Posts Tagged ‘Camden’

Camden and more, 1987

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020
Gilbey House, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987 87-3a-36-positive_2400
Gilbey House, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987

This view will be familiar to the millions of people who flock to Camden Lock, now one of London’s main tourist attractions. The Gilbey brothers who had volunteered to go abroad to work in a hospital during the Crimean War returned to London and set up a wine and spirit business in 1857. As wines from France and elsewhere on the continent had to pay heavy duties they successfully promoted wines from the British Empire, particularly the Cape. The duties on continental wines were lowered in 1861 and Gilbey’s sold those as well, supplying the off-licences which grocers had been allowed to open by Gladstone in 1860.

Gilbey House, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987 87-3a-12-positive_2400
Gilbey House, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987

They added other drinks, sherry, port, whisky and in 1872 Gilbey’s London Dry Gin which made their name familiar in Britain and throughout the Empire. They built their gin distillery in Camden and soon had a large area of offices and stores around Oval Rd. But in 1962, following various mergers, Gilbey’s left Camden and moved to Harlow New Town.

Popbeat Records, Stucley Place, Camden, 1987 87-3b-06-positive_2400
Popbeat Records, Stucley Place, Camden, 1987

Stucley Place is just a few yards from the now often crowded Camden High St, just behind The Elephant’s Head. I think it had already become a rather trendy area by 1987, a stone’s throw from the TV AM studios in Hawley Crescent.

TV AM, Hawley Crescent, Camden, 1987 87-3b-05-positive_2400
TV AM, Hawley Crescent, Camden, 1987

This was the street side of the building, probably rather better known for the eggs in egg cups on the canal side of the former Henlys building. To me it seemed peculiarly tacky.

Bridge, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987 87-3a-34-positive_2400
Bridge, Regents Canal, Camden, 1987

The bridge and locks are still there, and are now pretty much tourist central, and even back in 1987 there are still quite a few people visible if you look closely. But it might now be difficult to get just 3 pairs of people actually on the bridge.

These locks held up the opening of the canal for several years as originally they were built in 1814 as boat lifts to conserve water. Sir William Congreve, who had developed many novel ideas, but was best known for the rockets he made for military use, designed a hydro-pneumatic canal lift with twin caissons. The canal company modified his designs and they were built by Henry Maudslay and Co. The lifts worked for a few months, though they were difficult to operate, but soon failed when they were handed over to the canal company. Following angry arguments with the three parties each blaming the others, the Regent’s Canal company decided to replace them with the conventional locks now present.

Undoubtedly had they been built to the original designs there would have been fewer problems, but the manufacturing tolerances and sealing materials of the day would have made them unreliable and needed frequent maintenance. It was a great idea but many years ahead of its time.

The Cleveland, Post Office Tower, Cleveland St, Fitzrovia, E=Westminster, Camden, 1987 87-3a-54-positive_2400
The Cleveland, Post Office Tower, Cleveland St, Fitzrovia, Westminster, Camden, 1987

Two rather curious buildings in the same picture. The Cleveland Pub later became a restaurant and then a bar, remaining in use until around 2015 and was demolished I think in 2019. The Post Office Tower is still there.

Langham Works, Great Portland St, Westminster, 1987 87-3a-63-positive_2400
Langham Works, Great Portland St, Westminster, 1987

The 13.8 acres of the Langham Estate stretch from the Euston Road to Oxford St in an area property developers call ‘Noho’, but everyone else knows as Fitzrovia. In 2008 when billionaire tax exiles the Candy brothers named the block of flats they were developing on the former Middlesex Hospital site Noho Square, local residents responded with a “say no to Noho” petition.

Although my contact sheet places this building on Great Portland St, I cannot now find it on the street. It may have been demolished, or possibly I had wandered down a side street and not noted the fact. Please let me know if you recognise it somewhere.

University of Westminster, New Cavendish St, Westminster, 1987 87-3a-65-positive_2400
University of Westminster, New Cavendish St, Westminster, 1987

In 1970 the Regent Street Polytechnic became the Polytechnic of Central London, one of 30 new polytechnics formed in 1970 awarding degrees from the Council of National Academic Awards. It became the University of Westminster in 1992. This building is still at 115 Cavendish St, though it has added an extra floor since I took this picture in 1987. In the background of this picture you can see the Post Office Tower.


