Posts Tagged ‘East Ham’

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi – 2007

Monday, April 22nd, 2024

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi – for me Sunday 22nd April 2007 was very much a day of two halves, with a morning spent at the Shakespeare’s Birthday celebrations around the Globe Theatre in Southwark and the afternoon with Sikhs celebrating in East Ham.

Shakespeare’s Birthday – Globe Theatre, Southwark

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

Shakespeare was born in April 1564, but the exact date is not known, though he was baptised on April 26th. Conventionally his birthday is celebrated on St George’s Day, April 23, so although this event was a day earlier it was just as likely to be his actual birthday.

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

Unusually I didn’t write anything on the April 2007 page of My London Diary about either of the two events I photographed on this Sunday, other than the links to to pages of pictures, but there are some captions with the pictures that give the story of the day.

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

People met on Montague Close at the north entrance to Southwark Cathedral for the start of the carnival procession. Among them were the Pearly King of Bow Bells & Blackfriars and the Pearly Queen of the Old Kent Road, as well as a very splendid large dragon, who was accompanied by a man in a harlequin costume and mask of diamonds of blues, greens, yellows and reds.

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

Fortunately for the dragon I think St George was saving his appearance for the following day, although later there was a man carrying his flag, and perhaps the man himself arrived after I had to rush away at noon.

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

There were musicians with large drums and small whistles and others in some kind of medieval dress as well as a large posse of masked children as we made our way west past Pickfords Wharf and along Clink Street to the riverside and Bankside in front of the replica Globe theatre were we were welcomed by Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole, who invited us all – including the dragon – into the theatre.

Given the Globe is a wooden structure which would burn rather well this was perhaps foolhardy, but the dragon did seem rather short of fiery breath and on his or her best behaviour and posed for photographs rather tamely and demurely on the stage with the children and others. No children were eaten or maidens ravaged at least while I was there.

I was sorry to leave, but there’s a time for all things, and my time on Bankside ran out fast, and the journey to the Gurdwara in East Ham from London Bridge to West Ham and then East Ham and the walk to Rosebery Avenue took me around an hour.

More pictures on My London Diary.

Vaisakhi – East Ham – Gurdwara Dasmesh Darbar

The street was densely crowded as I got close to the Gurdwara, but people were very welcoming and let me through, though I stopped to take a few pictures of them.

As I arrived the organisers were giving people at the front of the crowd handfuls of flower petals which were thrown as the Guru Granth Sahib – the sacred Sikh scriptures and eternal Guru – was carried on cushions on its bearers head, sheltered by a saffron and blue umbrella, to be placed on a float.

The came the Khalsa, carrying Sikh standards and with the five in saffron robes holding their swords.

There were prayers and the five had flower garlands placed around their necks and loud blasts from a splendid curved metal horn, a Narsinga announced the start of the procession, with the congregation joining behind the float carrying the Guru Granth Sahib.

The Khalsa walk barefoot with holding their swords upright and looking ahead rather than at the ground and a team of sweepers, also barefoot, sweep the roadway in front of them.

The procession moved onto the main road, High Street North, which was soon packed as far as I could see in both directions. I waited for the end of the procession to pass but did not follow it on the long procession around the area which takes several hours.

There are many more pictures on My London Diary

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Beltane, Chariot Festival, Barking & Whitechapel

Sunday, May 28th, 2023

Beltane, Chariot Festival, Barking & Whitechapel: I had an interesting and varied day at events and places across London on Sunday 28th May 2006, taking rather a lot of photographs. Appropriately for a Sunday I covered two religious events.

Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash – Holborn

Beltane, Chariot Festival, Barking & Whitechapel

My working day began at Holborn, having caught a fairly early train into London. Now I like to relax a bit on Sundays, but for many years I often came up by the first train to take photographs. Though it wasn’t that early on Sundays, departing around 8am.

Beltane, Chariot Festival, Barking & Whitechapel

I took a bus from Waterloo to Holborn and walked the few yards to the Conway Hall at the north-east corner of Red Lion Square.

