Posts Tagged ‘2015’

Swanscombe

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

Swanscombe, Kent. Sat 6 Jun 2015

I first visited Swanscombe back in 1985, when I was photographing along the south bank of the River Thames and Lower Thameside. Until the 1840s this area of North Kent had been relatively remove and rural, with riverside marshes largely untouched and valuable agricultural land on the higher areas growing food for the capital.

Portland Cement was patented by by Joseph Aspdin in 1824 and the later developed by his sone William, but the modern version of it was developed at Swanscombe by Isaac Charles Johnson, then manager of John Bazeley White’s cement plant. Johnson soon after left J B Whites to set up his own cement plants, including those nearby at Geenhithe and Cliffe, and Frindsbury on the Medway. In 1911 C Johnson & Co became a part of the Blue Circle Group.

The building of London’s sewers led both to a large demand for cement and also led the Metropolitan Board of Works to provide a specification for their needs which became the standard for Portland Cement. Portland Cement is the cement used in almost all concrete, mortar, stucco and grouting.

From around 1900 virtually all cement has been made in large rotary kilns, with flames heating limestone or chalk with clay-containing minerals at around 1500-1600 degrees Celsius. Water and carbon dioxide are driven off as the minerals combine to give silicates (mainly (tricalcium silicate, dicalcium silicate, tricalcium aluminate and tetracalcium aluminoferrite). Around 10% of world CO2 production which fuels climate change is due to cement manufacture, and smaller amounts of other polluting materials are also released in the process – hence the high chimneys of cement works. The small lumps of ‘cement clinker’ that emerge at the lower end of the kiln are then ground to a fine powder, often with added gypsum (calcium sulphate) or limestone to give cement.

Cement can cause burns and it readily absorbs water, hardening to form solid hydrated material and firmly embedding the sand or aggregate it is mixed with for most uses. Over many thousands of years the River Thames in this area had cut its course up to the chalk of the North Downs, and since the 1840s much of that chalk has been quarried, leaving deep pits with often fairly narrow strips left for roads through the area and housing. One of those deep pits now holds the Bluewater shopping centre at Greenhithe and others are filled with various industrial properties or housing. The industry over around 150 years completely transformed the landscape. But by the time I first came to photograph it, this post-industrial landscape was rapidly being reclaimed by nature.

Down the centre of the Swanscombe peninsula is the footpath, Pilgrims Road, leading down towards where a ferry once brought pilgrims on their way to Canterbury from a ferry across the River Thames from close by St Clement’s Church, still there beside the detergent works at South Stifford. Later clay was brought across the river from Essex to wharves for making cement, as well as coal, probably coming by coaster from the north-east to fuel the kilns. Ropeways or conveyor belts will have linked the wharves to the cement plant.

In 2012 I heard of the plans to transform part at least of the area yet again, into the Paramount London theme park, a leisure attraction along the lines of Thorpe Park, which would destroy the area as I knew it. Although I decided to come and photograph the area again before that happened it took me three years to return and do it, cycling around the area on a Brompton, (though occasionally I had to leave it a explore on foot.) Five years on, the plans are still plans and I hope to go back again next month.

With a few exceptions, the pictures here are wide-angle panoramics, with a horizontal angle of view of around 145 degrees and a vertical angle of view of roughly 90 degrees which results in a ‘normal’ aspect ratio of 1.5 : 1 – I usually took these intending to crop to a 1.9:1 ration but have left them uncropped. A few are taken with more normal wide-angle lenses.

On My London Diary you can see more of these pictures, and also read more about the area and my day there in 2015. The images display a little larger on that site.


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.


April 2nd 2015

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

April 2nd in 2015 was Maundy Thursday and a rather busy day for me, though only one of the events was related to Holy Week.

My working day started around noon outside the US Embassy, still then in Grosvenor Square, where the monthly protests by the London Guantánamo Campaign were continuing, handing out leaflets and talking with passers by calling for justice and freedom for the remaining 122 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.

