Archive for June, 2020

City colour

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

The 1km wide strip of TQ32 in our National Grid includes a section of the City of London, from a little to the west of St Paul’s Cathedral to a few yards east of the Monument, with the Thames at its south and the Barbican and Moorgate at its north, a little over a square kilometre of “the square mile”, perhaps two fifths of the city. So its not surprising that I took quite a few pictures in the City during the period I was putting colour prints into the albums that make up my ‘London Cross-section’, from roughly 1986-92. Though as you will see if you look at the album TQ32 – London Cross-section, they are mainly from just a few small areas that I found of most interest. Here is just a small initial selection of them with some comments.

Pig, Office, Lower Thames St, City, 1991 TQ3280-031
Pig, Office, Lower Thames St, City, 1991

Walking around the City now you often find yourself going past the windows of large offices filled with people staring into screens, but back in the late 1980s and early 90s this was more of a novelty. Also something of a novelty was this pink inflatable pig on a windowsill. The real watershed for the City came in 1986, with the ‘Big Bang’, on a Monday in October that year when the City of London was deregulated, with face-to-face share dealing replaced by electronic trading. I don’t know what business this office was dealing with but the idea of pigs seemed appropriate to the getting of snouts in the trough as so many in the City found themselves in clover.

Doorway, Little Britain, City, 1986 TQ3281-001
Doorway, Little Britain, City, 1986

Lawrence & Co. (Estd. 1897) Ltd. were once blouse manufacturers at 7 Little Britain, a street (and area) at the edge of Smithfield, but the peeling paint and corrugated iron on this doorway seemed to me to symbolise something about the state of the nation, the larger Britain, and their was the City of London Recorder and myself also a recorder.

You can still walk along Little Britain and indentify a few of the doorways I photographed, though what is left are simply facades, and the atmosphere is largely but not entirely lost.

Heroes Memorial, Postmans Park, City, 1986 TQ3281-116
Heroes Memorial, Postmans Park, City, 1986

In 1887 prominent painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) proposed the erection of a memorial to commemorate the heroic self-sacrifice of ordinary people who had died saving the lives of others as a part of the commemorations of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, but it was not taken up.

Some years later in 1898, the vicar of St Botolph’s Aldersgate suggested to Watts that the memorial could be built in Postman’s Park, the former churchyard adjoining the church and a wooden loggia was built to shelter a wall with space for 120 ceramic memorial tiles to be made by William De Morgan, though only 4 were in place when this was opened in 1900.

De Morgan gave up ceramics in 1906 after making only 24 tiles, and Watt’s widow, Mary Watts was unhappy with new tiles made by Royal Doulton, and rather lost interest. Only 53 tiles had been added by 1931 when work ceased. When I photographed it the display was in fairly poor condition, but has since been repaired and in 2009 the first new tablet was added.

Roman Wall, Barbican, City, 1992TQ3281-068
Roman Wall, Barbican, City, 1992

I walked through the Barbican quite often and occasionally took photographs as I was involved in a group called ‘London Documentary Photographers’ which had been founded by Mike Seaborne, then curator of photographs at the Museum of London and which regularly met there, as well as organising several photography shows at the Barbican Library.

I like this picture because it encompasses so much of the history of the city of London, with a section of its Roman Wall, the tower of St Giles-without-Cripplegate, one of the few medieval churches to survive the 1666 Great Fire (though the tower dates from 1682 and the church was reconstructed after being gutted by bombing in the Blitz of 1940) as well as the taller tower from the Barbican Estate, built between 1965 and 1976 on an area devastated in the war.

Shakespeare, Garden, Aldermanbury, Love Lane, City, 1986TQ3281-019
Shakespeare, Garden, Aldermanbury, Love Lane, City,

Shakespeare, on this plinth in St Mary Aldermanbury Garden, Love Lane is another reminder of the city’s history – as is the garden. The church here was destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt shortly after to the plans of Sir Christopher Wren. It was gutted again during the Blitz in 1940, leaving only the walls standing. In 1966 these were shipped to Fulton, Missour and restored as a memorial to Winston Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in that town in 1946.

