Archive for January, 2018

Stop Killing Londoners

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Air pollution in London is a serious problem, with official figures pointing to nearly 10,000 premature deaths each year in Greater London as a result of it, as well as a great deal of suffering from various respiratory illnesses, with many lives made miserable. But although there has been an increasing realisation that something needs to be done about it – though our former mayor Boris liked to laugh it off – there seems to be little action.

The major source of harmful pollutants is road traffic. Recently the finger has been pointed at diesels, with their manufacturers having been found in various ways to have engineered test procedures that gave artificially low figures for the harm they were causing – including one manufacturer even installing software to fool the test. Many older diesel vehicles – cars, taxis, buses, lorries – are highly polluting and need to be phased out as rapidly as possible. People now agree on this, but not on how it should be done.


Campaigners wait for the start of the protest which had a ‘disco’ theme

Mayor Sadiq Khan has made statements and begun to make plans, but little so far has been done that has any impact on pollution levels, and Londoners continue to die early, though at least things now appear to be moving, if only slowly. But there is no sign of any of the kinds of radical policies that have tackled similar problems in cities in other countries over many years.

As someone who works regularly on the streets of London, its a problem I’ve very aware of, and one which is often only too visible when distant views are often shrouded in haze and you can see a cloud of pollution in the sky, and when my eyes begin to sting. Where I live, 20 miles to the west the air is hardly pure – with the M25, M3 and M4 as well as Heathrow we have plenty of local polluters – but the air is often palpably cleaner when I get off the train to walk home. And I do get more than my share of persistent chest and throat infections which I’m sure healthier air would see off.


Protesters sitting on the road were behind the banner

‘Stop Killing Londoners’ isn’t the first group to protest about these problems, and in particular a longer runing campaign with a similar name, Stop Killing Cyclists has raised the issues in their protests around the capital both at their vigils following the killing of cyclists on the roads and in more general protests over the several years they have been active. And as well as protesting, Stop Killing Cyclists and its members have put in a lot of work with other groups and councils- including with the Mayor and London Assembly – to get some action. As might be expected, these are issues that the Green Party and its councillors have been working ontoo.


and rather easier to photograph when they stood up

But Stop Killing Londoners feel the situation is so critical that more needs to be done, and believe that a series of direct actions which will confront the authorities is the way to raise public awareness and to push the authorities into action. The protest on July 5th was the first in a series of peaceful direct actions London-wide aimed at getting everyone to know about it and to act together to get effective action to cut air pollution in the capital. They keep their actions brief so as to avoid serious disruption to people on the roads but are confrontational – and some at least are prepared to use their arrests as a way to challenge complacency. However on this occasion, although a few drivers got a little angry, the police only arrived after the event had finished and the protesters were walking away for a picnic in Regent’s Park to discuss what they had done and plan further protests.


A driver argues angrily with the protesters

Photographically there were a few challenges. There was only one large banner and that only had its message ‘Stop Killing Londoners – Cut Air Pollution’ on one side, and it was a little difficult to convey what the protest was about in some pictures. And while five or ten minutes may seem a long time to a driver in a hurry to get somewhere, it seems very short to a photographer trying to think about what they are doing and how best to show it. There were opportunities I missed by the pressure of the rush, when I really needed to keep rather calmer and think more.

I’d had little idea what the protest would be like when I was asked if I would photograph it, and afterwards I was left wondering how the campaign would develop – and whether it would have the desired result.  On it’s own I think not, but perhaps it will add a little urgency to the efforts of others who want action, including those in Transport for London and the Mayor.

Stop Killing Londoners Road Block

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Siege of Haringey

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Housing has been an issue very high on my agenda for some time, though I’m fortunate enough to own my own house, I can still remember the days when things were different, and the sometimes frantic search for somewhere to live when I was a student. I spent my first year in a hall of residence, but then moved out into flatland along with two of my former schoolfellows. The first place we found was just one very large room on the first floor of a Victorian house that had been marginally converted, and we spent a term there. I think I was the lucky one who got the single bed while the two others shared a double.

The place had a large open staircase up its three storeys and we were sometimes disturbed by noisy footsteps going up and down it and pretty well all hours of the night. We soon found out that the fairly demurely dressed young woman in another room on our floor made her living from the many men who paid her relatively short visits from early evening to late at night, and that the older and brassier woman from the ground floor who came every Friday to collect the rent shared a similar occupation. And there were a few rather embarassing moments when I was the only flat-dweller in when she came to collect and seemed to want rather more.

