Archive for June, 2023

NHS – Free, For All, Forever?

Friday, June 30th, 2023

NHS – Free, For All, Forever?. Five years ago on Saturday 30th June thousands marched through London to celebrate 70 years of the National Health Service, which began on 5th July 1948. In a few days we will celebrate the 75 anniversary. The pictures here are from that march.

NHS - Free, For All, Forever?

A few days ago the Kings Fund published their report comparing the NHS to health care systems of other countries. It made depressing reading, but its findings were already well-known – and the result of government policies over the years.

NHS - Free, For All, Forever?

Conservatives were opposed to the setting up of the NHS and voted against it on numerous occasions when Aneurin Bevan was campaigning for its setting up and taking the bill through parliament. Bevan established the three basic ideas, that it should benefit everyone, that healthcare would be free and that care would be provided on the basis of need rather than ability to pay.

NHS - Free, For All, Forever?

Many doctors and dentists were opposed to the new system, which they saw as a threat to their lucrative private practices and this led to a number of compromises which have had serious consequences over the years.

NHS - Free, For All, Forever?

Dentistry has never really been made properly a part of our health care system and now large areas of the country have few if any dentists who will take on NHS patients. Private medicine has continued and grown parasitically on the NHS – who train those working in it, while it now gets paid by the NHS to provide many of the simpler aspects of treatment while leaving the heavy lifting to our public service.

Both Conservative and Labour governments since its formation have made changes which have diluted Bevan’s principles. Contracting out of various services began under the Tories, sometimes resulting in disastrous lowering of standards. Proper cleaning services etc are essential in hospitals.

New Labour brought in Private Finance Initiative projects (they borrowed the idea from the Tories) which have led to huge ongoing debts for some NHS trusts – and closures of some vitally needed hospital departments to meet these.

Since the Coalition and then the Tories came back into power there has been a huge increase in the creeping privatisation of the NHS, with Andrew Lansley’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act forcing the NHS into a market-based model based on competitive tendering, which even his successor as Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt has described parts of as ‘frankly, completely ridiculous’. So much so that even the Tories have no had to row back a little.

The King’s Fund report makes clear that “The UK has below-average health spending per person compared to peer countries” and it “lags behind other countries in its capital investment, and has substantially fewer key physical resources than many of its peers, including CT and MRI scanners and hospital beds.”

Successive governments have prevented the training in the UK from expanding the numbers of university places for medical training, and a few years ago the Tories removed the bursaries available for nurses. Since the start of the NHS this had been a failure, and as the report states there are now “strikingly low levels of key clinical staff, including doctors and nurses” and the NHS is “heavily reliant on foreign-trained staff.” Only in recent days have we seen an effort by government to put forward plans to address the issue – and almost certainly one that is inadequate.

There is also the question of pay, brought to the fore in recent months by strikes by nurses and doctors. The government’s response has mainly been to refuse to enter into meaningful talks and mutter about the impossible demands being made.

Of course nobody expects junior doctors to get a 35% rise, but all that it would take to resolve the dispute is a much lower figure, combined with a commitment to make a small above inflation increase in a number of following years to reduce the gap that has opened up.

You can read more about the march and rally and some of the issues in my post on My London Diary from June 2018, which also includes some information about the interests or many MPs and peers in private healthcare and connections to those wanting to see the NHS abolished. It may be ‘OUR NHS’ but many of those who have power to determine its future want it to belong to them.

And of course, many more pictures at NHS at 70 – Free, for all, forever.

UAF, EDL and Pride – 2013

Thursday, June 29th, 2023

UAF, EDL and Pride : Ten years ago on Saturday 29th June 2013 my work began in Hyde Park where anti-fascists had gathered to oppose an EDL march – for which very few had arrived. I left to photograph the 2013 Pride London event.

UAF Oppose, EDL Don’t Come – Hyde Park

UAF, EDL and Pride - 2013

Police had banned the EDL from marching past the East London Mosque in Whitechapel and from any assembly or procession in Woolwich where Lee Rigby had been cruelly slaughtered under the Public Order Act.

UAF, EDL and Pride - 2013

Instead they had allowed a march by the EDL from Hyde Park to a rally near Parliament, and had also allowed Unite Against Fascism to march in protest against the EDL.

UAF, EDL and Pride - 2013

But the two EDL leaders, Stephen Lennon and Kevin Carrol had called themselves ‘charity marchers’ and had turned up in Tower Hamlets and been arrested by police. This news was relayed to the UAF supporters in Hyde Park and they gave a loud cheer. There were at most a hundred of them, and they had intended to march to the starting point of the EDL march, but none of the EDL had turned up. I left to photograph Pride.

More at UAF Oppose, EDL Don’t Come.

