Posts Tagged ‘Canary Wharf’

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s – 2004

Thursday, June 13th, 2024

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s: Twenty years ago on Sunday 13th June 2004 I had a day out in London, beginning with a walk beside the Thames at Greenwich, then coming to Westminster for a bike festival in Trafalgar Square and then a rather peaceful ‘War in the West End’ in Leicester Square. You can find what I wrote then about all these a little way down the June 2004 page of My London Diary.


Greenwich to North Greenwich Walk

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s

I’d decided to get up early on Sunday and take a walk by the River Thames in Greenwich. Unfortunately engineering work meant no trains were running there so I had rather a long bus journey from Waterloo to get there. At least there was little traffic to hold the bus up.

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s

I began with a walk around the grounds of the former Royal Naval College, now Greenwich University before taking the path past the power station and along Ballast Quay an on.

Greenwich, Bikefest and the 1940s

The path was open to North Greenwich and I made my way along it. Some of the pictures I made are now difficult to locate as this whole riverside is getting replaced by blocks of flats.

I didn’t put many images on line in 2004, as most viewers were still on slow internet connections. Further on towards North Greenwich there is still – at least the last time I walked along here a couple of years ago – an aggregate wharf with huge piles of sand and gravel on the landward side.

One of the huge gasholders at Greenwich was still standing in 2004, since demolished, and across the river Canary Wharf tower for long the only tower on the site was now almost hidden by others sprouting around it.

Eventually I could see the Millennium Dome looming above the sand and gravel which I felt “perhaps looks more at home in this almost lunar landscape” and I knew I was not far from North Greenwich station where I could catch the tube to Westminster.

More pictures on My London Diary.


Bikefest – Trafalgar Square

Bikefest was the first bicycle festival in Trafalgar Square, but I was surprised to find that bicycles were not allowed on the square. Though perhaps they would have got in the way, but it would have been nice at least to have had some temporary secure bike parking.

Except of course those taking part officially in the event including Team Extreme performing on the half-pipe and some great cycle powered musical systems such as Rinky-Dink.

But I had agreed to meet one of my sons there and he managed to smuggle his unicycle in to the event. But by the time I found him he had already been hassled by the heritage wardens (who I described as ‘Ken’s SS’) but he still decided to have a go at riding in the fountains where he could not possibly be endangering the public.

But he had hardly got going when he was ordered out and made to leave the area, though he did so riding the unicycle after a few quick bounces to shake off the water.

I went back to watching Team Extreme and taking a few more pictures, although I found it hard to convey quite how extreme they were, before leaving to join the Second World War in Leicester Square.

More pictures begin here on My London Diary.


West End at War, Leicester Square

Westminster Council had organised a festival turning Leicester Square into 1940’s London for the weekend, going back 60 years to 1944.

Although 60 years ago bombs were still falling on Westminster and rationing made life difficult (though for the wealthy – and there were plenty in Westminster – the black market was flourishing) the West End was full of servicemen on leave and many servicewomen determined to have fun, “letting their hair down” in cinemas, on dance floors, in clubs, pubs and hotels.

I found the scene in the square rather sad, although obviously a lot of effort had been put into the displays and performances and there were a few 1940s dressed re-enactors among the crowds in modern dress.

60 Years earlier Allied troops had landed in France on D-Day to fight to reclaim Europe, but the previous Thursday we had seen a large vote here in the European Parliament election rejecting it with both Conservative and Labour votes well down and the Lib-Dems coming in 4th place behind the UK Independence Party.

Things of course got worse in 2016, when the leave vote gained a small majority over those wishing to remain. Although the vote was not binding, stupidly Tory Prime Minister David Cameron had promised to abide by it – rather than more sensibly pointing out that a major constitutional change such as this should require a substantial majority rather than a momentary electoral whim – as would surely have been the case if we had a written constitution. And for once a politician kept his promise.

The latest opinion poll (May 1st 2024) has 55% saying we were wrong to leave against 31% thinking we were right with 13% of Don’t Knows.


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Canary Wharf, East India, Silvertown, Beckton & Woolwich

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

Canary Wharf, East India, Silvertown, Beckton & Woolwich: I was back in London’s docklands on 16th May 2004, a week after I had led a small workshop there, this time on my own, and rather than walking I had gone with my Brompton folding bike.

Canary Wharf, East India, Silvertown, Beckton & Woolwich

The Brompton is an ideal way to cover larger distances when taking photographs. It can be folded to go on public transport and is very easy to get on and off and park in little or no space. It folds and unfolds in seconds. It’s a lively ride with a short wheelbase and good for riding in traffic, though for longer rides I prefer my road bike.

