Archive for March, 2020

On the Third Day

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

The rather tense stand-off between police and Extinction Rebellion protesters who were still blocking much of Westminster continued, with the police at times adopting rather rougher tactics, including the deliberate destruction of tents and other property as well as making arrests.

XR’s protest continued to be rather remarkable, with street performers, music and mimes including Charlie X as well as XR’s red and green robed troupes.

People were still determined to continue their protest and it was clear that the police were coming under increasing political pressure to end them, though quite a few officers seemed rather unhappy at what they were being ordered to do.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had attacked the protesters, insulting them as ‘crusties’ but was still failing to take any action. XR’s demands remain, calling for the government tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, act to halt biodiversity loss, reduced emissions to net zero and create and be led by a Citizens Assembly.

There were many arrests during the day, with XR’s non-violent approach being maintained, and police succeeded in clearing some of the areas.

Extinction Rebellion Day 3


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Scanning London

Monday, March 30th, 2020
TQ1985

A few months back I was lying prone inside a giant metal tube on a flat bed which moved me slowly backwards as successive slices across my body were scanned for the purposes of research, and the CT scan reminded me of a project on London which I began in the 1980s.

Nowadays we are all familiar with the idea of geotagging and some cameras can add geotags to the Exif date as you photograph, while gadgets can be fixed onto other cameras to add the data. Smartphones do the same, as they always track you position. The web site https://www.geograph.org.uk Geograph was set up in 2005 to “collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland” and so far 13,114 contributors have submitted 6,397,064 images covering 280,384 of the 1km grid squares, still leaving around 15% should you wish to strike new ground.

TQ2083

I’ve occasionally added geotags to my own landscape pictures in Lightroom, using a free little phone app by one of my sons, ‘Easy GPS Logger’ which records GPS location and time data to a file. You load this into LR along with the pictures, match up any one of them with a particular place on a map and LR then uses the file to add the information to the other pictures. There are only two problems – remembering to turn on the logger at the start of your walk, and secondly to turn it off when you finish!

TQ1982

Back in 1986, the only way to add location data to your photographs was by hand, using a map to find the grid reference. Of course you had to know where you were to do so. I had the idea of doing a series of South to North cross-sections of London based on the Eastings and Northings of the National Grid using colour negative film.

Rather than attempting a series of south-north walks, I simply took a camera with colour negative film on more normal walks while I was photographing London in black and white, then sent the films for processing and printing 6×4″ enprints. When these came back from processing I’d sort out those I wanted to keep and use a map to find the grid references and add these and the date with a technical pen along the lower edge of the print. The date meant (at least in theory) I could find the negatives in my files.

TQ1683

At first I glued the prints onto card sheets to file them under the grid reference in a set of A4 files, but this soon became tedious and I bought filing sheets which held 8 prints, four on each side. Each of the kilometre grid squares had its own filing sheet, and some soon had several, with the series expanding to fill around a dozen A4 files. Each file holds around 50 double-sided sheets and so could hold around 400 prints, though many sheets are not full, so the project probably has around 3,000 or 4,000 prints.

TQ1978

Of course what was more important were the scenes I chose to photograph. I carried in my wallet a reminder of things I was interested in photographing (an idea picked up from reading a list made by Walker Evans), in a small zipped pocket together with a folded £20 note for emergencies. Of course colour was important, not just for itself, but as an illustration of how and why colour was used, and I had a great interest in representations of people and things, in ethnic differences and in the evolution and fashion of colour.

I can’t remember exactly when I ended the project, though it certainly continued well into the 1990s. But at some point I stopped sending colour negative film to be processed and began developing it myself, and producing enprints wasn’t really an option. Instead I made 8×10″ contact prints and worked from these, producing very many fewer but larger prints.

TQ2080

Over the years I’ve probably published or shown only around a hundred of these pictures, the largest group from 1986-90 in the book dummy and web site ‘Café Ideal, Cool Blondes, and Paradise

As with my black and white images of London, this is a body of work which I think has a great deal of historical interest as well as some photographic interest and it would be good to see it in some permanent museum or similar collection rather than simply gathering dust on my shelves.


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

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

June 1986

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

I had a busy month in June 1986. Of course there was the teaching, though by that time of year my A Level students were busy sitting exams, which took some of the pressure off for me, though there were the practical exams. And of course exam invigilation, a time of extreme boredom.

