Archive for March, 2022

Palestine Land Day, Bunny Hop, and Afrin

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

Palestine Land Day, Bunny Hop, and Afrin. Saturday 31st March 2018 was Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Day which most people now call Easter Saturday, though more correctly this comes a week later. But only one of the four events I photographed that day was connected to Easter.

Palestine Land Day, Bunny Hop, and Afrin

Land Day protest against supporters of Israeli state – Oxford St

Palestine Land Day, Bunny Hop, and Afrin

Palestine Land Day, observed annually by Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians across the world, remembers the day in 1976, March 30th when a general strike and protests were called in Arab towns in Israel against plans by Israel to expropriate around 8 square miles of land in Galilee for Jewish settlements, about 2.5 square miles of which was Arab owned. The Israeli government tried to suppress the protests using police and the army as well as threatening strikers with dismissal. Six unarmed Palestinians were shot and killed and there were many injuries.

The annual Land Day celebrations since then in Israel have often been marked by violent attacks on protesters, with injuries and deaths. On 30th March 2018 Israel Defence Force snipers were placed in position on the separation wall in Gaza and opened fire on unarmed protesters several hundred yards away using live ammunition. 17 Civilians were killed and over 750 seriously injured by live fire, others injured by rubber bullets and tear gas.

This protest was led by a group which have been protesting regularly outside the Oxford Street main store of Marks & Spencers for many years against their support for Israel. They had planned a large rolling protest for the day following Land Day, going along Oxford Street stopping for short speeches outside stores with business links with Apartheid Israel, calling for shoppers to boycott them for selling Israeli goods. While I was with them as well as Marks & Spencers they also protested outside Selfridges, which sells Israeli wines, Adidas which supports the Israel football team, Boots which sells cosmetics made in Israel and Carphone Warehouse.

Land Day protest against Israeli state

BMXLife Charity Bunny Hop – Oxford St

BMX Life is a group of BMX bike riders started after young Tommy Wright suffered a near fatal heart attack, and his family wanted to give something back after the support they had received at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. They have since raised over £60,000 for the register charity Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation ECHO.

The riders dressed as Easter Bunnies for what was their 4th Bunny Hop ride-out in London. Previously I’d met them riding at Christmas dressed as Santas and reindeer.

BMXLife Charity Bunny Hop

Defend Afrin – Bring Anna Home – Oxford St

Kurds and supporters marched from close to Marble Arch to a rally in Parliament Square demanding an end to the invasion of Afrin in north-west Syria by Turkish forces and al Qaeda-affiliated militias in clear violation of international law, and its air strikes have deliberately targeted civilian areas.

The Turkish aim is to destroy a peaceful state and eliminate its majority Kurdish population, with President Erdogan announcing Turkey’s intention to invade all the Kurdish areas of Syria and “cleanse” the area of its Kurdish people.

Turkey is a member of NATO, with the organisation’s second largest army, supplied with weapons mainly from European countries including the UK who had recently signed a major arms deal. The British government has disgracefully expressed support for Turkey’s attacks, claiming it has a right to defend its borders, despite the fighting being outside them and the announced intention to push on to even more distant areas in Syria. The Kurdish peoples protection units YPG and YPJ fighting the attacks are only lightly armed but were putting up a determined resistance, but without further support were unable to defeat Turkey.

The protest called for an end to the invasion of Syria with an immediate ceasefire to enable the body of YPJ volunteer Anna Campbell to be returned to her family in Sussex, an end to all arms sales, to Turkey and other anti-human regimes in the Middle East, for humanitarian relief for Afrin and other areas of Syria and for an investigation into human rights abuses and war crimes in Afrin.

Eventually, after Afrin was captured, pressure from the US and the Council of the European Union condemning Turkey’s military action brought Turkish advances to an end, until President Trump withdrew US forces from the area, betraying the Kurds who had defeated ISIS with US air support. Further Turkish attacks then took place but were internationally condemned.

Defend Afrin – Bring Anna Home

Against Israeli Land Day massacre – Israeli Embassy, Kensington

News of the cold-blooded massacre of Palestinian Land Day protesters with videos that shocked the world on March 30th led to an emergency protest being called close to the Israeli embassy on Kensington High Street (the embassy is a few yards away on the private Kensington Palace Gardens where no protests are allowed.)

I wrote “It is hard to see how anyone with the slightest streak of humanity or decency can fail to condemn the cold-blooded shooting of unarmed civilians carrying out a peaceful protest, but the coverage of the event in the UK media has been surprisingly muted, with the BBC giving considerable air-time to Israeli state speakers who have shamefully claimed the massacre was reasonable and fully justified.”

The UN called for an independent investigation, which Israel refused. But it was perhaps not coincidental that this is the only protest I can recall at the embassy where there has not been a usually small group of counter-protesters waving Israeli flags in support of the regime and its actions. But more likely it was because it was Passover.

Against Israeli Land Day massacre

CND Protest US Star Wars Programme

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

CND Protest US Star Wars Programme – 20th March 2002, twenty years ago today.

CND Protest US Star Wars Programme

The US under President Bush was in 2002 intent on achieving what it termed ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ and not content with ruling the planet on earth were developing a system to ensure their dominance in space. At the heart of this was their ‘Star Wars’ programme, using lasers to form a protective shield and destroy any incoming missiles before they reached US soil, enabling the US to launch a nuclear attack with impunity, knowing they could survive a retaliatory attack.

