Archive for July, 2022

Bermondsey St, the Green Dragon & Crucifix Lane

Sunday, July 31st, 2022

The previous post on this walk on Sunday 30th October 1988 was Dockhead, Sarsons, Tanner St and Bermondsey Square.

Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-63-Edit_2400
Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-63

I walked back up Bermondsey Street. There was slanting light across many of the frontages on the east side of the street and I stopped to take pictures of several of the more interesting buildings. Turner Whitehead were in these tall warehouses at 65-71, now renamed Bramah House. As I noted in an earlier, Turner Whitehead described themselves as ‘polythene converters’ meaning they made and sold a wide range of polythene products including bags etc.and these fine late Victorian buildings were said to have been tea warehouses.

Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-51-Edit_2400
Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-51

I’d photographed 65-71 Bermondsey St before together with this building next door at No63 and was pleased to have better lighting to take another picture. This site was occupied by the Green Dragon pub from at least 1822, probably much earlier. The building probably dates from around the end of the nineteenth century and the pub appears to have closed and been converted to commercial use in the 1920s. Now the ground floor is an estate agents.

The Green Dragon was an emblem of the Earls of Pembroke, one of whom, Japer Tudor, born around 1431 was the son of Catherine of Valois, the widow of King Henry V (and mother of Henry VI) and her Welsh clerk of the Wardrobe Owen Tudor. The couple were said to have married secretly in 1429 and managed to have at least five children before their marriage was discovered; then Owen Tudor was imprisoned and Catherine de Valois sent to live in Bermondsey Abbey. She died in disgrace in 1437 but was still buried in Westminster Abbey.

Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-66-Edit_2400
Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-66

Next going up Bermondsey street on the other side of what is now Vintage Yard is this fine Grade II listed 3 storey building at No 59, built as a new police station for the Metropolitan Police in 1851. When a new Tower Bridge Police Station opened in 1904 it briefly became a police section house and in 1906 was converted to commercial use. At least until the 1960s it was occupied by Read & Partners Ltd. Since I took this picture in 1988 it has been internally refurbished as offices.

Hairdresser, Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-62-Edit_2400
Hairdresser, Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-62

I walked back up Bermondsey Street, pausing to photograph this image in the window of a barber’s shop. That long-haired figure seemed strangely familiar.

Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-53-Edit_2400
Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-53

The light now made for a much better picture of Thomson Bros Ltd Knightrider Mills, the gateway shared by Tempo Leather Co Ltd, not to mention Rilling Hills Ltd and Marchant Hills Ltd.

As the notice states, these had been ‘ACQUIRED BY THE ELEPHANT HOUSE CO PLC AND DUNLOW HOUSE PLC – PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT – ALL ENQUIRIES’. Fortunately the development has retained the frontage more or less intact, almost certainly because it is Grade II listed, with gates now leading to ‘Shiva Building – Studio/Offices and ‘The Tanneries – www.lordshiva.net’, which address tells you a little about what goes on inside. It was built in 1873 to the designs of George Legg.

Crucifix Lane, Barnham St,Railway, Guys Hospital, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-45-Edit_2400
Crucifix Lane, Barnham St, Railway, Guys Hospital, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-45

This street apparently gets its name from a pub which had the sign of St Christopher who was the bearer of the cross on which Christ was crucified. The pub, named ‘The Cross of Bermondsey’ was apparently demolished in 1559.

More demolition came with the railway, which runs in a wide swathe across Bermondsey, built for the London and Greenwich Railway Company with construction beginning in 1834.

Guys Hospital was founded in 1721 by Thomas Guy who had made a fortune printing Bibles and a killing by speculating on the South Sea Bubble. An early private-public partnership it had been granted a monopoly by the to supply African slaves to South America and the South Sea Islands. Because Spain and Portugal controlled most of South America it did very little business with slaves, but in 1720 pushed up its share price by rumours of support from King and Parliament, rising from £128 to £550 in five months, before rapidly collapsing back. Guy apparently sold his shares before the collapse.

Guy’s Tower was built in 1974 and was then the tallest hospital building in the world, with 34 floors and almost 150 metres tall. According to Wikipedia it is now the world’s fifth-tallest hospital building.

Enid St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-35-Edit_2400
Enid St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10r-35

You can see the railway viaduct in the background of this picture on Enid St, which appears to be both the name of the street beside the viaduct and some side-streets on the Neckinger Estate. I can no longer find either the buildings and chimney but I think this may have been taken from around Enid St Playground.

This walk will continue in a later post.


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Aldgate, Class War Rich Door, Poor Door

Saturday, July 30th, 2022

Aldgate, Class War Rich Door, Poor Door – On 30th July 2014 I went to London to cover another in the long series of protests by Class War over the ‘social apartheid’ of separate entrances to large blocks of flats for the wealthy and poor people who live in them. I went up early and walked around the area beforehand.

Class War – Rich Door, Poor Door – 1 Commercial St, Aldgate

Class War, including three of their candidates for the 2015 General Election the following year, protested at 1 Commercial St in Aldgate which has a separate ‘poor doors’ for the social housing flats they had to include to gain planning permission for the development.

The front entrance on Whitechapel High St (One Commercial St is the name of the block) has a hotel-like reception desk, and is staffed 24 hours. It leads to the lifts for the expensive flats, many owned by overseas investors. Like most such buildings, some of them are empty and seldom used, while others are short term holiday lets.

