Around Warton Road

January 13th, 2021

Robbialac, Warton Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-15_2400
Jenson and Nicholson, Robbialac Works, Warton Road, Stratford, London E15.

Jensen and Nicholson were the makers of Robbialac paints and had premises here on Warton Road, offices on the Goswell Rd and a further works in Stratford on Carpenters Rd. The business was started in 1821 at the Barbican by William Kingham and John Jenson became a partner in 1840, taking over the business in 1848. He was joined in 1856 by Wilfred Nicholson.

Following a fire which destroyed the company’s factory, Nicholson decided to move to Stratford Marshes and a few years later Nicholson took over the company, which continued to trade under the name Jenson and Nicholson Ltd. As well as Robbialac enamel paints for cars and home decoration, the company also made Copal varnishes and distributed Cuprinol wood preservatives. In 1960 they merged with Berger Paints forming Berger, Jenson and Nicholson who after various takeovers became a part of Crown Paints and were then acquired by the Dutch company Akzo Nobel. (Information from Grace’s Guide https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Jenson_and_Nicholson.)

The name Robbialac came from the 15th century Italian ceramicist Luca Della Robbia, famed for his brightly coloured enamels and the word lacquer. The major Portuguese paint manufacturer Tinta Robbialac, founded in 1928, also uses it as a brand name.

Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-12_2400
Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The concrete bridge here is an early use of ferro-concrete I think had a plaque on it stating it had been built using the Hennebique system and certainly deserves preservation. I photographed it on various occasions and it survived the Olympics and was still present when I last visited the area, but I’m unsure if it will be retained in the future.

Waterworks River, Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, 1983 36m-62-positive_2400
Waterworks River, Bridgewater Rd, Stratford, 1983

The view looking south from the Bridgewater Road bridge along the Waterworks River to the Warton House on Stratford High St, and blocks of flats on the opposite side of the street off Abbey Lane, Albert Bigg Point and Aubrey Moore Point. The footpath on the bank at right was extremely overgrown and the gates to it were locked. At right is one of the many pylons that were taken down for the Olympics.

Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-51_2400
Carpenters Estate, Stratford, Newham, 1983

I am not sure of the exact location of this doorway with its interesting use of concrete. There were (and are) 3 point blocks on the Carpenters Estate and I think the one in the background here may be Dennison Point and this building may have been on the site now occupied by the Building Crafts College in Kennard Road which moved to a new building here in 2001.

Waterworks River, Railway Bridge, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-32_2400
Waterworks River, Railway Bridge, Stratford, Newham, 1983

I think this is from the footpath beside the Waterworks River looking north towards the bridge carrying the Eastern Region main line from Liverpool St across to Stratford. Possibly I had climbed down from Bridgewater Road as I think this path was closed at the time. The factory at right was on Warton Rd.

Waterworks River, Blaker Rd, Stratford, 1983 36m-52_2400
Waterworks River, view towards Blaker Rd from the Greenway, Stratford, 1983

The Waterworks River turns to the left in the distance to go under Stratford High St, with a channel going on under Blaker Rd to City Mill lock. The concrete pillar is part of the bridge carrying the Northern Outfall Sewer across the river and I wondered if the profuse fig tree growing here might be benefiting from some warmth from the sewage or possibly even be nourished by some leakage.

Kerry's, Greenway, Northern Outfall Sewer, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35v-23_2400
Kerry’s, Stratford 1983.

Kerry’s were a company that made and distributed a wide range of products, both those they made themselves and others branded with their name. In 1961 according to Grace’s Guide they were “Wholesale distributors to the motor, radio, electrical and cycle trades, also machine tool makers, specialising in centre lathes, boring mills, power saws, drills and special purpose machines” and even produced a light weight moped, the Capitano. Manufacturing moved to Basildon in the 1960s and the business was bought up and sold at the end of the decade.

Although Kerry’s address was Warton Road, I think the factory was actually rather closer to the Northern Outfall Sewer and reached over the bridge on Bridgewater Road.

