Posts Tagged ‘Canary Wharf’

An Olympic Bike Ride

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

Businesses later demolished at the heart of the site for London’s 2012 Olympics

An Olympic Bike Ride: At the end of 2002 I finally bought a Brompton, a rather expensive folding bicycle which then cost me around £600. Perhaps not a lot for a new bike then and certainly not now, but rather more than the £13-7s6d or so the other bike I was still riding had cost in 1958.

Clays Lane Housing Co-operative – demolished for the Olympics

I’d been thinking about it for years, and it would certainly have been very useful for the work that I’d been doing around outer London in the previous decade, but I’ve only used it infrequently for my photography.

Eastway Cycle Circuit – lost to the Olympics

Though it’s a great way to get to places, taking it by train or underground and riding from a convenient station, Bromptons are a powerful magnet for bike thieves, so easy to put in a car boot or van, and selling at a relatively high price. It isn’t safe to lock them anywhere in public view when even the best cycle lock can only detain the well-equipped thief for around 30 seconds.

Bully Fen Wood – Community Woodland lost to the Olympics

So rather than using it for my general photography – mainly of protests and other events – I’ve used it for cycle rides on which I’ve taken photographs, both around where I live – it’s easier to jump on and off than my full-size bike – and in and around London.

Factory on Waterden Road – demolished for the Olympics

Thursday 4th January 2007 was a nice winter’s day, not too cold and blue skies with just a few clouds, and I went with the Brompton to Waterloo and then on the Jubilee Line to Stratford. Preparations had begun for the 2012 London Olympics and I wanted to see and photograph what I could of the changes that were taking place.

The footbridge has been kept in the new Olympic Park

My account of the day on My London Diary begins with my tongue-in-cheek suggestion that it would have been much preferable on environmental ground to shut down Heathrow and use that as the Olympic site, but goes on to describe a conversation I had with one of the residents at Clays Lane, then about to be demolished (spelling etc corrected.)

‘he talked of living in a fascist state, with lack of consultation and individual powerlessness, and of the games as having always had a militaristic overtone. hardly surprising there is little support for the games here, as initial promises that people from the Clays Lane Housing Co-operative would be rehoused in conditions “as good as, if not better than” their present estate were soon changed to “at least as good as in so far as is reasonably practicable.”‘

My London Diary

Work on the site seen from the Greenway

From Clays Lane I moved to the Eastway Cycle Track, already closed and fenced off – I decided against going through a gap in the fence to ride around it. The Community Woodland at Bully Fen Wood was also already closed. and I cycled on around the roads at the north of the site to Hackney Wick.

Pudding Mill River and Marshgate Lane – all now gone

Along Waterden Road I photographed some of the other industrial sites that were to be lost to the games, then turned along Carpenters Road and into Marshgate Lane, all soon to be fenced off and everthing on them destroyed. After taking pictures around Marshgate Lane I went back and into Hackney Wick, photographing the Kings Yard workshops on Carpenters Road soon to be demolished on my way.

Kings Yard – demolished for the Olympics

Hackney Wick to the west of the Lea Navigation is largely outside the Olympic compulsory purchase area, but some large areas of industry were scheduled for demolition and I took more pictures. I found the towpath here beside the navigation still open and rode down it to Stratford High Street, where more industry to the north of the road is also going.

Canary Wharf from Stratford Marsh

I spent some time going up the roads and paths here going from the High Street into Stratford Marsh which were still open, then went east along the top of the outfall sewer past areas also covered by the Olympic CPO.

St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers – factories at left and right to be demolished

There was still a little light and I came down from the ‘Greenway’ and cycled down to Bow Creek from West Ham, going down the path on the west side of the creek to the Lower Lea Crossing. I wanted a picture showing the Pura Foods site then being demolished, but also made a number of other twilight pictures from this elevated viewpoint, and also some from the Silvertown Way viaduct as I made my way to Canning Town Station for the train home.

Pura Foods being demolished for London City Island development

Many more pictures from this ride on My London Diary, starting a little way down the January 2007 page.