CND Protest US Star Wars Programme

It was a weapons system that would have destroyed the idea of nuclear deterrence, the mutual assured destruction (MAD) doctrine of military strategy which had supposedly prevented nuclear war since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and put the US in a position to threaten Russia with nuclear attack. The Cold War may have ended with the breakup of the USSR, but it was still the basis for US military strategy – with consequences were are now seeing in Ukraine.

But like most military spending and wars, it was a policy with great prospects for the arms industry, and in particular Lockheed Martin, the US’s large weapons manufacturer, with deep roots in the US administration – including at the time the wife of the US vice-President Dick Cheney, whose wife Lynn just happened to be on their board.

The UN had early seen the dangers of war in space with the 1976 Outer Space Treaty which made it an area solely for peaceful uses. And in November 2001 they passed a new UN resolution ‘Prevention Of An Arms Race In Outer Space’ with only the US, Israel and Micronesia abstaining.

The US began its weaponisation of space by setting up the US Air Force Space Command in 1982. The UK lends a helping hand with allowing both Menwith Hill and Fylingdales to be used as a part of the Star Wars programme. I’ve not been to the various protests at these bases but I did photograph the march from Hyde Park to a rally in Trafalgar Square organised by CND against Star Wars on 30th March 2002, twenty years ago today.

CND were joined by Stop The War protesting against the planned invasion of Iraq, as well as by pro-Palestine protesters following the publication of the Arab peace initiative which had been published two days earlier, but overshadowed by a Palestinian attack on a hotel during a Passover seder the previous day in which 30 Israeli citizens were killed. The initiative was in any case rejected as a “non-starter” by Israel.

Demonstrations back in 2002 still took place largely in black and white – and I was unable at the time to digitise any of the colour film I took. One day I hope to get around to it. Police acted as usual during the march, threatening at times to beat the marchers badly if they got out of hand, and large numbers protected the US embassy in Grosvenor Square to prevent any action there. They issued the usual estimate of numbers present, apparently unable to see half of the crowd.

I only put around a dozen images online – so most of them are here. The link to them is at the bottom of this page, from which you can also view the other events I photographed in March 2002.

Tottenham, Kilburn and Ponders End

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

Tottenham, Kilburn and Ponders End – I travelled to Tottenham and Kilburn to photograph protests but fortunately the people from Ponders End had come to protest at Westminster. All three protests I photographed on Saturday 29th March 2014 were about the inhumane policies of the Tory Government.

Mothers march for justice – Tottenham

Rev Paul Nicolson
Rev Paul Nicolson

Rev Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty, an indefatigable lifelong campaigner on behalf of the poor died in 2020, aged 87. His first job after National Service in the Army had been with the family firm selling champagne around London, but after a dozen years until he discovered a vocation to become a worker-priest and was ordained as a deacon in 1967 and then a priest in 1968. Around 1981 he became a parish priest in Turville, the location chosen for The Vicar of Dibley, making his priority the support of the poor in a area of extremes of wealth.

He resurrected the practice, now common of being a McKenzie Friend, which allowed him to stand with and represent those brought to court over debts, particularly those unable to pay the Poll Tax. His revelations on the activities of bailiffs enforcing debts lead to a Code of Practice which, at least when enforced, gives some protection to the vulnerable, and it was his initiative in commissioning the Family Budget Unit to investigate the actual costs of living that led the the UK and London Living Wage being established.

Tottenham, Kilburn and Ponders End
Spiderman led the march

His work in later years was largely about housing and homelessness, and I met and photographed him on many protests. He set up the charity Zacchaeus 2000 (Z2K) but then resigned as its chair so he could campaign politically through Taxpayers Against Poverty.

Tottenham, Kilburn and Ponders End
Carole Duggan, the aunt of Mark Duggan, murdered by police in front of a banner with his picture

The march in Tottenham on 29th March 2014 organised by the Rev Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty demanded living incomes and decent truly affordable homes and rejected the unfair Tory bedroom tax, the housing benefit cap, unfair taxes, which were the cause of hunger and cold homes. He spoke before the march and walked on it with a placard hanging from a string around his neck: ‘We march for Freedom from Hunger, Cold, Outrageous Rents – Fight for a Living Wage’.

Tottenham, Kilburn and Ponders End

The march was smaller than hoped, several hundred rather than the hoped for ‘1000 Mothers March for Justice’, though more were expected to turn up at Tottenham Green East for the rally at its end, unfortunately after I had left. Those on the march included representatives from many local groups as well as others around London, and they carried an impressive number of banners.

Mothers march for justice

Kilburn Uniform Day – Kilburn Square

A few miles to the west, the Counihan Battlebus Housing For All campaign, along with the TUSC Against Cuts and Unite Community was holding a two hour protest in Kilburn Square on the main Kilburn High Road over child hunger and housing problems, calling for rents to be capped and for everyone to have a home.

In 2010 food banks were rare things in the UK, used over the year by around 60,000 people. After ten years of Tory policies this had increased to around 2.5 million, around 40 times as many. Much of that increase is a direct result of government policies, including its inhuman sanctions policy against benefit claimants, as well as of poverty wages and unfair employment practices such as zero hours contracts.

