Posts Tagged ‘Brixton’

Extinction Rebellion and more

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Extinction Rebellion (XR) began 11 days of protest which initially brought most of central London traffic to a halt on Monday 15th April 2019. They didn’t manage to keep up the protest until “the government takes necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency” as we have yet to see that two years later, but they did considerably raise public and media awareness about the severity of the problem the world faces.

Unfortunately there seems to be little chance that effective action will be taken in time to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2015 as they demanded, though perhaps the half-hearted measures that will come out of the delayed climate summit later this year will do just a little to slow the rate our our planet’s decline, possibly enough to see my life out, though I worry about the future of my children and despair for that of my grandsons and daughters.

XR have now very much lost the initiative, mainly I think because of internal dissensions, perhaps inevitable because of some of the rather odd characters that they attracted. But some of their ideas, particularly over the police and arrests cut them off from many on the left who attacked them as a movement funded by shady capitalists and led by wacky idealists, more a Glastonbury festival than a political movement. Much of the criticism was ill-founded but not all.

The major effect they had on our government was for them to put pressure on the police to get rid of these pesky protesters – first by more arrests and prosecutions and now by the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill to give the police greater powers to control all protests.

Early on the Monday morning, XR protesters set up camp at a number of key locations in London in a well-planned exercise. I turned up rather later to take photographs, first at Waterloo Bridge, which XR had turned into a ‘garden bridge’, blocking all traffic and bringing flowers and trees. There had been arrests earlier, but police had been unable to stop the protesters and the bridge – despite many further arrests – remained closed for over a week.

Because of the XR actions traffic all around the centre of London was at a halt, with buses not moving. Fortunately the tube was unaffected and took me to Oxford Circus, which now had a large pink yacht at its centre, named after the Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres, assassinated for her activism in 2016. It was here that I met the dance troupe dressed in red that were such a visible presence in XR protests.

XR were not the only environmental game in town, and I took the Underground to St Paul’s Cathedral for a protest organised by the Green Anti-Capitalist Front, Earth Strike and London Students for Climate Justice. I arrived when there protest was due to start, but there were only a few of them present. I hung around for half an hour or so, and then gave up and left. Later I saw the accounts of their protest which did eventually attract a small crowd and was sorry I’d missed the action.

But there was rather more happening at Marble Arch, one of London’s main gyratory systems, where XR had blocked Oxford St, Park Lane, Edgware Road and a couple of other routes and had set up a stage, workshops and a tent village as well as the road blocks.

But XR had also planned an event for Parliament Square, where the roads around were blocked for a New Orleans funeral procession with jazz band to make its way around the square.

The funeral was perhaps also designed as a diversion for some more direct action, which I again missed at the Shell Centre on the South Bank. A small group of activists daubed slogans across the front of the building and two occupied the glass porch over the door. The activists had deliberately broken the glass in one of the doors, with the intention that this would result in a trial before a jury rather than by magistrates, enabling them to present the reasons for their action, and three had been arrested and taken away by the time I arrived, but the two were still up on the porch and others holding banners on the street in front.

My day had not quite finished as I made a small diversion on my way home to visit Brixton, where staff, families and children from children’s centres were protesting against plans by Lambeth Council to close five centres and make drastic cuts at seven others. The council had recently spent £68 million on refurbishing the Town Hall and building a new Civic Centre.

Save Lambeth Children’s Centres
Extinction Rebellion at Shell
Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession
Extinction Rebellion Marble Arch
Anti-capitalist environmental action
Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus
Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge


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.


Gentrification is Class War: 4 Feb 2018

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

Back when I began taking pictures of London in the 1970s London still had many largely working class areas, many the kind of places where some photographer friends would raise an eyebrow when I said I had been taking pictures there, or even send me dire warnings about the dangers of walking the streets there with a camera around my neck.

They were areas where people in the basic jobs that keep the city running could afford to live – both those whose families had moved to these areas several generations back and those including migrants and refugees who had come more recently. Some were certainly beginning to see a new more affluent population moving in, and many of my pictures featured skips in front of housing that was being renovated, both by developers who were buying up many older properties and young professional couples who were often ‘knocking through’, and pub conversations began to be riddled with terms such as ‘RSJ’.

