Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

Dancing and Dereliction – TQ30

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

North of Covent Garden in the 1km wide strip of London in TQ30 we come into the areas of St Pancras in LB Camden (which includes Kings Cross) and Pentonville in Islington which were largely outside the tourist zone, apart from housing a number of hotels, none of which appear in my colour pictures from 1986-93.

Printer, Kings Cross Rd, St Pancras,1990 TQ3083-057

Businesses here catered for London, and many were failing thanks to changes in technology and the de-industrialisation of our economy. A large swathe was blighted by plans for development of the railway lands, including much outside the actual rail areas that were threatened by demolition, though thanks to local opposition much has so far been saved.

Wellers Court, Somers Town, 1990TQ3083-048

North of Kings Cross there was to be wholesale demolition, and even listed buildings were not safe. The gasholders that were such a prominent landmark in the area were soon to be dismantled, with some being re-erected some distance away on the opposite side of the canal.

Gasholder, Pancras Rd, Kings Cross, 1990 TQ3083-030

And the dancers on the side of Stanley Buildings were having their final dance before they and the other nearby buildings were demolished.

Dancers, Stanley Buildings, Kings Cross, 1990TQ3083-009

Perhaps surprisingly I took few pictures of the Regent’s Canal in colour, though rather more in black and white, but I had photographed around here fairly extensively in the previous few years and perhaps felt I had little more to say.

Works, Albert Wharf, New Wharf Rd, Pentonville, 1986 TQ3083-021

But it was good to have a picture of the road side of Charles Bartlett, Export Packers & Shippers, whose chimney and works dominate this stretch of the canal.

Door and Brooms, Caledonian Rd, Pentonville, 1990TQ3083-064

But the road that fascinated me most was the Caledonian Road and its side streets, as a number of the pictures here show. You can see these and others on the third page of my album TQ30 London Cross-section.


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.


TQ30 Covent Garden

Friday, June 5th, 2020
Legs, Great Queen St, Covent Garden, Camden, 1987TQ3081-017

Continuing the one kilometre wide strip of London TQ30 north from Westminster leads to Covent Garden, which by the time I took these pictures around 1989 had already become a tourist Mecca. The market had closed and moved to Nine Elms a dozen years earlier in 1974 and many trendy businesses had moved into the area.

Cactus, Entrance, Russell St, Covent Garden, 1991 TQ3081-042

Among them were many clubs and eateries joining those that there already in an area of theatres and of course the Opera House. Opposite that was Bow Street Magistrate’s Court, still in business (it closed in 2006), one of London’s best-known legal landmarks, where many famous and infamous had come to trial.

Young Dancer, Enzo Plazzotta, Broad Court, Covent Garden, 1991 TQ3081-041

Just to its north is a wide alley, Broad Court, with a fine row of red telephone boxes and a statue of a young dancer, though I’m not sure why facing the Opera House was thought to be an appropriate position for her.

Elvis, Great Queen St Holborn, 1991 TQ3081-043

Elvis was not far away, in Great Queen St. It was had to tell from many of the shop windows exactly what business they were in, but one of the strangest was in Betterton St – The Albanian Shop, where you could buy the thoughts and probably a bust of ‘The Iron Fist of Albania’ and which doubled as ‘The Gramophone Exchange’. It is alas no longer with us.

Albanian Shop, Betterton Street, Covent Garden, 1991 TQ3081-052

Doubtless there is still much of interest in Covent Garden, if in normal times you can see any of it for the hordes of tourists. It’s an area of London I now tend to avoid, but back then was always an interesting and often surreal experience.

Gloves, shop window, Judd St, St Pancras,1986 TQ3082-015

More pictures mainly on the second page of TQ30 London Cross-section.


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.


1986 Page 8

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Page 8 of my album 1986 London Photographs begins with pictures from Wapping in August 1986.

Wapping High St, Wapping, Tower Hamlets  86-8t-55-Edit_2400

I photographed some slogans in Russian on fences – left I understand from the making of a film, supposedly set in Russia, but actually filmed here.

