Posts Tagged ‘Canning Town’

Fire Risk Tower Blocks

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

Newham 12 August 2017

Ferrier Point, Canning Town

In the now over four years since the disastrous Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 there has been little change and no reckoning, with a tediously slow inquiry taking place that began by shifting blame unfairly onto the firefighters but is at last making clear some of the deliberate failures by local government, manufacturers and installers of the fatal cladding and others with a complete disregard for the safety of those living in the tower.

Cladding was not of course the only issue, and there were many other failings that led to the terrible loss of life. Most basic was the attitude of governments of both parties towards health and safety issues, describing essential safety regulations as “red tape” and dismantling what were essential checks to increase the profitability of builders and developers and reduce the liabilities of building owners. It was a system that needed reforming and strengthening, perhaps learning from practice in other countries to provide effective control and not abandoning to commercial whim.

Most of what has emerged in the inquiry only reinforces what was already made clear from informed reports – such as that by Architects for Social Housing – within weeks of the fire, adding truly shameful detail to the broader outline. It surely should have come out in courts within months of the fire and some of those responsible might well be behind bars and companies charged with massive fines, and the main point of the inquiry seems to be to prevent the course of justice.

A resident of Tanner Point speaking

Local authorities and building owners have been forced to inspect their high-rise properties, and the government has provided at lest some of the money it promised to replace unsafe cladding in the public sector. But little has been done for those living in private blocks who are still living in fear and now pay increased charges for extra fire safety provisions. A parliamentary briefing paper estimates the total cost of replacement of unsafe cladding at around £15m, and so far government has come up with a third of that. Government policy has changed from the initial promise to fund “remediation of historical safety defects, to a suggestion that leaseholders should be protected from unaffordable costs” and even the provision for a low interest scheme to ensure they would not pay more than £50 a month has failed to materialise despite the promise in the current Building Safety Bill.

In August 2017, a number of tower blocks in the London borough of Newham were found to have unsafe cladding. Housing activists Focus E15 Mothers led a demonstration putting pressure on the council to act urgently to make the blocks safe. The council came to a decision the following month to remove the cladding though work to do so only began in April 2018.

The march began at Ferrier Point in Canning Town, with other groups including East End Sisters Uncut, Movement for Justice, the Socialist Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, One Housing campaigners and Whitechapel Anarchists joining Focus E15 and some tower block residents.

From there they marched to Tanner Point in Plaistow North for a longer rally outside, including some speeches from tower residents. Then came another long march to Stratford and the Carpenters Estate.

The Carpenters Estate was a popular estate, close to Stratford station and the town centre, and was viewed by the council as a prime opportunity for highly profitable redevelopment schemes, wanting to demolish the estate which is well-planned and in good condition. Focus E15 led opposition that in 2013 ended plans for UCL to set up a new campus here and have constantly urged the council to bring back people to the estate where despite a critical housing shortage in the borough, 400 good homes had been kept empty for over 10 years. The march ended with a ‘hands around the Carpenters Estate’ solidarity event against decanting, demolition and social cleansing.

More pictures at Fire Risk Tower Blocks.


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.


London’s Cheapest Flight: June-July 2013

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Eight years ago I took a couple of rides on the Emirates Air Line, better known thanks to London blogger Diamond Geezer as the ‘dangleway’ and posted a number of the pictures that I took from it.

As I pointed out then, “in transport terms its a joke, a slower and more expensive route on almost any possible journey“, but to my surprise this joke is still running eight years later despite huge losses, and my exhortation “if you’ve not taken a ride don’t leave it too long” was then misplaced. Though given the effects of the virus on air travel it may not last much longer, but perhaps the extensive developments on the south bank on the Greenwich Peninsula and the replacement of industrial sites by housing on the north bank, together with the move of the Greater London Authority to the Crystal at the north end of the route by the end of the year may provide a few more customers.

One advantage of the current situation is that, according to the TfL web siteOnly one passenger is allowed per cabin, unless a household or group is travelling together” so you can be sure of having it to yourself, or chosing those you want to travel with. The poor people in the picture above had to share a ride with me.

I think there were notices in the cabins telling you to remain in your seats during the short journey, but clearly I didn’t entirely obey these, but there was no one around to see. Perhaps there might be safety issues if a full cabin of Sumo wrestlers began to throw themselves around but I don’t think my careful movements were any problems.

The service runs weekdays days from 7am to 11pm, stopping an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays and opening later at weekends. It also stops in very strong winds and thunderstorms, though one London reporter made a story out of using it this January as storm Christoph was approaching. His photographs don’t really support his story of being buffeted around by the wind but I imagine there was some tangible swinging motion. When there is any real danger it closes – and that happens around a hundred times a year. There are also some closures for maintainence.