We began to look for better accommodation, searching through the Manchester Evening News and phoning any likely looking adverts or rushing to them where there was no phone number. We found a very nice place in a quiet part of North Manchester, just what we wanted and a reasonable rent, but having shown us around the woman asked said to us “But you’re not Jewish are you – I’ll have to ask my husband” and promised to let us know. We weren’t Jewish and we never heard. Finally we did find another flat, rather more poky, on the first floor of a house on the edge of Moss Side, and spent the next two terms there before hearing of a rather better place some third years were leaving from in Dickenson Road which we snapped up. Unlike the earlier two this was a real student flat, with a landlady living on the ground floor who always had students (though I hope most were quieter than us) and was often pleased to make us tea and tell us some often fascinating stories about her youth when she had been a secretary to Lloyd George. I only wish I had written them down.

The following year, after 6 months as an industrial chemist, I returned to Manchester and was again looking for accommodation, this time on my own. The first room I found, in an Irish house in Fallowfield looked OK, but after my first night I found I was covered in red bumps where the bed bugs had found warm flesh. I bought some powder that was supposed to kill them, but I think it just made them more vigourous and multiply. I gave my notice and moved out at the end of the week to a Polish house in Rusholme that served for the rest of the year until I could get a place in university accommodation. The Poles were friendly at it turned out fine, though the glass of Polish spirit I was handed every Friday night when I went to pay the rent was near lethal.

My first two years of married life were spent on the top floor of a terraced house off Platt Lane. The rent was reasonable, but the gas and electricity meters swallowed coins at a huge rate, with great profit to our landlord. Draughty sash windows made it a truly chilly place and we plugged the gaps with plastic bags and bought a paraffin heater, the damp from which brought the wallpaper falling off the walls. And first thing when we moved in was to get rid of the several inches of congealed fat on the bottom of the cooker. But it served us well for the next two years and I was sorry to move away, especially as the next flat we found, in Leicester, was rather worse. It was there I had to break the ice to wash, and began to grow a beard because it was too cold to shave.

But from there I went to work in a New Town, with a two-bed flat from the housing corporation at a social rent and a really decent sized living room and the luxury of built in heating. But we wanted to move nearer to London and industrial action including strikes by teachers led to the 1974 Houghton report and a considerable rise in teachers’ pay; together with a promotion to Head of Department it meant there was a short window when I could afford to buy a house, and we took the opportunity and have lived in it since. Other colleagues who made similar purchases at that time have moved and ‘traded up’ and now have properties worth several times as much, but we like it here, so why move?

In many ways we would have preferred to live in social housing. Its a system that works and can provide quality housing at much lower cost than the private sector. But government after government of both parties have found ways to take money out of the system. The Tories are keen to destroy it and to make profits for private enterprise, and much of Labour is the same, though with a greater delusion that somehow this is in the public interest, holding to this even as they trouser the proceeds.

The Haringey Development Vehicle, or HDV, looks at those large, well planned council estates, with large amounts of green space between the buildings (which still achieved high densities) and sees it just as acreage, ripe for development with large numbers of high market price units with the odd sop of unaffordable “affordable” housing. It’s perhaps unfortunate that there are some people currently living there, homes and communities, but CPOs, minimal compensation and vague promises that will never be kept will soon deal with that. And £2 billion of public property is gifted to the developers who will doubtless find various ways to reward those benefactors generous with what they do not own.

It should be criminal, but we don’t generally have laws against the kind of crimes that make the rich wealthier, which is after all how those who make the laws – and particularly the monarchy and aristocracy – got where they are.

You can read about what happened when the march reached the council offices, and you can see it in the pictures. Technically there were a few problems as the light was getting a little low, and there was a lot of crowding and movement. It was hard to get to the right place, and hard to keep the camera still while taking pictures. Once again it was a situation where the 16mm fisheye proved its worth. I had been taking pictures of people behind the barriers in front of the council offices at ISO 800 when the rush to the doors began, and had to climb over a railing to get rapidly near the doors rather than take a longer route around. Around the entrance was a dense, surging crowd, in the middle of which I needed to increase the ISO and make some lens changes.