At home there will have been strawberries to pick and other little jobs around house and garden, as well as two young boys to help looking after. And sometimes I would take one or both of them out for long walks with me, as I went out taking pictures at the weekends, mainly in that month in Tower Hamlets, occasionally straying into Hackney.

During that month I made over 500 exposures on black and white film, seldom taking more than one exposure of each scene, and perhaps half that number in colour. It was around this time that I started seriously to produce some kind of comprehensive document of the fabric of London which I had been photographing in a less concentrated and asystematic fashion since 1973.

What had previously been largely dérives from a particular starting point now became carefully planned, with research in books on the city and poring over maps. Where previously it might have been the delightful whimsy of Geoffrey Fletcher that lead me to picturesque corners, this was now replaced by the duller encylopaedic prose of writers such as Harold Clunn, whose 1951 ‘The Face of London’ revised his earlier work to take account of wartime losses and attempted to be a complete guide to Greater London from his fifty years of perambulations.

Of course I seldom stuck to those carefully made plans, often being diverted by the lure of the streets, but I did begin making notebooks of where I walked, noting down street names and important details, marking up where I had walked on street maps (many of which have now fallen to pieces.)

After developing the films I would as usual make contact sheets, but I would then mark these up with Indian ink in a Rotring pen (and small writing I now often need a loupe to read) with street names and map references. In later years the A-Z came with the National Grid superimposed and my contacts included grid references too.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and sometimes I got street names wrong, and my writing and abbreviations are not always legible. I’ve now put around 140 of the pictures from June 1986 into my Flickr album ‘1986 London Photographs‘, almost all of them with at least a street name to identify the location. It took a few days to make and retouch the digital files, and once I had done that, over a day’s work to confirm the locations where possible using Google Street View. Some areas of course changed completely between 1986 and the earliest information from Street View – usually 2008, making it impossible in a few cases to be completely sure of where images were taken.

All of the images on Flickr have a longest side of 2400 pixels, four times the size of those in this post (- and landscape images only display at 75% unless you double click to open them.) Although I’m happy for people to share them and use them with proper attribution on personal blogs and non-commercial personal web sites, in student essays etc, they remain copyright, and a licence from me is required for any commercial or editorial use.

You can view the complete album 1986 London Photographs, but June’s pictures start here. Pictures for later in 1986 will follow shortly.


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


BEIS told to Axe Drax

Saturday, March 28th, 2020
Mayer Hillman, 88 year old Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute

I arrived some time after the start of this protest by Biofuel Watch outside the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) having been at the Royal Courts of Justice for the XR Lawyers declaration of Rebellion, but was fortunately in time to hear some of the main speakers, including Mayer Hillman who has been writing about environment issues for many years – and whose work has inspired some government actions such as energy standards for housing and 20mph speed limits to reduce road deaths. But his warnings on the need for urgent climate action over many years have so far failed to produce any significant actions.

You can listen to his video “The Last and Most Important Advice I Will Ever Give” on YouTube, which puts the information on Climate Change simply and directly. Over 70% of the greenhouse gases causing global warming come from burning fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil – which are produced by around 100 companies, and we have to stop using fossil fuels. The other main source is deforestation, with the destruction of forests for agricultural land and the burning of wood.

Drax is a major UK source of carbon dioxide, and claims huge ‘environmental subsidies’ for doing so, despite their huge contribution to global warming. Switching to wood burning has made Drax a worse polluter but the UK government gives it £2 million a day for ‘renewable’ subsidies out of our electricity bills for doing so – and Drax has plans for expansion to also become the UK’s largest gas-fired power station.

As Hillman says, if life on the planet is to continue we need urgently to stop both fossil fuel use and deforestation, but our current politicians have failed to take effective action. We need to vote them out and vote in others who will do so.

He urges people to join the global rebellion led by XR and for young people to be inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg and join the youth climate strike protests.

More at Biofuel Watch – Axe Drax at BEIS.

Lawyers Protest

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Extinction Rebellion’s October protest continued on its third day with a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand.

It was in some ways an unusual protest, involving a number of figures from the legal world, solicitors, barristers and others, including Richard Lord QC and international climate lawyer and diplomat Farhana Yamin, as well as leading figures in XR, including Gail Bradbrook and Lawyers for XR founders Natalie Barbosa and Paul Powlesland.

Lawyers for XR is one of a number of special interest groups within the organisation, and its formation was inspired by the example of medical workers who had formed their own group.