Since then more and more areas across London have been subject to ‘gentrification’, their character being changed and new businesses coming in to cater for the new wealthier population, while increasingly the low-income inhabitants are forced out to cheaper areas further from central London as house prices and flat rents soar – and as council estates are demolished and replaced by higher density largely private flats at high market rents.

This process of ‘social cleansing’ has been taking place across London, and has been accelerated by many Labour councils since Tony Blair began New Labour’s regeneration programme with a press photo-opportunity on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark in his first speech as Prime Minister in 1977.

Many of the shops that I photographed back in the 70s and 80s, small local shops – corner stores, cobblers, hairdressers, greengrocers, butchers, etc – and other small local businesses have now disappeared, their premises now often estate agents, and cafés have changed their nature from ‘greasy spoons’ where you could get a filling cheap lunch to serving coffee and cakes, vegetarian food or rather more expensive restaurants catering for the new and wealthier clientèle. Of course tastes generally have changed and so have shopping habits, and some of the new is certainly welcome. But so much of those shops and pubs that were a part of these neighbourhoods have been lost.

Brixton perhaps stood out against gentrification longer than most – with the reputation it had from the disturbances in 1981, 1985 and 1995 deterring many newcomers. All took place following heavy-handed police action; Operation Swamp 81, when over 900 people were stopped and searched in 5 days, with 82 arrested, the shooting of Cherry Groce in 1985, and the death in police custody of Wayne Douglas in 1995. But many young people were attracted to the area by the vibrant atmosphere and Caribbean culture, by music venues, the Roxy, markets, food and pubs, and with its good transport links and closeness to central London it has attracted many young professionals in more recent years.

Railway lines run through the centre of Brixton, and the arches underneath them have been an important part of its life, providing low cost premises for businesses and, particularly in Atlantic Road and Brixton Market Road, for shops. They provided what has been called “the heart of Brixton”. But as I wrote in my text for Save Brixton Arches: 3rd Anniversary Action on Sunday 4th February 2018:

Network Rail have colluded with Lambeth Council to get rid of something that gave Brixton its unique character and replace it by trendier shops catering for the new wealthy young population – part of Lambeth Labour’s programme of social cleansing which includes demolishing council estates and replacing them with high cost private accommodation (with a token amount of so-called affordable properties.) The Council ignored the public outcry and large demonstrations to keep the arches.

The plans were accompanied by a great deal of lies and mismanagement by Network Rail and work was supposed to be completed by 2016 but is only scheduled to start tomorrow, and the Save Brixton Arches campaign are calling for it to be abandoned as the plans for the work fail to include proper fire safety precautions and will severely restrict access by emergency services to local businesses and the railway and station.

Save Brixton Arches: 3rd Anniversary Action

Despite the campaign both by the traders and many of the local population the refurbishment of the arches went ahead, though over a year later many had not been re-let. Allies and Morrison, the architecture and urban planning practice which recommended the scheme in 2013 has been involved in many contentious ‘regeneration’ schemes with developers and councils across London which opponents describe as social cleansing. Local Labour MP Helen Hayes was a senior partner in this firm until she left shortly before being elected in 2015, although she has denied any involvement in this particular scheme.

More at Save Brixton Arches: 3rd Anniversary Action.


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.


Marching for Justice

Friday, January 22nd, 2021


21 years ago on 22 Jan 2000 I photographed a March against police racism organised by the Movement For Justice in Wood Green, and it is one of the earlier protests that I featured on my web site My London Diary.

It wasn’t of course the first protest that I had photographed, which had been around 25 years earlier, and through the 1990s I had increasingly begun to attend and photograph various political events, although the bulk of my work was still in other areas.

My London Diary didn’t exist in January 2000, but when I set up the site a year or two later I scanned some of my 8×10″ file prints from 1999 and 2000 to put some content on the site from the start.