Wapping High St, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-8t-54-Edit_2400

Wapping High Street never failed to interest me back then, though it has now lost a great deal of the old atmosphere. The doorway at the right of this picture now leads to the Captain Kidd pub, converted from an old warehouse which used to store various goods including coffee, edible gums, dried fruit and wool from Australia. Sam Smith’s have done some excellent conversions of a number of historic properties and this is now a pleasant place to sit on a terrace overlooking the river and enjoy a pint of Old Brewery Bitter in a pub blessedly without TV or canned music.

Hays Wharf, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark 86-8u-61-Edit_2400

After making some pictures there I walked back to Tower Bridge and crossed it to wander around a little of Bermondsey and Southwark as I made my way back to Waterloo station. The view towards Guy’s Hospital from Tower Bridge is rather different now, with City Hall and More London almost hiding the hospital tower and a wide walkway along the river bank.

Gainsford St, Bermondsey, Southwark 86-8u-54-Edit_2400

As in Wapping, many of these pictures south of the river show evidence of the great deal of building work then taking place, with many buildings being reduced to street-facing facades. For many buildings keeping the facades is probably the only possible way – if done sympathetically – of retaining some of the atmosphere of the areas, though when done badly a complete modern replacement would be preferable; not all buildings deserve to be kept. Mostly I avoided people in making these pictures, but some were desperate to be photographed.

Southern 777, Steam Engine, Cannon St Station, City 86-8v-65-Edit_2400

Another day in August I went with my two young sons, both keen railway enthusiasts and members of a British Rail kids group ‘Railriders’ to an event taking place at Cannon St station, with vintage Southern Railway electric trains and a steam engine.

Skin Market Place, Southwark 86-8w-01-Edit_2400

The trains didn’t greatly interest me, but I took a few pictures before we left and went over Southwark Bridge for a walk around Southwark, again on our way to Waterloo. Bankside Power Station is now Tate Modern, but I think Skin Market Place and its council depot has disappeared without trace.

100 pictures at 1986 London Photographs Page 8


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.


Slowing Down

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
The Old Town Hall, Staines – given away and now being converted to flats

Tuesday

Two lycra-clad cyclists were chatting nonchalantly as they came up beside me on the road coming into Laleham this morning and I heard them for a few seconds until they swept apparently effortlessly past me. Perhaps I sped up just a little, though I was already going as fast as I could comfortably, and I was just a little discomforted as I saw them take the same route as I was intending to travel, down Ferry Lane and Thames Side, though they were only perhaps 50 yards ahead as I made the right turn behind them.

They weren’t actually going a great deal faster than me, and they were still in sight by the time we reached Chertsey Lock, over a mile and a half after they had passed me, perhaps just 300 yards ahead, but it was their apparent ease that upset me a little, as I was more or less at full stretch.

I lost them then, as they went right and I went left, continuing to push myself on my morning 10 mile exercise ride. It was a warm morning with little wind, ideal for cycling, and as I made my way through Littleton and Charlton, glances at my watch confirmed that I had a good chance of meeting my target time for the ride of 40 minutes. It was after all only 15 miles per hour.

It was when I came to the busy A308 Staines Road West that things really began to go pear-shaped. Rather than ride along the road I decided to take the safer shared foot and cycle path on its north side. It starts along pavements, with a few nuisance side-roads which crazily have right of way and then becomes a fairly narrow path with a surface disrupted by tree roots. I had to slow down, changing down two gears, and even then it was heavy and uncomfortable going. Then came a combination of bumps and a large jolt shook my pannier off its rack and I had to stop to fix it back on.

I stopped and found I was pretty well exhausted. What should have been a simple job of lifting the pannier back on eluded me, it slipping out of my hands. After around a minute of struggling I thought I had it fixed and rode off – but when I got home found I had only got one of the two supports on the rack. I struggled on, but when my target time came still had a little over a mile to ride.

I was deflated and could hardly bring myself to go on. That last mile or so was hard going although I took it at around half my normal pace, finishing the ride in 49 minutes. When I got home I collapsed into an armchair and could do little for the next half hour or so. Twelve hours later I’m still feeling tired from the ride.

