Archive for June, 2021

Around Pont St, 1988

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-01-positive_2400
Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-01

Back in 1988 I seem to have sentenced myself to wander extensively along Pont St, in earlier days one of London’s most fashionable streets and still one of its more expensive, linking Knightsbridge and Belgravia.

Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-55-positive_2400
Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-55

Pont Street gets its name from the bridge over the river Westbourne, probably close to where Cadogan Lane now crosses the street close to its east end. Knightsbridge too was named for its bridge over this river, which flows down from Hampstead Heath to the Thames in Chelsea, passing across Sloane Square Underground Station in a very visible 19th century iron aqueduct. The bridge is still marked on maps from 1830 when the east section of Pont St was first developed but by 1840 the river had disappeared underground.

Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-56-positive_2400
Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-56

Pont Street originally was developed to the east of Sloane St and was only developed to the west in the late 1870s, with building continued in the following decade. Cadogan Square was built between 1877 and 1888.

Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3j-65-positive_2400
Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3j-65

‘Pont St’ became a synonym for the snobbish posh, and the architectural style of most the area around Pont St west of Sloane St was called by Osbert Lancaster ‘Pont St Dutch’. In Pevsner and Cherry’s London 3 North West, published in 1991 it is described as “tall sparingly decorated red brick mansions for very wealthy occupants, in the semi-Dutch, semi-Queen Anne manner of Shaw or George & Peto”. It is very handy for both Harrods and Sloane Square.

Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-64-positive_2400
Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-64

A welcome departure from this incredible rash of red-brick is St Columba’s Church, designed by Sir Edward Maule for the Church of Scotland. Completed in 1955 it replaced the orginal 1884 St Columba’s Church on the same site which had been destroyed by bombing in 1941. I think it altogether a more attractive building than Maule’s Guildford Cathedral.

St Columba's Church Of Scotland, church, Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3j-62-positive_2400
St Columba’s Church Of Scotland, church, Pont St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3j-62

Pont Street has had some famous residents, including Lillie Langtry who lived for five years at No 21. This became a part of the Cadogan Hotel, where famously Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1985.

Hans Place, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-66-positive_2400
Hans Place, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3i-66

All pictures (and more) in my album 1988 London Photos – and you can see a larger version of the images and browse through the album by clicking on any of them.

UVW at Wood St – 29 June 2016

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

The strike and protests organised by the United Voices of the World union against anti-union cleaning contractor Thames Cleaning who employed the cleaners at the 100 Wood St offices in the City of London, managed by CBRE and mainly let to Schroders and J P Morgan is a good example of one of the things the current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is aiming to prevent.

The UVW use loud rallies and protests outside workplaces (and sometimes in their foyers) to shame employers who are exploiting low paid workers, many migrants, into talking to the union. These workers, often employed by small and intensely anti-union companies, are often on minimum legal rates of pay, well below the London Living Wage and usually on the statutory minimum (and minimal) conditions of service – and sometimes even have problems getting these.

Outsourcing of low paid work such as cleaning is widespread, and contractors get the contracts by cutting costs – such as wages and conditions of service – and also by using bullying management to over-work their employees. Often too they cut costs by ignoring safety issues and failing to supply protective clothing and other essential safety material.

The UVW strike at Wood St was the longest industrial dispute in the history of the City of London, and it continued after Thames Cleaning had agreed to pay the London Living Wage for some days until they also agreed to re-instate the two workers who had been sacked. These pictures come from a rally on day 22 of the 58 day strike.

The strike was only successful because of the continuing pressure provided by loud protests such as this one, which made the companies working in the offices very aware of what was happening and made them and the building owners put pressure on the contracting company to meet the union and agree to their demands. Protests such as these, by the UVW and other grass-roots unions including CAIWU, the IWGB and a few branches of major unions have been successful in getting many of London’s lowest paid workers a living wage.

The PCSC bill, if it becomes law, will make these activities illegal. Already under existing laws, the company was able to take legal action to try and get an injunction to stop the strike. Although this failed it did get strict conditions put on the UVW’s actions at Wood St, and landed the union with crippling legal costs. Fortunately many supporters came forward with donations.

I came to take pictures on a number of occasions during the strike, which you can find on My London Diary. These pictures are all from Day 22: UVW Wood St Strike continues.