From there is was a short walk to a lunchtime protest by residents from Sweets Way in north London outside the offices of the estates owners who I described as “the tax-dodging equity investor owned company” Annington Homes, calling for an end to evictions and the right to return for all decanted residents.

I’d heard that the previous night activists from the Autonymous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians had entered Admiralty Arch through the roof and were occupying the building and went along to investigate, along with a couple of other journalists. We were offered entry if we brought tobacco or alcohol but felt it wise to refuse and left, having taken a few pictures of the banners and notices on the outside of the building.

I hadn’t wanted to spend too much time at the Admiralty Arch as I was on my way to a protest outside the offices of G4S on Victoria St calling for the release of the 300 Palestinian children then held in G4S secured Israeli jails to be released. In 2014 Israel held 1266 Palestinian children for interrogation; 75% of them were physically tortured and many sexually abused. One of the speakers was a woman who was forced to undress and stand naked in public by Israeli security on a visit to Israel to visit Palestinians in jail.

I left the protest to catch up with Catholic Workers on a Holy Week procession around the “geography of suffering” in London, stopping outside the offices of companies in the arms trade for prayers against the arms trade, war, torture, nuclear weapons, international debt, homelessness, immigration policy and climate change.

Next came a visit to the Meridien and Park Lane Hotels on Piccadilly in Mayfair where the Unite Hotel Workers Branch protested in solidarity with fellow workers for Sheraton hotels in Ethiopia and the Maldives who have been sacked for union organising.

And finally I made the trip to Aldgate East, where Class War were holding the 26th of their series of weekly protests against ‘Poor Doors’, the separate entrance down a side alley for social housing tenants at One Commercial St.

It had been getting increasingly difficult to keep up photographing these protests without taking the same pictures again and again, but this evening the police made my job easier first by putting on a little light entertainment as an officer tackled a smoke flare thrown onto the highway and later, considerably more seriously sending in a squad to snatch and arrest Lisa McKenzie, who was at the time standing as Class War candidate against Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford – see the picture at the top of this post. Fortunately when the case came to court the police had no credible case against her and her barrister was not even required to speak in her defence – or call witnesses (much to my relief as I was one of them) – and the case was dismissed. Clearly the police had been leaned on – perhaps by IDS or his colleague the Home Secretary- to harass Lisa for her impertinent electoral challenge.

More on all of these events:

Chingford candidate arrested at Poor Doors
Shame on Sheraton – Hotel Workers
Stations of the Cross Pilgrimage
Free the Palestinian Children
Admiralty Arch Occupied by A.N.A.L.
Sweets Way at Annington Homes
Shut Guantánamo!


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.


Class War, Murdoch & Cross Bones

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

I began my work on Saturday 28th March 2015 meeting with a small group from Class War in Purley, a Surrey suburb south of Croydon, who had gone there to launch the general election campaign of Class War’s candidate Jon Bigger.

Jon is now Dr Jon Bigger, and his PhD thesis at Loughborough University was on “British anarchist group Class War with a specific focus on their approach to the general election of 2015. As anarchists tend to shun concepts like representation, even within their own ranks, as well as working towards the ending of the state, the groups’ electoral behaviour is worthy of close investigation. The study is ethnographic in nature providing a detailed account of how the group operates, its norms, values, structure and methods of organising.”

His work was very much as an insider, one of seven candidates the group backed at the 2015 election, all of whom lost their £500 deposits. The election campaigns were a form of direct action rather than an attempt to actually be elected, “one that ruptures the norms of electoral campaigning, providing the group with new avenues for activity.”

You can read more of Bigger’s views on his web site Jon Bigger: A Journal of Anarchy and in regular features elsewhere. South Croydon was always going to be a tough constituency for anarchist views and the 65 votes he got were probably more than expected – and recorded on the parliament web site as a 0.1% increase which perhaps compares well with the -16.9% of the Lib Dem candidate.

