Archive for June, 2022

Independent Living Ends, Robin Hood Gardens

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Independent Living Ends, Robin Hood Gardens. On Tuesday 30th June 2015 I joined disabled people at Downing St marking the ending of the Independent Living Fund before going to Robin Hood Gardens, a brutalist estate in Poplar doomed for demolition.


DPAC’s ILF Closing Ceremony – Downing St to Old Palace Yard

Disabled people and supporters of DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, met outside Downing St to bring a petition with over 25,000 signatures calling for a continuation of this essential support for the disabled.

Sophie Partridge, disabled Actor, Writer & Workshop artist

The Independent Living Fund which was coming to an end on that day had given them to money to employ support to enable them to live with dignity and for many to continue in work and make a contribution to society. Without it they fear they will simply be shut away and left to rot, many fearing they will now be left for many hours at a time in incontinence pads.

Paula Peters

Outside the gates of Downing Street they wrote slogans on incontinence pads; Paula Peters of DPAC had a message for Iain Duncan Smith, then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions responsible for the ending of support, ‘I want dignity – I want to be treated as a human – You wear one of these I. D. S. They are awful’.

A campaigner dressed as Brittania was among those who had come to hand in the petition which had gained support from a video by the stars of Coronation Street and the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. One of those stars spoke in front of the gates of Downing Street.

John Kelly as Schimmel leads the march

From Downing Street the campaigners marched the quarter mile or so to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament, led by John Kelly as Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny Opera.

Here they were joined by others including Labour MP John McDonnell who spoke at the rally marking the end of the Independent Living Fund, at the end of which a wreath with the message’s ‘RIP ILF’ was laid.

DPAC’s ILF Closing Ceremony


Robin Hood Gardens – Poplar

Two walls of flats protect an inner garden area

The ILF protest had ended a little before 1pm and it was a fine day and I decided to take another visit to Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, where demolition had begun after the refusal to list the site. Listing had been recommended for listing by the advisory committee of English Heritage in 2009, but the then Minister of Culture Andy Burnham had issued a certificate of immunity against listing which expired in 2014.

These are large and desirable properties, but often have been used to house difficult residents

A further attempt was then made to have the site listed, supported by almost every well-known British architect, but Historic England, now responsible for listing buildings rejected this.

A wall at left screens the estate and there is a lower service and parking area

An open letter signed by many leading architects including Richard Rogers made clear the value of the site, and I quoted from this in My London Diary.

The buildings, which offer generously sized flats that could be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of Modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the case for listing stronger than ever.”

The end of the ‘street in the sky’

The refusal to list on both occasions was clearly a political one, almost certainly driven by the huge profits demolition and rebuilding on the site would make for the developers.

As with the award-winning Heygate Estate in Southwark, and the fine Central Hill Estate at Gypsy Hill, Lambeth, the local council, Tower Hamlets, was keen to get rid of the estate and had carried out what I described as “a well funded campaign of vilification“, seeing it “only as a large area with potential for redevelopment at a higher density“, working with “developers who see any area of social housing in London as rich pickings for redevelopment and sale to the rich.”

A large enclosed playground at the south end of the site

By the end of June 2015 most of the west block seemed empty and boarded up and I was unable to gain entry. But I could roam the large garden in the centre of the estate, now let to grow wild, and went inside the still occupied east block, going up to the highest public level, a ‘street in the sky’ built rather less wide than the architects had originally intended, overlooking the Blackwall Tunnel approach. From there I took a number of pictures of the views from the block looking towards the east.

The south end of Robin Hood Gardens was on Poplar High St

As on a couple of previous visits I talked briefly with some of the residents who all told me they were pleased to be living in the block and sad they would have to leave – though some did complain about the lifts (I think only one of the two at the entrance I went in was working.)

Knocking down buildings like these which are structurally in good condition is inexcusable in terms of the huge carbon footprint involved in their construction, demolition and rebuilding. The estate could and should have been refurbished at relatively low cost and would have continued to provide good quality homes for many years. Its replacements – the west section already built – are of lower quality and will almost certainly not last as long as this could have done. The advantage of their roughly three times higher density is at the expense of possible amenity.

As well as walking in and around the estate I also took some pictures of it from the surrounding area, and some other pictures you can see on My London Diary, including a few when I stopped at Canning Town station and took a few pictures of people on the new footbridge across Bow Creek.

