Archive for September, 2018

Archives for the Future

Friday, September 28th, 2018

this afternoon I went to an interesting presentation, Radical Archives for the future: networks and collaboration  organised by Four Corners in Bethnal Green. Four Corners, which began as an independent film workshop in 1973, inherited the archives of Camerawork (and the Half Moon Photography workship), which published one of the most interesting photographic magazines of the 1970s, devoted to radical left practice in photography and including the work of people like Paul Trevor and Jo Spence. And you can find out more at their recently set up archive.

Camerawork was a confusing title for a photography magazine, as probably the best-known (and argualbly the most beautiful) publication in the whole history of photography was Camera Work, its 50 issues produced in stunning photogravure from 1903 to 1917, edited by Alfred Stieglitz, with its last two issues dedicated to the then novel modernist approach of Paul Strand. But Camerawork, founded in 1976, was in its early years a powerful influence on many young British photographers, and copies are held in most major libraries with an interest in photography as well in a box on the top of my bookshelves.

Camerawork somewhat lost the plot at the end of the decade (see Paul Trevor’s review of the book, The Camerawork Essays), when photography saw a huge and highly destructive debate over theory and practice, which essentially debilitated UK photography for the next decade or two, though Camerawork struggled on, at least on the Roman Road into the following century, but with little relevance in its later years to current photography. Four Corners then inherited its premises and its archive.

I probably should have written earlier about the  Radical Visions show ending at Four Corners now, which looked at Community photography and in particular the contribution to this of Camerawork, but somehow it is hard for me to take too seriously a show where the great majority of images on the wall are also on the shelves behind me as I write. But of course I do realise that there are generations now unaware of its history.

I was a subscriber to Camerawork from almost the start, with issues from No 2 winging their way to me by post, and these accumulated in my personal archive until I cancelled my subscription when I thought they magazine had abandoned photography. The first issue, which I think I bought in the gallery, seems to have disappeared, but it impressed me enough to subscribe.

Active in photography since around 1971, I have over the years built up a considerable archive or magazines, books and of course photographs, mainly my own, but also by others I worked with in various ways. It’s a not inconsiderable archive, probably around a million physical ‘documents’ (negatives, slides, prints, magazines, books etc), but rather more digital files.

A small amount of this material is now duplicated in more official and more organised archives – such as those of the Museum of London and Bishopsgate Institute – but most is not. A much larger amount, particularly of my own images is much more available to researchers and others with any interest on the web – now approaching a quarter of a million images. Most days I add a batch of perhaps 20 or 100 images to that on-line archive.

The presentation and discussion at Four Corners was largely dominated by professional archivists (along with some unpaid amateurs running archives) whose approach I think is not always helpful. The audience included others involved with archives, and academics, along with a few photographers.

Photography for me is at its very basis a medium that arose from the possibilty of the essentially infinite reproducibility of the photographic image. Why Talbot’s negative-based process was such a great step forward over the in some ways superior Daguerreotype. Later it became the medium for the printed press, enabling the mass production of books and magazines. Many of the most iconic photographs were produce by photographers who were working for the printed page, and the books and magazines, not the photographic print are the true expression of their work in the medium.

Unfortunately, largely by by transference from the art market too many fetishise the photographic print, and in particular the idea of the vintage print. Had photographers like Edward Weston been able to use computers and make prints with the control that these enable I’m sure they would have jumped at the chance. I’ve always felt that – in the past, and beginning with Anna Atkins and W H F Talbot’s ‘Pencil of Nature’ that photographs belong in books – and more recently that their true home is also in digital publication. Certainly I don’t dispute the value of a fine print – I learnt to print from Ansel Adams (though from the first and best edition of his Basic Photo series) and from criticism by Raymond Moore at a time when photographic printing was seldom taken seriously in the UK and ‘soot and whitewash’ was in vogue (and in Vogue.)

It often annoyed me when I taught photography that I had to make students go to study ‘first hand’ at the V& A or exhibitions, when the real authentic experience of a photographer such as Robert Capa or Gene Smith was in magazines such as Life or books which we had in the college library (or my personal collection).