Jon Bigger makes his election address outside the Tory Pary HQ

My main surprise about the event was the almost complete emptiness of central Purley on a Saturday morning – avery windy desert where Class War found it difficult to find anyone to talk to other than the group of police – roughly the same number as them – who doggedly followed them around happily earning their overtime. Purley man (and woman) appears to have lost the use of their legs, only managing the short distance from supermarket car park to supermarket.

I was sorry not to be able to relax with Class War in the pub after their strenuous campaigning, but had to get back to London Bridge where Occupy Rupert Murdoch week was continuing outside the News International building at London Bridge with the People’s Trial of Rupert Murdoch.

Inevitably he was found guilty, but the sentence seemed extremely mild. My account continues:

Max Keiser then spoke about the economic fraud and the basis of our economic system. London is the the world’s largest tax haven, and the whole basis of the City is corrupt, allowing people to borrow money on the basis of their earlier borrowing in a system that seems rather too much like the Emperor’s new clothes which began to crash in 2008. He ended by handing out StartCOIN scratch cards with free money on them (“The currency of the revolution”) but I think I lost mine. Always been hopeless with money.

Occupy Rupert Murdoch

I decided not to stay on for the attempt to occupy the News International building at 7pm, but was tired and decided to leave it to my colleagues to cover. Rather to my surprise it was successful, with protesters managing to stay in the building for around 20 hours, but it got little or no media coverage. Even Murdoch’s competitors didn’t want to get on his wrong side by covering the event – as I commented “Those 5 billionaires obviously stick together and the BBC always seeks to marginalise any UK protest. Probably there was some important news about a minor celebrity hiccoughing.

I’d earlier seen two men in what looked like Victorian dress on the pavement outside a pub close to News International and had gone over to talk with them. The told me that they were attending an Open Day at the nearby Cross Bones Graveyard. It’s a place I’d visited before, where outcasts who were refused burial in churchyards had been buried until it was closed as overcrowded in 1853. Among them were many ‘Winchester Geese’ prostitutes licenced by the Lord Bishop of Winchester from 1142 on, whose taxes and fines provided a considerable income for the clergy, and their young children. Museum of London excavations of part of the site carried out for the Jubilee Line extension suggest that half of the around 15,000 burials there were of children.

Local writer John Constable (right, above) revived the story of Cross Bones through his cycle of poems and mystery plays, ‘The Southwark Mysteries’, and regular ceremonies and vigils now take place there. In 2020 Southwark Council granted a 20 year lease to Bankside Open Spaces to protect and maintain the graveyard as a public garden of remembrance.

More at:
Cross Bones Open Day
Murdoch on Trial – Guilty as charged
Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon


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.


A Day Out with Class War

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Lisa McKenzie’s election address in Chingford

Class War had decided to stand candidates in the 2015 General Election, and a handful of people had volunteered to stand under their banner including in three constituences around London. These included Lisa McKensie, then a research fellow at the LSE who was standing against Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith in his Chingford constituency on the north-east border of London. An on Saturday 14th Mar 2015 I went with Class War for the launch in Chingford of her election campaign to give his constiutents a chance to kick out him and the evil policies he represents, which inflict misery on the poor and disabled. Unfortunately few in Chingford seem to care much about the poor or the disabled and although there was an almost 5% swing away from the Tory in the election only 53 votes went to Class War.

Police take away Class War’s election banner

What Class War didn’t have with them for the launch of their campaign in the constituency was their banner showing pictures of their banner stating clearly their opinion of leading politicians, which controversially police had ripped from their hands at a protest earlier in the week because of its large text ‘ALL FUCKING WANKERS’ rather than the disturbing faces of party leaders. Some months later they were directed to return it, but somehow had managed to lose it – I hope Class War were re-imbursed.

Police had turned up in some force at Chingford station to welcome the group of around 20 supporters who had turned up for the launch, and continued to harass the group as it made its way along the street, stopping occasionally for speeches.