Occupy Westminster Abbey – save the ILF

Monday, June 28th, 2021

Broad Sanctuary, Westminster Abbey. 28th June 2014

The Independent Living Fund, ILF, was introduced in 1988 to provide financial support to disabled people with high support needs, including those with severe learning difficulties, cerebral palsy, and a variety of other conditions.

Around 18,000 people relied on the ILF, mainly using the average of £300 a week it provided to employ personal assistants or carers to enable them to live independently, enabling some to work and pursue careers. It was administered independently from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who provided the funding.

The ILF scheme was closed to new applicants in 2010 and the responsibility for providing support in England was passed to local authorities with the ILF ending on 30th June 2015.

There were various problems with the ILF, with regional variations, but the primary reason behind the changes was probably to cut costs. Although the government promised to provide funding to the local authorities for a transitional period, this was around 13% less than under the ILF, and the money, given to cash-strapped authorities already subject to swingeing cuts was not ring-fenced, and so likely to be appropriated for other purposes.

Local authorities were also not given any clear instructions or advice on how to proceed and there were great variations between local authorities in the support that was provided. A survey a year after the end of the scheme showed extreme differences, with some authorities providing similar levels of support to the ILF, but others operating at much reduced levels, creating the real hardship that protests such as this on Saturday 28th June 2014 campaigned against. The loss of ILF was indeed a disaster for many disabled people.

DPAC and others involved in the protest had managed to keep the details hidden from the police, perhaps because it is more difficult for able-bodied police working as undercover officers to infiltrate disabled groups. UK Uncut has provided a diversion with a protest outside Boots on Victoria St when DPAC and Occupy London supporters moved on to the green area in front of Westminster Abbey.

The protesters had hoped for some support from Westminster Abbey authorities as many Christians had called the government’s actions immoral. But they had picked the wrong place, and the Dean of Westminster refused even to talk to the protesters, calling on the police to get rid of them. Labour MP John McDonnell tried without success to phone the Dean who refused to take his call or to phone back.

The weather too was against the protesters, with rain falling steadily, and for once a police officer showed some quick thinking, moving to stand in the middle of the main tent the protesters were attempting to erect, without which there was simply not enough shelter for a lengthy occupation.

I was unsure whether I wanted to go inside the area or not when I arrived, and soon police were surrounding the fairly low wall stopping people from climbing over. But I was able to take pictures from outside and move around freely – and to go home when I decided there seemed to be little point in staying.

Occupy Westminster Abbey – save the ILF
UK Uncut ‘Boot Out Boots’

Keep Corbyn – June 2016

Sunday, June 27th, 2021

Emergency protest on the day of the coup

It’s probably never a good idea to say “I told you so”, but it was clear to many of us that that after Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party he represented the party’s only hope of winning a general election in the foreseeable future – and probably within my own lifetime.

And although he lost the 2017 election, it proved the case. It was an election the Labour Party could and should have won. They would have won had not many officials and MPs been actively sabotaging the campaign, diverting resources away from marginal constituencies and failing to give the party their full support. Some even went as far as seeming to celebrate the loss.

Ever since Corbyn won the leadership in September 2015 many officers and MPs had been fighting against him, some openly. Things came to a head in 2016 after the EU referendum when he was accused of only giving lukewarm support to the Remain campaign, though he had certainly spoken against leaving the EU at numerous large rallies. The issue was picked up as a pretext for a coup attempt that had long been in planning.

This began on 25th June when Hilary Benn contacted other shadow cabinet ministers telling them he had lost confidence in Corbyn and was sacked. On 26th June 11 other members of the shadow cabinet resigned with another eight leaving the following day.

The emergency protest on the day the coup attempt began was small, but two days later more than ten thousand grass-roots Labour supporters filled Parliament Square in a rally organised by Momentum to vigorously oppose the coup. All except the top picture come from the rally on 17th June.

Angela Rayner and Richard Burgon both came to support Corbyn

Corbyn was able to form a new if rather smaller shadow cabinet with a number of joint portfolios, including 13 new members. But on the 28th June the 229 MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party passed a motion of no confidence in him by 172 votes to 40.

