XR Sea of Protest

July 30th, 2019

Back in November 2016 I attended a vigil outside the Honduran Embassy in London for  environmental activist and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres, assassinated either by forces of the state or by groups encouraged by the state. Before her murder she had  death threats from the Honduran National Police and judicial harassment.

Very much to my surprise, Berta Cáceres returned to London this April in the shape of a large pink yacht named in her memory which Extinction Rebellion (XR) had brought to block Oxford Circus to traffic and create a “sea of protest“.

I arrived some hours after the yacht which was by then surrounded by protesters and with various activities taking place, including an induction course for new arrivals and some music. Getting ready to perform were a group of people dressed in red, representing I was told the blood of extinct species and those – like our own – threatened by the Earth’s sixth global extinction event, now getting into full swing thanks to the efforts of the fossil fuel industry and its supporters, particularly President Trump.

I didn’t stay long on this occasion, as other things were happening elsewhere across London. XR intended to keep the roads closed until the government takes necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency, and this particular action continued from Monday until Friday, when I returned to photograph the police taking action to clear the junction.

More at: Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus.


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

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


XR’s Garden Bridge

July 29th, 2019

While Boris Johnson wasted many millions of public money as London Mayor on a crazy project for a garden bridge across the Thames where no-one wanted it and it fortunately came to nothing, Extinction Rebellion provided one for free for a few days .

It helped that they didn’t actually have to build a bridge, but just took over an existing one, Waterloo Bridge, closing it to traffic. This did cause a certain amount of disruption, and doubtless inconvenienced some people, but it, together with their other actions around London, did serve to put the issue of climate catastrophe – and the very real threat of human extinction unless people across the world take radical action – into public consciousness.

It was a minor inconvenience for me, as found myself having to walk around London rather than sit on a bus rather often during the week, though fortunately the tube was still working. But were I a transport planner for London, I think that at least one of London’s bridges – though probably not this one – would be permanently pedestrianised. We have far too much traffic in central London, causing far too much pollution – and thousands of early deaths – and the congestion charge hasn’t solved the problem.

It was very pleasant to be able to walk across the bridge past the trees and plants, or to sit for a few minutes in the sun and listen and watch the activities taking place on the bridge. And the air there certainly felt cleaner, once you were on the bridge and away from the traffic jam south of the river.

Many of those on the bridge had travelled up from the country, and had brought a little of it with them. Some had even walked all the way from Cornwall. Extinction Rebellion has certainly gained a great deal of support, if largely from the kind of people who will go to public meetings and listen to their speakers. Most could be labelled middle class, though not mainly the comfortable and affluent high-consuming middle class, but largely those in low-paid occupations; teachers, social workers, health workers were I’m sure all over-represented.

XR has developed from the activities of groups like ‘Stop Killing Londoners’ whose protests against air pollution in the city I’ve photographed from their start, working on the ideas of Roger Hallam on non-violent protests and people being prepared to be arrested (as I photographed him being arrested at the LSE in a protest for the cleaners there.)

There were arrests at the ‘garden bridge’ but on the couple of occasions I visited police just watched and occasionally took notes. XR’s attitude to the police and their policy of encouraging people to be arrested has been much criticised by others, and they appear to have little regard for the problems it may cause and have under-estimated the support needed. But these are desperate times and rather than carping perhaps the critics should be showing an example by launching their own, more effective actions – but there is little sign of that happening. XR certainly isn’t a perfect game, but it has little competition.

More at Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge


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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

Up the Elephant

July 28th, 2019

A quick trip on the Bakerloo line took me from elephants in Cavendish Square to the Elephant, where Southwark Notes, Latin Elephant and Up the Elephant were holding their Love the Elephant Street Celebration.

For generations the Elephant & Castle has been a lively South London hub, its nature changing over the years. The country’s first shopping mall was built here in 1955 on the site of a bomb-damaged estate, and while showing its age is still more interesting than most, and one that both reflects and caters for the local community, increasingly Latin-American, as well as largely older bingo-playing local residents.

Shopping malls are generally pretty soulless places, and on going inside you transition from whichever town or city you were into some strange limbo of franchises and chains. The few with a little more character are some of the older ones, usually incorporating market traders and other small local businesses, while the more recent examples have little to offer except the same as every other more recent mall.

Virtually the only reason I ever enter them is to search for the public toilets most offer, which usually involves a long trek following often confusing signage designed to take you past every retail outlet en-route.

