Posts Tagged ‘BMX’

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned

Friday, June 10th, 2022

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned – A rally on Wood Street on Friday 10th June 2016 marked the third day of what became the longest strike ever in the City of London, and later at City Hall a vigil remembered 11 road users killed on London streets since the mayoral election last month, including three cyclists.


Day 3 UVW Wood St Cleaners Strike – 100 Wood St, City of London

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned

Cleaners belonging to the United Voices of the World union employed by anti-union cleaning contractor Thames Cleaning to clean the 100 Wood St offices managed by CBRE held a rally at the end of their picket on the third day of their strike.

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned
The picket

The offices there are mainly used by Schroders and J P Morgan, both large and highly profitable companies, but the cleaners are on poverty wages and several union members had been sacked and others served with notice by Thames Cleaning for organising the workers to demand a living wage.

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned
Measuring the 10m required by the injunction

Rather than talk with the UVW, Thames’s response to the strike threat had been to spend over £20,000 in the High Court trying to get an injunction to prohibit the strikes and protests. Although the court would not stop them, they issued an injunction which set down strict conditions for the picket and protest and this left the UVW with crippling legal costs.

The UVW is a small grass roots union supported only by dues from its members and unlike the large established trade unions has little or no money to run its activities which include educational workshops as well as supporting its members in the workplace and at employment tribunals. Those who perform duties for it are paid the London Living Wage for the time spent and there are no highly paid union officials. The union had to issue an emergency appeal for cash – and received support from people and union branches across the trade union movement.

Candy Udwin, PCS Rep at the National Gallery holds a banner

One aspect of the injunction was that any protest connected with the strike had to keep at least 10 metres from the doorway of the offices. Of course picketing is covered by strict trade union laws and a lengthy code of practice that requires it to be as reasonably close as possible to the entrance and exit, and limits it to six or less clearly identified pickets with a supervisor (and possibly also a union organiser) behaving in a peaceful manner.

The protest took place over a carefully measured 10 metres away on the opposite side of the street after a picket which had begun in the early morning when the cleaners would normally have arrived for work. The strike continued for 58 days before the UVW was able to announce that a satisfactory agreement had been reached with the employer and all further action was ended.

There are four posts about the Wood Street Strike on My London Diary for June (and more in later months) :
UVW Cleaners on Strike in City
Day 3 UVW Wood St Cleaners Strike
UVW Wood St Strike Day 10
UVW Wood St Strike continues


London Traffic Deaths Vigil – City Hall

Although London had an impressive purpose-built County Hall on the south bank just downstream of Westminster Bridge, this was sold off when Margaret Thatcher vindictively disbanded the Greater London Council, leaving London rudderless for 14 critical years. After the Greater London Authority was created in 2000, it was without a proper home for two years before leasing and moving into a purpose-built oddly spherical building by Norman Foster in the misleadingly named ‘More London’ currently owned by the Kuwait sovereign wealth fund who disguise themselves as St Martins Property Investments Limited.

Many saw the move to the new building as a failure of purpose by the Labour government in noy re-acquiring County Hall for the new London-wide authority – but then Labour under Blair continued most of Thatcher’s policies rather than move away from her individualist greed-based approach towards one getting back to the social welfare which had been at the heart of post-war Labour.

London’s City Hall moved in 2022 to Kamal Chunchie Way, Newham, E16 into the former ‘The Crystal’ exhibition centre beside the northern end of London’s ‘Dangleway’ cable car, though this is expected to close fairly soon as no replacement sponsor has come up to keep it running.

Sadiq Khan had retaken London as a Labour Mayor on May 5th 2016, with a decisive win over Conservative Zac Goldsmith and the Green candidate Siân Berry trailing badly in third place. Since then, 11 people had died on the streets of London, roughly around the average for that period in Greater London (in 2019, the total for the year was 125.)

Siân Berry

Protests are – at least theoretically – not usually allowed in ‘More London’, but this one was hosted by Green Party London wide Assembly Member Caroline Russell, a member of the GLA Transport Committee and organised by London Women on Bikes (LWOB), #LondonBusWatch, Westminster Living Streets and BMX Life. Of the 11 who died, 3 were cyclists and the others were on foot.

