Apprentice Boys in London

I’ve photographed various Protestant marches London over the years including the Apprentice Boys of Derry London Campsie Branch Club Annual Parade which takes place in late September. This year it just happened to coincide with the Pope’s visit, and to allow the protest against that to have a rally in Whitehall, the Apprentice Boys had to make an early start.

As with many events, the most interesting time is usually before they start, when people are usually in more interesting groups and also you can get closer to them and work from wherever you need to without getting in the way.

© 2006 Peter Marshall

So this picture was taken just as they were getting ready to move off in 2006, and I’m standing right in the middle of two lines of men on the street.  And in 2008 I made a whole series of pictures outside the pub where some of them were before the march, as well as others on the opposite side of the street.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

That year I did at one point find myself being pushed away by a very large man with dark glasses suggesting it would be very unhealthy for me to keep taking pictures. But I think I was able to convince him that I wasn’t working for a communist newspaper and that he had mistaken me for someone else – and I didn’t point out the person standing just a few feet away who did fit the bill. But generally I’ve got a more positive reception and often received some appreciative comments from people who’ve seen the pictures on My London Diary.

This year, when I got to the meeting point half an hour or so before the march had been timed to depart there was no sign of anyone. I wondered if I had got the date wrong, but decided I hadn’t.  I got on the tube and went to Westminster station as I knew they were heading for the Cenotaph, and as I came out of the station there were some barriers along the centre of the road so I knew that a march was coming.  It’s hard to run along the streets that are full of randomly moving tourists, but I did my best and got to the Cenotaph just as the laying of wreaths was beginning.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

I was held up slightly by one police officer who insisted I got back on the pavement as I came up Whitehall towards the Cenotaph. It seemed entirely pointless, but I didn’t have time to argue, so went across and then back into the middle of the road a few yards further on to take pictures.

As I got towards the back of the marchers taking a rest on Whitehall I was greeted by one of them with “We wondered where you were!”

I took a few more pictures as they moved off and past Big Ben, but it was hard to get what I wanted, and the scaffolding covering much of side of the Houses of Parliament didn’t help.

More pictures from this year on My London Diary. There are a few I like  but I think 2009 and 2008  were rather better.

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