Archive for February, 2021

2015: Grow Heathrow at Five

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

On 28th February 2015, Grow Heathrow, a non-hierarchical free community in an occupied derelict nursery at Sipson, just north of Heathrow Airport celebrated 5 years with open workshops and a party.

It had been set up as a symbol of community resistance to the economic, ecological and democratic crises and to oppose the increasing development of the aviation industry and Heathrow, at a time when local residents, myself included, were protesting against the building of a “third runway” to the north of the current airport.

Local protests had begun back in 2003, and by the time squatters occupied the long-abandoned market garden victory on the specific issue of the new runway seemed more or less assured. Transition Heathrow’s ‘Grow Heathrow’ had longer term and more far reaching goals, hoping to create more sustainable and resilient Heathrow villages after the dropping of the third runway and more widely to build long-term infrastructure and networks to deal with peak oil and the threat of climate change. On their site they set out to demonstrate how we could live differently, ‘off grid’ and with a different and cooperative lifestyle.

I wasn’t particularly closely involved with Grow Heathrow, though I visited the site a number of times for various events, as well as taking part in the local protests and events at the nearby Greenpeace ‘Airplot’, where I was one of the 91,000 of beneficial owners of a very small area of land. It’s an area I knew from my youth, when I often cycled through Sipson ,Harmondsworth, Longford, Horton and Colnbrook.

Grow Heathrow weathered a number of legal battles to stay in occupation, but were evicted from the front half of the site where most of these celebrations took place two years ago at the end of February 2019 after around 9 years of occupation and growth. I’ve not visited since the eviction but so far as I am aware there are still some residents on the back part of the site – which had a different owner, but visits have not been possible since the start of the pandemic.

The project was an important one and brought together many people from different backgrounds, including local residents and international visitors, some who stayed for months and years. Among those who came to the 5th birthday party to join the celebrations and speak were local MP John McDonnell, Tristram Stuart, a pioneer of the radical food movement with his 2009 book on food waste, anthropology professor David Graeber and activist Ewa Jasiewicz.

Grow Heathrow was an inspiration to many, though some of us were unable to envisage its rather spartan lifestyle for ourselves there were lessons that could be learnt in particular from its involvement with the wider community. Heathrow expansion is back on the agenda today, though it is hard to believe it will go ahead given the growing realisation of the vital importance of the climate crisis. Aviation as we know it is incompatible with the kind of Green future our government now plays lip-service too – and will need putting into action for civilisation to survive.

Many more pictures at Grow Heathrow’s 5th Birthday.


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.


Stop Trident, Save Refugees…

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

Last Tuesday I watched John Pilger’s 2010 film, The War You Don’t See, a film that takes an honest look at wars and the failure of most journalists to report honestly on them – and how those that do find their work fails to get broadcast or printed. It’s an at times harrowing view of war and lays open the whole huge PR web of lies that is used to persuade the public that they are necessary and to support them, based mainly around the propaganda over Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is now a matter of official record that all of the reasons put forward at the time for the invasion of Iraq, notably in the UK by Prime Minister Tony Blair were lies; but not only that, were known at the time to be false. It was simply a war for the control of Iraqi oil, and to keep the military industry growing. Of course many of us outside the
CIA and other agencies also knew that at the time, including the over a million who went to protest in London.

Pilger managed to get interviews with a wide range of people, including journalists and others who admit that they failed for various reasons to inform the public what was really going on. Those from other news sources, including the BBC, make a wholly unconvincing attempt to justify the approach they took, visibly squirming as Pilger asks his questions, trying to defend their toeing the government line rather than examining the evidence and reporting objectively.

We are in an age of perpetual war, not largely because of real disputes that could not be solved by other means, but manufactured and promoted by a huge web of deceptions to feed what is sometimes called the military-industrial complex, a term coined by Eisenhower for his final public speech in 1961 when he warned of the “economic, political, even spiritual” dangers of “the disastrous rise of misplaced power” it it could – and has – produced.