More pictures on Flickr.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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


Stratford Marsh & Carpenter’s Road

January 12th, 2021

Pudding Mill River and Railway, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h66_2400
Pudding Mill River, Stratford Marsh, 1990

Continuing with pictures from my walks in the 1980s and early 1990s around the area destroyed for the London 2012 Olympics on Stratford Marsh. Although there was then considerable industry of various kinds across the area, many of the factories had closed, and some were derelict, partly as a result of Thatcher’s de-industrialisation policies, but also because of competition from more efficient industry abroad as well as from lower wage economies.

Pauls Cafe, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h63_2400
Paul’s Cafe served the many workers in the area

A few of the empty properties and sites were occupied by smaller local businesses such as car breakers and repair shops, and a few were transformed into artists studios – and I remember going to a great party in one of them off Marshgate Lane, though missing most such events as I lived thirty miles away on the other side of London.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-34_2400
This path beside the City Mill River was well trodden during the fishing season. 1983

This was clearly a liminal area, on the edge of London and in some respects on the edge of society, even though it was surrounded on all sides by the city which now sprawls out much further east. In it there were also areas of wilderness, with paths beside the various streams of the River Lea across the area often overgrown and some largish areas of now disused land.

Caravan, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1982 32w-45_2400
Behind the caravan was the Queen Mary College nuclear engineering dept building. 1982

One large building next to the Pudding Mill River was the nuclear engineering department of Queen Mary College, which in 1966 had the first nuclear reactor of any UK university. This very small reactor was decommissioned about the time I made the picture which shows it behind a caravan and lorries parked beside the road.

Jerome Engineering Ltd, Johnson-Progress Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 92-8e23_2400
Jerome Engineering Ltd, Johnson-Progress Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Although there was clearly considerable industry in the area, quite a few of the properties were empty. You can find more pictures from Carpenters Rd on page 3 of the Flickr album River Lea- Lea Navigation.

Asteroid Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 92-8e62_2400
Asteroid Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-53_2400
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-26_2400
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The area now is unrecognisable – part of the largely still rather arid space of the new park. And although Carpenters Road still runs through the area, its sides are bare and bleak apart from the Aquatics Centre.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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


US Shame – Jan 11th

January 11th, 2021

Many commentators after the recent Trump-induced invasion of the US Capitol said that the 6th January 2021 (1/6/21) is a date that will go down in history as a day of shame for the US, comparing it to December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. The latter was perhaps a little over the top, as that attack killed 2,403 US personnel, while the death toll after police let Trump supporters in to protest currently stands at five, three of these from health-related issues. But certainly it was a shameful day for US democracy – and a date that might well have been better compared to 1/11/02, 11th January 2002, the date when the first prisoners were held in illegal detention at Guantánamo Bay.

It was five years later than I first photographed a protest against this illegal detention, outside the US Embassy in London, still then in Grosvenor Square, where Amnesty International had brought over a hundred people dressed in orange jump suits to represent the detaines, forming them up into a large block in front of the embassy.

The following year on the sixth anniversary I photographed rather more demonstrations around London. Amnesty were back again outside the US Embassy, though the area in front of the embassy had been sealed off, presumably to prevent the protest taking place there. Instead it was on the street just to one side.

My next stop was the Regents Park Mosque, where I met a group of campaigners, some dressed in the now familiar orange jump suits, from the London Guantánamo Campaign and Cageprisoners who were handing out fliers calling for the closure of the Guantánamo prison camp at various sites around London all day. After giving them to people leaving the Mosque after Friday prayers I went with them to Paddington Green Police Station, where terrorist suspects were normally detained and questioned.

From there I returned to the US Embassy, where the pavement in front was now open again, and a small group from London Catholic Worker had come to hold a vigil. A man from the US Embassy came out and tried to get them to move away, but they stood their ground, lighting a circle of candles as it grew dark.

The final event of the day was a rally in Parliament Square, with speakers including former Guantánamo detainee Moazzam Begg (above) and leading campaigners for the closure of this illegal prison which has cast huge shame on the claims of the USA to be a freedom-loving democracy which upholds international law. Of course those claims have long been known to be largely sham, with the USA backing many of the world’s most repressive regimes, taking part in shady affairs such as the Bay of Pigs attempted invasion, and sponsoring coups such as the 1973 Chilean coup d’état that deposed the Popular Unity government of President Salvador Allende on ‘9/11’ 1973.