Flats like these are advertised to overseas investors particularly in the far East as providing a high return on capital. Buy a flat now and you will be able to sell it for much more in a few years as London housing prices continue to soar – some publicity suggested that people could get the equivalent of a 13% interest rate. It’s easier to sell if you keep the flats empty, though you can use them for the occasional visit to London, or even let them over the web for a few days or weeks as holiday lets to generate a little actual income.

As I commented:

The web site for One Commercial St (studios, apartments and penthouses specified to exceptional levels, with exclusive services for residents – or rather those residents allowed to use the rich door) suggests that the average rent in the area is £1,935 pcm and investors can expect a 32% increase in property value by the time Crossrail opens. It’s all a part of the madness that means London is being developed not for the people of London but for investors in China, the oil states and elsewhere.

The building owners claimed there was no internal connection between the part of the building with expensive privately owned flats and that occupied by social housing tenants, although that was simply a lie – and on a later occasion I was taken through by one of the private owners from her flat to the ‘poor door’ which she used when walking her dog.

The owners give the social housing in the block a different name and only allow the tenants to access their flats through a side door in what was when Class War began their protests a dark alley often full of dumped rubbish, smelling of urine. A card entry system let them into a long bare corridor with some mail boxes on one side, quite a contrast to the large foyer with a reception desk, concierge, comfortable seating and art works enjoyed by the rich.

The protests had by then resulted in some small improvements, the alley now having been cleaned and new lighting installed, though the card entry system was apparently often out of order. And the alley still had that nasty smell.

The protesters came with a banner featuring the radical US labour activist Lucy Parsons (1853-1942) with her quotation “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” and posters – with their skull and crossbones – and the message “We have found new homes for the rich” with long rows of grave crosses stretching into the distance – which at one time police tried to arrest them for. They stuck posters on the windows on and around the ‘Rich Door’ using Class War election stickers with their promise of a 50% mansion tax. The building manager came out and pulled the posters off and screwed them up, but they held up others beside the door.

Most of the protest took place in front of the ‘Rich Door’, where they chanted calling for an end to the social apartheid and attempted to talk with the few people who left and entered the building. They held the door open to make their protest more easily heard inside, and there was a brief brief tug of war as security and a resident tried to close it. Eventually they let the door be closed, probably when they saw police arriving.

Police only arrived around 15 minutes after the protesters and they went directly inside the building to talk to the building manager and concierge. Then the police came out and argued with the protesters, trying to get them to move further from the doorway, but they insisted on their right to protest where they wanted on the pavement. Class War kept up the protest for around an hour before they decided it was time to leave – and come back for another protest there the following week. This was just one of a series of around 30 ‘Poor Doors’ protests, most of which I photographed – and published a ‘zine’ of the pictures, still available from Blurb.

Class War – Rich Door, Poor Door


Aldgate & Spitalfields

I was early for the protest at One Commercial St, and took a short walk around the area while I was waiting, going up Commercial St and then back down Toynbee St. I was astonished at the amount of new buildings since I was last here a few years back, and with a great deal of work currently going on. At night all the red lights on the tops of the cranes make London look like a Christmas tree.

It is of course a prime site just on the edge of the City of London, an easy walk to the city, and with plenty of buses, underground stations and both Liverpool St and London Bridge stations not far away. London City Airport is a short taxi ride too, or under half an hour by public transport, and Brick Lane’s curry houses just around the corner. Crossrail will cut journey times to Canary Wharf to 4 minutes when Whitechapel station opens in 2018.

In fact Crossrail only opened in 2022, four years behind schedule, but investors still did pretty well, and much more of the area has been demolished and replaced by investment flats. Our government still counts these as a part of our meagre housing programme although they make no contribution towards easing the housing crisis. We need strong laws to limit overseas ownership of property and financial encouragement to build homes for people, particularly homes at social rents.

Aldgate & Spitalfields


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Dockhead, Sarsons, Tanner St and Bermondsey Square

Friday, July 29th, 2022

The previous post on this walk was Warehouses, Boats and Biscuits – Bermondsey 1988

Dockhead, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-26-Edit_2400
Dockhead, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-26

I walked past Dockhead and along Tooley Street, turning down Tower Bridge Road and on to Tanner St making a few photographs, but have only digitised the two shown here. Dockhead is of course at the head of St Saviour’s Dock and until a bridge was built across the mouth of the dock walkers by the river had to take the route past Dockhead – and I often took a picture looking down the dock towards the Thames and this was no exception, but I haven’t yet digitised it.

The building with the circular window on its top floor was Jacob’s Biscuit Factory – another of whose buildings on Wolseley street featured in the previous post.

Tower Coachworks, Tooley St, Lafone St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-64-Edit_2400
Tower Coachworks, Tooley St, Lafone St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-64

And although I made half a dozen exposures on Tooley St, one on Fair Street and several on Tower Bridge Road, this is the only one on-line. I do sometimes find it hard to know why I’ve not scanned some images and perhaps one day I’ll come back and fill in the gaps. But for the moment this is the only picture here from this section of the route.

It shows the two buildings on the corner with Lafone St, which runs north from Tooley Street to Shad Thames. Tower Coachworks has been demolished and replaced by new flats, but the large warehouse blocks at left, which run across the whole block to Boss St and up Lafone St to Queen Elizabeth St was refurbished by the London Docklands Development Corporation into a large residential development, Boss House. Q’s Ltd Snooker & Pool Club with its line of arrows to guide even the most shortsighted or inebriated to its entrance at rear has long gone. The three warehouses dates from somewhere around 1900 and there was a short street across the middle, Goat St, whose name can just be seen above the van parked on Lafone St, at least on a larger version of this frame.

