Archive for July, 2019

GLIAS 50

Friday, July 19th, 2019

Last Wednesday evening I went on a short walk with members of GLIAS, the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, from City Hall to Rotherhithe, one of a number of events marking 50 years of the society.

I’ve been a member of GLIAS for much of that time, first coming across it in 1977 when I visited Kew Bridge Engines, ostensibly for the benefit of my one-year-old son, and picking up a leaflet about it there. I’m not sure whether I joined it then, or after a second visit, when we took a party of slightly older boys on an outing for one of his birthdays.

Later that same son wrote a web site for me 20 years ago as a birthday present, London’s Industrial Heritage, a rather more professional site than my own various offerings, on which the black and white pictures here can be found, along with a couple of hundred others, dating from 1973-1986. Its a nice design which creates the site from templates, a database file and of course the images using a batch file which runs a Perl script, but in some respects it is now a little dated. Back then, 550 pixels seemed a sensible size for web images.

Although I have an interest in industrial archaelogy, I lack to engineering knowledge to be a true GLIAS member, and my one real attempt at site recording as a part of the organisation was frustrating. But then I’m not always very impressed by the standards of photography in many of their communications. ‘Record photography’ is sometimes used as a perjorative term, but the best record phography has a power and resonance that is undeniable, for example some of the work of Walker Evans.

St Saviour’s Creek, 2014. We walked around its landward end this week

Our walk the other night was a reprise of one made earlier by two leading GLIAS member back in the 1970s and published in a GLIAS walk leaflet. One is now longer with us, but Professor David Perrett, now Chairman and Vice-President was there to lead us. These published walks, sent free to members also sold well for a few pence at a number of tourist sites in the area. They prompted me to produce a similar leaflet, partly as an example for a desk-top publishing course I was then teaching, on West Bermondsey
in 1992, in part based on a walk led by Tim Smith for the GLIAS Recording Group :

“a downloadable illustrated leaflet for a walk that concentrates on the industrial archaeology of the former leather area of Bermondsey in South East London. I wrote this in 1992 largely to show how simple, cheap and easy it was to produce such things with Pagemaker and a laser printer. I sold around five hundred copies over the next five years, gave some to the church in Bermondsey St to sell, and gave away many more, before deciding to put it on the web rather than bother to print any more. Although the area has changed considerably, it it still an interesting walk to follow. “

The area has changed even more since I wrote this, but you can still download and follow the walk and find much of what was there in 1992.

West Bermondsey walk leaflet (PDF)


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.

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A Rich Seam

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

It has been great to see the recent awakening of interest in British documentary photograph from the last 30 or so years of the previous century. The 1970s began well, but by the end of that decade it was an area that attracted little interest and even less funding. Apart from a few who had established a reputation, most were left to continue their work not because of any community of support or wider interest but because of a burning personal conviction.

It was an era when people were beginning to set up galleries and photography was increasingly bought as art (and investment) but while gallery owners might look through portfolios and admire documentary work, often at length, they would then regretfully say “I’d love to show this, but it wouldn’t sell“. And the non-commercial world, increasingly dominated by the world of education had become obsessed by theory, and it became the idea expressed in words that mattered more than any quality of its expression in visual form. Documentary was old hat, and while it might get a showing if sufficiently historical (particularly if its creators had become a part of the established canon) there was little interest in new work – and its value was increasingly questioned.

One major operation that in recent years that has begun to mine this rich seam of largely unpublished work is the series of Café Royal Books, small low-cost volumes published weekly by Craig Atkinson, dedicated to “Publishing, Preserving and Making Accessible British Documentary Photography“. I’ve written about this before, and have to declare an interest in that a few of the many volumes have been of my own work, with another due shortly.

Others too have played a part, among them Bluecoat Press in Liverpool, who have used crowd-funding to finance the publication of a number of fine volumes, including books by Paul Trevor and Trish Murtha. Their latest crowd-funder, already fully subscribed but open for more pledges (and rewards) until  Wed, July 24 2019 10:28 AM BST, is for Coal Town,Mik Critchlow’s epic documentary about the last years of coal mining in Ashington and England’s North East.”