Robin Hood Gardens


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West Lane & Spa Road Bermondsey 1988

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

My previous post on this walk was Thames, Rotherhithe & Wapping 1988 and ended next to the isolated former offices of Braithwaite & Dean, close to the Angel pub on the bank of the Thames.

Servewell Cafe, West Lane,Bermondsey, 1988 88-10l-34-Edit_2400
Servewell Cafe, West Lane,Bermondsey, 1988 88-10l-34

I walked a short distance west by the river, photographing some recent flats on Bermondsey Wall East and the riverside warehouse at Corbett’s wharf, since discretely refurbished (not digitised) before turning down West Lane where there was more new housing and finding The Evangelical Church of the Deaf which I think was where there is now a new block of flats on Paradise Street.(also not digitised.)

The Servewell Cafe was then at number 14, and is now a few doors down in larger premises, its former site now an Indian Takeaway. The barbers on the corner remains a Gents Hairdresser, but the wool shop is now ‘glue bermondsey’ creative space.

Bermondsey & Rotherhithe, War Memorial, West Lane, Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-35-Edit_2400
Bermondsey & Rotherhithe, War Memorial, West Lane, Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-35

The Bermondsey & Rotherhithe War Memorial is immediately in front of the shops on West Lane, close to its junction with Jamaica Road on a wide area of pavement. It was erected here replacing a temporary memorial in 1921 “to the honoured memory of the men of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe who fell in the great war 1914 – 1918” and later inscriptions were added for the Second World War, including “In remembrance of all those civilians and members of the civil defence and fire brigade services who lost their lives in this community 1939 – 1945.” The coat of arms is that of the former Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey with its motto ‘Prosunt Gentibus Artes‘ (arts profit the people). Among the sponsors of the memorial was the then owner of Peak Freans, Arthur Carr.

Scott Lidgett Crescent, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-36-Edit_2400
Scott Lidgett Crescent, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-36

John Scott Lidgett (1854-1953) was a Methodist minister, educationalist and politician who was at various times the first President of the Methodist Conference, vice-chancellor of the University of London. He played an important role in the development of women’s colleges and university support for teach training. He became an alderman of the London County Council and led the Progressive Party on the LCC from 1918-28.

In 1891 he established the Bermondsey Settlement, the only Methodist settlement, and became its warden. Among those that this attracted to devote themselves to come and live and work in the community were Ada and Alfred Salter. The settlement closed in 1969.

These solidly built houses were a part of the continuing redevelopment of the area which had been begun by Bermondsey Council – with the Salters as councillors and later Mayor and MP respectively, beginning at Wilson Grove in 1927. In the ten years after the war, the council and the LCC built 9,600 homes.

Salvation Army, Hostel, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-11-Edit_2400
Salvation Army, Hostel, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-11

The Salvation Army Social Services Hostel for Men on Spa Road was much needed in one of the country’s most deprived areas when this ‘elevator’, designed to both house men and provide some paid work to prepare them for work outside, opened in 1899. It was a waste paper depot and the men were employed in sorting the waste – recycling is nothing new.

Back in my childhood, before going to church my father would sort all the waste paper which had found its way into our house, flattening the sheets, piling them on top of each other before rolling them up and tying the roll with string, to be put out next to the dustbin for the council to collect.

The Spa Road hostel also housed some Belgian refugees in the First World War and Italian prisoners of war at the end of WW2. A laundry was added in the 1920s. By the time I photographed it the laundry had closed but the centre also offered other work, including basket-weaving, carpentry, candle-making, and picture-framing. It finally closed in 2001 and was demolished in 2003. The site is now occupied by a large block of flats.

Bermondsey Municipal Offices, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-14-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Municipal Offices, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-14

Bermondsey Town Hall was only Grade II listed 10 years after I made this picture. It was built as an extension to the existing Victorian Bermondsey Town Hall in 1928-1930, architect Henry Tansley indulging in a deliberate recreation of the 19th century Greek Revival. I’ve not digitised the picture I took of its grand frontage, but only this image showing a detail of the building, including some of its listed railings.

Planning permission was granted in 2012 for the conversion of the building into 41 homes and is now rather confusingly called Old Town Hall Apartments.

BermondseyCentral Library, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-15-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Central Library, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-15

Similarly I’ve yet to digitise the more overall image of the library which is in the background to this picture. The gate pier and railings are all that remains from another municipal building, the old Bermondsey Town Hall which was heavily damaged by wartime bombing and demolished in the 1960. The gate was kept when a new ‘One Stop Shop’ replaced the ruins, and it was retained when this was in turn demolished and replaced by ‘The Exchange’ around 2013. Its ground floor is now a Sainsbury’s Local.

