Posts Tagged ‘Covent Garden’

A Mixed Day – May 3rd, 2014

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Saturday May 3rd 2014 provided me with quite a range of events to photograph around London, finishing with a protest against the abuse of staff employed by MITIE at the Royal Opera House. IWGB members including the workplace rep have been sacked or lost work, with others being brought in to take their places.

This protest was one of the “noisy” events that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 being pushed through parliament would criminalise, a very successful non-violent tactic used by smaller unions such as the IWGB (Independent Workers Union of Great Britain) to shame managements into talking with them. MITIE and the Royal Opera House had been refusing to talk with the union to which the majority of the cleaners belong, and instead recognise a large union with few members at the ROH which has come to an agreement with them which fails to address any of the workers grievances.

There were angry scenes with some of the opera goers who seemed to feel that the workers had no right to protest, and ROH security staff intervened when one man began assaulting union organiser Alberto Durango. When a large group of police arrived there was an ugly scene when they tried to grab one of the protesters, but she was pulled away by her colleagues, and the police then withdrew to form a line around the opera house. After an hour there were some short speeches, including one by another woman protester complaining that she and others had been assaulted by the police officer in charge, Inspector Rowe, and other officers.

My first event had been to cover a march to Parliament by Families fighting to abolish the 300 year old law of ‘Joint Enterprise’ that has wrongfully imprisoned family members in a gross breach of human rights. Under this people are convicted of crimes they took no part in for having almost any connection with those who actually committed the criminal act – without any real evidence being required or given. Originally intended to enable doctors and seconds who attended duels to be arrested as well as the actual duellists, it is now disproportionately used against Afro-Caribbean young men following stabbings and other street violence. As well as its inherent injustice, the sentences can be extremely long, in some cases up to 30 years in jail. In 2015 police attempted to use it against a protester after they could find no evidence of her committing the ‘criminal damage’ she had been accused of, but the court sensibly refused to consider the charge.

Next I went to the Ethiopian Embassy in Kensington, where Rastafarians from the Church of Haile Selassie I in Cricklewood were holding their annual protest calling for the restoration of the Dynasty of Emperor Haile Selassie 1st to bring about economic liberation of the country. Selassie died following an economic crisis which led to a coup in 1974 at the age of 83. Under his leadership Ethiopia, the only African country to defeat the European colonialists, was the first independent African state to become a member of the League of Nations and the UN.

I stopped off on my way back to the centre of London at Knightsbridge to photograph the weekly vigil outside fashion store Harvey Nichols calling on shoppers to boycott them for selling animal fur products, which come almost entirely from farms with exceedingly cruel practices banned in the UK. It is hard to see why using fur from these farms is not also banned here.

The largest event taking place was the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the first women to be ordained by the Church of England, and a thousand or more women priests went to a rally in Dean’s Yard before marching to St Paul’s Cathedral for a service.

I was brought up in the Congregational tradition, and the Congregational Church had its first women minister in 1919, but it took the Church of England another 75 years before they caught up. They ordained their first women as priests in 1994, and women now make up a large proportion of the church. Among those on the march was the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Jamaican-born vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Dalston and All Saints Church, Haggerston (and also finding time to be Speaker’s chaplain at the House of Commons, priest vicar at Westminster Abbey and chaplain to the Queen.) She marched with the same placard she carried when the church was making its decision to ordain women in 1994, with the message “Women – beautifully & wonderfully made in the image of God!” and became Britain’s first black female bishop in 2019.

I left the women priests marching along Whitehall to photograph a protest opposite Downing St, where Balochs were staging a token hunger strike on Whitehall calling for the immediate release of all those forcefully disappeared by Pakistani forces. The action was in solidarity with the hunger strike by student activist Latif Johar of the Baloch Students Organisation-Azad (BSO-A) who began a hunger strike outside the Karachi Press Club on April 22 in protest at the disappearance by Pakistan security forces of the BSO-A chair Zahid Baloch in March.

From Westminster I walked to Covent Garden where I was to meet the IWGB for their protest at the Royal Opera House, and sat and waited for them to arrive. To my surprise as I sat reading I heard the sound of hooves clattering on the road, and looked up to see half a dozen horse-drawn traps coming towards me up the street. They stopped briefly and appropriately at the Nags Head, where some of the drivers went in to refresh themselves, and I talked with those left holding the horses outside, and they told me the ride had started at Forest Gate and they had already visited Borough Market on their route around London.

More on all these events:
IWGB Cleaners at Royal Opera
Horse Traps at the Nag’s Head
Baloch Hunger Strike
20 years of Women Vicars
Anti-Fur Picket at Harvey Nichols
Restore the Ethiopian Monarchy
Joint Enterprise – NOT Guilty By Association


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Feb 1987 Camden, London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More pictures on Flickr in the album 1987 London Photos.