Photographic reproduction in books has improved to the level that it is now often at least as good as that of original prints. Back in the late 1970s I pissed off Lewis Baltz when he was examining the page proofs of ‘Park City’, by giving him my opinion that they were better than his own photographic prints. It was clearly true, but certainly not politic.

I’ve had long arguments over the years with some professionals in the world of archiving who have discounted the use of digital files for archiving. At least one such professional ended up by researching the writing of digital files not as digital files but by printing them out in a binary format using carbon inks on acid-free paper, arguing that only these would be available to generations in the extreme future.

We need to get real about archiving. The rate at which we produce stuff means that only a very limited selection can possibly be save in its original print or poster format for the future. Digitisation enables us to save a rather larger selection, but still requires careful consideration of what is worth saving and makes easier the careful captioning, particularly in metadata, of what is saved. Metadata is vital for the way it enables us to find material, particularly visual material that has litte or no textual element.

Digital archiving has many advantages, enabling the same record to be classified in multiple ways and facilitating both simple and complex searches, particularly on text in captions and metadata, but increasingly on image elements as greater computing power enables matching of faces or other elements.

I have a sneaking suspicion that what will be of most use to future generations and historians will not be the archives we were discussing, but the residues of the internet, and of commercial services such as Facebook and Instagram, – and perhaps even websites like my own, such as My London Diary, London Photos and Still Occupied – A view of Hull. And I’m slowly working through my own output over the years, producing digital images from those negatives and transparencies I feel worth keeping, and thinking of ways to provide those digital images with a future after the photographic materials have decayed or gone to landfill.

Protest condemns cold-blooded killing

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Videos showing Israeli snipers in a carefully planned exercise shooting unarmed Palestinian protesters several hundred yards from the separation fence they were protesting against, including those clearly running away from it shocked the world. So I was not surprised to see a large crowd at the protest at Downing St, even though it was on a Monday evening, seldom the best time for demonstrations.

Nor was it any surprise that quite a few of those at the protest, including some of the speakers were Jewish, although the voices of those opposed to the Israeli government seldom get much time on our mass media, who often seem to accept the views of some Zionists that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.

Before the Second World War, historians (including Jewish historians) tell  us that Zionism wasn’t particularly widely accepted among the Jewish community, and there are still those who condemn it on religious grounds as well as those who criticise the actions of the Israeli state on political and humanitarian grounds.

I’ve photographed many pro-Palestinian protests over the years, and almost all have included Jewish protesters, and the protesters have always been clear that the protests were against the actions of the Israeli state and Zionism and were not against Jews. When people have on a few occasions expressed anti-Semitic opinions it has always been challenged, and  has been made clear that these are not acceptable, and people have been asked to leave. But today – as on almost every such protest – there were no such views.

After speeches at Downing St, the protesters marched to protest in Old Palace Yard, inf front of Parliament. They were calling for and end to the killing and an end to UK arms sales to Israel.

Here there were more speeches, and those killed were remembered, with their names being read out. Among the Palestinians taking part in the protest were some holding up the keys to their family homes in Palestine, which they were forced to leave in 1948.

A few months earlier, some celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which was important in paving the way for the setting up of a state of Israel:

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.


Arthur James Balfour

Unfortunately although the “national home for the Jewish people” has been established, the “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”  have clearly been and continue to be subject to extreme prejudice. Including being shot for taking part in peaceful protest for those civil rights.

More pictures at: Free Palestine, Stop Arming Israel

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


August 2018 complete

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

August was a rather different month. I was away for the first week, but have put my pictures from my visits to Hornsea and Manchester on this page, although they are clearly not London. I was away for another holiday at the very last day of the month, but those pictures will be posted with the rest from the holiday next September.

Things are usually quieter in London in August, as so many people are away on holiday. And I had a few days off for various reasons.