Although many detainees have been released – there was no evidence against the great majority who were simply foreigners who far various reasons in the wrong place at the wrong time, many held by militias and sold to the US who were offering considerable bounties – the camp remains open. President Trump in 2018 signed an executive order to keep the detention camp open indefinitely, and currently 40 prisoners remain there, still subject to torture and degrading conditions. Guantánamo remains a shameful blot on the United States.

2007
Close guantanamo 5th anniversary demonstration

2008
Six years of Guantanamo: Amnesty
London Guantanamo Campaign / Cageprisoners
Guantanamo – London Catholic Worker
Guantanamo – Parliament Square Rally

There are reports on many later protests calling for the closure of Guantánamo on My London Diary.

Protests over Gaza massacre

January 10th, 2021

3 Jan 2009

January 10th 2009 saw what was probably the largest protest ever in London against the Israeli attacks on Gaza, with a crowd of around 100,000 gathering in Hyde Park for a march past the Israeli embassy.

2 Jan 2009

The Israeli attacks on Gaza, known by Israel as Operation Cast Lead and called by others the Gaza Massacre had begun on 27th December 2008 with an air assault on Gaza’s densely populated cities, striking 160 targets, some linked to Hamas but also including police stations and some other civilian buildings. This first day of air strikes killed around 230 Palestinians and injured more than 700. Air attacks continued in the following weeks, with around a quarter of those killed being civilians.

Ultra-orthodox Jews protest against the Israeli attacks, 7 Jan 2009

Israeli ground forces had blockaded the Gaza strip since the start of the attacks and on the evening of January 3rd launched an attack. Fighting continued with many buildings being destroyed by bulldozers in case they contained booby traps. On January 15th the United Nations Relief and Works agency was shelled, destroying tons of food and fuel destined for refugees and Gaza’s second largest hospital also was hit. Many Hamas fighters were killed but others continued to fight in Gaza and to send sporadic rocket fire into Israel, though casualties from these were low, with a total of 3 civilians and one soldier killed and 182 wounded. A further nine Israel soldiers were killed in Gaza, four by Israeli fire. Around 1400 Palestinians were killed, around 2-300 of them Hamas fighters.

9 Jan 2009

Protests took place daily in London throughout this period, and, according to Wikipedia, there was Israel faced significant international pressure for a ceasefire, the establishment of a humanitarian corridor, access to the population of Gaza and the lifting of the blockade. From January 7th there were periods of ceasefire most days by both sides to allow humanitarian aid to be shipped in, violated on occasions by both sides. On the 17th January Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire, and the following day Hamas also announced a ceasefire.

Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain protest at Egyptian Embassy, 11 Jan 2009

I covered seven protests over the attack on Gaza in January 2009 and had a few problems at a couple of them when things became rather physical. On Saturday January 3rd, things got a little hectic in the road in front of the closed private street leading to the Israeli embassy, and I had to retreat a little to avoid objects being thrown at the police preventing protesters from reaching the barriers. The whole area became a little chaotic and I found myself in the middle of something like a huge rugby scrum as protesters tried to push past police. Although the protesters weren’t hostile to the press, there was a lot of pushing and grabbing at others for support and in the melee my trousers got a little torn and I lost a filled Compact Flash card which had been in one pocket with many of my pictures from earlier in the day.

Trafalgar Square, 17 Jan 2009

On the 10th, not far from the same place I was pushed and punched by Stop the War stewards as I tried to take photographs – some of them seem to have problems with the press. Other stewards who saw the assault came up to me and apologised for what had happened. And as usual at many protests I was often pushed and threatened with arrest by police on a number of occasions and prevented from getting on with my job. At times police do need to clear areas, but some officers seem to regard photographers simply as a nuisance, despite the agreements the press have with them which recognise the need for them to allow us to work.