Sarsons, Vinegar, Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-43-Edit_2400
Sarsons, Vinegar, Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-43

Sarson’s vinegar works were on a large site on Tower Bridge Road with these vats viewed from Tanner St. Their presence was very apparent by the smell which pervaded the area – I couldn’t walk past without thinking of fish and chips – although according to Wikipedia production had moved to Manchester in 1968, it actually continued through the 1980s and the works only closed in 1992.

Thomas Sarson is said to have first brewed his malt vinegar in 1794 in Shoreditch, though apparently this date is unlikely and probably Sarson’s only made cheaper ‘wood’ vinegar until 1894. Sarson’s vinegar was briefly sold as ‘”Sarson’s Virgin Vinegar’ but that name was soon dropped. There is a very detailed article Just Say Sarsons by Tim Smith in a GLIAS Journal about the company with descriptions and photographs from a finely detailed recording visit. The vinegar works were begun by Noah Slee and a Mr Vickers around 1814, but later greatly expanded. The works were run by the Slee family until a merger with Champions in 1908 and their family connection continued until the formation of British Vinegars Ltd in 1932. Later they became a part of Nestlé and the Sarson’s brand is now owned by a Japanese vinegar company, who also own my favourite Hayward’s Pickled Onions.

The site was redeveloped from 2000 on, with its Grade II listed buildings being converted into flats and other buildings such as these vats being demolished and replaced by modern flats.

Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-32-Edit_2400
Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-32

Further west along Tanner St are these three adjoining buildings at 1-3 Tanner St. The Bermondsey Wire Works name has faded a little more but otherwise that building looks much the same, while Neon Manufacturers at No 2 is rather more tidier, has lost its original windows and all signage and has a new door and porch. No 3 has also had something of a face-lift but retains most of its former character, but the hoist no longer has a bucket attached.

Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-33-Edit_2400
Tanner St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-33

These buildings were still very obviously in commercial use back in 1988, but I think now most are studios, offices and residential, and I think I went to an exhibition in one of them a few years ago. Tanner Street was originally known as Five Foot Lane and most of it was on a map by 1544. The second part of the story by Richard Miller deals with it after it was renamed Russell Street in the late 18th century when it contained the Bermondsey Workhouse, and part 3 looks at it after Bermondsey Parish Council renamed it Tanner Street in 1881, reflecting the main trade then carried on there. The workhouse closed in 1922, and the site was bought with funds from selling St Olave’s Church in Tooley Street to Hay’s Wharf – and a part of that church’s tower, now Grade II listed, was installed as a drinking fountain in Tanner Street Recreation Ground which opened on the site in 1929. The park got a little larger in the 1990s.

Cockle & Co, Bermondsey Mesh and Wireworks were at 109 Bermondsey St from 1903-1919 and their works stretched around the corner here into Tanner St. According to the Bermondsey Boy web site, No 3 -7 were built in 1838 for three separate businesses but were bought by the Simmons Company, makers of perambulators, mail carts and stretchers in 1888 and later they also owned No 1 – you can see some of their advertisements on thesite. Simmons sold No 1 in 1952 and closed the business in 1959.

Bermondsey Square, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-14-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Square, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10q-14

Bermondsey Square looks very different now to when I took this picture in 1988 and I think the actual position where I was standing may now be inside the ground floor of the Bermondsey Square Hotel. My shadow in the foreground shows me looking across the grass area towards the corner of Long Lane and Bermondsey St. The building then the Bermondsey Antique Market is still there – as is St Mary’s Church, but rather than antiques it is now ‘Flour & Grape’ which Google now tells me is an Italian restaurant and “A 3-min walk from the White Cube“. What is left of Bermondsey Square is now paved and although there is a small green area with seating at the front of the hotel it looks very plastic.


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March for a People’s Olympics

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Ten years ago on July 27th 2012, as the London 2012 Olympics were getting underway in Stratford, people, mainly from the local area, marched to call for an end to the corporate takeover of the Olympics and the draconian policing and military presence largely aimed at the protection of brands and for the games to meet its legacy promises.

The authorities had done their damnedest to stop the protest taking place – first they had tried to ban it altogether, then Transport for London had refused permission for them to march along any roads which were emergency backup Games routes. But protesters agreed with police that they would leave the road if there was any emergency. Tower Hamlets council tried to ban any speeches or other events on Wennington Green where the march ended, and protesters were threatened they would be arrested if they carried banners, placards or t-shirts with political messages – though it was hard to see any legal basis for doing so.

The ‘Whose Games? Whose City?’ protest went ahead despite the threats, with only one small incident when police seized and searched a man who had cut a piece of police tape. A crowd of marchers supported them and shouted for his release and after a few minutes he was set free without charge and the march continued.

The threats and public controversy had doubtless persuaded many not to come to the event, where around 500 marchers mingled with press and TV from around the world at the starting point in Mile End Park at midday. The organisers, the Counter Olympics Network (CON) had made clear that they were not against the Olympics as a sporting event but against the way it had been taken over by corporate interests. In my long account of the event on My London Diary I quoted from several of their statements, including:

"the close ties between the Olympic brand and its corporate sponsors who, despite IOC claims of vetting on ethical grounds, include serial polluters, companies which seriously damage the environment and which wreck or take lives, Coca Cola, Rio Tinto, BP, Dow Chemical. G4S, Cisco, and Atos deny people their human rights in a variety of situations while Macdonalds helps to fuel the obesity epidemic. London2012 provides benefits at taxpayers’ expense while receiving little in return."

