Archive for February, 2017

Dosta, Grinta, Enough

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

You don’t often see horses on the grass in Parliament Square these days, though the odd mounted police officer rides past (and occasionally a troop of them will charge protesters) and I think the Queen still gets her post by a small horse-drawn coach which daily rattles past, and herself appears in a rather more ornate vehicle on special occasions. But while the horse-drawn vehicles brought to the square by Roma, Travellers and Gypsies as a part of their ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’ protest, are very much a part of our heritage, they were not welcomed by the Mayor’s ‘Heritage Wardens’, cut-price security officers who police the bylaws here and in Trafalgar Square.

Eventually they were told the horses had to leave the grass to people, and instead they made a number of circuits of the square, followed by protesters on foot, effectively holding up but not entirely stopping traffic. Eventually the real police got fed up with this and warned them that they would think up some offence they could stick on them, though I’m not quite sure what that could be, but the travellers didn’t want to do anything illegal and drove away down Millbank while the protest continued in Parliament Square.

Life on the road has become increasingly difficult for these people, with more and more bylaws and restrictive legislation. Recently local authorities have been allowed to stop providing sites for them, and even where they own land – as at Dale Farm – they have not been allowed to stay on it.  Planning laws are used against them in a discriminatory fashion – and that site now seems likely to be developed as a housing estate despite the travellers having been evicted at huge expense because it was a part of the ‘green belt’.

It’s hard to argue against their conviction that the changes being made by the Government to the  Gypsy and Traveller planning guidance and other actions are an attack on their ethnicity and way of life. There has been a long history of persecution of the Roma and other travellers in this country, and there some changes to a more civilised attitude in the last  century which these new attitudes have reversed. More pictures at Dosta, Grinta, Enough!

Earlier in the day I had covered two other protests, with Foil Vedanta protesting inside the Royal Festival Hall against Vedanta sponsoring the Jaipur Literary Festival attempting to enhance its extremely blemished reputation through support of the arts, and the latest in a series of actions to get the Chancellor to implement his promise to remove the VAT on tampons and related products – pictures at Tampon tax now Osbourne!

But I still had another protest to cover – and will write about it in a later post.
(more…)

Capita accused of racism

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

I’d got a message from the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union that they were going to stage a protest in the city against an employer who they said has sacked two African workers because they were African, and was given a time and place where they were meeting.

They hadn’t advertised the protest in advance, hoping to keep it secret, and I knew that they hoped to be able to rush into the entrance hall of some offices and protest inside, leaving after a short time to continue the protest outside.

The group of around a dozen cleaners gathered close to an underground station and when everyone had arrived walked together, stopping just a few yards before the offices to get out posters and other materials for the protest. I still didn’t know exactly where the offices were we were headed to, and was slightly taken by suprise when some of them rushed down a few steps and into a door, but managed to take a picture before following them inside.

The sacked cleaners had cleaned offices for Capita, who had offices on one or two floors of the building, but were employed by the contractor Mitie; there were three African workers at the site and Mitie had sacked two of them, and reduced the hours of the third. They were among the group of workers in the CAIWU who had put in a demand to be paid the London Living Wage.

Some of the cleaners, including those who worked in the building, stayed to protest on the pavement outside, but the group who went inside protested noisily, while people who worked inside came in and out for lunch. Betwwen bouts of noise, union organiser Alberto used a microphone and a sound system in a trolley to explain the reason for the protest, demanding the re-instatement of the sacked workers and the London Living Wage.

Several security men approached him, and one made an attempt to snatch the microphone away, but he shrugges them off and continued to speak. Eventually after a few minutes of protest, two of them managed to push him out through the door and the other protesters followed.

At a later date one of the security men came and asked me not to publish his photograph, as he was worried about the safety of his family in another country, and I have pixelated his face in these images. It isn’t something I normally do, but there were special circumstances in his case.

The protesters then made their way around to the rear entrance to the block which was now being used by more of the workers to go to lunch and continued to protest noisily and hand out fliers explaining the protest. After a few minutes they were joined by a police officer, who talked briefly with them and then stayed to wtach and ensure the protesters kept on the pavement but did not block it.

The officer came in useful a few minutes later, by which time the protesters had moved back to the front of the building. A man in a suit walking by suddenly got angry and tried to grab Alberto’s microphone, told me I should not be taking pictures and then grabbed one of the protesters by the shoulder.