Aug 2018

Capital Ring: South Kenton to Hendon

Thousands March for Animal Rights
Gunnersbury Park & Brentford

Free Bobi Wine – Ugandans protest
African Holocaust/Slave Trade protest
Vegan and Falun Gong protests
‘Stay Put’ monthly #Sewol protest
Justice for Marikana vigil
Free Lula – Brazilians for Democracy & Justice

Attack on Bahrain Embassy hunger striker
Release Bangladeshi opposition leader
Justice For Marikana – 6th Anniversary
Solidarity with Bookmarks

Free Shahidul Alam
Free Bahraini Human Rights activist

Ministry of Justice cleaners protest
Council cleaners demand a living wage
Protest murders in Colombia
Hiroshima Day

Manchester Visit 

Ancoats – Saturday
Central Manchester – Friday

St Johns Quarter
Oxford Road to Castlefields
Mersey Walk &, Fletcher Moss
Manchester to Didsbury
Manchester: Canal walk
To Stockport & Bramhall Hall
Science & Industry Museum
Manchester: City Centre – Thursday
Manchester: Oxford Road
Manchester: City Centre – Wednesday

Hornsea, Flambororough & Beverley

London Images

Remembering 1984

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

‘1984’ means different things to different people. For Google the the first 100 results are mainly about George Orwell’s novel, published in 1949 and set 35 years into the future largely in London in a post-nuclear war England which is in some respects rather chillingly close to what we now accept at normal.

Of course technology has advanced rather differently from that foreseen by Orwell, but we have come to take for granted something approaching the total surveillance, both from CCTV cameras in every shop and street and also through our willing participation in the internet and through the use of mobile phones and card-based payments. The tracking of our thoughts, movements and actions is less obvious than he envisaged but considerably more detailed, though largely carried out in the first instance by commercial organisations such as Google who monitor every click you make; though behind them sit the huge computers of GCHQ, sifting and analysing the whole of the internet. As you read this, Big Business as well as Big Brother is watching you!

But sinister though this sometimes seems, especially to some of my more tinfoil-hat wearing friends, it still represents more of a potential than an actual threat, used mainly to send us advertisements for things we have already bought.

But for some people, 1984 has a different and far more sinister ring. Sikhs remember it as the year when India turned upon them, the Indian Army killing thousands attacking the Golden Temple complex and the Indian government spurring on mobs to continue the carnage after the assassination of Indira Ghandi at the end of October that year. The ‘Sikh Genocide’ which began at Amritsar was the second massacre in that city, the first being in 1919 when the British Indian Army opened fire on an peacefull protest in the Jallianwala Bagh Garden close to the Golden Temple, a key event in the rise of Indian nationalism that eventually led to independence and partition.

That partition of the Indian subcontinent by the colonial power at independence in 1947 was bound to result in a bad deal for the Sikhs, who were a small minority in the country and had no region in which they were a majority. They trusted the Indian National Congress and its promised more than those of the Muslims, but few of those promises were fulfilled. There are some problems for which there is no satisfactory solution and India in the 1940s was certainly one of them, though many would argue that better solutions could have been found. And given the current domination of India by Hindu nationalists, along with the long term problems of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir, it might be difficult to argue that Britain did much of a job back then.

Though history is history and can’t be changed, it continues to reverberate, and the events of 1984 remain a vital issue for many Sikhs, including many who were not even born 34 years ago. This annual march has sometimes attracted the attention of the UK police, keen to crack down on the support for Babbar Khalsa, an international group which, according to Wikipedia, “wants to establish an independent country for Sikh religion called Khalistan, and uses bombings, kidnappings and murders to accomplish their goals” and is banned as a terrorist organisation in India, Canada, the EU, the UK, USA and Japan.

Of course many in the UK who support the foundation of Khalistan are against terrorism, and though there were speakers and banners calling for Khalistan this does not imply support for Babbar Khalsa and their activities in India or elsewhere.

The march, with a large banner, ‘Khalistan Zindabaahd’, began by getting lost, failing to turn right as it left Hyde Park, led as usual by the standard bearers and ths five Khalsa with swords raised representing the ‘Five Blessed Ones’, who clearly had not been informed of the details of the route. The police who would normally have led them had not arrived to do so (those government cuts have meant much less policing of most protests) and the processsion ended up going around Marble Arch and then returning into Hyde Park to wait for the police to arrive and guide them. I think those leading the protest had come from Birmingham and were unfamiliar with the area.