It would be hard to imagine a photographer more embedded in the community he was photographing than Critchlow, who has for 42 years photographed the town in which he was born and lives.

” His grandfather worked at Woodhorn Colliery for 52 year, his father was a miner for 45 years and his two brothers worked for 25 years before taking redundancy shortly after the 1984 Miners’ Strike “

Of course this wouldn’t matter if the photographs weren’t worth looking at, but they show a fine and intimate view of Ashington and its people by a photographer who is clearly aware of the history and possibilities of the medium and capable of using it in a personal fashion. I’m moved by them, and possibly strongly enough to overcome the domestic fatwah on buying any more books. And I know I’ll regret it if I don’t make a pledge.

The north-east, thanks largely to Side Gallery and the Amber-Side Collection was one area of the country where documentary remained in high regard during the fallow years for the rest of the country.

Tottenham

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Since I was going to photograph a protest in Tottenham, a part of north London I don’t often get to, I thought I’d take a look at the new stadium there. I’m not a Spurs fan, nor of any other team, though I do still occasionally read the reports on Brentford’s matches in one of our free local papers with a little amusement. Although I was keen on sports when young and played in my areas leading under-11 football team – two of whose members went on to play for Brentford and one for Chelsea – and continued to compete for my school and several teams at football and rugby while a student, I’ve always considered watching sport – either live or on TV – a waste of time.

The new stadium looks fine, though I didn’t have time to investigate it beyond a few quick snaps. But what really gets me annoyed is that the club want to change the name of nearby White Hart Lane station (in White Hart Lane) to Tottenham Hotspur, and that TfL are more than happy to oblige in this annoying piece of corporate branding and pocket £14.7m for doing so. TfL’s job is to run a transport system, not to provide publicity. I will also feel rather disappointed if Spurs fans accept the name change for the ground and stop calling it White Hart Lane.

The protest outside the Tottenham Job CentrePlus was a small one, taking place on a Thursday lunchtime, and organised by the Revolutionary Communist Group, a relatively small left-wing organisation, but about a major issue, Universal Credit. Although some of its aims to simplify the benefits system are laudable it has been clear from the start that there were huge problems in the implementation, and that the whole scheme has simply not been properly designed. Add to that some political interference to cut costs and the whole thing is a disaster.

Much of the problem is I think that the scheme was designed by well-off and well-connected people who have little or no appreciation of how those affected live. The kind of people who, if they are a little short of cash at some point can sell a few things (perhaps some of their investments or the second or third house), get a loan at a relatively low interest rate from a bank or ask friends or family to tide them over.

Waiting a five weeks (or rather longer) for their money would not be a problem for them, but for those who are dependent on benefits it can be a disaster. It is a public disgrace that we need food banks, but UC has been a major factor driving the huge increase in people who have to use them – or starve. The other major factor driving people to them has been benefit sanctions, with people losing benefits often for trivial or even made-up reasons so that DWP staff can meet the targets set for them, leaving people with no resources on which to survive for months or even years.

Many too have become homeless for the same reasons, evicted because they cannot pay the rent. And far too many have died. It’s a scandal and one that attempts to draw public attention to and organise opposition I think deserve support, whoever organises them. It’s a pity that the sectional nature of left-wing politics means that the RCG seldom gets much support from people outside its own group for protests such as these.

As a photographer, small protests such as these present something of a challenge to make them newsworthy. As much as possible I try to cover them in a way that brings out the issues, perhaps as reflected in posters and banners, and also to produce images with some visual interest.

Scrap Universal Credit Jobcentre protest
Tottenham and Spurs


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.

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BEIS outsourcing protest

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

One of many promises made by leading members of the Labour Party is that when they come to power they will put an end to the scandal of out-sourcing, which enables employers to retain the veneer of respectability while having workers engaged on key roles in their workplaces employed on wages and conditions that amount to exploitation.

Probably even Greg Clark MP, the current Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, would not stoop to employing staff on the wages and minimal conditions of service that catering and other workers at BEIS receive, and with the kind of management practices that outsourcing companies use to make a cut-price bids for contracts.