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.


Feb 1987 Camden, London

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Saddler, Monmouth St, Covent Garden, Camden, 1987 87-2c-13-positive_2400
Saddler, Monmouth St, Covent Garden, Camden, 1987

This building is a part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the area, the Comyn Ching triangle, by the Terry Farrell Partnership which took place from 1983-1991, retaining the facades with rebuilt or restored shopfronts. This part of the Grade II listed terrace at 65-71 Monmouth St was only rebuilt in the third and final phase of development which began around two years after I made this picture. The lettering ‘B. FLEGG/ ESTd.1847/ SADDLER & HARNESS MAKER/ LARGE/ STOCK /OF/ SECONDHAND SADDLERY & HARNESS/ HORSE/ CLOTHING/18, with the name B. FLEGG applied diagonally to each side’ was then painstakingly restored.

Though sometimes referred to as a ‘ghost sign’, like many others it should more correctly be called a ‘resurrected sign’.

Thornhaugh St, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987 87-2b-54-positive_2400
Thornhaugh St, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987

One of the minor themes in my work at this time concerned the urban tree. London is a city with a great many of them, notably those London Planes, a hybrid of American sycamore and Oriental plane which first appeared by cross-pollination of these two introduced species in the Lambeth garden of London’s best known plantsman, John Tradescant the younger, who named it after the city around the middle of the 17th century. It has been widely grown in streets and parks across the city since the late 18th century.

I think these trees in their regimented rows are probably flowering cherries though probably some with greater aboreal knowledge will correct me. But this was a militarised forest that rather made me shudder. The planting was apparently designed to stop students playing football in the area. It hasn’t lasted and there is now a green area here – though some of the trees in it may be these same specimens, and there are still a couple of large brutalist concrete boxes around a couple of groups of trees.

UCL Institute of Education, Thornhaugh St, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987 87-2b-43-positive_2400
UCL Institute of Education, Thornhaugh St, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987

And in the background of the previous image was one of my favourite brutalist buildings, with a playfulness by Denys Lasdun’s that is perhaps more exiting than his National Theatre. It was a part of a larger plan, never completed and much opposed at the time, though in the end it was only a lack of money that really stopped the destruction of more of the area and the building on the open areas such as the ‘garden’ above.

Phoenix Cafe, Chalton St, Somers Town, Camden, 1987 87-2a-64-positive_2400

The Ossulston Estate in Somers Town, close to Euston Station was a remarkable council estate built by the London County Council in 1927-31, taking inspiration from modernist public housing which the LCC’s Chief Architect G Topham Forrest had visited in Vienna. The 7-storey housing blocks are behind a low wall of shop units along Chalton St, of which the Phoenix Cafe was one. Some of these units are still in use as shops, though not this one.

The 310 flats were built to high standards for the time and the development also included The Cock Tavern  – all are now listed. Some of the estate has been extensively refurbished.

St Pancras Church, Euston Rd, Bloomsbury, 1987  87-2a-25-positive_2400
St Pancras Church, Euston Rd, 1987

One of my favourite church exteriors in London is that of St Pancras (New) Church in Euston Rd, built in 1819–22 in Greek Revival style to the designs of William Inwood and his son Henry William Inwood. Perhaps its most remarkable feature are these caryatids, who look to me pretty fed up, perhaps unsurprisingly as they have a stone roof sitting on their heads. They are above the entrance to the burial vault and hold symbols suitable to this position, empty jugs and torches which have gone out.

Mahatma Gandhi, Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987  87-2b-01-positive_2400

A short distance away in Tavistock Square is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, 1869 – 1948, who studied not far away at UCL in 1888. The powerful likeness is by Fredda Brilliant and the site for it was chosen by V K Krishna Menon who was a member of the Theosophical Society and for some years a St Pancras Councillor before being made High Commissioner for India in the UK. The memorial was erected for the 125 anniversary of his birth and unveiled by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Most years for some time I have visited Tavistock Square each August for the annual remembrance on Hiroshima day around the Hiroshima Cherry tree a short distance from this statue. The square also contains a memorial to the victims of the 2005 bombing here, the Conscientious Objectors Commemorative Stone, a memorial and bust of surgeon Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake (1865 –1925) and a bust of Virginia Woolf.