Pride Celebrates Love and Marriage – Baker St – Trafalgar Square

UAF, EDL and Pride - 2013

Over 150 groups had turned up for the 2013 Pride Parade to welcome the equal marriage Bill in England and Wales and celebrate the love that binds the London LGBT+ community together and links it with the wider community.

They included many of the figures I had photographed at previous Prides over the years – such as ‘The Queen’ , including some I had photographed back in the 1990s.

As always, some of the costumes were spectacular, while others were, frankly, just very odd. But variety is of course the spice of life, and there was certainly no shortage of spice.

My pictures show many of the individuals taking part, as well as smaller groups, but no the more commercial aspects of the parade which now tend to dominate. And I also like to show those using the occasion to make a political point. Pride is still for some a protest.

After photographing the marchers at the start – always where the most interesting photographs of the event can be found, I made my way to Trafalgar Square to photograph people arriving at the end of the parade.

By the time the march ended I’d been on my own feet too long and went home.

Many more pictures at Pride Celebrates Love and Marriage.

Rain on Pride Parade

Wednesday, June 28th, 2023

Rain on Pride Parade: Times have changed since 2014 when I made a large set of pictures at the start of London’s annual Gay Pride on Saturday 28 June. Back in 2014 I was able to walk around freely and meet and photograph those taking part before the parade started. The colour pictures here are all from that event, where there were some short but heavy showers as people gathered.

Rain on Pride Parade

I don’t think I had actually bothered to apply for accreditation, though I did on some previous years, as I didn’t intend to photograph the actual parade. But in 2017 security around the event was stepped up and it became necessary for everyone to have applied for permission to take part to get near.

Rain on Pride Parade

I’d first photographed Pride in 1993 and it was then a very different event. Pride was then a protest and a defiant gesture, while now it has become a corporate-dominated gay parade.

Rain on Pride Parade

I was pleased when some of these photographs were shown as a part of the exhibition Queer is Here at the Museum of London in 2006 and a larger set at at ‘Changing the World’, a Gay and Lesbian History and Archives Conference at London Metropolitan Archives in 2005.

Rain on Pride Parade

Those pictures were in black and white, though I think I may also have taken some in colour, yet to be re-discovered in my archives, and they covered the 10 years from 1993-2002. You can view a set on-line, though there are hundreds more in my files. These include a small number from Pride 1998, which according to Wikipedia didn’t happen.

In 2017 I had decided to photograph the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc who had joined the official parade in 2016. But in 2017 they were refused entry and instead – as I put it – “reclaimed Pride as protest, gate-crashing the route at Oxford Circus and marching in front of the official parade along the route lined by cheering crowds.”

This should have been the big story about that day’s Pride, but hardly made the news, and I think was totally ignored by the BBC – and doesn’t even get a mention in the Wikipedia article.

After this I decided not to cover Pride in 2018, going instead to photograph a march against the closure of acute facilities at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals in south London while it was happening. The following Saturday I went the following week to photograph the third Croydon Pride Procession, a much smaller and friendlier event.

In 2019 I went to Regent’s Park where people were preparing to join on the end of the huge Pride Parade as a Queer Liberation March in protest against the increasing corporate nature of Pride.

They included some LGBT groups unable to afford the fees to take part in the official parade, but mostly people were there because they felt it vital to get back closer to the origins of Pride, which began with the Stonewall riots 50 years ago led by trans women of colour.

I had to leave well before they set off to join the parade. The did eventually manage to do so, but had to force their way past the Pride stewards. The police had initially tried to stop them but then decided they had to be allowed to march.

Pride was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021. On July 1st 2022 I photographed the Gay Liberation Front UK commemorating their first London Gay Pride March 50 years ago marching through London on exactly the same hour and date. London Pride 2022 took place the following day but I went elsewhere.

More pictures from Pride 2014 on My London Diary at Rain on Pride Parade.

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn: Parliament Square, London, Monday 27 June 2016

Jeremy Corbyn remains in the news today, although the BBC in its wide coverage of the festival has ignored the dropping of the official screening of ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: The Big Lie’ at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. It was cancelled after various groups, mainly of people who had not seen the film, claimed it was anti-Semitic, a claim vehemently denied by the maker, Platform Films.

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn

Those actually at Glastonbury, despite the ban, have been able to see the film and make up their own minds as it has been screened on several stages there despite the main ban. Many also have attended screenings at venues around the country, although it has not made it to cinemas in this country. You can see a trailer here – and this makes it very clear why those now in control of the Labour Party are trying to stop it being widely seen.

