Archive for July, 2021

More Around Brompton: 1988

Saturday, July 31st, 2021

The Boltons, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-52a-positive_2400
The Boltons, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-52

If the houses around The Boltons are all much the same – the Grade II listing text for most simply tells you to see that for the first pair, 1 &2 – some distinguished themselves by their gates. Those of No 16 have lost their eagles since I made this picture, and the iron gates have lost both their angled top and the arch above as well as the rampant creeper but have gained an entryphone and a letter box. Walking down the street today there would be no picture to make here.

The Boltons, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-66-positive_2400
The Boltons, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-66

There are various designs of wrought iron gates to the houses around The Boltons, though quite a few share the same pattern. This one, I think at No 23, appealed to me more than most and I was fortunate to find it half opened, giving a clearer view of the tiled path and those ornamental ceramic leaves containing a small bush.

It also shows the peeling paint which still then could be seen on quite a few of these houses, which are now all I think pristine. I rather liked the impression it gave of these houses being old and lived in.

Jenny Lind, Boltons Place, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-55-positive_2400
Jenny Lind, Boltons Place, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-55

Boltons Place leads north from The Boltons to the Old Brompton Road and its east side is occupied by several large houses. That occupied by Jenny Lind, the ‘Swedish Nightingale’, has undergone various changes of street name and number since she moved in as the first occupier in 1874, and is in a rather different style to the rest of the area. In 1906 it was altered by the addition of a rather attractive semi-cicular bow window, hidden in my view. The effect is less austere, described in the Victoria History as “un-Godwinian suavity in a rather French way“.

School, Boltons Place, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-54-positive_2400
School, Boltons Place, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-54

The west side of Boltons Place is quite different, occupied by Bousfield Primary School. This primary school was built in 1954-6 by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon and is on the site of Beatrix Potter’s house and garden at 2 Bolton Gardens, where she lived for more than 40 years until she was married in 1913, a short walk from Brompton Cemetery where she found some of the names for her characters. The site became available thanks to wartime bombing.

The school is a heavily over-subscribed local authority school which had its origins in a school set up as a “poor school” for local Catholic children by the parish priest in the 1800s which was renamed Bousfield School in 1913. The children were transferred to the new school in 1956. Later the old building became another Catholic school.

Fulham Rd, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-43-positive_2400
Fulham Rd, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-43

The Fulham Road has a rather different atmosphere with this row of shops with an entrance probably for horses to be led through to stables behind. When I took the picture it led to the Hungry Horse Restaurant, and although the board with its two horses heads looks like that of a French horse butcher, the English menu will almost certainly not have included horsemeat – nor will it have had hay offer, so any horses would have remained hungry.

Now the gate seems closed and the area behind looks unused. Unsurprisingly the shop at left is now an estate agent.

Cinema, Fulham Rd, Drayton Gardens, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-44-positive_2400
Cannon Cinema, Fulham Rd, Drayton Gardens, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-44

The cinema opened as the Forum Theatre in 1930, designed by architect J Stanley Beard, featuring live variety shows with an orchestra. It was sold to Associated British Cinemas (ABC) in 1935 and lost its organ in the 1960s. Like others it got altered internally to provide first three then four, five when I made this picture and finally six screens. Now owned by Cineworld who have transferred it to their Picturehouse chain, it had further renovations in 2019.


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.


Rich Door, Poor Door: 2014

Friday, July 30th, 2021

A foot in the Rich Door

I used the text for this protest on 30th July 2014 as the opening text for my ‘zine’ ‘Class War: Rich Door. Poor Door‘ published in 2015 and still available from Blurb. It was the first in a series of around 30 weekly protests (and a couple of special events, pictures from most of which are in the zine, by Class War at this block in Aldgate where the small proportion of social housing tenants have to use a door down a side alley rather than the plush entrance on the main road for those in the private flats.

Class War arrive for their first protest

The series of protests had some success – it had immediately resulted in the alley being cleaned up and later it was given much better lighting and it placed the whole idea of ‘poor doors’ firmly on the national and architectural agenda – but eventually failed to resolved the issue for this particular building.