Moving people onto Universal Credit resulted in many being without resources for five weeks, sometimes considerably longer. As I wrote “Our government appear to be completely out of touch with how many people in the country live. They simply cannot comprehend what it means to be without money, or without friends or family you can rely on for a few thousand when you have a problem. Many people on low income simply don’t have any such resources – all they have is debts and bills to pay.”

Things have got worse since 2014, and soaring energy prices along with the additional National Insurance payments coming in next month will again put more families into desperate levels of poverty – and increase those evicted as they cannot pay the rent. It isn’t that the country doesn’t have the money – we are still one of the richest countries in the world – but that increasingly the already wealthy are getting richer while the poor sink into more desperate poverty.

And it’s successive governments – including New Labour – that are to blame, with a failure to build sensible amounts of social housing, the encouragement of high cost private housing and buy to rent. The wealthy have got tax breaks while many working full-time have been finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. And tax avoidance has reached huge levels thanks to a failure to plug silly loopholes and face up to the problems caused by off-shoring. We should have a zero-avoidance policy not one that encourages it.

Kilburn Uniform Day

Fellow Students Fight for Yashika – Parliament Square

The final event I photographed was a lively protest by fellow students and supporters at Parliament urged then Home Secretary Theresa May to abandon the planned deportation of 19 year old model A-level student Yashika Bageerathi to Mauritius due to take place on Mothers Day.

She came here with her family who claimed asylum after physical abuse from a relative in Mauritius in 2012, but the claim was rejected and the whole family are under threat of eviction – and as she is now 19 they decided to deport her alone weeks before she was due to take her A levels in Ponders End.

We continue to see “a ‘tougher than you’ shift to the right over immigration played out by both government and opposition over the past years, each trying to outdo each other … So we get foolish and desperate measures like the immigration vans, and raids at tube stations and other public places by the Border Force based unlawfully on racial profiling.”

Migrants, including many who are here without legal right to remain, play an important part in keeping London running despite government attempts to identify and remove them. Estimates in 2014 were that there were around half a million in the city and without them, “London would grind to a halt. They do mainly the low paid dirty jobs no one else would want for pay that isn’t enough to live properly on in London – often at below the minimum wage because of their immigration status.”

The protests and a petition with over 170,000 signatures failed to have any effect on the heartless Home Office and Yashika was deported. But good news came later. Perhaps because of the huge publicity around her case she was welcomed and supported back in Mauritius and was able to take her exams there. Despite her studies having been interrupted by spells in Yarl’s Wood immigration prison she was able to gain her A levels and go on to university – and keep out of the media limelight.

Fellow Students Fight for Yashika

Class War, Murdoch and Cross Bones

Monday, March 28th, 2022

Class War, Murdoch and Cross Bones – three rather different events around London on Saturday 28th March.

Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon – Purley, London

Class War, Murdoch and Cross Bones
Jon Bigger

Class War had decided to stand candidates in the 2015 General Election, and among those who volunteered to stand was Jon Bigger, now Dr John Bigger and the publisher of The Journal of Anarchy “a repository of work from published articles to blog posts, videos and podcasts.”

Class War, Murdoch and Cross Bones

Croydon South was probably not the most fertile ground for anarchism which was perhaps largely why it was chosen as one of the handful of seats for the party to fight. On the southern fringe of London it remains spiritually in deepest true-blue Surrey, one of the Conservatives’ safest seats in London. Though there was also a particular distaste for the Tory candidate Chris Philp who had called for benefit claimants to be forced to undertake unpaid community work, as well as calling for Purley to get a grammar school.

It wasn’t a very successful visit as although we went to what was considered to be the centre of Purley there were very few people about, and Bigger’s campaign speech was delivered to the small group of Class War supporters and one rather confused elderly gentleman at the Conservative Party Office. We found only a few more outside a nearby supermarket, where most customers seemed to be in two much of a hurry to get back into large cars to hear anything political.

As I wrote:

“Probably all of Purley was by this time slaughtered at home in front of the TV as the sun was definitely over the yard arm. Wherever they were it wasn’t where we were on Brighton Road, except for a few desperate souls at the bus stops on each side of the road trying to escape. But Class War made the best of it, handing out their election flyer to the police posse still devotedly following their progress (though mainly sitting in their van enjoying the overtime), the occasional local youth and elderly demented.” Perhaps some of them were among the 65 who voted for Jonathan Bigger, but somehow 31,448 came out of the woods to vote for the Tory.

Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon

Murdoch on Trial – Guilty as charged – News International, London Bridge

I arrived rather late back from Purley for the People’s Trial of Rupert Murdoch being conducted by activists on the sixth day of Occupy Rupert Murdoch week outside the News International building at London Bridge, just in time to hear the last witnesses before the jury gave its guilty verdict and Judge Donnachadh McCarthy pronounced the sentence.

But though the sentence was to remove his power base and treat him with love there seemed little chance of it being carried out for real, and his organisation continues to spread its disinformation and messages of hate.

Max Keiser then spoke about the economic fraud and the basis of our economic system, with London at its centre, the world’s largest tax haven. The system, which allows the rich to borrow on the basis that they have borrowed before is rather like the Emperor’s New Clothes, and it began to fail in 2008. Whether the StartCOIN scratch cards he handed out with free money on them (“The currency of the revolution”) will prove more stable I can’t say as I lost mine.