If there is one way to make sure I take your picture, it is to tell me I can’t when I know have a perfect right and an interest in doing so, and of course I took his picture, and the police officer came over, asked the protesters what had happened and then took the man to one side and told him to leave the area – and warned him about his actions.

At the end of the lunchhour the protesters packed up and I went home. More pictures at Cleaners protest at Capita.

(more…)

Hull Photos: 9/2/17-15/2/17

Friday, February 17th, 2017

9th February 2017


28j44: Air Whistles, Great Union St, 1981 – East Hull

I think this office on Great Union St was roughly opposite Hyperion St. As well as air whistles you could also order a diesel engine and other things you might need for your ship. The site is now occupied by The Crossings, a centre for the homeless which opened in 2011.

In the book ‘Still Occupied’ I placed this image in the East Hull chapter, though it would have been more sensibly in the River Hull chapter, close to the river and with an obviously strong connection.

I also took a second picture through the same window, this time concentrating on the reflection and seeing the line of whistles only dimly through it.


28j45: Air Whistles, Great Union St, 1981 – East Hull

I think in 1981 I preferred the second version, with the air whistles floating rather insubstantially above the roofs opposite, but it was the first image that I chose for the book in 2011.

10th February 2017


28j54: River Hull view upstream from North Bridge, 1981 – River Hull

Peeling paint on a wall advertises the coal and sand wharf belonging to ‘Henry’, which I think may be Henry Mead & Co at 15 Lime Street, which was wound up in 1973. On the west bank of Hull are a long line of wharves and buildings on Wincolmlee, with the towering silos of R&W Paul (now Maizecor) in the distance. A single vessel is visible moored at one of the Lime St wharves.

Floods from the Hull, mainly because of a tides coming up from the Humber, were fairly frequent before the tidal barrier was built, because the corporation failed to get wharf owners to maintain adequate flood defences. A number of derelict properties made their job more difficult. More recent floods have been because of excessive rainfall in the Hull valley.

11th February 2017


28j55: North Bridge Warehouse (Hull Ships Stores c.1850), Charlotte St, 1981 – River Hull

The old North Bridge replaced a ferry here in 1541, and the remains of the old bridge (many times renewed) can be seen to the left of the warehouse in my picture. It was replaced by the current Grade II listed bascule bridge in 1928-30. Above the ruins is the large building of Hull College and in front of that the buildings, some Georgian, of Dock Office Row.

Hull Ships Stores, a ship supplies warehouse built in 1870, architect RG Smith, were Grade II listed in 1994, a few years after they were converted into flats as Northbridge House.

12th February 2017


28j56: River Hull, view south from the east bank below North Bridge, 1981 – River Hull

The path on the east side of the River Hull between North Bridge and Drypool Bridge was blocked in 1981, but limited access was possible. This picture was taken close to North Bridge looking south towards Drypool Bridge.

The Rank (later Rank Hovis) Clarence Flour Mill immediately left of the bridge opened in 1891, designed by one of Hull’s best known architects, W. Alfred Gelder. Much of the mill was destroyed in heavy wartime bombing in 1940, when Hull was often used as a secondary target by any bombers who had failed to drop them in Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool etc, and was one of the most heavily bombed of all UK cities. When I was taking these pictures older Hull residents still complained that their city was never named in the wartime reports of bombing, just referred to, if at all, as “a north-east city.”

The tall silo is mostly the original Victorian build but the mill was rebuilt and enlarged post-war. This former Hull landmark was demolished in 2016.

Obscuring much of the mill is another brick building which was probably a part of the Gamebore Cartridge Co. Ltd, whose Shotwell Tower at the left still produces the lead shot for use in their world-leading shotgun cartridges.

At the right of the picture are the gates of the Yorkshire Dry Dock, with a crane, and beyond them what remains of the entrance to Queen’s Dock Basin which used to lead into Queens Dock, filled in as a rather dull and still part-sunken public park in 1930-34.

13 February 2017


28j62: Wright St & Charles St corner, 1981 – City Centre

Both Wright St and Charles St still exist on the map of Hull, but they no longer meet as they used to, and the surrounding area has been changed by the building of the Freetown Way, opened in 1986, five years after I took this picture.

Charles St was on the northern edge of Hull when it was developed by the Rev Charles Jarratt in the 1830s and 1840s, and there are still a few buildings from that period surviving in both it and Wright St.

Although there are broken windows and boards over the shops at right, the corner shop appears to be still in business, though not open early on a Sunday when I took the picture. Under the cloths in the windows are what look like cakes or doughnuts, and the notice in the doorway states ‘Golden Touch Bingo Vouchers Accepted Here’.

