Archive for February, 2022

Snow, Pensions & Jobs, Hunger Strikers – 2018

Monday, February 28th, 2022

Snow, Pensions & Jobs, Hunger Strikers – 2018. On Wednesday 28th February 2018 there was a blizzard in London. University and FE teachers marched through it to a rally about pay and pensions and people came to the Home Office to support hunger strikers in the immigration prison at Yarl’s Wood.

London Snow

The snow slacked off a little when I was on the bus but got worse as I walked to Malet St for the start of a march. Most of the pictures I tried to take were ruined by snow flakes landing on the front of the lens faster than I could wipe them off.

London Snow

HE and FE march for pensions and jobs

UCU members were on the the fifth day of their strike to get the universities to talk with them about pensions and pay, and marched from Malet St to Methodist Central Hall close to Parliament for a rally.

They were joined by staff from London FE colleges on the first day of a two-day strike over pay and conditions, and both groups were supported by large numbers of students. The snow made it difficult to take pictures, and at times it was hard to stop from slipping over on compacted snow. Fortunately it eased off a little after the march started, with just occasional showers as we walked through London.

HE and FE march for pensions and jobs

HE & FE rally for pensions and jobs

Sally Hunt of UCU speaks and Kevin Courtney NEU listens at right

Despite the terrible weather there were more marchers than expected and many were left outside the hall. I don’t usually bother to photograph at indoor rallies and haven’t really got the best equipment for it, but on this occasion I was glad to be able to get inside and warm up a little. My camera lenses were also getting a little steamed up and needed to dry out.

Frances O’Grady praises the way that Sally Hunt and the UCU are fighting to keep the pension scheme

I’ve written more about the reasons for the strikes and a little about the rally on My London Diary and won’t repeat that here. Click the link to find more.

HE & FE rally for pensions and jobs


Solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers

I stayed longer inside the rally than intended, partly because I was reluctant to leave t he warm hall, but as it came to an end I left to walk to the Home Office, where a protest was taking place in solidarity with the 120 women and men in immigration detention at Yarl’s Wood who were refusing to work and had gone on a hunger strike.

Their action in Yarl’s Wood had started a week earlier and was demanding the Home Office respect the European Convention of Human Rights, end the separation of families, end indefinite detention, with a 28 day maximum detention period, end charter flights which deport people without notice, and end to re-detention of those released from detention.

The also called for an amnesty for those who have been in the country for over 10 years, a stop to deportations before cases are decided and any appeals heard, the proper disclosure of all evidence to the immigration tribunals, adequate health care, an end to detaining of highly vulnerable people, an end to employment at £1 per hour and to be treated with the dignity and respect due to all human beings.

It was a fairly large protest, supported by many groups including Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Detained Voices, Black Women’s Rape Action Project, All African Women’s Group, The London Latinxs, Right to Remain, Docs Not Cops and End Deportations as well as Movement for Justice who have organised many protests outside Yarl’s Wood as well as those at other detention centres and led campaigns to close detention centres and support detainees.

Solidarity with Yarl’s Wood hunger strikers


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For Refugee Rights and Against Trident

Sunday, February 27th, 2022

For Refugee Rights and Against Trident. I covered two marches in London on 27th February 2016, the first calling for safe passage for refugees seeking protection in Europe and following this a much larger march against government plans to waste £180 billion or more on replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons.

European March for Refugee Rights

The European March for Refugee Rights was part of a day of protests in cities across Europe demanding action by governments to provide secure safe passage routes for all refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection in Europe. They want an end to deaths at borders and drownings and for refugees to be allowed to keep their possessions and be reunited with their families.

Among those taking part were people who had been to aid refugees in Lesvos and at the Calais camps and others who had volunteered with Medicins Sans Frontiers in Syria. The protest was supported by many groups including the Syria Solidarity Campaign, Solidarity with Refugees, London2Calais, Migrants’ Rights Network, SOAS Solidarity with Refugees & Displaced People Soc, Wonder Foundation, Calais Action, UK Action for Refugees, Refugee Aid Initiative, No Borders and the Greece Solidarity Campaign.

This was a short march taking place unusually inside Hyde Park, gathering at Hyde Park Corner and walking up to Speakers Corner where there was a rally. This made it possible for those taking part to join the Stop Trident Rally which was starting from Marble Arch, and going down Park Lane on its way to Trafalgar Square. Some of the marchers decided to form a block to march in front of the main Stop Trident banner and march on to Trafalgar Square.

Stop Trident march stewards tried briefly to stop them but then gave up and halted their march for around ten minutes to create a gap between the two groups.