I was told that more would happen later, but I was getting tired and decided to leave, missing the rush to occupy News International at around 7pm. As I wrote, “The rush past security proved successful and the occupiers managed to stay in the building for around 20 hours, although there was surprisingly little coverage in even the non-Murdoch news media. Those 5 billionaires obviously stick together and the BBC always seeks to marginalise any UK protest. Probably there was some important news about a minor celebrity hiccoughing.”

Murdoch on Trial – Guilty as charged

Cross Bones Open Day – Cross Bones Graveyard, Redcross Way

Two well-dressed men with Southwark poet and playwright John Constable in the Crossbones Graveyard

I’d seen one of the men on the left of the picture earlier opposite News International and talked briefly with him and he had told me he was waiting for a friend to go to the Open Day at the Cross Bones Graveyard and I decide to call in their on my way home. Here’s what I wrote in 2015, along with some pictures.

I’d been to the graveyard before, the first time years ago when I’d wandered in and the whole site was in a complete mess, with loads of rubbish and rubble. I’d read about its use for hundreds of years as a place where outcasts, particularly the ‘Winchester Geese’, prostitutes who were licenced to carry out their trade on the south bank on the Thames, in Bankside surrounding Winchester Palace, formalised by the Lord Bishop of Winchester in 1142, and providing a considerable income for the clergy through taxes and fines for several hundreds of years thereafter.

These ‘single women’ and their children, along with paupers and miscreants were buried in this patch of ground until some time before it was formally closed in 1853 as too overcrowded to continue. Plans to build over it were stopped in the 1880s by the e Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884, and it remained largely unused and forgotten until disturbed by the Jubilee Line extension in 1990, when the Museum of London made some excavations. Their survey of the site suggested that up to 15,000 had been buried there, half of them children.

I’d walked past it earlier and assumed like some other areas of waste ground that it was a bombsite, but then became aware that ribbons and other tokens were being tied to the railings. Later I read about the site in various places.

Apart from the mysterious phantom gardener, the other figure responsible for increasing interest in Crossbones was local writer John Constable who revived the story of Cross Bones through his cycle of poems and mystery plays, ‘The Southwark Mysteries’. Various events began to be organised around Crossbones, and although I never got to them, the ribbons on the fences multiplied.

My London Diary

I was pleased to be able to give the appeal for the creation of a new public garden by the Bankside Open Spaces Trust a little publicity.

Cross Bones Open Day

Walking Around Kingsland Road

Sunday, March 27th, 2022

Walking Around Kingsland Road. This is the final part of my walk on 3rd Augest 1988. The previous post on this is More From the Balls Pond Road.

Tottenham Rd area , Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-64-Edit_2400
Tottenham Rd area , Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-64

My walk continued south of the Balls Pond Road. I think this workshop was in Bentley Road, a short street which connects both the Balls Pond Road and Kingsland Road to Tottenham Road in an area which was then dominated by light industry, most of which has now disappeared. This building had the large notice above its doorway with the message ‘WANTED – EXPERIENCED SKIRTS’ which rather amused me.

Public Washing Baths, Englefield Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-53-Edit_2400
Public Washing Baths, Englefield Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-53

The Public Washing Baths on Englefield Road were opened in 1932, long after the first public baths in London which opened in 1847. It remained in its original use until the 1960s, a vital facility as many individuals and families lived in rooms and houses without access to more than a washbasin or kitchen sink and without running hot water, and would come to take a bath (slipper bath) here, particularly on a Saturday or Sunday when they were off work. The baths were cheap and popular, with over 60,000 baths being taken there a year.

When I photographed them the sing outside read ‘ENGLEFIELD LAUNDRETTE’ and gave its opening hours but I think it was no longer in use. Shortly after this it became a centre for the Vietnamese Boat People in the borough, run by the An Viet Foundation until 2017 and in 2019 received a grant from the London Mayor to fund a new kitchen for its continuing use as a Chinese and Filipino community centre. I’m unsure of its current status.

Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-55-Edit_2400
Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-55

Kingsland Road was obviously a very piecemeal development with each plot here having a different buidling height, though they were all built to the same front line.

Metropolitan Hospital, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-56-Edit_2400
Metropolitan Hospital, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-56

The Metropolitan Hospital was built here in 1886, but had been founded by Joseph Fry, the son of the more famous Elizabeth, in Stepney 50 years earlier. It moved to several sites and was planning for a new building in Bsihopsgate Street when the site was needed for an extension to Liverpool St Station and the Station Hotel, and this site further north outside the City was found.

The hospital treated outpatients and had beds for 160. It had been set up as a free hospital but failed to attract sufficient funds and and removed the ‘free’ from its name. But the income from subscribers was still not enough to keep all of its beds in use. In 1948 it became a part of the NHS and was finally closed in 1977. Since I made this picture it has been refurbished for residential use and has lost the ‘HOSPITAL’ from its frontage and is now Metropolitan House.

London Dog Centre, Kingsland Rd, Middleton Rd, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-41-Edit_2400
London Dog Centre, Kingsland Rd, Middleton Rd, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-41

To the left of the London Dog Centre is a narrow and winding street, Glebe Road, which runs along to beside the railway line and then straight beside it to industrial and commercial premises built back to back with those on Kingsland Road, going all the way north to Richmond Road. One of these units presumably sold carpets.