The area was laid out as a public garden after it was acquired by the City of London in 1970 and is often quite full at lunchtime with city workers eating their sandwiches.

Shakespeare’s bust, by Charles Allen (1862 – 1956), is part of a memorial from 1896 to John Heminge and Henry Condell, fellow actors of Shakespeare who after his death in 1616 collected his works and published them at their own expense in 1623, thus making them available to later generations. Without them his work would have lost.

TQ32 – London Cross-section.


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.


More from Southwark

Monday, June 29th, 2020

I recently added these pictures (and many others) to my Flickr album TQ32 – London Cross-section.

Church, Councillor St, Camberwell,1989 TQ3277-014
Church, Councillor St, Camberwell,1989

Enter In To His Gates With Thanksgiving‘, the sentiment over a church door in Camberwell had two missing letters. It perhaps wasn’t surprising that the door was firmly closed and the gate locked, as I took this picture on a Friday, May 5th 1989. Nothing much special happened that day, but the previous day had been the 10th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher becoming prime minister, whose policies had a great effect on my photography, causing much of the dereliction and empty factories I was recording.

I was still a full-time teacher, but at a sixth-form and community college which then offered a wide range of evening as well as daytime courses. As a union rep I’d won a local agreement on timetabling which limited the number of sessions within which staff could be required to work, as well as national agreements to the number of contact hours. For me that meant my teaching finished at noon, and if I rushed to the station I could be in London taking pictures around an hour later.

Cafe, Southwark Bridge Rd,The Borough, 1991 TQ3279-012
Cafe, Southwark Bridge Rd,The Borough, 1991

I photographed this cafe on several occasions from 1986 to 1992, and though it never looked very open, I think it must still have been in business in the earlier years. In 1991, the street number 108 is painted large, and this was 108 Great Guildford Street, in a little tangle of streets on the edge of Southwark Bridge Road. It was once the Fox and Hounds public house, re-built in 1884 – and according to ‘Pubwiki’, its address over the years has over the years before its current one variously been ‘Little Bandy Leg Walk’, 118 Southwark Bridge Rd and 19 Little Guildford Street.

The building is still there, but the ground floor frontage is much changed. As well as these colour details I find photographed the entire building from across the street in 1992 (and possibly in earlier years.) I think few of the buildings which can be seen reflected in its windows have gone.

Bankside, 1986, Southwark TQ3280-017
The Jones-Wilcox Patent Wire-Bound Hose Co Ltd 47-48 Bankside, 1986

Walter Henry Wilcox established his company in 1876-8 selling engineering supplies and lubricating oils and moved from Uppper Thames St across the river to 36 Southwark St in 1880, and first advertised his wire-bound hose, the first of its type in 1888. The wholly-owned subsidiary, the Jones-Willcox Patent Wire Bound Hose Co, was set up in 1897 and was in business on Bankside until 1976 when it moved to Peacock Street. Their Bankside works was demolished around 1986 for the building of the replica Globe Theatre.

Grace’s Guide has condiserable information about the company, including reproductions of many advertisements and a long quotation about the widespread use “thoughout the Empire” of these hoses for petrol and other oils “constructed in an extensive Factory … from specially prepared canvas”. Their hoses contained no rubber which petrol and oils rapidly destroy. https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/1930_Industrial_Britain:_W._H._Willcox_and_Co

Mural, Porlock St, The Borough, 1992 TQ3279-021
Mural, Porlock St, The Borough, 1992

“… and he ascended into heaven” says the text at the bottom of this mural, the words I think coming from the head to their left. It may well have been a representation of the priest of St Hugh’s Church, part of a settlement founded in 1885 by former pupils of Charterhouse School to bring education and enlightenment to the deprived communities of Bermondsey and built in 1896. Probably the other figures represented local residents. The mural was I think on the tall wall of the building, part of the settlement premises that then stood on the corner of Porlock St and Crosby Row.

