Posts Tagged ‘Aldgate’

November 2014 (2)

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

The Wednesday of the final week of November in 2014 was an easier day for me as I was able to spend most of it at home and catching up on various things including a little shopping and visiting the library to borrow new books to occupy me on my train rides to London. I only had to leave home around 5pm to arrive in Aldgate for the Class War Xmas Ceasefire Special outside the tower with separate entrances for its wealthy and its social housing tenants.

After 19 weekly protests outside the ‘rich door’ the tower owners had finally agreed to talk with Class War and try to reach a solution to the problem, and in response Class War had agreed to call off further protests unless the talks failed. So this was more of a celebration than a protest, although the talks, when they took place didn’t really reach a satisfactory conclusion.

But there were some concessions and the protests did lead to some real improvements including new paving and lighting and better cleaning for the side alley which lead to the ‘poor door’, and perhaps more importantly they raised the whole issue of segregated entrances very much into the national agenda.

I was sorry to have to rush away from the celebrations, which I suspect continued afterwards in one of the local pubs.


A tube ride took me across town to the US Embassy, still then in Grosvenor Square, and the Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown.

In August, police officer Darren Wilson had shot and killed Michael Brown Jr, an 18-year-old black man in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s companion said that Wilson had grabbed Brown through his car window after calling on them to stop as they walked down the street; Brown, who was unarmed, tried to grab the officer’s gun as he threatened him and two shots were fired, one hitting Brown’s hand. Brown and his friend fled and when Wilson fired again, Brown turned around, raised his hands in surrender and shouted ‘Don’t Shoot!’ and Wilson fired six more bullets into his body. Wilson’s account differed greatly and a grand jury having heard decided not to indict him.

Riots followed the shooting, continuing for over a week in Ferguson, and there were protests across America and worldwide against the shooting, using the slogan ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!’ There were further protests in 170 cities after the grand jury verdict was announced, and elsewhere across the world including this candlelit vigil in London called by London Black Revolutionaries and the NUS Black Students Campaign. Among those who spoke at the event were the Chair of London Campaign Against State & Police Violence, Malia Bouattia of NUS Black Students Campaign, Zita Holbourne of BARAC (above), Marcia Rigg, Carole Duggan, the RMT Paddington Branch Secretary, Wail Qaisim of Defend the Right to Protest and some people from London Black Revs.

Whatever actually happened in Ferguson, it is clear that US policing is racist, killing black people disproportionately, and acting – as Wilson did – out of fear due often due to racist stereotyping. Black Lives Matter – but not very much to some US Police forces and officers.

There was little or no street lighting in the area in front of the US Embassy where this protest took place, and for most of these pictures the main light present came from the candles and nightlights that were held by the protesters. A very tightly packed crowd made working in it difficult. When I got to the front of the protest there were some videographers at times using lighting which I took advantage of, but it seldom produces an attractive effect.

It was unfortunate the the Socialist Workers Party had decided to hold their own separate protest before this, probably because the organising groups had declined to let them take it over, but at least they did allow this vigil to use the public address equipment they had brought for their event. And many of those taking part are holding the placards that they provided in very large numbers.

When covering events at night I usually carry a small LED light which can illuminate people or objects a up to a few metres from the camera, usually holding it high and away from my body in my left hand while holding the camera to my eye with my right hand to give better lighting than using it in the hot shoe. If I have to, I’ll use my Nikon SB800 flash in the hot shoe, still using high ISOs to try and avoid a black background, usually with the camera on manual or shutter priority with speeds around 1/30s.


More on both events:
Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown
Class War Xmas Ceasefire Special


6 Years Ago: 24 Sept 2014 Poor Doors

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

Six years ago Class War were holding weekly protests outside One Commercial St in Aldgate against the seperate entrances to the building for those in social housing and private residents. The private residents came into a spacious foyer with comfortable furniture and a reception desk with a concierge on the main street, while social housing tenants entered a bleak corridor down a filthy and badly lit alley at the side of the building.

This was the ninth weekly protest and I think the eighth I’d photographed in the series, which continued for around another 20 protests. Although it didn’t succeed in its main aim, the protests did take the issue onto the national agenda, and the alley leading to the poor door was cleaned up, resurfaced and given new lighting.

When the building manager came and escorted one of the residents out through the rich door, one of the protesters standing close to it moved in front of it, preventing it being closed. The manager made the mistake of moving away back towards the reception desk, and the protesters walked in.

They brought their banners in with them, and Ian Bone of Class War began to speak about the protest. The protesters made no attempt to stop residents who walked in or out past them, mostly taking little interest in what was happening.