London 1986 – Page 11

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020
Temple Bar, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, Fleet St, City, Westminster 86-9h-34_2400
Temple Bar, Strand

Page 11 of my album London 1986 has some of my favourite black and white pictures I took that year, at least in London, and is centred around the City of London, with pictures from its northen extremities in Moorgate, Smithfield and the Barbican and close to the City in the surrounding London Boroughs, particularly Islington, where my walks took me around Farringdon, Clerkenwell, Old St and Finsbury.

Atlas Paper Works, Newington Causeway, Newington, Southwark 86-9q-31_2400
Atlas Paper Works, Newington Causeway, Newington, Southwark

I drifted into Camden around Kings Cross, Lambeth close to Waterloo, Southwark at Newington and The Borough, Covent Garden, Temple and Strand in Westminster and Whitechapel and Aldgate in Tower Hamlets.

Wig & Pen Dining Club, Strand, Westminster 86-9h-35_2400
Wig & Pen Club, Strand, Westminster

Those who have been following the colour work I’ve posted in the series of slices through London will recognise a number of the places in these pictures, particularly in the album TQ31- London Cross-section which I’ve written about recently. One of them is the Wigt & Pen club on the Strand, still very much in business back in 1986, but which closed in 2003.

Lloyd's Diary, Amwell St, Kings Cross, Islington 86-9o-55_2400
Lloyd’s Diary, Amwell St, Kings Cross, Islington

Occasionally the black and white and colour versions show a similar viewpoint, but usually in black and white I was more concerned with documenting a building or place as a part of the city while the colour work was often more concerned with detail and particularly colour. The black and white is generally more of a document, more objective and the colour more personal, more of a response to the subject.

Frazier St, Lower Marsh, Waterloo, Lambeth 86-9r-11_2400
LowerMarsh, Waterloo, Lambeth

The routes that I researched and plotted were determined by my desire to try to document the whole of London, and to photograph its significant and typical buildings, streets, squares etc. I think it was largely for practical reasons that I did this in black and white, partly because of cost, but more that black and white was able to handle a much higher dynamic range than colour film.

King James St, The Borough, Southwark  86-10a-21_2400
King James St, The Borough, Southwark

But black and white back then was still the primary medium of photography, both in camera and in publication and exhibition. I’d worked for over 15 years primarily as a black and white photographer and almost all of my published work had been in black and white. Looking at the pictures now it is usually the black and white that still interests me most. Things have very much changed, particularly with the move to digital. I only work in colour and can’t ever see myself going back to black and white. And I seldom see black and white by other photographers – particularly not by younger photographers who have never really served their time with black and white – without thinking it would have been better in colour.

Page 11 of my album London 1986.

TQ30 Covent Garden

Friday, June 5th, 2020
Legs, Great Queen St, Covent Garden, Camden, 1987TQ3081-017

Continuing the one kilometre wide strip of London TQ30 north from Westminster leads to Covent Garden, which by the time I took these pictures around 1989 had already become a tourist Mecca. The market had closed and moved to Nine Elms a dozen years earlier in 1974 and many trendy businesses had moved into the area.

Cactus, Entrance, Russell St, Covent Garden, 1991 TQ3081-042

Among them were many clubs and eateries joining those that there already in an area of theatres and of course the Opera House. Opposite that was Bow Street Magistrate’s Court, still in business (it closed in 2006), one of London’s best-known legal landmarks, where many famous and infamous had come to trial.

Young Dancer, Enzo Plazzotta, Broad Court, Covent Garden, 1991 TQ3081-041

Just to its north is a wide alley, Broad Court, with a fine row of red telephone boxes and a statue of a young dancer, though I’m not sure why facing the Opera House was thought to be an appropriate position for her.

Elvis, Great Queen St Holborn, 1991 TQ3081-043

Elvis was not far away, in Great Queen St. It was had to tell from many of the shop windows exactly what business they were in, but one of the strangest was in Betterton St – The Albanian Shop, where you could buy the thoughts and probably a bust of ‘The Iron Fist of Albania’ and which doubled as ‘The Gramophone Exchange’. It is alas no longer with us.

Albanian Shop, Betterton Street, Covent Garden, 1991 TQ3081-052

Doubtless there is still much of interest in Covent Garden, if in normal times you can see any of it for the hordes of tourists. It’s an area of London I now tend to avoid, but back then was always an interesting and often surreal experience.

Gloves, shop window, Judd St, St Pancras,1986 TQ3082-015

More pictures mainly on the second page of TQ30 London Cross-section.


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.