This later became known as the ‘Rainbow Building’ from a later mural on it, a rather primitive representation of a mis-coloured rainbow on a bed of grass with two trees and in the blue sky above a large yellow sun and a larger crude representation of the earth, presumably based on a child’s painting.

Church and ‘Rainbow Building’ were demolished in 2011 and replaced by flats with a new St Hugh’s Church in the basement which opened in 2013.

Park St, Southwark, 1992 TQ3280-042
Granary, Park St, 1992

This corner of Park St next to the railway bridge is still entirely recognisable. This image shows some of the problems of reproducing from a poor quality enprint and at some point I will try to find the negative to make a clearer image. But its defects give it a particular patina.

Painted signs, faded, label 15 Park St as a Granary, and it was apparently in use around 1900 for agricultural produce from Kent farms. There is more largely illegible signage around the right hand door. Some time after I made this picture the carefully faded text ‘PEROT EXPORTATEUR’ was painted over the doorway – presumably for some film – and Banksy and other graffitists later added contributions, including the text ‘BANKSY WOULD BE NOBODY WITHOUT BLEU LE RAT’ to the right-hand side.

Among the films which this building has appeared is as the gang hideout in Guy Ritchie’s 1998 crime comedy film ‘Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels’. The street also puts in an appearance in quite a few other films, including Howards End, 102 Dalmations, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Entrapment


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.


South of the River

Sunday, June 28th, 2020
Cafe, Norwood Rd, Herne Hill, 1991 TQ3274-001
Café, Norwood Rd, Herne Hill, 1991

I think I only took my first pictures on colour negative film in 1985. When I began in photography at the start of the 1970s it was quite clear that colour neg was just for amateur snaps and social photography, but real photographers – if they stooped to colour – did it on transparency film.

Cafe, Loughborough Junction, 1989, TQ3275-001
Café, Loughborough Junction, 1989

Most publications – books, magazines, newspapers etc – . still used only – or mainly – black and white, and when colour was used it was almost invariably from colour transparency. Images taken on colour neg were only used at a last resort, and usually then duped onto transparency for repro, or occasionally printed onto black and white paper to be used. You could get special panchromatic black and white paper which gave some chance of normal tonality, but it was a pain to use as normal darkroom safelights fogged it, and often normal black and white paper was used despite the often very poor tonality it gave.

Shops, Flaxman Rd, Loughborough Junction, 1987 TQ3276-002
Shops, Flaxman Rd, Loughborough Junction, 1987

Though colour transparency was great for repro, making prints from it had its limitations – as did using transparency film. I found myself too often having images with empty black shadow areas or unusably blown highlights as it the film had a limited exposure range. You could get great punchy saturated colour prints, fine for advertising (which was never my scene) but it was difficult to achieve subtlety. Fed up with telling printers what I wanted and being told it wasn’t possible I began making my own prints, working at times with complicated unsharp masking for Cibachromes. My German project I deliberately printed on outdated Agfa direct reversal paper.

Shops, Denmark Hill, Camberwell, 1989 TQ3276-004
Shops, Denmark Hill, Camberwell, 1989

In the 1980s, Fuji shook up colour negative (and, to a lesser extent transparency film), producing new film and print materials that gave greater fidelity, longer print life and greater flexibility in the darkroom. Seeing the prints that other photographers were making (and the fact I wasn’t actually selling my slides professionally) was a conversion experience. Since then I don’t think I’ve ever taken pictures on slide film.

Hairdresser, Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell, 1989, TQ3276-007
Gee P. Johnson, The People’s Salon, Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell, 1989,

At the same time I was beginning a major black and white project to photograph the fabric of London, and saw my colour work as separate to that, but dependent on it. I don’t think I ever went out to visit a place or area to take colour pictures, but simply did so when opportunities arose as I visited various areas.

I didn’t have a particular interest in cafes or hairdressers, but saw these and other shops and offices as example of small businesses with relatively low start-up costs which reflected both the aesthetic of their owners and of the people of the area which they served. Gee P Johnson’s unisex ‘The People’s Salon’ for me expressed that sense well.