Beltane, Chariot Festival, Barking & Whitechapel

Here (with corrected capitalisation) is what I wrote about this event on My London Diary in 2006.

The Pagan Pride Parade in Holborn is now a regular annual event, a part of the Beltane Bash that takes place in the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square. Mostly it was the same people as last year, but I found it hard to get into the mood to take pictures.

Beltane, Chariot Festival, Barking & Whitechapel

As usual the parade was led by Jack In The Green – a dancing bush – the Green Lady and the Bogies. The Giants included the Morrigan (in green and flowers to welcome summer) with Black Ravens, Old Man Thunder and Old Dame Holder, along with the rest of it.

Beltane, Chariot Festival, Barking & Whitechapel

Dancing round the fountains was energetic, but somehow for me the event didn’t really get going, and lacked any real climax, people just slowly began to fade away.

My London Diary – May 2006

Chariot Festival, Sri Mahalakshmi Temple – East Ham

Those taking part in the Pagan Pride parade began to make their way back to Conway Hall for the rest of their day of events, but I rushed to Holborn underground station to take the Central line eastwards, changing at Mile End to get to East Ham. But I had stayed too long with the pagans.

The Sri Mahalakshmi Temple had been built in 1989 and opened and was almost opposite the station. Before that Hindus and worshipped at a converted shop on the corner of Kensington Avenue and High Street North, around 300 yards north from the station.

Unfortunately I had arrived too late and the procession on the streets had ended, though I was still able to photograph the chariots outside and a few of the people. I made a mental note to come back and cover this event another year, but although I photographed other chariot festivals including one in Manor Park, East Ham, I’ve never returned for this one.

My London Diary – May 2006

Barking and River Roding – Barking

I was in East Ham and the afternoon lay ahead; it was a fine day and I decided this was a great opportunity to take a walk a little further to the east by the River Roding. I took a few pictures of the chariots, then went to walk along by the River Roding and to photograph a new development by the railway in Barking.

The half-mile walk along unkonwln was rather uninteresting. It’s a long suburban street lined with terraces of working class housing from the early twentieth century on both sides, named for the family who once owned the estate on which it was built. As Stephen Benton points out in his London Postcode walk it has one small claim to fame, and almost every famous pop guitarist from the the 70s and 80s – including those from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, The Who as well as musical failures like me will have started with Bert Weedon’s ‘Play in A Day – Guide to Modern Guitar’, first published in 1957. Weedon (1920-2012) was born here, though he had probably moved away long before he became famous.

The path led on to Watson Ave, with a view of the Leigh Road gasholder in what is now the derelict Leigh Road Sports Ground. The Barking Gas Works opened here in 1836 but was purchased in 1912 by the Gas Light and Coke Company, who closed it as they had the much larger and more economical works they had opened at Beckton in 1870. But the holder remained and was I think still in use by the North Thames Gas Board possibly until the change from coal gas to natural gas. The area around it became their sports ground.

At the end of Watson Ave is a long footbridge which took me over the North Circular Road, from which I took a few pictures before going through an industrial estate.

I made quite a few pictures in the Tanner Street area, where a considerable amount of new development was taking place.

I told myself I would return here later, but I don’t think I’ve done so yet.

My London Diary – May 2006


I think I had travelled back from Barking on a Hammersmith & City line train and needed to change soemwhere to the District Line. Having got off the train I decided I had time for a short walk around on before needing to continue my journey. I only taok a few pictures, perhaps making 20 exposures, and there are only four pictures on My London Diary.

My London Diary – May 2006

Stop The Arms Fair – 2017

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

The world’s largest arms fair currently takes place in London every two years, at the Excel Centre, a large exhibition centre in Custom House, East Ham in the London Borough of Newham. Organised by Clarion Events, the Defence and Security Equipment International show is “fully endorsed” by the UK Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Trade, but condemned by London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and most Londoners and opposed by a week of protests organised by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and supported by many other groups.

Sadiq Khan has failed to stop the arms fair taking place, lacking the powers to do so despite his repugnance. Amnesty International criticise it for selling weapons of torture and those that have been shown to have been used against civilians, and CAAT point out that it is attended by official military and security delegations from countries which are noted abusers of human rights, including those on the UK’s official list of countries subject to arms embargo.