I don’t intend to give up the rides but I think I have to become rather more realistic about my capabilities. Back in the day I’d reckon on three minutes per mile, but roads were smoother then and I was younger and fitter and on a lighter and faster bike, with lightweight alloy wheels and tubular tires – and around three stone less of rider to carry. Those two riders who passed me were probably each 50 years younger than me – and probably hadn’t had a heart attack and weren’t insulin dependent.

So tomorrow when I take the bike out for another ten, I’ll be happy to get home in around an hour – perhaps a little longer if I stop off a few times to take pictures – and leave targets to the young and fit.

Wraysbury River

Wednesday

Today it was three or four degrees cooler as I left home around 9am for one of the easier and possibly slightly shorter 10 mile rides on my list of nine routes. I made a point of stopping a number of times to take a few photographs to illustrate this post.

Wraysbury River and M25

This was a largely traffic-free route – a back road to nowhere, a bridleway, a minor road, a wide shared path beside a road, with just a short section at each end close to home through normal suburban traffic. But what really makes it an easy ride is the road surfaces. Non-cyclists just don’t realise what a difference this makes. Our road network was largely built for cyclists and back in my youth we had road-rollers (and even the occasional steam roller among them) which smoothed the road when it was relaid. Whoever decided to do away with these and just chuck on tar and gravel and let the traffic bed it down was certainly not a cyclist. These rough road surfaces just mean a little more road noise for drivers, but need noticeably more effort to cycle on – and along with the extra potholes and road waves tire our wrists and keep our eyes looking down at the road rather than enjoying the view.

Wraysbury River

After yesterday’s ride I took things easy, not pushing things but going at a comfortable rate. On the long roadside shared path down from Stanwell Moor between the reservoirs, now gloriously smooth, I couldn’t resist, changed up a gear and really flew, but otherwise took it easy.

Mill, River Colne, Stanwell Moor

There were just a few drops of rain as I approached home. I’d done my daily exercise and was sweating a bit, but wasn’t exhausted. The ten miles are fairly nominal, and this one may be a little shorter than yesterday, but despite being much more relaxed and making several short stops I’d taken three minutes less.


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.


TQ30

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
Shop, Brixton Hill, Brixton, 1991TQ3074-001

Back in 1986 I began a serious attempt to photograph London. Serious but not entirely credible I set out the photograph the whole of the city. Of course I never thought I could photograph everything, but set out a number of principles or themes that would govern my project, or rather a series of projects that I continued to work on for the next ten or 15 years.

Streatham High Rd, 1990 TQ3071-002

The larger part of this work was in black and white, and concentrated on buildings and streets, the physical infrastructure of London, with the goal of photographing every built structure I thought significant, as well as representatives of the typical across the city. You can see a little of this on Flickr in the album 1986 London Photographs, which contains over 1300 photographs, perhaps a third of those I took in the first six or seven months of the project.

Heads & Dummy, Shop,Streatham High Rd, Streatham, 1990TQ3072-010

In colour I was largely concerned with a more intimate level, or how individuals arranged their surroundings and how this reflected their differing social and cultural values. Some of the more obvious reflections of this came in small businesses with the face they displayed toward the public, particularly in shop windows and interiors, which feature strongly in this work.

Bedford Rd, Clapham, 1992 TQ3075-025

The previous year I had abandoned colour transparency and moved to working with colour negative film which provided much greater flexibility. For some years this was entirely trade-processed, and to cut costs (I had a young family to support) I used cheap processing companies aimed for the amateur market. Technically these were rather variable (even from the same company) and the prints I received back, usually 6×4″ ‘enprints’, were extremely variable in quality.

Shop, South Lambeth Rd, South Lambeth, 1989 TQ3077-005

As the stack of fat envelopes containing the negative strips and prints grew I wondered how to make some order of them, and came up with the idea of a traverse of the city with pictures filed together representing a number of ‘vertical’ north-south 1km wide strips of London based around the National Grid.

Cafe, Plato Rd, Brixton, 1989 TQ3077-009

Prints from negatives that interested me were then filed in a series of A4 files, labelled with the first 4 digits of the six figure grid reference which I had begun to mark on the prints. The pictures in this post are all from ‘TQ30’, and the 1km wide strip starts at Streatham and goes north from there. I started scrap book style, pasting the prints onto cartridge paper, but soon moved to using plastic file pages which held four prints on each side, arranging the prints roughly in order of their ‘northings’ in kilometre squares.