The workers at BEIS are fortunate to be supported by the PCS BEIS London and South branch; too often the major unions have failed to show much concern for the lowest paid workers, other than over them paying their union fees. Too often they have shown themselves more concerned about pay differentials and prepared to reach agreements with managements that fail to protect the interests of workers on low pay, a situation that has led to the growth of a number of small active grass-roots unions, often attacked by the traditional unions for ‘poaching’ their members as well as for their militancy.

Of course there are a number of branches of major unions who have fought for low paid workers, both their members and also others in their workplaces. At BEIS the PCS have shown how unions should behave to support low paid workers, and have also worked together with grass-roots trade unions at other government workplaces to coordinate actions.

The dispute at BEIS (and another at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) are continuing, and it seems to be one the government are fighting more as a matter of supporting the principle of being free to exploit your workers than a matter of economics. It seems to be also one where ministers are happy to break the law, in May and June agency workers were brought in to cover the work of strikers in contravention of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations of 2003.

The workers have had enough. Tomorrow lunchtime, Monday 15th July catering workers and cleaners “will walkout in the first EVER indefinite strike action in Whitehall. They down tools and say “we’re not coming back til you pay up!”.

More at Living wage at Dept of Business.


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.

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Against the Sultan

Friday, July 12th, 2019

I got to the protest rather late because I stopped on the way to meet the people from Class War who were going to attend the protest. Of course they were in a pub, and the pub they had selected to meet was quite a walk from the Dorchester Hotel outside which the protest was taking place.

It took a while to finish our drinks and to get moving, and eventually I gave up waiting for them, especially when some decided they needed to get a bus., though it was only half a mile to walk. I left with one of the more active members and we hurried, getting there in well under ten minutes.

The ruling by the Sultan of Brunei to make stoning to death the sentence for gay sex, adultery and blasphemy had enraged people around the world, and protests were planned in many cities outside the luxury hotels he owns, including the Dorchester Hotel in London’s Mayfair.

There was a large crowd of protesters, but at some distance from the hotel entrance, on the pavements of the minor street that runs around the front of the building and its large yard which allow taxis to drive to its doors. There really wasn’t enough room for protesters on the pavements, but police were trying to keept the roadway clear, arguing with protesters who were reluctant to move.

Although I was over half an hour late for the start, I was still in time to photograph the two major speakers, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and human rights activist Peter Tatchell, as well of course as many of the protesters and their posters and banners.

Class War turned up with their two banners almost half and hour after me, and for a while stood with them on the roadway (which the police by this time had given up the impossible task of keeping clear.) Their late arrival was probably timed to ensure they missed the speeches.

After standing for a few minutes holding the banners, Class War sized up the situation decided it was time for some more definite action. They pushed aside the barriers around the hotel yard and with the ‘Women’s Death Brigade’ banner led a rush past police and security to protest on the steps of the hotel.

They shouted for the others to follow them, and a few came immediately. Eventually most of the rest of the crowd joined them for a long and noisy protest on the steps of the hotel. There were a few arguments with police who came to stand in front of the doors, but no arrests before I left three-quarters of an hour later.

Many more pictures at Brunei Sultan gay sex stoning protest


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


Sudanese celebrate 6th April revolution

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

On 6th April 1985, a revolution in Sudan overthrew dictator Jaafar Nimeiri, and on the 34th anniversary of that event, Sudanese came to the London embassy to support the new revolutionary movement in Sudan that had then been protesting for 17 weeks demanding freedom, peace and justice in their country.

Back in 1985 it had been a group of military officers who had taken power, forcing Nimeir to flee to Egypt and setting up a Transitional Military Council (TMC) to rule Sudan. Rather a lot has happened in Sudan since then, including both the seizing of power by Omar al-Bashir in 1989 and the secession of South Sudan in 2011, with the loss of its oil revenues.

It was rises in the price of basic goods including bread and a hugely increasing cost of living that began the protests, which quickly turned into demands for al-Bashir to go and for an end to military rule and for freedom and democracy. Attempts by al-Bashir to use force to end the protests failed, despite the declaration of a state of national emergency.

The protest in London in these pictures took place as there were also large protests in Sudan, particularly in the capital Khartoum, where it became clear that while the security forces were still trying to subdue the protests, the military were moving to back the protesters demands to remove the president. Within five days, al-Bashir was deposed and arrested.