More pictures on Flickr in the album 1987 London Photos.


More 1987 – Mainly Soho

Saturday, July 25th, 2020
Camden Town Cemetery, St Martin's Gardens, Camden St, Camden, 1987 87-1k-46_2400
Camden Town Cemetery, St Martin’s Gardens, Camden St, Camden, 1987

The slow process of putting up my old black and white pictures is continuing, thanks to the lockdown leaving the time on my hands. Although I’m going out of the house for exercise, that only occupies around 50 minutes of the day – and perhaps another half hour to recover.

This picture of the piled up gravestones in Camden Town Cemetery was taken in January and is one of the last from that month I’ve put on line. Although I’ve always liked to wander in cemeteries, often the only real places of peace and quiet in cities, and often good places to rest and eat my sandwiches, I’ve generally tried hard to avoid taking too many pictures in them unless there is a very strong reason to do so.

Partly because as a teacher of photography I saw far too many pictures by students of gravestones and monuments. They were easy to photograph, didn’t move much or complain about being photographed and supposedly said something profound about the human condition. At the in-house moderation of student photography coursework from across the country it was never long before I or another assistant examiner would be exclaiming “Not another sodding angel!”.

Wardour St, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2f-55-positive_2400
Wardour St, Soho, Westminster, 1987

In February I turned my attention to Soho, where photography was not always welcomed, though I didn’t intend to emphasise its more sordid aspects. It was one of London’s most varied and interesting areas, and remains so despite the ravages of property developers and Westminster Council.

But I didn’t avoid photographing the frontages offering ‘Intimate Bed Show – No Extras‘ though I didn’t go inside and photographed them in the early mornings when there were few touts or barkers around and any workers who might have occupied them were at home in their own beds. Nor did I meet the ‘Very Sexy Busty Brunette Model‘ whose notice was by a door in D’Arblay St, not even to make my excuses and leave.

Shop WIndow, Berwick St, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2f-46-positive_2400

But Soho was remarkable for the variety of shops, a place were almost everything was on sale – and sometimes it was difficult to know exactly what was on offer.

Butterfly, Upper James St, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2g-14-positive_2400
Butterfly, Upper James St, Soho, Westminster, 1987

There is still a clothes shop on the corner of Upper James St and Beak St, but it is now larger and more corporate, with a bland plate glass frontage, and Butterfly proved to be as ephemeral as its name suggests. Many other Soho businesses were longer lasting, and Randall & Aubin, late Morin and Cavereau remains in place on Brewer St, though many of the older continental businesses have now gone.

Randall & Aubin, Charcuterie, Brewer St, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2e-62-positive_2400

If you look through my pictures of Soho from 1987 you will find some showing the increasing Chinese presence in the area, including one of a crowd watching the New Year celebrations, but far less than in my later pictures of the area.

Charles II, Cibber, Soho Square, Soho, Westminster, 1987 87-2e-24-positive_2400
Charles II, Soho Square, Soho, Westminster, 1987

Soho Square still looked much the same when I was last there a few months before the lockdown, though I do wonder if Cibber’s statue of Charles II looks rather more worn now. Though we may now regret the restoration of the monarchy and feel that the puritanical excesses of the Commonwealth would better have been ended without bringing back a king the so-called ‘Merry Monarch’ does sound in some respects an improvement on our present royal house. And a king with no legitimate children who acknowledged at least a dozen by various mistresses is perhaps a suitable character to be remembered in Soho.

Haverstock Hill, Chalk Farm, Camden, 1987 87-1a-12_2400
More at 1987 London Photos

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.