From these albums – a longish row of A4 files on my shelves – I was able to select images that were worth printing larger, keeping costs down by printing and processing in my own home darkroom. I’d discovered that Fuji colour paper not only gave cleaner looking prints but enabled the kind of dodging and burning that I’d become used to in black and white without the unwelcome colour shifts of other papers. I’ve had one set of prints from a show in the mid-80s framed on the wall beside the stairs since that show. They are out of direct sun and 35 years later show little of no sign of fading.

Bicycle, Shop, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, 1989 TQ3078-005

I began putting images from this project on Flickr several months ago, and at the start tried to replicate the layout of the albums – and the vagaries of the prints in terms of colour balance, exposure, saturation etc. Having done several 1km strips like this I’ve decided it doesn’t really work to well, and although I’m still scanning the prints in their sheets of four have separated them into individual images – still roughly in the same order – for TQ30. And while some of the defects of those trade-processed prints are still evident (and occasionally rather a lot of dust on the plastic sleeves) I’ve tried to improve the colour balance etc where necessary. But they are still showing enprints enlarged on screen and this makes some problems more visible.

So far I’ve put just over 100 prints into the album TQ30, from Streatham to Westminster, with another 250 or more to follow, taking the ‘slice’ north to Hornsey. You can view them on Flickr.


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.


Lucy Parsons

Monday, June 1st, 2020
Poor Doors protest, Aldgate 30 Jul 2014

I’ve just been reading a guest post on A D Coleman’s Photocritic International by Colleen Thornton on Paul Grottkau and Lucy Parsons, the first in a series of posts in what Coleman describes as her “painstaking inquiry” which “introduces to the medium’s history two extraordinary figures: a German-born 19th-century U.S.-based anarcho-socialist photographer, Paul Grottkau, and his subject, the African-American anarcho-socialist Lucy Parsons, widow of one of the men railroaded to public hanging in the prosecution of the suspects of the Chicago Haymarket Riot.”

Her research was prompted by finding a cabinet portrait of Parsons on eBay with the photographer’s details on the card below the picture. It is to be published on Photocritic International in three parts of three instalments each. As I write the first two of Part I are online, introducing the photograph of ‘an attractive, well-attired “woman of color”’ for which surprisingly Thornton was the only bidder, and with the photographer, who was previously unknown to me.

I’ve long known a little about Lucy Parsons, a remarkable figure in the history of the USA, and about the Haymarket massacre which led to May 1st being celebrated by socialists as May Day – here’s a brief paragraph I wrote on this site in 2018:

Since around 1891, May 1st has also been celebrated as a socialist festival, usually called May Day, but often also referred to as International Workers’ Day, Labour Day or Workers’ Day, the date chosen in memory of the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886, where a bomb was thrown at police as they attempted to disperse what had been a peaceful rally of trade unionists. Eight anarchists – none of whom had actually thrown the bomb – were convicted of conspiracy, and seven were sentenced to death, though the sentences on two were commuted to life imprisonment. The trial was widely criticised as a miscarriage of justice and the three men still alive were pardoned and freed in 1893. The massacre was on May 4th, and the date of May 1st was almost certainly chosen because it was by tradition May Day.

Lucy Parson’s husband, Albert Parsons, was one of the “Haymarket Martrys”, a union leader with no connection to the actual bombing who was executed on November 11, 1887. She had been born a slave on a plantation in Virginia in 1851 and had married Parsons in Texas in 1871, the couple having to move to the north because of racist hostility to their marriage. She became one of the USA’s leading anarchists, a labour organiser and journalist with an international reputation, one of the founders of the  Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Famously described by Chicago police as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” she continued her political activities until shortly before her death in 1942.

I think Lucy Parsons first came to my attention through Class War, one of whose banners carries the text “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” Lucy Parson 1853-1942 CLASS WAR“. It has on it another portrait of her, a far less formal image – and one that appeals to me rather more than the younger and slightly dreamy vignetted pose in the image that attracted the attention of Thornton. The photographer of this picture, made in the 1920s, is unknown.