The London Dog Centre claims to have good quality puppies usually avaialable and also carries a large sign for the next shop along, Waynes Removals who offered free estimates for D. H. S. S. & Cash, as well as selling cookers. It looks as if Wayne (or Mr Waynes?) has left a few random pieces of furniture on the pavement including some some of shelf unit in front of the LDC.

Kingsland Waste, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-44-Edit_2400
Kingsland Waste, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-44

Finally at the end of my walk I went up and down the Kingsland Waste, in front of the shops

Kingsland Waste, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-31-Edit_2400
Kingsland Waste, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-31

The Waste began in the middle of the nineteenth century when the land owner allowed people to trade alongside the road without charge and developed into a long and packed area of stalls selling secondhand goods, often of dubious utility, all the way from Middleton Road up to Forest Road, around a quarter of a mile to the north.

Kingsland Waste, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-32-Edit_2400
Kingsland Waste, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-32

Back in 1988 there were still many stalls on Saturdays, but over a rather shorter length, and some of the shops also spilt over onto the pavement. But on weekdays there were only a few traders. The market got smaller over the years, and Hackney council eventually refused to renew the licences for the remaining traders in 2015, saying it generated too much waste. But there was a local outcry and they were forced to reopen it a year or two later.

Kingsland Waste, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-22-Edit_2400
Kingsland Waste, Kingsland Rd, Kingsland, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-22

My walk ended here on the Kingsland Road. I spent most of the rest of August in Paris – you can see the black and white pictures in Around Paris 1988 – and it was only 25 days later on 28th August that I was able to go for a walk in London again. More from that at a later date.

More From the Balls Pond Road

Saturday, March 26th, 2022

Balls Pond Road got its name from John Ball, the landlord of a pub next to the pond, in “about the middle of the 17th century … the Salutation House’ or ‘Boarded House’ ..famous for bull-baiting and other brutal sports and the pond for duck hunting.” The name Balls Pond Road was applied in 1865 to the whole length of the street which had been developed under various names.

Arundel Arms, Boleyn Rd, Stoke Newington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-11-Edit_2400
Arundel Arms, Boleyn Rd, Stoke Newington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-11-Edit_2400

One of the pubs featured in the Stoke Newington Lost Pubs Walk which states it was probably named after Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel, a page at the court of King Henry VIII; the king had a hunting lodge at Newington Green in the 1500s which explains a number of local street names including Boleyn Road. Its pub sign featured the 14th Earl, Thomas Howard, but the figure in my picture is unlikely to have been one of the Earls.

Open by 1881 it was a Trumans pub, rebuilt around 1930 and closed around 2006 and was demolished and replace by a block of flats above ground floor commercial premises.

Elbe Footwear, Balls Pond Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-13-Edit_2400
Elbe Footwear, Balls Pond Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-13

This part of the Balls Pond Road still presents a similar appearance by Elbe Footwear has no been replaced by Isabella Mews, with a wide gated ground floor entrance. I suspect Elbe may have had owners whose names begin with L and B rather than any connection to a German river.

Balls Pond Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-16-Edit_2400
Balls Pond Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-16

A nicely restrained early 19th century two storey terrace at 65-79 Balls Pond Road, Grade II listed in 1975.

Balls Pond Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-01-Edit_2400
Balls Pond Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-01

The view from across the street shows its simplicity but for me is a less interesting picture.

Alfred Halpern Ltd, Balls Pond Rd, Dalston, Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-02-Edit_2400
Alfred Halpern Ltd, Balls Pond Rd, Dalston, Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-02

This building, also on the south side of the street and so in Hackney looks as if it was about to fall down, but has been refurbished. Alfred Halpern Ltd at 49, Balls Pond Rd according to their fading sign were Vacuum Formers & Importers was the former Maberly Chapel or Earlham Hall, built around 1820 as an Independent Chapel, with a later school from 1844, together Grade II listed. The listing text states it has ‘MABERLY CHAPEL’ in the triangular area at the top of the frontage, but in my photograph only the letters MAB ar recognisable, with much of the plaster peeling. It has now been removed.

Balls Pond Rd, Dalston, Islington, 1988 88-8e-61-Edit_2400
Balls Pond Rd, Dalston, Islington, 1988 88-8e-61

There was an impressive row of fridge-freezers and cookers in front to the shop and neighbouring billboard on the Balls Pond Road, as well as a long, well-spaced row of prints in the picture. If they were really the size on the advert it would have been worth buying a can of Esso Superlube+.

The CALOR GAS shop (were those gas fridges?) had become a dry cleaners before 2008, but the billboard site was still then emptry, but was filled with ground floor shops and residential above shortly after.

Tottenham Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-63-Edit_2400
Tottenham Rd, Kingsland, Hackney, 1988 88-8e-63

This LCC temporary housing was still lived in on Tottenham Road, a long street parallel to the Balls Pond Road joining Southgate Road to Kingsland Road. There has since been extensive redevelopment in the area and and these temporary buildings have long gone and I can no longer find the building in the background.

The previous post on this walk is Canonbury, Green Lanes and Balls Pond Road. My walk around the area will continue in a future post.

Canonbury, Green Lanes and Balls Pond Road

Friday, March 25th, 2022

My next walk on Wednesday 3rd August 1988 began on a train going over the River Thames at Strand on the Green, the North London Line, taking me to Highbury & Islington from where I walked through Canonbury to Green Lanes, where I photographed an interesting pair of houses and found some rather poetic graffiti on my way to Newington Green and went on the the Balls Pond Road.