Some of them were tourists staying a week in flats that are let on Airbnb; other flats in the building are permanently empty or only used for perhaps a week a year from foreign owners who hold them as investments, taking advantage of rising London housing prices to earn a good income when they sell.

Ian Bone had picked up the framed notice from the concierge desk as he spoke, reading out from it and making comments about how differently the rich were treated compared with the poorer residents. The woman who had been at the desk (it has someone on duty 24/7) had retreated with the building manager and was watching from a distance. He replaced the notice carefully beside a vase of flowers on the desk when he finished speaking, and stood beside them.

Later as I was photographing others I thought I saw out of the corner of my eye Ian hook the curved end of his walking stick around the vase, and we all heard the vase shatter as it hit the floor.

A few minutes later a couple of police officers arrived and talked with the protesters and the building manager.

After a few minutes of argument the protesters left the foyer and continued their protest on the pavement outside. There were more speeches, including from a local resident who stopped as he walked past to talk with the campaigners and backed their protest.

More police had arrived, and as the campaigners decided it was time to end the evening’s protest and began to walk away, a woman officer stood in Ian Bone’s way. Other officers came to surround him, and after some talking he was arrested, put in a police van and driven away.

At the police station he was shown CCTV of him pulling the vase from the desk and then admitted he had deliberately broken it. He was made to pay compensation for the broken vase, but no charges were brought against him.

Class War Occupy Rich Door

London 1986 – Page 11

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020
Temple Bar, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, Fleet St, City, Westminster 86-9h-34_2400
Temple Bar, Strand

Page 11 of my album London 1986 has some of my favourite black and white pictures I took that year, at least in London, and is centred around the City of London, with pictures from its northen extremities in Moorgate, Smithfield and the Barbican and close to the City in the surrounding London Boroughs, particularly Islington, where my walks took me around Farringdon, Clerkenwell, Old St and Finsbury.

Atlas Paper Works, Newington Causeway, Newington, Southwark 86-9q-31_2400
Atlas Paper Works, Newington Causeway, Newington, Southwark

I drifted into Camden around Kings Cross, Lambeth close to Waterloo, Southwark at Newington and The Borough, Covent Garden, Temple and Strand in Westminster and Whitechapel and Aldgate in Tower Hamlets.

Wig & Pen Dining Club, Strand, Westminster 86-9h-35_2400
Wig & Pen Club, Strand, Westminster

Those who have been following the colour work I’ve posted in the series of slices through London will recognise a number of the places in these pictures, particularly in the album TQ31- London Cross-section which I’ve written about recently. One of them is the Wigt & Pen club on the Strand, still very much in business back in 1986, but which closed in 2003.

Lloyd's Diary, Amwell St, Kings Cross, Islington 86-9o-55_2400
Lloyd’s Diary, Amwell St, Kings Cross, Islington

Occasionally the black and white and colour versions show a similar viewpoint, but usually in black and white I was more concerned with documenting a building or place as a part of the city while the colour work was often more concerned with detail and particularly colour. The black and white is generally more of a document, more objective and the colour more personal, more of a response to the subject.

Frazier St, Lower Marsh, Waterloo, Lambeth 86-9r-11_2400
LowerMarsh, Waterloo, Lambeth

The routes that I researched and plotted were determined by my desire to try to document the whole of London, and to photograph its significant and typical buildings, streets, squares etc. I think it was largely for practical reasons that I did this in black and white, partly because of cost, but more that black and white was able to handle a much higher dynamic range than colour film.

King James St, The Borough, Southwark  86-10a-21_2400
King James St, The Borough, Southwark

But black and white back then was still the primary medium of photography, both in camera and in publication and exhibition. I’d worked for over 15 years primarily as a black and white photographer and almost all of my published work had been in black and white. Looking at the pictures now it is usually the black and white that still interests me most. Things have very much changed, particularly with the move to digital. I only work in colour and can’t ever see myself going back to black and white. And I seldom see black and white by other photographers – particularly not by younger photographers who have never really served their time with black and white – without thinking it would have been better in colour.

Page 11 of my album London 1986.

City, Whitechapel and Wapping 1986

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Page 7 of my black and white work in 1986 London Photos begins in the City but then gravitates east to Aldgate, Whitechapel and Wapping.