European March for Refugee Rights


Stop Trident March

According to CND there were 60,000 people marching from Marble Arch to a mass rally in Trafalgar Square, and although their estimate may have been a little on the high side, this was definitely a very large protest, starting with a densely packed crowd on Park Lane. When the rally began in Trafalgar Square the tail of the march was still around half a mile away, and I think many gave up before reaching the rally as the streets leading to it became blocked.

Few people outside the military and arms manufacturers – probably the most powerful of all lobbies in the country can really believe the expenditure of £180 billion or more on replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons is either necessary or cost-effective. The huge majority of nations in the world have no nuclear capability, and by December 2021, 59 states had ratified or acceded to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force on 22 January 2021.

Lindsey German, Stop the War, Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, SNP First Minister, Scotland and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas hold the Stop Trident banner

A national survey by Survation at the start of 2021 for CND showed 59% of the public supported the UK government signing up to the TPNW, including 50% of Conservative voters and 68% of Labour voters. An even higher 77% supported a ‘total ban on all nuclear weapons globally’ with majority support from young and old, in all regions of the country, from Conservative as well as Labour voters, leavers and remainers. The government remains resolutely opposed to the treaty.

This widespread opposition to nuclear weapons isn’t largely a matter of their cost but on both moral and pragmatic grounds. As CND say, using nuclear weapons 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 and “it is clearer than ever that real security for Britain requires addressing the risks posed by the climate emergency and pandemics on a global scale.

Stop Trident March


Stop Trident Rally

Trafalgar square was unusually packed for the long rally that followed the march, with people listening and applauding a long list of speakers, including Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Leanne Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruce Kent, Christine Blower, Mark Serwotka and Tariq Ali, as well as many less well-known names. There were many marchers who found it impossible to get into the square.

Nicola Sturgeon First Minister Scotland

All the speakers opposed the spending of an estimated £180 billion or more on renewal of Trident which they dismissed as out of date, totally irrelevant to our defence and a complete waste of money which could be put to so much better use providing proper jobs and services.

It was a long wait, around two hours standing in the cold for the final speech by Jeremy Corbyn who had earlier in the day been speaking in Sheffield and whose train had been a little delayed. He was greeted by a tremendous response from the crowd, and gave a rousing speech to end the protest on a high note. Despite the dismissive remarks from many political commentators on the media, Corbyn is one of the most powerful political speakers of current years.

Stop Trident Rally


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Outsourcing, North Woolwich & Class War v. Rees-Mogg

Saturday, February 26th, 2022

Outsourcing, North Woolwich & Class War v. Rees-Mogg. Three years ago on Tuesday 26th February I spent the morning photographing several protests against outsourcing, had a rather late pub lunch, then went to North Woolwich for a short walk before rushing back to meet Class War who were protesting outside a Palladium show by Jacob Rees-Mogg.


Rally for an end to Outsourcing

A legal challenge was taking place at the High Court on this day to extend the employment rights of the 3.3 million workers whose jobs are outsourced from the companies where they work to contracting companies which then sell them back to their place of employment at cut rates.

Labour Shadow Business minister Laura Pidcock

The contractors do this by cutting wages, trimming things such as pensions, maternity pay and holiday pay to the bare legal minimum, increasing workload and reducing hours of work and often bullying managers. Outsourced workers generally have little job security and are often denied necessary safety equipment and not given proper safety training.

Workers, mainly migrants who work for the Ministry of Justice, Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of London were taking part in a one day strike in a coordinated action by the UVW and IWGB trade unions and the BEIS PCS branch to demand an end to outsourcing and the insecurity, discrimination and low pay it causes. They had started their march at 8.00am at the University of London and after a rally outside the High Court had marched to Parliament Square where I met them at 11am.

Rally for an end to Outsourcing


Outsourced Workers protest at BEIS

From Parliament Square the marchers went on to hold a further rally outside the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in Victoria St. Those striking at the BEIS included catering and security staff who are members of the PCS and are demanding the London Living Wage as well as end to outsourcing and the insecurity, discrimination and low pay it causes.

The PCS strikers led a lively rally with plenty of singing, dancing and shouting of slogans expressing their demands, which was followed by several speeches, including from Labour MP Chris Williamson, who brought messages of support from Labour shadow cabinet members and promises that a Labour government would end outsourcing.

Outsourced Workers protest at BEIS


Outsourced Workers at Justice ministry

The marchers continued the short walk to the Ministry of Justice in Petty France, where low paid workers belonging to the United Voices of the World union at the Ministry of Justice have been campaigning for some time to get the London Living wage, but the Justice Minister has refused to talk with them. Many wore t-shirts calling it the Ministry of Injustice.

During the rally outside the building some of the UVW workers who had already been on strike for 24 hours went back into the ministry to resume work, to cheers and hugs from those on the street outside. The rally ended with music and dancing on the pavement, and I left for a rather late pub lunch in Holborn.