The ‘Lucy Parsons banner’ was one they used in the long series of ‘Poor Door’ protests – around 30 in all – that I photographed outside 1 Commercial St, Aldgate, calling attention to the socially divisive separate entrances being provided for wealthy private residents and social housing tenants in this and other blocks.

It has also been carried by them at many other events. In December 2014 Class War used the banner outside the Mayfair offices of US property developers Westbrook Partners who were intending to evict tenants from the New Era Estate in Hackney before Christmass so they could refurbish these low rent social properties and re-let them at market rents – roughly four times as much.


Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era

It’s a banner I’ve made so many picture of, both at protests about various housing issues and at other events. So I thought I’d share just a few here, and an hour later I was still finding more and more to share from My London Diary. So perhaps as more of Thornton’s research is published I may share another set. Those in this post are all from 2014.


City, Whitechapel and Wapping 1986

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Page 7 of my black and white work in 1986 London Photos begins in the City but then gravitates east to Aldgate, Whitechapel and Wapping.

Holborn Viaduct, Farringdon St, West Smithfield, City  86-7v-12_2400

Holborn Viaduct which carries the road over the Fleet valley – Farringdon St – is a remarkable piece of Victoriana, and a considerable feat of engineering at the time as well as well as a remarkable example of city planning. The scheme, which included the buildings at the four corners of the bridge as well as roads around including Holborn Circus, streets leading to Smithfield Market, as well as provision for gas, water, sewage and other services cost around £2 million in 1863-69 and has been described as “the most ambitious and costly improvement scheme of the [nineteenth] century” and as the world’s first flyover. You can read a detailed account of it at The Victorian Web.

What interested me most were the sculptures which adorn the bridge and I’ve photographed them on various occasions over the years. In 1986 I could only bring myself to stop taking pictures when I came to the end of a cassette of film and also photographed the bridge from below and the corner buildings. I’ve only put two of the 18 frames I took onto Flickr.

Smithfield Market, City 86-8r-45-Edit_2400

There are a number of pictures from the area around Smithfield Market, though I’ve never got up early enough to photograph the market truly in progress – and other photographers have done so pretty well so I didn’t feel I needed to make the effort.

Albion Buildings, Little Britain, City 86-8r-64-Edit_2400

Little Britain remains a fascinating street though now I think only the facades remain and the area behind has been destroyed. I came across it a little too late when demolition of much of it was already underway and by 1986 I think it was well advanced. These properties in Albion Place, for Overbury & Sons Limited at 7 and 8 and John Lovegrove & Co Ltd at 6 had long been closed.

Hessel St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-55-Edit_2400

Hessel St in Whitechapel was a remarkable street full of old shops, some now junk shops, others Bangladeshi grocers but with some still retaining the names and descriptions of their earlier Jewish shops. As well as these black and white picture I also photographed some of the shops in colour.

These pictures were made in August 1986 and I returned some time later hoping to take more but I think then most of the street had disappeared.

Prescot St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-61-Edit_2400
Prescot St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-64-Edit_2400

Prescott Street now looks a little different, though a number of the older buildings have survived, including a fine pub. But most are now in very different uses and in rather better condition than when I took these pictures in 1986.

Discovery Walk, Wapping Lane, Wapping, Tower Hamlets Discovery Walk, Wapping Lane, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-23-Edit_2400

My street map describes this as ‘Ornamental Canal’ and I think that the redevelopment of the London Docks in Wapping is perhaps the least successful of all docklands redevelopment in retaining any real impression of the former dock with the exception of just a small area at its southwest and Shadwell New Basin. Wapping outside the dock area has fared a little better too, though it is sometimes only skin deep.

Page 7 1986 London Photos.


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 London 1986

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

The pictures on page 6 of my 1986 London Photographs were all taken in the City of London or close to its edges in Tower Hamlets and Finsbury and include a few of its better known buildings but are mainly less well-known streets and aspects that caught my attention.

P & O, St Botolph St, City 86-7o-45_2400

There is still a Beaufort House on St Botolph St, but it isn’t the same building. This one, dating from the 1950s with a nautical feel, was built as offices for the P & O shipping company. As I turned the corner and it hove into site it always gave me the impression of a huge liner with many deck levels that had somehow been marooned in the city.

