Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

London, Saturday 17th September 2011

Friday, September 17th, 2021

Peter Tatchell and Outrage!

I’d gone up to London mainly to cover the march and rally by the Secular Europe Campaign which was calling for an end to religious privileges and for European institutions to remain secular. Its main focus is the Vatican which still has enormous power and privilege – and a three billion Euro tax exemption.

Maryam Namazie holding the ‘One Law For All’ banner

Among the groups on the march was ‘One Law For All’, opposed to all religious laws and in particular to any attempt to impose Sharia law in the UK. It was also supported by humanist and gay rights groups including the British Humanist Association, the Central London Humanist Group, the Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, OutRage! and the Rationalist Association.

I left the march to go to Bank, where I had expected to cover a protest, but all I found was the group having a picnic, as well as a long queue of people waiting to take a look at the interior on ‘Open House’ day. So I walked back towards Temple, pausing to take a few pictures on the way – such as the legendary giants Gog and Magog on St Dunstan-in-the-West in Fleet Street, who strike the hours and quarters using their clubs on the bells. Traditionally they were simply known at the Giants of St Dunstan, and the ‘real’ Gog and Magog are figures in London’s Guildhall, though these are only replacements installed in 1953, made by David Evans to replace those carved in 1709 and destroyed in the Blitz. These ‘Guardians of London’ are honoured every year in the Lord Mayor’s show – and according to an anonymous commentator are “Symbolic of how The City of London is a Sovereign Satanic Masonic Criminal Bankster Headquarters” and it remains a secretive and undemocratic global centre of money laundering, a criminal cartel “officially outside the authority of parliament“.

Among other things I also photographed the ‘Roman Bath‘ in Strand Lane, a slightly embarrassing National Trust property, though now managed by Westminster Council. A cistern built in 1612 that once fed a fountain in the gardens of old Somerset House, its reputation as Roman remain was an imaginative invention to promote visitors to pay to bathe in it in the 1820s. Normally visits are by appointment, but it opens on Open House weekend and the queue was short.

I was on my way to photograph the City of London Campsie Club, a branch of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, who were holding their annual Carson Memorial parade. You can read more about its origins in my post on My London Diary. Unlike the secular rally I had photographed earlier, this was an event at which I was not welcome by a small minority of those taking part.

As I wrote in 2011:

I’ve photographed this and other Orange parades over the years, and many on them have seen my work on the web and appreciated it – and sometimes used my pictures.

But a few of the nastier elements of Northern Ireland remain, and in 2008 and again while photographing this year’s parade I was threatened and pushed away by some of those taking part. It’s a thuggishness that has no place on English streets, and something that the Orange Order should take firm action against. I fully support religious freedom and the freedom to demonstrate on our streets, but there is no place for this kind of conduct. It sullies the memory of one of our great British (and Irish) jurists, and is an insult to the Protestant faith into which I was born and in which I grew up.

I don’t know why my reporting on these events should lead to such animosity from a few of those taking part. I think it has always been accurate and factual and the pictures show a colourful event and a part of the Orange tradition. Perhaps it is because I also photograph other Irish events but I think more likely that they are aware of my pictures of extreme right protests by groups including the EDL where some of them may have also been in attendance.

Apprentice Boys Carson Memorial Parade
London Oddments
March For A Secular Europe


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.


Darfur – International Day of Action: 2007

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Sudan became independent in 1956 and ever since it has suffered civil wars and political instability. Since 1899 it had effectively been a British colony though Anglo-Egyptian in name, with British policy largely being directed at ensuring the Sudan did not become united with Egypt. Under British rule it was effectively administered as two separate regions, North and South Sudan.

After the 1952 Egyptian revolution Egypt and Britain decided to give both regions a free vote on independence but the country gained independence without an agreed constitution, and arguments continued among the political parties. These were resolved by a military coup in 1958, and the country was under military rule (with three attempts at further military coups) until civil disobedience in 1964 led to a return to civilian rule.

Stability of a sort only came to Sudan in 1989 when Colonel Omar al-Bashir carried out another coup and set up a one-party state with himself as President in 1993. Massive protests in 2019 eventually led to him being overthrown and to a new constitution with a transitional joint milatry-civilian government.