Canary Wharf, East India, Silvertown, Beckton & Woolwich

The Brompton has some minor problems. They are not cheap – which delayed me buying one for years. It’s not built for off-road use and mine has mudguards that can clog and stop the wheel turning on muddy ground. And now I’m a bit older it is just a little heavy to carry for any distance in stations. But my main problem is that it is a thief magnet, dangerous to leave anywhere for any length of time even if you have a good lock. No bike lock can defy the well-equipped thief for more than around half a minute and it slips easily into a car boot and fetches a good price.

Canary Wharf, East India, Silvertown, Beckton & Woolwich


I’d hoped to get the Jubilee Line to Canning Town, but trains were only running as far as North Greenwich, so instead I got off at Canary Wharf before the train went under the Thames again. It was no problem as I had the bike.

Canary Wharf, East India, Silvertown, Beckton & Woolwich

I took a few pictures around Canary Wharf, then rode off to the east past Blackwall Basin and on to the East India Docks probably the most boring of all the redeveloped docks.

From there I went up on the Lower Lea Crossing, taking pictures of Pura Foods to the north and the view south across Trinity Buoy Wharf and the Thames towards the Millenium Dome.

I photographed the Dome again from Silvertown Way, as well as the works taking place for the DLR extension to London City Airport.

A big advantage of being on a bike is that you can wander around, and I went down to the Royal Victoria Dock, then back to Silvertown Way and Lyle Park, then back to Victoria Dock again.

I couldn’t resist going onto the high level bridge across the dock, though the lift wasn’t working and I was cursing the weight of the bike and cameras by the time I reached the top of the stairs.

Eventually after making rather a large number of pictures I forced myself to come down and continued my ride along the North Woolwich Road to the futuristic Barrier Point, its west front like some space city.

In Thames Barrier Park I went down to the riverside to photograph the barrier before continuing on to Silvertown, stopping a few times for more pictures. Near North Woolwich I sloweed to photograph two boys on a scooter being towed by a woman on a bicycle. I stopped take more pictures but later I met them in North Woolwich and they told me she had soon given up.

I took some more pictures in North Woolwich and then rode on to Beckton Retail Park, then turned around and went down Woolwich Manor Way across the Royal Albert and King George Docks.

Back in 2004 flights from London City Airport were fairly infrequent and I had quite a long rest waiting to photograph a plane going overhead.

I rode on to North Woolwich ferry pier where I had a wait for the ferry and took some more pictures. In 2004 I wrote that the Woolwich Ferry is “London’s best-value river trip. I wonder how much longer this free ferry will operate?” It was upgraded in 2018 with new, modern, low-emission boats which proved rather a disaster. Services had been severely reduced, working with only one of the two new boats.

But Transport for London a week ago in May 2024 restored the two-boat service and expanded operating hours. They say the service will continue as long as there is demand. A short ride took me to Woolwich Arsenal Station where I folded the Brompton for the journey home.


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Canary Wharf Workshop 2004

Thursday, May 9th, 2024

Canary Wharf Workshop – On Sunday May 9th 2004 I led a small workshop group of photographers on a walk which started at Canary Wharf and then went to Canning Town and the River Thames. Although photography is theoretically banned on the Canary Wharf estate we had no problems with security, probably because we kept to obviously public areas and I had asked those taking part not to use tripods.

Canary Wharf Workshop

I was never a fan of the redevelopment of London’s docklands under Michael Heseltine and the London Docklands Development Corporation set up in 1981. Of course development was needed after the docks became redundant, but we should have seen a development that was made for the interests of the population of London, not simply for the mates of the Tory Party.

Canary Wharf Workshop

The area needed some kind of overall planning authority, but one that worked with the local authorities in the area rather than against them, ignoring their priorities.

Canary Wharf Workshop

Of course there were gains from the work of the LDDC, perhaps the main ones being the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line Extension to Stratford. Certainly by the time it was wound up in 1990 it had changed the whole area significantly. But many of those changes had sacrificed local needs to business profits.

Canary Wharf Workshop

The piece that I wrote about the day reflected my political views about what had taken place. A year or so later London won the bidding for the Olympics, leading to yet more development in the area by an authority that disregarded local needs and led to inappropriate development, still proceeding, in East London. I’ll reproduce what I wrote in 2004 here, with minor corrections, particularly to capitalisation and spelling.

May 9th 2004 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 was inevitable.

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 Lee (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.

The River Lee is here better known in its tidal section as Bow Creek, and we are still waiting for parts of that riverside walk to be opened if they ever will be. There was a competition for a new bridge across Bow Creek with a wining design named, but money disappeared and it was never built. But a few years ago we did get a different new bridge higher up by Canning Town station and the development of the industrial site of Pura Foods as London City Island.