Outsourced Workers at Justice ministry


North Woolwich

I’d been intending to walk a short section of the Capital Ring, mainly beside the River Thames, for some months as it had been quite a few years since I’d last been there and wanted to see how it had changed. I had an afternoon with nothing else I needed to photograph and although the sunny weather with clear blue skies was not ideal it seemed a good opportunity.

Panoramic photographs almost always have large expanses of sky, and on days like this it tends lack interest, as well as often giving unnatural looking variations in tone when getting closer to the sun. Getting to North Woolwich should have been simple and reasonably fast, but unfortunately there was trouble on the DLR and I had to make a less direct route, so had to rather rush on the walk and leave it half-finished. It was a few months later before I found time to go back and complete it.

North Woolwich


Class War protest Rees-Mogg freak show

I find it hard to understand why anyone should want to come and listen to Jacob Rees-Mogg, let alone pay £38 for a ticket to do so at the London Palladium.

So too did Class War, and with Jane Nicholl dressed as a nun, Mother Hysteria, and Adam Clifford as Jacob Rees Mogg they loudly asked why people had come to listen to him “spout homophobic, transphobic, racist, pro-hunting, misogynist, classist, privileged” nonsense.

Their show on the street outside was almost certainly a better show than anything that would take place later inside the venue, and all for free. Police spent a considerable amount of public money on harassing them, and provided their own rather hilarious input by searching Mother Hysteria and threatening to arrest her for carrying offensive weapons after some novelty stink bombs were found in her handbag. When I left the officer who had stopped and searched her had already spent 20 minutes trying to write her notice of stop and search, probably at a loss trying to find some way to put it that doesn’t make it sound incredibly stupid.

Class War protest Rees-Mogg freak show


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Guantanamo, Firefighters, Advocacy, RMT & Lambeth Cuts

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Guantanamo, Firefighters, Advocacy, RMT & Lambeth Cuts. Wednesday 25th February 2015 was a busy day for protests in London, and I photographed five events.


Free Shaker Aamer at Parliament

The Free Shaker Aamer campaign protested for 4 hours at Parliament calling for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he had been held for over 13 years and regularly tortured. Of course I didn’t stay with them that long – there aren’t really that many ways to photograph a fairly small group in orange jumpsuits – but it meant they were still there when I arrived over three hours after their protest began.

Usually their protests are at lunchtime, but because they had stayed longer I was able to photograph their weekly protest at around 3.30pm on my way to an event outside Downing St. They continued these protests while parliament was sitting until Shaker was released towards the end of 2015.


Striking Firefighters block traffic

Firefighters came out of their rally in Central Hall and blocked the road in front of Parliament. I don’t think the police tried to move their fellow public servants, who had a large black balloon with the message ‘FBU – WE RESCUE PEOPLE, NOT BANKS! STOP THE CUTS’ as well as several banners.

After around ten minutes they marched down to Downing St, blocking much of Whitehall. In front of the gates to Downing St there was a very noisy protest, and police did come and talk with In front of the gates to Downing St there was a very noisy protest, and police did come and talk with FBU leader Matt Wrack and promised to try to get someone to come out and talk with them.

They were still waiting when I left – and I think they would still be waiting now before anyone representing our Tory government came.


Welfare Advocacy not a Crime

A short walk away in Caxton Street people were protesting outside the Dept of Work & Pensions in a nationwide day of action over the arrest of welfare rights activist Tony Cox.

Although by law welfare claimants are allowed to have an adviser present with them at job centre interviews, when a claimant arrived together with Cox his interview was cancelled. And later that day police arrived at Cox’s home, arresting him and charging him with threatening behaviour.

When his case came to court in October the prosecution had to drop the main charges. A month after the first hearing Cox was found guilty of refusing to supply person details to the police and fined £200 and admonished on the charge of hindering the officers.


RMT protest Underground Job Cuts

Despite earlier promises, Transport for London were planning to go ahead with a 50% cut in station staffing, closing ticket offices such as the well-used one at the busy Edgware Road station on the Bakerloo Line.

Things threatened to get nasty with some angry exchanges when police tried to move RMT members handing out leaflets to the public, but the RMT members insisted on their right to do so on the pavement outside the station entrance.


Lambeth against £90m cuts

Another tube journey changing at Oxford Circus from the Bakerloo to the Victoria Line took me south of the river to Brixton where a short distance from the station a lively rally was taking place on the street corner outside Lambeth Town Hall.

Around a hundred trade unionists, pensioners, library and other council staff, social housing tenants and other residents were there to tell councillors arriving for a council meeting to reject library closures and other £90 millon cuts.