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn

Platform Films are asking for people who can arrange screenings in their local area and it has been screened in many halls around the country – though pressure from Labour and some Jewish groups has apparently led to some of these also being cancelled. Platform obviously needs to recoup some at least of its expenses in making the film by sales. Once it has done so I think the film will probably be made available widely on DVD and probably on-line free to view to reach a wider audience.

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn

The film which explores widely the forces behind the downfall of Corbyn is narrated by Alexei Sayle and includes a contribution by film-maker Ken Loach. Its producer, Norman Thomas issued a press statement last Friday in which he says that the Glastonbury ban has backfired “wonderfully”, giving a great publicity boost:

The Glastonbury ban will mean many more people will now be able to see the film. They will be able to see the truth of the film, as opposed to the ridiculous claims made about it. It is NOT a conspiracy film. And it is in no way antisemitic. It simply tries to tell the story of the rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn which hasn’t been told.”

It was at a music festival in Tranmere in May 2017 that the crowd first began the chant ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ to the tune of Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes, but it was at Glastonbury later that year when hundreds of thousands took up the refrain that it became iconic.

The previous year, 2016, thi protest took place against a coup by Labour MPs against their leader, happpening despite the fact that the latest opinion poll had shown that under his leadership the party had caught up with the Tories. And despite the huge support Corbyn had from the majority of party members who had given him a huge mandate in the leadership election. And that party membership had almost doubled under his leadership.

More than ten thousand grass-roots Labour supporters came to Parliament Square to support Corbyn in a rally organised by Momentum as Labour MPs were revolting against him. Three days earlier MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey had tabled a motion of no confidence in him as Labour leader. The previous day, Hilary Benn had been sacked from the Shadow Cabinet after it emerged he had been organising a mass resignation of Shadow Cabinet members – and 23 of 31 others had walked out.

Corbyn was the final speaker at the rally, promising he would not resign if he lost the motion of no confidence – as he did the following day. He made clear that he would stand again if MPs forced a leadership election, and that party rules clearly state as the incumbent he would not need to collect nominations to be on the ballot.

And later in the year, there was a leadership election. Corbyn was proved right about the rules despite attempts to prevent him from being on the ballot, but the National Executive Committee limited the membership vote to those who had been members for over six months and decided that “registered supporters” could only vote if they paid a £25 fee. They were almost certainly shocked that over 180,000 did – mainly Corbyn supporters.

The election took place in September that year, with Corbyn winning decisively with almost 62% of the vote – a small increase over his initial leadership contest.

The message to the right of the party was clear. If they wanted to defeat Corbyn they had to fight even dirtier – and ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: The Big Lie’ exposes some of the ways they did so.

More at Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn.

International Day in support of victims of Torture

Monday, June 26th, 2023

International Day in support of victims of Torture: The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force internationally on 26 June 1987, and in 1998 the UN declared the 26 June of every year to be the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Over the years I’ve photographed a number of vigils and protests marking the day in London by various groups concerned with human rights, mostly organised by the London Guantánamo Campaign but often joined by others.

No to Torture Vigil – Trafalgar Square, London. Tue 26 June 2012

Supporters of the The London Guantánamo Campaign and other human rights activists held up placards saying “NO to torture” in over 30 languages. Other protesters against various human rights violations joined in the protest, including campaigners calling for an end of the Iranian executions of the Baloch people, those against the extraditions of Babar Ahmer, Talha Ahsan and others to the US and the Free Mumia campaign.

International Day in support of victims of Torture

More on My London Diary at No to Torture Vigil.

Say No To Torture – Trafalgar Square, London. Wed 26 Jun 2013

International Day in support of victims of Torture

The London Guantanamo Campaign which has been active in calling for the closure of Guantanamo and other prisons including Bagram in Afghanistan since 2006 again held a vigil in Trafalgar Square.

International Day in support of victims of Torture

Some wearing orange Guanatanamo-style jump suits and black hoods, they stood in a lin in front of the National Gallery, calling for the release of London resident Shaker Aamer and the other detainees held and tortured without trail. Shaker, along with most of the other prisoners was on the 141st day of a hunger strike, being subjected to regular beatings, being brutally forcibly fed and held in solitary confinement – which also constitues torture under the UN definitions.

International Day in support of victims of Torture

Among those taking part in the vigil was veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent. The ‘Say No To Torture’ protest overlapped with another human rights protest over Balochistan, a ‘nation without a state.’ Balochs live mainly in Pakistan and have been subject to arrests and other human rights violations including torture by the Pakistan authorities for campaigning for independence.

More on My London Diary at Say No To Torture.

Torture Solidarity Vigil – Trafalgar Square, London. Thu 26 Jun 2014

In 2014, Kashmiris wore black hoods and headbands with messages ‘Mutilated’, ‘Raped’, ‘Tortured’, ‘Executed’ and waved Kashmiri flags to protest at the widespread human rights abuses by the 7,000 custodial killings and torture of prisoners by the Indian state Indian state in Kashmir- 1 in 5 Kashmiris is a torture victim.