TQ3276-013
Daneville Rd, Camberwell, 1989, Southwark,

Filing selected trade prints in albums according to their grid references was a way to explore the differences between different areas across London – and I chose to do so in these 1km wide south-north strips. It was also a kind of cataloguing system for my work, though not always as well documented on the prints it should have been.

Garage, Camberwell Station Rd, Camberwell, 1989 TQ3276-017
Garage, Camberwell Station Rd, Camberwell,

These examples come from the first thirty or so images in my Flickr album TQ32 London Cross-section, which contains a little over 300 pictures. I’ll perhaps look again at some more shortly.


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.


Mainly Camden – 1986

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

The pictures on the final page, Page 14 of my 1986 London Photographs, were taken in November and December of the year, mainly in Camden, though they have a wider aspect than that might suggest, including Cosmos Radio Cars and the Night bell for the Universe. Few people really realise how far the London Borough of Camden actually stretches, almost down to Fleet St and up to Hampstead Heath, though the pictures here are from the sourthern part of the borough, along with a few over the boundary into the City of London

Pratt St, Camden 86-11l-13
PsaroTaverna Ta “Varelia”, Pratt St, Camden

There are still many shops in the area which show the presence of the Greek and Greek Cypriot community in Camden. I particularly liked the barrels outside the PsaroTaverna (Fish tavern) Ta “Varelia” in Pratt St, their shapes echoed by the balconies to the right of the picture.

In the window you can see the reflection of what appears to be one of the blocks of the Curnock St Estate, but both this taverna and those balconies seem to have disappeared without trace. There is still a taverna on Pratt Street, but now it competes with food from Italy, Japan and possibly elsewhere.

Herbrand St, Bloomsbury, Camden 86-12a-41_2400
Car Park, Herbrand St, Bloomsbury, Camden

Relatively few car parks enjoy listed status, but the Frames Coach Station and London Borough of Camden Car Park in Herbrand Street, close to Russell Square certainly deserves its Grade II listing, made in 1982. It was built in 1931 to the designs of architects Wallis, Gilbert and Partners for Daimler Car Hire Ltd. After they were taken over this building became used by the London Taxi Centre and Frames Coaches. The sign in my picture above the entrance to the spiral ramp which took cars to the upper stories calls it a ‘London Borough of Camden Official Car Park.’

Some may be familiar with the building from their childhood as it was the basis for the Fisher Price toy garage. The building deteriorated badly over the years and has been sensitively and extensively renovated to provide 60,000 sq foot of office accommodation, currently occupied by what claims to be the most powerful advertising agency in the world, McCann Erickson. 

Urinal, Star Yard, Holborn, Camden 86-12d-12_2400
Urinal, Star Yard, Holborn

As a then un-diagnosed diabetic, facilities such as this were of great interest to me and I made use of this on numerous occasions when I was in the area.

It is still in place but was closed when I last walked past, necessitating a visit to the basement of a nearby Wetherspoons pub.

Lyme Terrace, Camden 86-12a-52_2400
Lyme Terrace, Camden

The Regents Canal runs through the centre of Camden and I’ve often enjoyed a walk beside it. Lyme Terrace is a narrow pedestrian street that runs above the towpath. This view towards Royal College St is rather different now, although the white-painted small terrace is still there (now pale blue) but Lawford and Sons builders materials is long gone with an oval modern block tacked on to the wall at the end of the terrace on Royal College St.

Traveller camp, Kentish Town Rd, Camden 86-12g-42_2400
Traveller Camp, Kentish Town

The large building in the background is the HQ of the Transport Police beside the canal on the corner of Camden Rd and Camden St.

I think this encampment was on land that had been cleared for the building of Camden Gardens. At left you can see a heap of scrap, but overall the site which went up to the railway arches seems relatively tidy. Another picture (not on line) shows rubbish by the railway arches, but this could be fly-tipping not connected with the travellers.