Of course with the UK the high profits to be made on arms sales often trumps such listings; Action on Armed Violence points out that “five of the UK’s human rights priority countries feature on the DIT’s ‘key markets’ directory for potential arms sales (Bahrain, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia)” and that “UK export licences for small arms and ammunition have been approved to 31 destinations on the embargoed and restricted list” betwwen 2015 and 2020.

In September 2017 I photographed protests outside the DSEI arms fair on four days in the week before the fair as well as a related event elsewhere and a wreath-laying ceremony on the opening day. There are fuller accounts on My London Dairy – links at the end of this post.

No Faith in War DSEI Arms Fair protest – ExCeL Centre, London. Tue 5 Sept 2017

The second day of protests against the world’s largest arms fair held in London’s docklands was ‘No Faith In War’, a series of events organised by various faith groups.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

Quakers held a meeting by the side of the approach road to the East Gate of Excel, and some sat on the road to block it. Eventually police lifted this woman carefully and carried herto the side of the road. Some who persisted in blocking the road were arrested and taken to police vans.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

Four people abseiled from a roadway bridge to block the road. It took police a long time to find a safe way to remove them.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

People held a mass on the roadway – police waited until they finished then made them leave.

At the west gate people walked very slowly in front of the lorries. Eventually police pushed them off the road. Some were arrested. Others had come to support them and sing hymns and religious songs. There were various other activities at both gates.

Protesters block DSEI arms fair entrances – Wed 6 Sep 2017

Stop the Arms fair protesters carried out a series of lengthy lock-ons on the roads at both East and West gates blocking access to London’s ExCeL centre where preparations are being made for the worlds’s largest arms fair.

Police teams took quite a long time to carefully separate the people who were locked together to block the roads. There was also some street theatre from various groups. One pair of protesters managed to lock themselves on the roadway inside the centre gates – but police would not let journalists get closer to photograph them.

I went back to the East gate to find another pair locked on there. The protesters managed to block both entrances for several hours – and there were quite a few arrests.

Protest picnic & checkpoint at DSEI, London. Thu 7 Sep 2017

Veterans for Peace came to set up a banned weapons checkpoint. Police waved lorries on past their checkpoint, encouraging one lorry to drive through the protest at a highly dangerous speed, and removed protesters from the road with threats of arrest.

At lunchtime North London Food Not Bombs moved onto the road and blocked it to serve protesters with an excellent road-block picnic. After 15 minutes police moved in to clear the road, threatening the diners with arrest.

DSEI Festival Morning at the East Gate – Sat 9 Sep 2017

Several hundred people listened to a programme of speakers, workshops, spoken word, choirs and groups and stopped lorries bringing arms by walking in front of them until pushed aside by police.

Festival of Resistance – DSEI West Gate – Sat 9 Sep 2017

Things were a little livlier at the West gate, where cyclists in a ‘Critical Mass’ were arriving and Charlie X, a Chaplin clone who protests in mime had just been freed from the lorry he had locked on to but had been arrested and was being led away by a dozen police. They also arrested one of the cyclists for having a bike lock around his neck. He had it to lock the wheels to his bike if he had to leave it anywhere. If carrying a lock or chain for your bike was an offence, every cyclist in London would face arrest.

DSEI East Gate blocked – Sat 9 Sep 2017

I took the DLR back to the East gate, arriving to find the road blocked by a lock-on, with two people joined through a pipe which the police were struggling to remove. Finally they did and arrested to two involved. People were blocking the road and holding a religious service, but police forced them off the road – with at least one more arrest of a woman who refused to move.

While the police were removing the two locked on, a man had locked himself to the lorry – and he too was removed and arrested. Other people came onto the road to block lorries and there were poetry and musical performances. Then a group of seven people joined arms in a circle on the road and refused to move. They were still there when I had to leave, stopping off briefly at the DLR entrance to the Excel Centre to photograph a musical protest there.

