Archive for December, 2022

Sudbury to Brentford – 31st December 2016

Saturday, December 31st, 2022

Sudbury to Brentford

Six years ago on New Year’s Eve we walked with a couple of family members from Sudbury to Brentford. This year because of rail and health problems none of our family are staying with us and “South Western Railway services between 18 December and 8 January are subject to change and may not operate”, so if the weather is fine we will probably do a rather shorter walk from home.

Sudbury to Brentford

The trip in 2016 to Sudbury Hill station was reasonably fast; a short train journey then a bus and a couple of short hops on the Piccadilly line got us there in a little under an hour and a half, and within a few minutes we were walking along suburban streets to Horsenden Wood, where we walked to the top of the hill.

Sudbury to Brentford

Unfortunately it was a dull and damp day, and we could only see the extensive views this part of the walk would have given us had the air been clear dully through the murk, but the path up through the wood was enhanced by the slight mist. We walked down the hill to cross the Grand Union Canal.

Soon we reached the highpoint of the walk for some of us, the 1930s trading estate leading to the Art Deco Tesco on Western Avenue, designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners and built in 1933 for Hoover, along with the 1930s moderne canteen, now an Asian restaurant. We chose the Tesco both for a tiny bit of shopping and the toilets, then walked west to the footbridge to cross the busy road.

Almost immediately on the path the other side of Western Avenue we came to St Mary the Virgin Perivale, now used for concerts, with just an occasional service.

This Grade I listed redundant church dates in part from the 13th century and was the smallest church in Middlesex (outside London.) We explored its graveyard and sat down on a rather damp seat there to eat our sandwiches in what was either heavy drizzle or light rain.

The next section of the walk took us beside the River Brent, another of London’s minor rivers and like the rest of our walk going to Brentford, though we had to make some deviations to follow roads and footpaths. This was a relatively quiet and sometimes boring section of the walk, though its always good to walk beside the river, and there was a rather dumpy viaduct for a doomed railway, a council estate and a long foot path to a Cuckoo Lane where no cuckoos were to be heard except for our ludicrous imitations.

Things got more interesting again when we reached Hanworth Church, and early work of George Gilbert Scott who later called it ‘a mass of horrors’ and Brent Lodge Park, where I ignored the pleas of some of my cfo-walkers and led us firmly away from a tea-room – we were already and hour or so behind schedule if we were to finish the walk during daylight.

Brunel really knew how to build a viaduct, and here was the first major engineering work on the new Great Western Railway in 1836-7, with 8 semi-elliptical arches each of 70 ft span and rising 19 ft supported on hollow brick piers – the first time these were used in a railway viaduct. 886 ft long, the height to the parapet is 81 ft, and when built it was 30 ft wide to carry two broad gauge lines. Later it was widened to 55ft with a third pier added to each existing pair, and it could then take four standard gauge tracks, which were laid in 1892. We walked under this impressive structure beside the River Brent to the south side which is the earlier part and carries the arms of Lord Wharncliffe, chair of the committee that gave permission for the GWR.

We continued by the Brent to join the Grand Union Canal, another earlier great engineering acheivement along with the rest of the canal system, at the Hanwell flight of locks. Our route now ran along the towpath, so navigation was simple, all the way to the Great West Road.

There was still just enough light to take a few photographs, but my companions were flagging and our walk was getting slower and slower.

By the time we reached the road for the short walk to Brentford Station it was truly dark and they had slowed to a snails pace, and despite my urging them to catch the next train we arrived there to see it just departing, for once dead on time, though we were an hour and a minute later then planned. It had been a good walk but would have been better without the 29 minutes wait there for the next train.

You can see many more pictures from the walk on My London Diary at New Years Eve Walk.

Matlock & Matlock Bath

Friday, December 30th, 2022

Monday 30th December 2019 seems so long ago now, part of BC – before Covid – and it comes as some surprise to work out that it was only three years ago that we were staying in Matlock and going for a walk with my younger son and his family.

Matlock & Matlock Bath

Matlock Bath is the tourist centre of the area, just around a mile and a half down the A6 from Matlock where we were staying, but that would be a rather boring walk. Instead we took a route along a well-signposted footpath up the steep east side of the valley taking us to High Tor, coming down to Matlock. The actual horizontal distance was perhaps twice as far, but the vertical aspect was considerably greater, with some splendid views perhaps compensating for the life-threatening exertion. I’m just not used to hills.