Although there had been previous conflicts in Darfur, a region roughly the size of Spain at the south-west of Sudan with borders with Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic and South Sudan it was only in 2003 that the War in Darfur began when rebel groups accused the government of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.

According to Wikipedia, “The government responded to attacks by carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Darfur’s non-Arabs. This resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the indictment of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.”

Estimates of the number killed “range up to several hundred thousand dead, from either combat or starvation and disease” and millions were forced to flee into refugee camps or across the border. Many seeking asylum in Europe are refugees from the Darfur war.

UN attempts to intervene were largely ineffective and the Sudanese government made clear its opposition to foreign involvement. Various peace talks and ceasefires failed to stop continuing violence and war crimes, but by 2009 the war had quietened down. Peace talks and donor conferences in Doha continued but so did attacks, with villages burnt and mass rapes by Sudanese soldiers in 2014. Sudan was accused of having used mustard gas on civilians in 2016.

Finally in 2019 a draft declaration was signed to make a peace agreement, and some deals were signed in 2020 with the UN and African Union peacekeeping mission coming to an end after 13 years. But deadly tribal clashes have continued in 2021 in Darfur, often fuelled by disputes over land, partly a legacy of the changes to the principles of land ownership from communal to individual imposed under British rule, and exacerbated by climate change.

More from 2007 on My London Diary at Protect Darfur


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.


DSEI Arms Fair Protests 2015

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

The final protests against the 2015 DSEI arms fair at the Excel Centre on the Royal Victoria Dock in East London took place on 15th September 2015, the day that the arms fair opened. British and foreign warships were lined up alongside the Excel Centre inside which weapons were being sold that would be used to kill people in wars around the globe and to repress, kill and torture in many countries.

East London Against Arms Fairs held a procession around the Royal Victoria Dock floating a wreath oppposite the fair and holding a silence for victims of the arms trade, ending with a Buddhist prayer. They met with two Buddhist monks and supporters and some from the Stop the Arms Fair coalition who had been protesting against the Arms Fair at ExCel over the last week at Royal Victoria DLR station.

The procession was led by a woman wearing white and carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ followed by the East London Against Arms Fair (ELAAF) banner with its dove of peace. It slowly made its way around the west end of the dock and then along its south side until it got close to the end of the dockside path, almost opposite the arms fair.

There was then a ceremony with the wreath being floated on the water of the dock and a two minute silence in memory of those killed by the arms from deals made at the previous fairs and those who will die from the weapons being sold at this DSEi fair. This was followed by a period of prayer by Japanese Buddhist monk Reverend Gyoro Nagase, the guardian of the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.


As the first protest lefit, another group came marching along the dockside to take their place. Kurdish Youth Organisation Ciwanen Azad UK and Stop the Arms Fair supporters had also marched around the Royal Victoria Dock and were staging a ‘die-in’ and rally opposite the Excel centre.

The Turkish government’s Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporter’s Association is one of the international partners of the DSEi Arms Fair, and sales of their weapons at DSEi help fund the the vicious attacks on the Kurdish population in Turkey. A week earlier a relentless assault by Turkish military and police on the town of Cizre killed many people, including children. Attacks have increased since the pro-Kurdish HDP party passed the 10% threshold in the general elections in June 2015, winning seats in the Turkish parliament.

The sales of weapons at the arms enables the Turkish arms industry to continue its development of new weapons, including new drones, new MPT rifles and the Altay battle tank which will be used to continue the massacre of Kurds.

The protesters set up a display of banners and six Kurds in bloodstained white robes stages a ‘die-in’ on the dockside against the Murderous Turkish state opposite the DSEi arms fair.

Kurds say Stop arms sales to Turkey
Wreath for Victims of the Arms Trade


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.



Refugees and Corbyn Welcome – 2015

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

Saturday 12th September 2015 was both the day that the Labour Leadership election results were being announced and also of a large demonstration with over 50,000 people of all ages from across the UK marching through London to show their support for refugees facing death and hardship and their disgust at the lack of compassion and inadequate response of the British government.

People celebrate Corbyn’s landslide victory

It had been clear from the start of the leadership election that Labour MPs were completely out of touch with the mood of the party and of the country after five years of cuts made by the coalition government. A number of those who had given Corbyn the nomination needed for him to stand in the election had only done so with the expectation that it would lead to a humiliating defeat for him and the left, and even those who truly supported him had done so with no hope of victory. Corbyn himself had almost certainly not expected to do well, and had probably only allowed his arm to be twisted to stand after being told it was his turn to do so.