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West India Docks 1988 (2)

Saturday, November 13th, 2021

SS Robin, South Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-44-positive_2400
SS Robin, South Dock, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-44

SS Robin is a 350 gross ton steam coaster built by Mackenzie, MacAlpine & Co at their Orchard House Yard in Bow Creek in 1890 and the only complete Victorian steam ship in existence. She still has the original steam engine fitted in Dundee by Gourlay Brothers & Co.

In 1900 she was renamed Maria and spent the next 74 years working around Spain for several Spanish owners, and in 1966 some extensive alterations were made. When about to be scrapped in 1974 she was bought by the Maritime Trust, her original name restored and treated to an extensive restoration in Rochester before coming to St Katharine’s Docks in London and opened to the public as a part of their Historic Ships Collection. After this closed in 1986, along with several other vessels from the collection Robin was laid up here in the West India Docks. You can see the stern of the Yarmouth Steam Drifter Lydia Eva at the right.

In 2000 Robin was sold for £1 and later the SS Robin Trust was set up to restore the vessel, an expensive and lengthy process and eventually it was decided necessary to put the vessel on a pontoon. The SS Robin museum, theatre and educational centre is now in the Royal Victoria Dock.

DLR, BT, Quay House, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 198888-6b-45-positive_2400
DLR, BT, Quay House, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-45

Quay House, a three storey office block built in 1986-7 was occupied by BT. Empty for some years, planning permission was obtained in 2020 for the 40-storey Quay House waterfront development including a 400-bedroom hotel and 279 serviced apartments alongside dockside leisure facilities.

South Dock, Heron Quays, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-6b-46-positive_2400
South Dock, Heron Quays, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-46

The Survey of London describes these low rise buildings as “high-tech ‘cabins’ or ‘Swiss chalets’, with light steel structures, covered with red, purple and blue-grey vitreous enamel panels, while the monopitch roofs are clad in aluminium” and says they were part of a large scheme for the area begun in 1981 and built in 1984-9.

I think this is now the site of 1 Bank Street, a 28 floor office block completed in 2019.

BT, South Dock, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-6b-31-positive_2400
BT, South Dock, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-31

The front of the BT Business Centre on South Dock.

DLR, South Dock, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-6b-32-positive_2400
DLR, South Dock, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-32

Taken from more or less the same place as the previous picture and that below, this is where the DLR crosses the South Dock of the West India Docks, looking towards Heron Quays station. It shows how little development there was here in 1988.

DLR, BT, South Dock, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-33-positive_2400
DLR, BT, South Dock, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-33

Looking back at the curve of the DLR around Quay house towards Marsh Wall.

London River Man, John W Mills, sculpture, Ensign House, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-35-positive_2400
London River Man, John W Mills, sculpture, Ensign House, Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-35

London River ManJohn W Mills ARCA FRBS 1987. This sculpture salutes all London river workers – toshers – bargees – dockers – ale tasters – coalheavers – ferrymen” and is rather hidden now on Marsh Wall. It is rather less than lifesize. John Mills (b1933) is better known for his Whitehall memorial to the women of World War II.

Admirals Way,  South Dock,  South Quay, Tower Hamlets 88-6b-36-positive_2400
Admirals Way, South Dock, South Quay, Tower Hamlets 88-6b-36

This is Waterside, where these buildings, described as small-business apartments were built in 1985-6. They are still there, looking much the same, though probably for not much longer.

BT,  Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-6b-21-positive_2400
BT, Admirals Way, South Quay, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-6b-21

A final picture of the British Telecom Business Centre – and what was presumably its main entrance.

More from around the West India Docks in a later post. Click on any of the pictures to see larger versions of any of them in the album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse other images.

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

London 22nd October 2014

Friday, October 22nd, 2021


The Independent Living Fund enabled many disabled people to continue to live with dignity and to work making a positive contribution to society and the government decision to close it led to many protests and to legal actions to try and stop it under the Equality Act.