And put up posters and stickers

Here’s that text, written on 30 July 2014:

Class War, including three of their candidates for the 2015 General Election, protested at 1 Commercial St in Aldgate against London’s new appartment blocks providing separate ‘poor doors’ for the affordable flats they have to include to gain planning permission for the development. Class War characterise this as ‘social apartheid.’

The building manager removes a poster

The front entrance on Whitechapel High St (One Commercial St is the name of the block) has a hotel-like reception desk, and is staffed. It leads to the lifts for the expensive flats, many owned by overseas investors. Like most such buildings, some of them are empty and seldom used, while others are short term holiday lets.

Arguments continue over the door

There is apparently no internal connection* between this part of the building and that containing the social housing, which has been given a different name and a separate door some way down the alley on the west side of the building. Their door, the ‘poor door’ has a card entry system which leads to a bare corridor with some mail boxes on one side.

Lisa makes her views clear

The alley is dark at night, and even though today it was unusually clear of rubbish, it smelt strongly of urine. Certainly a far less friendly place than the well lit main street on which the ‘rich door’ opens. There seems to me to be no reason why all those who live in the building cannot share the same entrance even if their flats are on different floors or different sides of the building, and certainly no reason at all to hide the poor door down a mean alley like this.

Police try to persuade the protesters to move across the road

The protesters arrived with a banner carrying a quotation from the radical US labour activist Lucy Parsons (1853-1942) “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live“. The Class War posters – with their skull and crossbones – had the message “We have found new homes for the rich” and showed long rows of grave crosses stretching into the distance, and they were stuck on the windows around the poor door using Class War election stickers with their promise of a 50% mansion tax.

But the protesters are unmoved by the police arguments

A few people were still entering and leaving the building, with the protesters talking and shouting at them but not actually stopping them, and at one point the protesters grabbed the door when it was open. There followed a brief tug of war with several from inside the building, including one of the residents as well as those from the ‘concierge’ attempting without success to close it. The protesters made little attempt to enter the building but wanted those inside to be able to hear the protest through the open door.

The Poor Door. When I visited a few days earlier the alley was filthy

By the time a couple of police arrived and hurried into the building to talk to the people inside around a quarter of an hour the protesters had stopped holding the door. The police came out a few minutes later and tried with little success to get the protesters to move further away from the door.

The rubbish had gone but it still stank of urine and had no lighting

The protest continued until after an hour or so Class War decided they had made their point and left, some for the pub. I went around the building to find the poor door and photographed it and the alley it was in.

Class War – Rich Door, Poor Door

* This was a lie by the building manager. On a later occasion I was taken inside the building by one of the private residents, and after taking me to her flat we then went down and out through the ‘poor door’ which she told me she used when taking her dog for a walk.


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 Kensington & Little Chelsea, 1988

Thursday, July 29th, 2021

St Yeghiche, Armenian, Church, Cranley Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-16-positive_2400
St Yeghiche Armenian Church, Cranley Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-16

I’m unsure why St Yeghiche Armenian Church should be Grade II* listed, as it appears to me to be a fairly typical Victorian Decorated Church, built as S Peter’s in 1866-7 by C J Freake for the Smith’s Charity Estate, with later alterations and additions by W.D Caröe and others in 1907-9, but it is perhaps the internal features including stained glass mentioned at some length in the listing which I’ve not seen that qualify it for that extra *.

Like me you may be ignorant of St Yeghiche, born in Alexandria around 435CE, but who is “is known for his many achievements that have enriched the cultural treasury of the Armenian Nation“. Working at a time when the Armenian alphabet was invented and the first translations of the Bible into Armenian were being made he wrote many commentaries on the Bible and other religious works. He was a personal scribe to the Armenian General in the involved in the “famous battle of Avarair” in 451CE and wrote the famous phrase “Death, unanticipated, is death; death, anticipated, is immortality”, which apparently became a motto for many Armenian soldiers.