Pilger’s film deals briefly with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which it is now clear served no military purpose as the war with Japan was rapidly drawing to a close when they were dropped. The film includes an interview he made in the 1980s with Australian journalist Wilfred Graham Burchett who managed to evade the military security that kept almost all journalists simply taking down and passing on the military briefings which denied the existence of radiation sickness and went to Hiroshima and reported on the terrible effects of the bomb.

Despite censorship and other attempts to stop his report reaching the outside world, the first 200 words of his 3,000 word report reached the Daily Express who put it on the front page – and the world learnt of how 30 days after the bombing apparently uninjured people were still “dying, mysteriously and horribly” from what Burchett described as “the atomic plague.”

Journalists who step out from the official line can expect to suffer, and many. particularly those who refuse to be led and “embedded” have been killed reporting on wars. Others, such as Julian Assange find themselves the subject of deliberate campaigns to harass and discredit them – and in his case to imprison him in solitary confinement – possibly to be extradited to life in solitary in the USA – despite an extradition treaty that excludes those accused of political crimes.

Our so-called Independent Nuclear Deterrent is wholly a programme to feed that military-industrial complex, with its chilling threat hanging over us all, something that at least one US president has been prepared to consider using and which only the willingness of one Russian soldier to disobey orders saved us from its accidental unleashing.

On Saturday 27th February, around 60,000 came to Marble Arch to march from there to a rally in Trafalgar Square against government plans to replace the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons at a cost of £180 billion or more. They said Trident is immoral and using it would cause catastrophic global damage; these weapons of mass destruction don’t keep us safe and divert resources from essential spending on services like the NHS, schools and housing.

I was a little late to the official photocall because of the dense crowds as I made may way from the European March for Refugee Rights which had finished with a rally a short distance away in Hyde Park. This was taking place in various cities across Europe and demanding that governments take action now to open secure safe passage routes for all refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection in Europe. They called for an end to deaths at borders and for refugees to be allowed to keep their possessions and be reunited with their families.

At the end of this march, many of those taking part went to join the Stop Trident march, some forming up as a group ahead of the official front of the march despite attempts by the Stop the War stewards to move them. Eventually the stewards halted the main march for around ten minutes to create a gap between the two groups.

Stop Trident Rally
Stop Trident March
European March for Refugee Rights


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.


Two years ago – 26 Feb 2019

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Class War protest Rees-Mogg freak show

Two years ago today Class War protested outside the London Palladium against Jacob Rees-Mogg, who they accused of spouting “homophobic, transphobic, racist, pro-hunting, misogynist, classist, privileged” nonsense. Rees-Mogg had booked London’s best known venue to preach more of this to his fans, who had paid £38 for a ticket to this freak show.

I met up with Class War at a pub a short walk from the Palladium and found a small group there with Jane Nicholl dressed as a nun, Mother Hysteria, and Adam Clifford as Jacob Rees Mogg and there was time for them to take a selfie and everyone to finish their drinks before the small group moved off to the entrance to the Palladium where a few more of there supporters were waiting and long queues were waiting to enter for the performance inside.

As well as the fans there were of course a large group of security men and police in attendance (all probably thanking Class War for the overtime.) And when Class War held up posters and banners the waiting crowd had their hopes for what they had paid to come and see confirmed. One or two did come across to insult the protesters, and a few others passing by came to share their similar views of Mogg with Class War.

Police did their best to render the protest less effective and moved the group to the opposite side of the pedestrianised street and issued various warnings to harass them. Eventually they stopped and searched Jane Nicholl, threatening her with arrest as they found stink bombs in her handbag which they claimed were offensive weapons. I stood for almost 20 minutes watching the officer writing out “her notice of stop and search, perhaps because he is at a loss trying to find some way that doesn’t make the police action sound stupid” before deciding I had to go home and file my pictures.


Rally for an end to Outsourcing

This protest had come at the end of a long and varied day for me, which had begun with a coordinated action by the UVW, IWGB, and the BEIS PCS branch demanding an end to outsourcing and the insecurity, discrimination and low pay it causes. A legal challenge was demanding better rights for the 3.3 million outsourced workers in the UK, and protesters had met at the University of London at 8am to march to a protest outside the High Court before moving on to a rally in Parliament Square where I joined them a couple of hours later.