Shortly after I took this and the other pictures on Page 6 it was demolished, with construction starting later in the year and completed in 1988 to an overblown postmodern design by RHWL Architects, a “distinctive office building” which many find hideous. In 2016 Amazon took around 47,000 square ft of its space in one of the largest office deals of that year.

Wentworth St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets86-7q-64_2400

While many of these buildings are still there, often they have changed a little. Permutt Fashion Stores are no longer there at 11 Wentworth St in Petticoat Lane market, which is now ‘Queen of Textile’s’ with a rather curious apostrophe but without the advertising on the upper floors – though the rectangle above the first floor window with the name C PERMUTT when I took my picture is still there, but empty. A Permutt’s at number 13 is now a nameless Dry Cleaners and Tailors. The café at No. 9 is still a café and looks very similar but is now called Simply Tasty rather than being named for the Italian city of Vernasca, though it still appears to offer home-cooked food at reasonable prices.

Searching for more about A Permutt on the web reveals little other than that in 1934 there were bankruptcy proceedings at Carey St against an Abraham Permutt, trading as A Permutt & Co, a timber merchant in nearby Brick Lane. I don’t know if there was any connection with the A Permutt whose shop was in Wentworth St.

Nat West Tower, Tower 42, City86-7p-31_2400

The NatWest Tower is still there, though now longer called that, now known as Tower 42. Completed in 1980, it was the first skyscraper in the City, and still one of its taller buildings at 600ft. It has 47 floors, with 42 of them cantilevered out from a central core, and was renamed Tower 42 in 1995. The tower was extensively damaged by the IRA bomb in Bishopsgate in 1993 and required several years of work and after the refurb NatWest decided to sell it rather than move back in.

The picture shows two of the cantilevered sections. There are several walkways around the base of the building but all are private property and after I had taken several pictures I was approached by a very polite security officer who told me that photography was not permitted, showing me exactly where the boundary of the property was on the pavement and saying I could take as many pictures as I liked from there.

Worship St, Finsbury, Islington  86-7q-32_2400

Although much of the area has been destroyed, this fine row of properties on Worship St remains. The street was once called Hog Lane and there are at least two suggestions for the name change. One says it got its new name from a merchant tailor, John Worshop, who owned several acres of land in the area, while others suggest it was because the first houses on the street were built with stone from the old church of St Mary Islington.

This row of artisans workshops with living accommodation above replaced older slum properties on the site, possibly dating from before 1680. The area was owned from around 1740 by the Gillum Family and in 1862 Lieutenant-Colonel William Gillum commissioned leading Arts and Crafts architect Phillip Webb in 1862 to design this block as affordable properties for craftsmen in line with the ideas of honest handwork advanced by Webb and his colleague and friend William Morris. At the right of the row you can just see the V-shaped porch over a water fountain he incorporated into the design.

Finsbury Dairy, Sun St, Finsbury, Islington 86-7q-43_2400

13 Sun Street is now a part of the One Crown Place development which claims to have retained “the elegant row of Georgian terraces on Sun Street” as a boutique hotel and members’ club. It will perhaps have kept some elements of the facade, but I doubt if the diary will be recognisable. The whole length of the terrace which had been boarded up for years was covered with scaffolding in 2018.

Some London Dairies actually had cows in their backyards, but I think this one seems unlikely to have done so. More likely the milk would have come in churns from farms in the countryside, perhaps to the nearby Liverpool St station, on early morning milk trains.

Great St Thomas Apostle, City 86-7r-23_2400

Close to Mansion House station at the bottom of Garlick Hill is Skinners Lane. Skinners and their trade were important in London and the Worshipful Company of Skinners who have a hall in Dowgate Hill were one of the 12 great livery companies, getting their charter from Edward III in 1327. Back in 1986 there were still a number of fur companies still trading in the area, particularly in Great St Thomas Apostle, including Montreal Furs, just a few doors down from Queen St. Presumably its name indicates it was trading in fur skins from Canada, where trappers still operate cruelly supplying companies such as Canada Goose.