A police officer threatens a man with arrest for holding a poster

There were remarkably few people on the streets of Chingford and none of them made complaints about the posters that were being held up, though there were one or two who made ‘V’ signs and shouted obscenities, largely from passing vehicles. But most of the few who walked by either failed to notice the protest or pretended to, with others expressing similar views to Class War of their MP, in seat since 1992.

Lisa puts a leaflet in the door at the Chingford & Woodford Green Conservative Party office

There was a convenient space in front of the Methodist Church for Lisa to give her election address, and there were other speakers, including Class War’s candidate for South Croydon Jon Bigger, all watched intently from across the road by a police officer, though there were now fewer following the event. After the speeches the group wandered back up the road towards the station, with Lisa stopping to put a leaflet through the door of the local Conservative Association office before most of us made our way into a local pub to celebrate the election launch.

After a drink or two we made our way across the road for the train back to central London, with police still following us until the train pulled out of the station. Some of those present including the two candidates were on their way to the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark to show solidarity with occupiers who continue to highlight the shameful treatment of residents whose homes there are being demolished, and I went along with them on what was a rather hilarious journey.

It was a little tricky to get into the estate as Southwark Council had tried to block all the entrances, but fortunately we met some activists who were able to show us a rather lengthy detour to gain access. It did at one stage involve swinging across a small gap, made a little more difficult by the heavy camera bag I was carrying, but eventually we were there and something of a party was taking place. The occupied flat was on the top floor and had splendid views of south London.

I didn’t take many pictures, as undertandably many of the activists did not want to be photographed. It was the kind of curious situation where many were taking pictures on their phones, but I was shouted at for using a camera – though carefully framing so only those who I had permission to photograph have their faces shown.

Much more about an interesting day out on My London Diary:
Class War go to Aylesbury Estate
Class War celebrate Election Launch
Class War Chingford Election Launch


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.


‘Free the Table’ and more

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Five years ago on Saturday 12th December I had another busy day travelling to events around London. I began at Stratford on the east of London, the opposite side of London to where I live, but now a relatively easy journey since the opening of the Jubilee line there at the end of 1999.

For the previous couple of years I’d been following the progress and protests of Focus E15, formed when Newham Council planned to close down a hostel for young mothers in Stratford and scatter them to private rented accommodation often hundreds of miles away. They stood their ground and got more local rehousing, but, appalled by the activities of the council and its Mayor Robin Wales, continued to take action over the failure of Newham Council to sensibly address the acute housing problem in the borough, which has around 5,000 people living in temporary accommodation and while 400 homes in the Carpenters Estate close to the centre of Stratford have been empty for up to ten years. They accuse the council of ‘social cleansing’, attempting to force those needing housing out of London.

Apart from various actions, including preventing evictions and embarrassing the Mayor by confronting him at public events Focus E15 had held a weekly Saturday street stall on the wide pavement at Stratford Broadway, handing out leaflets and advice to the public on housing issues.

Although their weekly protest was legal, it clearly annoyed the council, and on Saturday 5th December Newham Law Enforcement officer John Oddie arrived, assisted by several police officers and confronted the campaigners and told them they were not allowed to protest there, and that unless they immediately packed up their stall, sound system, banners and other gear it would be seized. The group made clear that they would not move and following some argument, police seized a table and threw it in the back of their van.

It soon became clear that this action by police and the council officer had been illegal, and the council asked the protesters to come and collect the table. They replied asking the council to return it to them at the following week’s protest, and advertised this widely as a ‘Free the Focus E15 Table’ event, making considerable humorous mileage out of the council and police gaffe. The council didn’t turn up with the table, but there a number of other tables there, celebrating ‘Tablegate’ and although the local newspaper seemed to be boycotting the event (could they possibly attract considerable revenue from publishing official council notices) a BBC local news crew came along to film a few interviews.