Outsourced Workers protest at BEIS

From Parliament Square it was a short walk to the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in Victoria St where outsourced workers including catering and security staff in the PCS were striking in support of their demand for the London Living Wage as well as end to outsourcing and the insecurity, discrimination and low pay it causes.


Outsourced Workers at Justice ministry

After a rally and speeches at the BEIS, the protest by outsourced workers moved on to the Ministry of Justice (though they call in the Ministry of Injustice) where low paid workers belonging the the United Voices of the World union who had been on strike for 24 hours were going back to work. They also want the London Living Wage and fair conditions of service rather than the poverty and insecurity of outsourcing.


North Woolwich

When the protest at the Justice Ministry came to an end I went to have a quick lunch and, as I had several hours to spare before the Class War action, went to take some photographs at North Woolwich. Unfortunately I arrived at Bank station for the DLR only to find there were no trains running – and no information as to when they might resume service.

It took me rather longer than anticipated to get there, taking the Northern Line to London Bridge and a train to Woolwich Arsenal. Fortunately by then services were running from there to North Woolwich, saving me a walk across the river but I still had rather less time than I needed and had to rush away before finishing my planned route, mainly beside the River Thames. It was a pleasant day for a walk, but a clear blue sky is not good for panoramic views.

As usual, more about all these on My London Diary:
Class War protest Rees-Mogg freak show
North Woolwich
Outsourced Workers at Justice ministry
Outsourced Workers protest at BEIS
Rally for an end to Outsourcing


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.


Limehouse, Pimlico & the City

Thursday, February 25th, 2021
DLR, Limehouse Dock, Limehouse, 1992 92-3d-36-7a_2400
Panorama, DLR & Limehouse Dock, Limehouse, 1992

My walk down the Lea Valley from the source to the Thames took a long time on my posts here, and there are still many pictures in the Flickr album that have not featured here, including those around the other outlet from the Lea Navigation to the River Thames via the Limehouse Cut and Limehouse Basin by which barges could avoid the winding and rather treacherous Bow Creek. There are over 500 pictures in the album, including a number of colour images and they come from various visits over around ten years when I probably made several thousands of exposures. And I continued to make occasional visits there after 1992, the latest I think in 2018 or 2019. So here are just a couple of final images before I return to my wider explorations of London, back in 1987.

Heavy Rain, LimehouseBasin, entrance, River Thames, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1983 33f-45_2400
Heavy Rain, Limehouse Basin entrance, River Thames, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1983

1987 continued

St George's Drive, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-10a-15-positive_2400
St George’s Drive, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-10a-15-positive_2400

My last post about my pictures around London several months ago ended with two pictures from Pimlico taken in early October, and that’s where I will take up the story. The long streets of the area lined with Cubitt’s impressive stucco were developed from 1825, St George’s Drive, along with Belgrave Road were the two principla streets, with these opulent five storey town houses, were built (as Wikipedia quotes) for “professional men… not rich enough to luxuriate in Belgravia proper, but rich enough to live in private houses”.

By the 1980s many houses in the area were beginning to show their age; some had been converted to hotels and others offices, while others were in multiple occupation, often rather crudely converted. Developers were busy buying up properties to convert them into flats, as this picture with its estate agent’s boards and scaffolding illustrates.

Churton Place, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-10a-02-positive_2400
Churton Place, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987

The side streets were also a part of Cubitt’s development, but here the houses were less grand and typically of three storeys.

River Thames, foreshore, Blackfriars, downstream, City, 1987 87-10o-63-positive_2400
River Thames, view downstream from Blackfriars, City of London, 1987

My next visit to London, later in the month took me further east, walking from Waterloo Station to the City meant I had to cross the River Thames and this picture shows a rather misty view downstream, with Southwark Bridge, Cannon St Rail Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge. At the left is a tall warehouse on the upstream side of Queenhithe, London’s earliest dock. Now there would be another bridge, the Millennium footbridge, in the foreground.