Matlock & Matlock Bath

The path around the face of High Tor was described by one sensationalist article in a tabloid excuse for a newspaper as the “most dangerous footpath in England” but in fact is rather safe, even having a handrail to hold as it narrows around the cliff face. It’s a path I would avoid in high winds, event though there is a one way system which most walkers adhere to on this short section as passing people could be just a little tricky.

Matlock & Matlock Bath

But there are far more dangerous paths than this, which is safer than many coastal cliff walks. Not of course a walk to take your hard to control young children on, and the article appeared to have been triggered by the complaint of one mother who had done so. Public footpaths date from before we had much concern for health and safety.

There were a few people like us making this popular walk, but coming down to the main road with its long row of fish and chip shops was entering tourist central, crowded enough to make it hard to keep walking at a sensible speed. It’s always like a little bit of a popular seaside resort strangely landed in the centre of the country about as far from the sea as you can get. It was quite a shock when I first saw it, coming up the A6 on my way to another term at Manchester University in the 1960s – though we soon found there were better routesif less scenic.

At one of the pubs we met other family and friends including the younger and less controllable who had arrived by train – one short stop down the line – rather than make our more hazardous journey. We walked out to admire the fish swimming in their pool while waiting for the food to arrive and afterwards left to visit the mining museum.

The mining museum is worth a visit, though it really needs several visits to see it all, and hits a balance between a museum proper and a visitor experience mainly for children, though some of its fake mine passages are tricky for overisize adults.

We left the mining museum and divided into two parties again. My son and I decided to walk back to Matlock over the hills to the west of the main road while the others went to the station to catch the train.

The steps up the steep hillside past the entrance to Gulliver’s Kingdom were a little daunting to a flat earth dweller whose heart has seen better days, but past them it was a pleasant walk with few sections with good views across the valley as the light faded at the end of the day.

More pictures and story at Matlock & Matlock Bath. This year we will be at home today and our walk will be rather flatter.

IWGB – Ten Years

Thursday, December 29th, 2022
IWGB - Ten Years

The union, originally known as the Industrial Workers of Great Britain was founded by Latin American cleaners in August 2012 as “a worker led union organising the unorganised, the abandoned and the betrayed“.

IWGB - Ten Years

Since then it has seen a remarkable growth thanks to its successes in achieving better pay and conditions of service for its members, expanding from cleaners into various other sector, including some never before unionised in what has become the ‘gig economy’ and has branches for cleaners, couriers, private hire drivers, foster carers, the video games industry, charity workers, nannies, security and receptionists, au pairs, yoga teachers as well as Universities of London and general members branches.

IWGB - Ten Years

The union was formed after cleaners in traditional trade unions such as Unite and Unison saw that they were not getting the support they needed to improve their pay and conditions. The unions that were recognised by the employers seemed unwilling to confront the employers and press the workers’ case and were failing to organise actions at the workplace.

I had met some of those involved at earlier protests organised by union branches, at times in defiance of the union bureaucracy, and earlier in 2012 by the cleaners’ branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), including at John Lewis in July 2012 and the LSE and the Royal Bank of Canada in June.

At St Georges Tooting, May 2012

Earlier in May 2012 the I photographed a protest for cleaners led by the IWW at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, where only one of the hospital cleaners was still a member of Unison, the recognised union, as “UNISON have never campaigned for the London Living Wage at St Georges and have actively assisted the management in their efforts to undermine the cleaners resistance to cuts.” Unison had written to the cleaners, instructing them not to take part in the protest and describing the IWW as “a non TUC anti union organisation.”

Justice for Cleaners at Société Générale, 6 Sep 2012

I first became aware of the miserable pay and conditions of cleaners and photographed some of them back in 2006 when the London Citizens Workers’ Association with the support of faith organisations, trade unions (notably the T&GWU) and social justice organisations launched the ‘Justice for Cleaners’ campaign in May Day. Things seem to move slowly but I met them again in 2007 and in 2008 at noisy high-profile but peaceuful demonstrations on the streets outside companies to shame them into ensuring that their outsourced cleaners got better conditions. That success appears to have prompted government action to make such protests, continued by the IWGB and others, illegal, though it seems unlikely to actually prevent them.