January 1987 continued

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
Regents Canal, Gloucester Ave, Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987 87-1c-22_2400
Regents Canal, Gloucester Ave, Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987

think I had a good month taking pictures in January 1987. I always liked the winter months for photographing places, although the weather wasn’t always kind. But London is a city of many trees, and though they enhance it greatly they also obscure many views. And I do like the way you can see the structure of the trees after they have shed their leaves for the winter, though perhaps they are at their best in spring as they begin to sprout again.

Most of the month I was in Camden, and walked a little beside the Regent’s Canal as it goes through Primrose Hill. There were just a few boats moving – the canals were less busy back then. I’ve always had an interest in the canals in London – and this year was to have exhibited a set of panoramas to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Regent’s Canal, officially opened in August 1820. You can read more about that show which had to be abandoned in an earlier post here, and the set of pictures I took in preparation for it are – including the one from Camden below – are on Flickr.

Regents Canal 2020: Camden High St13-20190308-d0708
Regent’s Canal, Camden, 2019 – from ‘Regents Canal 200’
Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987 87-1c-51_2400
Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987

One of my favourite portraits is Bill Brandt’s 1963 photograph of a rather morose Francis Bacon looking out of the left of the frame at twilight in front of a lamp post on Primrose Hill. Of course my picture is nothing like his, an empty path and rather more naturalistic, but I think it captures something of the atmosphere of the place which attracted Brandt and made him choose it as a suitable stage for his picture.

Sir John Soane, memorial, Old St Pancras Burial Ground, Pancras Rd, Camden, 1987 87-1d-15_2400
Sir John Soane memorial, Old St Pancras Burial Ground, Pancras Rd, Camden

Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was a leading British architect working in a neo-Classical style. Although prolific, many of his buildings have been demolished or, like the Bank of England, greatly remodelled, though his three London churches, St Peter’s Walworth, Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone and St John, Bethnal Green remain, as does the Dulwich picture gallery and work at various stately homes.

His family tomb in the Old St Pancras churchyard, designed the year after his wife’s death in 1815 is perhaps the most clear example of his work, and is said to be the inspiration behind Giles Gilbert Scott’s red telephone box, made in 1924 shortly after Scott had been made a trustee of the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields – possibly London’s best and certainly one of its quirkiest museums.

Fence, Grafton Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987 87-1h-14_2400
Fence, Grafton Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987

I made several exposures of this short alley in Gospel Oak, beside a tall fence partly covered by dead creeping plants. and with a rectangular block behind. Fortunately fairly early on a Sunday morning in January there were few passers-by to doubt my sanity and I didn’t have to wait long for the passageway to be empty.

The barriers, the fence and the building each define planes with rectangular blocks at different angles – with both creeper and clear space roughly defining rectangles at an angle, and through that space the rectangle of the building seemed to me to match that of the barrier on the footpath.

Gilden Crescent, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987 87-1g-46_2400
Gilden Crescent, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987

You could furnish a home from the street in front of this shop selling (and buying) “All types of Old & Modern Furniture” and of course many did. We still use the chairs we carried home from a shop like this, and a few other pieces of furniture, though we had our own photographs of ancestors for the wall rather than buy those on display.

But other things too attracted me about this display as well as the neat rows of chairs, the mattresses and the gas cookers. There was the antique lamp post in the middle of the display at right, and, above the door, presumably from an earlier use, the advertisement in lieu of a shop name ‘WEIGHTS Cigarettes… For More Pleasure.”

Hockey, St Leonard's Square, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987 87-1i-46_2400
Hockey, St Leonard’s Square, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987

Two house bricks stand as a goal for these boys playing roller hockey on quad skates in a cul-de-sac in Kentish Town. I think it was a sport I had not met before – and those hockey sticks were made in the USSR.

Hockey Players, Holmes Rd, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987 87-1j-41_2400
Hockey Players, Holmes Rd, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987

A short walk away I came across another group of hockey players, standing with large sports bags and hockey sticks next to a mural showing roller hockey players on the wall of a skate shop. Their bags and sticks say ‘CANADIEN’ . I can’t remember now what they told me, and whether or not they were Canadian.


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.