White Lion Hill, City, 1987 87-10o-52-positive_2400
White Lion Hill, City of London, 1987

White Lion Hill leads up from the river to Queen Victoria St, where a rather dull office building, the Faraday Building, seems to have the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral on its roof. This part of the building was built in 1890 as a post office sorting office, which in 1905 became the GPO’s first London telephone exchange. A taller extension to the west (to the left of this view) was added in 1933, with the whole complex becoming known as Faraday House. This held the international telephone exchange and in its first years virtually all the world’s international telephone conversations were routed through here.

As this picture shows, Faraday House partly blocked the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the Thames riverside and this led to the introduction of regulations restricting the height of new buildings in various locations giving a number of protected views from around London – including a well known one from Richmond Park. But the regulations only came in after Faraday House was built and were not retrospective. The photograph also shows another of Wren’s churches, St. Benet Paul’s Wharf, rebuilt after the Great Fire and reopened in 1683. Queen Victoria granted the church to Welsh Anglicans in 1879 and services are still conducted there in Welsh.

Knightrider St, City, 1987 87-10o-43-positive_2400
Knightrider St, City of London, 1987

Redevelopment was in full swing in the Knightrider St area as you can see from these pictures. I think the building at right is is the back of the building on Queen Victoria St now home to the Church of Scientology, and to the left is probably Faraday House. So many of what see like older buildings in the city are now just facades to more recent developments.

Knightrider St, City, 198787-10o-42-positive_2400

The web has many references to Knightrider St, but none that give useful information about its post-war past. Most are about its name, suggesting that Stow’s suggestion it came from being a handy route for knights riding to St Paul’s and Smithfield is unlikely (though there are no positive suggestions), or list buildings along the street which were demolished in the nineteenth century or earlier, and exactly the same information is in those reference books I’ve consulted which mention the street.

Knightrider St, City, 1987 87-10o-41-positive_2400

Addle Hill which runs down to the western end of Knightrider St, which continues west as Wardrobe Terrace. In between taking these pictures I photographed The Bell pub, on the corner of Addle Hill and Wardrobe Terrace which closed in 1989 and was demolished in 1998, one of many pictures not on-line. Further east on Knightrider St is The Horn Tavern, which was renamed The Centre Page in 2002 and is newspaper-themed.

These pictures are from Page 7 of my album 1987 London Photos.


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.


The Spice of Life

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve found about the last eleven months has been the lack of variety. I’ve been fortunate to probably avoid the virus – I was quite ill early in March 2020 but my symptoms didn’t match those then thought to typify Covid-19, though they did match some of those being reported by Covid sufferers – and none of my family or close friends have died from it.

But days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen have followed days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen relentlessly, though I have tried to get out for walks or bike rides most days. As someone of an age and medical condition that makes me vulnerable I decided not to travel up to London on public transport, although as a journalist I count as a key worker and could have done so. Apart from usually solitary exercise (occasionally a walk with my wife on Sundays) I’ve made a couple of trips out for pub meals with family or friends when these were allowed, and a few short journeys for medical and dental appointments – including most recently my first Covid vaccination.

There’s Zoom of course, and I hate it, though taking part in a few regular events. It’s a little better on my desktop computer which hasn’t got a camera, but on the notebook or tablet I find it disconcerting to see myself in close-up (and sometimes move out of frame and sit in a more comfortable chair watching the screen from a distance.) It’s perhaps more seeing the others, mainly in head and shoulders close-up that makes me uncomfortable with Zoom; in real life we would be sitting around at a sensible distance, seeing each other at full length and as a part of the overall scene, looking away when we want to at other things. Not those relentless talking or muted full-face heads.

Tuesday 24th February 2009 wasn’t a typical day, and that’s really the point. Few days then were typical. I caught the train to Waterloo and took a bus across to Aldwych, a short journey but faster than walking. A short walk then took me to the Royal Courts of Justice where protesters were supporting the application for judicial review by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s activities in Palestine.

It was Shrove Tuesday, and from the Royal Courts another bus took me on one of my favourite central London bus journey, up Fleet St and Ludgate Hill to Bank, from where I hurried to Guildhall Yard to the Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Races. It perhaps wasn’t one of my better attempts to photograph the event, perhaps because I tried too hard to show the actual running and tossing of pancakes.