Also in Trafalgar Square was a vigil by the The London Guantanamo Campaign with people holding posters and blindfolded or gagged, calling for the release of prisoners from the US prison camp and an end to impunity for torturers.

The UK has failed to take proper action over allegations of prisoner abuse by the British military in Iraq and Afghanistan and has continued to be involved in the “rendition” and torture of British and foreign nationals abroad. Our government prevents violations becoming public knowledge, relying on secret courts and partial and biased investigations.

More on My London Diary at Torture Solidarity Vigil.

UN Day for Victims of Torture – Trafalgar Square, London. Fri 26 Jun 2015

The London Guantánamo Campaign and others were back again in Trafalgar Square in a solidarity vigil in recognition of the suffering and rights of victims and survivors of torture, calling on those in positions of power able to put an end to the use of torture.

Obama had promised in 2010 to end the shame of Guantanamo, but the detentions and torture continued throughout his presidency, though there were some releases.

More on My London Diary at UN Day for Victims of Torture.

Here are links to further protests I covered in recent years on 26 June against torture, in Trafalgar Square in 2016, at the US Embassy in Nine Elms in 2018 and by Balochs in Trafalgar Square in 2019. In 2017 I had a day off work for medical tests, and in 2020 there was no vigil because of the lockdown.

Loughborough Estate, Angell Town & a Garage – 1989

Sunday, June 25th, 2023

The fourth post on my walk in Kennington and Brixton on Sunday 6th May 1989. The posts began with Hanover, Belgrave, Chapel, Shops, Taxis. The previous post was Brixton Road and Angell Town -1989

Loughborough Estate, Flats, Loughborough Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-44
Loughborough Estate, Flats, Loughborough Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-44

I’m not sure which of the nine eleven-story slab blocks on the estate is shown in my picture; the estate was and remains a rather confusing area. Possibly this is Leicester House on Loughborough Road, or more likely Harpur House on Angell Road where I think I walked to next, but the lower buildings in front of the block appear to have gone.

The sign ‘NO HATS’ is not a reference to any headgear but to Housing Action Trusts, an important part of Margaret Thatcher’s marginalisation of local authorities. Having ochestrated the run-down of council estates by earlier restrictions on council spending and the right to buy schemes, the Housing Act 1988 aimed to transfer these estates to non-departmental public bodies which were to redevelop or renovate them so they could be transferred into private ownership.

Opposition to HATs was intense, with the Labour Part, local authorities and estate residents all fighting their imposition, and the first six areas intended to becom HATs managed to avoid implementation, though later six were formed, but none in south London.

Lunch Club, Loughborough Estate, Angell Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-45
Lunch Club, Loughborough Estate, Angell Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-45

I think this rather temporary-looking building as on Angell Road close to Harpur House, but no sign of it remains. I photographed it largely for the posters showing opposition to Housing Action Trusts in Broxton.

As well as a Luncheon Club for pensioners it also has a sign for the Loughborough Sports & Social Club.

Fence, St John the Evangelist, Angell Park Gardens Angell Town, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-32
Fence, St John the Evangelist, Angell Park Gardens, Angell Town, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-32

Further along Angell Road – named like the area after the Angell family who had owned large parts of the Lambeth and developed this area in the 1850s. In 1852 Benedict John Angell gave a site here for the building of St John the Evangelist Church which was consecrated in 1853. Unfortunately trees along the edge of the site along Angell Road and Angell Park Gardens had too many leaves in May to clearly see the church.

These paintings on the fence around the church are still visible but rather faded. I took a few pictures of them both in black and white and in colour before walking on past the church and across Wiltshire Road into Villa Road and back onto Brixton Road, where I photographed the rather austere Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church (not yet digitised.)

Abeng Youth Community Centre, Gresham Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-22
Abeng Youth Community Centre, Gresham Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-22

I walked on down Brixton Road to the Police Station where I turned back east along Gresham Road, stopping to photograph what looked to me to be a former chapel. In 1877 this was the Angell Town Institution and later became Brixtons first telephone exchange.

In the 1970s the Rev Tony Ottey founded the Abeng Centre here to provide supplementary education and youth services to the local children. In 2003 it was relaunched with new management as the Karibu Centre, its Swahili name Karibu meaning welcome, with similar aims. It is also hired for weddings, funerals, birthdays and business meetings.