Most road deaths are not ‘accidents’ but “happen because road users make mistakes, often made harder to avoid because of poor vehicle or road design. Many of them result from a lack of proper facilities for pedestrians and cyclists in a road system which prioritises getting motorised vehicles from A to B as fast as possible rather than safety. Some are caused by the failure of police to enforce road traffic law – for example on advanced stop lines at traffic lights.”

One of the cyclists killed was BMX rider Dan ‘Cash’ Stephenson, hit by a bus on the Strand during a BMX Life charity ride and many other BMX riders had come to the vigil, wearing tartan ribbons in his memory as he always rode in tartan. There were a number of speeches and then the names of those killed were read, followed by an eleven minutes of silence when those at the vigil were invited to stand in silence or to lie down, with or without bikes, in a silent ‘die-in’.

As the vigil came to an end and people were beginning to leave we were all called back for a highly emotional moment when Dan ‘Cash’ Stephenson’s daughter spoke through tears about her father.

London Traffic Deaths Vigil


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A Table, Climate Red Lines, Refugees & Santas

Sunday, December 12th, 2021

Free the Focus E15 Table

Housing activists Focus E15 had been an irritant to Newham Council and its mayor Robin Wales ever since the group of young mothers fought the threat to close their hostel and scatter them across the country away from family and friends. Their high profile campaign with direct actions gained national coverage and admiration and after their succesful fight they continued as a ‘Housing For All’ campaign giving support to others with housing problems, particularly in their London borough of Newham.

Every Saturday the group hold a street stall on Stratford Broadway on a wide area of pavement outside Wilko every Saturday for over 2 years offering advice to those with housing problems and drawing attention to the failure of Newham Council to sensibly address the acute housing problem in the borough.

In 2015 there were around 5,000 people living in temporary accommodation despite 400 homes in good condition empty on the Carpenters Estate close to the centre of Stratford which the council began clearing around ten years previously in the hope of selling the site for development. They continue to oppose the council policy of attempting to force those needing housing out of London and into private rented property in towns and cities across the country- Hastings, Birmingham, Manchester etc – and even in Wales, socially cleansing the borough which now has large new developments of expensive high rise flats.

A week earlier, Newham Council’s Law Enforcement officer came with police to continue their harassment of the street stall, telling them they were not allowed to protest and threatening to seize their stall, sound system, banners and other gear. Focus E15 resisted but police seized the table and threw it into the back of their van. A few days later, the council having realised the seizure was illegal wrote to the campaign asking them to reclaim their table. Focus E15 asked for it to be delivered back to where it had been taken, and had already organised this ‘Free The Table’ rally with people coming to defend the right to protest. That table didn’t arrive but others had come with them for a ‘tablegate’ protest.

Free the Focus E15 Table

Climate Activists Red Line protest

Back in Westminster, the Campaign Against Climate Change was protesting against the inadequacy of the COP21 Paris deal, which sets the target temperature rise too high and has no way to enforce the measures needed by carrying a ‘red line’ banner across Westminster Bridge.

The protest with a 300 metre length of red cloth and the short rally beforehand emphasized that “the world needs 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. While a few years ago that might have seemed expensive and not feasible, the economics of energy generation have changed rapidly with green energy rapidly becoming the cheaper source. But huge vested interests still lie behind the dirty fuel lobby.”

Climate Activists Red Line protest

Christmas Solidarity Vigil for Refugees

As darkness fell, refugees, solidarity campaigners and Syrian activists at a 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. Six years later many of us remain ashamed and disgusted at the miserable response of the Tory government to refugees from Syria and more recently from Afghanistan. The UK has been so much less generous than many other countries and is increasingly adopting a more hostile attitude to asylum seekers, particularly now those attempting to cross the English Channel.

A strong wind made it difficult to keep the candles for this vigil alight, and though eventually this was solved by using plastic cups as wind shields it made the candles less photogenic.

Christmas Solidarity Vigil for Refugees

Santas in London

While I was photographing the climate protest on Westminster Bridge, a large group of Santas on BMX bikes rode across and I rushed to photograph them. Later I found this was an annual BMX Life Christmas ‘Santa Cruise’ in aid of ECHO, a small charity helping kids with heart conditions.

Later as I walked through Trafalgar Square on my way to catch a bus I came across more Santas, coming to the end of the their ‘Santacon’ which I described a few posts back as a “day-long alcohol-fuelled crawl through London”. I’d been too busy to bother with going to photograph the event earlier in the day, but spent a few minutes taking pictures before seeing my bus approach and running to the stop.

