother, Sean Rigg’s sister Marcia and Jermaine Baker’s mother and other relatives , as well as some Black activists I’ve photographed at other events.

Things did get slightly more difficult at the rally in front of Tottenham Police Station, particularly when some other photographers began to get a little in the way of events and photographers were asked to move back. I had to move and work a little more discretely than usual, but still managed to get my pictures. One man towards the end did object to my presence, but fortunately others told him to ease off, as I was OK.

Policing in this country is often said – particularly by police spokespersons – to be policing by consent, policing which requires the trust and support of the community. I’m not sure that has ever been fully given in any working class communities, who largely regard the police as agents of the bosses and the rich, even if not everyone subscribes to the ACAB view. But certainly trust is at a real low in Tottenham.

Tottenham remembers Mark Duggan