Since the IWGB was formed I’ve photographed many of their protests – too many to list, and including many I’ve written about on this site as well as My London Diary – where a search on ‘IWGB’ will reveal many of them. They are not the only grass roots union representing precarious workers and I’ve also photographed many actions by the United Voices of the World. Both are very much worker-led trade unions and work in similar ways, using the law in tribunals and court cases and holding noisy protests to shame companies.

The IWGB say they are the UK’s leading union for precarious workers. They are a democratic and member-led organisation with workers in the branches leading them and determining the policies they follow. There are no high-paid union leaders, and the union has a great record of empowering its members.

The Wikipedia article lists some of their successes though it is in need of considerable updating and some minor corrections. But it does point out some of their success, particularly in the 3 Cosas campaign for proper sick pay, holidays and pensions for workers at the University of London, in attracting support from politicians including Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. And the IWGB have certainly led in challenging employment law relating to the ‘gig economy’.

I could fill a book (or two) with my pictures of the IWGB and the UVW, and perhaps one day I will, and I could write much more, though others could do it better. The pictures with this post, with two exceptions come from one day, 28th January 2014, when as a part of the ‘3 Cosas’ campaign low paid workers at the University of London on the second day of their 3 day strike for union recognition and better conditions took their dispute around London on the open-top IWGB battle bus, stopping at key sites, including Parliament Square and the Royal Opera House for a rally and protests.

On the Buses & Consent

Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

On the Buses & Consent

I was reminded the other day by a long thread on a private Facebook group about the controversy over taking photographs of people in public without their consent. It’s something that had a significant effect on my own practice in the 1980s before I finally came to a conclusion.

On the Buses & Consent

Back in 1938 and 1941, Walker Evans spent a great deal of time making a photographic study of people on the New York subway – their equivalent of London’s Underground system. He used a 35mm camera, a Contax, hidden under his overcoat with just the lens poking out and a cable release running down his sleeve to his hand to remain unnoticed by those he was photographing on seats opposite.

On the Buses & Consent

You can see some of the pictures he took on a page on ASX. The group at the top of the page there shows that he at least sometimes made multiple images of the same person, so he must have put a hand inside his coat to wind on between each picture. The Contax had a wind-on knob which takes a noticeable pressure to turn and its hard to see how he managed this without being obvious, but I suppose people were then completely unaware of the possibility of being photographed in this environment, and few would have identified the glass fronted object between Evan’s coat buttons as a camera lens.

Evans worked in this way to produce portraits that were entirely natural that would only rely on the individuality of the people he sat facing, a kind of raw photography where the only control he retained was over when to press the release.

Although Evans showed the pictures to friends – and got his collaborator the writer James Agee to write an introduction to them – which included the words ‘Each, also, is an individual existence, as matchless as a thumbprint or a snowflake‘ in 1940, he had reservations about publishing them about the invasion of privacy that was involved. It was only in 1966, over 25 years after they were taken, that he finally felt able to publish them in the book ‘ Many Are Called‘.

It’s clear in UK law that people have no copyright on their faces, they are not intellectual property, and that here we can generally take pictures in public of whatever we like – subject to a few specific restrictions and laws such as those governing decency and preventing stalking. But it isn’t always clear what spaces are public and which are private, and at least in theory bylaws may prohibit photography even in some that seem clearly public, including Trafalgar Square and many recent developments.

UK law makes a distinction between being in public and being where we have “a reasonable expectation of privacy“, and I think this is a very useful guide. On the open street – or on the subway or Underground – there is no such expectation, though there are still certain rules of behaviour we should observe, whether or not we are taking photographs. Generally we should not be rude or obtrusive, threatening or interfering unless there is very good reason to be so.

Apart from this, if we take and publish photographs – with or without consent – I think we have a responsibility towards those we photograph not to misrepresent them or treat them in a derogatory manner. That doesn’t mean always making ‘nice’ photographs, and if people are behaving badly there is nothing wrong with pictures that make that clear.