Beginning 1987

Monday, July 6th, 2020
Forge Place, Malden Crescent, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987 87-1a-46_2400
Forge Place, Malden Crescent, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987

I’ve just begun to add black and white pictures from 1987 to a new album in Flickr, and am rediscovering quite a few pictures I had forgotten, including most of those in this post, all from the January pages of my filing sheets.

Eros, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, 1987 87-1a-55_2400
Eros, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster, 1986-7

Probably that means they were taken in January 1987, though a film I loaded into the camera in December might not be finished until the following month, and I suspect that the picture of Piccadilly Circus with boarding around Eros was probably made before Christmas. Some statues get regularly boarded up.

Window with cross, Mansfield Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987 87-1b-35_2400
Mansfield Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987

I’d been waiting to start this album for a few months, as I’d got fed up with using my film scanner (too slow and now with an unreliable Firewire interface), my flat bed scanner (not quite sharp enough) and a bellows and macro lens on a Nikon D810 where I couldn’t quite get even lighting across the frame. The Nikon film holder that comes with the bellows works with mounted slides which crop the frame, but try as I might I couldn’t get even lighting across the full 35mm frame.

Dove, Southampton Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987 87-1b-46_2400
Dove, Southampton Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987

While it was fast and easy to photograph negatives, every one needed to be worked on in Lightroom and Photoshop to try and correct the lighting fall off, and I couldn’t find a way to do so automatically. I experimented with different light sources and made some slight improvements, but couldn’t solve the issue.

Stairs, Malden Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987 87-1b-52_2400
Stairs, Malden Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987

I decided to buy Nikon’s more recent kit for digitising images, the ES-2, and ordered one in early March, but dealers were out of stock and I only received it a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, although not perfect, it is a great improvement in several ways. The ES-2 connects to the front of the 60mm macro lens with a short tube, and one advantage is that unlike the bellows it retains auto-focus. With the bellows I had to focus in live-view at the start of each session and then firmly lock it it place, remembering to exit live-view as this crops the image.

Generations, Geoffrey Harris, sculpture, Maitland Park Villas, Kentish Town, Camden 87-1b-62_2400
Generations, Geoffrey Harris, sculpture, Maitland Park Villas, Kentish Town, Camden 1987

But the main advantage is that the ES-2 is almost capable of giving even coverage across the whole 35mm frame and has a proper negative holder which takes a strip of up to 6 negatives, with click-stops to move from one to the next. It isn’t perfect and seems ridiculously overpriced but it is a great improvement, making the digitising of negatives easier and faster. For the moment I’m concentrating on black and white, but I think it should also make working with colour negatives much easier, and the workflow I’m using to batch process the files (more about that in a later post) should also work with them. Most images just need minor tweaks and fortunately most of my negatives from 1987 are quite clean.

Most of these pictures speak for themselves, though perhaps I should admit that the ‘cross’ is the shadow of a parking sign. You can see these and more in my album 1987 London Photos.


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.


Mainly Camden – 1986

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

The pictures on the final page, Page 14 of my 1986 London Photographs, were taken in November and December of the year, mainly in Camden, though they have a wider aspect than that might suggest, including Cosmos Radio Cars and the Night bell for the Universe. Few people really realise how far the London Borough of Camden actually stretches, almost down to Fleet St and up to Hampstead Heath, though the pictures here are from the sourthern part of the borough, along with a few over the boundary into the City of London

Pratt St, Camden 86-11l-13
PsaroTaverna Ta “Varelia”, Pratt St, Camden

There are still many shops in the area which show the presence of the Greek and Greek Cypriot community in Camden. I particularly liked the barrels outside the PsaroTaverna (Fish tavern) Ta “Varelia” in Pratt St, their shapes echoed by the balconies to the right of the picture.

In the window you can see the reflection of what appears to be one of the blocks of the Curnock St Estate, but both this taverna and those balconies seem to have disappeared without trace. There is still a taverna on Pratt Street, but now it competes with food from Italy, Japan and possibly elsewhere.