When opinion polls indicated Corbyn was the front runner, many Labour MPs panicked, with leading New Labour figures including Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Miliband all over the media saying his election would be a disaster, making the party unelectable. It was the beginning of a long campaign against him both in public and with many dirty tricks in private that resulted in Labour losing the 2017 and 2019 elections. The result of the leadership election, with a resounding 59.5% for Corbyn, three times that of his nearest rival seemed definitive proof they were wrong (and was confirmed by an increased vote of 61.8% in the 2016 leadership challenge) but the plots and back-stabbing continued to ensure defeat in the 2017 general election. But it was a close thing and Starmer and his Brexit policies were needed to make sure Labour lost dramatically in 2019 and could begin the process of purging the party of socialists.

People in Park Lane for the Refugees Are Welcome march

When Corbyn’s vote was announced I was with a crowd of a couple of hundred Corbyn supporters in Hyde Park, with around as many media people, including many TV crews. I’d taken a position before the announcement sitting on the grass with many of them behind me, but both the supporters and the media went wild, photographers and TV crews knocking me flying as I tried to get up and join the rush to get closer to where the champagne corks were popping. All the usual niceties of media scrums went tothe wind and my gear was scattered. I still managed to get a few pictures.

Maimuna Jawo a refugee from Gambia

Most of those celebrating Corbyn’s victory were like me also waiting for the start of the Refugees Welcome Here march protesting against the government’s failure to respond to the huge numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, risking their lives to travel across the Mediterreanean and other dangerous routes to reach safety from civil wars and persecution. Countries on the front lines of these escape routes are flooded with more refugees than they can cope with, and while some other European countries have taken large numbers of refugees the UK has resisted doing so. Many want to come here as they speak English or have relatives or friends already in this country.

Speaker after speaker on a stage in Park Lane gave damning condemnation of the UK government to act humanely and to meet its international obligations. On My London Diary I list most of those I heard: Jean Lambert, MEP; Claude Moraes; Sabby Dhalu; Zita Holborne of BARAC; Maurice Wren from the Refugee Council; Kevin Courtney, NUT; Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP; Antonia Bright of Movement for Justice, Maimuna Jawo, Women for Refugee Women; Zrinka Bralo, Citizens UK; and Sam Fairbairn of People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Park Lane was packed with people along its length and I walked though to the head of the march at its southern end and went with it for the first couple of hundred yards into Piccadilly, where I stopped to photograph the rest of the march as it came past. Fairly densely packed and spreading across the whole of the roadway (and sometimes on to the pavement) it took exactly an hour to go past me.

I took the tube from Green Park to Westminster and arrived just in time to meet the head of the march as it got to Downing St, going with it from there the short distance to its end in Parliament Square, which soon filled up. I photographed more marchers arriving and coming down Whitehall and Parliament Street and then realised I was rather tired and hungry. I sat down on a wall and had a late sandwich lunch before deciding I’d heard enoough speeches and taking the train home.

More at:
Refugees Welcome march reaches Parliament
Refugees are welcome here march
Rally Says Refugees Welcome Here
Victory Party for Jeremy Corbyn


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.


9/11 Remembered: 2010

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

September 11th 2001 was a Tuesday and I had been teaching all morning and was picking up my bike from where I kept it safely in the caretaker’s store to go home just before 2pm when a colleague who had previously lived in New York came in extremely agitated to break the news to me of an attack on the World Trade Center there. I rushed with her to her office a short way along the corridor and watched with her the news unrolling on the screen of her desktop computer, sharing her horror.

American Airlines flight 11 had been piloted into the north tower at 8.46am, and while we were watching news came through of the second plane, United Airlines flight 175 hitting the south tower at 9.03am.

I was then as well as a little part-time teaching working full-time as a freelance providing content about photography for an American web giant and knew that I had to find out more and particularly more pictures and write about the event. I cycled home, switched on my computer and started searching, not the news agencies and papers but for first person accounts and photographs by those who had been inside or close to the twin towers when the planes hit.

Social media was very much in its infancy in 2001, but I knew that people would be posting their experiences and some photographs in various forums on line, and I was soon able to find some. Normally I would have contacted people and asked for permission to use their images and text, but there wasn’t time for this, and I mainly linked to their posts with just short quotes and wrote about the pictures in these.