At the time I was still working mainly in black and white and sending prints to the library that handled my work; they also worked with colour transparencies, but I had given up taking these 15 years earlier and moved to colour negative. The library then couldn’t handle digital files, and also my flatbed scanner was only black and white. At the start there was little or no colour work on My London Diary, though things soon changed as I first used a consumer digital camera as a personal notebook, then moved to working with a Nikon DSLR.

The earliest protest to be featured on My London Diary was from Brixton in February 1999, and over a similar issue, a National Civil Rights march calling for the release of Winston Silcott. So many years later things perhaps have changed very little – just the names, as the recent death of Mohamud Mohammed Hassan shows.

It wasn’t in 2000 easy to find out when and where protests other than the big national events organised by groups such as CND and the anti-war protests were taking place, but in June 1999 Indymedia had been founded around the global justice anticapitalist protest Carnival Against Capital and around this time many groups involved in protests were beginning to use the web to communicate through e-mail and web sites.

From around 2000 I began to cover many more protests, partly because I left full-time teaching and could attend more, but also because it became easier to find out about them. It was some time later that I began to put my pictures from protests on Indymedia, as a way of sharing my work with those I had photographed. I was also sending them to photo agencies in order to finance the work, as well as working as a writer on photography. I began My London Diary as a way to get my work to a wider audience, and hoped it would generate enough direct sales to at least cover the costs involved.

It has managed to do that and has also provided a great deal of feedback over the years, but hasn’t been a huge financial success.

My London Diary 2000

13 December 2014

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

I started work on December 13th 2014 in Brixton, where a well-dressed Santa was with other Lambeth Living Wage protesters including National Shop Stewards Network chair Rob Williams, calling for all workers to be paid a living wage. They entered a number of shops on the main shopping street where workers are only paid the minimum wage, spreading their message through a megaphone and placards and handing out leaflets and union membership forms to shop workers.

They left when asked to do so by security staff and continued along the street to the next shop on ‘Santa’s Naughty List’.
‘Santa’s Naughty List’ Living Wage


The Victoria line from Brixton tube took me to Green Park and I made my way to join the ‘Advance to Mayfair’ protest organised by Class War at the Mayfair offices of US property developers Westbrook Partners. The protest was in solidarity with the tenants of the Hackney New Era Estate who Westbrook are intended to evict before Christmas.

There had been some disagreements expressed on social media before the protest and the organiser was ill and unable to publicise the event over the previous few days and the protest was rather smaller than anticipated. The police had however come out in force for what was a small and well-behaved protest in which after some speeches, Class War delivered a Christmas card to Westbrook – and someone came out from their office to accept it.

This and other protests by and in support of the residents and the publicity they generated in the media worked, and a few days later Westbrook sold their interest in the New Era estate to the Dolphin Square Foundation and the New Era tenants were saved from eviction.
Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era’


My final destination for the day was the flagship John Lewis Store in Oxford St, not for some Christmas shopping, but to meet with members of the IWGB and John Lewis customers who were campaigning for equality for the cleaners. Cleaners who work in the store receive less than the living wage, and are not entitled to the considerable bonus payments that other staff who work in John Lewis receive as ‘partners’ in the business. John Lewis outsources the cleaning to cleaning contractors to avoid having to give them decent wages and conditions while retaining its reputation as a decent employer.

We met up in the café on the fifth floor of the store, and after unrolling there banners there was a brief speech about the unfair treatment of the cleaners from Alberto Durango before the protesters marched around the top floor to the escalator blowing vuvuzelas. They made their way slowly around to the down escalator on each floor, pausing to hang their banners over the balcony and continuing the noisy protest.

By the time they arrived at the ground floor, police had arrived and were confusing the issue, with some trying to stop the protesters leaving the store and others trying to force them out. Most of the protesters were trying to leave and like me had to push our way past police to get onto the pavement where the protest continued. Police made one or two arrests, though I think all were released without charge as John Lewis would not welcome the publicity a court appearance would provide.

Cleaners Xmas Protest in John Lewis


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.


One Year Ago – Sep 20th 2019

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Friday 20 Sep 2019 was a busy day for me, and certainly one without any social distancing. It was the day of the Earth Day Global Climate Strike inspired by Greta Thunberg, and schoolchildren, teachers, parents and supporters from all over London were taking part in several events across the capital, as well as in other towns and cities across the world.