I couldn’t stay for the finals of the pancake race but hurried down to Mansion House for the District and Circle Line to Westminster to meet postal workers as they came out of a rally at Methodist Central Hall to protest at government plans to part-privatise the postal service and then proceeded to a short protest in front of Parliament.

There was nothing in my diary for the next few hours, so I took the opportunity to jump onto the Jubilee Line to Stratford and then walk towards the Olympic site for one of my occasional reports on what was happening in the area – which I had been photographing since the 1980s.

I made my way through the Bow Back Rivers, photographing the new lock gates at City Mill Lock. The Olympic site was sealed off to the public by the ‘blue fence’ but I was able to walk along the elevated path on the Northern Outfall Sewer to take a panoramic view of the stadium under construction. It was rather a dull day and not ideal for such wide views with such a large expanse of grey sky.

I took the Central Line back to Oxford Circus for the March of the Corporate Undead, advertised as a “Zombie Shopping Spree” along Oxford Street from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch, complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

I left the zombies at Marble Arch where they were hanging an effigy of a banker and hurried to my final appointment, a London Bloggers Meetup. The evening’s meeting was being sponsored by Bacardi who were supplying free drinks, including blue and green Breezers which I thought would have been rather suitable for the zombies, but fortunately there was also free beer. I probably took a few pictures, but haven’t published them.

All just a little more interesting than staring at a screen, though there was rather a lot of that to do when I finally got home.

March of the Corporate Undead
Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans
Keep the Post Public
Poulters Pancake Race
Al-Haq Sue UK Government


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.


Gentlemen o’ Fortune in London

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Ahoy! Some years ago I let me younger son, then in his 30s, use me ‘puter while he was stayin’ wit’ us, ‘n afterwards found that he had changed t’ language on me Facebook t’ “Pirate”. It loot a wee while fer me t’ change it back ‘n certainly wasn’t made easier by havin’ all th’ menus ‘n explanations in ‘Pirate’.

Or to put that in English rather than blabberin’ on in Pirate;

Pirates in London

Some years ago I let my younger son, then in his 30s, use my computer while he was staying with us, and afterwards found that he had changed to language on my Facebook to “Pirate”. It took a little while for me to change it back and certainly wasn’t made easier by having all the menus and explanations in ‘Pirate’.

As you may know, though I didn’t afore now, there are several online English to Pirate translators should you ever for any reason (or unreason) wish to convey your thoughts in that medium. England’s fortune was of course largely plundered by pirates including such well-known names as Sir Walter Raleigh, though now instead of galleons our pirates sail in the plush offices of hedge funds often registered in those distant tax havens around which many of the older pirates sailed in search of vessels to board and rob – and in whose sands they may have buried a little of their stolen treasures. Arrhh Jim Lad!

But on Saturday 23 Feb 2008 I was with pirates in London, taking part in the ‘Hands off Iraqi Oil Piratical Action Tour of London’, part of an international campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people against the corporate theft of Iraq’s oil. The real pirates were of course the largely US oil companies busy profiteering in Iraq following the illegal US and UK invasion of that country.

Saddam was a dictator and committed many crimes, though producing weapons of mass destruction as the invaders claimed largely in contravention of the evidence of their spies, to justify their invasion was not one of them. Far more important but not stated was the fact that as long as he remained dictator, oil would remain a public sector industry in Iraq. So obviously, to further the interests of Shell, BP and other majors in the oil business and capitalism generally he had to be removed.

The pirate-themed protest included a number of protesters in pirate dress along with a samba band to make a great deal of noise and draw attention to the banners, posters and placards calling for corporate killers to get out of Iraq along with a small group with blacked faces in a large black sheet representing Iraqi crude.

The protest marched to the premised of various companies involved in the invasion or seeking to exploit Iraqi oil, stopping at them to speak about their activities and protest noisily. Before I met them some had gone inside the National Portrait Gallery to protest inside against BP sponsorship of their major awards.