It was hard to find anyone to stand against Corbyn, but finally on 11 July Angela Eagle launched a leadership challenge and was followed by Owen Smith. Opponents of Corbyn tried to get him left off the ballot, but a secret ballot of the Labour National Executive Committee confirmed by a small majority that the incumbent leader should automatically be listed, in line with party rules, and their decision was later confirmed by the High Court. Eagle dropped out as Smith got more nominations, though neither was particularly popular.

In the leadership ballot that followed, Corbyn confirmed his popularity. He was supported by 285 Constituency Labour Parties, with only 53 CLPs supporting Smith, and ended up with 61.8% of the vote to Smith’s 38.2%.

Jeremy Corbyn smiles after speaking at the rall

It should have been a clear message to MPs and party officials to get behind Corbyn and stop undermining his leadership. A united Labour Party could have fought the prejudices of our predominantly right-wing media including a BBC increasingly dominated by right-wing commentators and editors. Their continued opposition to him and some popular manifesto commitments threw away the chance of winning the next election – whenever it was called. Though it was only the weak and disunited state of Labour that convinced Theresa May to gamble on 2017; but even then had the party got fully behind the campaign we would have been saved the shameful Tory governments that have followed since then.

More on My London Diary:
Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn
Keep Corbyn – No Coup

More Around Belgravia 1988

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

Flats, Ebury St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-43-positive_2400
Flats, Ebury St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-43

The Cundy Street flats, architect T P Bennett, were built as low cost housing by the Grosvenor Estate in 1950-52. As Pevsner points out, the blocks have curved balconies typical of the 1930s but with upright columns typical of the 1950s. I think this block is probably Stack House.

Flats, Cundy St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-55-positive_2400
Flats, Cundy St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-55

Cundy St gets its name from a family who were for several generations surveryor, builders and architects to the Grosvenor estate, probably from Thomas Cundy (see below). Planning permission has recently been granted for the demolition of Kylestrome House, Lochmore House, Laxford House, Stack House, Walden House and their replacement by a new estate which will include shops and a new playground. It will include affordable homes and care homes and assisted living for the over-65s but looks rather duller. The plans have upset some of the wealthier residents in surrounding areas because of a loss of light.

Coleshill Flats, Peabody Trust, Pimlico Rd,Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-45-positive_2400
Coleshill Flats, Peabody Trust, Pimlico Rd,Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-45

This Peabody estate close to Sloane Square is made up of two separate blocks, Lumley and Coleshill flats, which were constructed in the 1870s.

National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Road, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-53-positive_2400
National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Road, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-53

Built in 1938 as the Empire Air Terminal in a streamlined “moderne” style by architect Albert Lakeman with a sculpture of winged figures above a globe, Wings Over the World by Eric Broadbent. Passengers for Imperial Airways flights could check in here and be taken by special Pullman Trains from a platform on the adjacent Victoria Station to Southampton Water for flying boat services, while those for European destinations were ferried by coach to Croydon Airport. Unfortunately the terminal opened only three months before the war stopped private flights. Imperial Airways became a part of British Overseas Aiways Corportation (BOAC).

National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3h-55-positive_2400
National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3h-55

After the war, the building was reasonably placed for coaches along the A4 to Heathrow and was renamed the BOAC Terminal and later the British Airways Terminal. It closed in 1980, but had earlier been made largely redundant by the opening of the West London Air Terminal in a temporary building on the Cromwell Road in 1957, replace by a purpose built building in 1963. Check-ins there ended in 1974 and in 1980 both this and the British Airways Terminal were sold. This was listed in 1981 and became the home of the National Audit Office in 1983, though after extensive restoration in 2009, large parts are now rented out. The West London Air Terminal was demolished and the site became a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Eaton Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-65-positive_2400
Eaton Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-65

66 Eaton Square is described in its Grade II listing test as a part of a grand terrace of houses from the mid 19th century, though I’ve chosen to turn away from most of its grander features and look away down the street and across Eaton Gate.

In 1821, Thomas Cundy became surveyor of the Grosvenor Estate and adapted earlier plans for the area before selling building leases from 1825, mainly to Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855). The ground was rather marshy, and Cubitt brought earth he was then digging out at St Katherine’s Dock to raise it. Work began on Eaton Square, named after the Duke of Westminster’s Cheshire Eaton Hall, in 1827, with the planting of the gardens, but it took longer to complete the houses around the square, though these, probably by Cubitt, were apparently completed by 1843. But the whole square was only finished by another builder in the 1850s.