Flats, Fort Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10m-65-Edit_2400
Flats, Fort Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10m-65

I wanders a little around the area by Spa Gardens making an image of new housing in Hazel Way and old in Balaclava Rd and then this which I think is Dartford House in Fort Road, part of the Longfield Estate.

To be continued…


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Sick Pay, Holidays And Pensions – End Outsourcing

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Sick Pay, Holidays And Pensions – End Outsourcing – Nine years ago on Friday 28th June 2013 I photographed a protest by low-paid workers at the University of London who with their supporters ran into the Senate House and protested noisily inside the building for sick pay, holidays and pensions for all workers at the University.


I’ve spent some time over the past few days thinking about strikes and industrial actions, partly because of the rail strikes. My local station is one of the few that still has a train service, but out of solidarity with the workers I won’t be using it on strike days, and on the days in between it is still likely to be unreliable.

The campaigners met up at SOAS before the protest

Of course I support the strikers, many of them low paid workers and all of whom have seen the value of their wages cut over the last few years. And these have been years when for all the problems that politicians and media state many of the wealthy have got considerably wealthier – and some made huge fortunes over Brexit and profited greatly (and not always legally) over Covid. We are living in an increasingly unfair society, and with a government which despite claims about levelling up is doing its damnedest to make the rich richer while making the poor poorer.

After marching quietly past university buildings they dashed towards Senate House

The government and train operating companies make much of the need to modernise the railways and I can only agree with them. We desperately need to get back to a sensible structure for running railways, to reverse the breakup of the system into small pieces, each with its highly paid management, caused by the doctrinaire privatisation of the 1990s. And yes, there are other changes which could greatly improve the system, but what the companies mean by modernisation is largely slashing the additional rates for overtime, weekend and night work. It’s ‘we’ll give you more pay if we can cut your wages at the same time’.

and were all inside the building before security noticed

June 28th is said to be the date on which new restrictions on the right to protest pushed through parliament in the last session come into effect. I think the protest by the IWGB on behalf of low paid workers employed by contract companies at London University on Friday 28th January 2013 would clearly have been illegal in several ways had this law been in place then. And it would be precisely those aspects that made this and most other protests over low pay effective that could have resulted in arrests.

They swarmed up the stairs towards the Vice-Chancellor’s office

I don’t know how (or even if) the police will enforce the new laws. Although I think they will have little appetite to do so, there will be considerably political pressure on them. And while the large unions will worry about the huge impact legal measures would have on their funds and largely play safe, perhaps the small grass-roots unions who have been so much more effective for low paid workers will feel they have less to lose.

They held a noisy protest outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office

Back in 2013, the low paid workers who keep London University running were taking part in a ‘Summer of Action’, supported by the grass roots IWGB union (Independent Workers of Great Britain) and the students of the ULU (University of London Union.)

making sure he and his staff could hear why they were protesting


Many of the the cleaners, security guards and catering staff who work in the same buildings as other service staff employed by the university have brutally inferior conditions of service as they employed on behalf of the university by contracting companies who give them none of the kind or working conditions that any considerate employer would provide.

They then returned to the large lobby below to tell those attending conferences why workers were protesting.

Often they are not provided with proper safety equipment and expected to work in unsafe ways to get the job done, and may have to put up with harsh and unreasonable demands over workload, derogatory treatment and even racism from the managers employed by contract companies.

But this ‘3 Cosas’ protest was largely about three things, sick pay, holidays and pensions, on which these outsourced staff often have to fight even to get the rock-bottom statutory minimum provisions. Statutory sick pay is so low that few workers can afford to take time off when they are sick. Even at the height of Covid, many who were unwell had to drag themselves into work, putting their own health and that of others at risk to pay their rent and feed their families.

They continued a noisy protest in the lobby and its balconies for a few minutes

It took many protests such as this to persuade the University and other bodies to end the unfair outsourcing – even when studies showed there were considerable advantages in having a properly employed workforce and little if any financial loss. At SOAS, where the protesters met before the protest the Justice for Workers Campaign led by SOAS Unison branch began in 2006 and was only finally successful in 2018.

and then decided it was time to leave, pleased that the protest had gone so well.