Eventually the march made a second start, going down Park Lane with the police in attendance, and I left them as they turned onto Piccadilly to march down towards Trafalgar Square for a rally.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Internet wanderings

Monday, September 24th, 2018

I’m often surprised by the Internet, or rather I should say by the World Wide Web, invented by Tim Berners-Lee, whose name though etched in my memory I was unable to recall in a pub quiz last night to my extreme annoyance. Both by what you can find out using it, and sometimes by what you can’t.

Currently, as some will know, most days I post a black and white picture taken in London in 1979 on Facebook, with a usually short comment on the subject matter. All of the pictures are on my London web site, but currently there are only brief captions, as in today’s example:

Disused shop, Hackney, 1979
21l-66: shop,, derelict,

Back in 1979 I took relatively few photographs on often long and protracted walks and kept few records; for me then the photograph was the record, and it was only a few years later that I began to keep something of a diary of my walks and to annotate the contact sheets of my films with street names and grid references.

When I wrote the web page I only had a vague idea about where I made this image – somewhere close to London Fields and not far from Broadway Market. That I now know where it was taken to within a yard or two is thanks largely to Google Street View, and the two buildings in the background, both of which appear in other pictures of mine.

Street View of course has its limitations. Where this shop stood is now simply a brick wall, and Street View only allows limited time travel, usually back to 2008, when the shop was long gone.  Its often impossible to get a view from exactly the place and angle you need, and it doesn’t share my predeliction for alleys and footways, with rare exceptions sticking to where a car can drive. It also has a very annoying habit of jumping inside shops where no-one wants to go, which greatly reduces its utility to the public if enriching Google from the owners of these premises.

But of course Street View is a remarkable asset, and one which has almost rendered some photographic projects unnecessary, as I commented in my 2014  post Bleeding London – re-Inventing Streetview?  It’s a resource I now often use when planning walks and visits to new locations.

The time limitation isn’t just confined to Street View. Most of the material on the web has been put there in the last few years, and there is relatively little information about the times before it existed. Various projects have put considerable efforts into digitising historical material and putting local history research into web sites, but much published material from the last century is still unavailable, either not digitised or hidden behind paywalls. Of course much is still copyright, and will remain so until 70 years after the death of its authors, and as a photographer I welcome that (although I am considering gifting my own work to the public domain on my death.)

The posters across the front of the shop are for a march from Hounslow West Station to protest at Harmondsworth Detention Centre on Saturday 21st July. A calendar on the web for 1979 confirms that the 21st of July that year was a Saturday, so these posters, despite their condition, were fairly fresh when I photographed them, probably on the 22nd or 29th July 1979.  But the small print at the bottom of them cannot be read, and I can find no record on the web about this demonstration.

I was surely interested about it when I took the photograph because I was living just a 20 minute bike ride from the immigration prison (I still live in the same place, but the bike ride takes me a little longer) and also because I grew up spitting distance from the starting point of the march.  But probably taking this photograph would have been the first I had heard about the march. Before the web, this photograph illustrates how information about most protests was shared, by fly-posting. Leaflets were handed out at other protests – as they still are – and in some busy inner London streets and markets, information shared at political and trade union meetings.

Left-wing newspapers were mainly sold at street stalls, again on some busy inner city streets, but often only shared details of the events of their particular faction. There were of couse newsletters of major national organisations such as CND and the Anti-Apartheid Movement and Peace News but most smaller demonstrations I often only found out about after the even when I happened to come across the posters.

This protest must have been in some of those printed sources, and as well as the posters there will have been flyers. At that time we still had a local press, and almost certainly the Middlesex Chronicle reporter will have been there covering the protest, even if, as today it will have been ignored by the National Press and broadcasters. But none of these sources about that July 21st protest is accessible via the web.

You can find many reports of more recent protests at Harmondsworth – including my own from my first visit there in 2006 (and more later) and also some information about the detention centres and reports from those held inside them. But little of this is from the first ten or fifteen years of the web or covers anything about the last century. It’s so easy to forget what things were like even relatively recently.

I put my first small site on the web back in 1995 (Family Pictures, still available, only slightly adapted to keep it working, but still with its typical mid-90s flatbed print scans), not that long after the first visual web browsers that would display images became widely available. Mosaic, running on Unix, appeared two years after the start of the web in 1993, when most of us were only using the Internet for e-mail and forum systems along with file transfer and rather odd things like ‘Archie’, all text-based.  Windows 3.1, which first really brought Windows to life had come a year earlier (and still seems to be used by parts of our rail network.)