Eaton Square is not a square, but a rather elongated rectangle around 500 metres long. Even including the mews behind the grand houses it is less than 200 m wide.

Cadogan Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-22-positive_2400
Cadogan Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-22

This house at 6 Cadogan Gate on the corner of Pavilion Rd stands out among the taller red-brick mansions and is more a continuation of the mews buildings in Pavilion Rd, but with a rather less usual architecture, with those circular ground floor windows, rather ecclesiastical tall oval-arched sash window on the first floor and its mansard roof. It probably dates from around 1879.

This is an address mentioned in the Panama Papers, the giant 2016 leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposing a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies, though of course the activities with which this address is connected could be entirely legal.

Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-23-positive_2400
Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-23

I think this is 59 Cadogan Square, where a large second floor flat was recently on offer for £7m. Cadogan Square is one of the most expensive residential streets in the United Kingdom, with all but around three houses converted into flats, and these houses are estimated to be worth £25m.

The large tall houses were built between 1877 and 1888 for the Cadogan Estate in Flemish inspired red brick which I find overpowering, but in the centre of the square there is a residents’ only garden where they can sit and, at least in summer the red-brick hell is largely hidden by trees.

More from my Flickr Album 1988 London Photos in later posts.

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.

Migrant Pride and Pride 2016

Friday, June 25th, 2021

I first photographed London’s annual Pride in 1993, when it was a much smaller and more political event than it has become. Back then it was still a protest an since then it has become a parade, dominated by large corporate floats, from various large companies, armed forces and police.

Of course there is still some of the old spirit, with many groups from the gay community and even some protesters still taking part, but largely hidden at the back of the very long line-up.

The Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride march to the official Pride London procession organised by Movement for Justice and joined by others, including London in Solidarity with Istanbul LGBTI Pride and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants brought back some of the original spirit.

It gathered on Oxford St and then went on to join the main march, along with others behind the corporate floats.

The following year Pride organisers reacted by closing the march to only those who had officially applied to march and had official armbands – and refused entry to the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc who then sat down in front of the march before police decided they could march along the route before the main procession.

This year Pride in London has been postponed until 11 September, but Peter Tatchell this May called for an alternative LGBT+ rights march to take place in June, He stated:

“For too long we have been conned by vested interests into believing that it is hugely expensive to hold a Pride march. It is not costly at all if we run the no-frills march that I am proposing.

“It would mirror the informality and spontaneity of the first Pride march in 1972, which I and 40 others helped organise. All we need to do is publicise it and people will turn up.

“Pride in London has become depoliticised. This Pride can change that. As well as being a joyful celebration, it should also profile LGBT+ human rights issues, such as the government stalling on a conversion therapy ban, blocking reform of the Gender Recognition Act and failing to end the detention of LGBT+ asylum seekers.

“It’s time to get back to the original roots of Pride, with everyone encouraged to bring a placard highlighting the LGBT+ issues that concern them. Let’s make this an event where our on-going demands for LGBT+ rights can be seen and heard.

So far as I’m aware it has not been possible to organise an event like this for June 2010, although the London Trans Pride is still billed to take place on June 26, beginning at 2pm at Hyde Park. Perhaps next year it will be possible to organise such a “no frills” march with “no floats, no stage and no speakers at the end. Totally open, egalitarian and grassroots.” which “would reclaim Pride for the community.”

Pride London 2016
Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride

Defend All Migrants

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

Five years ago on the day after the Brexit vote, Friday 24 Jun 2016, socialists and anarchists marched in London in support of migrant rights and against racism and against the attacks and scapegoating of immigrants not only by right wing extremists but by mainstream parties and media over many years. The pictures in this post are from that march. The most recent of these attacks has come from a Tory peer who has proved herself a serial failure over the years and seems likely to be rewarded for this by being put in charge of the NHS.

One of the most disturbing trends during the last eleven years of Coalition and Tory governments has been the increasing politicisation of public appointments, with jobs in charge of public bodies increasingly being awarded to people on the basis of their political views rather than any relevant experience or competence.