The IWGB is still campaigning against outsourcing at University College London (UCL) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) as well as other campaigns. A few days ago I photographed them outside the London offices of the world’s largest healthcare multinational Health Corporation of America (HCA) Healthcare, who run the private London Bridge Hospital, and they also support other groups of low-paid workers, including foster carers, delivery drivers, minicab drivers and cycling instructors.

More about the 3 Cosas protest at Cleaners Surprise Senate House Invasion.


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Pride, Class War Protest and Paedophiles

Monday, June 27th, 2022

Pride, Class War Protest and Paedophiles – Saturday 27th June 2015 in London. And a rather fine stencilled grafitti which I’ve not seen elsewhere – and I suspect was very quickly removed. Banksy couldn’t have done a better job, though I could perhasp have got the bottom of the image in my picture. And I would have preferred a red bus, though at least the blue one means the bus stop stands out better.


Pride Parade – Baker St

Pride in 2015 had a little more political edge than in recent years as this was the 30th anniversary of the support it gave to the miners strike and there were rather more trade union and other groups trying to reclaim the event as the radical festival it was until around the late 1990s.

My photographs from 2015 reflect this, and as usual I paid little attention to the large corporate groups who now provide sponsorship which enables them to dominate the parade and advertise their services to the crowds who line the route.

Despite this, as I wrote in 2015, ” It seems a long way from the event when I first photographed it in the early 90s when Pride was a protest.”

Pride is also a considerably over-photographed event, with people with cameras and yet more with mobile phones swarming over the area before the parade starts. I don’t object to this as photography is very much a democratic medium, but it would be nice if rather more of them were polite enough not to walk in front of me when I’m taking pictures.

I note in one of the captions, “I got the queen to pose for me with a friend. And found I now had collected another ten photographers at my shoulders“. This is one of the few events where I do occasionally ask people to pose. This is something I think has little or no place in photographing protests and documenting events, but at Pride many pose as soon as they see the camera pointed at them, so I feel OK to sometimes ask them to perform a little differently, perhaps with a different background, as in the picture above.

I didn’t stay as long as usual photographing people before the parade began as I wanted to go and meet Class War who were planning a little diversion.

Pride Parade


Class War protest ‘corporate pinkwashing’ – Piccadilly Circus and Pall Mall

While many criticised the corporate takeover of Pride, and some had tried to oppose it by joining in the march as protesters, Class War had decided it was time for a more direct approach.

I met them outside a pub close to Piccadilly Circus and photographed them as they protested outside Barclay’s Bank at Piccadilly Circus against corporate sponsorship of Pride in London, briefly closing the branch as the parade approached. After this short protest which hardly attracted the attention of the police, they rolled up the banner and ran, following along the route and looking for opportunity to protest at the march itself.

On Pall Mall they found a place where the crowds were thinner and they could take over a section of the barriers along the road for the event. And as the flag bearers at the front of the parade came in sight they pushed those barriers aside and rushed out onto the street with their banner.

I rushed out with them and photographed them as for a minute or so they led the parade until Pride Marshals and police guided them back behind the barriers again.

They continued to protest with megaphone and banner for a few minutes as the parade arrived, but when they saw a squad of officers heading towards them they rolled up the banner and hastened away. I followed some down into the subway where they lost the police, coming out at another subway entrance. They began to discuss further interventions at the event, but I think probably went to a nearby pub after I said goodbye and left. Later I heard police had continued to follow some of the others for half an hour or so, but made no arrests.

Class War protest ‘corporate pinkwashing’


Victims & Survivors call for Justice – Downing St

It’s hard to assess some of the claims made by conspiracy theorists about paedophiles in high places and the activities of the family courts. Clearly the activities of people such as Jimmy Saville and Sir Cyril Richard Smith MBE MStJ DL have provided plenty of fire behind the clouds of smoke and many of those at this protest had very disturbing personal stories to tell.

So while many prominent claims have been found to be false, there also seem to be many cover-ups and failures to properly investigate; all too often the response by the authorities appears to be to close ranks, make false claims against the complainants and deny the realities.

Someone once said that around 30% of conspiracy theories turn out to be true. I’ve no idea whether this figure is accurate, but certainly it reflects the truth that some are. Its just very difficult to decide which.

While we can be confident that there are no chem trails (just atmospheric conditions that make normal combustion products visible), that Magna Carta doesn’t give us much in the way of freedoms now, that 9/11 actually happened and Trump lost the election some others are less certain. And while there are clearly not 76 paedophile MPs, there may well be a handful or so still lurking in the House of Commons, and certainly there have been some very questionable decisions made by family courts – or at least they would be very questionable if we were allowed to know about them.

