Posts Tagged ‘biodiversity’

Swanscombe Peninsula 2021

Saturday, October 16th, 2021

Pilgrims Rd (DS31)

A couple of days ago I walked around the Swanscombe peninsula together with two photographer friends and took some more pictures of the area.

Footpath (DS12)

I first went to Swanscombe back in 1985 as a part of my project on lower Thameside and in particular the area close to the river between Dartford and Cliffe. The area between the main road and the Thames had been one of a chalk hill leading to marshes, and the chalk had largely been quarried years ago after the invention of Portland Cement, with major factories producing it in Stone, Swanscombe and Northfleet.

By 1985, only the Northfleet factory was still in production, with just a few largely ruined buildings of the Swanscombe factory still standing. The ancient pathway of Pilgrims Road, by then just a footpath, ran down from the main road to the marsh on a narrow section of chalk which remained., and the floor of the former quarry to the east of this was occupied by various industrial sites.

Then you could wander fairly freely across the marsh where there were still the clear traces of its its former industrial use, with relics from the overhead cable and conveyor belt which took materials from the jetty to the works, and various heaps of waste materials. There are still a few sections of the railway lines that lead to the jetty, but much more of the land is now either fenced off or has recent notices prohibiting access.

There are several public footpaths through the area, and we took a route along most of them, although a part of one near the jetty appears to have been blocked and needed a slight detour. A new route going east beside the jetty and then alongside the river to the saltings had been approved as a part of the England Coast Path “from Autumn 2021” and we walked along this section of it, although I’m not sure if it is as yet officially open.

Although we took care not to go past any of the notices marking areas a private, we did find at one point as we walked past a notice that it claimed the track we had just been walking on was private. But by then it was too late, although of course we were doing no harm by walking along this unfenced path. One of the public footpaths (DS12) has a short section that is now totally overgrown, and we had to push our way through a few yards of rather boggy reeds to keep within its fenced route. We ended out walk at Greenhithe, which had two pubs but virtually no beer or food and caught the train to Darford for a meal.

Since 2021 the area has been under threat of a planned development as London Resort, 535 acres of a “world class, sustainable, next generation entertainment resort on the bank of the River Thames” and a kind of London equivalent to Disneyland, with a theme park, hotels with 3,500 beds, jetties on both the north and south bank of the river and a new road connection from the A2.

Although this would provide new jobs, there has been considerable opposition to the scheme, particularly as it would threaten the huge diversity – the area is home to many plant species and bees, butterflies, beetles, cuckoos and marsh lizards, more than any other brownfield site in the UK, and is one of only two places where the critically dendangered Distinguished jumping spider (Attulus distinguendus) is found. Following a request by the Save Swanscombe Marshes campaign the area was declared a site of special scientific intrest (SSSI) by Natural England who describled it as “one of the richest known sites in England for invertebrates”.

Many new housing estates have been developed in the surrounding areas since 1985 and others are likely to be built on various quarry areas in the region. It would be a great shame to lose this important area of green riverside space to the proposed development. Leisure doesn’t need theme parks.

More pictures on Facebook at Swanscombe October 2021.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


October 13th 2001-2015

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Thinking about events I had photographed on October 13th I found rather a lot over the years – so here are links to some of them from 2001-2015.

There are just a few black and white pictures from the October 2001 Stop The War March in London. Back in 2001 I was still working on film, and although I had taken pictures in both black and white and colour I only had a black and white scanner.


By 2003 I was working with a digital camera, a Nikon D100, and on the 13th October I joined another thousand or so people from around the country to say ‘No to GMO’. Most of the work being done on genetic modification was aimed at increasing the profits of companies and at locking farmers into using patented seeds which had to be purchased from them and which required expensive chemical inputs and would penalise or even lead to prosecutions of those who continued with traditional methods, particularly organic farmers, and severely reduce bio-diversity. The protesters were largely concerned about the possible risks of genetic modifications that were not being subjected to thorough long-term testing. The government seemed simply to be preparing to give way to commercial pressures.

The protesters went first to the National Farmers Union, then to Downing Street (or rather outside the gates to Downing Street) then on past the Houses of Parliament to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in Smith Square. The digital pictures I was making then seem rather dark and muted and processing software then was still rather poor.


It was 2007 before I photographed anything at all relevant on 13 October again, and this time I was on a walk about The Romance of Bethnal Green, a book by Cathy Ross, which had included a number of my pictures from the 1980s.

In 2008 came ‘Climate Rush – Deeds Not Words’:


Exactly 100 years ago, more than 40 women were arrested in the ‘Suffragete Rush’ as they attempted to enter The Houses of Parliament. To mark this centenary, women concerned with the lack of political action to tackle climate change organised and led a rally in Parliament Square, calling for “men and women alike” to stand together and support three key demands:

  No airport expansion.
  No new coal-fired power stations.
  The creation of policy in line with the most recent climate science and research.

Those attending were asked to wear white, and many dressed in ways that reflected the styles of a century ago, and wore red sashes with the words ‘Reform Climate Policy’, ‘No New Coal’ ‘Climate Code Red’ and ‘No Airport Expansion’, with campaigners against a second runway at Stansted having their own ‘Suffrajets’ design. We were also offered fairy buns with ‘Deeds Not Words’ and ‘Climate Bill Now’

It was a protest that brought together some fairly diverse groups, including the Women’s Institute and the Green Party as well as Climate Rush, who, led by Tamsin Omond tried to storm their way in to the Houses of Parliament like their Suffragette predecessors, but were stopped by police. She was later arrested, not for this action but for breach of her bail conditions from the ‘Plane Stupid’ roof-top protest at the Houses of Parliament 8 months earlier.


On 13th October 2012, Zombies invaded London in a charity event, to “raise the dead and some dough in aid of St. Mungo’s“, a charity which reaches out to rough sleepers and helps them off the streets.

I went on from there to the steps of St Pauls, where on the first anniversary of their attempt to occupy the Stock Exchange, Occupy London joined a worldwide day of protest, #GlobalNoise, by the Occupy movement, to target the “political and financial elites who are held responsible for destroying our communities and the planet, resonating the ongoing wave of anti-austerity protests in Europe and around the world. At the same time #GlobalNoise is a symbol of hope and unity, building on a wide variety of struggles for global justice and solidarity, assuring that together we will create another world.

From a rally at St Paul’s they went on to sit down at a few places around the City, before crossing London Bridge heading for an undisclosed location to occupy for the weekend. Some wanted to occupy the ‘Scoop’ next to City Hall, but others felt it wasn’t suitable. A group went on to block Tower Bridge, but then returned to join others at Scoop.

In 2015 the Zionist Federation organised a protest outside the Palestinian Authority UK Mission against the stabbings of Jews in Israel. Jewish and other groups supporting Palestinian resistance to occupation and Israeli terror came along to protest against all violence against both Jews and Palestinians in Israel and for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


I left while the two protests were continuing to shout at each other to join the candlelit vigil at Parliament by Citizens UK calling for 1000 Syrian refugees to be resettled in the UK before Christmas and 10,000 a year for the next 5 years. Six children froze to death in the camps last year and many in the UK have offered homes and support.