Of course there are many other things to be worried about, not least the many dodgy contracts awarded to family, friends and party donors, particularly those lucrative Covid-related contracts. One major benefactor has been Conservative peer Baroness Dido Harding, married to the Tory MP and United Kingdom Anti-Corruption Champion at the Cabinet Office since 2017. No, you really couldn’t make it up.

In 2015, when Harding was the much criticised CEO of TalkTalk, following a cyber-attack in which the personal and banking details of up to four million customers, many not encrypted, were though to have been stolen, Marketing Magazine ran a story under the headline “TalkTalk boss Dido Harding’s utter ignorance is a lesson to us all”. The Information Commissioner agreed, though the fine of £400,000 seems far too low for a company which she said failed “to implement the most basic cyber security measures.” Harding, who had been made a Tory Life Peer the previous year, stood down from TalkTalk in 2017 to concentrate on her public activities, following the party line on all her Lords votes and joining the board of the Jockey Club.

Her appointment as Chair of NHS Improvement in 2017 was a clearly political one, and Harding rejected the recommendation of Parliament’s Health Select Committee that she should resign as a Conservative peer and become a cross-bencher.

Her appointment to run the track, trace and test programme in 2020 (later misleadingly named NHS Test and Trace) was highly controversial. It had little or no connection with the NHS, simply outsourcing work to private contractors including Serco, Mitie, G4S, Boots and Sodexo and paying several thousand consultants from Deloitte and elsewhere on average £1,100 a day each.

Harding is now expected to be appointed as Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) and has pledged to make the NHS less reliant on foreign doctors and nurses. At the moment about 1 in 7 NHS staff are not British, including many Indian, Filipino and Irish. There are many others too who while themselves British are the sons and daughters of migrants to this country, some of whom came here as health workers.

We currently have over 40,000 nursing vacancies and are heavily reliant on the contribution of foreign healthcare professionals who have made great sacrifices during the Covid pandemic. They already suffer from having to pay an immigration health surcharge fee of £470 per person per year for themselves and their families.

Nursing Notes quotes Andrew Johnson of the grassroots campaign Nurses United UK as saying:

“Dido Harding remains as incompetent as ever as she panders to her political party.”

“The UK has always benefitted from international staff. Whether it was Indian, Pakistani or Caribbean nurses like my grandma in the 50s and 60s, or our colleagues from Europe and the Philippines in more recent times, we needed them to keep our loved ones safe.”

“The NHS would not exist without international staff and if Dido wants to grow homegrown staff, we would need greater investment in our schools, a living bursary, a substantial restorative pay rise and an end to the privatisation she has been a part of.”

Nursing Notes

There are good reasons for the UK to train more doctors, nurses and other medical specialists. We are a wealthy nation and as well as caring for the health of our own population should be sending trained staff to other countries around the world, particularly those less able to train them. But as well as sending people abroad there is also much to be gained from having migrants coming to work here and foreign medical staff should be welcomed, not denigrated.

More about the 24th June 2016 Defend All Migrants rally and march.

Sloane Territory 1988

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

Doddington, Rollo, Estate, Battersea, Railway, Wandsworth, 1988 88-3f-61-positive_2400
Doddington, Rollo, Estate, Battersea, Railway, Wandsworth, 1988 88-3f-61

This rather different view of the London skyline was taken on my way to Chelsea to take pictures in a very different part of London around Sloane Square, from my train window as it came out of Clapham Junction on its way to London Victoria. The sheds are between the lines into Victoria and those I travel on more regularly towards Vauxhall and Waterloo and the council estates beyond them form a wall to the north of that line, part of the great post-war programme to provide decent housing at sensible cost under both Labour and Conservative governments. Then came Thatcher.

Hans Place, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3f-54-positive_2400
Hans Place, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3f-54

Though I often admire the design and detail of the great houses built from around the 1770s after architect Henry Holland leased land from Earl Cadogan and sublet building plots for family houses on a fairly grand scale, this is never an area where I feel at home. Even thought houses such as these are now largely split into numerous flats – there are ten bells at the side of the right hand door here – I still feel it is the kind of area I would be expected to doff my cap at the Tradesmen’s entrance. Harrod’s whose board appears here is a major estate agent for the properties in this area were a decent sized flat might cost a couple of grand a week.