Not of course that the Elephant shopping centre is perfect, far from it. It is certainly showing its age and needs improvement, and it has been deliberately run down by its owners to promote the redevelopment.

But campaigners say it should be redeveloped with the local community in mind while the developers Delancey working with Southwark Council and the London College of Communications, seem largely concerned with maximising their profits from the scheme.

Years of campaigning by local community groups has resulted in some minor improvements to the proposals – including more social housing, though it remains to be seen if this will actually happen.

Although the plans were finally approved last December, the campaing goes on, to keep the shopping centre alive until it is demolished and to get fairer treatment of the existing traders. Some have been promised space in the new development, but sometimes only a small fraction of their current area, and the campaign want all to be made offers on a ‘like for like’ basis, with an increase in the relocation fund.

More at Love the Elephant.


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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.


Against Extinction

July 26th, 2019

Elephants were in Cavendish Square again today, along with Stanley Johhnson and others mainly from the Tory conservation movement.

Some of the elephants were live, but only in human form, in grey suits with large heads with trunks and tusks, but there were many more on posters . They had come to Cavendish Square as a part of the 2019 Global March for Elephants and Rhinos and were to march to a rally to Downing St.

There were rather few of them, making me think that the Conservative conservation movement is also in danger of extinction, but perhaps more reflecting a wish not to be associated with the much wider and larger animal rights movement whose radicalism I think they find disturbing.

Of course it is a good thing to work through official bodies such as CITES, where some of them are fighting to get greater protection for elephants and to prevent attempts to downgrade protection of endangered species or reopen trade in ivory and other body parts. But it would be good to have a protest that represented the support of a much wider movement for this – even if some of them are also against fox hunting and the badger cull and other activities some Tories hold dear.

There is very wide support for animal welfare and animal rights across the virtually the whole of the UK population (sadly rather more than for human rights) and this protest seemed absurdly sectional. There could have been thousands out on the streets calling for  a ban on the import of hunting trophies of endangered species to the UK and not just a small and slightly sad group creeping along the pavement.

Fortunately the atmosphere was calmer than at a similar protest a few months previously when the papparazzi turned up to photograph Boris Johnson’s girl-friend. She wasn’t there, so nor where they and there was no mad ruch pushing people and other photographers out of the way. But of course this also meant that there was none of the full-page coverage that the earlier protest got. Probably just a bored editor spiking the story as not being news.

More at Against extinction and trophy hunting.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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.

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End Murdoch’s Transphobia

July 25th, 2019

Campaigners from Transmission, a group supporting the rights of trans people, came to protest outside the offices of The Times newspaper against their publication of transphobic articles.

The protest came after articles were published written by Lucy Bannerman criticised the work of the Tavistock centre, which runs the country’s only NHS gender identity service.

In a statement published the same day as the article, the centre strongly rejected the claims made in the article and stated:

The Service always place a young person’s wellbeing at the centre of our work and have a clear position of independence from outside lobby groups on all sides of the debate.

and

A recent Review into the Service found no immediate issues relating to patient safety and no overall failing in approach. It did make recommendations to further improve the Service, these will be implemented over the next 12 months building on the work of the Service to date. 

You can read the full statement at https://tavistockandportman.nhs.uk/about-us/news/stories/gender-identity-service-times-8-april-2019/

This is not an isolated article and the same journalist has previously written unfavourably and inaccurately about trans charity Mermaids and has suggested ostracising trans athletes for competing in sports.

In a court case in which a transgender activist was convicted of assault, Bannerman tweeted unfavourably on the judge correcting witnesses who deliberately referred to the defendant, a trans woman as ‘he’. As was pointed out in a comment on her post, you would expect a judge to challenge racist or homophobic language and it should be no different for transphobic language.

Bannerman appears to have aligned herself with what are commonly known as ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’ or ‘TERFs’ for short. Its a description they don’t like, though it appears descriptive rather than derogatory. I’m unaware of any other satisfactory description which clearly distinguishes them from the wider feminist movement which is supportive of transgender women.

Terfs have a record of disruption which although it does not endorse the use of violence against them certainly makes it more likely as it enrages others. Last year they gained the opprobrium of virtually the entire gay community by hi-jacking the start of Gay Pride – a very diffferent reaction to a similar take-over the previous year by migrant gay communities which was applauded by all except a few of the establishment. They also caused chaos at the Anarchist Book Fair, leading to its cancellation this year.