Charles St has been described as a long street of almost continuous small shops where you could buy almost anything you might ever need. And of course pubs. And it was in this street that one of the least likely ‘Jack the Ripper’ suspects, writer and journalist Robert Donston Stephenson (aka Roslyn D’Onston) was born. He was in the London Hospital when Mary Ann Nichols, the first ‘Ripper’ victim was killed only a couple of hundred yards away, and took a great interest in the case, suggesting an unlikely link to occult practices which he had studied. Others suggested he might really have been the murderer, not least because his wife had disappeared without trace a couple of years earlier. Of course there is really no mystery about the ‘Ripper’, just a huge industry of profit in denying the facts.

14 February 2017


28k11: Cawoods, Essex St, Gipsyville, 1981 – Hessle Rd

The Dairycoates (Gipsyville) Industrial Estate is a couple of miles west of the city centre and was purpose-built with 8 streets of terraced housing named after English counties running south from the Hessle Rd around 1900. THe first companies there were F. Atkins & Co making canisters (later they became part of ‘Metal Box’ and then moved away) and Hargreaves Bros, & Co, a black lead company, whose “Gipsy Black Metal Polish” gave the whole area its name, including the extensive inter-war council housing to the north. The industrial estate was enlarged in the 1980s, with large factory sheds of little interest.

Cawoods fish curing works are the most distinctive part of the estate, and they produced dried salted fish in Hull for around a hundred years. There Grimsby factory came later, and they moved all production there in 2002, a few years before the Hull fish market closed.

15 February 2017


28k22: Tenfoot, near end of Essex St, Gipsyville, 1981 – Hessle Rd

A ‘tenfoot’ is any side or back alley, often 10 foot wide, though not always. There are also some ‘twentyfoots’ in Hull. Some tenfoots are now gated, while others have been recognised as public rights of way – restricted byways. In some places they were used by refuse collectors and others making deliveries, as well as play areas by the local children, but in other areas are seen as problem areas with fly tipping, access for burglaries, drug-taking and sex. Gating them is currently a controversial subject in some areas of Hull.

This tenfoot runs along the end of all of the 8 streets of terraced housing built around 1900 as workers housing for the Dairycoates industrial estate, with a long brick wall on the south side. There were a couple of entrances to the estate from it, from one of which I took the previous picture.


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.
(more…)

Photojournalism 2017

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Here’s a piece you shouldn’t miss if you have an interest in photojournalism and its future – if it has one, though this is really more about its past. In its way it doesn’t say a lot, but I think even that says something. Donald R Winslow has been in the business for 40 years, at all levels. James Estrin, a staff photographer and regular writer for the New York Times, has also been around a while – he started with the NYT in 1987 and founded their Lens blog.

Also recently by Estrin are his comments on the 2017 World Press Photo. In The Guardian you can read the thoughts of the jury chairman, Magnum photographer Stuart Franklin, in This image of terror should not be photo of the year – I voted against it.

More on Banners

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

There was a rather more exciting banner drop the next day I was up in London, and I more or less missed it, walking past the British Museum in a rush to get to the TUC for another event. I saw some police activity, with several vans, but I was late and hurrying, and didn’t bother to investigate – which was pretty stupid.

THe TUC building is just a couple of hundred yards away, and whn I got there, nothing was happening. It took me a few minutes to go inside and find that the protesters were mainly still in a morning conference session which had overrun, and I decided I really ought to go back to the museum to see what was happening there.

By the time I arrived back at the museum, things seemed more or less over. The whole area was taped off and police weren’t letting the press inside, so all I could do was to talk to some of those outside and, like them, poke a long lens through the railings.

While most press photographers tote large heavy telephoto zooms, I’m too old for such body-building exercises (or rather from me body crippling) and my telephotos are petite and slow, and the difference rather tells in situations like this. The Nikon 28.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 is beautifully small and light but optically isn’t a match ofr the heavyweight glass such as the 70-200 f2.8 at 3 or 4 times the weight and size – and even that is rather small compared to some of the heavyweight lenses particularly favoured by Canon users.

Size may make photographers feel more virile, and certainly size will matter in terms of image quality, but even my midget lens can deliver a decent result, and I took a number of pictures of the Greenpeace activists on the columns of the British Museum where they had hung 7 giant banners on the opening day of the BP-sponsored ‘Sunken Cities’ exhibition. And since there was enough light to work at around f8, I didn’t need the heavy glass that most of the others were using.