Priory Walk, Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-22-positive_2400
Priory Walk, Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-22

This area is or was apparently known as ‘Little Chelsea in Kensington‘. If the architect of 86 Drayton Gardens had intended a heavy and ponderous effect then he was remarkably successful. This plot on the Gunter Estate was apparently developed by the builder Edward Deacon, who also built a couple of other houses along the street, but I think the architect is unknown. But the Victoria County History names its first occupier in 1888 as Sir Evan MacGregor, who was Permanent Secretary to the Admiralty for 23 years from 1884, a time when the navy underwent dramatic changes.

Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-23-positive_2400
Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-23

This very solid looking canopy and railings are in front of a large block of flats at 53 Drayton Gardens, built in the 1890s, architect J Norton. Not quite a porte-cochère and I think the only such structure on this street. The block is set a little further back from the road than most of the houses, many of which have rather solid front porches.

Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-24a-positive_2400
Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-24

A two storey house on Drayton Gardens which looks rather domestic and out of place and stands directly on the pavement, this is said to date from the earlier period of building in the area, around 1826. My black and white picture doesn’t do justice to the painting above the doorway, which shows the same house standing on its own (including those shutters) surrounded by fields – but without the painting.

Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-25-positive_2400
Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-25

More flats at 49 Drayton Gardens. Architect again J Norton and again dating from 1894-8, these were too close to the road to need a canopy but have an impressive portico supported by five columns. It looks lopsided, as if it was designed to have two doorways, only the left one of which was actually built.

Priory Walk, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-32-positive_2400
Priory Walk, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-32

Although I made this picture on Priory Walk, the front door of the house is to the right at 24 Gilston Rd, one of a pair of large detached Italianate properties with pyramid roofed towers built between 1850 and 1852 to designs by George Goodwin. I’m told, but can’t confirm it, that Peter and Alison Smithson, two of Britain’s best-known modern architects of Brutalist masterpieces such as Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar moved in here in 1971.

The house was redesigned around 2012 by Shalini Misra with a 4,500 square foot new basement including a swimming pool, gym, media room and three bedrooms which almost doubled the floor area while leaving its exterior unchanged and can now be rented for £260,000 a month. Yes, a month.

Gilston Rd, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-34-positive_2400
Gilston Rd, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-34

Security cameras like this were rare back in 1988, and I don’t know why this building required one, but I smiled for the camera when I took this picture. There is a short section of road around here oddly absent from Google Streetview which I think is where this was located. I wondered if it was the home of one of a very nervous Russian oligarch.

The Boltons, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 198888-4o-42-positive_2400
The Boltons, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-42

The Boltons is undoubtedly the best known of the streets in the area, but one I found less interesting than some others. The area had been bought by James Gunter in 1807 who used much of it for market gardening. The whole ellipse was planned by the architect and editor of ‘The Builder’ George Godwin and built, mainly as large three-storey semi-detached pairs in 1849-59.

All of them are I think Grade II listed. They have Doric porches and their brick is faced with stucco. No 21 in my picture is a typical example, photographed where part of the wall had been removed which enabled a clearer view, and taken at an angle which hides some of what I felt was fussier detail.

Click on any image above to display a larger version in my album 1988 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.


Grosvenor Canal, Chelsea & Belgravia 1988

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Chelsea, Westminster, 1988 88-4n-53-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Chelsea, Westminster, 1988 88-4n-53

The Grosvenor Canal, now only vestigial, is one of London’s least-known canals, opened in 1824 when the Earl of Grosvenor decided to add a lock and turn what had been a tidal creek with a tide mill and feeding reservoirs for drinking water at Chelsea Waterworks (at right in picture) into a short canal, around three quarters of a mile long ending at a large basin, Grosvenor Basin. The lock needed two gates at the end where it connected to the river as the canal level could be higher or lower than the tidal river. The main traffic then on the canal was coal for the many houses in Westminster.

Victoria Station was built on much of this basin site in 1858, and when the station was expanded in 1902, the upper half of the canal was closed and the lower half sold to Westminster City Council who used it for barges carrying refuse. They closed more in 1925 to build the Ebury Bridge estate, but a short section was still in use, with barges taking Westminster’s rubbish onto the Thames, when I made this picture. It was then the last commercial canal in London. It closed in 1995 and has since been redeveloped as Grosvenor Waterside. More on Wikipedia

Savills, Sloane St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-61-positive_2400
Savills, Sloane St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-61

An estate agent selling the grand houses in the area with offices in a rather grand Grade II listed house on Sloane St, dating from the late 18th century. The listing text notes that the ground floor – reached up eight steps from the pavement – is in commercial use and describes the ground floor windows as wide, “with stucco fan motif lunettes above”.

Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-62-positive_2400
Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-62

A long white passageway with a charming lamp at the end hanging from wrought iron supports, behind a slightly more prosaic wrought iron gate. I wouldn’t have photographed it, not having a great love of the twee, but for the rather more practical lamp fitting at left with its cable housing leading rather nicely vertically down the wall to the curving shadow on the floor.

Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-63-positive_2400
Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-63

White fences have had a particular attraction for photographers since an iconic image by Paul Strand at Port Kent in 1916, though I make no suggestion that this is anywhere in the same league. But it did seem an awful lot of white fence in a rather confined space.

Skinner Place,  Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-64-positive_2400
Skinner Place, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-64

Skinner Place looked like something from a rather meaner part of London, perhaps somewhere in Bethnal Green mysteriously translocated into Belgravia (which would have increased its price by a large factor.) But it was the huge union flag blocking the end of the street that I really liked, along with the rounded block of flats behind.

Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-15-positive_2400
Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-15

The Henry Smith Charity was established on the death of Henry Smith (1549-1628) who lived and profited through interesting times, lending money to many landed families and amassing large landholdings from their misfortunes. He left detailed instructions for the administration of his estates, and the charity trustees in 1640 bought “a marshy estate of mainly market gardens just outside London, in the parish of Kensington.” According the the charity web site, “Nearly four centuries after we were first established, The Henry Smith Charity is one of the largest grant making charities in Britain; making grants of £39.8 million in 2020.”

Smiths Charity, corruption, Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-14-positive_2400
Smiths Charity, corruption, Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-14

I spent some time reading the notices in this picture, but ended up little the wiser about the eviction of Major Parson in the 1970s, and the corruption alleged to have been involved. Reading a post from David Swarbrick about a 1974 legal case did little to help me but may held my legal friends.

Click on any of the above to see a large version and explore more pictures in my album 1988 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.


Eight Years Ago… 27 July 2013

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Eight years ago on Saturday 27th July 2013 my working day began with the Rev Billy on a small green space on Victoria Street preparing the Stop Shopping Choir and volunteers for a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” performance against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London.

I’m not sure what staff and customers at the HSBC close to Victoria station made of the event, which pointed out that in the two previous years the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with HSBC in the lead. The Golden Toad costumes were for the Central American species forced into extinction by climate change in the 1980’s and recent weather events have now forced even the more sceptic to take the crisis seriously, even if so far to take little actual action.

After the performance in the bank, and as police began to arrive the group made their way to a wide area of pavement outside and staged another performance watched by pedestrians in the busy street close to the station, before leaving to celebrate in a nearby café.

I left to go to Trafalgar Square where as a part of an international day of action the Bradley Manning Support Network held a vigil at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The ‘gay whistleblower’, now Chelsea Manning, was being celebrated in countries across the world for passing documents to WikiLeaks which exposed a great deal of illegal and immoral actions by the US and other governments and had recently been awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize and was then on trail in Fort Meade. She was later sentenced to 35 years in a maximum security jail, but this was commuted to around seven years by President Obama and she was released in 2017.

From there I made my way to the US Embassy, then still in Grosvenor Square, for a rally before the start of march organised by BARAC against Global Racism and Injustice in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others, aimed a highlighting the reality of racism and demanding justice, both in the UK and US.

Although the march had been prompted by the acquittal in Florida of the murderer of Trayvon Martin which had led to a global outcry, the emphasis of the speeches at the Embassy was very much on events here in the UK. In his speech Lee Jasper of BARAC after mentioning the Martin case went on to say:

“We march to support the call from the Lawrence family for a full and independent judicial led public inquiry into the allegations that the Metropolitan Police sought to smear both the family and supporters through a covert police surveillance unit.”

“We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney. We march for justice and equality in the 50th anniversary year of Dr Martin Luther King’s 1968 March on Washington. The truth is that his dream is a threadbare vision here in the UK where racism is on the rise amplified by austerity.”