Herbrand St, Bloomsbury, Camden 86-12a-41_2400
Car Park, Herbrand St, Bloomsbury, Camden

Relatively few car parks enjoy listed status, but the Frames Coach Station and London Borough of Camden Car Park in Herbrand Street, close to Russell Square certainly deserves its Grade II listing, made in 1982. It was built in 1931 to the designs of architects Wallis, Gilbert and Partners for Daimler Car Hire Ltd. After they were taken over this building became used by the London Taxi Centre and Frames Coaches. The sign in my picture above the entrance to the spiral ramp which took cars to the upper stories calls it a ‘London Borough of Camden Official Car Park.’

Some may be familiar with the building from their childhood as it was the basis for the Fisher Price toy garage. The building deteriorated badly over the years and has been sensitively and extensively renovated to provide 60,000 sq foot of office accommodation, currently occupied by what claims to be the most powerful advertising agency in the world, McCann Erickson. 

Urinal, Star Yard, Holborn, Camden 86-12d-12_2400
Urinal, Star Yard, Holborn

As a then un-diagnosed diabetic, facilities such as this were of great interest to me and I made use of this on numerous occasions when I was in the area.

It is still in place but was closed when I last walked past, necessitating a visit to the basement of a nearby Wetherspoons pub.

Lyme Terrace, Camden 86-12a-52_2400
Lyme Terrace, Camden

The Regents Canal runs through the centre of Camden and I’ve often enjoyed a walk beside it. Lyme Terrace is a narrow pedestrian street that runs above the towpath. This view towards Royal College St is rather different now, although the white-painted small terrace is still there (now pale blue) but Lawford and Sons builders materials is long gone with an oval modern block tacked on to the wall at the end of the terrace on Royal College St.

Traveller camp, Kentish Town Rd, Camden 86-12g-42_2400
Traveller Camp, Kentish Town

The large building in the background is the HQ of the Transport Police beside the canal on the corner of Camden Rd and Camden St.

I think this encampment was on land that had been cleared for the building of Camden Gardens. At left you can see a heap of scrap, but overall the site which went up to the railway arches seems relatively tidy. Another picture (not on line) shows rubbish by the railway arches, but this could be fly-tipping not connected with the travellers.

Kent House, Ferdinand St, Camden 86-12j-22_2400
Kent House, Ferdinand St, Chalk Farm

Another of Camden’s many Grade II listed buildings, Kent House on Ferdinand St in Chalk Farm. These two blocks of model low-cost flats and shop were built in 1935 for the St Pancras House Improvement Society. Designed by Colin Lucas with Amyas Connell and Basil Ward they provided features better than many private developments of the era for cheap social housing – as the listing text comments: “staircase access, room layouts, generous useable balconies and total use of electricity for servicing put Kent House at the forefront of contemporary flat design with the quality of detailing expected from a private commission. ”

This was however the only development of its type by  Connell, Ward and Lucas.

This ends my series on work in the album 1986 London Photographs, although I may at some point add more pictures and more descriptive text. But you can also add comments to the pictures on Flickr. I hope shortly to begin to put some of my work from 1987 on line.


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.


1986 Page 12

Thursday, June 25th, 2020
Leeke St, Pentonville, Camden 86-10c-44_2400
Leeke St, Pentonville, Camden

Page 12 of 1986 London Photographs

1986 was the year I began seriously to photograph the fabric of London, and the number of photographs on Flickr, 1,370 reflects this, although I took several times this number, mainly in a series of planned walks exploring different areas of the capital.

76-78, Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, Islington 86-10g-11_2400
Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, Islington

A few of those I’ve not digitised are near duplicates, though usually I only took a single image of each subject, often taking some time to consider the best viewpoint and sometimes waiting for people or traffic to leave me a clearer view. Although I was working on 35mm and almost always hand-held, my approach was generally like that of a photographer using a larger camera – and the 35mm Olympus shift lens gave me much of the flexibility of large-format camera movements.

Nat West Tower, Old Broad St, City 86-10e-61_2400
Nat West Tower, Old Broad St, City

I had tried using 4×5″ cameras, a first with a monorail and then with an MPP, but found them too restrictive. Heavy to carry any distance, slow to set up and even with several magazines and a small pile of dark slides I was very limited in how many exposures I could make in a session. The movements on the MPP were also fairly limited, and the Olympus shift lens was more useful for this. While I admired the quality of large format results – and tried at times to emulate it by using Kodak Technical Pan – it wasn’t practical (or affordable) for the kind of large-scale project I had embarked on.