Kent House, Ferdinand St, Camden 86-12j-22_2400
Kent House, Ferdinand St, Chalk Farm

Another of Camden’s many Grade II listed buildings, Kent House on Ferdinand St in Chalk Farm. These two blocks of model low-cost flats and shop were built in 1935 for the St Pancras House Improvement Society. Designed by Colin Lucas with Amyas Connell and Basil Ward they provided features better than many private developments of the era for cheap social housing – as the listing text comments: “staircase access, room layouts, generous useable balconies and total use of electricity for servicing put Kent House at the forefront of contemporary flat design with the quality of detailing expected from a private commission. ”

This was however the only development of its type by  Connell, Ward and Lucas.

This ends my series on work in the album 1986 London Photographs, although I may at some point add more pictures and more descriptive text. But you can also add comments to the pictures on Flickr. I hope shortly to begin to put some of my work from 1987 on line.


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.


Lucky 13 – 1986

Friday, June 26th, 2020

I can’t quite work out why my album 1986 London Photographs spreads out its 1370 photographs over 14 pages, as there seem to be roughly 100 pictures on each of the pages I’ve bothered to count, but to my surprise Page 13 isn’t the last. But despite the superstitions about the number 13 it does appear to have a number of pictures I came across by luck as I walked around the streets, mainly in Islington and the City.

Barnsbury Terrace, Islington 86-10o-56_2400
6 and 7 Barnsbury Terrace

This pair of villas were built around 1840 are are locally listed. If you go there now you may find my picture surprising, as the pair are now more or less symmetrical, except for the additional second floor window above the recessed door of the right hand house. But it has gained the pilasters around the main windows on the ground and first floor and that on the second floor now has the three arches mirroring its neighbour.

I assumed when I took this picture that the rather stark appearance of the right hand house was probably due to a repair after bomb damage. There have been some rather more minor changes to the left hand house also.

Stone Frieze, Musgrove Watson, Battishill Street Gardens, Islington86-10p-33_2400
Stone Frieze, Musgrove Watson, Battishill Street Gardens, Islington

I made several pictures of this remarkable stone frieze which was installed here in the new Battishill Street Gardens which were opened by Sir John Betjamin in 1975. The gardens were a pleasant quiet place to eat my sandwiches when I was photographing in the area.

The frieze had been made by Musgrove Watson (1804-1847), best known for his brass reliefs around the base of Nelson’s column for the Hall of Commerce in Threadneedle St set up in 1830 by biscuit-maker and amateur architect Edward Moxhay as a rival to other places acting as exchanges for commercial information and the display of samples including the Royal Exchange, of Lloyd’s, the Baltic, Garraway’s, the Jerusalem, and the North and South American Coffee-houses.

Never as successful as Moxhay and other investors had hoped, the Hall of Commerce was demolished in 1922, but the bas-relief frieze from its frontage was saved at UCL, and presented by Sir Albert Richardson to Islington Council for their new garden in 1974.

Fleet St, Ludgate Hill, St Paul's Cathedral, City 86-11e-54
Fleet St, Ludgate Hill and St Paul’s Cathedral

It was only after the railway bridge across Ludgate Hill of the line leading north from Blackfriars was demolished that I realised that I had never set out to photograph what had been one of the archetypal London views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The line between Ludgate Hill Station and Holborn Viaduct station which the bridge carried opened in 1866. Ludgate Hill station was closed in 1929 but only demolished around the time the line closed to rail traffic in 1969. The bridge remained in place until 1990 when a new line for Thameslink services was tunnelled underground below the old route.

I searched and found a few pictures, including this one, that showed the bridge from Fleet Street a short distance west of Ludgate Circus.

Hatton Place, Saffron Hill, Clerkenwell, Camden 86-11g-32
Hatton Place, Saffron Hill, Clerkenwell, Camden

Sir Christopher Hatton was  Lord Chancellor of England for Elizabeth I and his London Home was in this areagiving his name to Hatton Garden. Hatton Place is at the side of the Hat & Tun, which probably got its name from a ‘rebus’ for Sir Christopher, and Hatton Place was formerly Hat in Tun (or Hat and Tun) Yard. Back in 1871 it was described as one of the foulest smelling streets in London – and there was plenty of competition. The pub was renamed as Deux Beers Cafe Bar in 2000, but has since reverted to its former name.