My London Diary

After an hour or so of speeches the marchers left to march to a further rally at Downing St, but I left them as they went down Oxford St.

Against Global Racism and Injustice
Free Bradley Manning Vigil
Rev Billy at HSBC


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.


End Gaza Invasion: 2014

Monday, July 26th, 2021

Israel ‘disengaged’ from Gaza in 2005, but retained many controls in what international bodies still consider a form of occupation. It has maintained a blockade, controlling access by sea and air to the area which has a closed border with Egypt and strict border controls to Israel. With 1.85m Palestinians on under 140 square miles it is the third most densely populated area in the world. (See Wikipedia for most of the figures in this post.)

The Israeli and US-led economic blockade of Gaza, imposed after Hamas gained a majority in the area in the 2006 elections and too over from Fatah in 2007 has stopped the import and export of many goods, and together with damage caused by Israel air raids and invasions has led to severe shortages of water, medicine and power.

The protest in London on July 26th 2014 came during the Israeli ‘Operation Protective Edge’, which had begun on July 8th with bombing and artillery fire and escalated to a ground invasion on July 17th, with the aim of killing as many Palestinian militants as possible. It was sparked by the murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members but the Israeli response was quite disproportionate.

Estimates of deaths and damage vary slightly, but agree that over two thousand Palestinians were killed, with the UN suggesting that 1,462 of these were civilians. 67 Israeli soldiers were killed and 6 civilians were killed by Palestinian rockets.

The damage to properties was similarly disproportioate. While around 18,000 homes were destroyed or seriously damaged in Gaza, Palestinian rockets only destroyed one in Israel. Gaza also lost over 200 places of worship, and almost three hundred primary schools and 73 medical facilities were badly damaged or destroyed. The attacks are said to have produced around 2.5 million tons of rubble in Gaza.

Jeremy Corbyn on the march in Whitehall

This is of course not the only year in which there were attacks by Israel on Gaza. “008-9 saw ‘Operation Cast Lead’ which also produced incredible devastation and over a thousand Palestinian Deaths and 13 of Israelis. In 2018 there were border protests in which over 13,000 Palestinians were seriously wounded by Israeli snipers and many killed. A UN Human Rights Council’s independent commission examined 489 cases of Palestinian deaths or injuries and found that only two were possibly justified as responses to danger and the rest were illegal. And most recently in May 2021 there were ten days of attacks by Israeli forces resulting in more destruction and deaths.

The protest on July 26th began on the main road close to the Israeli Embassy, tucked away in a private street in Kensington. Soon themain road was packed with people many too far away to hear the speeches despite the amplification. Finally it moved off on its way to Parliament Square.

There was a long list of speakers at the rally, including a number of well-known musicians and other public figures, but I began to feel rather tired, having been on my feet too long covering this and another protest, and I left before the end. But you can see pictures of many of the speakers as well as the crowd in My London Diary.

As usual there were many Jewish supporters of Palestine on the march, and a small group of the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews who had walked from north London to join the rally.

Stop the Massacre in Gaza Rally
End Gaza Invasion March to Parliament
Israeli Embassy rally – End Gaza Invasion

25th July 2015

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

Six years ago I photographed three events in London on Saturday 25th July. The first was a protest outside the Counsellor’s Office for Culture & Information of the Turkish Embassy at Craven House on Kingsway by members of the British left and the Turkish Popular Front in the UK calling for the immediate release from Turkish jail of Scottish left-wing activist Steve Kaczynski. In Istanbul to interpret at an anti-imperialist conference, he apparently shouted “Repression Cannot intimidate Us” in Turkish as he was arrested on 2nd April 2015. He was finally released in late September 2015.

The arrest was a part of a Turkish clampdown on political opposition following an unrelated hostage incident elsewhere in the city when a state prosecutor and the two gunmen holding him captive were killed. The Turkish government issued rumours to the media that Kacsynski was a British or German spy and kept him under poor conditions and in isolation, leading to him going on hunger strike.