Venus, Canonbury Rd, Islington 86-10k-64_2400-2
Venus, Canonbury Rd, Islington

Most of these walks in October 1986 were in Islington, where I walked around areas including Clerkenwell, Pentonville, Canonbury, Barnsbury, Highbury and Islington itself, though I think I occasionally strayed across the borough border into the City of London and Camden.

Bartlett Export Packers, Regent's Canal, Islington 86-10t-31_2400
Bartlett Export Packers, Regent’s Canal, Islington

I travelled on public transport, using either the North London Line or the Underground, and it was sometimes easier (or cheaper) to travel to stations outside the borough – such as Bank (then still ‘City’), still a ‘London Terminus’ of British Rail Southern Region until 1994. I didn’t often use buses, partly because it was still rather harder than now to find out where they might go.

St Agnes Place, Kennington, Lambeth 86-10c-66_2400
St Agnes Place, Kennington, Lambeth

There are also a few pictures from south of the river, around Walworth and Kennington, where we used to go to a monthly meeting with friends, arriving for Sunday lunch. I’d often leave early in the morning for a few hours of walking and photography before these meetings.

The pictures here are just a few of those I now find more interesting from the page, but there are many others worth seeing in the hundred that make up Page 12 of 1986 London Photographs.


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.


Dancing and Dereliction – TQ30

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

North of Covent Garden in the 1km wide strip of London in TQ30 we come into the areas of St Pancras in LB Camden (which includes Kings Cross) and Pentonville in Islington which were largely outside the tourist zone, apart from housing a number of hotels, none of which appear in my colour pictures from 1986-93.

Printer, Kings Cross Rd, St Pancras,1990 TQ3083-057

Businesses here catered for London, and many were failing thanks to changes in technology and the de-industrialisation of our economy. A large swathe was blighted by plans for development of the railway lands, including much outside the actual rail areas that were threatened by demolition, though thanks to local opposition much has so far been saved.

Wellers Court, Somers Town, 1990TQ3083-048

North of Kings Cross there was to be wholesale demolition, and even listed buildings were not safe. The gasholders that were such a prominent landmark in the area were soon to be dismantled, with some being re-erected some distance away on the opposite side of the canal.

Gasholder, Pancras Rd, Kings Cross, 1990 TQ3083-030

And the dancers on the side of Stanley Buildings were having their final dance before they and the other nearby buildings were demolished.

Dancers, Stanley Buildings, Kings Cross, 1990TQ3083-009

Perhaps surprisingly I took few pictures of the Regent’s Canal in colour, though rather more in black and white, but I had photographed around here fairly extensively in the previous few years and perhaps felt I had little more to say.

Works, Albert Wharf, New Wharf Rd, Pentonville, 1986 TQ3083-021

But it was good to have a picture of the road side of Charles Bartlett, Export Packers & Shippers, whose chimney and works dominate this stretch of the canal.

Door and Brooms, Caledonian Rd, Pentonville, 1990TQ3083-064

But the road that fascinated me most was the Caledonian Road and its side streets, as a number of the pictures here show. You can see these and others on the third page of my album TQ30 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.


Regent’s Canal Camden

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

200 years ago the Regent’s Canal was opened. In some respects it was like HS2 today, cutting travel times, though for goods, providing a more direct link between London’s Docks and the canal system which served Birmingham and much of the rest of England. Perhaps more importantly it brought coal and building materials into the centre of London at City Road Basin, and other basins and Samuel Plimsoll’s (remembered for his line) coal drops north of King’s Cross.

And like HS2 it came in late (though at the moment it is still doubtful if HS2 will come in at all, and it certainly will never deliver what was promised.)

The canal was first proposed in 1802, but only got Parliamentary approval in 1812, after it had been adopted by the Prince Regent (later George IV) and John Nash as a part of their scheme for redeveloping Regent’s Park.