I can find no explanation for the elephant head at No 13, which I presume was in some way related to the business then occupying these premises. The ground floor is now a jewellry shop and workshop but the floors above have been converted into flats and there is now a large window in place of the elephant.

Mural, Farringdon Lane, Clerkenwell, Camden 86-11g-54
Mural, Farringdon Lane, Clerkenwell, Camden

Farringdon Lane used to be called Ray Street, and the bridge over the railway here from where I took this picture is still called Ray St Bridge. There is now no trace of the mural on the wall. I think it depicted scenes from the history and industry of the area, including the Clerk’s Well and printing. I tried several times to photograph it in colour but somehow never managed to get the colours right, and prefer this black and white version.

Holborn Viaduct, City Holborn Viaduct, City 86-11i-11
Holborn Viaduct, looking down Farringdon St

Another photograph of the decorative statuary on Holborn Viaduct, looking down Farringdon St and the Fleet valley towards the River Thames.

Page 13, 1986 London Photographs.


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.


1986 Page 12

Thursday, June 25th, 2020
Leeke St, Pentonville, Camden 86-10c-44_2400
Leeke St, Pentonville, Camden

Page 12 of 1986 London Photographs

1986 was the year I began seriously to photograph the fabric of London, and the number of photographs on Flickr, 1,370 reflects this, although I took several times this number, mainly in a series of planned walks exploring different areas of the capital.

76-78, Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, Islington 86-10g-11_2400
Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, Islington

A few of those I’ve not digitised are near duplicates, though usually I only took a single image of each subject, often taking some time to consider the best viewpoint and sometimes waiting for people or traffic to leave me a clearer view. Although I was working on 35mm and almost always hand-held, my approach was generally like that of a photographer using a larger camera – and the 35mm Olympus shift lens gave me much of the flexibility of large-format camera movements.

Nat West Tower, Old Broad St, City 86-10e-61_2400
Nat West Tower, Old Broad St, City

I had tried using 4×5″ cameras, a first with a monorail and then with an MPP, but found them too restrictive. Heavy to carry any distance, slow to set up and even with several magazines and a small pile of dark slides I was very limited in how many exposures I could make in a session. The movements on the MPP were also fairly limited, and the Olympus shift lens was more useful for this. While I admired the quality of large format results – and tried at times to emulate it by using Kodak Technical Pan – it wasn’t practical (or affordable) for the kind of large-scale project I had embarked on.

Venus, Canonbury Rd, Islington 86-10k-64_2400-2
Venus, Canonbury Rd, Islington

Most of these walks in October 1986 were in Islington, where I walked around areas including Clerkenwell, Pentonville, Canonbury, Barnsbury, Highbury and Islington itself, though I think I occasionally strayed across the borough border into the City of London and Camden.

Bartlett Export Packers, Regent's Canal, Islington 86-10t-31_2400
Bartlett Export Packers, Regent’s Canal, Islington

I travelled on public transport, using either the North London Line or the Underground, and it was sometimes easier (or cheaper) to travel to stations outside the borough – such as Bank (then still ‘City’), still a ‘London Terminus’ of British Rail Southern Region until 1994. I didn’t often use buses, partly because it was still rather harder than now to find out where they might go.

St Agnes Place, Kennington, Lambeth 86-10c-66_2400
St Agnes Place, Kennington, Lambeth

There are also a few pictures from south of the river, around Walworth and Kennington, where we used to go to a monthly meeting with friends, arriving for Sunday lunch. I’d often leave early in the morning for a few hours of walking and photography before these meetings.

The pictures here are just a few of those I now find more interesting from the page, but there are many others worth seeing in the hundred that make up Page 12 of 1986 London Photographs.


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.