Hans Place, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3f-56-positive_2400
Hans Place, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3f-56

Much of the area was rebuilt around the end of the 19th century, and I often find the red brick and terracotta rather overpowering.

Harrods, Hans Rd, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3f-66-positive_2400
Harrods, Hans Rd, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3f-66

Harrods grew from a small shop to take over the whole 5 acre block here. Charles Henry Harrod had begun as a shopkeeper in Borough High St in 1824, moving on to shops in Clerkenwell and then Cable St in Stepney before buying a single room shop on the Brompton Rd in 1849, sensing a business opportunity with the Great Exhibition which was to open in 1851 nearby in Hyde Park. Opening with just two shop assistants and a messenger boy the shop grew rapidly, taking over adjoining buildings. His son Charles Digby Harrod took over the running of the business around 1860 and was employing 100 staff by 1881. The success was partly due to the business refusing credit to any of its customers, insisting on cash, and also by delivering all goods free of charge. Remarkably the business survived being burnt to the ground on December 7 1883, managing to deliver all of its Christmas orders from temporary premises across the road, and a new building was erected within a year. Charles Harrod sold the store via a stock market flotation in 1889, but the new company kept the family name.

In 1894 Harrods employed C. W. Stephens, an architect who had worked for the Belgravia Estate to design a new building for the store. It had to be built bit by bit as Harrods slowly acquired more of the land between Hans Crescent and Hans Road and the business had to be kept open as it was rebuilt. The work was largely completed around 2012, though external and internal changes continued.

I think my picture on Hans Road shows the Coronation Tower over the entrance to the delivery yard and I think dates from 1910-2. The Survey of London describes the commercial buildings of Stephens as in the “ornate, eclectic school of late Queen Anne architecture“, noting that Harrods stands out because of its rich casing of terracotta from Doultons.

Cadogan Hall, Sloane Terrace, Sedding St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3g-14-positive_2400
Cadogan Hall, Sloane Terrace, Sedding St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3g-14

Rather more to my taste is Cadogan Hall, still when I photographed it the First Church Of Christ Scientist, built in a Byzantine Revival Style, architect Robert Fellowes Chisholm, better known for his work in Madras, India where he worked from 1865-1902 when he returned to London where he had been born in 1840. Grade II listed in 1969 the church went out of use in the 1990s and was bough by the then owner of Harrods, Mohamed Fayed, who wanted to convert it to a luxury house, but was prevented in making the alterations he wanted because of its listed status. In 2000 it was bought by Cadogan Estates who converted it to a concert hall, offering it to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as their London home.

Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3g-21-positive_2400
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3g-21

The Royal Court Theatre can justifiably claim to be “the writers’ theatre… a leading force in world theatre for cultivating writers – undiscovered, emerging and established” but I think it is also a rather tricky place to photograph.

The show on at the time appears to have been Howard Brenton’s ‘Blood Poetry’, first performed at the Haymarket Theatre Leicester in 1984, in which Percy Bysshe Shelley and his mistress live with Lord George Byron in Italy in a commune of free love, writing the bloody poetry of revolution, and come to a sticky end.

The director of the Royal Court at the time was Max Stafford-Clark, who I had the pleasure of appearing on-stage with at Battersea Arts Centre along with Jeremy Hardy and journalist Dawn Foster in an after-performance panel discussion ‘Art & Accidental Activism’ of Lung Theatre’s ‘E15’ – who I’d earlier photographed on the streets of Battersea at the start of their run.

Venus Fountain, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3g-23-positive_2400
Venus Fountain, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3g-23

Little seems to be known about the early life of Nell Gwynn, who grew up in a brothel in Covent Garden and was hired to sell oranges and other fruits in a scantily clad costume to the audience at the newly opened theatre in Bridges St (later the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) at the exorbitant price of 6d (2.5p). Despite being illiterate she learnt to be an actress and took various roles as a part of the King’s Company, becoming a star for her performance in the 1665 restoration comedy ‘All Mistaken, or the Mad Couple’ and going on to star in many other plays.