Victims & Survivors call for Justice


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Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh

Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh: My day out on Wednesday 26 June 2013 began by taking the tube to North Greenwich and then walking to the cablecar for the ride across the Thames.

Back then I commented “Given the huge losses it is sustaining I can’t see it remaining open too much longer, so if you’ve not taken a ride don’t leave it too long“, and I’m surprised to find it still running 8 years later. But perhaps not for much longer, as the sponsorship deal with the Emirates Airline comes to an end this month, and no other company has come forward to pick up the tab, even though TfL have offered a huge reduction for the privilege.

Never a sensible contribution to London’s travel network it remains one of London’s cheaper and more interesting tourist attractions. I’m not sure whether the fact that it now lands on the north bank spitting distance from London’s now misplaced County Hall adds to its chances of retention, but it could make it more likely to be brought within the normal London fare structures.

There are already fare reductions for people with Travelcards, and frequent users can buy a ticket which reduces the cost to make it a viable part of a commute to work, particularly as you can take a bike with you for free. However I suspect the number of ‘frequent fliers’ is probably only in two figures. Its also a service which is more affected by weather than surface transport, closing down in high winds.

But it does have the height to give some splended views, even if the surrounding area is perhaps less rich than that of London’s other aerial attraction, the London Eye. Actually for me is considerably more attractive, and it’s an area which is now rapidly developing on both sides of the river, with new residential developments replacing old industrial and commercial uses.

The dangleway is also a part of the East London sculpture trail, The Line, which vaguely follows the Greenwich Meridian, from North Greenwich to Stratford and makes an interesting walk, although this will become a more interesting walk once the riverside path from Cody Dock to the East India Dock Road is opened, something we have been waiting for around 20 years. One day it might even extend past Canning Town station to Trinity Buoy Wharf, but we may not live that long.

Although you can see the riverside from above, little of it is now publicly accessible, though I walked along Bow Creek and a little of the Thames here back in the 1980s taking photographs now on Flickr. But back then the Royal Victoria Dock was largely fenced off and you can now walk around it and over a high-level bridge which also has interesting views.

Or at least you can most of the time. But the area becomes a high security zone with the bridge closed when the Excel Centre is full of arms dealers selling often illegal arms to repressive regimes around the world – every other September. Fortunately it was June, though I was back there for the DSEI protests in September – and in other years.

The DLR also runs through the area on a viaduct, and from the train and the stations you also get some interesting views, though the train windows are often rather to dirty for taking photographs. That you are looking south from the line can also mean the sun is shining directly into the lens.

This is the Woolwich branch of the DLR and at Canary Wharf I changed onto a train towards Stratford, alighting at Pudding Mill Lane to walk up onto the Greenway. I arrived just too late to go into the View Tube there so I had to be content with making pictures from the Greenway which runs high through the area.

I’d begun making photogrfaphs here back in the 1980s, and had published some of these on my my River Lea/Lee Valley web site – and in the Blurb book ‘Before The Olympics‘, returning to the area occasionally and photographing it as it changed and particularly as the Olympic site developed. Progress on restoring the area to some useful purpose appeared to be very slow

More on My London Diary where the pictures are also larger – though you can see these ones larger by opening the images in their own window.
Stratford Greenway Olympic Revisit
Victoria Dock and Silvertown
Emirates ‘Airline’ – Arab Dangleway


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Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride 2016

Saturday, June 25th, 2022

Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride 2016: Movement for Justice organised a Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride march to the official Pride London procession and joined the main procession at the extreme end along with other protest groups who were relegated to the rear of the long parade.

Many feel the the official Pride event has been taken over by corporate sponsors such as Barclays and BAE systems and is a parade rather than a protest, no longer representing its roots and that the organisers deliberately marginalise any political groups.

At 12.15 they began their march on Oxford St, going along with others including London in Solidarity with Istanbul LGBTI Pride protesting the banning of Istanbul Pride, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants.

They walked along to Regent Street, turning north and going up towards Portland Place were the main Pride march was gathering and I went with them, stopping to photograph others on the way.

As usual there were some rather strange costumes worn by some of those taking part, and I photographed some of these, but avoided the more corporate aspects of the event.

There were sections of the march that were still very recognisably protests, and some were marching with banners and placards which could have been on any protest against racism, homophobia and standing up for the rights of refugees.