Although a court ruled that the minister concerned had acted illegally, all it required was that the new minister reconsidered the plans. He did so, and decided to go ahead, though with a three month delay. And a judge ruled in December 2014 that although in axing the ILF he knew that the closure would mean many disabled people would lose their ability to live independently in the community his decision was legal.

The decision to end ILF was clearly wrong, clearly immoral, but so long as the legal niceties were observed the government was able to go ahead with it, and our law gave no protection.

The vigil outside the court while the case was being heard attracted wide support, including from Inclusion London, Norfolk and Suffolk DPAC local DPACs, the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Transport for All, Winvisable, PCS Union, the TUC, and other organisations,and there was even a simultaneous vigil in Toronto, Canada. Three MPs, John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Jeremy Corbyn, came to give their support, and there were speeches by campaigners including Paula Peters and Andy Greene, with John Kelly singing.

As expected the vigil ended with a short direct action by DPAC and others, briefly blocking the Strand outside the law courts.

Free Shaker Aamer

This was one of a long series of regular vigils opposite Parliament for Shaker Aamer, an innocent charity worker arrested by bandits and handed over to US forces who have imprisoned and tortured him for over 12 years. He was cleared for release in 2007 but remained in Guantanamo with our government failing to press for his release because his testimony could embarrass MI6 as well as the US.

London Panoramas

I had time before another protest to visit an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands and on the journey to pause and make some panoramic images.

Probably the most interesting were inside Westminster station, where “the beams and buttresses, designed by Hopkins Architects and completed in 1999 for the opening of the Jubilee Line are also the foundations of the block of parliamentary offices above the station, Portcullis House, and were deliberately Piranesian, though sometimes I get more of the feeling of Escher as you seem to walk endlessly up escalators and around the interior.”

Democracy Camp – Poet Arrested

I returned to Parliament Square where the Democracy Camp was still holding workshops, though police and the GLA ‘heritage wardens’ had fenced off the main grass area.

Danny, one of the protesters had been sitting on the plinth next to the statue of Churchill since the previous afternoon and poet Martin Powell arrived with a pot of food for him, which he tossed up to him, going straight into his hands, despite police warning him he could be arrested.

How can feeding the hungry be a crime?” he asked and he was arrested and led away in handcuffs around two sides of Parliament Squareperforming his poem ‘The Missing Peace’. I left while Danny was still on the plinth, though later that evening police finally found a ladder and brought him down after over 26 hours.

Musical Poor Doors

It was Class War’s 14th weekly protest at the ‘rich door’ of Redrow’s One Commercial St flats and it was a lively affair, with the banners dancing to the music of Rhythms of Resistance, a poetic performance and some rousing speeches against social apartheid.

There were a lot of police present and some stood in front of the door and ushered a few people in and out but made no attempt to stop the hour long protest, which though noisy remained entirely peaceful. Some of the police clearly enjoyed the music and watching the dancing.

More at:
Musical Poor Doors
Democracy Camp – Poet Arrested
Canary Wharf & Westminster Tube
End UK shame over Shaker Aamer
DPAC High Court Vigil for ILF

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

Photography Workshop 9th May 2004

Sunday, May 9th, 2021

I hope those who came with me on the workshop I led around a part of London’s Dockland 17 years ago found it stimulating. For me it was a familiar walk, but I think most of the others were seeing the area for the first time. One of the instructions for the workshop some will have found difficult was not to bring a tripod, as these were and are red rags to the security staff who closely patrol the Canary Wharf estate. We had no problems with security on this workshop, though I have had confrontations on other occasions – including being once escorted off the estate.

I think I had been asked to run the workshop for London Independent Photography, though I’m not sure. On My London Diary I put a short text about the event and some pictures that I made during it. I’ve corrected the spelling and capitalisation of the original, otherwise it is exactly as written, probably deliberately in part ungrammatically.

May 9 found me taking a group of photographers for a walk around some parts of London’s docklands. we started at the centre of this ‘crime of the century’. I still don’t quite understand why a Conservative government felt so at odds with the City of London that it decided to set up offshore competition in the Enterprise Zone.