What would have been useful would have been a considerably longer lens, perhaps a 500mm or longer, to enable me to show the individual climbers , but the longest lens I have is a relatively small 70-300mm, but that only gets in my bag when I know in advance I’m likely to need it.

‘Sinking Cities’ banners at BM/BP show

I didn’t have time to stay long, as I had to get back to the TUC where during the lunch break in the TUC disabled workers conference, activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Winvisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities) were about to show others how to protest effectively.

They marched the short distance to the Tottenham Court Rd and blocked it to hold a short rally. Police diverted traffic away from the usually busy road and after a while came to ask them to leave. And after a while they did, because it was time for the afternoon session of the conference.

The banners with the message ‘No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts’ were rather long, and I was please to find the solution above, where the two bannerscropped, one high and one low spell out the message between them. Otherwise I would have needed to be twice as far away to get the whole message in, and of course the banners rather neatly frame the protesters.

More usually I like to work from one side, so that at least those nearest to me are in the picture at a sensible size. I’ve never understood why so many photographers want to work from dead centre – and there is often quite a lot of competition to get that centre spot. Usually it seems to me to be the most boring place to be.

No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts

(more…)

CETA & TTIP

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

CETA is the CETA Canada EU secret trade deal which has been negotiated for some years behind our backs, a companion to the slightly better-known TTIP deal between the US and the EU. While TTIP appears to have been stopped, thanks to several million signatures on a European petition (and now a President who thinks that any deals he hasn’t made are an attack on the USA), CETA looks increasingly likely to be finalised.


London Green MEP Jean Lambert

For once, Trump is at least in part right. TTIP and CETA are not made in the US’s interests, but neigther are they made to advantage the EU. THe interests they primarily serve are not those of any state but of the huge corporations, although the US’s position is more aligned with these compared to the EU.

These and similar treaties are aimed at marginalising state interests in favour of corporate intesters, and ending the ability of states to act in a way that disadvantages corporate profit. Democracy goes out of the window when treaties provide a mechanism for corporates to challenge government policies on the grounds that these may limit their right ot profit.

Free trade isn’t necessarily a good thing, and rather more important as the basis for gree trade is that trade should be fair, and in particular fair to those who actually produce the goods or services that are to be traded. Unfortunately this isn’t what trade agreements are about.

We started the day outside the Dept of Business, Innovation & Skills in Victora St, a few hundred yards from Parliament, where protesters had erected a mock reading room. In the other EU countries MPs can read the secret agreements at the US Embassy, though they are not allowed to take in phones, cameras or iPads or to make any exact copies of the texts. But in the UK there is no such reading room, the government having agreed to set one up but it has failed to do so. Our government – and the others involved – want to keep these deals secret, and to approve them without subjecting them to any public scrutiny.

If we were allowed to see the details it is almost certain these deals would be rejected. SO the idea is to push them thorugh in secret, only revealing the details when they are signed and approved and it is too late – and one of the details is that it will then be imposible to withdraw. If they are completed while we are still in Europe, one of the details is that we will still be bound by them when we leave.

There were a few minor moments of friction when security at the BIS objected to the parotesters fixing anything to their building and refused to let them enter the building to deliver a letter to the minister – though a civil servant did come out, talk civilly with the protesters and accept it. But is was perhaps a little dissappointingly low key and rather small, though one of our MEPs, London Green MEP Jean Lambert, who I think had been able to view the agreed documents in Brussels (but not to copy them) did come along to speak.

After the protest at the BIS came a banner drop, one of my least favourite froms of protest. While it can be of interest when made from a particularly interesting or apt location, usually these are simply rather boring and offering few chances of an interesting picture.

This one was from Westminster Bridge and the idea was to photogaph it with the Houses of Parliament in the background to highlit the fact that ours is the only EU Parliament that will not be allowed to vote on either CETA or TTIP, as our government can apparently make treaties without needing the approval of Parliament.

I’ve written before about Banner Drops, and in particular about the problems of doing them on Westminster Bridge. This again demonstrated the problems – and showed that a merely big banner isn’t enough, you would need one that was truly huge for it to work well.

Since the day was mainly aimed at CETA, which is much closer to being approved, largly because very few people have heard of it, the logical place to end the day of protest was outside the Canadian High Commission at the west edge of Trafalgar Square.