The lawyers had come up with their own ‘Lawyers’ Declaration of Rebellion’ and copies of this, wrapped in the traditional pink ribbon for briefs were handed around, giving the protest its own look.

Lawyers have of course played an important role in the fight to save the planet, and among those remembered at this event were Scottish barrister Polly Higgins who died in April 2019 and had led a long campaign calling for a criminal law of ecocide to impose a legal duty on governments to protect the public from dangerous industrial practices. 

More pictures at All Rise For Climate Justice.


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Stirling (or Sterling?) Prize

Thursday, March 26th, 2020
ASH mocks the champagne celebration inside with Cava on the street

I was pleased to get this picture of what was a very difficult event for me to get any worthwhile photographs. I’m a great admirer of the work of Architects for Social Housing, a small group that punches well above its weight in pointing out the crimes, profiteering and failures of current housing policies pursued by local authorities and national government which amount to an attack on the poor.

A poster from a Class War supporter

Their detailed studies have laid bare the terrible effects of demolition of council estates, driving those on low incomes out of the central areas of London in a huge exercise of social cleansing and making excessive profits for the developers, as well as providing well-paid jobs for some council staff and ex-staff. Most of those London councils are Labour councils, including Southwark, Lambeth and Newham, though Tory councils are following similar shameful practices, and at the root of all this are the housing policies of Thatcher and New Labour.

A man holding his Stirling Prize invite stops to photograph the protest

Their reports have shown the financial incentives that result in demolition and new build schemes with little or no low rent social housing replacing large numbers of council homes, as well as the hugely damaging environmental consequences of such large schemes. Their detailed alternative development plans have shown how estates could be renovated and the number of housing units greatly increased without the huge social costs of destroying existing communities and retaining existing low cost housing, without the need to evict existing tenants and leaseholders.

Following the disaster of the Grenfell fire, they published a report within weeks that clearly identified the problems which had made it inevitable. ASH called for those responsible to be brought to justice, pointing out that similar disasters in other countries such as Japan had led to prosecutions within a few weeks – while we have an inquiry that is still proceeding which seems to have as its major aim the deflection of blame from those responsible for the defects and failures to the actions of the emergency services on the night of the fire. It’s right of course that these should be examined and lessons learnt, but it wasn’t the Fire Service which created a fire trap through cost-cutting , avoidance of proper fire safety measures and a sheer disregard for the safety of the people who lived in Grenfell.

Oliver Wainwright, the Guardian’s architecture and design critic speaks before going into the prize event

ASH were protesting outside the highly prestigious Stirling Awards ceremony condemning architects for social cleansing, council estate demolition and housing privatisation and calling on architects to end wanton environmentally disastrous demolitions and to serve the needs of citizens with socially beneficial, financially viable and environmentally sustainable architecture rather than corporate profits. You can read more on their web site.

In particular they had come to point out that the winning entry, widely lauded in the press as marking a new era in social housing, is actually a  a commercial venture owned by Norwich council and will not be offering secure council tenancies and that council homes were demolished to build it. They were particularly incensed that it was also nominated for (and won) the new Neave Brown Award, set up to honour the recently deceased champion and architect of council housing; they see this as an insult to the memory of our great architect of council housing.

A woman came to shout at Simon Elmer and pushed him

ASH’s approach represents a threat to many architects who rely on the highly lucrative projects of major developers (named for Sir James Stirling (1926-92) whose 1977 major public housing scheme in Runcorn was demolished only 15 years after it was built, it should perhaps be better re-named as the ‘Sterling’ prize) and the protest was not well received by many of them – with one woman going as far as coming to assault Simon Elmer of ASH. But there were also some largely younger architects who expressed support.

It was a small protest and started rather late, when many had already gone inside to enjoy the ‘free’ champagne their very expensive tickets provided. The light was falling fast and it was hard to find an angle which worked to connect the protest and the event. I was pleased when the protesters decided to mock the champagne celebrations inside with a few plastic cups of cheap Cava (and I was holding cup of it myself when I took the picture at the top of this post. I left as it got too dark to photograph without flash, though perhaps I should have stayed, as more people arrived and the protest apparently got livelier later. But I’d been on my feet far too long and needed to get home and eat.

More at Stirling Prize for Architecture


Rebellion continues

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

The second day of Extinction Rebellion’s shutdown of Westminster was in some respects a disturbing one for those of us who believe in civil liberties and the rule of law, with the police moving in at times like a group of thugs and deliberately destroying the property of the protesters.