The tour visited Erinys International Limited, a private military security company with a reputation for using excessive force which provides security services in Iraq as well as training Iraq’s Oil Protection force, BP whose former CEOs worked as advisors to the Iraqi Oil Ministry telling them let companies like BP come in a make vast profits and helping to draft new Iraqi hydorcarbon laws, and the International Tax and Investment Centre, which is paid by the big oil companies to lobby for a free-market approach which would let them dominate Iraqi oil.

Running late, the tour missed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, whose policies have largely been to run around in support of BP and Shell, employing former oil executives as advisers on economic policy in the Middle East. And Development Program Worldwide Ltd (previously Windrush Communications) has offices too far away in the City for the tour; it promotes the establishment of private capital enterprises in places such as conflict zones where there are few controls over their activities and no effective government to represent the public interest.

The pirates stormed up the Jubilee footbridge, crossing it to reach the Shell Centre for a longer rally to end the tour. Shell executives have played a leading role in the re-purposing of the Iraqi oil industry from a state asset to a multinational profit opportunity and plan for three major oil fields there.

More at Hands off Iraqi Oil Piratical Action Tour.


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.


Naomi Rosenblum (1925-2021)

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Naomi Rosenblum, the celebrated author of two landmark histories of photography, her World History of Photography (1984) and A History of Women Photographers (1994), died on February 19th, 2021.

Her work widened our knowledge of the history of photography and gave it a more international perspective as the ‘World Photography’ in the title indicates, and it was an inspiration to me later to try and write about the history and development of photography in countries around the world when I wrote online for ‘About Photography’.

Similarly her book on women photographers opened up a wider area for study, and was of particular interest to me as many of my better students were women. Of course there were women who had become well-known as photographers and who I had featured in my courses – Julia Margaret Cameron, Dorothea Lange, Berenice Abbott and others spring obviously to mind, but many others had been sadly sidelined from previous histories, often mere footnotes to the work of their male colleagues.

Together with her husband, Walter Rosenblum she did much to promote the work of Lewis Hine, and of the photographers of the New York Photo League, where Walter had met both Hine and Paul Strand and had become its President in 1941 before his war service. Naomi had also been involved with the Photo League, although she was not a photographer. As a designer she designed the cover of ‘Photo Notes‘, the influential magazine of the League (Edward Weston praised it as the most worthwhile magazine dealing with photography.)

I’m sure there will be many detailed obituaries of Naomi Rosenblum appearing and I’ll not write one here. But I do have fond personal memories of meeting her back in 2007, in Bielsko-Biala, Poland. For me the most important exhibition at the FotoArtFestival there was the early work of her late husband, ‘Message from the Heart‘. Naomi was there to launch the Polish version of her ‘World Photography’ and also, like me, to give a lecture, and her daughter, film-maker Nina Rosenblum came to present her film about her father, Walter Rosenblum: In Search Of Pitt Street.

It was a great privilege for me to go with Naomi and Nina around the show of Walter’s work and to hear their stories about him and the pictures. We talked too at some of the meals and events, and in the lecture hall – where I listened to her lecture and they to mine. There was actually some overlap the two, hers on the New York Photo League but rather more wide-ranging and mine on street photography in London, and it was interesting for us to compare our slightly different thoughts and wildly different presentations.

There is just a little more about our meeting in the lengthy diary I put on line in 2007 about my experiences at the FotoArtFestival. It includes brief thoughts on many of the of the exhibitions and events as well as photographs of the festival and of my walks around Bielsko-Biala.


Pancakes

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

Pancake Race winners in Spitalfields, 2007

I’m not a pancake lover, and didn’t celebrate last Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday. For once there was not a pancake in sight in our household as I think I’ve finally made my views on the subject clear. It isn’t that I would refuse to eat them but more that I find their taste and texture mildly offensive and feel that whatever filling or topping is applied to them would go much better with something else such as potato or bread.

Guildhall Yard, 2012

That hasn’t stopped me going out to photograph some of the many “tossers” who take part in the many pancake races which have mushroomed in our cities in recent years. I think back when I was young, pancake races were confined to a few places around Milton Keynes. The tradition is said to have begun in Olney in 1445, but had died at the start of the Second World War and was revivied in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney the Reverend Canon Ronald Collins, going international when Liberal, a town in Kansas, USA, sent Olney a challenge to a timed race in 1950.