I began photographing with the 18-35mm on the D750, changing the ISO to 3200, then decided I needed a wider view and put the 16mm fisheye onto the D810. It also has the advantage at f2.8 of being a faster lens. Unfortunately it was only after taking a few images, some of them rather blurred, that I realised I had left the ISO at 800, and needed to increase it. I soon spotted another mistake too; I’d been using the D810 with my 28-200 telephoto in DX mode (makeing it a 42-300 equivalent) and had left it in DX mode rather than switch to FX. When things really happen suddenly like this it is hard to get everything right.

Things calmed down a little and I suddenly saw that some of the protesters were heading for the back of the building and rushed to follow them. Soon I was standing against a huge glass window there feeling it flex around half an inch or more as the protesters attacked it, and at first I stood back a few inches to avoid the movement shaking my camera before deciding there was a good chance it would shatter and I wasn’t in a good place. I rapidly moved back a couple of meters, just as the police rushed in from the front of the building and formed a line across the front to stop protesters trying to break it down. I did feel a little relieved.

Those inside the council offices were still looking very worried, but the police stood their ground but sensibly didn’t try to take much action as they were greatly outnumbered, and the situation slowly settled down, with a rally with speeches taking place on the steps at the front of the building. Inside the council meeting continued, though they would have been very aware of the strength of feeling being demonstrated outside. Not all of the councillors had managed to get into the meeting, and there were a few protesters inside who were unable to leave, but it seemed clear that there would be little else for me to photograph and I left for home.

Council meetings now are largely a matter of rubber-stamping the decisions already taken by a very small group of cabinet members, with little real attempt at discussion, and I’m told that this was the case, with the plans passing through to the next stage. There will of course be further protests, as well as attempts to challenge the decision in the courts, and it seems likely that a number of councillors backing the HDV will lose their seats in the May elections, though this may be too late to stop the plans.

Haringey Residents protest housing sell-off

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Theresa May Must Go!

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

There were I think over 20,000 people on the march organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity from the BBC to Parliament Square calling for Theresa May and the Conservatives to go, and I photographed quite a few of them.


Theresa May at Downing St

Taking part were people from a wide range of groups and causes, all affected by the cuts under the Tories and wanting change to policies that put the interests of ordinary people, particularly those in greatest need, ahead of those of the already rich who include many Tory MPs and the relatively small group of people who donate to Tory Party funds. Tory Party membership has declined dramatically and is now thought to be around 70,000, roughly a tenth of Labour membership, and smaller than that of the Lib-Dems and SNP.


Theresa May in Parliament Square

With so many to choose to photograph I doubt if anyone’s pictures can be truly representative, but I tried hard to show the wide range of causes as well ad photographing the people and posters and banners that seem most interesting.

One of the trade union banners that attracted me was a new one for Hull City Unison Branch, which includes Amy Johnson in ‘Jason’ towing a banner with the emblems of the 3 unions that formed UNISON, the Humber Bridge and Spurn Lighthouse and a lifebelt, the Spanish Republican flag and two of the eight from Hull who went to fight with the International Brigade, dockers leader Walter Greendale, Hull’s Rugby League legend Clive O’Sullivan, Mary Murdock, Hull suffragette and the first woman doctor in the UK, Tony Benn, a member of Hulls LGBT community, Headscarf Revolutionary ‘Big Lil’ Bilocca who forced legislation to improve safety on trawlers and Hull’s iconic ‘Dead Bod’.

Of course like most photographers I was drawn to the various smoke flares set off by some of the marchers, which always add a little drama. And despite their aversion to ‘A to B’ marches, Class War were on this one, though they disappeared briefly before the end.

I was sorry to miss them when they returned to Parliament Square to confront Jeremy Corbyn over the terrible Labour housing policies of most Labour councils, with almost 200 council estates on the list for demolition and replacement by high cost housing, in what is a far greater threat to social housing than the Blitz, forcing those on low pay out of much of London in a huge programme of social cleansing. Of course it is a program driven by Corbyn’s enemies on the right of the party and there may be some changes in Labour policies in boroughs as Corbyn supporters – many of whom were on the march and chanting that drearily sycophantic ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ flex their muscles and become local councillors.