King Charles II, who was married to Catherine of Braganza had various mistresses, and fathered seven sons by them, including two by Nell Gwyn, who was the longest serving and most loved of them all. Her elder son was made the Earl of Burford, but the younger died at the age of six.

The royal couple are depicted on the base of this fountain, designed by Gilbert Ledward R.A. (1888-1960) in 1953. My picture shows Charles II picking an apple from a tree. This relief – which also includes cupid, a deed, a hound and and a swan on the Thames – is perhaps more interesting than the Venus above. It’s presence here is said to have been because the king will often have travelled through here and down the then newly opened King’s Road to a house where Nell occasionally stayed. It seems a little contrived; at her insistence, the king had given her a house on Pall Mall and granted her son a house, renamed Burford House, in the Home Park at Windsor for when he was in residence there. She also had a summer home in King’s Cross.

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.

Demand a New Normal

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

This Saturday, 26 June 2021 at noon people will assemble on Portland Place, London, outside the BBC for The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national demonstration, marching from there to a rally in Parliament Square.

I hope to be there and taking photographs, though I’ve been a little unwell for the last few weeks and may still have to take things easy – which isn’t how I take pictures.

The pictures with this post are from The People’s Assembly national march 7 years ago on Saturday 21 June 2014, when tens of thousands marched from a rally at the BBC to another in Parliament Square. Speakers then included John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, Dianne Abbot, Carolyn Lucas, Len McCluskey, Matt Wrack and other leading figures – and you can find pictures of almost all of them on My London Diary – though I couldn’t be bothered to wait for Russell Brand who came an hour late.

The event was planned to take place after the lifting of Covid restrictions which has has now been postponed. But protests are still legal, protected by Human Rights legislation which overrules Covid restrictions, though they must observe social distancing. So put on a mask and come and make your views clear.

This is what the People’s Assembly says about what is happening now:

This government has made it clear it wants working people to pay for the coronavirus crisis. Its pitiful offer to the nurses, the public sector pay freeze, lack of sick pay, while contracts are granted to their friends and cronies tells you that. Meanwhile there are further subsidies to companies while we are facing mass unemployment levels when furlough ends. Employers are going on the offensive, especially with notorious fire and rehire policies -but there has been widespread opposition to this including strike action.

There is visceral anger over the multitude of government failures during the pandemic, with one of the highest Covid death rates in the world. This government has failed us and this will be our first opportunity to take to the streets in opposition.

The Tories are also attempting to use the cover of the pandemic to sneak through the draconian ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’. Due to reach its final reading in June this bill is an affront to democracy, an assault on our rights to protest and an attempt to silence dissent & opposition to the government. The Tories want to take away our rights to demonstrate for our rights! We cannot let that happen.

The march invitation lists a dozen key demands of the protest:

  • Renationalise Key Services
  • Decent Housing For All
  • Sack The Corrupt Politicians
  • Properly Funded, Fully Publicly Owned NHS
  • End The Marketisation Of Education
  • Act Now! Tackle The Climate Emergency
  • Support International Justice
  • Safe Workplaces, Save Jobs
  • End Fire And Rehire
  • Fully Funded Social Care
  • End Institutional Racism
  • Kill The Police, Crime, Sentencing And Courts Bill

More from 2014:
People’s Assembly Rally
No more Austerity – demand the alternative

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 Deep State?

Monday, June 21st, 2021

Anyone who writes about “the Deep State” will surely be accused of being a conspiracy theorist, but if you start with Wikipedia’s description of “a type of governance made up of potentially secret and unauthorised networks of power operating independently of a state’s political leadership in pursuit of their own agenda and goals” it seems clear to me that many aspects of British life can only be understood in such terms. Of course I don’t mean illuminati or freemasons (though they may play some part); the networks and forces in this country are largely those often thought of as public servants, including the police, the civil service, the security services, along with the royal family, press and media barons and other major capitalists – and the City of London.

Many of their activities are also very public, though the agendas behind them usually carefully hidden. Some are authorised – such as the City of London Remembrancer, a lobbyist representing the City’s interests inside parliament and employing six lawyers to help influence government and members of parliament. Others brag openly about some of their acheivements – as in the 1992 General Election headline “It’s The Sun Wot Won It“.