It was the first major news event where most of the immediate content was posted by the people involved, citizen reporting. Most of the pictures were snatched on phones and their blurred and poorly framed images gave them an authentic quality that more professional results would have lacked, rather like those ten or eleven frames snatched by a shaking Robert Capa lying cold and wet on a Normandy beach.

I don’t think the post I made a few hours later has survived – at least I can’t find a copy of it, but I doubt if it was one of my better written or more interesting pieces. But however ephemeral it did meet the occasion and within 24 hours had been read by over a million viewers, more than ten times my normal viewing figures, and the biggest immediate response of anything I wrote in the seven years I worked on the site.

The EDL returned to protest against the Muslims and the press.

This year, 20 years on, there are going to be plenty of films, TV programmes and magazine and newspaper articles about 9/11 and still a few clinging to the discredited conspiracy theories that quickly sprung up around it. But there seem to be few if any live events taking place in London to remember those who died other than a private gathering for families who lost relatives on Saturday 11th.

In 2010 the event became controversial when both the EDL and Muslims Against the Crusades decided to remember it. The EDL came first, marching to pay their respects to those killed on 9/11 at the Grosvenor Square memorial, going on for a brief stop at the American Embassy before going on to protest at the Saudi Embassy.

Later in the day around a hundred extremist Muslims from Muslims Against the Crusades, a fringe group led by Anjem Choudary, arrived at the US Embassy. As a response to Florida pastor Terry Jones’s threat to burn the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11, they had called for the day to be made ‘International Burn The American Flag Day’ and for groups around the world to burn the US flag, which they see as a symbol of unbelief and of war – military, ideological, social and economic – against the Muslim religion. I don’t think anyone else followed there lead and they found the flag hard to set alight despite lighter fuel being poured on it.

The EDL came back to shout and threaten the Muslims, but fortunately police were able to keep the two groups apart. I’m still unsure why Choudary was allowed to carry on his activities for so long without arrest, but the suggestion that he was used by MI5 to attract Muslim extremists so they could be easily identified seems likely.

More on My London Diary:

EDL Protest Against MAC
Muslims Against Crusades Burn US Flag
EDL Remember 9/11


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.


A Wet Day at Yarls Wood

Friday, September 10th, 2021

Five years ago Movement for Justice organised a protest outside Yarls Wood on Saturday 10th September 2016, and I took the train to Bedford where there was a coach to make the five mile or so journey to the remote site on a former WW2 airfield, now a business park. Unfortunately it is so remote that the coach driver didn’t know the way, and we ended up making a lengthy detour and arriving over half an hour later than we should have done.

The coach set us off as usual on the road outside the Twinwoods Business Park entrance, around 3/4 mile from the Immigration Removal Centre. A rally was taking place on the grass there while waiting for everyone to arrive.

Eventually we set off marching down the road to the public footpath that leads along mainly muddy tracks beside several fields to that beside the immigration prison. The prison has a 20ft high fence around it, the first 10ft with solid metal sheeting and the upper half with a thick gauze through which we could see the women at the windows welcoming and signalling to us.

The field rises up quite steeply from the fence, enabling us to see the two top floors of the nearest wing of the centre, a private prison run by Serco. Going further back the lower floor where famiilies were housed became partly visible. Those held inside are in indefinite detention, never knowing when they will be released or deported – and one woman was kept locked in there for just one day less than three years.


Many of the supporters of Movement for Justice have previously been held in this or similar detention prisons, and a number of them spoke at the protest about their experiences inside. We also heard from some of the women inside, who unlike those in our normal jails, are allowed mobile phones. Some told us how Serco security guards had prevented them from coming to the windows and were threatening those who greeted the protesters with solitary confinement.


Other groups from around the country had come to support the protest, and among them were Latin American women and Sisters Uncut, who at one point provided a display of coloured flares from the top of the hill. Unfortunately be the time I had clambered up to muddy slope to take pictures it was past its peak.


The rain continued, though fortunately it was not too heavy, but the slope towards the fence meant that some areas were waterlogged and others were slippery mud. It was a noisy protest as people shouted and kicked the fence and battered it with branches. On my way back to the coach I went to take a look at the real wood called Yarl’s Wood to the south. I’d hoped I might find another view of the prison, but was disappointed. it seemed a shame that such a peaceful wood should be mired by taking its name for this shameful immigration prison.