Wyck Gardens, Loughborough Estate, Millbrook Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-24
Wyck Gardens, Loughborough Estate, Millbrook Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-24

Soon I was walking through the Loughborough Estate again, going along Millbrook Road and through Wyck Gardens, a public open space which is thought to be the remnant of a larger wood knwon as Wickwood in the Manor of Lambeth Wick which had been cleared by the end of the 17th century.

The land had belonged to the Archbishops of Canterbury and was bought by the London County Council from the Church Commissioners for a new public open space, opened in 1959 and since extended and improved. You can see more pictures from the park on Brixton Buzz.

I think the large block here is Barrington Court, the first of three I walked past on my way through the park towards Loughborough Junction.

Garage, Railway Arch, Ridgway Rd, Loughborough Jct, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-25
Garage, Railway Arch, Ridgway Rd, Loughborough Jct, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-25

I left the park and walked along Ridgeway Rd, beside the railway line from Brixton which curves around to a junction just north of Loughborough Junction Station. The next station on this line is at Elephant & Castle.

Some extensive work seems to be in progress on what I am reliably informed (thanks to comments on Flickr) is a Ford Escort, while inside the garage a Renault 4 and a Rover P5 await their turn.

Arch 500 was empty for some years but later became home to the very Brixton Buzwakk Records Recording Studio a few years ago. The arches on both sides are still garages.

More about this walk in May 1989 in a later post.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

Saturday, June 24th, 2023

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs: Tuesday June 24th 2014 was a nice Summer day in London. Not too hot, with a maximum in the low twenties, and with a blue sky tempered by some nice clouds and just a few light showers to cool me down. For me it was an ideal day for a bike ride and also for making some panoramic images.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

It was a while since I’d been to the Isle of Dogs, and there had been quite a few changes around there in recent years, so after an early lunch I put my folding bike on the train and made my way to Limehouse.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

It wasn’t really a bike ride, more just using the bike to carry me and my camera around the area, stopping on my way to make well over two hundred panoramic images in the roughly two and a half hours it took me to get to Island Gardens, opposite Greenwich for the train home. Later I worked on these images, selecting around 90 to put on-line – a higher than usual proportion. But I do rather more thinking about panoramic images and they require rather more care, particularly to get the camera absolutely level to keep the horizon straight.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

I posted them in two groups, Limehouse pans and Millwall – Isle of Dogs pans. All the images were converted using the PT Gui software implementation of the Vedutismo perspective (also called Panini) made popular by Canaletto and other Italian cityscape painters in the 18th century which allows a more realistic representation of extreme angles of view – something like 147 degrees horizontally in these images. These would be impossibly stretched towards the edges in a normal rectilinear view, which only works up to around 90 degrees.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

You can see any of these images larger on the links given to My London Diary at the end of this post, or by right-clicking on any of them and selecting to view them. Rather than write more about the ride here, I’ll quote from one of the posts there:

When I first walked these streets there was virtually no access to the riverside, with wharf after wharf between Westferry Rd and the river until you came to the park (Sir John McDougall Gardens.) A footbridge led from the Barkantine estate – built to replace a heavily bombed area of densely-packed small houses. South of this you again walked along the busy street until there were a few empty wharves around the south of the Isle of Dogs.

Now you can walk mainly along the riverside, with only one working area blocking the path. But there are several other places where you have to divert, including one wall dividing social housing from its wealthy neighbours. There was also a temporary diversion in one area, though it wasn’t clear why.

Further on are fine views across the river to Greenwich, along with further diversions from the riverside, where several earlier developments did not include riverside walks.

My London Diary

The Thames is too wide here for a panorama to work well without some foreground interest, or cropped to a very narrow strip. At the end of the ride, I did make a few pictures from Island Gardens across the river with a rather longer lens. These are in a separate post, also linked below.

Limehouse pans
Millwall – Isle of Dogs pans
Greenwich from the Isle of Dogs

Brixton Road and Angell Town -1989

Friday, June 23rd, 2023

The third post on my walk in Kennington and Brixton on Sunday 6th May 1989. The posts began with Hanover, Belgrave, Chapel, Shops, Taxis. The previous post was On the Road to Brixton.

House, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-62
House, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-62

No 326, with two doors above each other with steps to the upper door with a balustrade. Many of the houses along here date from the first development along the road and are good examples of early-mid 19th century houses and most have some intresting features but are perhaps not distinctive enough to deserve listing.

The house now looks much the same as when I photographed it. I suspect this unusual arrangement with steps up to the front door was how this house was built. While many houses from the period have basement flats, this appears to have been built with its ground floor rather higher, perhaps becuase of the risk of flooding from the River Effra. But if so, why was a similar approach not used for neighbouring houses?