A few more of my pictures from the walk on My London Diary


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

Saturday, June 24th, 2023

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs: Tuesday June 24th 2014 was a nice Summer day in London. Not too hot, with a maximum in the low twenties, and with a blue sky tempered by some nice clouds and just a few light showers to cool me down. For me it was an ideal day for a bike ride and also for making some panoramic images.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

It was a while since I’d been to the Isle of Dogs, and there had been quite a few changes around there in recent years, so after an early lunch I put my folding bike on the train and made my way to Limehouse.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

It wasn’t really a bike ride, more just using the bike to carry me and my camera around the area, stopping on my way to make well over two hundred panoramic images in the roughly two and a half hours it took me to get to Island Gardens, opposite Greenwich for the train home. Later I worked on these images, selecting around 90 to put on-line – a higher than usual proportion. But I do rather more thinking about panoramic images and they require rather more care, particularly to get the camera absolutely level to keep the horizon straight.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

I posted them in two groups, Limehouse pans and Millwall – Isle of Dogs pans. All the images were converted using the PT Gui software implementation of the Vedutismo perspective (also called Panini) made popular by Canaletto and other Italian cityscape painters in the 18th century which allows a more realistic representation of extreme angles of view – something like 147 degrees horizontally in these images. These would be impossibly stretched towards the edges in a normal rectilinear view, which only works up to around 90 degrees.

Cycling Around the Isle of Dogs

You can see any of these images larger on the links given to My London Diary at the end of this post, or by right-clicking on any of them and selecting to view them. Rather than write more about the ride here, I’ll quote from one of the posts there:

When I first walked these streets there was virtually no access to the riverside, with wharf after wharf between Westferry Rd and the river until you came to the park (Sir John McDougall Gardens.) A footbridge led from the Barkantine estate – built to replace a heavily bombed area of densely-packed small houses. South of this you again walked along the busy street until there were a few empty wharves around the south of the Isle of Dogs.

Now you can walk mainly along the riverside, with only one working area blocking the path. But there are several other places where you have to divert, including one wall dividing social housing from its wealthy neighbours. There was also a temporary diversion in one area, though it wasn’t clear why.

Further on are fine views across the river to Greenwich, along with further diversions from the riverside, where several earlier developments did not include riverside walks.

My London Diary

The Thames is too wide here for a panorama to work well without some foreground interest, or cropped to a very narrow strip. At the end of the ride, I did make a few pictures from Island Gardens across the river with a rather longer lens. These are in a separate post, also linked below.

Limehouse pans
Millwall – Isle of Dogs pans
Greenwich from the Isle of Dogs


King’s Cross, Victoria Dock, Excel Arms Fair

Saturday, November 26th, 2022

2005 seems a long time ago now, but some of the same names are still often in the news. At a rally at King’s Cross station about fire safety remembering the victims of the disastrous fire in the Underground station there in 1987 that killed 31 people there were speeches from trade unionists and politicians including MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn.

King's Cross, Victoria Dock, Excel Arms Fair

RMT leader Bob Crow died in 2014 but since 2021 RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has been very much in our minds recently – and like Crow putting the case for his members and the working classes effectively to the mass media, challenging the silly class-based observations of many reporters and interviewers and making clear the facts about the rail dispute.

King's Cross, Victoria Dock, Excel Arms Fair
John McDonnell

Trains were very much in my mind at the start of Saturday 26th November 2005, not because of strikes but because of the problems of our privatised rail system which led to me arriving in London half an hour later than anticipated. Privatisation only really made any sense when it could introduce real competition and that was never possible for the railways – and only by introducing an expensive and wasteful middle layer of companies for utilities such as gas, electricity and water. In all these sectors the results have been inefficienies, high prices and large profits at the expense of customers and taxpayers for the largely foreign companies who bought our ‘national silver’.


Kings Cross – never again! – 26th November 2005

King's Cross, Victoria Dock, Excel Arms Fair

So I arrived late, running up the escalators at King’s Cross and remembering the stories of those who had been caught up there in the terrible fire, thinking how hard it would be to find the way out in smoke-filled darkness. Even with good lighting and reasonably clear signage it’s sometimes difficult to take the correct route.

Outside I photographed the joint trade union protest in memory of the fire, made more urgent by the plans of the management to change safety rules which protect workers and public using the system in order to cut costs. As well as those mentioned earlier, there were also speakers from ASLEF, the Fire Brigades Union and others.

On the https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/museum/history-and-stories/historical-fires-and-incidents/the-kings-cross-fire-1987/ 18th November 1987 a fire started when a lit match was dropped on an escalator around the end of the evening rush hour, falling through a gap and setting fire to litter and grease beneath. The small fire this started quickly spread, engulfing the escalator. People were told to leave the station by an alternative escalator and trains were told not to stop at the station.