Sewcurity there didn’t share that view and tried to get the protesters to move away, and made them remove any of the banners and posters from the walls or railings. But the pavement outside is the public highwy, and the protesters knew that their rights meant they could protest there, and they did so. Among those speaking was Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians, and MEP Jean Lambert came to speak again.

The day was to continue with an evening meeting (where these two were among the speakers as well) but by now I’d had enough. And though meetings are vital in campaigns, they seldom have much to offer for photography.

BIS protest against CETA & TTIP
Banner Drop against CETA & TTIP
Canada House vigil condemns CETA

(more…)

Upsizing & AI

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Back in January 2016, when the Chinese bought up Corbis and Demotix where I was placing many of my pictures and handed their entrails to Getty, I began to put many of the pictures I was taking into Facebook albums as well as sending them to agencies.

I hadn’t been happy with Demotix for some years – particularly since they sold out to Corbis, but they had the advantage for me of presenting my work as coherent stories with text and captions that were easy to link to – so I could post links to these stories for my friends on Facebook and also others, particularly those who had taken part in the events I had photographed.

I’ve lost count of how many albums I put on Facebook in 2016, though at a rough guess they would contain around 5000 pictures. So when I read an advert on Facebook offering to make an album of my year I was intrigued to see what they would make of them, and clicked the links, though I had at the time no intention of buying the book from ‘Re-Snap‘.

It took several minutes before the book appeared as a 100 page A4 hardback and I was able to page through it’s roughly 100 pages, each with 5 images in a variety of layouts, mostly more or less uncropped. The selection they made wasn’t entirely random – they state:

“The images are selected by analyzing all the images step by step. For instance, we filter out photos by looking at several quality aspects (like blurriness). Our system also automatically looks at the amount of faces and the micro expressions of the faces. Of course we filter out similar photos by looking at the pixels. After this part our deep learning network will look at correlations the pictures in your uploaded photo set. In this way we analyse what kind of picture you would like to have in your photo book.”

All of my images on-line at Facebook are uploaded at 600×400 pixels and with my watermark – exactly the same images as I post on My London Diary (though sometimes these are a little tidied up as I generally post them there rather later.) Printing at the normal standard of 300dpi would result in images only 2 inches wide, and while the smallest images in the book are not much larger than this (I think around 3.5 inches) others are significantly larger – around 8 inches) and on the covers and a few inner images cropped to an 8.5 inch square they are even further stretched – to 12×8.5 inches on the cover (which also requires a slight crop. A little simple maths gives a figure of around 47 dpi.

The book actually looked pretty good on screen, and I couldn’t resist going ahead with the order. Of course I could have done a better job myself, more selective and with better quality originals, and the selection algorithm hadn’t included a number of my favourite pictures from the year.  There were just too many pictures from some events that were just a little too similar for me to have included them. But as a fairly random selection of typical images from the year it seemed useful, the kind of thing I could possibly had to people who ask me ‘So what do you photograph?’ as a view of my current work.

Possibly one day I’ll make a better book of 2016, but it would probably take me a week or so to put together, and still cost almost as much as the roughly £50 for this volume (allegedly on special offer), so I clicked and went ahead. It’s possible to edit the book, take out pictures and choose replacement images, but I decided to make only a single change, removing an awards certificate for this blog. Essentially I wanted to retain the automatic selection which was reflected in the title I added to the cover, ‘Peter Marshall 2016 – A random selection‘. I missed one picture that I should have removed, by my friend Townly Cooke who died last year – though I was happy with it appearing once, I should have removed a second, smaller version of the same image, but I must have turned over the page too quickly to notice it.

Obviously the quality of the highly upsized images is noticeably poorer, but the pictures still work, and however Re-Snap upsizes them, it does a pretty good job. Obviously the larger images don’t stand up to detailed scrutiny, but if you saw them in – for example – the pages of a newspaper, they would be acceptable. My main complaint is that the printing inside the book lacks vibrancy, almost as if it had been printed with watered-down inks, rather than any lack of detail or sharpness. It’s acceptable but lacks the punch of the original sRGB files, though the colour balance seems more or less spot on.

Seeing the result, I’m rather pleased that I now watermark all the new images I put on Facebook – and the watermarks are present throughout this book. It doesn’t stop people using my images without permission, sometimes complete with watermark, but more often cropping it or even removing it in Photoshop, both of which seem a clear admission of guilt. If only I could find a few abusers worth suing in the UK courts. I wrote a post here some while ago about an images that I had found used without permission on over 80 web sites, none of which on investigation I felt were worth pursing.