But when I was making a living writing about photography on the web from 1999-2007 my problem at the start was that so little photography was available on the web. By the end of my tenure things where rather different, and the problem was that so much was there it was getting hard to sort the wheat from the tons of chaff.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Elswick Kids

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

Beautiful work by the late Tish Murtha, (1956-2013), immediately after her return to her home in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne in the late 1970s after studying at Newport to is featured on Flashbak’s article ‘Elswick Kids‘. It is work that could only have been made by an exceptional photographer deeply rooted in the community and celebrates the freedom that kids still enjoyed then – something which I remember from my own childhood in a working class area on the fringes of London, but which by the time she made these pictures had largely disappeared in the more affluent south.

The article comes in advance of a Kickstarter campaign by her daughter Ella together with Bluecoat Press to publish ‘Elswick Kids‘ which launches at 10.30am on October 2nd 2018. Make a note in your diary now! Their previous collaboration was highly succesfull, with the limited edition of Tish Murtha’s ‘Youth Unemployment‘ selling out within three months, and I’m sure this volume will do as well. You can still buy the second paperback edition of Youth Unemployment, and there are also a number of Cafe Royal Books available.

You can see more about Tish Murtha and more of her work on the Official Website of Tish Murtha run by her daughter. A retrospective Tish Murtha: Works 1976-1991 is at the Photographers Gallery in London until October 18th 2018 and some of her pictures are also among the most interesting work in the Museum of London show ‘London Nights‘, which runs until 11th November 2018.

Also worth reading is an article on AnOther, The Forgotten Photographer Who Captured Britain’s Social Crises, by Belle Hutton.

Walking South London

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

We don’t always bother with Bank Holidays now.  They used to be a good day to take a relatively early train to go on a walk, paying the lowest fare rate, the ‘Super Off Peak’, but no longer. Rail fares for many of my journeys went up by around 30% at a stroke at the start of last year, when the train operating company here (now South West Trains) decided to start treating the weekends and Bank Holidays in exactly the same way as the working week for these discounted fares.

This means that if I want to travel ‘Super Off Peak’ I now can’t catch a train before the 11.29 and I can’t return home from central London (or Clapham Junction) between 4pm and 7pm when I would want to be coming home for a walk.  Instead I have to pay the extra for an ‘Off Peak’ ticket – just the same as on any other day in the year.  So unless there is some special event I want to go to on a Bank Holiday, there is no advantage at all in going out on one of them – and certain places are closed or more crowded than usual.

But on the late May Bank Holiday, Linda decided we should go out for a walk. She likes to walk in the country, while I’m an urban walker. So I compromised,  cunningly planning a walk that would take us through some of the woods and parks of South-east London.

We started at Falconwood Station, where almost directly across the road we could  join the walk through Shepherdleas Wood, ancient woodland in Eltham Park North, and through that to Oxleas Wood, climbing up the hill. We missed a turning here (possibly a way mark was overgrown or absent) but made our own way to the top, and then rejoined the Green Chain Walk to go down the path towards Jack Wood.  We missed a turning again – I’d assumed it would be clearly marked, and went too far down the hill. There are many more paths than are marked on the map, and we decided to take one that seemed to be roughly going west, and then take any likely turning up the hill. This led to a nice dead end where we had a short rest before turning a short way back and taking another path (as I pointed out to Linda, it might have helped had she remembered to bring the compass.)

By the time I was able to locate our exact position on the OS map, we were too close to Shooter’s Hill for it to be worth retracing our steps and possibly finding Severndroog Castle as intended. It would have been a disappointment in any case as it (and its café) is only open Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

So the next unusual building on the route was the water tower on Shooters Hill, now a private home. Our next park, shortly after this, was Eaglesfield Park, from where we made to Occupation Lane, which attracted me as I think it is part of an ancient route through the area – and looking out over it gives one of the best views of London. Or would have if it wasn’t for the haze. Good, clear views across London really need some heavy rain to clear the air, followed by sunshine, and today we just had some sunshine on the pollution.