Andrew Murray, Jeremy Corbyn, & Tony Benn at the BBC, 24 Jan 2009

Much more about the Jan 2009 Gaza protests:

Open the Gaza Border – Egyptian Embassy
Hands Off Gaza: Free Palestine
Daily Gaza protest at Israeli Embassy
Gaza Massacre – National March
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain Gaza march
Gaza: 1000 Dead and Nothing Said
Gaza: Protest March from the BBC

9 January 2016

January 9th, 2021

Class War at White Cube Bermondsey

This was always the most depressing point of my year. Particularly back when I was still teaching full-time, getting up on cold dark mornings to go into work, at the start of the term which, particularly for those teaching classed facing exams in May and June, seemed to be longest and hardest slog of the year. We are actually just a few days past the latest sunrise of the year, (it is a whole 2 minutes earlier today) but its only really by the middle of the month it starts to be noticeable.

NHS Bursaries Rally & March

Usually we’ve put away the Christmas decorations, turned off the Christmas tree lights and put the tree outside, waiting for the energy to plant it in the garden. We’ve eaten the Christmas cakes (we usually have an iced fruit cake, stollen and Buche de Noel to get through, finished the meat, eaten the nuts and fruit, Bombay Mix and chocolates and are back on normal fare, with perhaps a dose of austerity to make up for the previous weeks of minor gluttony.

NHS Bursaries Rally & March

But this year has been different, with no family, friends and neighbours visiting to help us get through the Christmas bonus or see in the New Year. Everything has been flatter and less interesting, and I’m feeling bored. I exercise along routes I’ve cycled or walked close to home many times before, taking out my camera and making pictures largely out of habit rather than any great interest.

Ian Bone and Rita the Raven

Back in earlier years, protests and other events were getting back into swing at this time of year after something of a hiatus over Christmas and the New Year, when most of us were busy with other things. I live just too far from central London to be able to easily take part in the New Years Eve events, and though for some years I went up the following morning to photograph the New Year Parade, in recent years this became too organised to be really interesting.

Ian Bone takes a free kick

Saturday 9th January 2016 began for me with a rally and march against the axing of training bursaries for NHS nurses and midwives. As a part of their training they perform valuable work in hospitals, caring for patients, and the time involved means that unlike other students they are not able to get part-time work to support themselves.

Fire-eating outside the White Cube

The removal of the bursaries seems certain to result in much greater hardship and also in fewer students training as nurses – and we already have a shortage of nurses. It was a simple cost-cutting measure that only makes any sense as a part of the Tory plans to privatise our NHS by stealth, part of which involves putting greater pressure on the system so that more aspects of it can be put out to private tender. Many in government have interests in private health companies and favour a move away from the principles behind the NHS of a service based on clinical need free to all towards a US-style high-cost insurance-based system.

I left the march before it finished to join Class War outside the White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey St, one of the areas of London where gentrification is most apparent.

December 9th 2015: Class War protest Gilbert & George at White Cube Bermondsey

I’d come the previous month to photograph Ian Bone of Class War and Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing holding a short protest outside the gallery over the appropriation of protest slogans by Gilbert and George in the show taking place there, and the gentrification of the area. I wrote then:

Bermondsey, once a working class industrial area on the edge of London’s docks with many small workshops in yards off of Bermondsey St producing hats, leather goods and a more recent arrival, the print trade, has changed dramatically. Run down when I first photographed there in the 1980s (and produced an industrial archaeology walk leaflet, West Bermondsey – The leather area) it is now full of restaurants, galleries, designer clothes and other businesses catering for London’s new gentrification, with offices, design studios and expensive flats now having replaced most of the workshops.

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2015/12/dec.htm#banners

In front of the gallery is their large open yard, and Class War had decided that as this is an area where many still live in council estates with notices on the green spaces ‘No Ball Games’ that this would be an ideal place to hold a game of football as a protest against gentrification. And I’d been invited to come along and take pictures.

Although they hadn’t been invited, the police had clearly heard about the protest and had come along too, along with some security staff employed additionally by the gallery. A large sculpture at one side of the yard had also been wrapped up to protect it from damage (and artistically that seemed to me a great improvement.)