Gay Muslims on the march with the messages ‘I exist for the expansion of your mind’ and’Halal Babe’.

Stonewall as ever where there to protest, with a range of red t-shirts, some with the message ‘Some People are BI’ or GAY or TRANS, but all ‘Get Over It!’

I took a lot of pictures as usual, and there are over a hundred on them on My London Diary, though the selection I made concentrates on those taking part in Pride as a protest, and perhaps misses some of the more outré images.

I didn’t bother to photograph the actual march but was still photographing the groups at the back who had not moved well over an hour before the parade began. By the time they got on the route many of the spectators will have given up watching and have left for drinks or food.

Pride London 2016
Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride


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Defend All Migrants

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Defend All Migrants. June 24th 2016 was the day after the Brexit referendum when by a narrow majority – 3.78% – the British population voted to leave the European Union. Although it was a non-binding referendum, the government had unwisely promised they would implement the result and eventually did so in the worst way possible, leading to many of our current problems.

Of course it’s done and although we were lied to and tricked in many ways it is a decision which cannot be reversed in the foreseeable future, though hopefully a new government will abandon the current excessively combative approach and try to negotiate some more sensible ways to live with our neighbours. On many levels we remain a part of Europe and need to find policies which recognise the facts of culture and geography.

One important aspect of the campaign to leave Europe was the encouragement of racism and xenophobia particularly by the UKIP-linked Leave.EU, but also by the official Vote Leave campaign. London Mayor Sadiq Khan was one of few politicians at the time to accuse Vote Leave of promoting ‘Project Hate’ but academic research as well as Parliament’s own Digital, Culture, Media & Sport committee has shown clearly how they used TV adverts and social media to use racism to promote the Brexit vote. You can read more in Truly Project Hate: the third scandal of the official Vote Leave campaign headed by Boris Johnson.

So on the day following the referendum Socialists and anarchists held a rally in East London before marching to the offices of News International on a roundabout route for migrant rights and against racism and fascist violence. Migration and immigrants have been attacked and scapegoated not only by both Remain and Leave campaigns but by mainstream parties and media over more than 20 years, stoking up hatred by insisting immigrants are a “problem”.

As I stated on My London Diary, “The event was called by Movement for Justice, rs21, London Antifascists and Jewdas, and supported by other groups including Brick Lane Debates, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), Right to Remain, Radical Assembly, Clapton Ultras, the Antiuniversity, English collective of prostitutes, sex workers open university, lesbians and gays support the migrants, Razem Londyn, London Anarchist Federation, Kent anti-racist network, dywizjon 161, colectivo anticapitalista Londres and Plan C London as well as others who brought banners and many individuals.

Despite the large number of organisations, the actual number of people who turned up for the protest wasn’t huge, though there were probably well over a thousand in Altab Ali Park by the time the speeches began. As I wrote, ” People stood around in groups bemoaning the result of the referendum; most had either voted to remain or chosen not to vote – or had not been eligible as EU citizens or foreigners working here. They represented much of mainly young London, very few of whom voted to leave the EU, and most like me who were shocked and bitterly disappointed by the Brexit vote.

A group of three people interviewing people to camera for a right-wing US website had clearly come to provoke people, asking silly questions and appearing to gloat over the Brexit result. People told them to leave but they persisted and eventually the woman interviewer complained to police that her jokey Brexit hat had been stolen and her cameraman had been punched, though it seemed more a performance to camera than a genuine complaint. Although police talked to a few nearby protesters who failed to back up her complaints they also made sure the crew left the park rather than continue to stir up trouble.

After a number of speeches the march formed up and moved off, with the organisers apparently taking a tour of the East End and the City on the way to London Bridge. A number of smoke flares made its progress colourful and there was considerable noise from slogans and some loud music. When the march turned north rather than south on Houndsditch I decided I’d walked far enough and left it to go home and file my story.

Much more on My London Diary: Defend All Migrants.

Thames, Rotherhithe & Wapping 1988

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

From Southwark Park Schools which ended the previous post on this walk, Rotherhithe New Road & Southwark Park Schools, I walked a few yards up Southwark Park Road to the corner with Banyard Road, where I photographed the taxi office (still there but changed from A-Z Star Cars to 5 Star Cars) with the pub on the opposite corner, the Southwark Park Tavern, now closed and converted to residential around 2003.

There was a pub around here, the Green Man, possibly on this site before Southwark Park opened in 1869 but I think this building probably came shortly after the park was opened, and is opposite the Carriage Drive leading into the park.

