Posts Tagged ‘Barbican’

City Road & London Bridge

Monday, November 8th, 2021

My last walk in May 1988 ended around the City Road which I walked down to catch the ‘drain’ back to Waterloo. In 1988 Bank Station on the Waterloo and City line still was a part of British Rail, and was one of the ‘London Termini’ for which my ticket from the suburbs was valid. Until it was transferred to London Underground in 1994 it provided a cheap route for me into to centre of the City.

Wesley statue, Wesley's Chapel, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-64-positive_2400
Wesley statue, Wesley’s Chapel, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-64

Wesley’s Chapel and Leysian Mission at 49 City Road calls itself the Mother Church of World Methodism. Wesley employed the surveyor of the City of London, George Dance the Younger as his architect and the builder was a member of his congregation; the church is Grade I listed despite considerable alterations in the Victorian era and later. When built it was Church of England Church, as Methodism only became a separate church after his death.

The best bit about the Grade II listed statue of Wesley, created in 1891 by Adams Acton is probably the plinth and the wording below the statue ‘THE WORLD IS MY PARISH’. I particularly liked the shadow of the lantern above the entrance on the door below.

Honourable Artillery Company, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-65
Finsbury Barracks, Honourable Artillery Company, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-65

This Grade II listed ‘castle’ on City Road was designed by Joseph A Jennings in 1857 as a barracks for the Royal London Militia. It later became the home for City of London Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve, and since 1961 has been part of the Honourable Artillery Company estate.

When I was very young I had a very secondhand and battered toy fort for my toy soldiers, and either it was based on this building or this building had been based on it.

Lakeside Terrace,  Barbican, City, 1988 88-6a-56-positive_2400
Lakeside Terrace, Barbican, City, 1988 88-6a-56

I think there had just been a shower of rain – and perhaps I had walked into the Barbican to shelter from it and perhaps view the exhibitions in its free spaces. Though I did go also to the major photographic shows that were held there, often taking students to see them. But this walk was in the Whitsun half-term.

But the terrace is clearly wet and there are no people sitting on the many chairs, although a few perch on the low brick walls. At right is the City of London School for Girls.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-36-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-36

My rail ticket could also take me to London Bridge, and my first walk in June on Saturday 8th began there. I went to London Bridge but didn’t cross it, instead staying on the south bank, and taking this slightly curious picture in which the River Thames appears only as a thin rectangle underneath the white rectangle of Adelaide House. When completed in 1925 this now Grade II listed building was the City’s tallest office block, 43 metres – 141 ft – high.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-33-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-33

Looking up into the office block at 1 London Bridge Street it’s hard to distinguish reflection from reality as I’m sure architects John S. Bonnington Partnership intended. Completed two years earlier in 1986 it was still a rather startling building.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-24-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-24

The steps to the riverside walkway go through the corner of 1 London Bridge and over them are some buildings from the Victorian era on the opposite side of Borough High St and the pinnacles of Southwark Cathedral. I seem to have chosen another rainy day for a walk.

Tooley St, Abbots Lane, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-61-positive_2400
Tooley St, Abbots Lane, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-61

I walked east not on the riverside walk, but along Tooley St and photographed this building on the corner of Abbots Lane, a street that has now more or less disappeared and is simply a vehicle entrance to PricewaterhouseCoopers buildin in More London. This former Fire Brigade Headquarters built in 1879, architect George Vulliamy, was for many years the model for other fire stations and the headquarters of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and its training centre for firefighters. It now houses the Brigade Bar and Kitchen, opened in September 2011 by Chef Founder Simon Boyle, a social enterprise which together with the Beyond Food Foundation gives apprenticeships to people who have been at risk of or have experienced homelessness.

It had been the great fire of Tooley Street in 1861 that led to the formation of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in 1862, the greatest fire in London since 1666. Many of the riverside warehouses went up in flames over two days and the man in charge of the firefighters, Mr James Braidwood, was killed when a building collapsed. There have been many fires in Tooley St since, and in 1971 Wilson’s Wharf was the site of the ‘Second Great Fire of Tooley St’, with 50 pumps fighting the fire that started in an unoccupied refrigerated warehouse. The area destroyed is now the site of Southwark Crown Court.

Tumonte House, Tooley Hotel, Tooley St, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-62-positive_2400
Tumonté House, Tooley Hotel, Tooley St, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-62

These were fairly typical of the tall warehouse buildings that line much of Tooley Street. I’m unable to identify the exact locations of these buildings which don’t quite seem to match any of those left standing. The negative has been badly damaged at bottom right and since it only affects the roadway and a car I’ve not bothered to try to repair it.