CON also pointed out the many broken promises made about the games and the very doubtful legacy the games will leave, particularly in East London.

"the lack of benefits for local people and businesses, the fantastic expansion of security into our daily lives, the deployment of missiles and large numbers of troops, the unwarranted seizure of public land at Wanstead Flats, Leyton Marsh and Greenwich Park."
A man celebrates after the crowd made police release him

Later in his speech on Wennington Green, Chris Nineham of the Stop The Olympic Missiles Campaign declared that the London Olympics had already set a number of records, including the largest ever number of arrests on the first day, the highest ticket prices, the most intensive application of branding rules and the highest level of militarisation of any Olympic games, with far more being spent on security that even in China. There were now more troops in London than at any time since World War 2, and more than at any time in Afghanistan, where our military activities were now making us a terrorist target in London. Among the other speakers was Melanie Strickland, one of the 182 ‘Critical Mass’ cyclists arrested the previous night for riding near the Olympic stadium.

Industry on the Olympic site, Marshagate Lane, 1990

I had known and photographed the Olympic area since the early 1980s until the public were all excluded from the vast site in 2007 and after when we were only able to peer over the blue fence. In 2010 I brought out a book ‘Before The Olympics’ which included many pictures of the area in the thirty years or so before they took place, as well as looking more widely along the length of the River Lea and the Navigation. Most people miss that parts of the area were formerly thriving industrial and commercial sites, others a verdant wilderness – and of course some thriving allotments. Of course there have been some benefits following 2012 – more housing is something London desperately needs, but much was already being planned before the bid succeeded. But the park remains to me deeply disappointing.

Allotments on the Olympic site, April 2007

The book is still available and you should be able to view a preview at ‘Before the Olympics‘ though Blurb appears to be having some problems at the moment; it is a ridiculously highly priced softback, but there is a more reasonable PDF version. The book includes many of my pictures of the area which are also on my The Lea Valley web site including mainly black and white images from the 1980s and 90s and colour from the 2000s. Later images from before and after 2012 are on various pages of My London Diary. There is a large collection of the black and white images in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 including many from what became the Olympic site.


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Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism – my Saturday 27th July 2013 began with a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London, continued with a vigil for Bradley Manning who exposed US war crimes and ended with a march and rally against and Injustice.


Rev Billy at HSBC – Victoria

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism
Golden Toads to the rescue with ice

I met the Rev Billy and his choir on the Stop Shopping Church Tour England in a green open space on Victoria Street, opposite New Scotland Yard (which has since moved to the Embankment.) There they practised their performance as species – monkeys, jaguars and eagles – among those threatened by climate change.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Some had heads of Golden Toads, a Costa Rican species already made extinct by climate change. These were hidden away as the group walked towards the HSBC bank at Victoria, and we all walked in trying our best to look like normal customers and going up to the long line of ‘Express Banking’ cash machines.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Then the group erupted into dance action, with the Rev Billy using a megaphone to tell bank staff and customers what is happening and why we are in HSBC. Fossil Fuels are killing life on this planet and London banks and the London Stock Exchange play a key role in this – a quarter of all fossil fuel shares are traded on the LSE and in 2010-12 the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with the HSBC in the lead. He promised that they would leave the bank after the short performance.

Then the Golden Toads arrived to save the species, bringing with them some large eggs of ice to help cool the planet down, and then as promised people left the bank to continue to the end of the performance on the wide pavement outside. Police arrived and went into the bank as the players were leaving to celebrate their action in a nearby cafe and bar.

More at Rev Billy at HSBC


Free Bradley Manning Vigil – St Martin’s, Trafalgar Square

Saturday 27th July 2013 was an international day of action by the Bradley Manning Support Network, and in London they held a vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Bradley Manning’s trial had started on 3rd June in Fort Meade, US, and protests have continued both inside and outside the court, with the ‘gay whistleblower’ being celebrated in countries across the world and awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize. Many see Bradley – later Chelsea Manning as a hero who should be honoured rather than imprisoned. Her trial ended on 30th July with a sentence of 35 years, but in 2017 this was commuted by President Obama to seven years, dating from her arrest in 2010.

Free Bradley Manning Vigil


Against Global Racism and Injustice – US Embassy to Whitehall

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK held a rally outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square before marching to Whitehall in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others to highlight the reality of racism and seek justice, both in the UK and US.

The protest was supported by many anti-racist organisations including Operation Black Vote, the National Black Students Campaign, Global Afrikan Congress, PCS, RMT Black Members, Counterfire, UAF, Love Music Hate Racism, Lambeth TUC and Lambeth People’s Assembly and a number of well-known faces from the British left were among the marchers, some were scheduled to speak at the Downing Street rally.

The US Embassy was chosen as the starting point because of the killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin and the global outcry against the acquittal of his murderer under the Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

But although this was a protest against global racism and injustice, and it had a particular focus on this country, and as Lee Jasper stated “We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney.” And others also made clear in speeches they were appalled by UK cases, including We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney and many, many other cases.

I followed the march as it went through Mayfair, but then had to leave rather than attend the final rally.

More at Against Global Racism and Injustice.


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End The Israeli Invasion Of Gaza – 2014

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022

End The Israeli Invasion Of Gaza – 2014 On 8th July 2014, Israel had begun Operation Protective Edge with air strikes and artillery bombardment on the narrow Gaza strip of Palestinian territory.

