Posts Tagged ‘City of London police’

Bon Marche, Police, Acre Lane and Tate

Wednesday, September 6th, 2023

Bon Marche, Police, Acre Lane and Tate: My walk which began in Clapham on Sunday 4th June 1989 continues in Stockwell. It began with Light & Life, Pinter and Stockwell Breweries and the previous post was More Stockwell Green & Mary Seacole.

240-250 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-61
240-250 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-61

Possibly before going to Stockwell Green, perhaps even at some point on my previous walk I made some more pictures around the centre of Brixton. Unfortunately film doesn’t come with meta-data and my memory is not as reliable as EXIF data, but these pictures were certainly made around the end of May or beginning of June 1989 and so I’ll share them here.

240-250 Ferndale Rd on the corner with Stockwell Ave, just a few yards back from Brixton Road was built in 1905-6 as an annexe of Bon Marche department store, later becoming Post Office with council offices on the upper floor. You can see a post office sign at the left of my picture. A photograph in the Lambeth Archives taken around 1975 show it as offices for Christian Aid and it was later home to the Refugee Council. The ground floor more recently became Canova Hall, a restaurant and the building was revived as The Department Store, “to create a series of collaborative workspaces supported by an evolving hub of creative, retail and community uses“.

Edmundsbury Estate, Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-64
Edmundsbury Estate, Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-64

This estate was complete in 1929 for the London County Council as Ferndale Court to house police officers in the City of London Police, but converted into council flats managed by Lambeth Council in 1979 when one of the blocks was demolished to leave a public open space. They were designed by Sidney Perks, who was surveyor to the City of London from 1908 before being appointed as its architect in 1928.

Adjoining the site to the east was the City of London Police Sports Club ground, now the Ferndale Community Sports Centre.

Acre Lane Mouldings Ltd, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-52
Acre Lane Mouldings Ltd, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-52

A board illustrates the range of skirting architraves and cornices the company could supply, ‘Quality Mouldings for That Finishing Touch!‘.

Acrelane Timber Ltd is still at this site in Brixton and can perhaps still supply some similar items. A previous frame, not yet digitised shows a little of the frontage offering heating and plumbing supplies.

In my father’s workshop, a very large shed with store rooms and work benches at the back of his family house in Hounslow, long sold off and demolished, I was intrigued as a child by many of the old tools used around the start of the 20th century which included a range of moulding planes used to produce shaped mouldings such as this, used in his father’s cart building business. Back when my elderly aunts moved out around 1970 there was little interest in things like this and I imagine they ended up in landfill, though I’ve since viewed far less impressive ranges in museums.

Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, Brixton Hill, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-54
Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, Brixton Hill, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-54

I turned back along Acre Lane to the junction with Brixton Road where I photographed the grandiose Lambeth Town Hall, complete with a banner advertising an event about child benefit taking place on June 2nd, as well as a sign about going to Lambeth Debtline for debt advice.

Grade II listed Lambeth Town Hall was built in 1905-8, designed by Septimus Warwick and H Austen Hall in what is described as a modified Baroque style, and was further raised and extended 1935-8. I think the clock tower looks like some strange parody, an ornament which doesn’t really belong but has somehow thrust itself up through the ceiling of the main building and flowered extravagantly, reminding me of an amaryllis.

Tate Bust, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-55
Tate Bust, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-55

This area was a pleasant garden before being destroyed by Lambeth Council to produce a windswept waste to discourage local people gathering here. It hasn’t really worked, just become less comfortable with oddly placed fixed chairs and the wind certainly rushes through the renamed Windrush Square. I think I might have come here in 1989 to sit and eat my sandwich lunch.

Henry Tate was born in 1819 in Lancashire, the son of a Unitarian minister, and set up a successful grocery business with six shops in the Liverpool area before going into partnership with sugar refiner John Wright there in 1859. When this partnership came to an end he founded Henry Tate & Sons with his sons Alfred and Edwin.

Tate introduced new more efficient refining techniques for the production of white sugar, and his business expanded and in 1878 he opened a large refinery at Silvertown still producing sugar now.

Fountain, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-56
Fountain, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-56

Tate was an employer who took care of his workers and supported many educational projects including free libraries in Streatham, Balham, South Lambeth and Brixton as well as hospitals. After he had built and opened a gallery on Millbank and presented his art collection to the nation he was told Queen Victoria would be offended if yet again he refused a title, and he became a baronet in 1898, a year before his death.

The business was merged with that of Abram Lyle & Sons in 1921, probably causing Tate to turn in his grave, as he had despised Lyle, not least for the way he treated his workers.

Reliance Arcade, Electric Avenue, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-41
Reliance Arcade, Electric Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-41

The Art Deco Reliance arcade was built into an exiting Georgian house and other buildings between Brixton Road and Electric Lane in 1923-5, its Egyptian style terracotta inspired by the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Home to around 30 businesses it was since 2014 this Grade II listed arcade was on English Heritage’s at risk list but was renovated in 2019-20. There are some good pictures from this time by Mike Urban on Brixton Buzz from before and close to the end of the renovation.

My account of this walk will continue in a later post.

Housing, Fukushima, Dolphins, Poppies, Deloitte & Royal Opera House

Monday, November 7th, 2022

Friday 7th November 2014 was an unusually long and busy day for me in London.