It was now around 6pm, and in late February the sun sets around 5.30, so it was getting rather dark. Although I had both flash and LED lighting, neither is much use for lighting larger groups of people, and even on the corner of two major roads the streetlighting a few yards back was pretty poor. Thankfully digital cameras are considerably better than film under such conditions and I was able to get good results at ISO 3200.


More on all these on My London Diary:

Lambeth against £90m cuts
RMT protest Underground Job Cuts
Welfare Advocacy not a Crime
Striking Firefighters block traffic
Free Shaker Aamer at Parliament


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Stop Trident, Troops out of Iraq – 2007

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

Stop Trident, Troops out of Iraq – 2007. On Saturday 24th February 15 years ago I spent a long afternoon photographing around 50,000 protesters marching through London calling for an end to Britain’s nuclear weapons and for our troops to be withdrawn from Iraq.

The march was organised by Stop The War, the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament and the British Muslim Initiative, and on My London Diary – back then still only in lower case – I made clear my support for the marchers:

i’ve for many years been opposed to the so-called independent british nuclear weapons. even at the height of the cold war they were never credible as an independent deterrent. if they have ever had any justification it was that they made the usa feel less guilty, although american guilt at its huge nuclear arsenal and at being the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons has always been an incredibly stunted growth.

i was also firmly against the invasion of iraq. it was always clear to those who didn’t want to be deluded that the so-called ‘intelligence’ on weapons of mass destruction was laughable. blair was either a liar or a fool as he misled a minority of the british people and a majority of their mps. or most probably both. (saddam may also have been deluded and certainly was an evil dictator, but we had long failed those who tried to oppose him.) the invasion was criminal, but the lack of planning for the occupation that inevitably followed even more so.

My London Diary – Feb 2007

My account also points out the ridiculously low estimate of the numbers taking part given by the police of 4,000 – though I think they were eventually forced to increase this somewhat – and gives my own method of assessing numbers on such large demonstrations as this. The marchers took 90 minutes to pass me as I photographed them in Park Lane. My usual rule of thumb was to double the police estimate, but on this occasion they surpassed themselves, being an order of magnitude out.

There certainly is always a policy by our establishment, backed up by the BBC and the press, except on rare occasions to minimise dissent, particularly left-wing dissent, in this country while often exaggerating any protests against left-wing governments abroad. It’s a bias which has been very obvious in the coverage of events in Latin-American countries such as Venezuela.

Tony Benn

The BBC and some of our newspapers have some excellent reporters and correspondents, and it is more in the selection of what they are asked to report on and the editing of their reports and the context in which they are placed that the bias occurs. Some things are just not ‘news’, while others, often trivial or flippant, get major attention.

Fortunately there are other sources with different biases, including the almost invisibly small left-wing press in the UK (the two daily papers – the Communist Morning Star and Workers Revolutionary Party’s The News Line together have a circulation probably well under 10,000), but more importantly large news organisations such as the Russian-funded RT International and the Qatari Al Jazeera English – the latter particularly interesting about current events in the Ukraine.

Every journalist has a point of view and while we may strive to be factual I don’t think there is such a thing as objectivity. Our reporting is always subjective, based on what we feel and what we think is of importance. Every photograph I take involves choice – and the rejection of other things I don’t photograph – even at times things I think would make eye-catching images but would misrepresent people or the event. Further choices come in the selection of which images to send to an agency, and also which I choose to put on My London Diary.

On this occasion I chose rather too many to put on-line, with 17 pages of pictures, though this reflects the typical internet speeds of 15 years ago, when pages with more than ten small images were too slow to load even though I compressed the images as lower quality jpegs than I would now. But the number of pictures also reflected my intention to tell the story of the event as fully as possible rather than creating a single image for the event that might appeal to a picture editor.

Julie Felix

Looking at the report now I feel there are rather too many images particularly of some of the well-known faces I photographed at the rally. Perhaps also I made too many of the marchers, some of which might be of far more interest to the people shown in them than the general public. But if people make an effort to make an interesting placard or banner I think it deserves a little recognition.

You can read more of my report of the event and see another 160 or so pictures on My London Diary, beginning on the February 2007 page, though you will need to scroll a long way down the page to reach this march and rally.


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Back to Poplar in 1988

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

My previous post, Around Devons Road, Bow 1988, ended outside Spratt’s Patent Limited on Morris Road on the south bank of the Limehouse Cut. My walk continued south down Chrisp St to the East India Dock Road, then turning east for around 350 yards and then back up the next main route north, St Leonards Road.

Plaque, George Lansbury, Poplar Councillors, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-66-positive_2400
Plaque, George Lansbury, Poplar Councillors, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-66-positive_2400

This ‘blue plaque’ is actually and appropriately a red one, placed here by Tower Hamlets Environment Trust with the text ‘Near this place on July 29th 1921 George Lansbury led the people and councillors of Poplar on their march to the high court for the equalisation of rates to poor boroughs.’