And recently, Google have published a paper on https://arxiv.org/pdf/1702.00783.pdf Pixel Recursive Super Resolution which doesn’t make for easy reading, but essentially shows how a believable image (rather than the actual original) can be created using neural networks from even a very small 8×8 pixel pixillated image. Unsurprisingly it works better on reasonably predictable subject matter, such as faces (which after all generally have the same number of eyes, a nose and a mouth) than other subjects.

And the most predictable images of all must be the photographs of ‘celebrities’ that so obsess our popular media. There can’t really be any need for yet another photograph of any of them, yet outside the Albert Hall yesterday was a pen crammed full of photographers with hardly room to swing a lens, when inputting a little blur and typing in a name – for example ‘Ken Loach‘ – could surely have generated an equally newsworthy image.

It was of course not his image, but his film, I Daniel Blake, and his speech that were newsworthy, telling to the nation the truth about the terrible treatment of benefit claimants by the DWP, something that all those who visit our job centres or talk to those who do already know, but which the complacent well off like to assure us doesn’t happen. And while some news outlets reported it, the BBC did their best to play it down, ignoring it in their early bulletins, though rather grudgingly reporting it later.

I mention him mainly because I’ve photographed him on a number of occasions in the past, but there was no way I’d ever cover an event like that. I was having much more fun a few miles to the west at the Willesden Green Wassail.
(more…)

Streets of Shame

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

I’ve never sat down to really write my views on street photography at length, partly because I’ve never taken it that seriously as a category. The defining text is still ‘Bystander – A History of Street Photography‘ by Colin Westerbeck and Joel Meyerowitz published in 1994, which deserves a closer reading than the flip-thorugh on Vimeo, but this does demonstrate that it attempts to annexe a signigicant proportion of the history of our medium to its rather flimsily described genre.

Of course it isn’t the fault of these authors that street photography has now gained the popularity it has nor that most of what passes under that title is sloppy, self-indulgent ephemera. There are some fine photographers who call themselves ‘street photographers‘, (and I’ve written about some here and elsewhere) but they are in a small minority. It’s probably the same for any other genre, but it shows more simply because everybody and his cat is now a ‘street photographer’.

My murky thoughts on the subject were stirred up a little this morning by two articles I read. One on PetaPixel, Why Street Photography Matters in 2017 by London-based street photographer Temoor Iqbal, and the second a feature on Amateur Photographer, Ali Shams: iPhone Street Photography with his pictures made in Qazvin, Iran.

As I write this, there are 18 comments on the first article, and some of them are worth reading, but none on the second, which has to my mind the far more interesting images. But your opinion may differ.

I’m getting ready to go out and photograph on the streets in a few minutes, my first call being at Downing St. But while I might have been a ‘street photographer’ back in the 80s and 90s, these days I’m just a photographer. As for Downing St, I’ll finish with a link to a verse written 95 years ago by “socialist MP, poet and lion-tamer amongst many other thingsJohn S Clarke.

Fleet Street used to be referred to – at least in ‘Private Eye’ – as the ‘Street of Shame’. That accolade has now firmly passed to Downing St.

An Afternon in London

Friday, February 10th, 2017

The protest outside Holloway Prison overran its scheduled time, and was still continuing when I rushed off to catch a bus down to Oxford St, where ‘Victory to the Intifada!’, a campaigning group of the Revolutionary Communist Group and friends were mounting a ‘rolling picket’ along Oxford St to mark Nabka Day, the ‘day of the catastrophe’, remembering the roughly 80% of the Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes between December 1947 and January 1949.

This was a peaceful protest, with music provided by a mobile sound system, banners and posters making its way along the pavement to protest for a few minutes outside various businesses with short speeches about the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and against current Israeli government supported attacks on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which attempt to brand any opposition to the actions of the Israeli government, its miilitary forces and companies that support Israel as anti-semitic.

Police tried hard to keep the small group of Zionists who waved Israeli flags from getting in the way or attacking the protesters, and their presence certainly made the protest considerably move visible.

The Zionists made no real attempt to present facts or information, but simply shouted that the facts and figures from well-verified international reports by UN and other agencies and by well-respected human rights organisations were lies and shouted insults at the protesters, who largely ignored them, refusing to sink to their level.

I left the protest outside Topshop (where I would return later in the day) and went to Trafalgar Square where I knew a group was holding a protest calling for human rights, fair treatment and support for refugees. It was rather smaller than I had hoped, but I took a few pictures, and also found a protest by Vegans taking place, wearing white masks and holding laptops and tablets showing the film ‘Earthlings’ about the mistreatment of animals in food production, bullfighting, etc.