The protests continued – and there was further violent repression by the security forces with well over a hundred deaths on June 3 which led to a 3-day general strike and nationwide civil disobedience campaign. But on 5th July an agreement was reached between the TMC and Forces of Freedom and Change alliance negotiators representing the protesters, and the future for Sudan appears more hopeful.

More pictures at Sudanese for Freedom, Peace and Justice.


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



Unfair treatment of private hire drivers

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Rather than write something myself about the discrimination by Transport for London making private hire drivers pay the London congestion charge to accompany some of my pictures from the protest by them at the start of April, I’ve decided to quote some of the statement made last week about their High Court case which begins today:

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will be arguing at the High Court on 10 and 11 July that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s decision to introduce a congestion charge on minicabs discriminates against and breaches the human rights of a mainly BAME workforce.
The IWGB is seeking a judicial review of Khan’s decision to introduce the £11.50 charge on the grounds that it is a case of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act. The charge is being imposed on a workforce that is mainly BAME (94% of London’s 107,000 minicab drivers are BAME according to TFL), while black cab drivers, who are mostly white, continue to be exempt.

This policy is also in breach of a number of articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that cover discrimination, property rights, right to a family life and ability to carry out a profession.
The IWGB has assembled a legal team which includes renowned discrimination barristers Ben Collins QC,Nadia Motraghi and Tara O’Halloran of Old Square Chambers, and TMP Solicitors founding partner Jacqueline McGuigan.

The IWGB has proposed a number of alternatives to this policy, including a cap on the total number minicab driver licenses, a levy on minicab operators such as Uber and Viavan, and the enforcement of worker rights by Transport for London (TfL).

Discrimination also runs throughout London’s enforcement regime. The most recent figures released by TfL show minicabs are almost three times as likely to be stopped by enforcement officers as black cabs, despite the fact that TfL’s own statistics show that on average minicabs are more compliant than black cabs.

You can read the rest of this statement, including quotes from some of the drivers on the IWGB web site: London congestion charge discrimination claim to be heard at the High Court 10 & 11 July

More of my pictures from the April 4th protest at Private hire drivers protest congestion charge.


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.

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Brixton Barclays

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Although my memories of the 1960s are far from clear, I’m fairly sure that the first protest I ever took part in, back when I was a student in Manchester was outside a Barclays Bank branch not far from the university in 1964. Then we were protesting against its support for Apartheid in South Africa, and stood outside handing out leaflets and calling on customers entering or leaving to move their accounts. At the time I think almost all banks were more ethical than Barclays.

A few years later, in 1969, students in the UK began the wider Boycott Barclays campaign, which became widespread and continued until after Barclays eventually sold their South African subsidiary in 1986. By then many people and organisations across society had withdrawn their accounts from Barclays causing them a loss of deposits estimated at around £6 billion a year and the number of new student accounts taken out each year had roughly halved.

It’s hard to understand why Barclays held out so long, allowing political and ideological positions to override a clear financial case for changing their policies, and disappointing that a business which had its roots in Quakerism was seen to become one of the dirtiest of banks. Perhaps as one of the largest transnational businesses in the world it simply decided it was not going to allow itself to be told what to do by protesters. But eventually it had to change.

Barclays is now under attack again for its support of fossil fuels and in particular of fracking, having invested more the $30bn in climate-wrecking fracking schemes, making it by far the worst bank in Europe. To have any chance of avoiding disastrous global warming we need to drastically cut the use of coal, oil, petrol and gas and other carbon-containing materials as fuel. Fracking not only produces dirty fuel, it also leads to extensive pollution of water sources and earthquakes; it has been banned in Germany, France, Ireland and Bulgaria in the EU and in other countries, provinces and states around the world, with further bans seeming likely.

After protesting on the busy main street in front of the Barclays branch for around an hour, the protesters held a short protest inside. They were asked to leave and agreed to do so after a few short speeches which made their position clear.

More at Climate Protest at Barclays Bank


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


Friday Diary

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

I had three events listed in my diary for 29th March, but for some reason, although I took the train to London, I only photographed one of them. Perhaps it was the weather, or just that I got tired and went home. But I think it was more likely that I just thought I’d done enough for the day before the last two things started.