A large rally filled much of Millbank, from outside the Houses of Parliament down almost to Horseferry Road where there were speakers and performers on a lorry, with loudspeakers at intervals along the road to relay the sounds. The crowd was so dense near the bus that I gave up trying to get through and went along sidestreets to make my way to the front.

I made my way out slowly back through the crowd taking pictures, and found that more people were still streaming into Parliament Square as I walked into Westminster station to take the tube to the Elephant.

There was a poster display and short rally outside the University of the Arts there as people gathered to march to join workers at Southwark Council who were also protesting.

Instead I took the tube to Brixton, where teachers had brought children from local schools for a lunchtime rally before going to join the protest in Westminster. I left to avoid the crowd as the rally came to an end and went back to Parliament Square, where as well as the climate protest there were also a group of Kurds protesting about the Turkish invasion of Rojava.

Campaigners, mainly school students, were now also sitting down and blocking Whitehall and police were beginning to make arrests. Eventually the school students decided to march, and turned into Whitehall Court, where police blocked them and they sat down again.

It’s a road the has very little traffic, and I couldn’t understand why police continued to harass them and try to get them to move, as a protest there would inconvenience very few if any. But eventually the students got fed up with the police threats and got up to march again, only to sit back down and block Whitehall again.

Eventually they decided to get up and march back to Parliament Square to join the other protesters there, but I left them to go to Carnaby St, still a Mecca for tourists sixty years on from the so-called ‘Swinging Sixties’. It’s now a rather dull shopping experience with relatively high prices for the same kind of stuff as almost every high street worldwide, including Puma sports shoes.

This afternoon it was a little livelier and noisier than usual, with the Inminds Islamic human rights group which generally includes both Palestinian and Jewish campaigners outside their store after 215 Palestinian sports clubs have asked Puma to respect human rights and end its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land. Inminds provide some loud and enchanting Palestinian music to enjoy as well as the speeches at their peaceful and well-organised protests, many of which I’ve photographed along with many others in London over human rights issues in this country and others around the world.

At a previous protest outside this store, protesters were physically attacked by a small group of Zionists, but this time I saw just one man who came and screamed abuse for a minute or two, while many other people stopped to talk, read the banners and take leaflets, shocked by the facts they displayed. There is little coverage in the mass media but the campaigners say the Israeli government on average imprisons two Palestinian children every day, kills one every 60 hours and destroys one Palestinian home every nine hours.

COVID-19 has dominated our news for months, and recently the media are full of reports of our governments failures to set up effective testing and tracing and possible new restrictions on us. But the issues these protests a year ago remain vital. And unless we take urgent action to cut our impact on the environment through climate change and environmental damage the consequences for human life will be disatrous, threatening us all. This year the Fridays For Future global climate action day is September 25.

You can see more pictures from the various protests on the day last year on My London Diary:
Carnaby St Puma Boycott
Global Climate Strike Protest continues
Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike
Global Climate Strike Rally


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.


Brixton Feb 1987

Monday, August 3rd, 2020
Celestial Church of Christ, Coldharbour Lane, Loughborough Junction, Lambeth, 1987 87-2p-11-positive_2400
Celestial Church of Christ, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

Friends and others I showed pictures to at the time or talked about my work with often expressed surprise at some of the areas of London I went to when taking photographs. They saw places like Brixton as crime-ridden and dangerous and wondered that I felt safe, particularly as I was walking around the streets carrying a bag with expensive equipment worth thousands of pounds on my shoulder.

Beds, Coldharbour Lane, Loughborough Junction, Lambeth, 1987 87-2p-23-positive_2400
Beds, Coldharbour Lane, Loughborough Junction, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

I did think a little about it myself and even once attended a training session – the only man in a group of women – about keeping safe on city streets. But the only times I ever really felt threatened were not in the kind of areas that some reacted with horror to, but in lonelier parts of the plusher suburbs.