Anchor Brewhouse, Butlers Wharf, Tower Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-63-positive_2400
Anchor Brewhouse, Butlers Wharf, Tower Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-63

The picture shows the large amount of building work that was taking place along this section of the bank by Higgs and Hill and McAlpine. It seems too that barges were being used to take away some of the rubble.

Tower Bridge, Control Room, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-64-positive_2400
Tower Bridge, Control Room, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-64

I have never understood why quite so many levers were needed to raise two sections of roadway to open the bridge for river traffic. There seem to be two handles to turn around at the end furtherst from my camera and a superfluity of dials at top left.

I think I crossed Tower Bridge and made my way to Tower Gateway for the DLR. The station had opened the previous August and my walk continued from Crossharbour on the Isle of Dogs – in another post. Before the opening of the Jubilee Line this was probably the quickest route there.


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Protests – May 16th 2015

Sunday, May 16th, 2021

The purpose of protests is to bring whatever cause they support to the attention of others, particularly those who bear some responsibility for them or who could act in a different way to address the problem that led to the protest.

The current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill seeks to make protests entirely ineffectual – allowing police to insist they will only take place where they will not be noticed and banning them from making any noise or causing any inconvenience. Given the Tory majority and the lack of concern for civil rights shown by most MPs it seems likely to come into force, but I think unlikely to actually be enforceable by police, though it will lead to clashes and arguments which will greatly reduce public trust in the force.

On May 16th 2015 I was privileged to be able to cover a protest by the grass roots trade union United Voices of the World from their meeting before the protest to the end of the event. Most of the members are low-paid migrant workers and most of the business was conducted in Spanish, with some key items translated into English for the benefit of me and the few other non-Spanish speakers.

From the meeting in Bethnal Green we travelled by bus to Liverpool St and then walked quietly as a group to meet up with others close to the Barbican. Many were carrying drums, flags and placards as they rushed past the two security guards on the door of the centre who held up a couple of them but couldn’t stop the rest, and the group made its way to the heart of the Barbican Centre, where people were already gathering for evening performances.

Rather than employ cleaners directly, the Barbican Centre uses a contractor, Mitie. The Barbican is a relatively good employer and offers its employees decent terms and conditions, but MITIE cuts costs to a minimum and has threatened the cleaners with sacking if they protest for a living wage and proper sick pay and other conditions, and the union says they employ bullying managers who disrespect staff and fail to provide proper working conditions. One disabled worker had recently been assaulted by a manager and accused of ‘terrorism’ after posting a short video clip showing his working conditions.

The protesters held a short noisy protest, using a megaphone to let the public know why they were protesting and calling for an end to the victimisation of trade unionists and for negotiations to get satisfactory conditions of work and service and a living wage. They called on the Barbican to meet its obligations to people who work there by insisting that any contracts they make include safeguards to protect the workers – rather than denying any responsibility for those who keep the centre clean.

After a few minutes, police arrived and argued with the protest organiser Petros Elia who agreed to move, and the protesters then went on a walk around the centre to make sure all those in it where aware the protest was taking place and why the union was protesting. Finally they agreed with police to leave the centre, going out the way they had come in and rejoining members who worked at the Barbican who had stayed outside to protest. The protesters then walked around some of the public streets around the Barbican before returning to protest in front of the main entrance, where I left them still protesting noisily.

Under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill all of this would have been illegal, and perhaps they might have been allowed just a small and quiet display some distance across the road from the centre, which few would have noticed.

I’d earlier photographed three other protests, two of which I’m sure would have fallen foul of the proposed new law. Newham Council had been trying to get rid of Focus E15’s weekly street stall in Stratford Broadway since it started almost two years earlier, and today’s protest celebrated the dropping of a contrived case against Jasmin Stone, one of the protest leaders. Later in the year the police and council came and ‘arrested’ the Focus E15 table – but had to release it a few days later.

While it might have been possible for the Free Shaker Aamer campaign to get permission for their protest on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, I think their activities and use of the megaphone would have been severely curtailed.

The small, silent ‘Stay Put’ vigil – seven people holding posters in silence by the wall in a corner of the square – is perhaps a model of what Priti Patel considers an acceptable level of protest. Though more probably she would like to go full North Korea.

Cleaners invade Barbican Centre
Silent protest over Sewol ferry disaster
Caged vigil for Shaker Aamer
Victory Rally For Jasmin Stone

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.


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.