XR have a dedication to non-violence and made no attempt to stop the police or to resist the arrests that took place, and the use of force seemed quite uncalled for. Of course large scale acts of civil disobedience do cause inconvenience and annoyance to others, but the response of a civilised society should be to try and resolve the issues rather than to attack the protesters.

Those who break laws can and in the case of XR do expect to be arrested but should not be assaulted and too many arrests that I saw seemed to involve an unnecessary use of violence and deliberate infliction of pain.

One new banner read ‘CLIMATE STRUGGLE = CLASS STRUGGLE’ and it is perhaps hard not to see the police as a force being used by the small group of those who are rich and powerful to protect their own narrow interests at the expense of the rest of the people. Their more vigorous response on this second day of protest can only have been a result of considerable political pressure on them to subdue the protests. They clearly came not to keep the peace but to try and win a battle.

As you can see from my pictures, the protests were still continuing at various sites around Westminster and the general atmosphere was something of a festival. But a festival with a great deal of commitment by people desperate that our government take effective action against the most serious problem faced by the country and the world. We are just beginning to see a government forced into taking belated action against the threat posed by COVID-19, but we need a similar level of action against climate change that otherwise will be even more catastrophic.

‘Everything Will Change’ whether we like it or not, but we have a choice to make changes which may avert the extinction of our species. But our government continues to fiddle while the planet burns.

More at Extinction Rebellion continues.


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Luminous Lint

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

One of the messages that arrived recently in my inbox was from Alan Griffiths of Luminous Lint, a perhaps strangely named web site which has a great deal of information on the history of photography and is certainly the best site of its type.

For those with time on their hands due to self-isolation over COVID-19, and particularly for students whose colleges have close down, Alan has very generously made this subscription site free for the next month or so – and will review the situation then.

Take a look, and if you find the site interesting then please consider taking out a subscription if you can afford it. Sites such as LL take a great deal of work and it is only the income from subscriptions that make it possible. Here are the details of the offer from his e-mail :

While we all go through the turmoil of COVID-19 we each have to do what we can.

It is important for all students to have access to high quality materials on photohistory as universities, schools and libraries around the world close down so I’ve opened up Luminous-Lint.

You can login to www.luminous-lint.com for free with the email address spring@lumlint.com and the password “spring” all in lowercase. You can login here.

This will be available until 18 April 2020 and then I will take another look at the situation.

I would ask the following of you:

1. If you see any errors or have something to add let me know. I’m always at alan@luminous-lint.com

2. Subscribe if you can afford it as it allows me to provide services to those who can’t.

Other than that – have an interesting time exploring and I wish you, your family and friends all the best,


My own sites, including My London Diary, London Photos, Hull Photos, The River Lea and London’s Industrial Heritage (see below) and a few other smaller sites you can find links to on this site remain free all the time.

I’m able to provide them without charge thanks to a relatively small pension from some years of teaching and a largely abstemious lifestyle :-) as well as the occasional sale of prints or images for editorial use, but small Paypal donations, as the text I often append to these posts suggest, are always welcome. And you can also help by sharing these posts or other work on my sites on social media.

As well as those web sites, you can also find over a thousand rather higher resolution versions of my images on my Flickr account – and I hope soon to add a few thousand more. I’m happy to share these images – and for you to share them with your friends – but they are all copyright and a licence is required for any commercial or editorial use.

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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

London 1986 on Flickr

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

I’ve just uploaded the first tranche of 112 of my black and white pictures from 1986 on to Flickr. These are some of the pictures I took in the first four months of the year.

In 1986 I made around 5500 exposures on black and white film, the great majority of them being photographs taken on the streets of London, concentrating on the fabric of the city – the buildings and shop fronts in particular. At the same time I was also taking colour film, with a greater focus on shops and window displays.

A few of those black and white exposures were taken outside London on holidays and visits to family and friends, and rather more on a project in the industrial areas beside the Thames in Kent from Dartford to Cliffe.

Most motifs were taken with a single frame, carefully thought out and executed much as if I was using a large format camera, rather than the 35mmm Olympus fitted with a shift lens which I used for most of these images. A few received a second exposure, perhaps to concentrate on detail or where I could see an alternative approach and even more rarely I became excited enough to take more.

The almost a thousand images which will eventually be in this album represent about a quarter or a third of this work – the images I now find more interesting. Some of the scans have minor technical problems that annoy me but are probably not apparent to most viewers. Most were made while I was learning to use a DSLR to photograph negatives.