So, do I ask for consent when taking pictures? Occasionally but only very occasionally. Generally it seems less of an intrusion not to do so. Most of the pictures I take are of people involved in events where there is at least an implied permission and often an actual desire to be photographed. If you are taking part in a protest you are making a public statement and wish that to be recorded and publicised – and should there be some particular reason for your face not to appear, then you can always wear a mask – something Covid has made even more acceptable.

So when do I ask, either verbally or by gesture? Mainly when I want to invade someone’s personal space, going in close for an image, just very occasionally when I want them to do something. I never actually pose people but occasionally may ask them to face in a particular direction or hold a placard higher – or turn it the correct way up.

I had to sort out my views on consent clearly around 1990, when I took part in a project on transport in London which was exhibited at the Museum of London. I had two sets of pictures in the show, one of which showed the building of the DLR extension to B which involved no such problems, though perhaps a little trespassing to get the viewpoints I wanted.

But for a second set I decided to photograph people on buses, which very much did. There seemed to be no way I could make any kind of pictures I wanted by always asking for permission. I decided to make pictures, not quite like Walker Evans, but without seeking consent, sometimes holding the camera away from my eye when taking pictures, partly to get a more interesting viewpoint. A few people did see me taking pictures but only one objected – the man wearing a snake.

It’s perhaps time now, over 30 years after taking these pictures that I made a book of them.

Remember Gaza – 2012

Tuesday, December 27th, 2022

Remember Gaza - 2012

On 27th December 2008 the Israeli military began ‘Operation Cast Lead’ after 6 months of planning, striking 100 targets in Gaza in less than four minutes. This initial attack was followed by other air attacks and on January 3rd by an invasion on the ground. Israeli Defense Forces ended their attacks on 18th January 2009 by which time around 1400 Palestinians had been killed, with only 13 Israeli deaths, four killed by their own forces. You can read more on Wikipedia.

Remember Gaza - 2012

Every year for the next four years there were large protests close to the Israeli Embassy in London on December 27th against calling for an end to attacks on Gaza and an end to the siege of Gaza which prevents the imports of building materials and other vital goods needed for health and reconstruction. But the 2008-9 attacks on Gaza have been followed by others in 2014 and 2018 and more air strikes in 2021 and 2022.

Remember Gaza - 2012

Things now seem likely to get even worse with a new Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu including anti-Arab ultra-nationalists in key posts including the finance minister, a defence ministry post and national security minister as well as in the education ministry.

Among promises made to form the coalition are the legalisation of illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, lifting of restrictions on Jewish prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and a loosening of the restrictions on using live fire against Palestinian protesters. The new government also intends to end any independence of the judicial system in Israel, making the Supreme Court subservient to government.

So far as I am aware there will be no particular protest in London today, and the last I attended on December 27th was in 2012, four years after the start of the 2008 massacres – and the pictures here come from that day. The Israeli embassy is on a private road where a ban on protest is rigorously enforced, with police and barriers preventing access, and protests take place on Kensington High Street, opposite the private street.

There are still large protests in London calling for an end to Israeli Apartheid and for freedom for Palestine – such as that on 14th May 2022 marking 74 years after the Nakba as well as many smaller actions calling for a boycott of Israeli goods and services and divestment from Israel, with the BDS movement gaining strength world-wide. Attempts by Israel to categorise any support for Palestine as anti-Semitism have largely failed because of increasing repression and increased reporting of repression by the Israeli government, Israeli forces and attacks on Palestinians by some Jewish settlers. Many of those taking part in the protests supporting Palestine are Jewish, standing alongside others from Palestine.

This year I’m pleased to feel able to have another day of relative rest after Christmas, particularly as train services are disrupted as the UK government tries to prop up our dysfunctional rail system at the expense of rail workers – while continuing the handouts to the private companies – including several European state railway companies. As in gas, electricity, water and more privatisation has proved an entirely predictable economic disaster, selling off the family silver for short-term gain.

More at Gaza – End the Siege.

Boxing Day Walks (and Rides)

Monday, December 26th, 2022

Boxing Day Walks (and Rides)
Waterworks, Wraysbury

Our Boxing Days here have followed a similar pattern for a few years now, at least in those years where we’ve stayed at home rather than visiting family elsewhere. We get up, have breakfast and then get ready to go out for a walk. We walk from our home to a mid-day meal with my sister and other family members, in recent years at a pub close to where she lives. Then a leisurely wander to her house for tea. And rather later going home, though so far we’ve not had to walk back.