The feeding frenzy that ensued, trousering public property and tax breaks into the private pocket at an unprecedented rate.

The long-term consequence has been a distorted development with few real buildings of distinction but some expensively finished tat, and a lack of overall planning. I’m not sure that London would benefit from gaining the Olympics for which it is currently bidding, but if it fails, probably part of the reason will be the docklands debacle.

We started below the obscene gesture towards the old city, at least clear about its symbolism, then took the DLR down to Crossharbour with its silly bridge, walking back to the wharf and taking the Jubilee to Canning Town. then back alongside the Lea (still waiting for that riverside walkway) to East India Dock Basin and along by the Thames, where a galleon appeared in front of the dome.

My London Diary – May 2004

Docklands has continued to change since 2004, but it remains a largely lost opportunity to develop what had become the redundant area for the benefit of the people as a whole rather than to enrich a few.

Back in 2004 I was still working with my first DSLR, the Nikon D100 for which had recently bought the Sigma 12-24mm lens and on this DX format camera this gave effective focal lengths of 18-36mm. The smaller format also avoids the weaker corners of this extreme wide-angle zoom (I think the first of its type) and within the smaller field it was remarkably distortion-free. There are a few more pictures on My London Diary – including that galleon – some rendered rather dully by the RAW software of the time – I’ve improved the rendering of those included in this post.

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.

More from May Days: 2007

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

A fairly random selection of pictures I like from my coverage of May Day events in London in 2007.

Unusually my photographic day began in Whitehall where a small group of what I described as “the more eccentric elements of middle england” had gathered with a horse-drawn hearse and a dragon to take a coffin draped in a St George’s flag to Downing St, celebrating 300 years of union with Scotland by asking for English devolution. On My London Diary I wrote (and all in lower case):

i never did find out what the barnett formula they were against was, but i’m sure that these were people in favour of warm beer, cricket and morris dancing as well as good manners. st george didn’t look like the type to scare dragons (and the dragon wasn’t either scary or easy to photograph.)

but i’ve never really thought of myself as being very english. like most of the english, most of my family came from somewhere else at some time or other. i only knew one of my four grandparents and i’m not convinced she spoke english, but then she didn’t say much either.

apart from my lack of sporting skills i could have qualified for at least two of our national sides (so perhaps after all i could have played cricket for wales.) if i ever think of myself know as having any kind of cultural identity now (and it’s a very un-english thought) it would be as a londoner. maybe

From there I made my way to Clerkenwell for the annual London May Day march, dominated as usual by large groups from London’s ethnic communities.

Also on the march were trade unionists with their banners and campaigning groups such as ‘Stop The War’. Among other groups you can see in my pictures are Chagos Islanders and Gate Gourmet strikers who were protesting at being betrayed by their union, the T&G W U.

The marchers went on as usual to Trafalgar Square where a man stood with a whistle and a sign to welcome them.

I went on to Canary Wharf, where the Space Hijackers, outnumbered around ten to one by police, were holding their ‘Booted and Suited’ party in Reuters Square

And the day ended with a little police sadism:

A police officer applies a dangerous ‘pain compliance’ hold cutting blood supply to the brain of a man who wasn’t resisting arrest, while another officer forces his hand up behind his back. The man was then put in a police van and driven away. He had apparently ignored a police order to move on.

The whole of the Canary Wharf area is one of those increasing parts of the city which are private fiefdoms, with the public only allowed access to serve the needs of capital as workers or consumers. It has its own security service, but on this occasion only their boss, wearing a suit, was in evidence, coming to talk with protesters and police. It dresses its security officers in uniforms which closely resemble those of police officers, in a way that seems to be an offence under the Police Act 1996. Having invited several hundred police officers to the event I imagine they had decided having the security officers there would be too confusing.

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.