J & P Motors, Thornton St, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-63
J & P Motors, Thornton St, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-63

I walked a little back up Brixton Road to Thornton Street, though too much has changed for me to positively identify the exact location of J & P Motors on this fairly short L-shaped street. I think it was probably on the north side of the bottom of the L behind what is now the worker’s co-operative, Brixton Cycles.

There was a splendid utilitarian simplicity of this building which appealed to me, and which I enhanced with its symmetrical gates and No parking signs.

Evereds, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-66
Evereds, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-66

Back on Brixton Road, Evereds Bathrooms had its showroom in two shops at 308-10 Brixton Rd. The buildings here are still standing but no longer in use as a shop. For some years since 2011 the Victorian shopfront built as a house agents in 1879 has been in use as an art gallery, SHARP Gallery (Social, Hope and Recovery Project) which has shown the work of over 120 artists, many of whom use mental health services and is supported by the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. Both the early nineteent century house and these shops are Grade II listed, along with 312.

Eagle Printing Works, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-51
Eagle Printing Works, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-51

Both buildings at 304 and 306 Brixton Road have survived, but in 2013 planning permission was granted for changes to the Eagle Printing Works, and the fine semi-circular panel including the building date of 1864 and its wrought-iron decoration was removed – a piece of vandalism that should never have been approved.

Apparently the printing works a few years later became a sub district Post, Money Order and Telegraph Office, and it was from here that Sherlock Holmes sent his first telegram.

Loughborough Hotel, Evandale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-52
Loughborough Hotel, Evandale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-52

I turned off the Brixton Road where I had spent some time wandering back and forth and struck off to the east along Loughborough Road. The first picture I took was of the Loughborough Hotel, described in more detail on a previous walk, a well known music venue, closed in 2008 and has been converted into flats, with a café gallery on the ground floor.

Lilford Rd, Minet Rd, Camberwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-54
Lilford Rd, Minet Rd, Camberwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-54

From Fiveways I continued along Lilford Road, again stopping to re-take the impressive porch on its corner with Minett Road, also featured in a previous post. I chose a very similar viewpoint but the lighting was quite different as it had been overcast for the earlier image.

I can’t remember why I made the detour, though possibly it was just the sheer pleasure of seeing an area with so many fine buildings again. Or it could have been to find a pleasant place to sit and eat my lunch, as I walked as far as Myatts Fields before returning to Loughborough Rd.

Elmore House, Loughborough Estate, Flats, Loughborough Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-43
Elmore House, Loughborough Estate, Flats, Loughborough Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5d-43

On Loughborough Road I was in a very different London, the Loughborough Estate, redeveloped after much of the area was devastated by wartime bombing. The first stages of the rebuild were in five-storey red brick blocks typical of 1930s LCC estates of that era, solid and with decent sized rooms but uninspiring visually. There height was kept to five floors as they had no lifts.

From 1954-7 more of the estate was developed with a mix of high and low-rise modern buildings designed by the LCC Architects Department which included nine eleven-storey slab blocks which became a model for later LCC estates. They even gained approval from John Betjeman who Layers of London quotes as writing “When one compares their open-ness, lightness, grass and trees, and carefully related changes of scale from tall blocks to small blocks, with the prison-like courts of artisans’ dwellings of earlier ages, one realises some things are better than they were… Maybe it has no place for someone like me, but it gives one hope for modern architecture.”

Not everyone shared Betjeman’s enthusiasm, and by the time I made these pictures the area had gained a reputation for crime, one of a number of estates in London about which some people expressed shock that I was walking around taking pictures. More about my walk in a later post.

People’s Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

Thursday, June 22nd, 2023

People’s Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes: Saturday 22nd Jone 2013, ten years ago today, was a rather odd day for me. It began with an event I didn’t go to and instead photographed groups outside, was followed by an meeting to which I had been invited by the extreme right English National Alliance who needed a police escort to lay flowers at the Cenotaph and ended with a Dyke March.

People’s Assembly – Methodist Central Hall, Westminster

People's Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

I had decided not to attend the People’s Assembly being held in Methodist Central Hall. It was a large event but was being managed so that any criticisms of the Labour Party and trade unions were banned from the main event, with people including Ken Loach being relegated to a hall down the road.

People's Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

Others had expressed the opinion that this event was intended to “disperse some of the head of steam that had built up among the rank and file” for more direct action against the government. It reminded me of events following the huge ‘Stop the War’ protest in Feb 2003, at which Tony Benn and others had called for decisive action, but Stop the War had failed to do more than call instead for just another protest a while after Blair had declared war. It was hardly surprising that this was much smaller than the previous event and had absolutely no effect.

People's Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

I commented in 2013:

It was a feeling reinforced by the statement ‘We will work together with leading experts and campaigners both here and abroad, and friendly think tanks, to develop rapidly key policies and an alternative programme for a new anti-austerity government‘, which seemed to make it clear that after the assembly it was the long grass for any ideas, and an end to any action.

