Thank Heaven For Clouds

I hadn’t actually meant to go for a walk by the Thames when I left the house, but was hoping to photograph some protests about increases in rail fares and proposed cuts in jobs and services on the railways.

I should have gone earlier, when I knew a larger protest would be happening, but travelling in the morning rush hour is just so expensive, and I’d been sent details about a later protest. I can get a ticket to visit my son almost 200 miles away for roughly the same price as it costs for the 19 miles each way into London if I catch an early train. So I caught the first train I can get at the still expensive off-peak rate, and arrived to find nothing much worth photographing still happening. So little that I took no pictures.

The train operators say they have improved the service, and the trains do rattle less, but when I first moved to where I live there were six rather than four trains an hour to London and the fast trains did the journey in 29 rather than 35 minutes. And without keeping to that special railway operators time which means that any train can close its doors and leave half a minute early.

It was a fine day, sunny but with some nice clouds, so it seemed a pity not to take some pictures, and I decided to walk along a little of the Thames path in London once more, starting from Battersea Bridge as I’d been assured there would be something to photograph at Clapham Junction latter (wrongly as it turned out.)62 This area of London used to have industry along much of the riverside, including a large factory and lots of wharves, and I’d recently scanned some black and white images from around 40 years ago when I first came here. Now almost all of that has gone, replaced mainly by expensive flats, with the odd hotel and some offices.

© Peter Marshall
St Mary’s Battersea from across the river – the factory is no longer there

One gain from these changes is that you can now walk beside the river virtually all the way, and there are also one or two decent buildings among the largely profit-oriented poor quality developments.  Changing attitudes to health and safety do unfortunately mean that you can no longer walk on a high-level path through the waste-transfer station next to the mouth of the Wandle, and I’m sorry I never did when it was open.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

When taking largely open landscapes like some of the views across the Thames, I was pleased to have plenty of clouds in the sky.  Having a clear blue sky is about as welcome as a uniformly grey one so far as I’m concerned. One of the buildings I passed on my walk is St Mary’s Battersea, where I’ve on previous occasions photographed the stained glass windows commemorating two of my favourite artists, William Blake who was married here and JMW Turner, whose mother was a Marshall, though so far as I’m aware not related. Turner was rowed across the river from his home in Cheyne Walk to paint the skies from the porch of the church. I don’t think he would have bothered on a blue sky day either!

© 2012, Peter Marshall

The flats above are on the ‘Pure Genius‘ site that was occupied by ‘The Land is Ours’ in 1996; they were evicted after five and a half months but the site remained derelict and empty for seven or eight years afterwards. In May 1997 I photographed the march on the first anniversary of the occupation, and two weeks later put on-line what now seems a very curious web page,  Pure Genius – One Year On, with some weird scans of my pictures.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

On the opposite side of the river, demolition seemed to be taking place at Fulham Wharf, but the sand and gravel site there and on the south bank immediately upstream of Wandsworth Bridge was still working, and I made another panorama from the bridge as well as taking a few more pictures. You can see more at Battersea Riverside on My London Diary.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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