You can still see its rather finely decorated shopfront, now a part of Wagamama.

There are 100 pictures on Page 6 of my Flickr Album 1986 London Photographs


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.


Socialism is Survival

Friday, May 29th, 2020
Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’

In 2008 Richard Wilkinson wrote an opinion in The Guardian, ‘Follow Cuba’s emissions standard‘ in which he states:

“According to the WWF, Cuba is the only country that has managed to combine an environmentally sustainable footprint per head of population with an acceptably high quality of life as measured by the UN Human Development Index. And if Cuba can do that without the latest and most economical technology, how much easier should it be for us?”

Follow Cuba’s emissions standard

Part of the reason for this is, as he also states, that resources in Cuba, though relatively limited are shared much more equally than in market-led democracies such as the UK and the US. He makes the point that material differences between people are destructive, reducing well-being and quality of life and leading to many social problems, and that wealthy societies such as our should be concentrating on reducing inequalities rather than pursuing economic growth.

Cuba Leads the Way

To put it simply, we already have enough, and the important thing is now that everyone gets a decent share. We don’t need exact equality, but we do need to avoid the kind of indecent excess we now see, with the rich with more money than they can ever sensibly spend and the poor unable to afford decent food and safe housing, with too many sleeping on the streets or in overcrowded properties, often with little or no security of tenure and too many in jobs on less than a living wage and often zero hours contracts.

Smach Capitalism! Save Our Planet!

The biggest challenge we face as a world and as a nation is of course not the largely irrelevant matter of Brexit but climate change, and inequality also drives that – both directly by the senseless consumption of the ultra-rich and the poor quality environment of the poor, and indirectly by the encouragement to consume of living in the same society as those who feature most largely in our advertising and media coverage. We are going to have to make huge changes to survive, cutting down our footprint on the world’s resources to perhaps a quarter of the current UK levels, a change that it is hard to see a market-led capitalist system adapting to. And while Wilkinson suggests it should be easier for us, I think our current wealth and political system probably make it impossible. At least without a real revolution.

The Solution is Socialism

The Revolutionary Communist Group put it more starkly and simply than Wilkinson: “Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’ but also base their conclusion on the closest we have in the world to a socialist state, Cuba. Despite punitive economic sanctions imposed by the USA (and perhaps sometimes as a result of them) Cuba under communism has made enormous strides in some areas, producing universal literacy and one of the leading health services in the world – and its medical services are one of the country’s main sources of foreign income. Increased life expectancy – to values similar to much rich countries such as the USA and UK – in a roughly static population is now presenting familiar problems. Energy use has remained relatively low with per-capita consumption only around a quarter of that in the UK.

Of course that isn’t the whole story, though it is perhaps difficult to know exactly what is, as all sources of information about the country reflect considerable bias. Many in the RCG have been to Cuba and seen the country at first hand, but what and who they saw will to some extent be affected by their own political affiliations and those of their hosts. Much of the more commonly spread information in the media comes from émigrés who left the country because of their dissatisfaction with the situation and the regime, or from anti-communist individuals and and capitalist organisations.

‘Practically Perfect In Every Way’

Castro and his guerrilla band took the country back from one of the worst and most corrupt governments in history, a dictator who had seized power in a military coup in 1952, but haven’t managed to eliminate corruption – though it is now said to be is the 60 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries by Transparency International. It would be hard not to admire a country which has withstood the sanctions and intrigues of the USA for so many years. Castro himself was apparently the target of over 600 assassination attempts by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency but died of natural causes in 2016.

You can read more about the protest and rolling picket outside various temples of consumerism on Oxford St at Cuba leads on climate say RCG.


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.


Another cycling problem

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

My cycling for exercise continues, but not entirely without incident. I had a day off from exercise on Saturday, when the furthest I went was to walk to the bottom of our garden, perhaps around 30 yards. I got more exercise from the twenty or thirty times a day I walk up and down the stairs, though its only 13 steps.

Staines Reservoir South

Sunday I did get on a bike, for a leisurely ride with Linda, mainly along cycle paths and bridleways. We locked our bikes at the bottom of a footpath that leads up the side of one of the Staines Reservoirs to the path between them. It’s apparently a top bird-watching site, but all we’ve ever seen there is the occasional duck and gull. There was a small bird sitting on a post too far away to identify but possibly a pied wagtail, common around here.