From Kingsway in Holborn a short bus ride took me to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament for a protest against our crazy parliamentary voting system. Over half a million people had signed petitions calling for voting reform after May’s elections, where the winning party were voted for by just under 24% of the electorate, gaining 36.1% of the votes.

The ‘First Past the Post’ system makes it impossible for small parties to gain proper representation, particularly when their votes are spread widely across the country. So although the Green Party got over a million votes it only got one seat, as did UKIP despite over 3 million. The Tories with just three times their vote got 330 times as many MPs.

The system has always favoured the two major parties – and until recently very much suited their interests. But seeing the current position of the Labour party and possible constituency boundary changes it seems likely to condemn them to permanent opposition.

Under a thousand people turned up for the protest, which was themed around a map of the UK laid out on the grass and marked by coloured balloons for the different parties, the kind of bright idea that has photographers like me wringing their hands in desperation. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought a helicopter with me in my camera bag, and even if I owned a drone it would have almost certainly been illegal to fly it.

I finished my day just a short walk up Whitehall to Downing Street, where a large group of Kurds and supporters were protesting at the involvement of the Turkish State in the massacre of 32 young activists by ISIS as they were on their way with toys, books and other materials to build a playground, library and other projects in Kobane.

The Turkish Government has a long history of treating its Kurdish citizens as inferior, outlawing their language and culture, and and imprisoning the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan and others from the political and military groups opposing them. Turkey sees ISIS as an ally in its fight against the Kurds, and has aided or turned a blind eye to the smuggling of oil and other goods through Turkey and allowing supplies and recruits through to them.

The London Kurds organising this protest say that many Kurds and Turkish socialists here “have seen friends and family murdered in recent days and increasingly over the last few years by the Turkish state as it’s nationalist, imperialist and Islamist project has been damaged by the progressive politics of the Kurdish movement.”

After the protest at Downing St, the Kurds marched off for a further protest in front of the BBC to try to persuade them to properly cover the massacre and other atrocities of the Turkish state against Kurds.


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.


Around the Fulham Rd: 1988

Saturday, July 24th, 2021

Redcliffe Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-16-positive_2400
Redcliffe Square, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-16

Redcliffe Square, part of the Gunter estate in unusual in that the garden in its centre is open to the public. It was given free to the local authority, now the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in 1949 with the proviso that the character of this tree-lined space was not changed. It’s a pleasant place to sit in the shade on a hot summer day. The street along its west side, called Redcliffe Gardens was an old north-south track through the area, previously called Walnut Tree Walk.

Robert Gunter employed George and Henry Gunter as surveyors and architects for the estate development, and Redcliffe Square was built to their designs in 1869–76. My picture show the front steps of No 6, as the east corner and houses in the eastern extension of the street towards The Little Boltons. None of the houses in the square are listed – its only listed building is a telephone kiosk. The Gunters came from Bristol and brought the name Redcliffe from there.

The Octagon, St Mark's College, Fulham Rd, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-21-positive_2400
The Octagon, St Mark’s College, Fulham Rd, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-21

The Octagon at 459b Fulham Road was a part of one of the first teacher training colleges in the country. It was founded 1841 with Derwent Coleridge its first principal and Edward Blore its architect, probably responsible for this building in 1843 in what he described as a Byzantine style, but seems to be more Romanesque. It was built as “practising school” for the students with a classroom full of desk, and was originally only a single storey, with the rest being added 5 years later.

The building was converted into a library in 1953. The college merged with various others over the years and moved away in 1973 after its land which extends south to Kings Road was compulsorily purchased for a road building scheme which appears no to have materialised. It was bought by Chelsea College in 1980, and in 1989 after their 1985 merger with King’s College was put on sale. It is now a dwelling.

The Chapel, St Mark's College, Fulham Rd, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-22-positive_2400
The Chapel, St Mark’s College, Fulham Rd, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-22

The neighbouring chapel at 459a Fulham Road was again by Edward Blore, this time in a Lombardy Romanesque style, and was built to serve both the college and the local community. Permission was granted in 2013 for it to be converted into two private residencies.