My journeys were both smooth and rather quiet, and the ride seemed much shorter then the 10 minutes it took. A single journey costs £4, more or less the same as in 2013. I generally avoid air travel, but I imagine the carbon footprint of this short journey is quite low.

Back in 2013 I commented “it should be promoted as one of London’s cheaper and more interesting tourist attractions, giving a rather better view than the helter-skelter on the Olympic site at around a tenth of the cost, and with the added attraction of motion in three dimensions.” It has so far only attracted a few more discerning tourists, some of whom are doubtless also following London’s public art trail, The Line and get an unusual view of Antony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud on their ride.


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.


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.


Bow Creek Panoramas – 1992

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

DLR Viaduct, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 92-1j61pr_2400

At the end of 1991 I finally bought my first panoramic camera, a Japanese Widelux F8 which I couldn’t really afford. It was a camera that took around 21 pictures on a 36 exposure film, with the film curved around a part of a cylindrical path with the lens pivoting around the centre of the cylinder.

Bow Creek, Bridges, Leamouth Rd, Tower Hamlets, 1992 92-3a42a_2400

The lens is a 26mm f2.8, though it needs to be stopped down to around f8 for most pictures as the camera is fixed focus at around 6 ft and only gets sharp at infinity when stopped down. Winding on the film winds up a clockwork motor and returns the lens to its starting position. On pressing the shutter the lens swings around through about 140 degrees, exposing the film through a slit at its back which swings across close to the film. It has 3 shutter speeds, 1/15, 1/125, and 1/250th, but even at the fastest speed it still takes rather longer to actually complete the exposure.

92-3b38_2400

The design keeps lens to film distant constant – at around 26mm – right to the edge of the film across a negative 24mm x 56mm. If this was flat, the distance to the corner would be more like 40mm and so objects at the edges get stretched to around 1.5 times actual size. This camera eliminates this distortion, but at the expense of introducing its own which you can see in these pictures. This becomes particularly noticeable in the curvature of most straight non-vertical lines.

Pura Foods, Bow Creek, M & J Reuben, London Sawmills, Wharfside Rd, Newham, 1992 92-3b52_2400

In particular, horizons become curved unless the camera is kept absolutely level. The pictures of Bow Creek were made with the camera on a sturdy tripod and with the help of a spirit level. There is one on the top plate of the camera, but I found a larger separate one more useful.

Bow Creek, Orchard Place, River Thames, Lower Lea Crossing, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1992 92-1n12_leamouth_2400

Although the angle of view is often stated as 140 degrees this is perhaps misleading and I think probably is the angle across the diagonal. Rather more useful is the horizontal angle of view, which I think is just slightly over 120 degrees. Theoretically it would be possible to create a full 360 degree view in three exposures, but practically it needed four, though I don’t think I ever succeeded on the few occasions I tried to make one.

Later I made many more panoramas here and around London, particularly with a similar Russian camera, the Horizon or Horizont which was rather more convenient to use, as well as a few with a much larger medium format version. I also used a Hassleblad X-Pan, a nice camera which was panoramic only in format, with a similar negative size, 58x24mm, but using rectilinear lenses which can’t acheive a really wide angle of view.


To the Thames – 1983

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

Canning Town, Newham, 1983 35t-36 (2)_2400

The whole area has changed so much since 1983 that I find it very confusing to locate the exact locations of many of the pictures that I took, and I’ve occasionally got some of the captions wrong. Often the only way I can be sure is by carefully studying other pictures that I took where I am sure of the location.

The building at the centre of the above image can be seen in one of the pictures posted yesterday, and is clearly on Victoria Dock Road, this section of the road completely obliterated in the construction of the Docklands Light Railway and the Canning Town transport interchange. Victoria Dock Road now begins on the other side of Silvertown Way. The picture above was taken from somewhere near the flood barrier.

Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Canning Town, Newham, 1983 35t-24_2400

The warning light for the flood barrier was some way to the north, where the river bends around close to the East India Dock Road. At the left of the notice is a pub the East India Dock Road, long demolished, but both pylons are still there, along with the Newham Way flyover.

Bow Creek, Orchard Place, Tower Hamlets,  Newham,  1983 36a-26_2400

I think this picture was taken roughly where the Lower Lea Crossing now goes across Bow Creek and the river bends around to the east.