The previous month 3 Israel teenagers had been kidnapped close to an Israeli settlement on the West Bank; several weeks later their bodies were found – they appeared to have been shot shortly after capture and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would have a tough response.

After the kidnapping the Israel Defence Forces had immediately arrested 350 Hamas members in the West Bank, and in response Hamas fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza strip. Israel’s bombardment failed to stop the rocket attacks and after 10 days on 17th July they began a full-scale ground invasion, attempting to destroy the military tunnels which Hamas had created in Gaza.

Israel ended the ground invasion on 5th of August and a cease-fire was announced on 26th August. During the war between 2,125 and 2,310 Gazans were killed and over 10,000 badly injured, many of them permanently disabled. The homes of over 10,000 families were destroyed and more severely damaged. The huge military imbalance meant that deaths on the Israeli side were 72, five of them civilians.

The protest in London on Saturday 26th July called for an end to Israeli attacks on Gaza which had already killed over a thousand Palestinians, mainly civilians.

It began with a rally on the main road close to the Israeli embassy a short distance down a private road which was heavily defended by barriers and police. The police tried to keep the protesters on the pavements and traffic flowing, but there were soon far too many protesters for this to be possible and it spilt out to block the road.

The rally here was fairly short, with speakers including Owen Jones and Labour veteran Walter Wolfgang. It was hard to estimate the number of protesters, but the wide street was packed with people for around 300 yards, many too far away to hear the speeched. I photographed the front of the march as it moved off and stayed with it for around half a mile before walking slowly back against the flow of the march taking more pictures of the protesters. There were still people coming out of the tube station for the march as I took a train to photograph another protest at Westminster.

After covering another event briefly I met up with the front of the march at Trafalgar Square as it turned into the top of Whitehall and was able to photograph it going down. It stopped briefly opposite Downing St, then continued to Parliament Square for the main rally.

Jeremy Corbyn sees me taking his picture

Parliament Square is almost square with its large central area, mainly grassed about 205×230 feet, and for this protest was mainly fairly crowded, with people spilling out onto the roadways around its edge in places. Though quite a few protesters had felt they had done their bit by marching on a hot day and were making their way to the station or elsewhere.

I stayed for some time, photographing the marchers and speakers but after listening to around 17 of them (you can see my pictures of them on My London Diary) I began to feel rather faint. It was a hot day, and although there is some shade, to take photographs I had needed to stand in the sun. The rally was still continuing as I left for home.

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


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Turkey and Voting Systems

Monday, July 25th, 2022

Turkey and Voting Systems – Saturday 25th July 2015, seven years ago today,wasn’t a particularly busy day for me in London, and I covered only three protests. What caught my attention, because of our current political situation was a protest following the May 2015 election over the unfairness of our current voting system. The other two were about repression in another country which has featured greatly in the news recently particularly over the export of grain from the Ukraine, our NATO ally Turkey.


Free Steve Kaczynski from Turkish Jail – Kingsway

Turkey and Voting Systems

Steve Kaczynski, born in Scotland was at one time employed by the BBC World Service as an expert on Turkey. He was arrested in April 2015 during a raid on a left-wing Turkish cultural centre on suspicion of being a British spy and was still in jail without charge, now on hunger strike.

Turkey and Voting Systems

Kaczynski was at the centre to show international solidarity against fascism when it was raided by Turkish police following a hostage incident in a courthouse where a state prosecutor and the two gunmen holding him captive were killed, but there is no evidence that he was in any way involved with the incident.

Turkey and Voting Systems

The Turkish media has made much of rumours leaked by the government that he was a British or German spy, but those who know him find this impossible to believe. His arrest appears to be part of a systematic programme by the AKP Turkish government to intimidate any political opposition.

The protest outside the building housing the Counsellor’s Office for Culture & Information of the Turkish Embassy on Kingsway, close to Holborn Station, included some from the British left as well as the Turkish Popular Front in the UK. Those who knew him described him as a kind and gentle man who abhors violence and has long campaigned for human rights and political freedom. The protesters handed out leaflets to people passing by and made a lot of noise singing and chanting, but the office was closed on a Saturday morning and it was unlikely that there was anyone in there to hear them.

Steve Kaczynski was finally released three months later, after surviving a 61 day hunger strike.

Free Steve Kaczynski from Turkish Jail


Make seats match votes – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Great Britain in balloons, viewed from the north-west tip of the Scottish mainland

The May 2015 General Election resulted in the Conservative Party who got only 36.8% of the votes, just a little over a third, being returned with an overall majority, though only a small one.

A lone Green balloon on the south coast – and not enough room to put in the London area


Our first past the post constituency-based electoral system brings in huge differences based on both which party you vote for and the area in which you live. There was a Tory MP elected for every 34, 241 Tory voters, a Labour MP for every 40,290 Labour voters, but a Lib-Dem for every 301,990 Lib-Demo Voters and only 1 UKIP and one Green MP despite their parties getting 3,881,099 and 1,157,630 votes respectively. Two small parties with significant votes got no MPs at all.

A petition had been started before the election by Owen Winter, the independent member of the youth parliament for Cornwall, got over 200,000 signatures in a week or two and their were other similar well-supported petitions on other sites calling for voting reform and a system of proportional representation that would result in a government that reflected how people voted – signed in total by more than half a million people.

The protest included a map of the UK made by balloons of different colours for the various parties holding seats in the UK, which doubtless made sense for anyone sitting in a helicopter above the event but was pretty well impossible to see and photograph clearly at ground level.