Then at exactly 7.45pm while the ticket hall was still crowded a fireball suddenly erupted from the escalator into the ticket hall, followed by dense black smoke which made it impossible to see the exits. The heat was intense, melting plastic wall and ceiling tiles which added to the blaze. It took two and a quarter hours to get the fire under control, and a further five hours to put it out completely. 31 people died in the fire including a senior fire officer who was in the ticket hall telling people to get out when the fireball burst in.

Government and management justify cutting safety as “getting rid of red tape” and simplifying procedures and 12 years after this protest we saw the terrifying consequences of their approach to safety at Grenfell Tower.

The inquiry into the fire established a previously unknown mechanism by which the fire had spread so rapidly and also found that an over-complacent management had not had sufficient concern for the dangers of fires underground. New regulations were introduced, smoking was banned and a programme of replacing wooden escalators begun (though it was only in 2014 that the last was taken out of service.) Heat detectors and sprinkler systems were installed and better communications systems, improvements in passenger flow and staff training meant that almost all of the reports recommendations were put into practice.

Things changed in later years as Government and management justified cutting safety as “getting rid of red tape” and simplifying procedures and 12 years after this protest we saw the terrifying consequences of their approach to safety at Grenfell Tower. Had the reports and the coroners recommendations following the Lakanal House fire in 2009 been implemented and the lessons learnt, the fire at Grenfell would have been a minor incident, confined to the flat inside which it started. There would have been no deaths and we would never have heard about it on the news.

Poppies and leaves in Whitehall

Workers and their unions saw clearly the dangers of this change in attitudes to safety in this 2005 protest.

more pictures


Excel and Victoria Dock – 26th November 2005

I’d hoped to go from the safety protest at King’s Cross to a lecture at the ICA, but my work finished too late, and instead deciding first to go to Whitehall where I had expected to find another protest. There were still quite a few poppies from the Remembrance Sunday event, but I found nothing else to photograph in the area.

I decided the weather would be fine to take a trip to the Royal Victoria Dock and take some more photographs around there. It was a fairly quick journey now thanks to the Jubilee Line from Westminster to Canning Town and then a couple of stops on the DLR.

I got off at Custom House and walked past the entrance to the Excel Centre, making my way to the high level bridge across the dock, which had been closed on an earlier visit but was open now. And the lift was working.

I took rather a lot of pictures both on the dockside and from the bridge which has some interesting views of the buildings around the dock and further afield, including the Millennium Dome on the other side of the Thames, Canary Wharf and the London skyline in the far distance.

I took pictures with the full range of the lenses in my camera bag, from the 8mm fisheye to the a not very impressive telephoto zoom, which I think stretched to 125mm, equivalent on the DX camera I was then using to 187mm, which give a some quite different angles of view. I would now process these rather differently, partly because RAW software has improved significantly since 2005, but also because my own preferences have changed. Most of those fisheye images I would probably now partially ‘defish’ to render the verticals straight.

The camera I was using them, a Nikon D70 also now seems rather primitive, particularly as its images are only 6Mp and only offering a ISO 200 – 1600 range. But it did the job well, and the only real improvements in later models – unless you really want to make very large prints – were in the viewfinders. The D70 viewfinder was usable (and much better than the D100 which it replaced) but still not as good as those on film cameras.

Towards the end of the time I spent there, the sky turned orange, though perhaps the photographs slightly exaggerate the colour.

more pictures


East London Against the Arms Trade – Musical Protest, Excel Centre, 26 Nov 2005

I’d photographed more or less everything I could see and was beginning to make my way back to the DLR station when “I heard the brassy notes of the red flag, and made my way towards them.”

Musicians from ‘East London Against the Arms Fair’ were treating visitors to the Excel centre to a musical welcome. They were calling for Excel to stop hosting the DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fairs which attract visitors from around the world, including many repressive regimes to come to London and see and buy arms.

London’s then Mayor, Ken Livingstone had spoken against having the arms fair in London as have the nearby London boroughs, and local residents had voted 79% against them, but the arms fairs continue every other year – with several days of protest against them.

One had taken place here in October, and the musical protest was calling for those already booked for 2007, 2009 and 2011 to be dropped. But their protest fell on deaf ears so fast as Excel’s owners were concerned and they continue, supported by the government, to be held there.

more pictures


As well as seeing more pictures on the links in this post you can also see the accounts I wrote back in 2005 by scrolling down the November 2005 page of My London Diary. You can see photographs of further protests against the DSEI arms fair by putting the four letters DSEI into the search on the front page of My London Diary.


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.


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.


London 22nd October 2014

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

ILF

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


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

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm

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.