Many more pictures at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood on My London Diary.

Netanyahu’s visit – 2015

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Around a thousand people came to protest against the visit to Downing Street by the then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and several hundred came to oppose the protest and support Israel. Police struggled to keep the two groups apart.

The larger group said the Netanyahu should be arrested for war crimes in the attack on Gaza last year. Many refused to go into the penned area on the opposite side of Whitehall that police had designated and it was probably too small for all of them.

Police tried to persuade them to get off of the roadway and back onto the pavement, but were eventually overwhelmed and the protesters moved across the road to the pavement in front of the Downing St gates.

Some of the pro-Israeli protesters then moved out from their pen, and for some time the two groups faced each other across the fairly narrow way into Downing Street that police managed to keep clear. A few protesters from each side were arrested and led away, mainly when they argued aggressively with police or their opponents.

Among the protesters against Netanyahu and calling for freedom for Palestine there were as usual both Palestinians and Jews; later a group of Neturei Karta arrived, having walked from North London to join them. These ultra-orthodox Jews support Palestine and are opposed to any political state of Israel on religious grounds. One of their banners read ‘JUDAISM – G-dly & Compassionate – ZIONISM G-dless & Merciless’.

The supporters of the Israeli state included a number of right-wing Christians who came with a Union Flag with ‘UK Christians Love Israel’ on it. Like Neterei Karta they are only a small and unrepresentative group.

Some of the pro-Israel demonstrators were reluctant to be photographed and complained to police about photographers as well as about the other protesters who they felt police were failing to control. One man stretched out his hand to cover my lens – so of course after photographing that I made sure that I took his picture and you can see him on My London Diary.

The protest was still continuing as I left to photograph another event nearby, though I suspect that Netanyahu had already arrived and been taken inside by a back entrance. Movement for Justice were in Parliament Square calling on MPs to support the proposals of the detention inquiry. They want an end to detention, fast track and immigration raids, the opening of the Calais border and an amnesty for migrants. Many of those taking part were asylum seekers who had been subjected to indefinite detention in UK detention centres after making their asylum claims.

Fight immigration detention MfJ tells MPs
Support for Israel & Netanyahu
Netanyahu visit protest – Free Palestine

ATOS Olympics 2012

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Protesters outside the DWP where DPAC activists have occupied the lobby.

2012 was of course the year that London suffered the Olympics, which had been creating problems in East London since London was awarded the games in 2005. I’d photographed a number of event related to the games, both protests against it and others using it as a theme, as well as taking pictures around its perimeter and views into the site on Stratford Marsh, an area I’d photographed since the 1980s and which features strongly in my 2011 book ‘Before the Olympics‘.

With the games came the Paralympics, held a few days after the end of the main event on 29 August to 9 September 2012. Although these games were generally held to be a great success, and to have considerably raised the profile of disabled sport, there was criticism from many disabled groups about IT company Atos being the technology provider and sponsor of the games.

Atos Olympic medals and Atos Olympic flame

Atos was responsible for the work capability assessments for the Dept of Work & Pensions, and had clearly been both incompetent and discriminatory in this, finding many disabled people incorrectly fit for work to meet targets designed to cut the cost of benefits. Many who appealed the decisions were found to have been incorrectly assessed, but often shortly after this were called for another assessment and again wrongly found fit. It drove some disabled people to suicide.

Some disabled athletes obscured the Atos logo on their passes in protest, while activist groups led by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) organised a week of action against Atos to coincide with the Paralympics, beginning with a spoof Opening Ceremony for the Atos Games in front of Tower Bridge.

DPAC made it clear that this is not a protest against sports or those taking part in the Paralympics, but against the government and Atos:

"We’re not against the Paralympics or the people taking part in it. We’re highlighting the hypocrisy of Atos, a company that soon may be taking disability benefits from the people winning medals for Team GB.

Ever since George Osborne announced he was slashing £18 billion from the welfare budget, the government has paid Atos £100 million a year to test 11,000 sick and disabled people every week, then decide whether they’re ‘fit for work’."
Tara Flood celebrates her second gold medal

One of those taking part in the opening ceremony was Tara Flood a Paralympic swimmer who won a gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic games as well as 2 silver and 4 bronzes there and in the two other games she took part in. Along with two activists in wheelchairs she got on the podium and was awarded another gold medal and the others silver and bronze.