According to a long article in Wikipedia, as a youth Lansbury was a supporter of the Liberal Party and particularly Gladstone, but while campaigning for the party he became greatly influenced by leading socialists including William Morris, Eleanor Marx, John Burns and Henry Hyndman, and resigned in 1892, joining the Social Democratic Federation. He worked for a short period as the SDF paid national organiser, leaving that job to return to Bow to take over the running of the sawmill owned by his wife’s family.

Lansbury was first elected to Poplar Borough council in 1903 and in 1910 became MP for Bow and Bromley. He resigned in 1912 in order to fight a by-election in the constituency standing as the ‘Women’s Suffrage and Socialist’ candidate, and although neither Labour nor Liberal parties put up candidates to oppose him he lost to a Conservative candidate with the name of Blair. Reginald Blair had campaigned under the slogan “No Petticoat Government”.

Earlier in 1912 Lansbury had campaigned with others to found a daily socialist newspaper, the Daily Herald, and became editor in 1914. Under his editorship the paper opposed the 1914-18 Great War with Germany and supported the 2017 Russian Revolution.

Lansbury and 29 fellow Poplar councillors were jailed in 1921 for refusing to pay unfair sums from the rates to fund the London County Council, Metropolitan police and other London-wide bodies, instead using the money to support the local poor. Their imprisonment led to public outcry and they were released after six weeks, with a law hastily passed to make richer London boroughs pay their fair share. The campaign made Lansbury a popular hero, and the following year he was elected as local MP with a large majority, holding the seat until his death in 1940.

From 1932 to 1935 Lansbury was the Leader of the Labour Party, but was forced to resign because his Christian pacifist principles became increasingly unacceptable as war with Germany and Italy looked increasingly inevitable. Ernest Bevin put in the final knife, pointing out at conference that his beliefs contradicted the party policy to oppose fascist aggression. Lansbury resigned a few days later, his deputy Clement Atlee becoming leader.

The Falcon, pub, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-51-positive_2400
The Falcon, pub, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-51

The Falcon was at 202a East India Dock from 1869 until it closed in 1985. In my picture you can see some of the windows are boarded up inside and one in Bullivant Street is broken. The first building here was around 1819 and was owned by a Poplar wine merchant, so it may have been a pub earlier. The Truman, Hanbury & Buxton building in the picture dates from 1911 and was demolished shortly after I took this picture.

The A13 here has been widened and nothing on the south side of the road here remains. There are flats on the corner of Bullivant St, a few yards further south than the front of the former pub.

Chinese, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-52-positive_2400
Chinese, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-52

I think this heavily metal shuttered frontage was a Chinese restaurant on the north side of East India Dock Road, probably in the block opposite Bullivant St. Unfortunately I can’t read the two Chinese characters but was intrigued by them and the hanging curtain behind them in this small aperture at the bottom of the doorway.

Tunnel Furnishers Ltd, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-53-positive_2400
Tunnel Furnishers Ltd, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-53

Tunnel Furnishers, a furniture warehouse, was as few doors along East India Dock Road east from The Falcon pub on the corner of Bullivant St. A rather fine 1930s building, this was also lost in the widening of the road not long after I photographed it.

It looks rather like a cinema, but was built in 1938 for the Borough of Poplar as Electricity Showrooms and Offices, replacing an earlier showroom on the site. Closed in 1972, the upper floors continued to be used for training by the London Electricity Board until 1975, after which it was sold for commercial use. Like the rest of the block it was demolished in 1991.

Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-55-positive_2400
Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-55-positive_2400

My walk took me into what is now the St Frideswide’s Mission House Conservation Area, where a couple of days earlier I had photographed the Follett St Seamen’s Mission, and I took another, very similar picture of that building, before going further along the street and turning into Lodore St.

The view above is I think from Follett St, and shows the rear of one of the buildings of St Frideswide’s on Lodore St, but I think the archway, probably part of the chapel, has been demolished.

Christ Church, Oxford was originally the church of St. Frideswide’s priory, and St Frideswide’s Mission was set up by members of Christ Church College led by the father of Alice in Wonderland, Dean Liddell. A church was built here around 1892, with the Mission house opened in 1893, devoted to a girl’s and mother’s group.

St Frideswide's, Mission House, Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7t-41-positive_2400
St Frideswide’s, Mission House, Lodore St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-41

The building was paid for by Miss Catherine Phillimore (1847-1929) , who I think was then well-known as an author as well as a translator of Italian books on artists, a wealthy spinster living at Shiplake House in Henley-on-Thames. A number of her books have been reprinted in recent years and are still available.