Propaganda like Bannerman’s articles can only appear in The Times because it reflects the views of the editor and more importantly the proprietor of the paper, Ruper Murdoch.

More pictures at Times end transphobic articles.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


The cameras behind the pictures

July 23rd, 2019

I’ve often written about it being the photographer and not the camera that makes great pictures, but of course most photographers spend far too long talking and worrying about cameras, and many of us own a ridiculous number of them, mostly just sitting unused in cupboards.

Of course there are a few pictures that call out for some very special features in a camera, but most of the great images we know could have been taken by almost any working camera. Back in the days of film it wasn’t too unusual for the images used to advertise Camera X to have by taken by a photographer working with a different manufacturer’s system, and when captions included things like the camera model, aperture and shutter speed these were often rather speculative. Sometimes on my contact sheets I noted the camera used – OM1/ M2 etc – but often it was unrecorded. Now we have EXIF data to go on; with film you only had the markings on the film, which confirmed it was Tri-X or FP4 etc but nothing more.

But I think most photographers will find the article “20 Of The Most Iconic Photographs And The Cameras That Captured Them” of interest, even if as one of the comments points out, it really is “20 famous photographs and photos we found on the internet that we think might come pretty close to what wikipedia says they used“.

It rather shows the lack of proper historic research behind the article when it comes to one of Capa’s D-Day pictures:

Capa was with one of the earliest waves of troops landing on the American invasion beach, Omaha Beach. While under fire, Capa took 106 pictures, all but eleven of which were destroyed in a processing accident in the Life magazine photo lab in London.

We now can be certain, thanks to the exhaustive and painstaking work of A D Coleman and his team, that the “processing accident” was entirely fictional, a story invented by Capa (or possibly suggested to him by military intelligence), who was a great story-teller in words as well as images. The story was never believable – film just doesn’t behave as suggested, nor does processing equipment.

Capa only took 10 images on Omaha Beach (or just possibly 11) before deciding that if he was to get his images back to England in time he had to jump back onto a landing craft. His films will have been developed under military supervision, and it seems almost certain that any images that he took on the approach to the coast will have been censored and destroyed, as the censors were anxious to hide the huge scale of the invasion.

Of course Omaha Beach was dangerous, but by the time Capa arrived (an hour or two later than he claimed) the leading US troops had already made their way well ahead, meeting rather less resistance than on other beaches. But it will still have been a very scary place to be, and the image conveys that through its rawness and lack of sharpness, I think a combination of camera shake and under-exposure combined with overdevelopment. I think experienced darkroom workers at that time lifted the film briefly from the developing tank and held their glowing cigarette behind it to judge development, dropping it back into the developer if the image was too weak.

At least they got the make of camera right – a Contax – though the particular example shown doesn’t look as if it got far out of the showroom and certainly not to war. The same is true of quite a proportion of the others here.

Given what is now known about Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ the comment on this seems rather lacking, and the same could also be said about ‘Afghan Girl’ by Steve McCurry. And perhaps it should be pointed out that several other photographers also took pictures of ‘Tank Man’ in Tiananmen Square (and they probably used Nikons too.) Then there is that ‘Raising The Flag On Iwo Jima’ …

A few of the comments are also worth reading, and some tell rather more than the Bored Panda article about the pictures featured.

Regents Canal – Bethnal Green

July 22nd, 2019

More panoramic images from the Regents Canal and nearby areas in Bethnal Green.

The Oval
From Corbridge Crescent
Corbridge Cresecent
Corbdige Crescent and Grove Passage

This is an area I photographed for the first time around 1980 and that I’ve returned to occasionally over the years. On My London Diary you can see more of these cylindrical perspective panoramic views – each around 147 degrees horizontal field of view, as well as some more normal rectilinear lens views at Regent’s Canal.

I’m hoping to use some pictures from the canal in a small show next year – more later.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


GLIAS 50

July 19th, 2019

Last Wednesday evening I went on a short walk with members of GLIAS, the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, from City Hall to Rotherhithe, one of a number of events marking 50 years of the society.

I’ve been a member of GLIAS for much of that time, first coming across it in 1977 when I visited Kew Bridge Engines, ostensibly for the benefit of my one-year-old son, and picking up a leaflet about it there. I’m not sure whether I joined it then, or after a second visit, when we took a party of slightly older boys on an outing for one of his birthdays.

