Posts Tagged ‘Barbican’

City colour

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

The 1km wide strip of TQ32 in our National Grid includes a section of the City of London, from a little to the west of St Paul’s Cathedral to a few yards east of the Monument, with the Thames at its south and the Barbican and Moorgate at its north, a little over a square kilometre of “the square mile”, perhaps two fifths of the city. So its not surprising that I took quite a few pictures in the City during the period I was putting colour prints into the albums that make up my ‘London Cross-section’, from roughly 1986-92. Though as you will see if you look at the album TQ32 – London Cross-section, they are mainly from just a few small areas that I found of most interest. Here is just a small initial selection of them with some comments.

Pig, Office, Lower Thames St, City, 1991 TQ3280-031
Pig, Office, Lower Thames St, City, 1991

Walking around the City now you often find yourself going past the windows of large offices filled with people staring into screens, but back in the late 1980s and early 90s this was more of a novelty. Also something of a novelty was this pink inflatable pig on a windowsill. The real watershed for the City came in 1986, with the ‘Big Bang’, on a Monday in October that year when the City of London was deregulated, with face-to-face share dealing replaced by electronic trading. I don’t know what business this office was dealing with but the idea of pigs seemed appropriate to the getting of snouts in the trough as so many in the City found themselves in clover.

Doorway, Little Britain, City, 1986 TQ3281-001
Doorway, Little Britain, City, 1986

Lawrence & Co. (Estd. 1897) Ltd. were once blouse manufacturers at 7 Little Britain, a street (and area) at the edge of Smithfield, but the peeling paint and corrugated iron on this doorway seemed to me to symbolise something about the state of the nation, the larger Britain, and their was the City of London Recorder and myself also a recorder.

You can still walk along Little Britain and indentify a few of the doorways I photographed, though what is left are simply facades, and the atmosphere is largely but not entirely lost.

Heroes Memorial, Postmans Park, City, 1986 TQ3281-116
Heroes Memorial, Postmans Park, City, 1986

In 1887 prominent painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) proposed the erection of a memorial to commemorate the heroic self-sacrifice of ordinary people who had died saving the lives of others as a part of the commemorations of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, but it was not taken up.

Some years later in 1898, the vicar of St Botolph’s Aldersgate suggested to Watts that the memorial could be built in Postman’s Park, the former churchyard adjoining the church and a wooden loggia was built to shelter a wall with space for 120 ceramic memorial tiles to be made by William De Morgan, though only 4 were in place when this was opened in 1900.

De Morgan gave up ceramics in 1906 after making only 24 tiles, and Watt’s widow, Mary Watts was unhappy with new tiles made by Royal Doulton, and rather lost interest. Only 53 tiles had been added by 1931 when work ceased. When I photographed it the display was in fairly poor condition, but has since been repaired and in 2009 the first new tablet was added.

Roman Wall, Barbican, City, 1992TQ3281-068
Roman Wall, Barbican, City, 1992

I walked through the Barbican quite often and occasionally took photographs as I was involved in a group called ‘London Documentary Photographers’ which had been founded by Mike Seaborne, then curator of photographs at the Museum of London and which regularly met there, as well as organising several photography shows at the Barbican Library.

I like this picture because it encompasses so much of the history of the city of London, with a section of its Roman Wall, the tower of St Giles-without-Cripplegate, one of the few medieval churches to survive the 1666 Great Fire (though the tower dates from 1682 and the church was reconstructed after being gutted by bombing in the Blitz of 1940) as well as the taller tower from the Barbican Estate, built between 1965 and 1976 on an area devastated in the war.

Shakespeare, Garden, Aldermanbury, Love Lane, City, 1986TQ3281-019
Shakespeare, Garden, Aldermanbury, Love Lane, City,

Shakespeare, on this plinth in St Mary Aldermanbury Garden, Love Lane is another reminder of the city’s history – as is the garden. The church here was destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt shortly after to the plans of Sir Christopher Wren. It was gutted again during the Blitz in 1940, leaving only the walls standing. In 1966 these were shipped to Fulton, Missour and restored as a memorial to Winston Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in that town in 1946.

The area was laid out as a public garden after it was acquired by the City of London in 1970 and is often quite full at lunchtime with city workers eating their sandwiches.

Shakespeare’s bust, by Charles Allen (1862 – 1956), is part of a memorial from 1896 to John Heminge and Henry Condell, fellow actors of Shakespeare who after his death in 1616 collected his works and published them at their own expense in 1623, thus making them available to later generations. Without them his work would have lost.

TQ32 – London Cross-section.


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.


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.