After a short introduction, people went through the ‘map’ with pins popping balloons for the constituencies where no candidate got over 50% of the votes. Again this was hard to make visual sense out of at ground level.

What seemed to me lacking – apart from the other 499,000 or so who had signed the petitions – was any clear suggest of how a fairer voting system might work, though on My London Diary I put forward one suggestion which might work as well as retaining some of the advantages of the present system. But almost any system of PR would give us a fairer result than the current one, popular with the Conservatives and Labour as it entrenches their unfair advantage. Although the SNP also benefit from the current system they support electoral reform.

Make seats match votes


Kurds blame Turks for Suruc massacre – Downing St

32 Young activists were massacred by ISIS at Suruc on their way with toys, books and other materials to build a playground, library and other projects in Kobani (or Kobane). Kurds and supporters protested at Downing St, blaming our NATO ally Turkey for supporting ISIS.

People hold pictures of some of those killed by ISIS

Kobani is a Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria, close to the Syria–Turkey border, which became a part of Rojava, the autonomous area in the north of Syria under Kurdish control as a consequence of the Syrian Civil War. It was beseiged by ISIS from September 2014 to January 2015, and the defeat of ISIS in the area by the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, backed by US air support was a key turning point in the war against Islamic State.

Turkey has carried out a campaign of repression against the Kurds in Turkey who in return have been trying, sometimes by military means, to free themselves from Turkish domination which treats them as inferior citizens, outlawing their language and culture, and kidnapped and still holds their leader, Abdullah Ocalan. More recently Turkey has invaded parts of Rojava, and the Kobani area accepted the Syrian Army and their Russian support into the area in an attempt to protect it from Turkish invasion.

Turkey allows ISIS to operate on and across their border, as well as assisting them in the smuggling out of oil and other goods through Turkey vital in their economic support. They have also allowed recruits and supplies to reach them through Turkey. They appear to hope that ISIS will solve the Kurdish problem for them by defeating the Kurds in Iraq ad Syria.

After many speeches, including one by Edmonton MP Kate Osamor who has many Kurds in her constituency, they marched off towards the BBC which they say ignores attacks on Kurds and routinely sides, like the British Government with the Turkish government against them.

Kurds blame Turks for Suruc massacre


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Boris J is not our Prime Minister

Sunday, July 24th, 2022

Boris J is not our Prime Minister – That title expressed the feelings of many of us when I wrote it on Wednesday 24th July 2019, the day 3 years ago that he assumed office. He had then been elected by the votes of 92,153 Conservative Party members in the leadership election, around twice the number received by Jeremy Hunt. Unfortunately 3 years later he is still our prime minister, if now only hanging on until a successor is elected.

Later after the 2019 election where the Tories won a ‘landslide’ victory with an 80 seat majority after receiving 43.6% of the votes, the party could claim a mandate for its policies. But although many supported his policy of ‘Getting Brexit Done’ (and Starmer had possibly deliberately pushed the Labour Party under Corbyn into a popular defeat by persuading the Labour Party to back his ideas of another referendum) very few actually voted for Boris Johnson – his 52.6% majority in Uxbridge took only 25,321 votes.

We have a crazy and undemocratic electoral system which suits the wealthy minority who remain very much in control of things and even though had Corbyn formed a government would have prevented many of his policies from becoming law.

The Forde report – finally published on the hottest day ever in the country when wild fires were sweeping London and the Tory prime-ministerial contest was in full swing to ensure it got little if any mention in the news – shows clearly how many of the officers and right-wing MPs made sure we failed to get a Labour government. You will need to download it and read its 138 pages if you wish to know what it says rather than the spin that some will put on it.

If anyone tries to tell you that there were faults on both sides or that it isn’t a damning condemnation of the Labour Party and how it machinated to ensure Corbyn’s defeat they are simply lying to protect themselves and their political future. The Forde report does its best to suggest there were two sides, but lacks credibility in this aspect by failing to note the crucial difference. One side largely kept to the rules and had a democratic mandate from hundreds of thousands – the great majority of party members, while the other was acting in its own self-interest often outside the rules and against the will, traditions and historical mission of the party.

The Forde report does not tell the whole story, and goes out of its way to try and be balanced over a situation which was very much out of kilter. It really needs to be read alongside the controversial leaked report into anti-semitism written to be submitted tot he EHRC which led to it being set up – and which led to Martin Forde QC being subjected to various and continuing legal threats from the moment he was appointed. Much that should have been in Forde’s report is simply not there. But although that document was widely distributed via social media, for legal reasons it will be difficult to find a copy now if you did not download it at the time. And for legal reasons I can’t make it available here though it can still be found and downloaded from abroad over a VPN.

John McDonnell tweeted after the report was published: “Shockingly Forde report findings confirm what was suspected. That party officials secretly diverted election funds in 2017, prevented supporters of Jeremy Corbyn from having a vote in the leadership election & used discriminatory abuse. To move on lessons need to be learnt.” And the report certainly does confirm those allegations.

Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary implicated her as a spy when she was held on a family visit

Others find sections of the report which they can use to yet again attack Corbyn for anti-semitism – even in some cases quoting paragraphs which are clearly in his favour to do so. There are certainly groups that are still determined to have his scalp, whatever the evidence.

Unfortunately the nightmare will continue even when Boris is replaced

Back in 2019 there had been protests outside Downing Street during the day and in the evening a large crowd mainly of young people gathered for a protest party in Russell Square, where speakers included Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who made a strong plea for a General Election.