#Arming The World -Woolwich Arsenal, London. Tue 12 Sep 2017

Ice & Fire theatre and Teatro Vivo with designer Takis, gave their first performance of #Arming The World, a satircial weapons catwalk show spreading information about Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) at Woolwich Arsenal with actors dressed as arms dealers, a Paveway IV Missile, a Eurofighter Typhoon and CS Gas.

Wreath for victims of the arms trade – Royal Victoria Dock, Tue 12 Sep 2017

East London Against Arms Fairs (ELAAF) held a procession carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ around the Royal Victoria Dock on the day the DSEI Arms Fair opened, launching the wreath onto the water opposite the ExCeL centre.

More on all these events on My London Diary:
Wreath for victims of the arms trade
#Arming The World
DSEI East Gate blocked
Festival of Resistance – DSEI West Gate
DSEI Festival Morning at the East Gate
Protest picnic & checkpoint at DSEI
Protesters block DSEI arms fair entrances
No Faith in War DSEI Arms Fair protest

Chariot Festival, Olympic Site and Notting Hill

Saturday, August 27th, 2022

Chariot Festival, Olympic Site and Notting Hill

Chariot Festival, Olympic Site and Notting Hill. Sunday 27th August 2006, sixteen years ago was a busy day for me, travelling to East Ham to photograph a colourful Hindu festival, then on to Stratford for a short walk along the High Street and Bow Back Rivers, before taking the underground and ending up on Ladbroke Grove for the Children’s Day of the Notting Hill Carnival.

It was part of a very full few days for me, having got back to London after a couple of weeks in Paris and a few days with family in Beeston. Friday I’d put my folding bike on the train to Greenhithe and spent a day cycling around there and Swanscombe, Saturday I’d walked around 12 miles on the London Loop and after the events here on Monday I’d returned to Notting Hill for the carnival itself, after which I needed a few days rest. The text here is taken from My London Diary – with a few corrections, appropriate capitalisation and some additional comments. There are some more details in the captions on the picture pages of these events.

Sri Mahalakshmi Temple Chariot Festival – East Ham

Chariot Festival, Olympic Site and Notting Hill

Sunday morning found me in East Ham, where the Hindu Sri Mahalakshmi Temple was holding its chariot festival. It was a colourful and friendly event, but I soon felt I’d taken enough pictures and left.

It’s hard to show the flames when the offerings of food are made to the god, and difficult to catch the colour of the occasion.

more pictures

Lea Navigation and Bow Back Rivers – Stratford

On my way back from East Ham I stopped off at Bromley-by-Bow and walked up to Stratford High Street and along the rivers and channels there.

Parts were so thickly covered with bright green growth that they looked as if I could have walked along them.

There was another site demolished on the high street, with new housing starting to go up.

more pictures

Notting Hill Carnival – Childrens Day – Notting Hill

But the big event of August is always Notting Hill Carnival, and I was there both on the Sunday afternoon for Childrens’ Day and for the main event on the Monday, shooting both black and white film and colour digital.

[I noted back in 2006 that when I would get round to processing the black and white film is “anyone’s guess”. I think it was around ten years later that I finally admitted I wasn’t going to develop the chromogenic black and white films myself and the chemicals were probably past their best and I sent them for commercial processing. Though by then I wasn’t sure whether I had taken them in 2006 or 2007. But back to my 2006 post.]

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older, but I didn’t get the same buzz from this year’s event as in previous years, though most of the same things seemed to be around.

Perhaps this was the problem; most of them did seem to be the same, two years on from when I last photographed the event. Last year, 2005, I tried to go, dragging myself to the station with a knee injury, but the pain was too much to continue. This year my knee held out, though I was glad to sink into a seat on the Underground at Latimer Road at the end of the day.