Unfortunately I haven’t yet digitised this picture, nor one of rather plain two-storey terrace on Banyard Rd or an image showing a play area in the park. I hurried through the park to the Jamaica Road gate at its north, crossing to make my way to Kings Stairs Gardens and the River Thames.

River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-63-Edit_2400
River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-63

The two jetties visible here I think have now gone and there is certainly no line of lighters as in this picture, and there is one striking new building on the riverfront.

River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-65-Edit_2400
River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-65

A second picture taken with a short telephoto lens from almost exactly the same place shows the central area more clearly, with new flats being built on Rotherhithe St.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-51-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-51

Looking across the Thames downstream, with Free Trade Wharf at the extreme right and just to the left the cylinder ventilation shaft of the Rotherhithe tunnel in the King Edward Memorial Park. Both Metropolitan Wharf and New Crane Wharf are covered iwth scaffolding.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-52-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-52

Part of St John’s Wharf and King Henry’s Wharves seen across the River Thames.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-53-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-53

More of St John’s Wharf, including one of the earlier warehouse conversions and the Grade II listed Wapping Police Station, built 1907-10, Metropolitan Police architect John Dixon Butler. At extreme left is a part of Aberdeen Wharf built in 1843–4 by the Aberdeen Steam Navigation Company.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-54-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-54

The end of Aberdeen Wharf is at the right edge of this picture, and at its left the Wapping Police Boatyard, an unnecessarily ugly building opened in 1973. The new building in the centre of the picture also seems something of an eyesore, at least at its ends.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-55-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-55

Continuing up-river from the Police Boatyard are St Thomas Wharf, Pierhead Wharf, Oliver’s Wharf – the first warehouse in Wapping to be converted into luxury flats in 1972 – and Wapping Pierhead, with houses designed by Daniel Alexander in 1811 and the main entrance to London Docks.

Bermondsey, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-41-Edit_2400
Bermondsey, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-41

Looking upriver on the south bank with Tower Bridge at the extreme right and Guy’s Hospital tower just left of centre. Cherry Garden Pier is at left.

Silver Jubilee, marker, EIIR, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-43-Edit_2400
Silver Jubilee, marker, EIIR, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-43

There is still a marker for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee here but it looks far less impressive than this rugged stonework I photographed in 1988. London has also gained quite a few tall buildings, but the view along the river remains clear and you can still see the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Braithwaite & Dean, Rotherhithe St, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-44-Edit_2400
Braithwaite & Dean, Rotherhithe St, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-44

41 Rotherhithe St, now apparently 1 Fulford St at least according to Google Maps, was the offices of lighterage company Braitwaite & Dean, where their lightermen would come to collect their weekly wage. Apparently it was known locally as the Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe, though the building’s lean is more apparent from across the river than in my picture.

It was left more or less alone on this stretch of the river with just the Angel pub equally isolated a few yards upriver after Bermondsey council bought many of the buildings in 1939 to create a park, with wartime bombing continuing the demolition job. There was some temporary housing by the river when I first walked along here in the early 1980s, but that soon disappeared.

My walk in Bermondsey continued – more about it in a later post.


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Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008 On Sunday 22 June 2008 I photographed two events celebrating anniversaries in London as well as a protest supporting Czech hunger strikers who – like 70% of the Czech people – were opposing the building of an American radar base near Prague – part of the US Missile Defence system.


Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary – Clapham Common

Sixty years previously, on June 22, 1948, the SS Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, bringing 492 Caribbeans – many of who had served in the British armed forces during the war – from Jamaica to start a new life in England. They had paid £28 10s (£28.50) for the passage and were the first large group of settlers from the Empire to come to live in the ‘Mother Country’.

The events celebrating this in 2008 now seem very low key and that at the bandstand close to the Clapham South deep level shelter on the edge of Clapham Common where many of them were given temporary housing was one of several organised by Christian Aid, together with the Windrush Trust and Churches Together in South London.

Next year will be the 75th anniversary and it will be interesting to see how this is celebrated. The years since 2008 have been marked by revelations about the terrible treatment by our government of the Windrush generation and their families, suffering from the hostile environment, deportations and racism promoted by the Home Office. Whatever celebrations there are will I think be rather more political, and probably better attended.

In 2008 the event celebrated the great contribution made by the Caribbean community to life in this country, and were reminded of the contribution of Clapham to the fight against slavery, but began with relatively little about the racist treatment they had received here, and which was about to be ratcheted up officially when the Tories came to power.