Furniture, Coldharbour Lane, Loughborough Junction, Lambeth, 1987 87-2p-25-positive_2400
Furniture, Coldharbour Lane, Loughborough Junction, Brixton Lambeth, 1987

I felt more at home in the many working-class areas of London than in the West End or City, and certainly dressed in a way that fitted in more there. I tried hard to be aware of my surroundings and not to behave in ways that drew attention to myself. And I think I was reasonably street-wise, keeping calm and confident, looking as if I knew what I was doing and where I was going and being aware of others. There were a few times when I decided against going down a particular street or alley, or crossed the street to avoid possible trouble. Because I needed the light I always worked during the day time, when all areas are safer.

White goods, Coldharbour Lane, Loughborough Junction, Lambeth, 1987 87-2p-36-positive_2400
White goods, Coldharbour Lane, Loughborough Junction, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

Of course taking photographs does make you stand out, but mostly people just ignored me. A few would stop and talk, and I tried to explain why I was taking a picture, though I think they mostly thought I was mad but harmless. Some people thought I must be from the council – or the newspapers, and occasionally people – particularly children – would insist I took there picture. Of course I did.

Flats, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2p-41-positive_2400
Flats, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987
Burroughs, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2p-64-positive_2400
Burroughs, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

‘Burroughs’ closed as an Eel and Pie shop in the 1990s, but remains as a restaurant. Its shop-front had been replaced by something flat and bland but was recreated a few years ago, and it now serves Japanese soul food rather than cockney.

There are a few more pictures from this area in February 1987 in the album 1987 London Photos.

Brixton Feb 1987

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
Shops, Electric Ave, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-46-positive_2400
Shops, Electric Ave, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

I visited Brixton fairly often in the 1980s and 1990s as it was one of the places you could buy cheap photographic paper, often outdated or cut up from larger sheets and re-packaged and sold by A.W.Young Photographic in Altantic Rd. Mostly I used this to make contact sheets of my black and white films, though at various times I also made small, often postcard-size enlargements of the more promising negatives as ‘file prints’, from which I would then make a choice to make as exhibition quality prints, usually on considerably more expensive papers.

Sanders, Jeweller, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-44-positive_2400
Sanders, Jeweller, Brixton Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

Cheap papers weren’t always poor quality. When Agfa stopped importing Portriga Rapid to the UK, remaining stocks went to the bargain dealers, and a similar situation happened with some papers from Kodak and Ilford, and some of my best prints were made on these.

Effra Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-36-positive_2400
Effra Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

I’d begun attending events and workshops at the Photo Co-op in Battersea more or less as soon as it opened its Webb’s Road premises in 1984. It was an easy journey for me, just a short walk from Clapham Junction, and although I was pleased they got more funding in 1991, the move to Brixton as Photofusion almost doubled my journey time. But it did mean more frequent trips to Brixton in the 1990s, particularly as I began to put black and white photographs into the Photofusion Picture Library.

Mural, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-35-positive_2400
Mural, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

More recently most of my visits to Brixton have been to photograph protest marches and rallies; at Brixton Police station, Lambeth Town Hall, in Windrush Square and around the area. Brixton has changed and lost a little of its character to gentrification, but remains a vibrant area.

Brixton Village, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-34-positive_2400
Brixton Village, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987
Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-26-positive_2400
Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987
Mural, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987 87-2o-15-positive_2400
Mural, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1987

The pictures here were I think all taken on the same day, most likely before a visit to pick up some photo paper, and you can see a few more from that visit to Brixton in the Flickr album ‘1987 London Photos‘ . I also took around a dozen colour images, and some of these are in the album TQ31 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.


Brixton TQ31

Sunday, June 14th, 2020
Van, Rushcroft Rd, Brixton, 1987 TQ3175-001

There must be a reason for this van, parked at the junction of Rushcroft Rd and Vining St behind the large Foodstation building to have a horse on its cab roof, and I’d love someone to enlighten me. I think this is a classic Citroen H van, which were often adapted for use as catering or camping vans, and some are still in use and sell for high prices. There was even a special horse-box version.

Fishmongers, Shop, Atlantic Rd, Brixton, 1987 TQ3175-004

The much-loved fishmonger in the railway arches, one of a number of businesses recently lost to the relentless gentrification of Brixton, despite a long and hard-fought campaign.