Several official documents have made me think about the deep state in recent days. Perhaps most obviously is the report into the investigation of the 1987 axe murder of Daniel Morgan in the car park of the Golden Lion in Sydenham. I’ve not read the long report, but have been interested in the media coverage of it, which has centred on the accusation of “a form of institutional corruption” by the Metropolitan Police. It’s perhaps a new label for it, but it describes a culture of deliberate lying and misleading the public, feeding false information to the press, and protecting the team which has been so obvious in so many cases, notably that of a totally innocent Brazilian electrician who walked into a tube station and boarded a train on his way to work.

If you’ve relied on the mainstream press you are likely to have little idea of why Daniel Morgan was killed, and certainly know little or nothing of the involvement of the state, the press and others in the cover-up that followed. You can find out more by watching the DoubleDown News Video by Peter Jukes,
EXPOSED: Daniel Morgan Murder links Corrupt Cops & Murdoch Empire to the Heart of Government‘. It doesn’t give all the answers – and almost certainly the vital evidence related to the murder itself has long been destroyed – but it does make convincing links and raise much wider questions than the mainstream media.

A second fairly recent publication is into the Manchester Arena bombing, and as with most such reports it tells us what was already clear within days of the event about the failures of police and security – thanks to some good investigative journalism.

According to Wikipedia, Salman Abedi was born in Manchester to Libyan-born refugees given asylum here, as his father had been a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a Salafi jihadist organisation proscribed by the United Nations. Salman Abedi returned to Libya with his father to fight to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and when the war ended following the death of Gaddafi, he returned to the UK while his parents remained in Libya. He returned to Libya with his brother Hashem in 2014, again fighting for an Islamist group. The two brothers were rescued from Tripoli and returned to the UK along with other British citizens when the Libyan Civil War erupted.

Various reports about the danger posed by Salman had been made to the authorities, but these appear to have been ignored. Possibly this was because of his earlier activities in 2011 and 2014 which seem likely to have been facilitated by our security services, perhaps as some have alleged, with government backing, particularly in the war against Gadaffi.

Finally I’d like to mention the failure after 4 years to take any effective action over the guilty parties behind the Grenfell Tower, some of whom are said to have spent millions on lawyers to help them evade justice. Slowly, tediously slowly we are hearing damning testimonies from a few of those responsible as Phase II of the inquiry continues, now in Week 41, with some of the Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation giving evidence this week.

The pictures with this post come from the ‘Day of Rage’ march for Grenfell which took place seven days after the fire on 21st June 2017. The media had a field day over the title, with a fantasy extravaganza imagining violent insurrection, although it was organised by a group with a long history of peaceful protests, mainly over the UK’s iniquitous and illegal treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. And I think as usual police fed them some lurid lies.

At the time it was already clear that the fire was a result of the systemic failure to care about the provision of safe social housing; it wasn’t then clear exactly how many had been killed, as there were a number of Grenfell residents who were not recorded on any official lists.

The march was entirely peaceful – as journalists who knew anything about it had been sure it would be. It did briefly block traffic in Whitehall outside Downing St and went on to do the same for a short while in Parliament Square. I don’t think there were any reports of the actual event in mainstream media.

Four years later, the prospect of any prosecutions over the crimes that led to the fire still seems remote. But four years ago we knew who should be in the dock, and I wrote this comment back then:

People want answers, while Theresa May seems to be trying to focus just on one small technical matter of the nature of the cladding. But it is obvious that the cladding would burn and would spread fire – and for that reason there were regulations about where it could be used and how it had to be applied to be safe. But these regulations were not enforced. When they should have been tightened they were not. Inspections were privatised and there was no strict quality control. RKBC paid for a consultant to help them avoid proper fire inspections. Government ministers cut essential safety regulations as a matter of policty calling them ‘red tape’ , and failed to implement the recomendations made after earlier fires.. Structural modifications were approved for Grenfell that cut the number of exits from two to one. Gas supplies were improperly fitted to save costs. Fire doors were apparently removed, plastics which produce toxic cyanide fumes on burning are permitted…. No sprinkler systems, no water available to fight fires in the top floors and so on. Many of the faults that were a port of the disaster at Grenfell are common to many other high rise buildings, particularly those which are a part of our social housing stock.

More pictures: ‘Day of Rage’ march for Grenfell