I didn’t take many colour pictures on Children’s Day, and most weren’t of children, and I think I probably didn’t stay long, but there are many more on the pages which follow on from there taken the following day.

more pictures

Focus E15 Occupy Police Station for Newham Show

Sunday, July 10th, 2022

Jasmin Stone speaks at rally outside Newham Police station

Focus E15 Occupy Police Station for Newham Show – Sunday 10th July 2016

At the street stall outside Newham Town Hall

It says something about Newham’s elected Mayor from 2012 to 2018 that the major public event in the borough was called The Mayor’s Newham Show. It should of course have been the People’s Newham Show or even just the Newham Show. But Newham was a monolithic Labour fiefdom, ruled by Sir Robin Wales, and the event, paid for by the people, was very much a PR exercise for the Mayor.

A worker for street homeless in Newham speaks

Housing action group Focus E15 were ejected from the Mayor’s Newham Show in 2014 when they approached the Mayor with protesting the borough’s housing policies – and Robin Wales was found guilty of a breach of the code of conduct by Newham Standards Committee.

The following year the council ordered private security to stop campaigners handing out leaflets at the show and members of the Focus E15 campaign were very forcibly thrown to the ground and evicted from the park in East Ham where the show is held.

They march the few yards to the police station

So in 2016, instead of trying to leaflet inside the Newham Show, the Focus E15 Campaign set up a stall outside Newham Town Hall on Barking Road close to the park and spoke and handed out leaflets to people walking to the show in Central Park. Their campaign began when they faced eviction from the Focus 15 hostel in central Stratford when Newham Council axed the grant and the council attempted to disperse them to private rented properties in cities including Liverpool and Manchester and to Wales.

Outside the former police station

They refused, demanding to be rehoused within reach of families, friends and facilities they were familiar with, protesting the council’s policy of social cleansing, though various marches, high profile protests and occupations of empty council properties. Their campaign, which included a weekly street stall on Stratford Broadway widened from being a personal campaign into a ‘Housing for All’ campaign against Newham and other councils who are failing in their duty to provide housing for ordinary people across London.

A woman on her way to Newham Show says everyone should kick the Mayor

Focus E15 continue to speak out and defend tenants from evictions and get suitable rehousing for those made homeless in Newham, while continuing to attack the council’s failure to provide adequate housing in Newham for long-term residents while hundreds of council homes have been empty for over ten years and the council encourages the building of huge areas of luxury flats for overseas investors and rich newcomers.

‘Room for Everyone – No Room for Racism’

Among the many empty properties in Newham was the former police station on the corner of Barking Road opposite the Town Hall on High Street South leading to Central Park. After an hour or so of campaigning from the street stall they moved the short distance to this and four people climbed onto the two balconies with banners while the others held a rally in front of the building.

‘NEWHAM – Hundreds of Empty Homes’

Police came to look at the protest, and tried to persuade the four on the balconies to come down, telling them they were worried that these were unsafe. There was nothing to suggest there was any risk at all as the building was still in good condition despite being unused. Police who want photographers to move also always lie to us and tell us that it is for our safety – and it almost never is, and sometimes actually results us moving into greater danger.

Almost certainly the people on the balconies were safe for the next twenty years or more – or until the building was demolished, and after they told police they would come down in a short time when the rally ended, the police gave up the pretence and simply watched from the opposite side of the road.

a woman from East End Sisters Uncut

Support for the Focus E15 protest came from the Revolutionary Communist Group, Feminist Library, Boleyn Dev 100, Tower Hamlets Renters and Newham Green Party. Among the speakers at the rally was a woman from East End Sisters Uncut who talked about their occupation of an empty property in Hackney as a community resource in protest against Hackney Council’s housing failures.

In 2015 Newham sent 244 families families out of London, claiming it had no space or money to house them here. The borough then had the largest number of empty properties of any London borough – around 1,318 with a total value of around £470 million. Although Sir Robin Wales has now been replaced as Mayor, Newham’s housing policies are still failing the people, and the police station, last in use around 8 years ago, is still empty and firmly sealed against occupation. The Focus E15 campaign continues.

More at Focus E15 Occupy Police Station.

NHS and Housing Marches in East London, 2014

Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

NHS and Housing Marches in East London, 2014

Save our Surgeries on NHS 66th Birthday – Whitechapel

The National Health Service came into operation in the UK on 5th July 1948, established by a Labour government despite considerable opposition from the Conservative Party and some doctors’ organisations. In most recent years there have been protests marking the anniversary against the increasing privatisation of the system, large parts of which have now moved away from being provided by the NHS itself to being provided by private companies, motivated by profits rather than public service.