London 1986 – Page 11

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020
Temple Bar, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, Fleet St, City, Westminster 86-9h-34_2400
Temple Bar, Strand

Page 11 of my album London 1986 has some of my favourite black and white pictures I took that year, at least in London, and is centred around the City of London, with pictures from its northen extremities in Moorgate, Smithfield and the Barbican and close to the City in the surrounding London Boroughs, particularly Islington, where my walks took me around Farringdon, Clerkenwell, Old St and Finsbury.

Atlas Paper Works, Newington Causeway, Newington, Southwark 86-9q-31_2400
Atlas Paper Works, Newington Causeway, Newington, Southwark

I drifted into Camden around Kings Cross, Lambeth close to Waterloo, Southwark at Newington and The Borough, Covent Garden, Temple and Strand in Westminster and Whitechapel and Aldgate in Tower Hamlets.

Wig & Pen Dining Club, Strand, Westminster 86-9h-35_2400
Wig & Pen Club, Strand, Westminster

Those who have been following the colour work I’ve posted in the series of slices through London will recognise a number of the places in these pictures, particularly in the album TQ31- London Cross-section which I’ve written about recently. One of them is the Wigt & Pen club on the Strand, still very much in business back in 1986, but which closed in 2003.

Lloyd's Diary, Amwell St, Kings Cross, Islington 86-9o-55_2400
Lloyd’s Diary, Amwell St, Kings Cross, Islington

Occasionally the black and white and colour versions show a similar viewpoint, but usually in black and white I was more concerned with documenting a building or place as a part of the city while the colour work was often more concerned with detail and particularly colour. The black and white is generally more of a document, more objective and the colour more personal, more of a response to the subject.

Frazier St, Lower Marsh, Waterloo, Lambeth 86-9r-11_2400
LowerMarsh, Waterloo, Lambeth

The routes that I researched and plotted were determined by my desire to try to document the whole of London, and to photograph its significant and typical buildings, streets, squares etc. I think it was largely for practical reasons that I did this in black and white, partly because of cost, but more that black and white was able to handle a much higher dynamic range than colour film.

King James St, The Borough, Southwark  86-10a-21_2400
King James St, The Borough, Southwark

But black and white back then was still the primary medium of photography, both in camera and in publication and exhibition. I’d worked for over 15 years primarily as a black and white photographer and almost all of my published work had been in black and white. Looking at the pictures now it is usually the black and white that still interests me most. Things have very much changed, particularly with the move to digital. I only work in colour and can’t ever see myself going back to black and white. And I seldom see black and white by other photographers – particularly not by younger photographers who have never really served their time with black and white – without thinking it would have been better in colour.

Page 11 of my album London 1986.

Lumsdale and Matlock

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

We had a day before we left Matlock when we were not looking after grandchildren and went on a walk. I’d been to Lumsdale before on my own at the end of 2018, but Linda hadn’t so we decided to walk up there .

The beginnings of our Industrial revolution were driven by water power, before the age of steam, and valleys like Lumsdale were where it began. The Bentley Brook which runs down the valley is a relatively small stream, but the valley falls quite rapidly and its water flow could be harnessed by a series of mills on its descent.

Importantly, its flow was pretty reliable through the year, and could be maintained at a pretty constant level by damning its flow to build ponds at the top of the valley, two of which are still there, though the top pond above them is now dry.

We climbed gradually up the valley, going past the derelict structures of several mills. This picture is looking down from the top of the falls in the picture above, which was taken from roughly where you can just see a person in a red jacket. There are few places with any guard rails and the rocks were damp and slightly slippery, and I was hanging onto a small tree but still didn’t feel too safe, and had to move back from the edge.

Higher up things seem rather safer, and the flow of the river more a result of man-made activities, including a dam to create a large holding pond. There is a second pond a little higher up the valley, and higher still I photographed the remains of another dam, which burst in 1947 and has not been repaired. There are useful explanatory boards at key points on the extensive site, but it remains for the most part open and unchanged for people to walk around, unlike some other ‘heritage’ sites.