Its an issue which Class War and their friends in ASH (Architects for SOcial Housing) have done more than any other group to put on the agenda, and they have been at the forefront in other housing issues, for example with the lengthy campaign against ‘Poor Doors’ – separate doors for social tenants and the wealthy living in the same block which I recorded in a magazine, still available from Blurb, or direct from me to UK addresses for £7.50 including postage.

Tories Out March

 

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The Conversation

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

I’m often critical of the BBC, and they way they promote an establishment view in many of their news programmes, often failing to report or minimising stories which would embarrass the government and, as academic studies have demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, being extremely biased in their treatment of trade unions, Jeremy Corbyn and class issues generally.

It is a very middle-class institution, and employs too many people as commentators who come from highly privileged backgrounds (with private education and Oxbridge), but does produce some excellent programmes. And one whole area that particularly stands out is the BBC World Service – which also covers the news more neutrally than the internal services, which often follow the lead of the UK newspapers which are owned by a small handful of billionaires including of course Rupert Murdoch and reflect their perspective on matters.

On Monday morning this week the BBC World Service broadcast in their series ‘The Conversation’, which looks at the experiences of women across the world on “image, work, relationships, equality, migration and working lives” had presenter Kim Chakanetsa talking with two women, Mexican photographer Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier and Ami Vitale from the USA.

It was a lesson in sensitive presentation, with Chakanetsa encouraging the two women to talk with pertinent questions (unlike some BBC programmes which end up being more about the interviewer than the guests), and in the roughly half-hour programme there were some interesting reflections on photography, on women photographers generally, on news, on ways of working and more, much of which as they state applies to photographers whatever their ethnicity or gender. You can listen to the programme online (along with 169 other episodes of the series) or download it from the page.

Both women are photographers for National Geographic, and Mittermeier’s recent video of a polar bear starving without the ice it needs to hunt has attracted global attention to the problems of climate change. She is also the founder and President of SeaLegacy, a non profit organization working to protect the oceans. Ami Vitale’s ‘Pandas Gone Wild‘ won her second prize for Nature Stories in the 2017 World Press Photo – to add to her many earlier awards.

I first wrote about Ami Vitale many years ago as one of the more interesting photojournalists around, and it was a great delight to meet her in Poland in 2005.


Ami Vitale (in red) at Alcatraz, Bielsko-Biala, Poland

You can read more about that event, the first FotoArtFestival on My London Diary, which links to my own diary of the Festival.

EDL, FLA & Anti-Fascists

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Police has taken what seemed excessive precautions to prevent a clash between the EDL and anti-fascists on the streets of London, imposing conditions for their protests under Section 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act, 1986, due to their concerns of serious public disorder, and disruption to the community, and there was a very large force on the streets, easily outnumbering the protesters.

Of course neither group conformed in detail to the conditions, but there were plenty of police around to keep the anti-fascists away from the EDL and rather more to protect the small group of EDL supporters as they stood outside the Wetherspoons (a few more were inside) but the numbers of both groups were pretty small – perhaps a total of around 50 for the EDL and roughly twice that for the UAF counter-protet. Though I can’t understand why any police officer thought they would get the EDL to gather anywhere but in a pub.

Obviously I have my own views on the EDL, but as well as making these clear in what I write I’ve always tried to report their actions objectively and accurately – which is perhaps why I get so much hate from a few of them. Fortunately there were plenty of police around and I felt reasonably safe taking pictures from a close distance with my usual wide-angle lens. And as usual there were some of them who also photographed me, probably to add to the portfolio on right-wing hate sites which encourage violence against photographers.

But most of them were in a reasonably good mood, enjoying the day out and the publicity – and even smiling for the camera. Police had held them at the pub until they had escorted most of the anti-fascists down to a pen on the embankment a couple of hundred yards away from where the EDL rally was to be held.

I’d earlier photographed the anti-fascists as they gathered at the top of Northumberland Avenue which they had thought the EDL would be escorted down. They were a much more ethnically diverse group than the EDL, with many women and looked rather more like a typical London crowd, though some were wearing mask and there was a group of clowns. But the whole atmosphere was much more friendly and positive and there were absolutely no problems in taking pictures – even from very close distances with the police standing well back.