Jane Nicholl performs ‘The Finest f***ing Family in the Land

There was some opposition – and a hapless young police woman tried to tell the protesters that kicking a ball around was reckless behaviour – but the protest continued. Here is my description from My London Diary:

The protesters deliberately kicked the football at police and security, encouraging them to join in the game. Some of them did kick the ball back, while others simply stood and let a protester come to collect it, sometimes holding it but returning it when requested.

But the protest outside the ‘protest’ show (entitled ‘Banners‘) was not just football, but there was some spectacular fire breathing along with a premiere performance of Ray Jones‘s latest song, ‘any chance of a sub?’ dedicated to Damien Hirst and accompanied by the dancing Lucy Parsons banner ‘We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live’. (Jones, together with Ian Bone were formerly part of the Welsh punk band “Page 3”.) ‘Sid Skill’ had brought along a fairly lifelike black model bird (a fiver on eBay) which inspired a histronic performance from Ian Bone, about how the security men guarding the White Cube had murdered the last raven from the Tower of London, and that London was now doomed. Doomed I say, doomed.

Later, there were two spoken word performances, one by Jane Nicholl of a traditional verse, ‘The Finest f***ing Family in the Land‘, performed with great gusto and with the small crowd joining in, and the second of a rather odd poem about a raven, sent in response to a tweet about Ian’s performance at the protest by Ray Jones, which he read to us all. And the Womens Death Squad led a rousing performance of their anthem, ‘ Bunch of C***s

Altogether it was a ‘happening’ with arguably rather more artistic credibility than the rather sterile work on display inside the gallery, and one that was appreciated by some members of the public even though it lacked the Art World’s financial imprimatur.

Eventually it was time to leave – and for Class War to continue their celebrations in a local pub … On the way a number of Class War Womens Death Squad stickers somehow found their way onto street furniture, walls and estate agents windows, to remind the gentrifiers that Class War will be back.

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2016/01/jan.htm#whitecube

More on My London Diary
Class War Footy at White Cube
NHS Bursaries March
NHS Bursaries rally before march


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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


Deep in the Olympic Area

January 8th, 2021

Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-33_2400
Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

I titled my self-published book put together in 2010 on the Lee Valley ‘Before the Olympics‘ because many of the pictures in it were taken in an area that was then being largely destroyed for a few weeks of sporting activities in 2012.

Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e51_2400
Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992

It was an area that over the previous 25 or so years had held a particular fascination for me as a post-industrial wilderness close to the centre of London, one of the world’s greatest cities. Within a few yards of busy major roads I could find myself struggling to walk along overgrown paths – and sometimes having to climb over or around fences to do so. For months a pair of secatuers were needed in my camera bag to cut through the brambles that barred my progress (though when I wrote earlier about this I slightly exagerrated them as a ‘machete’.)

Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-24_2400
Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

At times I spent hours wandering the area without meeting or seeing another living soul, or only across rivers, perhaps working in one of the many small businesses still at work, often in ramshackle buildings with smoke or steam emerging though ventilators or cracks. Or I would emerge from under a bridge or around a corner to see large industrial structures such as oil storage tanks.

Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-34_2400
Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

It was of course an area that was bound to change, but not in the way it has. And the old was in some respects dystopian. Many of the remaining businesses were the kind that we like to hide away on the fringes, perhaps necessary but best kept out of sight. The River Lea was during the worst years of the development of industry the outer boundary of London, inside which there was a long history of restrictions to curb the activities of the most noxious and polluting industries; across that boundary almost anything went and factories were set up to enjoy that licence to pollute.

Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-36_2400
Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

Those years of largely unfettered industrial activity had left their toxic legacy in the soil, though some plants seemed to thrive on it. There were schemes to tidy up the area in the 1990s, with some streams and paths being cleared and the route beside the Waterworks River being decorated with art from junior schools in the area, but nature soon took it back , and a few years later I was again struggling through shoulder-high weeds.

Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e44_2400
Waterworks River, from Marshgate Lane, 1992

The Olympics were terra-forming, with tons of soil from the area being sterilised, tons being dumped elsewhere in landfill, and virgin soil brought in, in part from building work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. A new landscape emerged, retaining the watery outlines of the old, along with the Greenway and the major rail routes but with different land, and none of what was previously present on the rest of its surface, though with new white elephants fast being constructed.

Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-43_2400
Waterworks River from Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983
Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e32_2400
Waterworks River, 1992
Footbridge, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-32_2400
Stratford Marsh, 1983
Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-36_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1983

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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


Stratford Marsh: Sewage and Rivers

January 7th, 2021

Northern Outfall Sewer, Lea Navigation, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 36o-24_2400
Two pipes and behind them the Northern Outfall Sewer

Part of Bazalgette’s great plan for freeing the Thames in central London from being a huge open sewer was to build large sewage pipelines to sewage works to the east of London. North of the river, the Northern Outfall Sewer, built in 1960-65, channels sewage from high level sewers serving North London and those from Central London to run under an embankment from Wick Road, across the Lea Navigation at Old Ford and past Stratford’s ‘Cathedral of Sewage’ at Abbey Mills which pumps up sewage from lower level sewers serving West London to join it and flow together to the sewage works at Beckton, the effluent from which is discharged into the Thames. Above the large pipes is a path for pedestrians and cyclists, rebranded at great expense as ‘The Greenway’ in the early 1990s.

Lea Navigation, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 36o-34_2400
These two pipes close to the Greenway are perhaps for gas.

It provides a useful traffic-free route across Newham, but access to it is often poor, particularly for cyclists and for the past 15 or so years has been blighted by closures of various sections, particularly in Stratford Marsh for the 2012 Olympics and Crossrail construction as well as sewer maintainance. It should be open again now and is an interesting walk, though the slightly sweet sickly smell may put some off.

Towards Bow, from Northern Outfall Sewer, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-14_2400
Stratford Marsh and Bow, 1983
Lea Navigation from Northern Outfall Sewer, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h56_2400
The sewer path provides an elevated viewpoint. Lee Navigation and Bow 1990

Stratford Marsh north of the Northern Outfall was bounded by water. The Old River Lea ran from Carpernters Road through Carpenter’s Lock to join the Lea Navigation just south of Old Ford Lock and immediately north of the outfall. Along its east side was the Waterworks River (carrying most of the flow from the Lea and passing under the sewer close to Stratford High St, which it flowed under close to City Mill Lock. Running West from the other end of the lock was St Thomas’s Creek joining to the Navigation at Bow Bridge, and north the City Mill River linking to the Old River Lea.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-24_2400
A rare boat makes its way around the Bow Back Rivers. City Mill River, 1983

Until the closure for the Olympics it was possible for boats to navigate around the area, leaving the navigation just above Bow Bridge on St Thomas’s Creek, going north up the City Mill River, then west along the Old River Lea back to the navigation, all these rivers being at the same level. In quite a few days of walking around the area I only saw two boats making the trip.

Signal Box, Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-65_2400
Channelsea River at Stratford Station, 1983

Another smaller channel, the Pudding Mill River, ran a little to the west of this down from the Old River Lea, disappearing under the railway lines which cut through Stratford Marsh (a couple of pictures in a later post.) This river I think disappeared completely under the stadium in the Olympic makeover; while all around them was changed (including the soil, much imported from elsewhere) the other watercourses in this area emerged largely unscathed though there were changes south of the High St, and I think the Channelsea River was possibly further marginalised.

Channelsea River, Jupp Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-62_2400
Channelsea River, Jupp Rd, Stratford, 1983

The Curious Society

January 6th, 2021

The Curious Society is an initiative from an idea by Kenneth Jarecke of Contact Press Images to promote photojournalism, which is attempting to develop a different paying model for the genre, outside of commercial publications. Given the problems of photographers working for the current newspapers and magazines around the world I think we should welcome anything that helps photographers involved in serious photojournalism.

The underlining goal of the Curious Society is to preserve the institutional knowledge photographers and editors need to produce great photojournalism. This knowledge was once passed along in the field from old people to young people. today, most of the old folks aren’t working, so there exists a real danger of losing what they know.

https://www.curioussociety.org/faq

The major current problems putting the future of photojournalism under threat are financial and contractual. Often photojournalists now have to sign ‘work for hire’ contracts with magazines etc to get support for their projects, which means signing away their copyrights in their images for a risible ‘day rate’.