Grosvenor Ave, Canonbury, Islington, 1988 88-8c-14-Edit_2400
141 Grosvenor Ave, Canonbury, Islington, 1988 88-8c-14

In my dreams last night I was sitting in front of my computer and just turning it off after searching for the location of this house, which on my contact sheet is simply given as ‘?Highbury Grove’, and it flashed onto Google Streetview as the application closed. I was just coming round and wasn’t sure whether this was dream or memory, so as soon as I got back in front of the screen today I looked up where I thought it had been – and found no such street existed. However a few more minutes searching – and looking at the next image on the contact sheet helped – I recognised it as 141 Grosvenor Ave in Canonbury.

The house next door in the semi-detached also had those distinctive vertical brick panels in the colums of the porch and at the side of the windows, but they have been disguised I think by white masonary paint, and possibly others have suffered a similar fate.

But the dream got me thinking more about taking these pictures and about my photography generally as I lay half awake in bed. I think I had walked around half a mile before making my first picture on this walk, past many other houses and shops I might have stopped to photograph but had not done so and I reflected on this. I’ve always been a rather timid photographer and often find it difficult to start taking pictures until something jolts me out of this, and once I’ve got going my reluctance fades. Making a photograph exposes not just the film (or these days the sensor) but also the photographer.

Green Lanes, Highbury, Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-65-Edit_2400
Green Lanes, Highbury, Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-65

I can’t remember the exact route I took to Green Lanes, perhaps up Petherton Road, as the few pictures I made (not on-line) are typical of the area but not easy to locate, but I then walked south towards Newington Green, but a grid reference written on this frame of the contact sheet together with the street name Green Lanes suggests this shop window was near Aden Grove.

The curling notices suggest that Enright & Co Ltd m(established 1875) had left the building some time earlier, and although they say Houses Wanted, the upper left ‘Sorry Nothing’ was probably more appropriate. I rather liked the rather ghosty reflections in the glass, including my legs in the centre of the frame.

Roughly one in four of the pictures I made on this walk are on-line, and four of the ten from this particular film are these consecutive images from this section of Green Lanes.

Green Lanes, Highbury, , Islington, Hackney, 1988 1988 88-8d-66-Edit_2400
Green Lanes, Highbury, Islington, Hackney, 1988 1988 88-8d-66-Edit_2400

There are still several of these ‘Mid-Late 19c’ houses on Green Lanes, roughly oposite Aden Grove and they are locally listed at 57-63 for their ‘truncated Dutch gables’. The bars on the windows at right have gone but they still otherwise look much the same.

Graffiti, Green Lanes, Highbury, , Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-51-Edit_2400
Graffiti, Green Lanes, Highbury, , Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-51

Two writers appear to have taken advantage of this long stretch of white wall, probably empty industrial premises of some kind. Possible the “BIRD Turning in the sky air below the clouds’ there is no corner…” got in first complete with its extra apostrophe and the later writer (perhaps F. Ratttttl)tadded a line above and below, with some other additions including from an Arsenal fan.

Green Lanes here is on the border of the two London Boroughs of Hackney and Islington and I’ve included both boroughs in the captions even when I’m sure which side of the border I took the pictures on.

Graffiti, Green Lanes, Highbury, , Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-52-Edit_2400
Graffiti, Green Lanes, Highbury, Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-52

On the side of a boarded up shop, just off Green Lanes on the corner of Springdale Road was a more organised piece of writing, possibly advice to Fred to build a cradle for his baby. The reflecttion at left clearly shows the two buildings still on either side of Pegasus Close.

Annette Works, Halliford St, Ecclesbourne Rd, Islington, 1988 88-8d-31-Edit_2400
Annette Works, Halliford St, Ecclesbourne Rd, Islington, 1988 88-8d-31

For once a picture which includes precise information on its location, the Annette Works on the corner of Halliford St and Ecclesbourne Rd in Islington. The house at 61 Halliford Street was or had been home to Multi-Print Co, and this side of it has now been extensively rebuilt. I wondered briefly if there might be some connection to Annette Crescent, a listed crescent not far away on the Essex Road, but failed to find any further information. It seems unlikely as Annette Crescent was named for its developer, Thomas James Annett, only picking up the ‘e’ in later years.

Southgate Rd, Kingsland, Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-36-Edit_2400
Southgate Rd, Kingsland, Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-36

Southgate Road is another street on the Hackney/Islington border. There were no Vacancies at No 81, which is now together with No 83 ‘The Sydney Building’ a ‘warehouse conversion’ into flats with a rather prettier garden, roses replacing the buddleia.

Mildmay Rd, Canonbury, Islington, Hackney, 1988 88-8d-26-Edit_2400
Mildmay Rd, Canonbury, Islington, 1988 88-8d-26

This picture appears to show a woman looking out of a upper floor window but this is actually a painting on the wall. But there was a real woman coming along the street towards me. There is still a mural visible on the wall which can be seen rather better from Wolsey Road, but is largely obscured by an overgrown tree. I’m not sure if this upper part above and behind the main painted wall is still there.