My London Diary
People's Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

And there seems to have been nothing that has happened as a result of this event; for a few years Corbyn gave the Labour Party some hope, but he was stopped from winning a general election by the right in the party. Nothing in Labour policies now suggests they would offer any real alternative should the Tories lose the next election. Or that they can win if the Conservatives don’t defeat themselves.

More at People’s Assembly.

Outside The People’s Assembly – Class War

One of several groups protesting outside was Class War. Ian Bone had called for “a f**king big mob outside” (my asterisks) the People’s Assembly, but as I wrote, only around enough for a football team turned up for their alternative event, though there were several other groups around also opposed to the “pointless jamboree” taking place inside the hall.

So although there were a series of speeches by Bone and others, all amusing and in parts thought-provoking and certainly more interesting than most inside the hall, these were largely made to a mainly empty street.

Action Not Talk?

Outside The People’s Assembly – Anonymous Occupy the Grass

A small group of ‘Anonymous’ and Occupy London supporters handed out leaflets, offered free hugs, and had a picnic outside the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Police kept a close eye on them but didn’t interfere with them.

Anonymous Occupy the Grass

ENA Meet Left Opposition – Westminster

The English National Alliance is one of a number of small ‘patriotic’ groups on the extreme right who I’ve photographed over the years, with some members who have also been involved in other similar groups. Their leader is a former BNP member who was expelled from the EDL in 2011 apparently for extremist statements.

Although I’ve made no secret of my disagreements with their views, I’ve always tried to present them clearly and accurately as a journalist, as with other groups I’ve photographed. I’ve felt it was my job, and one that informs the wider public who I think can be trusted to see them for what they are.

Many in these groups complain about the unfair press they receive, and they had a particular gripe that some pictures of people at protests who were just waving being captioned as making Nazi salutes. It certainly has happened, but as they agreed there are also some people at protests by extreme-right groups who will make Nazi salutes.

The ENA had decided to march to the Cenotaph to lay flowers on the way to taking a statement of their views in to Downing Street and I had been invited to join them at the pub where they were meeting for the march. I was surprised how few of them had come, as was the event organiser, and there were a number of phone calls made to try to get more to turn up, but eventually they decided to march.

I was surprised when the small march and its police escort turned down in front of the hall where the People’s Assembly was taking place and small groups of left-wingers were still protesting outside. I’m not sure whether the marchers or police had decided to take this route, but the response was entirely predictable.

Some of the marchers shouted “No Surrender” and they were almost immediately surrounded by people shouting back at them “Fascist scum!”, “Racists!” and there were some minor scuffles. Police managed to push a way through for them and made one arrest before the ENA march, now accompanied by a few counter-protesters was able to continue towards the Cenotaph and Downing St.

By now it was time for me to be at another event, and said goodbye to the ENA and left, with a copy of the long statement they were about to take in addressed to David Cameron from the “Patriots of England who are supporters of every street activist and political party in the United Kingdom.”

Well, no. The last half mile had been clear about that. But you can read my précis of their statement with a number of quotes along with more about the march on My London Diary at ENA Meet Left Opposition.

Dykes March – Berkeley Square to Soho

The Dyke March the previous year in London had been the first such event for many years, and this year’s event was on a rather smaller scale, but there were still around 300 who turned out to march.

The event began with a rally with speakers who included Roz Kaveney, (above), writer, critic, poet and deputy editor of the trans digital magazine META who read one of her poems and long-standing LGBT activist and historian Sue Sanders who tested the crowd on their knowledge of lesbian icons including suffragette composer Dame Ethyl Smyth. I think I recognised more of them than most of the crowd.

The route the march took was based in part on that taken – though in the opposite direction and ending in Hyde park by the 1908 Votes For Women March.

The march was to end with a rally in Soho Square, but I left it to go home from Piccadilly Circus.

Many more pictures at Dykes March.

2012 Olympics – Lund Point Holdup By BBC

Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

2012 Olympics – Lund Point Holdup By BBC: Eleven years ago on Saturday 21st July much of the nation was eagerly awaiting the start of the 2021 London Olympics. I wasn’t, though I was at least starting to think it wouldn’t be long before it was all over, but we still had it all to put up with. All the pictures in this post were taken at events around the area that day.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC
Waiting for the Olympic flame – Stratford High St

Many still regard it as having been a great national event, bringing people together, but I still find it hard to have many positive thoughts. Like another major event, most of the promises we were made about its legacy have turned out to be false. Many were clearly lies from the start, and a huge attempt was clearly made to mislead the public, with our newspapers and broadcast media playing a major and continuing role.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