Sculpture, Flats, Barrington Rd, Brixton, 1989 TQ3175-014

This sculpture and the mosaic panels were on Kemble House in Barrington Rd, and the pillar still has the mosaic, though the sculpture is long gone. I think both were added to the building in the mid-80s by Freeform Arts. The Loughborough estate was built by the LCC from 1954-70 to the designs of their architects department under Sir Leslie Martin, and provided 1,031 dwellings, including maisonettes in nine 11-storey blocks such as Kemble House. Since 1995 the estate has been run by the Loughbourough Estate Management Board.

Coldharbour Lane, Loughborough Junction, Brixton, 1989 TQ3175-018

An alley between shops on Coldharbour Lane still leads the Celestial Church of Christ at Loughborough Junction, and that strange post is still there in the middle of the pavement. The church “came into the world from heaven by DIVINE ORDER on the 29th of September 1947 in Porto Novo, Republic of Benin through the founder of the Church, the Late Reverend, Pastor, Prophet, Founder Samuel Bilehou Joseph Oshoffa. The Church is well known with Parishes, Dioceses all over the world with its International Headquarters in Nigeria.” More here.

Graffiti, Stockwell Ave, Brixton, 1989 TQ3175-026

I think this graffiti on Stockwell Avenue was on the side wall of 8 Bellefields Rd though it has long disappeared. A number of more official-looking murals had been painted in the area at the time, and one is still present on the facing wall, but this seemed to me to be more ‘Brixton’. The mural opposite was painted in 1987 by Sonia Martin of London Wall Public Art after consultations with local residents and was one of a series of Brixton murals painted after the 1981 Brixton riots with funding from Lambeth Council and the GLC.

More pictures from Brixton in TQ31 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.


Norwood to Brixton: TQ31

Saturday, June 13th, 2020
House, Norwood Grove, Norwood,  1991 TQ3170-001

My pictures from TQ31, a 1km wide strip of London begin at Norwood Grove with a picture of the ‘White House’ there, a fine building dating from the early 19th century on the edge of Croydon. It’s a total mystery to me what I was doing there in 1991, but I did photograph this house again in 1996 but on a dull, overcast day. Possibly I was on a family walk and we had gone to look at its gardens which are listed with the house.

Barber, Norwood Rd, Tulse Hill, 1991 TQ3172-003

Hairdressers are a good example of businesses that can be set up with relatively little capital expenditure, and are often quite individual in the furnishing of their shops and window displays. I don’t think there are any real chains or franchises in the trade, either for barbers, unisex or ladies salons. And given the nature of the business the windows often include representations of heads – drawn and photographed (as in this case) or even three-dimensional, making them of great interest to me. Something that the differential fading of the colour image at the right only added to.

Tailor, Dulwich Rd, Herne Hill, 1991, Lambeth Tailor, Dulwich Rd, Herne Hill, 1991 TQ3174-020

It was definitely the colour that attracted me to this cafe on the Dulwich Rd at Herne Hill, set off by the white porcelain ashtray. Getting the colour right in the darkroom (it wasn’t on the enprint) proved a little difficult, but the ashtray and the CocaCola box were good reference points and this was one of the pictures I exhibited in the 1990s

Repairs, Railton Rd, Brixton, 1991 TQ3174-005

Brixton was a place I loved to visit for its colour and vibrancy. Back in the early days I went there quite frequently to buy cheap outdated photographic paper from A.W.Young Photographic in Altantic Rd. Later I used to go to Photofusion in Electric Lane to go to exhibition openings and take in pictures for their photo-library. This was Sherlock Electrical Repairs in Railton Rd, and they seemed to specialise in vacuum cleaners.

121 Centre, Railton Rd, Brixton, 1991 TQ3174-019

I bought some pamphlets and magazines from the 121 Centre in Railton Rd, on the corner of Chaucer Rd. It was a squatted anarchist social centre, and later in 1999 I went to at least one party in the street outside when it was threatened with eviction.