St Agnes House, Follett Street Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-43-positive_2400
St Agnes House, 18, Follett Street Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7t-43

This was built to allow the work of the mission to expand in 1899, and also paid for by Catherine Phillimore. In 1900 it became the Hostel of the Poplar Association for Befriending Girls. The washing on the balcony shows it was still in use in 1988.

St Frideswide’s was the inspiration for the TV series ‘Call the Midwife’ and there is a good article on the Poplar London web site which praises the accuracy of the series and its depiction of the Religious Sisters of Saint John the Divine and their midwives, though complaining that it unfairly makes the residents of Poplar look dirty.


My walk will continue in a later post. You can see larger versions of the pictures by clicking on any of them, which will take you to the album where you can browse more.


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Anti-Putin protests over Ukraine and Syria 2014

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

Anti-Putin protests over Ukraine and Syria 2014. On 22 Feb 2014 the small regular protest opposite the Russian Embassy in Kensington was joined by several hundred Ukrainians supporting the Maidan coup in their country and calling for an end to Russian interference in the Ukraine.

Ukrainian Orthodox priests lead a service of mourning for those killed in the Maidan revolution

President Yanukovych was removed from his post by a vote in the Ukraine parliament on the 22 Feb, although he called the vote illegal as it did not follow the procedures of the Ukrainian Constitution. He fled as the new government raised criminal proceedings against him.

Syrians were also protesting against Putin opposite the Russian Embassy

There were Antimaidan protests in Ukraine, particularly in the southern and eastern areas, and there was considerable public support in the Crimea for the invasion by Russian troops which began on 26th February. There appears to have been considerable public support in the Crimea for the Russian action and a referendum, declared illegal by the EU and USA, on Crimea joining the Russian Federation had an official turnout of 83% and resulted in a 96% vote in favour.

Ukrainians march from a nearby cultural centre to the Russian embassy

On 22 Feb 2014, deputies at the Congress of the Southern and Eastern regions declared, accordint to Wikipedia, they were “ready to take responsibility for protecting constitutional order in their territory” and they rejected the authority of the Ukraine government. Demonstrations and clashes followed with opinion polls showing most people rejecting both the regional and national governments as illegitimate but fairly equally divided as to which they supported and separatist militia took control of large areas.

The Minsk summit in February 2015 brought a ceasefire between the Ukraine government and the militias but has failed to unite the country. When I drafted this post a few days ago Russian forces were massed on the borders of Ukraine and it seemed inevitable some would soon cross the border to come to the aid of their comrades in the breakaway areas as they now appear to be doing.

Fortunately I don’t suffer the same hawkish advisers as NATO – or at least like to add a pinch of salt as they more or less monopolise the BBC airwaves. This isn’t a second Cuba missile crisis (and I remember that vividly) but may possibly bring some resolution to an unsatisfactory situation in the area which the West has failed to properly grapple with since Minsk. At least I hope so. Nobody – not even the Russians – wants another war, and it would be disasatrous for the Ukraine.

Russia has interpreted (probably correctly) the large flow of arms and training by the west into the country as a build up for a Ukrainian government attack to retake Eastern Ukraine – where apparently over 600,000 people are of Russian heritage and still have Russian passports. It still it seems most likely to me that the Russian action will be confined to establishing clear borders for the breakway republics rather than a full-scale invasion of the country, and the end result will be a smaller but more united Ukraine in the remaining areas.

If Russia remains inside the new republics it has recognised, the Ukraine that remains, like the protesters in 2014, will be a strongly Orthodox country. After the protest opposite the Russian embassy they left and marched to the statue of St Volodymyr, ruler of Ukraine 980-1015, erected by Ukrainians on the corner of Holland Park in 1988 to celebrate the establishment of Christianity in Ukraine by St Volodymyr in 988.

The statue was surrounded by flowers, photographs and tributes with hundreds of burning candles to the many pro-opposition protesters who have been killed in Kiev and elsewhere in the Ukraine. Two Ukrainian Orthodox priests presided at a service to remember all those who have died to establish a free and independent Ukraine.

More about the 2014 protests in London on My London Diary:
Ukrainians Protest, Celebrate and Mourn
Syrian Peace Protest at Russian Embassy


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Focus E15 Mums at City Hall 2014

Monday, February 21st, 2022

Focus E15 Mums at City Hall 2014. Focus E15 mothers and children, threatened with eviction from the Mother and Baby Unit at the Focus E15 hostel in Stratford came on a decorated bus to City Hall, holding a party outside and trying to hand in a petition and card to then city Mayor Boris Johnson.