The opposition to Aneurin Bevan’s plans in the 1940s led to a number of compromises, but the NHS was launched with three basic principles – to meet the needs of everyone, to be free at the point of delivery, and to be based on clinical need rather than the ability to pay. Although those principles remain, there are some respects in which they are not entirely met.

Prescription charges – currently £9.35 per item – were introduced in England in 1952, removed from 1965-8 but then re-introduced, remaining free for under-16s and over 60s, with some other exceptions. And we pay too for NHS dentistry, and many people find it impossible to get dental treatment under the NHS as no practice in their area will take them on.

Access to GPs and other services at surgeries around the country is also much more difficult for many, and it can be difficult or impossible to get an appointment in a timely fashion. Many services dealing with relatively minor medical issues are no longer available, and people have either to pay for them or continue to suffer. Some of these problems have been exacerbated by the take-over of many surgeries by healthcare companies as a part of the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

Twenty years ago, when I had a hospital stay of several weeks, hospitals have been forced to put some essential services – such as cleaning – out to tender, resulting in two of the three hospitals I was in being in filthy conditions.

In 2014, cuts in funding were threatening the closure of surgeries in Tower Hamlets as they failed to pay for the extra needs faced in inner-city areas. Local hospitals were also threatened, particularly because of the huge debts from PFI contracts for the building an management of new hospitals. The deals with the private sector made under New Labour have left the NHS with impossible levels of debt – and the companies involved with high profits, continuing in some cases for another 20 or 30 years.

After a short rally with speakers including the local mayor and MP as well as health campaigners including local GPs, there was a march by several hundreds to a larger rally in Hackney. But I left the marchers shortly after it passed Whitechapel Station.

Save our Surgeries on NHS 66th Birthday

Focus E15 March for Decent Housing – East Ham

Earlier I had been to photograph a march through East Ham and Upton Park in a protest over the terrible state of housing in England, and in London in particular. The event had been organised by Focus E15 Mums with the support of Fight Racism Fight Imperialism, but included many other protest groups from Hackney, from Brent and from South London on the march as well as groups including BARAC, TUSC and others.

They included a number of groups who had stood up and fought for their own housing against councils lacking in principles and compassion who had suggested they might move to privately rented accommodation in Birmingham, Hastings, Wales or further afield, but who had stood their ground and made some progress like the Focus E15 Mothers.

Many London councils are still involved with developers in demolishing social housing and replacing it with houses and flats mainly for high market rents or sale, with some “affordable” properties at rates few can afford, and with much lower numbers than before at social rents. Many former residents are forced to move to outer areas of London in what campaigners call ‘social cleansing’.

Families that councils are under a statutory duty to find homes for are often housed in single rooms or flats, sometimes infected by insects or with terrible damp, often far from their jobs or schools. Councils are under huge pressure and funding cuts sometimes make it impossible for them to find suitable properties, though often there are empty properties which could be used, particularly on estates such as the Caarpenters Estate in Stratford which Newham had been emptying since around 2004 in the hope of redeveloping.

Government policies and subsidies for housing have largely been a way of subsiding private landlords, and we need national and local governments – as I worte ” determined to act for the benefit of ordinary people, making a real attempt to build much more social housing, removing the huge subsidies currently given to private landlords through housing benefit, legislating to provide fair contracts for private tenants and give them decent security – and criminalising unfair evictions.” Housing really is a national emergency and needs emergency measaures.

Much of what is currently being built in London is sold to overseas buyers as investments and often left empty as its owners profit from the rapid rises in property values in London. We need to make this either illegal or to impose heavy duties on overseas owners including increased council taxes on empty properties.

The march attracted considerable attention on the streets of East London, and as I note several motorists stopped to put money in the collection buckets – something I’ve never seen happen before. I left the march as it reached East Ham Station to go to the NHS event.

Focus E15 March for Decent Housing