Santas in London


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More from Maida Vale, 1988

Saturday, December 11th, 2021

Warwick Farm Dairies, Elgin Ave, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale8, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-51-positive_2400
Warwick Farm Dairies, Elgin Ave, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale8, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-51

J Welford & Son’s Warwick Farm Dairies is still there on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Shirland Road, still looking much as it did when I took this photograph in July 1988, with I think the only noticeable change being in the name of the shop. Now it is over a hundred years since Welford’s became part of United Dairies and cows were kept in the large yard and its buildings behind, but there is still a cow’s head on the second storey of this corner building.

Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-53-positive_2400
Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-53

When walking around the streets with a camera around my neck I often was accosted by children clamouring for me to take their picture, and I never refused, though occasionally when I was running out of film I might only pretend to do so. Here the interest was perhaps as much in the BMX bikes and the sweater this young man was wearing as in him or the background.

Beachcroft House, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-54-positive_2400
Beachcroft House, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-54

Westminster Council demolished this care home on Shirland Road in January 2018, replacing the low building and garden with two large 5 storey blocks, one a replacement Beachcroft House care home opened in 2019 and run by Gold Care Homes and the other a block of 31 luxury flats, The Masefield, sold to finance the project.

Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-55-positive_2400
Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-55

Not one door but seven on the front of a former shop somewhere in the short row of five shops at 113-121 Shirland Rd. It rather amused me. Perhaps 30 years ago when I first needed a computer desk I spent some time looking at those available before deciding they looked small and rather flimsy and I could do a better job myself by cutting up an old door I’d replaced in the house, cutting off part horizontally to use as the desktop (its top surface covered by hardboard a previous resident had added) and the top section sawn vertically to give two side supports. A couple of lengths of 2×4″ hardwood provided some bracing close to floor level – and the footrest on which my feet are now resting as I write. It took me 10 minutes to measure and sketch the design and a morning to make and seems likely to last longer than me.

Delaware Mansions, Delaware Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-41-positive_2400
Delaware Mansions, Delaware Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-41

Delaware Mansions calls itself on its web site “The best mansion block in Maida Vale!2. Although Delaware Road was planned in 1875 by the developers of the Paddington Estate, the Paddington Trustees and the Church Commissioners as one of an alphabetical series of streets along with Ashworth, Biddulph and Castellain but the site was allotments until this block was built in 1903-1904 designed like many Maida Vale mansions by Boehmer and Gibbs. The road was only then properly made up.

The Church commisioners sold the entire Maida Vale Estate in 1981 with tenants being given a 20% discount on the market value and long leases. They sold the freehold to Fleksun in 1990.

BBC Maida Vale Studios, Delaware Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-44-positive_2400
BBC Maida Vale Studios, Delaware Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-44

Although I’d often heard that a radio programme had been made in the BBC Maida Vale Studios I had no real idea where they were until I walked down Delaware Rd. They are opposite Delaware Mansions, whose web site tells me they were originally “the Maida Vale Skating Palace and Club, which opened in 1909 and had one of the largest and most elegant roller-skating risks in the world. It could accommodate hundreds of skaters and seated 2,620 people at any one time.” It was one of the first studios for the BBC and home to many famous programmes; in 2018 the BBC announced plans to close it.

Lauderdale Rd, Castellain Rd,Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-34-positive_2400
Lauderdale Rd, Castellain Rd,Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-34

This was obviously once a rather sporting area, as on the next street to the east, at the corner of Castellain Road and Lauderdale Road was the Tennis and Squash shop, though this was in 1988 the Maida Vale Driving School and has boards showing a varied selection of vehicles for sale in the window. Now it is a flower shop.

This is on the end of a row of shops, Lauderdale Parade. I’ve found no explanation for the rather curious motif on the end wall which has a lion’s head at its centre. Lauderdale Mansions in several blocks were the first mansion blocks to be built in Maida Vale in 1897. Actor Alec Guinness was born there in 1914.

Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-36-positive_2400
Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-36

I can find little information about 203 Elgin Avenue, a large detached house on the corner of Biddulph Road. On the side of the house is the date AD 1890.

I took the short walk up Biddulph Road and into Paddington Recreation Ground, where I photographed a few people cycling around the paved track (not online) and probably visited the public toilets before returning to Elgin Ave, photographing the side of this house again.

This seems a good place to finish this post – more from Maida Vale in a later post.


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