I had after all already photographed three protests, if not the three I had come up to London for. One I hadn’t bothered to put in my diary was a regular thing, a Fridays for Future climate protest inspired by 15-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg. I photographed the first of these last October, and although there have been some big Friday school students protests since, the regular events have not really grown.

I was probably feeling pretty fed up. Although the Brexit protest hadn’t been anything like as huge as the organisers appear to have expected, I do find most Brexiteers rather depressing. Of course people voted to leave for a whole number of reasons, some of which make at least some sense, the kind of people who come to protest appear largely delusional and racist, convinced that Brexit will restore the British Empire and put foreigners, particularly black foreigners, back into their place both literally and metaphorically.

Migration to this country over my lifetime (and I was born some time before the Empire Windrush berthed at Tilbury) has revitalised our culture, giving us greater variety, most obviously in our diet, but across the whole spectrum. And it wasn’t migrants that took our jobs, but migrants who provided the workforce needed for a post-war recovery, to keep essential services like the NHS and transport running. It wasn’t migrants or Europe that took away large sections of manufacturing industry but overseas competition and government stupidity.

And again it was Thatcher whose policies greatly reduced the supply of low cost social housing, with ‘right to buy’ removing homes from councils that were largely after a few years recycled into the hands of people wealthy enough to profit from a disastrous rise in ‘buy to let.’

The last of the three events came as a surprise, when some of the Kurds I had photographed a few weeks earlier supporting Kurdish hunger strikers turned up to protest again outside parliament. The hunger strike by HDP MP Leyla Güven  began in early November; kept alive by sugary and salty drinks and vitamin B she was then on her 142 day of protest – eventually ended on 16 May after the authorities ended the isolation of Abudullah Ocalan in prison.

Kurds support hunger strikers
Fridays for Future climate protest


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


Brexit moan

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

I don’t like to mention Brexit. It’s a subject about which more nonsense has been talked over the past few years than any other, both before and after the referendum, which of course should never have been held.

But if you argue that one referendum is democracy in action and should be respected, it seems illogical to suggest that we should not have another one now that we have a far better idea of what leaving Europe will mean. I don’t know of course what result a new referendum would give, whether it would again generate the kind of lies and disgust with politics that drove the previous vote just over the halfway mark.

Most of the organisations I’ve belonged to have had clear rules about amendments to their constution, generally requiring a fairly high quorum and a 60% or even two-thirds majority or a majority of those entitled to vote rather than simply more votes than the other side. There were no such safeguards for the Brexit vote, which constitutionally was only advisory (although Cameron had said he would respect the decision, thinking it was certain to be to remain in Europe.)

Probably by now enough of the elderly leave voters will by now have died and new young Europe supporters will have got the vote, and together with those who have changed their minds would change the result.

Europe supporter Madeleina Kay came dressed as Brittania with a quote from Oscar Wilde ‘We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’

It now looks increasingly likely that we will leave Europe in an extremely messy way, with Boris, Farage and the DUP shouting insults at the Europeans in what they will call attempts at negotiation. We will see a hard border in Ireland, a loss in our living standards, chlorinated chickens and yet more privatision of the NHS. We’ll have a general election leading to an even more hung Parliament, probably leading to a right-wing coalition. The only consoling feature of the disatrous election results will be most of the right-wing Labour MPs who have spent almost all of their time over the past few years undermining Corbyn and their party losing their seats.

And then, perhaps in the election after next, perhaps a new revitalised socialist Labour party led by one of those now a shadow minister under Corbyn, probably a woman, will run on the platform of taking us back into Europe, win with a thumping majority and go back to Europe cap in hand. We won’t get as good a deal as we have at the moment, but they will be happy to have us back again!

Of course this isn’t an entirely serious political prediction, though I think it has more chance of coming to pass than most that we hear in the mass media, and certainly better than anything Laura K has so far come up with. Take it more as a rather dark and slightly humourous reflection on what seems an entirely desperate situation the country has got itself into.

And you can see more pictures of disgruntled Brexiteers at Brexiteers protest Betrayal.


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.

To order prints or reproduce images