At the end of Occupation Lane we headed for the Bronze Age Shrewsbury Tumulus – a small grass-covered mound that is the only remaining one of seven in the area, the rest built on in the 1930s.  Next to it is Mayplace Lane, the continuation of the ancient route towards a ferry at Woolwich, and we followed this down to Herbert Road, with its assorted hairdressers and fast food shops. H J Webb, Grocers and Provision Merchants with a fine tiled sign is now one of several Turkish Barbers.

I think all sign of the ancient trackway has been lost north of here, and we turned west instead down Plumstead Common Road, which sweeps quite dramatically down into a valley and into Nightingale Place, an emphatically nightingale-free zone. Past the road junction and its obelisk for  Major Robert John Little, we made our way along Ha-Ha Road. Unfortuntely although the Major had offered living water, the council had cut off the pipes , from what would have been very welcome in the heat of the day.  Ha-Ha Road, isn’t a laugh but a rather long and boring stretch with a ha-ha ditch on its north side, though the whole point of the ha-ha has been lost by puttng a rather tall fence and hedge along the other side for most of its length.

Another problem with the Bank Holiday, was that Charlton House – and again its Tea Rooms  – was closed; normally both are open Monday-Saturday and worth a visit. We sat looking at it beside the former public toilets as we ate our sandwiches, but at least were able to buy an ice cream in the park – where the seller told us he was there every day except Christmas Day.

Across one road from Charlton Park we were in Maryon Wilson Park, and from there across another road into Maryon Park, familiar to millions as a location for the iconic film ‘Blow Up’ with Daving Hemming as a thinly disguised David Bailey.

After going down the steps and past the tennis courts we left the park to walk an unneceesarily long way along dusty roads to the Thames Path, which took us to Woolwich and across by the ferry Ernest Bevin – one of the best value journeys in the capital to North Woolwich and King George V DLR station to start our journey home.

More pictures from the walk: Woolwich wander

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Knife crime

Friday, September 21st, 2018

London is a safe city, with relatively low crime and absolutely no ‘no-go’ areas, despite the scare stories put out by some US right-wing personalities and ‘fake news’ web sites. The murder rate in London – at 1.8 per 100,000 people in the year ending March 31 2018 – is around half that of New York (though it did briefly overtake that city earlier this year) and less than all of the  US’s 50 main cities, which are led by  Detroit on  39.7, New Orleans on 40.4 and Baltimore with an astonishing 55.8, over 30 times the London figure. Even this is topped by St Louis at 65.8, though this still puts it well behind cities in Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil, with, according to Statista, Los Cabos and Caracas more or less tying for top place at 111.

Even so, London’s figure of over 100 murders so far this year, showing a considerable recent increase, particularly with around 60 mainly youths being killed by knives and around ten shootings are worrying, and every single death is a tragedy for the victim and family.

So I welcome London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement of a ‘Glasgow’ policy based on a public health approach, which saw the rate halved in that city, and hope it will have the same effect in London. London’s knife killings are largely of young people, particularly of young black men and are often linked with violence between gangs, though not all the victims are gang members.

Both shootings and stabbings are often linked with drug trafficking, and the legalisation of cannabis and the return to a proper system of regulated use of heroin by registered addicts would almost certainly lead to a considerable reduction in these killings, as well as in the huge amount of petty crimes carried out by people to pay for the high-price illegal drugs they need. Years of evidence show that our present approach to drugs just doesn’t work – or rather only works for the organised crime that supplies the drugs.

Problems with my train service meant that I arrived too late in Brixton to go the the 7th Day Adventist Church to photograph the ‘Be the Change’ march from there to Windrush Square. I tried to meet them on their way, but they took a different route to that I had thought most likely as it would have made the march more visible; by the time I had realised this and returned to the square they had arrived and the event there was beginning.

A gospel group sang, a preacher prayed and preached, there was more music and the congregation sang and danced, and there were placards ‘Knives Take Lives’, ‘We Care About Our Youths’ , ‘Be The Change’, ‘Knives Take Lives’ and ‘God Is Love’ , but spirited though the event was, it attracted little attention from the people of Brixton, and I think myself and a photographer friend were the only people there who would not normally be worshipping in that Brixton church, though a few walking past did turn and look as they walked.