While I was taking pictures a farmer who was visiting London came up and tried to talk with them, saying how he cared for and looked after the animals he farmed, who made use of land that would otherwise not be productive, but there was no meeting of minds.

Finally it was time for the major event of my day, at Topshop in Oxford St, following the sacking of two cleaners from the United Voices of the World union after they protested for better pay and conditions. A long line of police stood in front of several of the entrances to the store, and there was a little pushing and shoving from both protesters, many of whom wore masks showing Topshop owner Philip Green, and police at the largely peaceful protest.


Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, MP and Ian Hodson, Baker’s Unions General Secretary outside Topshop

The protest received widespread support from various supporters of trade union rights, including the two in the picture above, Class War and many more. And after a noisy protest outside the Oxford Circus Topshop, Class War and others led the protesters onto the street to block the road at Oxford Circus.

More police poured in and started to threaten the protesters with arrest unless they moved, though by the time they arrived Class War were already moving on, leading the way to protest outside John Lewis, where cleaners have been protesting for years to be treated with dignity and respect by the management. They play an important role in the running of the store but say they are ‘treated like the dirt they clean’.

Here there was more pushing and shoving as police stopped the protesters from entering the store, and some angry arguments between UVW General Secreatary Petros Elia and the police about their handling of the protest.

The protesters moved off and marched down Oxford St to continue their protest outside the Marble Arch branch of Topshop.

Here the staff had locked the doors and shut the shop early as the protesters arrived. The protest continued noisily outside for a while, but seemed to be coming to an end. I was getting tired and hungry, having had a busy day and decided to leave for home.

68th Anniversary Nabka Day
Vegan Earthlings masked video protest
Refugees Welcome say protesters
Topshop protest after cleaners sacked

(more…)

Hull Photos: 2/2/17-8/2/17

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

2nd February 2017

The view from the end of Cooper St (or close to it) looking southeast across the former Cottingham Drain towards Pauls Agricultural Products, on both sides of Wincolmlee on the River Hull where cereal processing has taken place since the beginning of the 20th century. Pauls Agriculture Ltd is now Maizecor, the premier supplier of milled maize products to the UK baking industry, brewing and for animal feeds, using certified non-GMO French yellow maize. If you want large quantities of bran, maize flaking grits, coarse and fine maize grits, medium polenta, maize germ, maize meal or maize flour, they can supply them.

Drains like the Cottingham Drain and and the Beverley and Barmston Drain which enters the Hull a few yards upstream date from around the start of the nineteenth century and are a part of huge drainage schemes begun by monks in the middle ages (though they were mainly interest in them as a transport system), but mainly from the late 17th century onwards which turned a huge area of saltmarsh and peat bogs (carrs) – the largest wetland area in England outside the Fens – into habitable and profitable land. Recent floods are a reminder of the past and the inability of any system to cope with truly excessive rainfall, though the tidal barrier protects the area from tidal flooding. The Cottingham Drain was culverted in 1963.


28i32: Pauls Agriculture Ltd (now Maizecor) from the end of Cooper St, 1981 – River Hull

Extra pictures:

28i46 – another picture of Victoria House, Cooper St, 1981 – River Hull


28144: Brick structure, Cannon St area, 1981 – River Hull

3rd February 2017

Catherine St is one of Hulls shorter streets, but Google halves its length to around 30 metres with no real buildings on it, naming it other half as part of Machell St, though the street signs still have it at original length. The corner site shown here is now a yard for LS Lighting & Signs. The building at extreme left on Scott St has also gone, though there is a similar building a few yards further on on the other side of Wincolmlee.

Spear Warehousing & Transport Company Limited owned a number of warehouse premises in Hull and the company was liquidated in the mid-1980s. I don’t know the history of this building, but it looks fairly solid and a good example of commercial building of its era, with a rather impressive carriage entrance at the left, and it is a shame it has not survived.


28i35: Corner of Catherine St/Scott St, 1981 – River Hull

4th February 2017

This building was on the corner of Carr St, which appears now to have disappeared into a parking area of the Maizecor site. It was only a short street and ended at the Cottingham Drain.