Boxing Day Walks (and Rides)
Boatyard at Runnemede

Partly we walk because there is little if any public transport on Boxing Day. We could cycle, but the roads are more rather more dangerous than usual thanks to motorists with a higher than usual alcohol level, and also because I like to have a glass or two myself with my boxing day lunch, though it would be easy to do the journey almost entirely off-road. Perhaps this year we will cycle, the weather forecast isn’t too bad.

Boxing Day Walks (and Rides)

The walk is at least five miles. In the past we used to often take longer and sometimes hillier routes to give us a little more exercise. Now we sometimes stop on the way for coffee at one of the few cafés that are open. The walk helps to get up an appetite for another large meal after our minor over-indulgences the previous day. Years ago we often went out for another walk before our late afternoon tea, but others in the family are now too old for this.

Oakley Court

St Mary Magdalene, Boveney,

Of course I take a camera with me, and take pictures on the way, as well as sometimes some family pictures during the meal and after, though these I seldom share outside the family as they have very little interest for others.

Windsor Racecourse

So earlier I spent some time looking for my pictures from boxing day walks in earlier years to post today. These pictures come from a rather longer journey on 26th December 2005, when we cycled a few miles further along the River Thames than necessary before turning back for our lunch.

Home Park from Albert Bridge

I first posted some pictures from this walk on My London Diary in 2005. Although that post describes it as a walk, from the distances involved and the EXIF times we must have been on our bikes. And had a very late lunch.

This is a slightly different collection; all pictures were made with a Nikon D200 DX format DSLR.

Wishing You a Happy Christmas

Sunday, December 25th, 2022

Just a few of my Christmassy pictures from over the years. Today I’ll be having a quiet Christmas at home with a few family members. Well, fairly quiet as we usually sing a few carols in the evening, rather boisterously. Fortunately for them our neighbours are away visiting family elsewhere.

I looked through some of the older files on my computer a couple of days ago and found these – and scheduled this post. Some of them are images I’ve used in Christmas Cards in previous years – and one a few friends got this year.

Wishing You a Happy Christmas
Shop window, 1988
Wishing You a Happy Christmas
Shop window, 1989
Wishing You a Happy Christmas
Shop window, 1990
Wishing You a Happy Christmas
Oxford St, 1999
Fathers4Justice (and Mothers) 2004
Snow Maiden & Father Frost 2005
More Santas and Mama Santas from Fathers4Justice 2005
Christmas Designed by Debenhams, 2006
Santacon – Santas get engaged
Tower Bridge, 2007

For many it hasn’t been a great year but perhaps this will be one of the better parts of it. I hope you can enjoy Christmas.

Striking Days

Saturday, December 24th, 2022

London, UK. 15th Dec 2022. Around a thousand people, including nurses and supporters came to a lunchtime protest outside St Thomas’s Hospital on the approach to Westminster Bridge

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for around half an hour wondering what I should write about for Christmas Eve. I tried looking back at what I’d done in previous years – all in the blog archive on the right of this page which goes back to 2006 (though I didn’t post anything on December 24th until the following year) but all that did was depress me as so many of my earlier posts seemed rather more interesting and better written than more recent entries, and much wider in scope.

London, UK. 15th Dec 2022.

This year seems likely to be a very quiet Christmas for me, and the reason is largely Covid and other infections. Although Christmas and Boxing Day will be much the same both my sons have cancelled planned visits home with their families because of the huge prevalence of disease at the moment and the risks they might cause both to vulnerable adults like us (I’m an ancient diabetic) and their families.

London, UK. 15th Dec 2022.

Of course I’ve had all the Covid jabs – I think four so far – and the flu vaccination and it’s perhaps why I seem at the moment to be doing better than some of my mainly rather younger friends. Last Wednesday four of us cancelled a final get-together before Christmas for a meal together as one had Covid and another was in bed with another virus.

London, UK. 15th Dec 2022.