We walked across from Lumsdale to Matlock Bank, stopping for lunch at the Duke of Wellington on the Chesterfield Rd before going down Rockside Steps and past the old tram depot to Bank Rd and down to the river.

It wasn’t a very long walk, but was full of interest, as I hope the pictures at Lumsdale & Matlock on My London Diary show.


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.


Summer Is Here

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

I woke up this morning just after 4am as I often do these days and made my way to the bathroom. A glimpse out of the window as I made my way back to bed assured me that there was little point waiting the few minutes until 04.26 to see the sun rise. And probably not to turn on the computer to watch that even live from Stonehenge, open this year only to a small team live-casting it to the nation and quite a large team of security guards. The sun, as English Heritage commented on Twitter was “elusive”, failing to put in an appearance.

I’ve never been to join the Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge, though I have visited the site on several occasions, the first as a young teenager when ‘Group’ pulled up the lorry taking us to Scout summer camp in Cornwall by the side of the road and we jumped down and rushed towards the stones.

Earlier this year, going through my old slides, I came across the picture at the top of this post, taken I think around 1980. I remembered having made a number of trips to Wiltshire with a group of photographers, but had completely forgotten going to Stonehenge to photograph the sunset over the stones. Of course over the years I’ve seen so many pictures of the place, some more memorable than this.

Although we drove by it on a number of occasions, I think this was the only time we stopped to take photographs, mainly concentrating on wider landscapes and on other mysterious and sacred sites including Silbury Hill and Avebury.

I found the circle of stones at Avebury perhaps more interesting than Stonehenge and visited them several times with the late Terry King, including at least one visit where we struggled to photograph them with a large wooden Kodak 10×8″ camera which he had on loan for several years to make large negatives for alternative printing processes. We’d learnt to use it in my back garden and by the Thames not far away, almost mastering its movements and the sequence of operations, and I acted as his unpaid assistant for several trips including to Avebury.

It would have been Terry who took us to Stonehenge too. I’m not sure if we were inside the fenced area to take the pictures, but if so I suspect he will have used his many connections to get us inside free of charge, perhaps as official photographers. Though I think the 10×8″ probably stayed in the car boot on this occasion.

Like many of the colour transparencies I took in the 1970s and 1980s the two here have deteriorated over the years in storage, and both required extensive digital retouching. But though there were local patches where mould had damaged the images, the overall colour remained. With many of my slides of Avebury, fading of the colour pigments has made recovery impossible. I did make a few black and white pictures, like that above – made inside a damp mist covering the area which seemed to suit the subject.


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.


Matlock Walk

Saturday, June 20th, 2020

Last October seems now so long ago. Linda and I had gone to Matlock to look after two of our grandchildren for a couple of days in what turned out to be a small family emergency.

I took a few photographs on the walk back from taking the girls to school, and then went out later in the day for some exercise. Matlock is a pretty hilly kind of place, so I got plenty of it.

Matlock Bank is an area on a hill that rises up from the riverside at the centre of Matlock, with Bank Road rising pretty steeply up the hillside. It doesn’t have any banks on it, though there are some shops, the post office and police station close to the bottom, several churches higher up as well as offices for the local council and, close to the top those for Derbyshire County Council in what used to be Smedley’s Hydro.

It was this hydro, and other similar smaller establishments that made Matlock the town it is, and the spa became an important tourist centre in the nineteenth century. I knew, having done my research earlier in The Crown.

In 1893 a cable-hauled tramway opened on Bank Road, “Tuppence up, Penny Down” for the ride up around 300ft of hill on the world’s steepest tramway on public roads, a gradient of 18% – 1 in 5½. Unfortunately it was closed in 1927, with the council who ran it replacing it with a motor bus service.

There are still buses. Occasionally, though I didn’t see one while out for my walk. But I was glad I hadn’t brought my bike. I just don’t have the gears forgetting up 1 in 5½ – or the brakes for going down.

More pictures on My London Diary in Matlock Town Walk.