I’d met the Focus E15 Mums the previous month when they partied inside the Stratford offices of East Thames Housing Association who run the hostel, but the eviction notices had come in October 2013 because Newham Council had decided to cut the funding for the hostel.

Newham was then at the centre of a post-Olympic housing boom, with both private developers and East Thames building large blocks of flats around the area. But the great majority of these are for sale or rent at market prices, and many were being bought not to live in but by overseas investors keen to cash in on the steeply rising prices of housing in London. Even housing associations build mainly for those on good salaries who can afford shared ownership schemes, with minimal homes at council-level rents.

Newham Council Mayor Robin Wales told the mothers there were no properties available in the area at council rents. He made it clear than if you are poor, Newham doesn’t want you, and they were offered rented accommodation far outside of London, in Birmingham, Manchester, Hastings and even Wales – “expensive, sometimes poor quality, insecure one year private rents” – with the threat that anyone who turned down the offers would be regarded as having made themselves intentionally homeless and get no help from the council.

The mothers in the hostel decided to stand together and fight the council, demanding they be placed within suitable socially rented accommodation in Newham. Among other areas they point out that there is good quality council-owned housing on the Carpenters Estate, a short walk from their hostel, which Newham council have left empty, in some cases for ten years, as they try to sell off the area for development – despite having the highest waiting list for social housing in London.

As I wrote in 2014, London Mayor Boris Johnson Boris Johnson “has made it clear that he is opposed to the gentrification of London, stating: ‘The last thing we want to have in our city is a situation such as Paris where the less well-off are pushed out to the suburbs’ and promising ‘I’ll emphatically resist any attempt to recreate a London where the rich and poor cannot live together…’ But these turned out to be typically Johnsonian empty words and during his time as London Mayor he did nothing to help those in housing need and stop those cleared from council estates having to move miles further out.

The card Boris Johnson wouldn’t accept

On the day of the protest the mothers tried to deliver a card to him, but his office simply refused to take it. The assistant director of the affordable homes programme in London, Jamie Ratcliff did come down to meet them and took their petition, but had little to say to them, giving them his card and telling them to email him.

Mothers go in to deliver the card but no-one would accept it

More on the event on My London Diary at Focus E15 Mums at City Hall.

The Focus E15 Campaign eventually got all or most of the mothers and children rehoused locally, and they continue to compaign in Newham for Fair Housing For All, holding a street stall despite harassment from council and police every Saturday on Stratford Broadway, helping homeless families get proper treatment from the council, protesting for those in terrible conditions in temporary accomodation and stopping evictions, and taking part in protests and campaigns for social housing in London and elsewhere.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Pancakes, a Farm and More From London

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

Pancakes, a Farm and More From London 2007. Fifteen years ago on Tuesday 20th February 2007 I had a long but enjoyable day.


Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Race

It was Shrove Tuesday, and my working day began in Guildhall Yard at the centre of the City of London, where some of its older institutions were enjoying letting their hair down a little in the Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Race.

I wrote then: ” it was first run in 2005, but as befits the city it has a serious set of classes and rules, music from the Worshipful Company Of Musicians (1500), time-keeping by the Worshipful Company Of Clockmakers (1631) and a starting cannon for each of the many races provided and fired by the Worshipful Company Of Gunmakers (1637.)

The guilds are now largely charitable organisations and the event each year supports the current Lord Mayor’s charity, which in 2005 was Voluntary Service Overseas, VSO. But although it is just a bit of fun, it also strongly showed the competitive nature of the the City.


Great Spitalfields Pancake Race

There was a very different feel to the Great Spitalfields Pancake Race at Trumans Brewery in Spitalfields, organised by Alternative Arts where teams from local businesses were competing in fancy dress on Dray Walk. Rules there were minimal and the emphasis was on fun.

I arrived rather out of breath and very late, having run most of the way from the Guildhall, and was only just in time to see the final race and the prize-giving.


Spitalfields Urban Farm

I had nothing particular to photograph for the rest of the day and decided to accompany a friend who was looking after a couple of his neighbours children and take a look at the Spitalfields Urban Farm. A late friend of mine had helped to set up and running an urban farm in Vauxhall in 1977 a year earlier than the Spitalfields farm, but part of the same movement in those years.

The farm was set on land which had previously been a part of a goods yard for the railway coming from East Anglia into Liverpool St. I imagine the only animals then would have been coming to slaughter in London markets, but now they had a happier future, providing environmental education and a great deal of enjoyment to people of all ages in the local community.


Art, Architecture and a Hoody

I said good goodbye to my friend and the children he was with at the farm and went for a short walk around Spitalfields on my way to catch a bus on Norton Folgate, one of those great historical names that we still have in London.