It was built probably around 1803/4 as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, one of the first in Hull, and had seating for 531 worshippers. The plain brick was coated with stucco some time in the mid 19th century and the building is mentioned in the Hull pages of Pevsner. The population of Sculcoates fell and new Methodist churches opened elsewhere in Hull and the chapel became a printing works. It was in use by Mason and Jackson Ltd from 1910 until after I took this picture – you can read more details and see pictures in Paul Gibson’s Hull & East Yorkshire History. Sadly listing of this building was refused and it was bought and demolished for a lorry parking area by Maizcor in 2001.

28i36: Scott St Wesleyan Chapel (Mason & Jackson Ltd, printers), 1981 – River Hull

5th February 2017

From an iron foundry established in the late 18th century Rose Downs and Thompson developed an engineering business specialising in machinery for the edible oil industry. Constructed in 1900, their ferro-concrete factory extension was the first in England (a year or two after Weaver’s Granary and Flour Mill at Swansea, which has been demolished for a Sainsbury’s car park) using the Hennebique system and is said to be the only remaining example in England though many were built, and is Grade II listed.

Hennibique’s agent for the UK, L G Mouchel, was extremely active in promoting this patented method of steel reinforcement in concrete – and invented the English term ‘ferro-concrete’.

Hull has another listed Hennibique structure, a bridge over the Foredyke stream in New Cleveland St, next to its junction with WItham, also built by Rose, Downs & Thomson Ltd in 1902 and a plaque on it states it to be the first ferro-concrete bridge in the UK. The stream has since been filled in and only the parapets are visible on each side of the road.

There were plans to convert the factory to flats in 2010 and some Hull councillors challenged the listing and wanted to get it pulled down in 2012. It was still in a derelict state in August 2016.


28i45 Hennebique ferro-concrete built factory, Rose Downs and Thompson, Cannon St, 1981 – River Hull

6th February 2017

Conveniently placed public toilets under the statue of Queen Victoria by Henry Charles Fehr erected in 1903 in Hull’s main square. The toilets date from 1923 and their position under the former monarch was highly controversial at the time but Victoria was back on the throne the following year. The toilets were restored in 1989 but retain most of their original fittings in the Gentlemen’s section. Both statue and toilets are Grade II listed.

King Billy (William III) in Market Place with 4 lamps around him is Grade I listed, though the toilets he rides towards are again only Grade II listed. I rather doubt if Queen Victoria would be amused to find herself above the public conveniences, and I’m sure that – unlike King Billy, who is well-known to pop down off his mount for a pint when the clock on Holy Trinity strikes midnight – she never needs to make use of the facilities beneath her.

28j15: Queen Victoria & public lavatory. Victoria Square, 1981 – City Centre

7th February 2017

The Grassendale, a 667 ton gross twin grab hopper dredger built by Richard Dunston Ltd at Hessle in 1954 was in the Union Dry Dock on Great Union St. It appears that Grassendale was owned by the British Transport Docks Board (now Associated British Ports) and was earlier based at Barrow in Furness but replaced in about 1978. She is also said to have been based at Garston and an undated postcard published by the magazine ‘After the Battle” shows her at Fleetwood. The ship was broken up at Millom in Cumbria in 1987.

The ship was around 50.3m long and 10.4 m wide, reasonable fit in the dock which was 65.2 by 14.8 m according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_Hull Wikipedia. The dock, built in the first half of the nineteeth century was at the time of the photograph I think owned by Mersey Welding; it is still present, but was completely silted up. The shed at left and a brick building just out of this frame to the left are still there, with a sign in front for Blenco Welding Ltd on the pipe at the right of my picture. I think that company is no longer in business.

One of several photographs of the Grassendale on-line shows her at the entrance to Humber Dock Basin in 1980, presumably dredging in preparation for the reopening of Humber Dock as the Hull Marina in 1983.


28j21: Grassendale in Union Dry Dock, Great Union St, 1981 – River Hull


8th February 2017

A view which was almost impossible to resist photographing every time I walked across the Drypool bridge, and the presence of Humber Dawn in the left foreground added to the scene. Owned by John H Whittaker (Tankers) Ltd of Hull it was, according to various web sources, built in 1967 in Poole and originally was called Druid Stone and is now in harbour in Gibraltar.

The view shows in the distance the new Myton Bridge which opened in 1981, with just a single car visible on it (too small to see on the web image), and a fairly usual mix of barges and other vessels moored on both banks of the river. At right are the Grade II listed Pease Warehouses, with the fire damage at the extreme right having reduced the right-hand block from five to two storeys.

28j24: River Hull looking south from Drypool Bridge, 1981 – River Hull


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.

(more…)