I moved back and forth a little between the two groups and then followed the EDL as they were escorted down to their rally, around half an hour later than I had expected. Their late departure meant that I arrived at a third protest, by a new group called the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) more or less as the event ended with laying of wreaths on London Bridge, the scene of the most recent terror attack in London. The police had also issued them with conditions, preventing them from marching on to Borough Market.

Although I reported that the march was a silent one – as the organisers had intended, I later watched a video that showed at least some of the marchers had been shouting and chanting anti-Muslim slogans on the route, though the thousand or more football supporters on the bridge were applauding politely when I arrived and held a short silence in memory of those killed in the attack.

Like the EDL, the FLA are keen to point out that they are not a racist organisation, though some of the actions they urge the government to take seem both simplistic and an attack on the human rights of citizens, and particularly Muslims. Clearly on this march some of the marchers had no qualms about being openly Islamophobic. And although the event was more restrained than those organised by the EDL, with no flags or banners, there was no evidence of any of the left-wing or anti-racist football groups and campaigns being involved.

I walked down to London Bridge station, stopping briefly to take pictures of the many sticky notes and huge pile of flowers, now rather faded, left by Londoners in memory of the dead, and then caught the Jubilee line back to Westminster where I had a couple of other events to photograph before moving on to the US Embassy and then a victory party for the cleaners which I wrote about earlier.

EDL march against terror
Anti-fascists oppose the EDL
Football Lads Alliance at London Bridge

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New ‘old’ pictures for Hull Photos

Monday, January 8th, 2018

I’ve found a few old pictures which I had failed to add to Hull Photos earlier, and have now put these up with some brief descriptions on the site. I will also be updating the site with the comments on all the pictures I posted during last year, hopefully with the corrections made by a number of Hull people on Facebook. Feel free to keep making corrections or additions here if you know things I’ve got wrong or have not mentioned, either to any of the posts here or on my Facebook page.


Here are the first 7 pictures in the ‘Old Town’ section of the site. I decided to include those from Humber Dock and Railway Dock (now Hull Marina) in this section rather than in the Docks section.


1v53: Pier, Island Wharf, 1973 – The Old Town

People fish on a foggy day from a pier to the west of Humber Dock Basin with the entrance to Albert Dock with its swing bridge in the right background, and two rows of dockside cranes.


6u12:Syke’s Head, Ryehill Growers and Pedersen & Co Ltd, Wellington St, 1975 – The Old Town

The Sykes’ Head at 2 Wellington St had been The Steam Packet pub from around 1813, but changed its name around 1840. More recently it was the premises of Ryehill Growers. This row of buildings was all demolished and the area became a car park, awaiting further development around 10 years ago, although it was mentioned in the 2005 Hull Council Conservation Area Character Appraisal as being “of historic townscape value“. Fruit, Vegetable & Potato Merchants Ryehill Growers still trade from other premises in Hull.Pedersen & Co Ltd Importers and Exporters proudly state above their doorway ‘Also at Billingsgate’ probably a reference to the Hull fishmarket rather than that in the City of London.


6u14: Humber dock looking across to Railway Dock, 1975 – The Old Town

In 1975 there were still two ranges of tall warehouses alongside Railway Dock, the smaller 3 days at the east which are still there and a rather fine range of seven that were sadly demolished shortly after I took this picture, The long railway goods shed alongside Railway St at the east side of Humber Dock was then occupied by Flying Dutchman Antiques. Much of the dock was silted up with mud from the Humber.


6u23: Humber Dock Basin, 1975 – The Old Town

Water washes over a vessel at the entrance to Humber Dock Basin at the end of the Minerva Pier. Above the entrance to the lock leading to Humber Dock can be seen the fine seven bays of warehouses by the west end of Railway Dock. The bridge leading to Island Wharf at the left has gone, but it can still be reached as a part of the Albert Channel (also known as Paraffin Creek) has been filled in.


12r21: Humber Dock, 1977 – The Old Town

Cobbles by the side of the dock, between it and the sheds around the dock, with a drain and the shadow of a post. Humber Dock was approved by an Act of Parliament in 1802 and completed and opened in 1809. It closed in 1968, re-opening in 1983 as the Hull Marina. The weeds had grown in the nine years after it was closed.