Brent Housing Sit-in – South Kilburn Housing Office, Friday 7th November 2014

My day began outside the South Kilburn Housing Office where campaigners were calling for Brent to end selling properties to overseas investors while rehousing local residents outside the area. They accuse the Labour council of social cleansing and say people need to be put before profit. Soon they moved into the office and sat with their posters in the lobby.

There is a huge amount of ‘regeneration’ taking place in council estates in Brent, but the new properties are is largely advertised and sold off to people from outside the borough – including to wealthy investors abroad who often will leave the properties empty while London house prices rise, selling them after a few years at a high profit. It’s easier to sell empty properties than to have the bother of sitting tenants, though generally these can be easily evicted.

The campaigners included Isabel Counihan Sanchez and other members of the Housing 4 All campaign which grew out of the Counihan family campaign and Unite Community members. The result of profit-led regeneration process is social cleansing – with people from Brent having to move to outer London or away from London altogether because they cannot afford properties in the area. Often they have to move into private rented accommodation with little or no security of tenure on short-term contracts, where landlords often fail to do repairs and evict tenants who complain.

What residents of Brent (and other boroughs need), as the campaigner’s posters stated is ‘Social Housing Not Social Cleansing’, as in the previous century when philanthropic schemes – such as Peabody – and councils built houses and flats as social housing at rents that are actually affordable to people on low or minimum wage.

Brent Housing Sit-in

Fukushima Nuclear Protest – Japanese Embassy, Friday 7th November 2014

From Brent I travelled to the Japanese Embassy on Piccadilly, where a small group of Japanese and English protesters were handing out bi-lingual Japanese/English fliers about the continuing danger from radioactive leaks from the Fukushima nuclear power station.

Their weekly lunchtime protests here call for an end to the building of nuclear power stations worldwide because of the safety risks that Fukushima has highlighted, and for a proper investigation of the failures of TEPCO, the owners of the Fukushima power plant in running the plant and reporting and tackling the catastrophe. Later they left to protest at the nearby offices of TEPCO in Berkeley Square.

Fukushima Nuclear Protest

Taiji Dolphin slaughter protest – Japanese Embassy, Friday 7th November 2014

I remained outside the embassy where a crowd of several hundred as calling on Japan to halt the annual slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales each year in Taiji Cove, which had been taking place annually for around 40 years.

Those protesting included Ric O’ Barry, founder of the Dolphin Project and the maker of the film ‘The Cove’ which has shown the shocking reality of the dolphin slaughter to audiences around the world. Here he holds a poste ‘Enough Is Enough’.

The protest was remarkable for the number of hand drawn and painted posters and placards, as well as some 3D artworks. Many of those present accepted the offer of having their hands covered in red paint to represent the blood of the dolphins, which turns the water in the bay red during the slaughter.

Most of the protesters remained behind the barriers on the opposite side of the road to the embassy, but there was some tension between the police and a few who crossed the road to protest closer to the embassy doorway.

Taiji Dolphin slaughter protest

Trafalgar Square Poppy Memorial – Friday 7th November 2014

On my way to the next protest I changed buses at Trafalgar Square and stopped to look at Mark Humphrey’s brass ‘Every Man Remembered’ which had been unveiled there earlier in the day. Later I wrote about this bland and idealised image of an unknown soldier in Remembering the Dead on this site. To truly remember and honour the sacrifice our memorials might better show – in Seigfried Sassoon’s words – ‘Young faces bleared with blood, Sucked down into the mud‘. In my article I linked the another by Paul Mason in which he reminds us that the First World War actually ended when German sailors, soldiers and workers refused to fight.

Trafalgar Square Poppy Memorial

IWGB protest at Deloitte, Friday 7th November 2014

Another bus took me in into the City, where the IWGB (Independent Workers of Great Britain trade union) were protesting around Shoe Lane at Deloitte’s City offices. The cleaners in these are outsourced and employed by Serco who have suspended to workers for taking part in earlier protests over working conditions and staff shortages which have led to cleaners suffering from stress and back problems.

The cleaners had hoped to take security by surprise at the first of the offices they arrived at, but they were obviously prepared, and the cleaners could only play their drums, blow their horns and whistles, shout slogans and wave their flags in the courtyard outside, unfurling a large banner with the message ‘Solidarity. We Are Performing a SercoExorcism’.

Security managed to keep ahead of them as they visited and protested outside three nearby Deloitte offices. At the third, two City of London police officers grabbed Alberto Durango as he was speaking and tried to stop him protesting. IWGB members surrounded them, insisting that they had a right to lawful protest and eventually the police backed down. The IWGB marched on to protest at a fourth office, then marched back to Fleet St.

IWGB protest at Deloitte

IWGB protest at Royal Opera House, Friday 7th November 2014

By now I was rather hoping to say goodbye and go home, but as we arrived on Fleet St, Alberto Durango announced that the group would be marching on to pay a surprise visit to the Royal Opera House, were outsourced IWGB cleaners are in dispute with cleaning contractor Mitie over victimisation, trade union recognition and working conditions.

The cleaners moved quietly through the streets and rather surprised me as we arrived at the opera house by rushing into the foyer. A security guard grabbed hold of Alberto Durango but he pulled away from here and the rest of the group followed in and I went with them.

There they held a short protest with Alberto making clear their demands and calling on the Royal Opera House to support their cleaners and pressure Mitie who they have given the contract to to treat the cleaners properly. Opera House staff stood and listened and then the IWGB walked out. And at last I could go home.

IWGB protest at Royal Opera House

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