The mural was painted in 1981 by Carolyne Beale for Mildmay Housing Action Area and is now in very poor condition, cracking badly. You can see a good colour picture of it all before the tree grew online, with a second picture of this lady at the window. I don’t think I photographed the mural properly, though I may have done.

More from the Balls Pond Road and Dalston in another post.

Click on any of the images in the post to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse other images.

Yarls Wood – Shut It Down

Thursday, March 24th, 2022

Yarls Wood – Shut It Down – Saturday 24th March 2018 saw another protest outside Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, calling for all immigration detention centres to be closed down.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

It was the 13th protest there organised by Movement for Justice, but on this occasion other groups including Sisters Uncut had also organised separately to come to the event and hold their own slightly distanced protest, following serious allegations about the way MfJ worked and had behaved, particularly to one woman who had been one of their high-profile members, but also a number of others including some of the migrants they had supported.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

I had been shocked to hear of the allegations, but not particularly surprised. I admired both the work MfJ had done over the years in leading the protests against our racist immigration system and the contribution of the woman activist concerned who I had met and photographed at a number of protests.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

But I had been long aware that MfJ was led by Trotskyists, members of the Revolutionary International League, including several white activists, having been set up by them in London in the 1990s to confront racism and fascism. So I knew that like all such groups knew they would enforce disciplines to back the party line at least on its inner members, so the revelations came as no surprise to me.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

Of course I don’t condone these actions, though I was in no position to judge on the truth of some of the allegations, but it seemed to me the most important things was that protests against our racist immigration system should continue and should be effective. For some years MfJ had been the main group taking effective action against immigration deportation flights and immigration prisons. I was pleased that the controversy actually seemed to have prompted other groups to organise and protest on this occasion and for later events.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

The protest followed much the same pattern as the others I’ve attended at Yarl’s Wood, except that the protesters spread out a little more along the slope and the fence with some wishing to distance themselves from MfJ and their PA system. And, at least while I was there, all of those who spoke over this to the protesters and the women inside were former asylum seekers who had themselves been detained, many inside Yarl’s Wood. And inside Yarls Wood there seemed to be more women able to come to the windows and join in the protest.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

I’d also gone slightly better prepared so far as equipment was concerned, as I now had a 300mm Nikon lens and a camera on which I could use it either in full-frame format or switch to DX, which made it a 450mm equivalent and still get files of sufficient size for publication. Shooting through the wire mesh of the top 10ft of the 20ft fence still made focus hard – and autofocus reliably settled on the mesh rather than the windows behind, so I had to resort to manual focus. But at least the windows didn’t move, which made this fairly easy.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

This time too we had a coach driver who knew the way and arrived in plenty of time for me to photograph the events on the road before the march to the prison. But it also meant I had to leave a little before the event had concluded to catch the train back to the station. I think for later protests I brought my folding bike so I could easily (or fairly easily as there is a long climb up from the A6 to Twinwoods and the meeting point) make my own way the five or six miles to and from Bedford station.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

The weather was good to us this time, but there had been heavy rain earlier in the week leaving at least one giant puddle we had to walk round on the way to the prison fence, and making the slope on which the protest was taking place rather treacherous.

Yarls Wood - Shut It Down

More pictures from the protest on My London Diary at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood.

Barnet Spring – Save Local Democracy

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

Barnet Spring – Save Local Democracy. The pictures in this post are from a march in from Finchley to Friern Barnet Community Library on 23rd March 2013.

Barnet Spring - Save Local Democracy

Politics in the UK has always been a messy business, both at national and local levels and has become more so in recent years, particularly as the Conservative Party has been keen to promote anti-democratic practices honed in the USA as well as accepting large donations from wealthy sources of doubtful legality as recent controversies over Russian oligarchs have brought into public debate.

Barnet Spring - Save Local Democracy

The current problems have been exacerbated in particular by the Brexit debate, largely carried out through totally misleading promises and false information, which led to leaving Europe and an unhealthily large parliamentary majority in the 2019 election, with draconian laws now being enacted. As well of course as some rather large financial gains by some of those leading the lying.

Barnet Spring - Save Local Democracy

Corruption has always been at the heart of our political system, both at local and national level, and involving some members of all political parties. While we may have got rid of some of the more obviously dubious practices, those which are less obvious appear to have become industrial in scale, now no longer solely the province of individuals and families (particularly those royal and noble) but of companies, including the mega-nationals.

Clearly our electoral system – both at local and national level – has outlived its usefulness and this is reflected in low turnouts at polls as well as a general disillusion in the political system. We need to move to voting systems that more accurately reflect the people and away from one that effectively disenfranchises so many of us. Perhaps to a very different model of government which removes the idea of any permanent political class.

Reform in the UK has almost always been slow and piecemeal, when what we need are radical changes. After many years of debate we have just recently made minor changes to the system of leasehold, when what is needed is its complete abolition, with all leaseholders being granted freehold. Even probably the most radical change of the last century, the formation of the NHS was hamstrung at birth by concessions made – and has since been considerably nibbled and increasingly hollowed by creeping privatisation.

The march took place on a bitter day, where light snow turned into a small blizzard

The reorganisation of local authorities in 1965 was a muddled and half-hearted one, reflecting an unwillingness in national government to cede power to the regions while moving local government further from local people. The advances it could have brought were largely removed by Thatcher’s contempt for local authorities and in particular in London her abolition of the Greater London Council. It’s hard to walk or ride a bus across Westminster Bridge and not to feel rage at seeing the range of offices she sold off on the south bank.