But I do feel very depressed and angry. Mainly at the terrible mess our government have made of the country particularly in the last year, but also over the longer term. Truss’s nightmare government which resulted in the waste of many billions in a few days, Sunak as Chancellor and now PM and the longer term disastrous effects of Brexit and austerity. And longer term still the truly crazy privatisation of key industries such as gas, water, electricity, railways and the creeping back-door privatisation of the NHS with ‘reforms’ which have been largely about opening it to private profit.

London, UK. 20 Dec 2022.

Things do now seem to be coming to a head, with workers seeing wages clearly leaving them unable to cope with increases in prices of energy and food, as well as rises in rents and mortgages, and strikes across the public sector as well in the privatised postal service. Even some of the right-wing press have begun to desert the Tories for their incompetence – as Labour has moved and is beginning to look like a more economically competent right-wing party. And even the BBC has begun to pick up some of the more blatant lies made by ministers about the nurses.

London, UK. 20 Dec 2022.

One thing I’ve not posted much if at all about this year is my continuing photography on the streets of London, largely covering protests. I don’t do as much as I did in earlier years, but I’ve still been going out and working a few days each month since the lock-down ended. And although I’ve not been keeping My London Diary up to date, as well as filing the pictures to Alamy I’ve also been putting them in albums on Facebook.

London, UK. 20 Dec 2022.

The cold spell made it difficult for me to get out earlier in the month and rail strikes have made it impossible for me to get to some other events. But both days when the nurses were striking I went to photograph them, on the first strike day outside St Thomas’s Hospital and the second a rally at University College London Hospital followed by a march. The pictures with this post are from these two events. You can view more from both days by following the links in the previous sentence and see these pictures larger by right-clicking and choosing to open them in a new tab.

A Market, Chapel & More Houses – Peckham

Friday, December 23rd, 2022

The previous (and first) post on this walk was Aged Pilgrims, Sceaux, Houses & Lettsom.

House, Lyndhurst Way, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-25
House, Lyndhurst Way, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-25

At the end of Lyndhurst Grove I came to Lyndhurst Way and had to make the choice of whether to turn left or right along it. Both ways looked interesting but I chose left and found a short terrace or four rather unusual houses at 13-19, two of which had the decoration on the window bays. There are also differences in the treatment of the doorway and windows of these two houses, which are the only ones of the four with entrances leading down to the pavement – those at the end of the block have their doors at the sides.

I continued to Lyndhurst Square then turned back, walking down Lyndhurst Way to Holly Grove, taking a few pictures on the way, none of which are online.

House, Holly Grove, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2e-55
House, Holly Grove, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2e-55

Holly Grove was developed by George Choumert (1746-1831), a Frenchman who married Lydia Fendall from a wealthy family of tanners in Bermondsey. He had a number of houses built in what was then George Lane around 1815-20. This picture shows No 14 and 15 – the houses are numbered consequently as there are no houses on the north side of the road which is Holly Grove Shrubbery, ‘a Victorian shrubbery with a serpentine boundary with a footpath winding through it’ between Holly Grove (then South Grove) and Elm Grove. All the houses from 5-24, 32 and 33 are Grade II listed.

Indoor Market, Rye Lane, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2e-56
Indoor Market, Rye Lane, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2e-56

Peckham Indoor Market was built around 1938 or shortly after as Rye Lane Bargain Centre with an imposing frontage for a narrow arcade leading back to a large covered market. It’s a style that rather makes it look like a cinema. Across the top is the message ‘Come Rain Or Shine It’s Always Fine at Peckham Indoor Market’.

In the early 2000s the market at the back was reduced in size with part now redeveloped as flats but the front section remains and is now Rye Lane Market, housing over 50 small shop units.

Rye Lane Chapel, Rye Lane, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2e-41
Rye Lane Chapel, Rye Lane, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2e-41

You can read a detailed history of the chapel up to 1927 on the web. The first Baptist worship in the area was begun around 1817 when Mr Spencer, a deacon from Blackfriars Baptist church moved into what is now Peckham Hill St, a more rural location, for the sake of his health and began services in his home. Soon the congregation got too large for this and they bought a plot of land on Rye Lane and built a large and expensive chapel on the corner of Blenheim Grove and Rye Lane which opened in 1819.

Unfortunately when the railway came the chapel was exactly where it ran and the railway company were to build their station. So the chapel had to go, and a new chapel was built on the opposite side of the road a short distance to the north in 1863. That one was built on a firm concrete foundation and is still standing and still in use, having been restored after wartime bomb damage.