Earlier at Downing St

I decided to leave before the crowd set off for Downing St to join protesters there. I’d called at Downing St on my way to Russell Square and there were only a few present then, but apparently numbers had swelled considerably by the time the marchers arrived and I missed rather a lot of the action. But I was tired and wanted to go home and get on with processing the pictures I’d already taken.

Boris J is not our Prime Minister


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Warehouses, Boats and Biscuits – Bermondsey 1988

Saturday, July 23rd, 2022

Warehouses, Boats and Biscuits – Bermondsey 1988 continues the walk on 30th October 1988 which my previous post, Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988 left at Chambers Wharf.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-51-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-51

I walked back to the eastern end of Bermondsey Wall West in 1988, where the road had been cut in two in the 1930s by the building of the giant Chambers Wharf cold store. This shows the warehouses to the east of East Lane on the river side of the street. On the https://maps.nls.uk/view/101201658 1896 OS Town plan this was named as Vestry Wharf, which had a dock, and beyond it East Lane Wharf.

I can’t remember if the East Lane Stairs leading down to the foreshore were still open here in 1988. They are Grade II listed and still exist but are now behind a locked gate and look unsafe. Vestry Wharf was opened in 1874 and the vestry – then the local authority – used it and East Lane Wharf to ship out refuse collected in the area. The dock there was previously a dry dock.

These buildings have now been replaced by modern buildings and when I walked around here in 2019 it was possible to walk out to a riverside patio here, the street now ends at the Thames super-sewer works on the former cold store site.

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Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-55

Taken from roughly the same spot as the previous image but facing in the opposite direction along Bermondsey Wall West, so the range of buildings on the right of the picture are on the river side.

The warehouses on the left of the street – of which only a small corner is in my picture have been replaced by a modern building, while the row along the left still at least look fairly similar, although there has been extensive refurbishment between the street and the river wall. I think these are all now a part of the Tempus Wharf redevelopment, though in 1896 they were Brunswick Wharf (Grade II listed as Chambers Wharf at 29), Seaborne Coal Wharf and an unnamed wharf closest to camera. East Lane Stairs went down beside the wall of this wharf at the extreme right of the image, though I think they may have been closed by a gate, as otherwise I would probably have gone down them.

George Row, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-56-Edit_2400
George Row, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-56

Prominent on the left is St Saviour’s House on the corner of George Row and Bermondsey Wall West, written about in a previous post on this walk. The three or four storey 20th century building at the centre has now been replaced by a block of flats, River View Heights, a modern gated development with 24-hour porterage on the former site of Slate Wharf.

Closer to camera, the street name is handwritten as Chambers Wharf, though this was and is Chambers Street. The site is now occupied by a modern brick building. You can see from the wall in the picture that this building predates Chambers St, cut through here when Bermondsey Wall was split in two by the huge Chambers Cold Store in the 1930s.

I can’t read the notice on the wall entirely. At the top I think it has two words, the first ‘Daily’ but the second illegible. Under that are two sails and the word ‘Mailboat’ and below more clearly ‘COLLECTION CENTRE’. Perhaps the top line once read ‘Daily Mail’, and this advertised a mail service for sailors moored at the wharves nearby, some of which served vessels from the North of England and the continent – and once the cold store opened further afield.

Moorings, Jacobs Island, River Thames, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-45-Edit_2400
Moorings, Jacobs Island, River Thames, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-45

Back in 1988 there were only two boats moored at what are variously known as the Downings Road, Reeds Wharf or Tower Bridge Moorings off Jacobs Island, close to the mouth of St Saviour’s Dock. By the last time I was there this had grown to a cluster of around 40 houseboats and a few smaller vessels stretching around 165 metres downstream from the narrow access at the corner of Bermondsey Wall West and Mill Street.

The ancient moorings were bought by architect Nicholas Lacey in the 1980s and he “is committed to maintaining their historical usage” as moorings. The interconnected boats have a series of roof gardens and there is a stage for cultural and arts events. They also still provide temporary moorings for other boats.

Southwark Council fought a long an mostly legal battle to get rid of the barges, issuing eviction orders in 2003 and 2004. They were rebuffed by London Mayor Ken Livingstone who told Southwark that moorings fitted in with the London Plan and that these ones were broadly acceptable to long as appropriate amenity and environmental safeguards were in place. It was probably a great disappointment to Labour Southwark Council’s property developer friends, but welcome to most Londoners who like the colour the moorings provide.

New Concordia Wharf, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-41-Edit_2400
New Concordia Wharf, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-41

In 1988 there was no Thames Path – it was approved in 1989 but only opened in 1996, and the bridge across the mouth of St Saviour’s Dock only built in 1995. Instead I turned down Mill Street to photograph the splendid chimney and warehouses of the nicely preserved New Concordia Wharf.

Built as a St. Saviour’s Flour Mill in 1882, the mill had to be rebuilt after a fire twelve years later. These Grade II listed premises were converted to residential use in 1981-3, one of the earliest warehouse conversions in the area.

Office Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Wolseley St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-34-Edit_2400
Works, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Wolseley St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-34

I’d previously photographed the OFFICER and WORKERS entrances to the former biscuit factory of W & R Jacobs on Wolseley St, but this time took a picture of the entire frontage. Jacobs had at least two factories in the area as well their main works in Aintree, Liverpool, and on the wall it also names Manchester and Dublin where the brothers William and Robert moved to shortly after founding the business in Waterford in 1851. This factory was an extension of their earlier works in 1907 and has been demolished. The building at the end of the street on the right of picture is still there.