Leamouth Wharf, Orchard Place, Blackwall Point Power Station, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1983 36a-15_2400

It is difficult to pinpoint the locations of these views taken on the same day as I walked down beside Bow Creek towards the Thames. The pylon visible here was on the north-east corner of the East India Dock Basin next to Orchard Place and has since been removed. The chimney is a small mystery as I think this is Brunswick Wharf power station which had two chimneys – but I may have carefully lined them up so one is hidden behind the other. In 1983 the station was still in use and only decommissioned in 1984.

Bow Creek, River Thames, Blackwall Point, Power Station, Trinity Buoy Wharf, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35t-34 (2)_2400

Things are much clearer as the River Thames comes into view, and the creek swings around yet again towards the south. The power station across the river is the Blackwall Point Power Station on a site close to where the Millennium Dome was later built.

Bow Creek, Thames Wharf, Newham, 1983 35t-65_2400

There was then still a railway line leading down to Thames Wharf, and this was still an industrial area. Things are rather busier not with these sheds still in use and the whole area here is now covered by piles of steel stocks as you can see from satellite images on Google.

River Thames, Bow Creek, Lighthouse, Trinity Buoy Wharf, Tower Hamlets, 1983 35t-31_2400

Across Bow Creek I got a good view of London’s only lighthouse, at Trinity Buoy Wharf. Some years later I was to visit this site on various occasions for several art projects, including a show in which a few of my pictures of Bow Creek were part of the display. And with the late lamented London Arts Cafe I came to a picnic on the riverside and sat in the lighthouse to listen for a few minutes to Jem Finer’s Longplayer which began its thousand year performance here at midnight on the 31st of December 1999. But until 1988 it was still owned by Trinity House and busy maintaining buoys.

Heavy Rain, LimehouseBasin, entrance, River Thames, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1983

Thames Wharf on the River Thames was a busy industrial site which back then seemed mainly to be dealing in scrap metal, and I had to walk around a few heaps to make my way along the river. Although I rather felt I was trespassing, no one approached me. Security was far less strict back then.

Thames Wharf, Victoria Dock Entrance, River Thames, Silvertown, Newham 36a-51_2400

This was around the limit of my walk and having taken my pictures – you can see a few more on Flickr – I walked back up Dock Road to Silvertown Way. I doubt if you can follow much of my walk today, but you do get a good overhead view of the area from the dangleway, London’s cable car across the Thames from North Greenwich to Victoria Dock. But don’t wait too long, as the sponsorship deal with the Emirates Air Line ends in 2022 and the future of this hugely loss-making service must be in doubt.


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.


Saw Mills & Flood Barrier

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

M & J Reuben, London Sawmills, Wharfside Rd, Newham, 1983 35t-25_2400

Standing more or less on the bank of Bow Creek beside the saw mill in 1983 I could see the elevated East India Dock Rd from which quite a few of my pictures were taken, and beyond it the box-like West Ham Power Station with its two pencil-like chimneys and cooling towers. Sawing timber creates a great deal of dust and a large extractor removes this, probably more for its commercial value than an anti-pollution measure.

Bow Creek, Flood Barrier, Saw Mill, Wharfside Rd, Newham, 1983 36v-25_2400

Looking down from East India Dock Rd onto the circular car park where Wharfedale Rd emerged from the tunnel under the road. There were few if any traces of the old railway line that used to run between the fence and the river here – where the DLR now runs. The picture gives a good impression of the densely packed industry on the peninsula beyond the creek. Taken with an extreme wide-angle lens – the 21mm on the Olympus OM1 you can see some stretching of objects closer to the edges of the frame which is a consequence of rectilinear perspective.

Bow Creek,  Flood Barrier, Wharfside Rd, Newham, 1983 35t-11_2400

Working from more or less the same position (but on a different day) with a less wide lens (probably a 35mm) gives a considerably less wide view, making distant objects seem larger, and also avoids any noticeable distortion. You can see the flood barrier on Bow Creek much more clearly.

Canning Town, Flood Barrier, Bow Creek, East India Dock Rd, Newham, 1982 36v-26_2400

Moving a little further along East India Dock Road gave a better view of the river now running south through the flood barrier. At left are the tower blocks of Canning Town. The row of buildings at right are on the far side of Victoria Road, and the railway line from Stratford to North Woolwich is in front of them, hidden by a bank of earth. Stairs led down from the road to this waste land and there were no fences to stop me walking along the river bank.

Flood Barrier, Bow Creek, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36a-32_2400

From the bank I got a good view of the flood barrier, its three gates in raised position, getting shorter from left to right to match the slope of the creek, deeper on the outside of the curve. Building the Thames Barrier at Charlton which first came into operation at more or less at the time I made this picture made this barrier, previously essential to prevent flooding along Bow Creek, redundant. It was removed shortly after I made these pictures.