Holborn Viaduct, Farringdon St, West Smithfield, City  86-7v-12_2400

Holborn Viaduct which carries the road over the Fleet valley – Farringdon St – is a remarkable piece of Victoriana, and a considerable feat of engineering at the time as well as well as a remarkable example of city planning. The scheme, which included the buildings at the four corners of the bridge as well as roads around including Holborn Circus, streets leading to Smithfield Market, as well as provision for gas, water, sewage and other services cost around £2 million in 1863-69 and has been described as “the most ambitious and costly improvement scheme of the [nineteenth] century” and as the world’s first flyover. You can read a detailed account of it at The Victorian Web.

What interested me most were the sculptures which adorn the bridge and I’ve photographed them on various occasions over the years. In 1986 I could only bring myself to stop taking pictures when I came to the end of a cassette of film and also photographed the bridge from below and the corner buildings. I’ve only put two of the 18 frames I took onto Flickr.

Smithfield Market, City 86-8r-45-Edit_2400

There are a number of pictures from the area around Smithfield Market, though I’ve never got up early enough to photograph the market truly in progress – and other photographers have done so pretty well so I didn’t feel I needed to make the effort.

Albion Buildings, Little Britain, City 86-8r-64-Edit_2400

Little Britain remains a fascinating street though now I think only the facades remain and the area behind has been destroyed. I came across it a little too late when demolition of much of it was already underway and by 1986 I think it was well advanced. These properties in Albion Place, for Overbury & Sons Limited at 7 and 8 and John Lovegrove & Co Ltd at 6 had long been closed.

Hessel St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-55-Edit_2400

Hessel St in Whitechapel was a remarkable street full of old shops, some now junk shops, others Bangladeshi grocers but with some still retaining the names and descriptions of their earlier Jewish shops. As well as these black and white picture I also photographed some of the shops in colour.

These pictures were made in August 1986 and I returned some time later hoping to take more but I think then most of the street had disappeared.

Prescot St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-61-Edit_2400
Prescot St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-64-Edit_2400

Prescott Street now looks a little different, though a number of the older buildings have survived, including a fine pub. But most are now in very different uses and in rather better condition than when I took these pictures in 1986.

Discovery Walk, Wapping Lane, Wapping, Tower Hamlets Discovery Walk, Wapping Lane, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-23-Edit_2400

My street map describes this as ‘Ornamental Canal’ and I think that the redevelopment of the London Docks in Wapping is perhaps the least successful of all docklands redevelopment in retaining any real impression of the former dock with the exception of just a small area at its southwest and Shadwell New Basin. Wapping outside the dock area has fared a little better too, though it is sometimes only skin deep.

Page 7 1986 London Photos.


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.


Drivers protest at Uber offices

Friday, September 6th, 2019

Uber drivers in London claim that on average they earn £5 an hour after taking into account their expenses, well below the national minimum wage and less than half the London Living Wage, the independently assessed minimum needed to live in London.

United Private Hire Drivers, a branch of the IWGB – Independent Workers Union of Great Britain – has been recruiting and organising private hire drivers including those working for Uber and organised a protest outside the Uber offices in Aldgate on the day before Uber’s Wall Street share flotation. The flotation at $45 per share meant a bonus of billions for Uber’s founders and for early investors including Amazon’s boss, Jeff Bezos and disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong but absolutely nothing for the drivers.

Those who bought into the shares at the flotation may also have lost, unless they sold their shares at exactly the right time; the shares had lost around 7% at the end of the first day of trading and have only very briefly peaked above the opening price. In August they slumped down to around $32. Of course they may rise again – particularly if Uber ever manages to make money.

Despite cheating and exploiting its workers, avoiding tax and failing to properly recognise the status of the workers who drive for it, Uber has still never made a profit and may never do so. Of course it has done very nicely for the people at the top of the organisation – and those early investors.

In some respects, Uber certainly does point to the future of private hire, and highlights the antiquated and expensive nature of our London black cab system. And it provides a service many find very useful if not always entirely necessary, but at the expense of both its drivers and tax payers in general, cheated out of tax.

Better and cheaper true public transport services could do much to reduce the need and the desire for the service Uber offers, and there seems to be no inherent reason why a similar public service could not replace both Uber and black cabs and other hire services, although paying drivers decently and providing proer conditions of service as well as paying taxes would inevitably increase the cost to users.

The drivers say that fares need to be increased to £2 per mile and that the commission to Uber, currently 25%, needs to go down to 15%. They want an end to unfair dismissals for for Uber to respect the rights of drivers as workers which were confirmed by an Employment Tribunal ruling in 2016.

The protest involved drivers boycotting the Uber app from 7am to 4pm, and it was impossible to know how successful that had been. But there were rather fewer drivers than I expected outside the offices and blocking one lane of the busy road, though I left before the protest was over.


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.

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