The Curious Society hopes to issue four high-quality collectable 256 page print issues a year, and to pay contributing photographers on a ‘space rate’ basis to licence their images, initially at $100 per page, but hoping to increase this as membership grows. It needs an initial 4,000 members to get off the ground for its first year, but hopes to get up to 20,000, which would enable it to increase the rate it pays photographers to $500 per page – the rate magazines like Time used once to pay.

The publications will not ‘technically’ carry any advertising, though they may accept some ‘sponsorship’ and turn it into grants or other things that will directly aid photojournalists, and they make clear that “we’re budgeted to be completely supported by our members, so the sponsors won’t be able to dictate what appears on our pages.” But this means that members have to pay the full cost of production, whereas most publications are largely paid for by advertising, turning them into vehicles to supply readers to the advertisers.

There is a lot more you can read on The Curious Society web site, with some stunning photographs. There is also an Instagram page, which they intend to be their only social media presence. Their publications will be only available to members and there will also be some member-only videos.

Although I welcome this initiative and wish it every success I do have some reservations. With individual membership at $300 per year it clearly isn’t something for me – and there are higher levels of contribution for those wanting to be more involved, as well as a half price student deal and some gift memberships for young aspiring photographers. It’s also a very USA-centric organisation, with an annual meeting in a small to medium sized town in the Rocky Mountain West – the first planned hopefully for September 2021.

Although a positive idea, it’s also one of a limited scale. At $100 per page it is only injecting around $100,000 per year into paying photojournalists, an amount that will not go far around. Welcome though it is, even if successful it will hardly have a huge impact on the industry.

I’m also just a little put off by the web site. Partly because of the kind of images that it presents, all very high impact and newsy, but perhaps sometimes more about the photographer than the subject. And perhaps not in the finest traditions of photojournalism, where the pictures that really tell the story are rather less dramatised. I also wish that the text was not all in CAPITAL LETTERS. I’m averse to being shouted at either in visuals or text.

The Curious Society
https://www.curioussociety.org/

4000 Posts

January 5th, 2021

I’m not a big one for anniversaries and so on. But I’ve just noticed that today this is the 4000th post on >Re:PHOTO since I began this site on December 1st 2006. That first post has been edited since then to reflect the reason I began posting here, which was to provide an audience for my writing about photography (and also my photography.) I’d been writing professionally about photography on the web since 1999, and it was becoming clear that I was likely to lose my position before long – for the offence of writing too much about photography.

That first post was just an introduction to me, though a second post that same day was a short opinion about Paris Photo, which I’d attended the previous month. Here is its in full:


Paris Photo

Paris was full of photographs in November, and there were some great ones at Paris Photo. But there were things that were hard to take too. Large empty wastes of dollar-rich nothingness covering the walls of some galleries. Vintage prints pulled from some photographers waste-bins and awarded stupendous price-tags. I found it hard not to burst out laughing when a dealer came up to the person next to me and told her the price of one rather ordinary ’60s fashion print was 20,000 euros. A couple of years ago we would have though 200 rather steep, and 2000 definitely well over the top.

Still, all good news for investors, and for the minority of photographers who have a place on the gravy train. There were a few other photographers around, trying to talk to dealers, but this wasn’t the place for it. “Best if you e-mail us” they were politely brushed off.

The first day I had a panic attack of sorts as the place got more and more full of people, all there for the free opening party, and had to rush out and up from the bunker into the fresh air above. The next day things were better, less crowded, but still more a place for millionaires than photographers.

But fortunately, there was much more in Paris than Paris Photo.


Then there was a long gap, with my next post not appearing until May 2007, around the time I finally got the push. Most of those early posts were about things I would not have put on the commercial site I wrote for. >Re:PHOTO was and is my own personal site and I can say and write what I like without having to worry about upsetting editors or readers or maintaining the broad church approach which I had originally been hired to pursue.

Being entirely my own site also freed me from some other restraints. Although my articles and notes had ranged widely over photography across the world (another crime in my new editors’ views) I was unable to write about and promote my own work or that of my friends. Occasionally I did use one of my pictures, but mainly to illustrate some technical point, and these were very seldom of any real interest. The pictures in this post are all ones I took in the month >Re:PHOTO began at a protest in Dagenham against the racist BNP, none of which could be posted on the commercial site.