I’d long been confused over this building being in Wolseley St but the next street to the north off of Mill St being Jacob Street – getting its name from that of the area, Jacob’s Island. Biscuits were also made in Jacob St but for dogs, by Spillers.

Workers Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Jacob St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-21-Edit_2400
Workers Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Jacob St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-21

The Workers entrance was rather small on the previous image, so I took another picture of it.

Tower Finishers, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-24-Edit_2400
Tower Finishers, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-24

Tower Finishers is on the corner of Mill St and Wolseley St, and its address is I think 1 Wolseley St. The street got its name from the Field Marshall parodied as a ‘modern major general’ in the Pirates of Penzance. “Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, KP, GCB, OM, GCMG, VD, PC (4 June 1833 – 25 March 1913)”, had many victories in Canada, West Africa and Egypt and modernised the British Army and was Commander-in-Chief from 1895-1900. For a time the phrase “everything’s all Sir Garnet” became a common way of saying everything was in order.

Tower Finishers were cutter makers and printing trade finishers. The building is still on the corner, very much tidied up and I suspect rather different behind its exterior wall.

My 1988 walk around Bermondsey will continue in a later post.


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Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988 continues from the previous post Bermondsey – Rubber, Antiques, Murals & A Martyr 1988

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Sr Saviour’s House, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o24

I walked up George Row, following what had been the main course of the River Neckinger to Bermondsey Wall and St Saviour’s House, where I made one of my favourite images of London. The building, as No 21 Bermondsey Wall West, gets a short mention in Southwarks St Saviours Dock Conservation area appraisal from 2003 which notes it “has recently been restored and extended, losing some of its character“, though perhaps the main loss has been of its view of Tower Bridge with all that is now visible being the street side of modern riverside luxury flats.

Information I’ve been able to find on-line tells me only what the eye can see (though not all in my picture) which is that it has a “white rendered wall punctuated only by a large door with a classical segmental pediment, and a simple circular window above it.” It obviously gets its name from St Saviour’s Monastery and from its appearance I think was possibly a Catholic institution of some nature. When I posted on-line a view showing the rear of this building (since obscured by an extension) in 1983 a year or two ago I wrote:

“Google maps describes St Saviour’s House as a ‘Religious institution’ and it looks rather like a convent or convent school but it appears now to be expensive flats – around £1m for 2 bed – and one estate agent describes it as a ‘warehouse conversion’.

The road by St Saviour’s House is still narrow and with a slight curve rather like that in the picture, possibly originally following the bank of the river or a tidal canal. The front of St Saviour’s House is on George Row, where the River Neckinger ran, with a bridge over it here. The tidal canals had water let in every few days to for the mill immediately to the west, and the Neckinger, the Thames, St Saviour’s Dock and a canal alongside Wolseley St (then London St) formed the boundaries of the slum notorious in the early 19th century as Jacob’s Island, used by Dickens in Oliver Twist.

River Thames, Tower Bridge, Pier, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-26-Edit_2400
River Thames, Tower Bridge, Pier, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o26

Much of the riverside here is now full of luxury flats and is private here. On Bermondsey Wall West there is an area where you can look out along the river to Tower Bridge but a new block on the end of the older warehouses restricts the view.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-12
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-12

This warehouse block, now converted to flats and offices as Tempus Wharf is still there at 29 Bermondsey Eall West, just to the east of the junction with Flockton St. This five storey warehouse dating dating from 1865-70 and is Grade II listed as Chambers Wharf, a rather confusing name as there was a much larger building known as Chambers Wharf a short distance to the east.

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Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-14

On the 1896 OS Town plan this is named as Brunswick Wharf. It was built on the former site of Murrell’s Wharf as a granary. Later it was combined with the Seaborne Coal Wharf next door on the east as Sterling Wharf for paper and card. Chambers bought up many of the wharves along here in the 1930s and erected their large cold store (demolished in 2008-9) a little to the east. I think the name Tempus Wharf is just a little bit of Latin added to give it a little more class.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-15-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-15

A more distant view of the east side of St Saviour’s House from Bermondsey Wall West shows the large area of blank white rendered flat wall. In the redevelopment this was stepped out into George Row and perforated with windows and garage doors, with only a short section of the original now visible. It also gives an impression of the state of the area back in 1988

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Robson Road Haulage, Chambers St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988

This building and the taller ones behind were a part of the Chambers Wharf Cold Stores site.

88-10p-64-Edit_2400

When Chambers Wharf and Cold Stores Ltd built their giant cold stores in the 1930s they were in a vaguely Deco style, but those parts rebuilt after wartime bomb damage were rather plainer. The buildings were huge, and resulted in the closing of a section of Bermondsey Wall, dividing it into West and East, with the frontage here on Chambers St. The river frontage had 3 berths and there were frequent services from the continent bringing meat and other perishable goods here. It closed as a cold store in the 1980s and was briefly used as a gold bullion & document store.

Various plans were put forward for its redevelopment, including as a heliport for London, which the graffiti here, ‘BUILD YOUR HELIPORT IN YOR BACK GARDN NOT OURS’ shows was not welcome in the area and a strong local campaign by CHOP saw an end to that proposal. Finally planning permission was given for a residential development. The cold stores were demolished around 2008 but progress on the site has been held up by the Thames Tideway Tunnel super-sewer works for which it it a major site.

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Chambers Wharf, Chambers St, Bermondsey, 1988 88-10p-65

A final picture for this post of another part of the Chambers Wharf site, still with its sign. I turned around and walked back to Bermondsey Wall West, where the next post on the walk will begin.


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