Canary Wharf

Friday, October 4th, 2019

I was going to the opening of an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands that evening and since it was a nice afternoon decided to leave early and take a walk around Canary Wharf on my way there. And again when I left I took a few pictures on my way to the station.

It’s quite a while since I’ve seriously gone there to take photographs, though occasionally I’ve walked through parts of it on my way elsewhere, taking the Jubilee Line from Waterloo and walking to nearby places or changing to the DLR.

I hadn’t seriously intended to take photographs, but I did have a camera with me, though only the Olympus OMD E5II with a tiny 17mm f2.8 pancake lens – a 34mm equivalent. I’d recently got this secondhand (it seemed so cheap I couldn’t pass it by) and was interested to see how well it performed. It makes the camera almost pocketable.

I read a review which promised high levels of chromatic aberration and barrel distortion, and thought that these would probably not be important for most of my photography. But trying them out at Canary Wharf they might be a problem.

Of course they were not, as you can see from some of these pictures (and the others on My London Diary in the post Canary Wharf. Both are lens faults which software can handle well, and it is hard to find much evidence of either in the results. If I open the RAW files in Photoshop, clicking the ‘Lens Correction’ icon in the Camera Raw dialogue tells me “This raw file contains a built-in lens profile for correcting distortion and chromatic aberration. The profile has already been applied automatically to this image”.

But then I looked at the RAW files, and they seemed fine too, with no hint of barrel distortion and the same small amount of colour fringing, not normally noticeable. I think my viewer software will actually be looking not a the raw data but at a jpeg incorporated into the RAW file, which I think means that any correction needed has been done in the camera. A few clicks on the web and I find that Micro-4/3 images are auto-corrected according to the stored lens profile (lens firmware) and a review on Optical Limits which shows the effect. As they say, barrel distortion “is only rarely noticeable in field conditions.”

The reviews also say the lens isn’t that sharp, at least when viewing large prints, but even examining these pictures at 1:1 on screen the sharpness in both centre and corners seems acceptable. There may be some uses for which it isn’t sharp enough, but I think it’s good enough for most of us. If anything it is the actual file size of the camera (4608×3456 pixels with the EM5II) that will be a problem for really large prints, not the lens.

Canary Wharf

Wapping & the Thames

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

I arrived early for a private celebration of May Day with friends in a Wapping pub and took a short walk along the High St and riverside path, where I sat and ate my lunch sandwiches.

I’d made photographs here in the 1980s, and there were one or two that I’d hoped I would be able to fix the locations more precisely. It wasn’t easy as vitually everything between Wapping High Street and the river has been rebuilt with expensive riverside flats. New Crane Wharf (above) was still recognisable as here the old buildings had been converted.

The Thames sweeps around to the south to go around the Isle of Dogs, and from Wapping you can see Canary Wharf to the North of the River and the gasholder in Rotherhithe to the south – and both appear in photographs to be across the river.

You also see rather too much very pedestrian riverside architecture like the flats above. So little new building on the river bank has any architectural merit, all about maximising profit within the planning restrictions. It’s such a shame that the LDDC didn’t have higher aspirations for its control of the redevelopment of docklands.

Relatively little of the old riverside survives here, and Tunnel Mills and the other buildings at Rotherhithe are one very welcome exception. There are parts of the north bank too where some of the better warehouses have been saved, converted into expensive flats.

It was good also to be able to walk out onto Tunnel Pier, where I met two old friends also taking advantage of the opportunity.

And though the Captain Kidd pub to the left of Phoenix Wharf is relatively modern, dating from the 1880s, like many Sam Smith’s pubs it is a sensitive conversion of an old building, Sun Wharf, which along with Swan Wharf (now renamed Phoenix Wharf) and St John’s F & G Wharf at left were owned or leased by W H J Alexander and Company, who as well as wharfingers dealing in a wide range of goods including coffee, dried fruit, gum and bales of Australian wool, also used these premises to repair their tugs. Swan Wharf I think is the oldest of these buildings, dating from the 1840s and possibly designed by Sidney Smirke.

More pictures at Wapping and the Thames .

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.

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