Politics was another area where I often had to restrain or moderate my views, though I think sometimes they were fairly apparent. But most of my photography at the time was highly political. And certainly at times I’ve treated readers here to something of a political rant.

Jeremy Corbyn photographer

>Re:PHOTO has changed over the years, and back in its early years I was still very constrained by the fact that most of those accessing it were doing so with relatively low bandwidth. So images were few and far between in those early posts, while today most have at least half a dozen.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Dagenham

There are also many more photography sites and photography blogs than 13 or 14 years ago, and I feel less need for me to discuss wider photographic issues here. I’ve also come to a stage in my own work where I’m increasingly re-evaluating my own photography from the previous century and thinking about its future as my own is drawing closer to a close. That virus has sharpened my own thinking, particularly as I’m in groups designated as vulnerable both from age and illness and has given me time to think and to scan old work. I’ve had to give up taking new photographs (except for a few during exercise bike rides and the odd walk close to home) and stay at home – and have put over 11,000 old pictures onto Flickr, a few of which I’ve shared here.

All of those 4000 posts are still available on this site – and you can find them by month in the archive list at right or by a search for particular topics. This feature has taken longer to write than it should have, as I spent some time reading my several posts about important photographers who were omitted from what I felt was a rather disappointing 2007 V&A show,  ‘How We Are: Photographing Britain, along with some other things I came across.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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


Eastway & Stratford

January 4th, 2021
Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-54_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

I hadn’t taken my bike when I visited the Eastway Cycle Circuit in 1983, so I was walking around the area and keeping out of the way of the few cyclists who were using the track. It was built on a landfill site in 1975, the first purpose-built road cycling venue in the UK, with a one mile circuit used for road racing and time trials, around which many well-known cyclists including the legendary Eddy Merckx raced, and later hosted this country’s largest weekly mountainbike cross-country race series.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-01_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

The last race took place here on October 21, 2006, with part of the site being used to build the Olympic village. There were a number of protests by cyclists about the closure and what many saw as an inadequate replacement a short distance away in the Olympic park next to the A12. the Lea Valley VeloPark, particularly after its size was reduced from the originally promised 34 hectares to a mere 10.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-62_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983

Running along the west side of the cycle circuit was the Channelsea River, once a major stream of the River Lea going close to the centre of Stratford, but now reduced to a minor ditch. The pattern of waterways in the area is hard to understand with a number of natural and man-made streams, some possibly built to power medieval mills but I think much of its flow was probably diverted into the Waterworks River perhaps around 1745 when the West Ham Waterworks Company opened its works. More changes were made in an extensive programme of flood prevention in the 1920s and 30s, and it was probably then that the Channelsea was severely reduced in status.

Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-63_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
36n-64_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
Channelsea River, Eastway Cycle Circuit, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-65_2400
Eastway Cycle Circuit, 1983
Freightliner Terminal, Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983  36n-52_2400
Freightliner Terminal, Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Stratford expanded greatly as a railway town, and much of the area to the north of its centre between Carpenters Road and Leyton Road, south of where the Cycle Circuit was built was covered by an incredible mesh of tracks, engine sheds and railway works by the start of the twentieth century. Most of this had gone by the time I took these pictures, replaced in part by cold stores and a Freightliner Terminal. Now there is a rather bleak Olympic Park and a vast shopping centre along with new housing, and also a new high-speed rail line.

Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983  36n-53_2400
Cold Stores, Stratford, Newham, 1983 36n-53_2400
Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35r-15 (2)_2400
Stratford Station, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Stratford Station could still show an impressive amount of railway. Since 1983 it has also added new lines, with the DLR from Poplar terminating here and the Jubilee Line opening at the end of the last century. The old North London service which I used to travel here from Richmond to take these pictures has now been rebranded as a part of the London Overground and terminates here, with its parts of its track south of Stratford now a part of the DLR to Canning Town and beyond.

Clicking on any of the pictures in this post will take you to a larger version in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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