19s32: Bob Carver’s Fish Bar, Market Square, 1978 – The Old Town

Bob Carver’s Quality Fish Bar in front of Holy Trinity Church in the Market Square (the square is now Trinity Square, and the church is now Hull Minster) was a popular place, serving some of the best fish and chips in Hull. Bob Carver’s was established in 1888 and is still going, though not in this building, but a few yards away at 9 Trinity House Lane, part of the listed building which includes the Indoor Market. Some say the quality is now nothing like that from the Market Place stall.


19s34: Robinson Row, 1979 – The Old Town

Robinson Row is the most picturesque street in the Old Town, and in 1979 the dereliction added to its appeal – while now it is has been renovated and painted in rather naff pastel colours, but is still probably Hull’s most photographed street. Hull’s Old Hebrew Congregation, formed by uniting two congregations in 1826 had its first synagogue, in Robinson Row; it was consecratedin 1827, rebuilt and reconsecrated in 1852 and closed in1903. Earlier there were two chapels in the street, one dating from 1698. Paul Gibson in his Hull and East Yorkshire History site states that this street was originally called ‘Jesus Gate’ (other names included ‘Angel Gate’) and was ‘probably re-named after the family of saddler William Robinson c.1556 or a 17th Century sheriff of Hull, William Robinson.’


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University fails workers

Sunday, January 7th, 2018


The rally outside SOAS

Students and staff at SOAS London University have been campaigning for over ten years to get fair treatment for the staff that work their, many of whose jobs have been contracted out to companies that have none of the ethical culture that universities have always expounded. Particularly at institutions like SOAS and the LSE professors teach courses against exploitation and for liberal values and justice, while in the buildings they work  vital services are provided by poorly paid and badly treated staff, employed for the university by companies with no concern for their welfare.


Occupiers in the SOAS management offices take part in the rally outside

It has been a long fight as SOAS, but eventually the cleaners achieved a proper living wage and promises of better conditions of service though direct employment by the university, but in June catering staff employed there by EliorUK were told that the main building refectory was to close and workers there would be made redundant. Supporters of the SOAS Justice for Workers campaign occupied the management offices demanding proper consultations and demanding no cuts, no closures and no redundancies and that all workers at SOAS should have fair contracts offering equal sick pay, holiday pay, with zero-hours contracts being replaced and outsourced workers brought in-house.


Doors are locked at SOAS to stop the protesters entering

The rally outside the occupation took place on the same day as University of London Security Officers at neighbouring Senate House belonging to the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) were on strike demanding talks with the university and contracting firm Cordant over the restoration of pay differentials which have been reduced by over 25% since 2011.

As their day of picketing ended they came to join the SOAS campaigners, protesting briefly with them at SOAS before going on together to hold a noisy protest outside Senate House.


Drummers accompany the protest outside Senate House

SOAS J4W & IWGB Security Workers

London University Security officers

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Rage for Grenfell

Saturday, January 6th, 2018


Grenfell Residents spoke calling for a peaceful protest. The organisers assured them that they had always intended for the protest to be peaceful and that stories about violence were simply a deliberate media distortion

We could I think do with a little more rage. So many things happening now that would justify it, including the current crisis in the NHS, underfunded for years, crippled by PFI debt and being increasingly privatised to  the benefit of Mr Branson and other friends of the Tories – many of whom have shares in the companies that are taking it over. Then there are the railways, suffering from a disastrous and wholly unsuitable privatisation, with huge subsidies going to the privatised franchises, sending large profits to nationalised European railway companies so they can continue to provide rail services at a quarter or a fifth of what we pay. And so on. And while we should be raging and be out on the streets like those currently protesting in Iran we go on, moaning a little but largely soaking up the lies of a right wing press and a media which supports the status quo rather than demanding justice and change.

Grenfell gave just a little glimpse of what is wrong with the way our society is run – and also showed a magnificient response of ordinary people to a tragedy.  But while many people – including both rich and poor – responded with humanity, it also showed the complete failure of the local council and the duplicity of our national government in their response – and soon their were vultures swarming in to try and take things over for their own profits, sadly including some major charities.

Movement for Justice were I think entirely right to call for a ‘Day of Rage’ over Grenfell, though this led to a frenzy of denigration in our right-wing media. We should all be angry and calling for the truth to come out and for justice to be done. It wasn’t a call for barricades in the street and riots, but for an end to the customary hiding under carpets and long grass that is the usual response of our political establishment.