Norton Folgate, on the north edge of the City of London used to be an “extra-parochial liberty”. According to Wikipedia there are several theories about the name. Norton probably came from Old English words north and tun, the latter meaning farmstead. But Folgate is more of a mystery; possibly it came from the name of a Lord of the Manor or alternatively from the Saxon ‘foldweg’ meaning highway, but I think its derivation is probably a mystery lost in time.

Before the Reformation the area was occupied by the Priory and Hospital of St Mary Spital, and when the priory closed down it became Crown property, and was not included in the neighbouring parishes. Being a liberty meant the King surprisingly didn’t claim an income from it. In 1900 it became a civil parish and in 1921 it was divided in two the west part going to the borough of Shoreditch and the east to the borough of Stepney. Both these were abolished in 1965 with the formation of the London Boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Finally in the 1990s parts of the area were transferred to the City of London, though my walk was streets of Tower Hamlets.


Another London

I was on my way to New Malden where I was meeting Paul Baldesare and a few other photographers in an Italian cafe before going on to give them a guided tour of our show (with Mike Seaborne), Another London, then taking place in Kingston Museum.

The website I think shows all of the photographs in the show by all three of us. My own contribution was on photographs of public events in London, concentrating on those “related to particular ethnic communities in the capital, while others are from very local events such as street parties and festivals.” It includes quite a few made with the show in mind in the London Borough of Kingston.


My photographs from 20th February 2007 are linked from the February 2007 page of My London Diary, but you will need to scroll down to find both the texts and links to the images, a problem with the site design which I improved the following year.


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Hull City of Culture 2017

Saturday, February 19th, 2022

Hull City of Culture 2017. I spent a few days in Hull in February 2017, while the city was celebrating its year as UK City of Culture.

Hull was important to me in my early years as a photographer, and was also where my wife grew up, and we made our trip partly to celebrate her birthday in the city, as well as for a little promotion of my photographs from the 1970s and 80s and also to work on a new photographic project.

I had my first – and still my largest – one person show in Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery in 1983, and much later self-published a book, Still Occupied: A View of Hull 1977-85. It’s still available, but at a silly price – and for some reason the hardcover imagewrap version is now cheaper than the paperback version. I’d always suggest getting the PDF version at £4.50, as the images are at just a tad better quality than in print and good enough to make a print should you wish (and I’ll pardon any small breaches of copyright.) The book has around 270 black and white photographs, some reproduced rather small, on its 120 pages. First published in 2011 it was republished with minor corrections to captions for the 2017 Hull UK City of Culture.

Two rather more reasonably priced 36 page black and white booklets were later published by Cafe Royal Books, one on the River Hull, and the second, The Streets of Hull. I promised another on the docks but have not yet got around to it.

Hull from The Deep

I also set up a new web site on Hull for its year as City of Culture, finding much to my surprise that the domain hullphotos.co.uk was still available. I began this with a couple of hundred pictures at the end of 2016 and then added one every day through the whole of 2017. There are now over 600 black and white images on the site. A search of my images on Flickr reveals rather more than twice as many, including a large number in colour.

The Blade in front of City Hall

I had some disappointments during the 5 days I was in Hull in February 2017, and I found many other photographers and others in Hull who were also upset at the lack of opportunities the year had provided for local artists, instead concentrating on buying in talent from elsewhere. There is no shortage of talent in Hull and it would have been good for more of it to be showcased during the year. Plans for a small exhibition of my own work unfortunately fell through.

Self-portrait by gas light in Nellie’s in Beverley

But it was a good 5 days, with plenty to do and to seem and I was pleased with some of the panoramas I was able to make, though I’ve not yet got around to creating a show of these together with my old black and whites from the same locations. We also enjoyed a family celebration of Linda’s birthday,

Scale Lane footbridge

The pictures in this post were all taken on Sunday 19th February 2017, where I got up fairly early for a long walk in the area close to the River Hull before meeting family for lunch, then took a bus to Beverley, where we walked around the town before having a drink in Nellie’s, one of the country’s more remarkable pubs and then catching the bus back to Hull, and then walking back through an empty city to the house we were staying in on the Victoria Dock estate.

Here’s the full list of links to our five days in Hull:
Hull 2017 City of Culture
    Sculcoates & River Hull
    City Centre & Beverley Rd
    Ropery St & St Mark’s Square
    St Andrew’s Dock
    Hessle Rd
    Gipsyville
    Beverley and Nellie’s
    Around the Town
    The Deep
    More Hull Panoramic
    Wincolmlee and Lime St
    Evening in the City
    Old Town
    A ride on Scale Lane Bridge
    Around the City Centre
    Hullywood Opening
    East Hull & Garden Village
    Albert Dock
    Old Town & City Centre
    River Hull
    Night in the Old Town
    Victoria Dock Promenade


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.