What had once been purely a local tradition was spread through film and TV coverage, but it was only relatively recently that we began to see pancake races in London. I’ve photographed them in half a dozen places, the most interesting of which, a highly competitive event between the City of London’s Livery Companies, takes place in Guildhall Yard, and was begun by the Worshipful Company of Poulters in 2004, though I only photographed it for the first time in 2007. All except the top picture on this post are from Tues 21 Feb 2012.

Back in 2007 I think I was one of very few photographers present, though a few of my friends came along too, at least in the following years, and by the time I last went in 2020 there was a whole crowd of photographers and things had become rather more organised and less interesting. There wasn’t a race this year, but even had things been normal I wouldn’t have bothered to go again.

Leadenhall Market, 2012

These races take place across lunchtime, and in some years there was another race by myself and my friends leaving the Guildhall before the final races to rush and cover one of the other events taking place, at Leadenhall Market (750 metres away) or Spitalfields, just outside the City, and 1.18km distant before these finished. Other pancake races take place south of the river in Southwark, though I’ve found them less interesting to photograph – and I’m not sure I’ve ever published any pictures.

I think all of the London pancake races are raising money for charities and are team events. The Guildhall race is an opportunity for many in City businesses of all ages to let their hair down a little, with separate classes for the Masters of the guilds and women as well as other team members, and a separate fancy dress class; they have clear rules about gloves hats and more which are strictly applied, as well as timekeepers and a starting cannon. The other races are rather less organised, with teams from local businesses or pubs some in fancy dressthough others in their normal work clothes and generally rather younger.

Pancakes in the City – Leadenhall Market
Pancakes in the City – Guildhall


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.


A Bad Day Out

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

I didn’t much enjoy Thursday 20th Feb 2020, though I was pleased to be able to cover a protest by UVW Security guards working at St George’s University Hospital in Tooting. They had been on strike for 3 weeks demanding to be directly employed rather than outsourced to a private contractor and working under the minimum legal terms and conditions of service.

Although they belong to the United Voices of the World union, the university had refused recognise or talk with their union, and has called on the police to intimidate the workers and try to break their strike – and police even carried out an unlawful arrest of a UVW staff member and barrister. I’d arrived too late on that occasion to photograph the picket, when everyone had left the area.

On 20th Feb I arrived too early. Although when I had first been sent details of the protest planned to take place on an Open Day for postgraduate students they were planning to start at 4pm, the time had later been changed to 6pm and I’d not checked before setting out. So I arrived two hours early and was surprised to find that I was the only one there.

After a little checking on my phone I found out what was happening, and decided that rather than missing the event I’d go for a walk around the area. It wasn’t a bad day for February, and I enjoyed the walk by the Rover Wandle, but by the time the sun had gone down it did start to get rather cold.

There was still no sign of the protesters, but after a phone call I met up with them close to Tooting Broadway station, where they had a large number of balloons to give the protest a party theme, and were writing slogans on them, which proved a little difficult. After some short speeches on a rather dark street corner they marched down to the hospital. It was hard to take photographs as they marched as the street lighting was poor and they were moving at a fast walking pace.

At the hospital they walked in though the main doors to a corridor area; there were very few security staff on duty, perhaps because most were on strike. I think perhaps the change of time for the protest had misled the hospital management as well as me, as there were no police present, though I had seen some when I arrived around 4pm.

Once inside there were more speeches with the union making their demands for the security guards to be made direct employees of St George’s University London and for them to receive pay and T&Cs of employment in line with SGUL standards. Among those to speak in support was drill music star Drillmaster who is standing for London Mayor.


It was a noisy protest, with music and dancing as well as speeches. Police arrived and after some fairly terse discussion came to an agreement with the protesters that they would leave in a few minutes time.