Flood Barrier, Bow Creek, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36a-36_2400

Back in 1983 there were no barriers to stop me walking beside Bow Creek all the way to the River Thames, but not long afterwards this whole bank was closed off to the public. There have long been plans to open part of it as a riverside walkway, with the northern part of it built but fenced off, and in 2004 following a public competition a winning design was selected for a bridge further downstream a little below the Lower Lea Crossing across the river as a part of this foot and cycle path to Trinity Buoy Wharf. But in 2005 the Thames Gateway Delivery Unit withdrew funding and the bridge was never built. The last time I visited the area a couple of years ago the riverside walkway was open but ended around a hundred yards south of Canning Town station.

Flood Barrier, Bow Creek, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36a-23_2400

There is now a bridge across close to Canning Town station leading to the development of City Island which has replaced the edible oil factory on the peninsula which opened in 2014, though a far less interesting design than the competition winner.

The empty area to the east of Bow Creek which can be seen in some of these pictures was from 1837 to 1912 the home of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company Ltd. More recently it was for some years given over to a construction works yard for Cross Rail and is now home to the Limmo Peninsula, a largely residential development scheme by a partnership between TfL and Grainger plc.

You can visit my Flickr album with more pictures of the area by clicking on any of the pictures above which will take you to a larger version from where you can explore the album. Future posts will look at a series of panoramic pictures I made in 1992 and continuing my walk to 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.


Bow Creek: Priors to Pura Foods

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 36v-23_2400

Goiong down Leamouth Road roughly south and parallel to the river there were a few places where you could look back up to the East India Dock Road and the disused railway bridge that crossed the creek a little to the south of the road. The bridge had carried a line which came from where Canning Town Station now is along the route now followed by the DLR but continuing across the river to pepper warehouses for the East India Docks opposite the docks on the eastern side of Leamouth Road, still shown on my 1939 Philip’s A B C Pocket Atlas-Guide to London and its Outer Districts.

J J Prior, Ship Repairs, Orchard Wharf, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 1982 36v-36 (2)_2400

Where the river swung around the Limmo Peninsula – now the Bow Creek Ecology Park – the view was wide open with the river only separated from the road by an open fence. Close to the bend to the west was Orchard Wharf, where J J Prior were still carrying out ship repairs. The flats in the background are on the other side of the East India Dock Road.

Pura Foors, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, 1983 36v-21_2400

Looking up the creek on the eastern side of the peninisula was the west bank of the second peninsula, occupied by a large edible oil factory, Pura Foods, the smells from which were often rather noticeable. There were local campaigns to have this factory shut down, and eventually it did move out, relocating a few miles down-river. This peninsula is now redeveloped as City Island.

Pura Foods, Orchard Place, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32f-33_2400

Roads in this area were disrupted when the Lower Lea Crossing was built – it opened in 1991. When I first went to photograph the area, Leamouth Road (historically called Orchard St) continued to meet Orchard Place at a T-junction, with Orchard Place going north to the Pura Food site and south, then turning east to Trinity Buoy Wharf.

Pura Foods, Bow Creek, Tower Hamlets, 1989 89-4c52_2400

Although there were still high walls along the northern section of Leamouth Rd, there was a clear view of Bow Creek looking south from the East India Dock Road only around a hundred yards east of where the river, here flowing roughly north, went under the bridge in the opposite direction.

Bow Creek, Pura Foods, Essex Wharf, Wharfside Rd, East India Dock Rd, Newham, Tower Hamlets, 1989 89-4b12_2400

Wharfside Road comes in a short tunnel under the East India Dock Road on which I was standing to take this picture, leading to Essex Wharf and the saw mills for the timber yard. The Docklands Light Railway now runs along here on the route of the the former rail line to the pepper warehouses, just in front of the line of parked cars in this picture.

There is now a footbridge across the DLR leading to a riverside path, built at around the same time as the new railway, the gates to the bridge were kept locked for most of its first twenty years but now seem to be permanently opened, and it provides a good short cut to Canning Town Station, whose riverside entrance was also locked for years after it was built, as well as to a new footbridge to City Island which replaced the factory here. You can also now walk or cycle down here to the right to visit the Bow Creek Ecology Park. Although very different it is still an interesting area in which to walk.

Clicking on any of the above images will take you to larger versions in my Flickr album on the River Lea. A further post will start at Wharfside Road and look at my pictures moving along Bow Creek towards 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.