The centre had been squatted in 1973 by Olive Morris and became and anarchist social centre around the time of the 1981 Brixton riots, when Railton Rd was the “front line!, later gaining an international reputation for the groups and events it hosted. Set on fire by right-wing thugs in 1993, it recovered but was evicted by Lambeth Council in 1999 despite a determined and well-organised campaign of resistance. Property values in the area had risen dramatically and Lambeth who perhaps hadn’t been worried when Brixton property was almost worthless decided to take the property back.

More from Brixton in a later post. You can see these and other pictures in the Flickr album TQ31 London Cross-section. As I write there are still more pictures to add of TQ31 north of Stockwell.


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.


TQ30

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
Shop, Brixton Hill, Brixton, 1991TQ3074-001

Back in 1986 I began a serious attempt to photograph London. Serious but not entirely credible I set out the photograph the whole of the city. Of course I never thought I could photograph everything, but set out a number of principles or themes that would govern my project, or rather a series of projects that I continued to work on for the next ten or 15 years.

Streatham High Rd, 1990 TQ3071-002

The larger part of this work was in black and white, and concentrated on buildings and streets, the physical infrastructure of London, with the goal of photographing every built structure I thought significant, as well as representatives of the typical across the city. You can see a little of this on Flickr in the album 1986 London Photographs, which contains over 1300 photographs, perhaps a third of those I took in the first six or seven months of the project.

Heads & Dummy, Shop,Streatham High Rd, Streatham, 1990TQ3072-010

In colour I was largely concerned with a more intimate level, or how individuals arranged their surroundings and how this reflected their differing social and cultural values. Some of the more obvious reflections of this came in small businesses with the face they displayed toward the public, particularly in shop windows and interiors, which feature strongly in this work.

Bedford Rd, Clapham, 1992 TQ3075-025

The previous year I had abandoned colour transparency and moved to working with colour negative film which provided much greater flexibility. For some years this was entirely trade-processed, and to cut costs (I had a young family to support) I used cheap processing companies aimed for the amateur market. Technically these were rather variable (even from the same company) and the prints I received back, usually 6×4″ ‘enprints’, were extremely variable in quality.

Shop, South Lambeth Rd, South Lambeth, 1989 TQ3077-005

As the stack of fat envelopes containing the negative strips and prints grew I wondered how to make some order of them, and came up with the idea of a traverse of the city with pictures filed together representing a number of ‘vertical’ north-south 1km wide strips of London based around the National Grid.

Cafe, Plato Rd, Brixton, 1989 TQ3077-009

Prints from negatives that interested me were then filed in a series of A4 files, labelled with the first 4 digits of the six figure grid reference which I had begun to mark on the prints. The pictures in this post are all from ‘TQ30’, and the 1km wide strip starts at Streatham and goes north from there. I started scrap book style, pasting the prints onto cartridge paper, but soon moved to using plastic file pages which held four prints on each side, arranging the prints roughly in order of their ‘northings’ in kilometre squares.

From these albums – a longish row of A4 files on my shelves – I was able to select images that were worth printing larger, keeping costs down by printing and processing in my own home darkroom. I’d discovered that Fuji colour paper not only gave cleaner looking prints but enabled the kind of dodging and burning that I’d become used to in black and white without the unwelcome colour shifts of other papers. I’ve had one set of prints from a show in the mid-80s framed on the wall beside the stairs since that show. They are out of direct sun and 35 years later show little of no sign of fading.

Bicycle, Shop, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, 1989 TQ3078-005

I began putting images from this project on Flickr several months ago, and at the start tried to replicate the layout of the albums – and the vagaries of the prints in terms of colour balance, exposure, saturation etc. Having done several 1km strips like this I’ve decided it doesn’t really work to well, and although I’m still scanning the prints in their sheets of four have separated them into individual images – still roughly in the same order – for TQ30. And while some of the defects of those trade-processed prints are still evident (and occasionally rather a lot of dust on the plastic sleeves) I’ve tried to improve the colour balance etc where necessary. But they are still showing enprints enlarged on screen and this makes some problems more visible.

So far I’ve put just over 100 prints into the album TQ30, from Streatham to Westminster, with another 250 or more to follow, taking the ‘slice’ north to Hornsey. You can view them on Flickr.


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.