Over six months later little has been done by the authorities for those severely affected by the fire, the survivors from the tower and the surrounding properties made uninhabitable. Many families spent Christmas in overcrowded hotel rooms, some without the cash payments they were entitled too because of administrative incompetence. And many have not received the kind of mental health support and counselling they need, with several suicides. Promises made by Theresa May and the government have largely turned out to be empty words, and most local people have lost faith in an inquiry which is sidelining them and their concerns, while the police have failed so far to bring charges against those responsible for the tragedy.

‘Day of Rage’ march for Grenfell

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December 2017 complete

Friday, January 5th, 2018


Monthly silent walk to remember Grenfell Tower victims

I’m almost keeping up with my December resolution to keep My London Diary up-to-date. Going away for three nights at the end of the month did hold me up a little, and there are quite a few pictures from that, though not of London. One of those days I spent walking around Derby, a more interesting city than I’d thought, and on the hills there was some snow. But there are also some pictures of London.

Dec 2017

Derbyshire Snow


Derby City Trail
Belper
Boxing Day Walk
Free Ahed Tamimi


Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi
Jerusalem, Capital of Palestine
Psychedelic Eye-Gazing Flashmob
44th ‘Stay Put’ Sewol silent protest
Trafalgar Square Christmas
Grenfell Silent Walk – 6 months on


City cleaners strike at LHH for Living Wage
Star Wars Strike Picket Picturehouse


PIP unfair to Mental Health claimants


Stand Up to Lambeth protest and vigil


National Anti-Slavery March
ICAN Nobel Peace Prize Die-In
Israeli ‘blood diamond’ Australia protest
Photographers Walk
Grenfell protests outside council meeting
Cressingham residents say Ballot Us!
Cressingham Gardens


King’s College employ your cleaners

London Images

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Hull Photos: 23/12/17 – 31/12/17

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

Although my year of daily posts throughout Hull’s year as City of Culture has ended, I will continue to add pictures to my Hull Photos site, just not one every day. I do have quite a few black and white images still to digitise and add, as well as some in colour. Instead of daily posts I will try to make roughly weekly posts of small groups of images – and will post about them here and put a link to these posts on my Facebook page.

This is the final digest of my daily posts during Hull2017 on Facebook, about the pictures added daily on the intro page at Hull Photos, and includes nine images to go to the end of 2017. Comments and corrections to the captions and texts about the pictures are always welcome here or on Facebook.

Hull Photos

23rd December

Victoria dock was something of a wasteland in 1985, fifteen years after it closed as a dock in 1970. It was bought by Hull Council in 1987 and development began in 1988, though it was slow to be completed. The new primary school was only completed in 1999 (the first PFI school in the country) and they have never really got around to building much in the way of shops etc in what is now called Victoria Dock Village (or the South Hull Estate.)

The KC Kingston Contractors Ltd truck has the address Galatea Buildings, South East Victoria Dock, Hull, and the building at right may well be a part of those buildings, though clearly it had seen better days. In Greek mythology, Galatea was a sea nymph or Nereid who the Cyclops Polyphemus fell in love with, but she spurned him as she loved Acis. When Polyphemus saw the two of them together he crushed Acis with a boulder. The distraught Galatea then transformed Acis into a stream. Galatea’s name means ‘goddess of calm seas’ and so has often been used as a name for ships.


85-10m-32: Victoria Dock, 1985 – Docks

24th December

Railway lines somewhere on Victoria Dock, which once had an incredibly extensive rail system serving its timber sheds and yards, all leading out to the LNER Victoria Dock Branch.

The shed in the distance is the one in the previous picture. It was probably taken in the afternoon looking roughly south west, with the sun just out of frame but giving the ray across the image


85-10m-35: Victoria Dock, 1985- Docks

25th December

This was taken just a few feet away from the the previous image (actually made after this one) but looking in the opposite direction, so the sun was now behind me.

The chimneys and house roofs are those of properties on of close to the Hedon Rd, with the block at the centre of the picture probably what is now Trinity Hotel more or less on the corner of Wyke St.