On the streets of east London there were many critics and sceptics from the start, many like me who were surprised and alarmed when the bid was won in 2005. Most of their worse fears have since come to pass and the local area has seen little gain.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

Newham remains an area with huge housing problems, and it was some of those that took me there on Saturday 21st July 2012, specifically over the council’s terrible treatment of the Carpenters Estate, a once popular council estate adjoining Stratford Station.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

It’s location made it a valuable prey for developers and Newham’s elected Labour Mayor, Sir Robin Wales had clearly thought the site was being wasted on its social housing tenants and had begun running it down and ‘decanting’ residents back in 2004. But schemes to sell it off, including one as a new campus for University College London (UCL) were eventually stopped by protests from residents, UCL students and staff and Stratford’s dynamic housing activists, Focus E15.

Good solid 1960s housing on a pedestrianised street . A popular estate on which many bought houses

Focus E15 had begun when Newham Council decided to shut down a hostel in central Stratford for single mothers and their children, offering only to move them out of Stratford to distant towns and cities across the UK into poor quality private rented accomodation with no security of tenure and higher rents, some hundreds of miles away from family, friends, nurseries and other support they had in Newham. Robin Wales infamously told them “if you can’t afford to live in Newham, then you can’t afford to live in Newham”.

A woman still living on the Carpenters estate

The Focus E15 mothers stood together and fought – and largely won, getting rehoused in the local area. But they decided to continue their fight for others in housing need, particularly in Newham. There story became national news and they continue with weekly stalls on Newham Broadway and a shop not far away.

Lund Point – advertising added for Olympics without consultation

Carpenters Estate residents were shocked when the council in 2011, upset that residents wanted to remain on the estate, decided to fix the elections to the Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) by barring freeholders on the estate from standing and simply losing five of the six nominations from leaseholders. Security staff prevented freeholders who had received invitations to the meeting from attending, effectively allowing Newham council to take over the TMO and end any real participation by residents over the esatate’s future.

BBC employed security – the sign says Residents Only

Residents formed Carpenters Against Regeneration Plans (CARP) to challenge the decisions made by the TMO and to get it to fulfil its duties to all residents of the estate, and to fight for the future of the residents and for a sustainable community. In particular freeholders were appalled at the low valuations put on their properties by the TMO commissioned valuation service, with compensation for compulsory purchase often appearing to be only around half of market values for similar propeties in the area.

This Barber – the last man standing on Stratford High St

CARP had arranged a number of tours around the estate, and I met with them at Sratford Station, having on my way taken a few pictures of the Olympic Torch Relay which had passed along Stratford High Street earlier in the day, though only watched there by a small handful of people. There were more on a footbridge built for the Olympics across this busy main road, which would have been a small but useful Olympic legacy, but was to be demolished shortly after.

Police had come to back up BBC security and refuse us entrance

Our tour from the station led by Tawanda Nyabango who lived for many years in one of the tower blocks and several other residents including CARP vice-chairman Joe Alexander talked to us on a lengthy tour of the estate and the nearby Waterworks River, one of several waterways through the Olympic site.

After we were allowed in BBC security try to stop us leaving the lift

We then tried to visit two more residents living in flats in one of the three tower blocks on the estate, Lund Point. The BBC were setting up in the top five floors of the block for their Olympic coverage, and we were prevented from entering the block by BBC security staff who then brought in police to support them.

But finally we made it to a flat on the 20th floor

We argued that we had an invitation from the residents, but were still refused entry, until after and hour and a half waiting finally the police officers present received orders that they had no right to refuse our entry and we were finally allowed in.

The Olympic site from Lund Point

I was able then both to meet the residents and photograph the Olympic site from their windows. The residents of the block have complained strongly about the way the BBC have taken over parts of their building and apparently our holdup was simply one of many incidents. I took rather more pictures including some panoramic views – at Olympic Views though my time here was very limited.

I had intended to finish my day after the Carpenters Estate tour with a visit to the Open Day taking place at Cody Dock on Bow Creek, and I hurried there from Stratford. But because of the holdup at Lund Point, the events there had ended by the time I arrived, and I took a few pictures and left for home.

At Cody Dock

Robin Wales is no longer Mayor, eventually being forced out despite his attempts to manipulate votes to remain in office. Under the replacement Labour Mayor there are new plans for the Carpenters Estate though Focus E15 are still campaigning for the repair, refurbishment and repopulation of the estate with long-term council tenants.

Much more about all these events on My London Diary:

Olympic Flame at Stratford 6 Days Early
Newham’s Shame – Carpenters Estate
Police Deny Olympic Residents Access
Olympic Views
Cody Dock Open Day

I originally posted this on 21st June when it should have been posted on 21st July.