Free the Focus E15 Table


I couldn’t stay until the end but caught the tube back to central London where the Campaign against Climate Change were protesting against the inadequacy of the COP21 Paris deal, which sets the target temperature rise too high, has no way to enforce the measures needed and will allow the giant corporations to continue to prevent governments from carrying out effective green measures.

After a short rally in Old Palace Yard the protesters unrolled a 300m length of bright red fabric, carrying it above their heads across Westminster Bridge. It was a tricky to photograph but visually effective reminder of the need of governments to take urgent action to keep fossil fuels – including shale oil, with fracking now shown to be as dirty as coal – in the ground, or at least only to be extracted as chemical feedstock rather than fuel, and an increased urgency in the transition to renewable energy.


As I was photographing on Westminster Bridge, I was surprised to see a group of several hundred Santas on BMX bikes riding across on the opposite carriageway and rushed across to take a few pictures. I later found that this was an annual BMX Charity ride – which I went to photograph in 2019.

Later in the day I went to Trafalgar Square where a completely unconnected Santa-themed event was taking place, with Santas arriving at the end of the annual Santacon, a largely alcohol fuelled festive costume ramble through London.

Pictures from both Santa events are in Santas in London.


In late afternoon, solidarity campaigners and Syrian activists met for a vigil opposite Downing St vigil demanded justice for refugees, opening of EU borders to those fleeing war and terrorism and a much more generous response from the UK government.

It was a candlelit vigil, but a gusty wind blew out the flames as soon as they were lit until someone went to buy plastic cups to act as windshields though these rather hid the actual flames.

The response of the British government to the refugee crisis, particularly from Syria, but also from elsewhere around the world is seen by many to be abysmal. Even after considerable pushing from the British people which forced David Cameron to increase numbers, the UK was only promising to take 20,000 in the next five years, while Canada will take more – 25,000 – in a single year.



Christmas Solidarity Vigil for Refugees
Santas in London
Climate Activists Red Line protest
Free the Focus E15 Table


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.


More from May Days: 2015

Monday, May 11th, 2020

My May Day started as usual with the march from Clerkenwell Green, dominated visually by members of the Turkish and Kurdish communities and with the usual mix of trade unionists and left-wing groups, perhaps even more international in nature than in previous years.

The march to Trafalgar Square was made a little livelier than usual by the presence of Class War and other anarchist and anti-capitalist protesters, some of whom took over the whole of the road rather than keep to one carriageway. Police tried hard to control them and made at least one arrest, which led to some scuffles.

One issue that dominated the rally in Trafalgar Square was the strike against privatisation at the National Gallery which overlooks the square, and in particular the victimisation by the management of Candy Udwin, the PCS rep there.

Later in the afternoon anti-capitalist protesters met up at Tower Hill, and led by lass War and their Lucy Parsons banner went on to block Tower Bridge this afternoon and blocked traffic, calling for social housing rather than social cleansing for Londoners and an end to cuts in foundation courses and other aspects of education. It was a lively event, and I left them when they marched off along Tooley St past London Bridge to protest in Westminster.

I walked back across Tower Bridge and on to Aldgate where Class War were organising their ‘Reclaim the Beats’ “epic street party” outside the tower block where they had held around 30 weekly ‘Poor Doors’ protests against the separate entrance down a side alley for the social housing tenants in the block.

A huge cheer went up as they unfurled a new banner showing leading politicians with the message “All Fucking Wankers”, a replacement for that seized by police at an earlier protest. Although it had later been judged to be an acceptable political comment, the police contrived to lose it rather than face the indignity of returning it to Class War.

A few minutes later a mobile sound system in the form of a small house on wheels with ‘Affordable Housing’ across its roof and the party really kicked off. After a few minutes people moved out to block the main road and then to march off to protest at Tower Bridge and in Bermondsey. I was too tired to go with them and instead went down the stairs into Aldgate East tube.

‘Reclaim the Beats’ at ‘Poor Doors’
Anti-Capitalists block Tower Bridge
May Day Rally supports National Gallery
May Day march against austerity and racism


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.