The fence with streetlights is Earle’s Road and the fence is the boundary of the Victoria Dock estate. The area with the open timber sheds and the other large buildings is now the Portside Business Park, though I think all the buildings have been replaced by more modern metal sheds. Where I was standing to take this is now roughly at the roundabout where South Bridge Road meets Corinthian Way on the Victoria Dock Estate.


85-10m-33: Victoria Dock, 1985- Docks

26th December

A tarmac road and a wooden fence, probably on one border of the dock with a rather temporary looking building behind. The fence looks like many of those along the edge of railway properties. This was taken on my way out of Victoria Dock on Earle’s Road.


85-10m-36: Earle’s Road, Victoria Dock, 1985 – Docks

27th December

Boat and industrial buildings on Victoria Docks. The name on the roof, Telstar was probably for Telstar Caravans Ltd. The name was popular after the launch of Telstar 1 in 1962, which was the first communications satellite for TV and telephone signals, and was used as the name for a chart-topping instrumental by the English band Joe Meek for the the Tornados.

These buildings were just south of South Bridge Road to the west of the Half Tide Basin.


85-10m-42: Victoria Dock, 1985 – Docks

28th December

The view taken from the north side of the Half Tide Basin looking towards the two entrance locks from the River Humber. The dock has silted up and is overgrown in parts with grass and reeds.

The structure just to the left of the Wilson building had the name of the dock on the side facing the Humber. To the left of the two locks (the one on the right a smaller lock to enable barges to leave at any state of the tide without a great loss of water) is the Watch House.


85-10m-43: Half Tide Basin, Victoria Dock, 1985 – Docks

29th December

This bridge took South Bridge Road and the railway lines across the entrance look from the Half Tide Basin to Victoria Dock.

It seems a shame that only a single building (a pumping house at the top of the patent slip a little to the west of this bridge, currently being converted into expensive flats) was retained when the docks were converted to a housing estate. Substantial building such as this brick structure would have retained some of the character of the area and its history, and could almost certainly have been converted to some new use without damaging its appearance. From the vehicles parked further along the road the building appears still to have been in use.

The swing bridge was built in 1849 for the opening of the dock by Beecroft, Butler & Co., of Kirkstall Forge, Leeds, and the Haigh Foundry Co. of Wigan and was fortunately still there to be listed in 1994, nine years after I photographed it.


85-10m-45: Bridge across Victoria Dock Entrance from Half Tide Basin, 1985 – Docks

30th December

The view from the swing bridge looking towards the entrance locks from the Humber, showing the heavily silted Half Tide Basin. The tidal flow in and out of the Humber brings in mud, which settles in the still water.

When in use the Half Tide Basin will have required constant dredging, and after it closed it quickly silted up. When neighbouring Alexandra Dock was built this took a water supply from the Holderness Drain to reduce silting. The Half Tide Basin was dug out or dredged as a part of the development of the area, and the entrance from the Humber sealed off to prevent it filling up again. There were plans to redevelop it as a marina, but they was found to be too expensive. The basin was used for some theatrical performances during Hull’s year as UK City of Culture.


85-10m-46: Half Tide Basin, from swing bridge across Victoria Dock Entrance, 1985 – Docks

31st December

These lights, or rather their very similar modern replacement are still there on Sammy’s Point where the River Hull flows into the Humber, though the area around them has changed completely. The grass has been replace by a paved walkway with railings at a slightly higher level which now leads around the bulk of The Deep, and there are a series of boxes around the base of the light, and a lower array of cross-shaped lights. The two upper lights can show a red or green light and the lowest is either red of white.

Signs pointing both left and right now indicate rather pointlessy that you are on the Trans Pennine trail – your only other option being to jump into the river, and by the side of the rather more neat fence are floodlights for The Deep.

Sammy’s point gets its name from the shipyard set up here by Martin Samuelson in 1857 and was said to be the largest shipbuilder in the country a couple of years later, with 97 vessels, mainly steamships, being built in the yard by the time he sold the works to the Humber Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company.


85-10m-51: Sammy’s Point light, 1985 – Humber


The above image, posted on December 31st, 2017 completes my year of daily posts for Hull2017 to Hull Photos, with my short comments on Facebook.

Comments and corrections to the captions of any images on the site are still welcome on the posts here or to me on Facebook.

Although the year-long project has ended Hull Photos will continue to grow and I will make occasional posts about the new images added here and on Facebook.
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