This changed towards the end of the event when Mark Sturge, former director of African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, talked about the contribution black majority churches had made in the UK. He reminded us that Black immigrants were faced with discrimination at almost every turn, with notices “No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs” and other insults. Many came from religious backgrounds and turned to the largely white churches, and also found they were seldom welcome there. They became the pioneers of black-led churches, which provided an important support, not just religion, but also in education and other areas of life, helping them to face up to and fight against discrimination.

We had also got a taste of how it had been when Jacqueline Walker, who arrived in Britain as a young child a few years later in 1959, gave us an insight into what arriving in the country felt like, with readings from her book ‘Pilgrim State’.

Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary


40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London – Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square

Two men carry Jagannatha from the car to the chariot.

The day was also the 40th annual Rathayatra Chariots Festival in London, which saw Krishna in the form of Jagannatha, his half-sister Subhadra, and Balarama her brother carried on huge chariots pulled through the streets of London by Hare Krishna devotees.

The effigy of the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is lifted onto one of the chariots.

You can see more pictures from another year in other posts on My London Diary and here in the recent post Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths.

40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London


No to US Missile Defence – Support Czech Hunger Strike – Downing St

Although I condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine both in 2014 when the war there began and its escalation since February, activities by the West including the setting up of an American radar base near Prague as a part of the US Missile Defence system do provide some explanation for the Russian fears that have led to the current terrible situation.

70% of the Czech people apparently were against the building of the radar base, and some had gone on a hunger strike against it. CND held a rally and all-day fast on Whitehall opposite Downing Street to show their support. They included well-known peace campaigners such as CND chair Kate Hudson and veteran protester Pat Arrowsmith.

No to US Missile Defence


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Rotherhithe New Road & Southwark Park Schools

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

Rotherhithe New Road & Southwark Park Schools – October 1988

Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-31-Edit_2400
Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-31

I’m not entirely sure whether my next pictures, taken on Rotherhithe New Road were a part of the same walk as my previous post in this series, Down the Blue, Spa Road & Old Jamaica Road 1988 or the start of my next visit to the area from roughly where that ended.

This window was somewhere not far from Raymouth Road which I probably walked down to get to Rotherhithe New Road, and I liked the design of the window with its tall thin iron supports, though it was hard so see them through the branches – which perhaps added to their attraction. I can’t find the actual location and it may well have been demolished.

Debnams Rd, Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-34-Edit_2400
Debnams Rd, Rotherhithe New Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-34

This is the corner of Debnams Road with Rotherhithe New Road and it was obviously the ‘5 Star Batteries’ painting on the first floor wall together with the other signage that made me photograph it. 203-5 is now covered with pebbledash and for some years had an advertising hoarding on this side wall, but this is now gone. The premises have changed hands several times, and in recent years have been a glazing firm, an African Food Store and now ‘Posh Hair Salon’.

Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-22-Edit_2400
Rotherhithe New Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-22

Next to the railway arches on the south side of Rotherhithe New Road in what is now called Jarrow Road I couldn’t resist this smiling lorry for ‘Wood Be Good Paint Strippers’.

Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-23-Edit_2400
Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-23

This obviously dilapidated building was on Rotherhithe New Road close to the railway bridges and I think was demolished to build the Rotherhithe Business Estate at 214 Rotherhithe New Rd. Unfortunately I have no idea what it had been – if anyone knows please tell me in the comments.

Cain Hill Cafe, Rotherhithe New Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-11-Edit_2400
Cain Hill Cafe, Rotherhithe New Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-11

The Cain Hill Cafe which offered hot meals served all day, sandwiches and rolls was at the side of this railway bridge on Rotherhithe New Rd. This was demolished to give a wider entrance to the Rotherhithe Business Estate.

Southwark Park Schools, Southwark Park Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-12-Edit_2400
Southwark Park Schools, Southwark Park Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-12

Southwark Park Schools on Southwark Park Road, Grade II listed as an early example of a London Board School by E.R.Robson 1873-4. This frontage is a part of the original building which was extended in the 1890’s and 1910, and sensitively comprehensively redeveloped around 2010 retaining the listed buildings.

My photograph shows one of the two ‘2 sculptural reliefs which depict children learning; to each an inscription panel with the words “School Board for London”
and “Southwark Park Schools
“.’

From here I walked down to the River Thames, where the next post on this walk will continue.


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