Paralympian gold medal winner Tara Flood is stripped of her gold medal and blue badge

Then along came an ATOS doctor who administered a fitness for work test, first on Tara. She was found fit to work and the gold medal was cut off and her disabled parking card taken away; the others were also found fit to work, losing their medals and benefits too.

The ATOS Games continued, and on Wednesday 29th I photographed DPAC deliver a coffin to the ATOS offices in Triton Square. Friday 31 saw them again outside the ATOS offices for the Closing Atos Ceremony which included the Atos Miracle Cure, making disabled people fit for work.

As the closing ceremony was coming to an end there was a special announcement that there would be another action elsewhere and eventually we learnt that some disabled activists had entered and occupied the lobby of the DWP.

I jumped on a bus, but should have taken the underground as the traffic was heavy in places, but I still got there before the main crowd who had travelled from the protest at the Atos offices. Police would not let them join the 20 or so who were inside so they protested on the pavement in front of the building. There were speeches and then a lot of minor scuffles when police tried to push the protesters back and I had to leave before the protest ended.

More on My London Diary:
DPAC Occupy Dept of Work & Pensions
Closing Atos Ceremony
Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims
Opening Ceremony for the Atos Games


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.


Climate Camp 2009

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

The Blue Group on the way to Blackheath

I’d been a little wary of photographing at earlier Climate Camps because of their published media policy, driven I think by a few individuals with paranoid ideas about privacy and a totally irrational fear of being photographed. It required press photographers visiting the site to sign the media policy and to be accompanied while on the site by a minder, and I’d not been prepared to do so.

Some made themselves comfortable on Blackheath Common

But in 2009 I was invited to attend by the late Mike Russell or ‘minimouse’ to be a part of the documentation team for Climate Camp and took up the offer. At the camp I was given a sash showing I was a part of the Climate Camp documentation team which made things a little easier, though there was still a “certain amount of hostility to photography. There were some ‘no media’ areas marked, and although strictly this did not apply to the documentation team, I largely steered clear of them. I was also asked not to photograph two particular events, and a few people declined my request to take their picture. But in general people were friendly, cooperative and helpful and some clearly enjoyed having their pictures taken.”

Capitalism IS Crisis’

I didn’t spend a great deal of time at the Climate Camp. I travelled down on the Wednesday on the tube and DLR with a group of campers who met at Stockwell Underground, a location chosen because of the murder by police there of Jean Charles de Menezes as he sat on a train on his way to work on 22 July 2005. The Blue Group was one of six groups meeting at different stations waiting for instructions of how to get to the then undisclosed site for the camp.

The Welcome tent for visitors

We left the DLR at Greenwich and made our way up the hill to Blackheath Common past an apparently deserted police station. The common is a large flat grass area that is home to several festivals during the year and is some distance from anywhere where a large gathering would cause any real nuisance. But though it was a very suitable site, it too was chosen for its history. As I wrote in 2009:

this was the site where radical cleric John Ball made what is described as the first speech against class oppression, with its famous “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?” and urged his peasant audience to “cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.”

The Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 ended unhappily, and Ball was hung, drawn and quartered the following month while the teenage King Richard II looked on as the priest was bfirefly hung and then carefully kept alive to watch his genitals and bowels being removed and burnt before he was beheaded and his body hacked into four pieces. Ball’s fate didn’t stop Jack Cade leading a further popular revolt to also camp at Blackheath Common on its way to London in 1450, although Cade was fortunate to be killed in a battle before he could be hung, drawn and quartered; like Ball, his head was then displayed on London Bridge.

My London Diary

Ktichens around the site were preparing food

The Climate Camp hoped for rather more pleasant treatment by the authorities, and while they were setting up the police largely kept their distance. There was a minor incident when an anarchist group indulged in what they described as a ‘little anti-pig action’ hurling insults at two police officers who had come to talk to some of the organisers.

I was busy with other things on the Thursday and Friday, and returned to the Climate Camp on Saturday, and wearing my documentation team sash began to take pictures. I talked with a woman living in Catford who had come to visit the site and she was happy for me to follow her around in the Welcome tent and as she began to look around the site, then went to document some of the activities around the site.