Spot the bird – possibly a duck

We cycled on and took a path to Stanwell Moor, returning to Staines along the bridleway which leads down beside the King George VI reservoir, rather bumpy for cycling but usually deserted, though for some reason we met several largish family groups walking back from Staines Moor. People do go there to paddle in the River Colne in hot weather.

Wraysbury River and M25

Monday I again went to Stanwell Moor, but taking the rather better bridleway beside the M25. It gets a little narrow after a small Thames Water site beside the Wraysbury River, and I put on a face mask for this and the next section where its seldom possible to keep proper distancing when passing others – though there were very few I passed going in either direction. It’s difficult to know why the river is called the Wraysbury River (or Wyrardisbury River) as it doesn’t go to Wraysbury; a stream from it does flow to join the Colne Brook which does – or why locals have always called it the Wraysbury River rather then the River Wraysbury – which Google maps confounds by changing between the two at the Staines By-pass, but the many streams of the lower Colne are altogether something of a mystery.) I made a short diversion at Leylands Lane walking along a narrow footpath that leads to a weir on one of the at least 3 streams of the River Colne here, then retracing my steps to Horton Road to go past the former mill on the main stream there before continuing on to Stanwell Moor Road to return to Staines along the now resurfaced cycle path. What used to be an often painful ride with concrete blocks not quite meeting every few yards jolting the buttocks is now smooth tarmac and a pleasure to ride.

River Colne, Horton Road, Stanwell Moor

Tuesday I decided it was time to face a proper hill again, rather than just the odd railway and motorway bridge we have in our part of Middlesex, and made my way up Egham Hill and Middle Hill to Englefield Green. This time I changed to my smaller chainwheel before the ascent (I’ve learnt it takes a little nudge from my heel to actually get it to move), and while I didn’t find the hill easy arrived at the point I gave up last week feeling much healthier. But I was very much panting for breath, far more than normal. Though I’ve fortunately not had real breathing problems, whatever virus I’d had and still haven’t completely shaken off has clearly left me with some reduction in lung function, and I needed to take a few minutes to get my breath back before continuing on the gentle rise.

Cemetery, Englefield Green

Once at the top it was a really pleasant ride through the village, stopping briefly to take a couple of photographs at the cemetery, then again as I went downhill past Royal Holloway College, and I was really enjoying the ride along the shady undulating road towards Virginia Water when disaster struck. Finding a steeper than expected short section of road I pulled rather enthusiastically back on my gear lever to change down, and shuddered to a halt with a loud grating sound. There is a stop on the rear dérailleur which should have prevented the chain going too far, but somehow it had jumped over the largest sprocket into a narrow gap between that and the spokes and was jammed solid.

Great Fosters

I pulled the bike to the side of the road and found an old glove I carry for dealing with chains, and tried to pull the chain out. It wouldn’t budge. I pulled and pulled – nothing. After several minutes I carried the bike across the road to where there was a pavement and continued. I was feeling pretty desperate; not only could I not ride the bike in this state, but I couldn’t even wheel it – I would have to carry it to move it. I tried harder, now using both hands and not caring about getting oil on me, and took the chain off the chainwheel so there was more to get a handle on. I could now try from both ends of the jam. Finally I got one link out, pushing it away from the wheel as well as pulling, and was encouraged. I thought I could help it a little by turning the wheel, and kept on. Eventually another link came free. I tried harder from the other end of the jam and got another link free, but it was still stuck almost a third of the way round inside the sprocket. I kept trying and finally several links from the other end came free, but there were still two or three firmly stuck. They had to shift I thought, and used all of my weight to jerk the chain out and finally it yielded. It had taken me 20 minutes to free it.

I carefully rerouted the chain to its correct position and set off, taking things easily in case there was any more damage, but it seems to be OK and I got home without any problems though half an hour later than planned – and needing to wash myself and my trousers to get the oil off. I checked the gear setting carefully before my next ride.

Fortunately, Wednesday’s ride was uneventful.


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.