Like HS2, the canal had its controversies and problems. In 1815 Thomas Homer, who had first proposed the canal and remained in charge with Nash although neither knew anything about building canals, was found to have stolen company funds and was sentenced to transportation (though it appears the sentence was never carried out.) The first length of the canal, from Little Venice to Camden was completed and opened on the birthday of the Prince Regent in August 1816, but there wasn’t enough money to complete the rest.

The government came to the rescue with the Poor Employment Act of 1817, designed to give work to those unemployed after the end of the war against Napoleon, which provided cheap labour so the scheme could continue.

There were technical problems too, particularly with at Hampstead Road, where a hydro-pneumatic boat lift had been built to an innovative design by William Congreve (better known for his military rockets.) Designed to save water, as the canal had problems with water supply, although the design worked when first installed it quickly broke down when handed over to the canal company, possibly because the materials then available for pneumatic seals were not up to prolonged use. There was a lengthy and acrimonious dispute between the inventor and the canal company, who eventually replaced the lift with a two chamber conventional lock as used elsewhere on the canal.

Also like HS2, there were huge cost increases. The canal eventually cost £772,000 which was twice the original estimate.

I’d begun my walk at Camden Road station, walking from there through the Maiden Lane estate and new developments to York Way where I met a colleague with whom I will be having an exhibition in March 2020. My contribution to the joint show will be a set of around a dozen pictures commemorating the canal anniversary. We made our way together along the towpath to Kentish Town Rd, with several stops where she sat down to sketch and I wandered around making photographs. After leaving her I walked on to Cumberland Basin before returning to Camden Road station.

Many more pictures and displayed large on My London Diary at Camden, Kings X & Regent’s Canal


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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Thursday, January 16th, 2020
The Mayor of Camden Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust lays the first wreath at the Hiroshima cherry tree

Back on the 8th of August 1967, that year’s Mayor of Camden Cllr Millie Miller planted a cherry tree in Tavistock Square in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima twenty two years earlier on August 8th 1945. A second bomb was dropped two days later on Nagasaki.

By then Japan had lost the war and surrender could only have been a few days away. There was no pressing military reason to use these monstrous weapons, but they had been under development in the Manhattan Project which began in 1939 but only got into full swing in 1952. The scientists had developed two different types of bomb, a uranium-235 bomb codenamed ‘Little Boy’ and the plutonium based ‘Fat Man’.

Baroness Jenny Jones

The ‘Fat Man’ device, involving an explosion to compact a plutonium sphere to provide the critical mass for an explosion was complex, and it was decided a test was necessary to determine if it would work. This test, the world’s first nuclear explosion, took place on the 16 July 1945 in a remote desert area in New Mexico.

Planning for dropping the two bombs began in serious in November 1943 and was complex. Specially modified aircraft were needed because of the size of the bombs and a special base was built for the missions on a Pacific island. Originally Kyoto had been selected for a target for the first bomb, but the US Secretary of War ruled it out because of its cultural and historic significance and Hiroshima was selected in its place.

Shigeo Kobayashi, Japan Against Nuclear, reads the English translation of today’s speech by the Mayor of Hiroshima at the commemoration there

The Hiroshima bomb was the logical end of years of planning and scientific effort and was needed more to validate that whole process than for any particular military purpose. There was even less reason for the second bomb on Nagasaki given the destruction the first bomb had caused. Over two thirds of Hiroshima’s buildings had been destroyed, almost a third of its population killed immediately and another third injured. More were to die later from radiation.

Nagasaki was not even the intended target for the second bomb; cloud over Kokura saved it from destruction and instead ‘Fat Man’ was dropped on Nagasaki. It was roughly 1.5 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb but hills protected parts of the city and the destruction and death toll were lower with an estimated 35,000–40,000 people killed and 60,000 injured.

Rev Gyoro Nagase, Buddhist monk from the Battersea Peace Pagoda

The commemoration takes place every 6th August in Tavistock Square, with Camden’s Mayor taking part, as well as peace activists. It is the largest of several events in London and I now usually attend and have photographed it a number of times.

Hiroshima Bomb victims remembered


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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.