Recently we have seen a backlash against the leader and cabinet model of local councils which gives control to the leader and a select group of councillors and in 2000 became (along with Mayor and cabinet for those authorities with a directly elected Mayor) the required method. In 2012 authorities were allowed instead to revert to the more democratically accountable Committee-based system which had previously been the practice.

As I wrote back in 2013, “Barnet Council in North London is widely seen as a blueprint for Tory plans to end local democracy and privatise nearly all public services, leaving the local authority merely as a commissioning body.” Barnet’s CEO Nick Walkley introduced the ‘One Barnet’ plans, known as “easyCouncil” in 2009 and negotiated contracts with companies such as BT and Capita worth around £1 billion.

As I commented:

This is a development that ends real local involvement in running local affairs, locking councils into lengthy contracts which seldom meet local needs, but which councils are powerless to change and which often involve huge legal costs for the councils when disputes arise. One contractor has already successfully sued Barnet for over £10m when their contract failed to deliver the anticipated profits, and another, running services for adults with disabilities is failing financially and is drastically reducing the level of service it will provide.

On Saturday March 23rd 2013 I joined with several hundred to march through freezing snow in Finchley against the privatisation of local democracy in Barnet and against cuts in public services . The march began in Finchley, with a number of speeches from an open-top bus, with speakers including Green Party GLA member Jenny Jones (now Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb), And Labour MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. The march ended at the Friern Barnet People’s Library, closed by Barnet Council in April 2012, but rescued determined by determined community action aided by squatters and reopened officially as a community library in February 2013.

More on My London Diary: Barnet Spring – Save Local Democracy

More Around the Roman

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-64-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-64

It’s doubtful if the Romans ever marched or walked along Roman Road, although some Roman remains have been found in the area. But most will have gone along Old Ford Rd which runs parallel a short distance to the north, it’s ford taking them across the River Lea from Londinium to the Iceni capital Venta Icenorum around 5 miles south of modern Norwich.

Most of Roman Road was only built when the sewer system was extended by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855 to allow further development in the area around, extending what was then Green St to the east, beyond Grove Road into Old Ford to an end a little short of the Lea. The western section from the Cambridge Bridge Road was only renamed to be part of Roman Road when London street names were rationalised in the 1930s – there were far too many Green Streets. It makes consulting old sources of information about shops and houses on the road difficult as all the street numbers then changed. The market in Roman Road was set up in the late 1860s.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-65-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-65

The whole area was a stronghold for the suffragettes, particularly after the formation of the East London Federation of the Women’s Social and Political Union by Dr Richard Pankhurst and his wife Emmeline Pankhurst, founder members of the Independent Labour Party in the same year, 1893. This was unusual in welcoming men as members and also having a democratic organisation. Their daughter Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation were expelled from the WSPU in 2014 and set up the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELFS) and set up a newspaper, The Woman’s Dreadnought, published from Roman Road. In 1917 its title was changed to Workers’ Dreadnought, with the slogan ‘Socialism, Internationalism, Votes for All’ and it continued in publication until 1924.

The East End was a very political area, but not only for its suffragettes and socialists and in the 1930s became of the the areas of strongest support for Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists. Their support came mainly from the middle classes in the area, shopkeepers and other traders and business owners rather than the working class, but it was strong enough for the area to have two BUF branches until it was proscribed under Defence Regulation 18B of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-66-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-66

Bethnal Green was badly affected by bombing in World War II and the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green carried out extensive building of council housing in the 1950s and 60s, with some outstanding architecture close to Roman Road. In 1965 Bethnal Green merged with Stepney and Poplar to become the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The area has in more recent years become considerably gentrified, a process which was beginning to be clear when I took these pictures in 1988.

Star Auto Electrics, Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-52-Edit_2400
Star Auto Electrics, Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-52

South of Roman Road and roughly parallel to it is Tredegar Road, built up in the 1850s and 60s. Star Auto Electrics fortunately informs us it was at 123A Tredegar Rd. This is now the site of a large block of flats.

Star Auto Electrics, Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-54-Edit_2400
Star Auto Electrics, Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-54
Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-56-Edit_2400
Tredegar Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-56

This neat late nineteenth century terrace is still there on Tredegar Rd. The street – like the rather better known (and roughly four times as expensive) Tredegar Square close by south of the railway line gets its name from Lord Tredegar, Sir Charles Morgan (1760-1846) who made a large fortune promoting agriculture in south Wales and in 1824 was granted a private act of parliament by King George IV to develop a large area of Mile End and Bow. Although several of the streets are named after places in Wales, they have not inherited a Welsh pronunciation.

Tredegar Rd, Coburn Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-41-Edit_2400
Tredegar Rd, Coburn Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-41

This picture was made at the junction of Tredegar Road at its west end with Coborn Road, though nothing in the picture remains. A few yards away around the corner in Coborn Road there are some older buildings and the site of the former railway station, opened as Old Ford in 1865, later renamed as Coborn Road and then Coborn Road for Old Ford which was permanently closed and largely demolished in 1946.

Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-45-Edit_2400
Roman Rd, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8c-45

My walk ended on Roman Road, where I joined a queue at a bus stop waiting for the bus to take me back into the City and from there by Underground and British Rail back home.

Click on any of the pictures to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the album.