Marine Stores, Fulham Rd, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-23-positive_2400
Marine Stores, Fulham Rd, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-23

Unsurprisingly there is no longer a scrap metal dealer occupying this shop on the corner of St Mark’s Grove, but an estate agents. 340 Fulham Rd had been Marine Stores at least since1940, probably rather earlier, but I’ve no idea why it got that name.

The houses were build at St Mark’s Terrace shortly after the land was bought in 1844 with front gardens, which were later converted to these shops. The land was sold by the Equitable Gas Light Company, who had been planning a gas works in the area on the Kensington Canal but changed their mind and built it in Westminster. (British History Online.)

Hollywood Arms, Hollywood Rd,  West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-26a-positive_2400
Hollywood Arms, Hollywood Rd, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-26

The developers of the Redcliffe estate planned from the start to include shops and adjoining public houses, and the Hollywood Arms first opened in 1866. The pub is Grade II listed. It predates the settlement in California that became synonomous with commercial film. That was apparently named after an earlier estate in Illinois, which was apparently named after a small village in County Wicklow, Ireland and perhaps this street and pub got their name from that same place.

Chapel, Brompton Cemetery, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-33-positive_2400
Chapel, Brompton Cemetery, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-33

Finally for today, three pictures from Brompton Cemetery.

Brompton Cemetery, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-36-positive_2400
Brompton Cemetery, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-36

Photographers tend to spend a lot of time in cemeteries, though I suspect I went there as a quiet place to rest and eat my sandwich lunch.

Brompton Cemetery, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-42-positive_2400
Brompton Cemetery, West Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-42

Robert Coombes (1808-1860), though a rather small and light man, was the fastest oarsman of his era and was later trained both Oxford and Cambridge crews for their annual Boat Race. He died in poverty in a lunatic asylum, but friends and admirers paid for a magnificent Grae II listed tomb, on top of which is an upturned boat and the Doggetts Coat and Badge arms. All four oarsmen at the corners have lost their heads.

London’s Cheapest Flight: June-July 2013

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Eight years ago I took a couple of rides on the Emirates Air Line, better known thanks to London blogger Diamond Geezer as the ‘dangleway’ and posted a number of the pictures that I took from it.

As I pointed out then, “in transport terms its a joke, a slower and more expensive route on almost any possible journey“, but to my surprise this joke is still running eight years later despite huge losses, and my exhortation “if you’ve not taken a ride don’t leave it too long” was then misplaced. Though given the effects of the virus on air travel it may not last much longer, but perhaps the extensive developments on the south bank on the Greenwich Peninsula and the replacement of industrial sites by housing on the north bank, together with the move of the Greater London Authority to the Crystal at the north end of the route by the end of the year may provide a few more customers.

One advantage of the current situation is that, according to the TfL web siteOnly one passenger is allowed per cabin, unless a household or group is travelling together” so you can be sure of having it to yourself, or chosing those you want to travel with. The poor people in the picture above had to share a ride with me.

I think there were notices in the cabins telling you to remain in your seats during the short journey, but clearly I didn’t entirely obey these, but there was no one around to see. Perhaps there might be safety issues if a full cabin of Sumo wrestlers began to throw themselves around but I don’t think my careful movements were any problems.

The service runs weekdays days from 7am to 11pm, stopping an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays and opening later at weekends. It also stops in very strong winds and thunderstorms, though one London reporter made a story out of using it this January as storm Christoph was approaching. His photographs don’t really support his story of being buffeted around by the wind but I imagine there was some tangible swinging motion. When there is any real danger it closes – and that happens around a hundred times a year. There are also some closures for maintainence.

My journeys were both smooth and rather quiet, and the ride seemed much shorter then the 10 minutes it took. A single journey costs £4, more or less the same as in 2013. I generally avoid air travel, but I imagine the carbon footprint of this short journey is quite low.

Back in 2013 I commented “it should be promoted as one of London’s cheaper and more interesting tourist attractions, giving a rather better view than the helter-skelter on the Olympic site at around a tenth of the cost, and with the added attraction of motion in three dimensions.” It has so far only attracted a few more discerning tourists, some of whom are doubtless also following London’s public art trail, The Line and get an unusual view of Antony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud on their ride.


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.