Later that same son wrote a web site for me 20 years ago as a birthday present, London’s Industrial Heritage, a rather more professional site than my own various offerings, on which the black and white pictures here can be found, along with a couple of hundred others, dating from 1973-1986. Its a nice design which creates the site from templates, a database file and of course the images using a batch file which runs a Perl script, but in some respects it is now a little dated. Back then, 550 pixels seemed a sensible size for web images.

Although I have an interest in industrial archaelogy, I lack to engineering knowledge to be a true GLIAS member, and my one real attempt at site recording as a part of the organisation was frustrating. But then I’m not always very impressed by the standards of photography in many of their communications. ‘Record photography’ is sometimes used as a perjorative term, but the best record phography has a power and resonance that is undeniable, for example some of the work of Walker Evans.

St Saviour’s Creek, 2014. We walked around its landward end this week

Our walk the other night was a reprise of one made earlier by two leading GLIAS member back in the 1970s and published in a GLIAS walk leaflet. One is now longer with us, but Professor David Perrett, now Chairman and Vice-President was there to lead us. These published walks, sent free to members also sold well for a few pence at a number of tourist sites in the area. They prompted me to produce a similar leaflet, partly as an example for a desk-top publishing course I was then teaching, on West Bermondsey
in 1992, in part based on a walk led by Tim Smith for the GLIAS Recording Group :

“a downloadable illustrated leaflet for a walk that concentrates on the industrial archaeology of the former leather area of Bermondsey in South East London. I wrote this in 1992 largely to show how simple, cheap and easy it was to produce such things with Pagemaker and a laser printer. I sold around five hundred copies over the next five years, gave some to the church in Bermondsey St to sell, and gave away many more, before deciding to put it on the web rather than bother to print any more. Although the area has changed considerably, it it still an interesting walk to follow. “

The area has changed even more since I wrote this, but you can still download and follow the walk and find much of what was there in 1992.

West Bermondsey walk leaflet (PDF)


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


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

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


A Rich Seam

July 18th, 2019

It has been great to see the recent awakening of interest in British documentary photograph from the last 30 or so years of the previous century. The 1970s began well, but by the end of that decade it was an area that attracted little interest and even less funding. Apart from a few who had established a reputation, most were left to continue their work not because of any community of support or wider interest but because of a burning personal conviction.

It was an era when people were beginning to set up galleries and photography was increasingly bought as art (and investment) but while gallery owners might look through portfolios and admire documentary work, often at length, they would then regretfully say “I’d love to show this, but it wouldn’t sell“. And the non-commercial world, increasingly dominated by the world of education had become obsessed by theory, and it became the idea expressed in words that mattered more than any quality of its expression in visual form. Documentary was old hat, and while it might get a showing if sufficiently historical (particularly if its creators had become a part of the established canon) there was little interest in new work – and its value was increasingly questioned.

One major operation that in recent years that has begun to mine this rich seam of largely unpublished work is the series of Café Royal Books, small low-cost volumes published weekly by Craig Atkinson, dedicated to “Publishing, Preserving and Making Accessible British Documentary Photography“. I’ve written about this before, and have to declare an interest in that a few of the many volumes have been of my own work, with another due shortly.

Others too have played a part, among them Bluecoat Press in Liverpool, who have used crowd-funding to finance the publication of a number of fine volumes, including books by Paul Trevor and Trish Murtha. Their latest crowd-funder, already fully subscribed but open for more pledges (and rewards) until  Wed, July 24 2019 10:28 AM BST, is for Coal Town,Mik Critchlow’s epic documentary about the last years of coal mining in Ashington and England’s North East.”

It would be hard to imagine a photographer more embedded in the community he was photographing than Critchlow, who has for 42 years photographed the town in which he was born and lives.

” His grandfather worked at Woodhorn Colliery for 52 year, his father was a miner for 45 years and his two brothers worked for 25 years before taking redundancy shortly after the 1984 Miners’ Strike “

Of course this wouldn’t matter if the photographs weren’t worth looking at, but they show a fine and intimate view of Ashington and its people by a photographer who is clearly aware of the history and possibilities of the medium and capable of using it in a personal fashion. I’m moved by them, and possibly strongly enough to overcome the domestic fatwah on buying any more books. And I know I’ll regret it if I don’t make a pledge.

The north-east, thanks largely to Side Gallery and the Amber-Side Collection was one area of the country where documentary remained in high regard during the fallow years for the rest of the country.