While I’m sure the church is sincere and does good work, particularly among those families who attend, from what I saw at this event I think this  has little effect on the wider community. It needs wider initiatives such as that proposed by the Mayor – and changes in the way working-class communities are seen and regarded by the authorities – police, schools, councils and government etc – to produce the changes in society that would change lives for young people growing up poor and currently disaffected in cities such as London.

More pictures at ‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Last month in Hull

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

I had scheduled this post to appear on August 30th, but due to some WordPress glitch that didn’t happen – and I’ve only just noticed it. So I’m trying again.

At the end of July I went to Hull with Linda to celebrate  with the family and friends. We stayed there for four days which gave me time to take a few photographs too. You can see these now, in a ‘Hull Supplement‘ to My London Diary.

Hull Supplement

Anlaby Rd & Hessle Rd
Spring Bank, Chants & Newland Park

Wet Sunday Morning in Hull
A short Hull tour
Riding the Bridge

Hull Panoramas

Bankside Galley
Stoneferry, Wincolmlee & City Centre
Hull, Cottingham
Hull – Pearson Park & Beverley Rd

Hull – City Centre & Old Town
On the way to Hull


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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

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Seeing Red over Universal Credit

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Those t-shirts reading ‘#STOPUNIVERSALCREDIT’ that I’d photographed earlier at Tate Modern were again on display outside Parliament later in the day, though there were some different messages before everyone got sorted out and in order, and I took advantage of this. Of course the full message does also contain a number of three letter words, ‘TOP’, ‘PUN’, and ‘RED’ as well as ‘EDIT’ (and I suppose some might count ‘UNI’.)

But even when it was all sorted out, I didn’t manage to make much of a picture, perhaps partly because there were other photographers crowding round which meant I wasn’t in the optimum place, but more because I didn’t really think there was a decent picture possible.

Red isn’t my favourite colour for photography, and I think is best used more sparingly. It seems somehow less subtle than other colours in its photographic rendition, and often needs a little darkening and ‘de-hazing’ to restore gradation. Fortunately not all those taking part were in red, nor were the banners.

Another problem with ‘#STOPUNIVERSALCREDIT’ for photographers is simply that it is 20 characters long, and the message itself will occupy a rather narrow strip across any picture. Banners are often rather long, and I seldom like to photograph them in their entirety from directly in front, preferring to work fairly close to one or other end, and gaining some interest from the people nearest to the camera.

The march which followed, through Parliament Square to Caxton House was more to my liking in terms of photography, enabling me to hide much of the red and also to concentrated on some of the protesters.

The protest which followed in front of Caxton House was also photographically interesting, though the very limited space and crowding made it hard to work.

Universal Credit is almost universally recognised to be a disaster, causing a great deal of hardship – and even some deaths – among both the working poor and those who are unable to work. Delays in payment and reductions in benefits have led to many being evicted from their homes and a dramatic rise in people needing the support of food banks and the demand on street kitchens. The government are pressing ahead with the programme despite the growing evidence of its terrible consequences, with some ministers clearly gloating over its effects on the poorer members of our community.

Although the aim of simplifying and unifying the benefits system was laudable, Universal Credit was designed and is being implemented by people who simply are incapable of understanding how most ordinary people live with little or no financial resources. No money in the bank (if they have an account), no savings, no wealthy friends or family who can help them out if they are short at the end of the week or month.

It could perhaps have worked, had it been combined with a true living wage and a proper transition that didn’t leave people without money for weeks or months. But that would have needed more money to implement. It would also need a system that didn’t feel so obsessive about over-payment and possible benefit fraud. The rich who avoid or defraud the tax system on a huge scale get away with it most of the time, and the government makes surprisingly little effort to stop this (even admitting that in some cases they haven’t taken action as it would ‘damage the reputation’ of those concerned) and the losses there are hundreds or thousands of times greater than any loss over benefits. We have a benefits system – with excessive use of ‘sanctions’, taking away benefits for up to three years – that is clearly designed to publish the poor, and reports have shown to cause many deaths – according to some estimates one every 33 minutes.

More pictures at Universal Credit rally & march

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images