My day was not over, though I was already a couple of hours later than expected. I ran across Clapham Junction to jump on a train for home just as it was leaving, only for it to make an unscheduled stop at the next station, Wandsworth Town. After around 15 minutes we were all told to get off as the train would be going no further as the line was closed at Barnes where someone had committed suicide by throwing themselves under a train. Despite this being an unfortunately common happening at Barnes, South West Trains appeared to have absolutely no contingency plans. Eventually I got a bus back to Clapham Junction, a well-staffed station but where nobody seemed to know what was happening, and joined hundreds of passengers going from platform to platform in search of a train that would take one of the two alternative routes that avoid the accident location.

I took a chance and jumped on a Kingston train. No one on the platform or on the train knew how far it was going, but I knew that if necessary I could catch a bus home from Kingston. At Kingston the guard thought they might get to Twickenham – where again I might get a bus. Eventually it reached Twickenham, where everyone was told to leave the train. Fortunately by that time – two hours after the incident – someone had the sense to
set up a shuttle service for stations further west, and eventually I arrived home, around five hours later than I had expected when I set out and fuming at the incompetence of South West Trains.

More at:
St Georges’s Hospital Security Guards
Wandle Wander


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.


Atos & more – 19 Feb 2014

Friday, February 19th, 2021

Seven years ago, 19 Feb 2014 was a big day for protests, particularly as campaign groups Disabled people Against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle, Atos Miracles, the Green Party, NUS, Occupy New Network, PCS, Unite and many others were taking part in a National Day of Action against Atos for its institutionally incompetent Work Capability Assessment testing of disabled people which has resulted in many disabled people being unfairly refused benefits.

There were protests at each of the 144 Atos testing centres around the country, including those at Wimbledon, Neasden, Marylebone, Highgate, Ealing, Balham and Croydon in London, but I only photographed them at the Atos offices in Triton Square, just north of the Euston Rd.

Even a report commissioned for the government pointed out serious flaws, and over 40% of appeals after people have had their benefits cut by Atos assessments have been allowed a figure rising to over 70% where the appellants have been assisted in their appeals by benefits experts. These appeals take months, during which people are thrown into abject poverty, and often having won on appeal claimants are within a few weeks again penalised by a new Atos assessment.

Atos apparently get paid more for finding people fit to work, and use simplistic tests and often tricks to do so, with no quality control or penalty for those tests which are overturned on appeal. The protesters called for the company to lose its contracts and be prosecuted for its mishandling of the tests, and for these tests to be abandoned and the Minister responsible, Ian Duncan Smith to be sacked.

Many disabled people have been driven to suicide by these failed tests and the stressful appeals procedures. The government figures for January to November 2011 showed that 10,600 people, an average of 223 a week, died withing six weeks of having been found fit for work by ATOS. The Department of Work and Pensions scandalous response to the public outcry when these figures were released was not to take action to make the improvements that were clearly needed, but simply to refuse to respond to requests for similar information for later years. The campaigners say that assessments of fitness to work should be made by qualified medical doctors, ideally by “the GP who regularly sees and treats the sick or disabled individual in question” who they say “is the only person able to decide if an individual is fit for work.”

Among those I heard speaking outside Atos HQ were MP Dennis Skinner, Paula Peters of DPAC, Among those I heard speaking outside Atos HQ were MP Dennis Skinner, Paula Peters of DPAC, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, journalist Sonia Poulton and the Rev Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty. You can read more about the protest and see more pictures at Atos National Day of Action.


I left the Atos protest briefly to cover three further events. The first at the Iraqi consultate in Kensington was a solidarity vigil by the wife and daughter of Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen held and tortured in Iraq by US and Iraqis since his arrest in 2004, and now in Abu Ghraib. They were accompanied by two supporters at one of their regular vigils calling for his release. You can read more about the vigil and the case at Solidarity vigil for Shawki Ahmed Omar.



Next was a picket at the Irish Embassy close to Marble Arch to demand the immediate release of Margaretta D’Arcy, imprisoned for protesting against illegal US flights from Shannon Airport, and now in Mountjoy Women’s Prison, Dublin. More about this at Free Margaretta D’Arcy picket.



Third was a protest called by my own union the NUJ at the Egyptian Embassy in Mayfair, for press freedom in the country and calling for the release of all jailed journalists, including the four Al Jazeera journalists. More at NUJ demands Egypt release jailed journalists.


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.