Although I had been walking around London with a camera since 1973 it was really in 1986 that I made a serious start on photographing the city as a whole, much as I had previously concentrated on various areas of docklands. Photographically I was inspired by the work of Eugène Atget in Paris, recording the old city he saw disappearing, but also by the encyclopedic work of Pevsner and his co-workers in ‘The Buildings of England‘, the original series of which were published between 1951-74. These both inspired and infuriated me by their omissions and the sometimes crass judgements and in particular what seemed to be a disdain for the vernacular, the commercial and the industrial. I decided my own view would be more comprehensive and I would photograph any building I found significant or interesting as well as exemplars of the typical.

Later I would often go into the library at the National Building Record, then in Saville Row, and while waiting for my appointment pull one of their London files from the shelves and leaf through its contents. For most areas it was church after church after church, occasionally enlivened by some ancient house or stately home. Perhaps the odd old pub, but little else to reflect where the ordinary people of London lived, worked or shopped. A few of my images helped to widen their collection, much of the older work in which I was told was donated by Church of England clergy with time on their hands and the money to indulge in photography as a hobby.

I had of course set myself an impossible task, and I realised this from the start, but made it even more so by widening my view in later years to take in the whole of Greater London. I kept at work for almost 15 years, by which time I had covered most of those areas that particularly interested me. But it had also become clear to me that times had changed and in particular that technology was changing.

I had already made use of the web to put some of my work online – in my Buildings of London website first put online in 1996 (with later revisions but never brought up to date as I decided it was impossible to scale it up) and this continued with London’s Industrial Heritage in 1999. The images on these sites reflect the But by 2000 it was clear to me that the impact of digital photography would lead to the city becoming on-line as a whole in a new way that made the continuance of my project redundant.

Google brought this to fruition with the launch of Street View in 2007, though I think it only came to London in 2008. When you view an area on this now, you can probably see it as it was some time in the last year, but, if you are fortunate, can also go back to various other views taken as far back as 2008. But for those relatively few areas and buildings in my pictures you may be able to go back to 1986. Much of London has changed dramatically since then.

Richmond Ave, Islington 86-2d-42_2400

You can watch them here, but its better to go to Flickr and watch them at a larger size.


XR Wedding

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

I’m not a wedding photographer. I have been asked to photograph weddings on quite a few occasions, but with a handful of exceptions for family and friends I’ve always refused – it just isn’t something I have any interest in and I’m fortunate to be able to afford to refuse work I don’t want to do. There are others who enjoy it and find it fulfilling – and who need the money.

I think until this event my full tally was five – two sons and three old friends for whom I did it as a wedding present. And at this wedding on Westminster Bridge, although I was taking pictures I wasn’t ‘the wedding photographer’, it was a part of Extinction Rebellion’s protest.

Though I had known one of the couple for some years. I think I first photographed Tamsin back in 2008 when she was leading the attempt by Climate Rush to storm the Houses of Parliament, and got to know her better at a series of protests over the next year or two, mainly against Heathrow expansion.

I hadn’t known when it was announced by XR that there would be a wedding that she was to be one of the couple getting married. The start of the event was somewhat delayed as her partner was held up at a protest outside the Dept of Business etc (BEIS) in Victoria St, and Tamsin had to go and find her, but eventually all the vital parties were present and the ceremony began.

It proceeded much like any other wedding, except there seemed to be considerably more kissing, but all the normal bits were there, including the exchange of rings.

I was some distance away and to one side, and at some parts of the ceremony the participants had their backs to me and it certainly wasn’t possible to move to get a better view. But for some of the time I was in a perfect position as this picture of Tamsin slipping the ring onto Mellissa’s finger I could not have been better placed. This is a relatively small detail from a frame (below) taken with the angle of view roughly equivalent to using 200mm lens, though I was actually working at 31mm (62 mm equivalent) using the 14-150 zoom on the Olympus OMD EM5-II.

It was a dull afternoon, but I was still working at 1/100s f8 at ISO400. I suspect the image stabilisation of the Olympus body helped to keep the picture sharp, at at lowish ISOs the quality of the Micro Four Third’s image is great. I think in low light, at ISO3200 and above, there is a noticeable advantage for full-frame, but when you can use slower speeds it is hard to tell the difference.

More pictures at XR Rebels marry on Westminster Bridge.


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.