Brompton: 1988

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

Brompton Rd, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-51-positive_2400
Brompton Rd, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-51

Estate Agents seemed to be taking over the world and this large Foxton’s seemed to symbolise this. In an article in ‘Property Chronicle‘ in 2020, Dan Channer suggests that Foxtons is the only UK Estate Agent brand “truly differentiated” for several reasons, one of which was that “It spent money on its offices like no other agent.” This building is perhaps an example of this and part of what has made them probably the most hated estate agent by those opposed to gentrification. Perhaps surprisingly this building on the Brompton Rd, though still and estate agents is now a branch of the other contender for that title, Savills.

Egerton Gardens,  Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-62-positive_2400
Egerton Gardens, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-62

Although the street sign says Egerton Crescent which is the address of the row of Grade II listed houses, I was standing in Egerton Gardens, and the garden with its threes and flowering daffodils is the garden between the two. The street is one of several to have been described in recent years as the “most expensive street in Britain”, with average house prices in 2015 of over £7.5m. (Wikipedia.) Among those who have lived there are broadcaster David Frost and film director Tony Richardson.

These houses were designed by George Basevi and built by in the 1840s as Brompton Crescent by developer James Bonnin, responsible for much of the development in the area (and other parts of London) from 1822 on. Bonnin leased the site in 1843 and some of the houses were occupied by 1845, with the work being completed by 1848. The site had previously been occupied by a mansion named Brompton Grange, which was demolished. The street was renamed Egerton Crescent in 1896 after the Honourable Francis Egerton, one of the trustees of the Smith’s Charity who owned the land.

Egerton Terrace,  Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-65-positive_2400
Egerton Terrace, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-65

This Grade II listed terrace was also built on land owned by the Smith’s Charity and Basevi may possibly have been involved in its design. This cul-de-sac at the east end of Egerton Gardens was also developed by Bonnin in the 1840s on the land he leased in 1843, and was originally called Michael’s Grove.

Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-4m-66-positive_2400
Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-66

Anglicans who followed the lead of John Henry Newman and became Catholics in the middle of the 19th century first established a London Oratory near Charing Cross, but soon purchased a site in Brompton in 1852. They first built an Oratory House and temporary church but in 1874 launched an appeal to build this Italianate Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, more commonly known as the Brompton Oratory. They held a competition for the design, which was won by Herbert Gribble in 1876 and the church was consecrated in 1884, although it was made taller and the cupola added in 1895. (Wikipedia). The church is Grade II* listed.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-11-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-11

This is one I took for the tree, and shows why I liked photographing on London streets in winter when you see the remarkable patterns made by the branches. Of course there is another huge advantage, as in summer you can’t see the houses for the trees in many streets which created an impenetrable green barrier.

Although I find Google’s Streetview extremely useful at times – and check any locations I’m unsure about using it, one extremely annoying feature is that it only seems to have views taken between April and October, many of which are obscured by leaves. That seems a poor decision. The earliest views were taken in 2008, and its often useful to be able to go back to that date; if it had been going in 1988 I might not have thought my long walks necessary, though you often find that it doesn’t allow quite the view you want.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-12a-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-12

Here’s another picture of Harcourt Terrace where you can see some of the houses.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-13-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-13

And walking a little further down the street shows a little more variety.

Land in this area south of Brompton Road was bought up by the builders and consolidated by around 1866 and became the Redcliffe estate. Building continued until around 1876 with over 800 houses and “72 mews premises” (British History Online) The builders, William Corbett and Alexander McClymont, were noted for their modern methods, including the use of steam powered joiner’s machinery and building fire-resistant roofs, but went bankrupt in 1878 with liabilities of around one-and-a-quarter million pounds. William Corbett in his earlier years described himself as an accountant, and the huge debt was possibly a result of the work being based on unconventional “modern” accounting methods. Fortunately most of the building was completed by then.

Redcliffe Mews, Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-14-positive_2400
Redcliffe Mews, Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-14

Redcliffe Mews is behind the houses on the west side of Harcourt Terrace and is one of the few mews in this area. The date of 1869 probably applies to the terraces on the main street as well as the mews behind them.

Click on any of the images to see a larger version in my album 1988 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.