Police surveillance cameras were covering the camp from just outside the fence and after I noticed one following my movements I walked closer outside the camp to photograph it, as I hadn’t brought a very long lens. I was then followed rather ineptly (perhaps deliberately so) by a young black man in plain clothes making notes in his notebook as I wandered around for the next 15 minutes.

Many talks and workshops were taking place

By then I thought I had covered all I could on the camp and it was time to go home. It wasn’t that exciting and the real events of Climate Camp took place whe groups left it to protest elsewhere around London, but I would have had to stay at the camp to take part in these.

In the set of pictures on My London Diary which I also supplied to the Climate Camp you can see something of the enormous amount of organisation that went into the camp. Those who came either to stay for several days or simply as day visitors will probably have learnt much about the climate crisis. Twelve years ago most people didn’t take it particularly seriously, and politicians were happy to ignore it. The Climate Camps were a call to action that was largely ignored and the mass media kept on giving at least as much air time and credence to climate deniers as to scientists and others aware of the impending disastrous consequences of man-made global warming. Now it has become rather difficult to ignore, but we are still not seeing the kinds of action by our government or other governments that will avert disaster.

Climate Camp: Saturday
Climate Camp: Setup
Climate Camp: Blue Group Swoop


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.


Chelsea – Social Cleansing

Sunday, August 22nd, 2021

The Gateways, Sprimont Place, College Place,  Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-43-positive_2400
The Gateways, Sprimont Place, College Place, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-43

The Gateways is a block of houses with a difference and though it may look ancient, was built in 1934 in a Tudor Revival style to designs by Herbert Winkler Wills (1864-1937) and William Kaula. Certainly unusual but not greatly to my liking the whole block was Grade II listed in 1993, some under the address Whitehead’s Grove.

Chelsea Green, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-45-positive_2400
Chelsea Green, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-45

All that remains of the old Chelsea Common is a small triangle at this road junction with two small fenced plots of grass, each with a small tree, separated by a footpath through its centre, room on both sides for a couple of park benches and a rubbish bin or two.

Chelsea Green, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-46-positive_2400
Chelsea Green, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-46

Stepping a few feet gave a clearer view of the pub, still now open but called The Wild Tavern, and the buildings down Elystan Place which are a part of The Gateways, with some good brickwork.

Bray Place, Draycott Ave, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-51-positive_2400
Bray Place, Draycott Ave, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988

The ornate ironwork around and in the door of 5 Bray Place finds an echo in the window opposite. This doorway has now been converted into a rather plain window and there are other changes to the exterior of the building. It remains a restaurant but with a different name under different management.

Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-52-positive_2400
Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-52

This building is on Blacklands Terrace, but confusingly has the address 18 Culford Gardens, which it and the building to its right stand on the corner of. I don’t know when it was built – or perhaps when this frontage was added, but it was very different from the properties around. The ground floor has since been altered and is now less starkly geometrical.

Avenue Court, Draycott Avenue, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-61-positive_2400
Avenue Court, Draycott Avenue, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-61

Draycott Avenue is lined with large and rather boring appartment blocks, mainly in red brick, which are slightly enlivened by some impressive doorways – and I think this is the most impressive. Most of these large blocks of flats were built in the 1930s, replacing streets of smaller houses. In Pevsner’s The Buildings of England London NW it describes them as “enormous and forbidding blocks of flats, either cautiously Art Deco or approximately neoGeorgian in style.”

Avenue Court, Draycott Avenue, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-01-positive_2400
Avenue Court, Draycott Avenue, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-01
Sloane Avenue Mansions, Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-62-positive_2400
Sloane Avenue Mansions, Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5a-62

Sloane Avenue Mansions also dates from the 1930s, redeveloping an area of smaller houses but was designed by G. Kay Green in a more modern style with touches of Art Deco. Built in 1931-3, it towers 11 stories above the street, though appears slightly less massive as the top two are set back slightly. Around 20,000 working class people had lived in homes around here that were cleared after the company decided to redevelop the area in 1908, though much of the area remained empty or full of part-demolished slums until the 1930s. The large blocks of flats were usually provided with underground garages for the wealthy flat-dweller.

Click on any of the images to go to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, where you can browse through the rest of the images in the album.


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