Houses, Elm Grove, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2e-43
Houses, Elm Grove, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2e-43

I turned back west from Rye Lane along Elm Grove, which contains a number of houses of interest, including half a dozen that are Grade II listed but it was this group that prompted me to take a photograph.

Elm Grove was developed around 1830 although from the maps it appears much was added later in the century, and these probably date from the middle of the century. In the Holly Grove Conservation Area document the photograph from Elm Grove of these houses comes with the description “a row of pale brick houses (No. 48-54) built with prominently projecting square bays and distinctive Gothic features on the upper storey, particularly the window glazing patterns and parapet detailing.” There is more about them and other houses in Elm Grove later in the document

This walk will continue in a later post.

Vestry Road, Camberwell to Lyndhurst Grove, Peckham

Thursday, December 22nd, 2022

The previous and first post on this walk was Aged Pilgrims, Sceaux, Houses & Lettsom.

Vestry Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-53
Vestry Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-53

Vestries such as that in the parish of Camberwell St Giles were the bodies that provided municipal services before local government was organised into boroughs – and in this area the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell took over their duties in 1900. In the 1820s and 1830s the Vestry here was responsible for the closing down of Camberwell Fair, as a part of “widespread campaign in the early 19th Century, to impose social and moral control over the growing working classes“.

Perhaps Vestry Road got its name as the vestry bought the land and began the development there. The road is not present on Cary’s New Plan of London in 1837, but was present with these houses shown on the Ordnance Survey‘s map surveyed in 1869 to 1871, when the road ended a little past Grace’s Road. These houses were probably quite new then. The road was extended further south by thhe mid 1890s.

The Maisonettes, Vestry Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-55
The Maisonettes, Vestry Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-55

The Maisonettes at the north end of Vestry Road face Lucas Gardens. They were built in 1907.

Immediately to the north of these maisonettes is the Camberwell Bunker Garden, on top of the now disused Southwark Borough Control Bunker, a cold-war control centre built underneath a now demolished health centre on the corner of Peckham Road and Vestry Road.

Houses, Vestry Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-56
Houses, Vestry Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-56

This long terrace of mid-19th century working class homes at 2-24 is probably the earliest development on Vestry Road.

Trees, Lucas Gardens, Vestry Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-42
Trees, Lucas Gardens, Vestry Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-42

Around 1790 a terrace of 12 Georgian houses was built on the south of Peckham Road called East Terrace, and in the 1880s these became an extension to the Camberwell House Lunatic Asylum which had opened on the opposite side of Peckham Road in 1846. It was one of the largest asylums in London, with only that at Bow being larger.

The asylum remained private when the NHS was formed and closed in 1955. It had extensive gardens for its patients to roam, and those on the north side provided a site for the Sceaux Gardens estate while on the south they formed this public park, Lucas Gardens.

House, Crofton Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-34
House, Crofton Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-34

I walked down Vestry Road to Lyndhurst Grove and then east along this to Crofton Road. There are a very large number of similar houses in this area and I cannot decide exactly where I made this picture. These houses are I think late Victorian.

House, Talfourd Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-36
House, Talfourd Rd, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-36

Charles Booth described Talfourd Road as ‘good middle-class‘ and it has a varied selection of houses. Some of these were already present on the 1860 map. Wikipedia lists two notable Talfourds:
“Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd (1795–1854), English judge, politician, and writer” and “Francis Talfourd (1828–1862), English lawyer and dramatist, son of Thomas”. Neither seems to have any obvious connection with Peckham, but the street seems to have been named after the judge.

Although my contact sheet labels this as Talfourd Road and it is certainly somewhere close I cannot find the exact location of this property.

House, Lyndhurst Grove, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-24
Houses, Lyndhurst Grove, Peckham,, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-2d-24

96 and 98 Lyndhurst Grove are rather easier to find, roughly opposite the end of Denman Road. According – as usual – to Wikipedia, John Copley, born in 1772 in Boston became 1st Baron Lyndhurst and “was a British lawyer and politician. He was three times Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain” and “Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman, PC was an English lawyer, judge and politician” and Lord Chief Justice between 1832 and 1850. This is a thoroughly legal area.

More on this walk in later posts.