Posts Tagged ‘East London’

Clean Air and Fair Pay – 2019

Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

Clean Air and Fair Pay – 2019. Two protests on Friday 12th July 2019 over different issues in different parts of London meant I had to leave the first before the rally at the end of the march.

XR East London marches for clean air – Bethnal Green

Clean Air and Fair Pay - 2019

The march from Paradise Gardens at the centre of Bethnal Green to Hackney Town Hall was the initial event in a weekend of play, protest and education which Extinction Rebellion East London had organised under the title ‘East London Uprising’.

Clean Air and Fair Pay - 2019

Paradise Gardens was an obvious and appropriate if ironic meeting point for this march calling for the urgent action on the environment we need if the planet is to remain habitable. Although this has been protected commonland since 1678, this public green space is a thin and rather neglected strip between the busy Cambridge Heath Road and Paradise Row, a narrower street lined mainly by Grade II listed houses. It used to be simply a part of Bethnal Green Gardens which are on the east side of the main road but got its current name from Paradise Row – and the northern part of the gardens across the traffic-clogged road became Museum Gardens.

Clean Air and Fair Pay - 2019

Until shortly before this protest this small area of park had been closed as it was being used by contractors for nearby construction work, with the proviso that they restore it after their work was finished. This appeared to largely have been done, and had not affected the main attraction of the area, the dozen or so large trees along both edges.

When I arrived, people were still getting ready for the march, though most were simply standing around and waiting, some were getting their faces painted while the marching band were practising playing together, and the march stewards were getting their instructions. But finally people lined up behind the main banner with its message ‘THE AIR THAT WE GRIEVE’ and moved onto the fume-laden Cambridge Heath Road.

Air pollution is a huge problem in London, with many areas well above the EU’s legal limits for various pollutants much or all of the time. Traffic is a major source both of gases such as nitrogen oxides and also particulates, and moving towards electric vehicles, though an improvement will not solve the problem as much of the most dangerous particulates come from tyres and brakes. We need to cut traffic, by reducing the need for movement, shifting hugely to public transport and moving to using bicycles, electric bicycles and scooters particularly for shorter journeys.

Air pollution is said to be responsible for almost 10,000 premature deaths in London each year, and a much larger number suffer from serious lung and other conditions from it, greatly reducing their quality of life and creating a heavy burden and costs for our healthcare system. But encouraging people to adopt healthier means of transport needs much more spending on making these safer and more convenient.

The march up one of the area’s busier roads was largely uneventful, though it will have delayed many on their journeys through the area, but it will also have made many people in the area more aware of the problems. Those who drive in London are used to delays, with an overcrowded system in which any minor problem can cause lengthy delays – and as a bus passenger it isn’t unusual I often find myself getting off and walking when I’m in a hurry.

I left the march shortly after it moved across the border from Tower Hamlets into Hackney and was going up Mare Street towards the Town Hall. I was sorry to have to miss the childrens’ assembly which was to take place there at the end of the march, but wanted to be sure to be in time for the protest at Senate House in the centre of London.

More pictures: XR East London marches for clean air

IWGB welcome new Vice Chancellor – Senate House, University of London

Most of the workers carrying out essential but low paid jobs at the University of London are not employed by the university but by contractors who provide their services to the university. This outsourcing results in the workers being poorly paid, often bullied and employed with only the minimum legal conditions of employment.

For years they have been protesting to be employed directly by the university and so get the same pay and working conditions as other staff in similar jobs that are on the payroll. In particular they want the same sick pay, holiday pay and pensions, and of course the London Living Wage.

Their campaigns have met with some progress – and three years on many have been brought in house, but the university dragged its feet for many years, spending large amounts on extra outsourced security staff and refusing to talk with the unions representing the low paid workers. Although trade union legislation means that as employers have to recognise unions, neither the contractors who employed these workers nor the university in whose premises they worked were willing to recognise or negotiate with their unions.

Progress has only been made by direct actions such as this by the grass-roots trade union IWGB, and by strikes by the workers. They had tried to meet with the new Vice-Chancellor Wendy Thomson but their request had simply been ignored.

After a rally at the main gates and a protest outside Student Central (the former University of London Union, closed down by the University because it supported the workers) the protesters returned to Senate House. A small group pushed down some flimsy barriers with the extra security unable to stop them and the rest surged in after them to dance noisily in protest in the yard in front of the locked entrance to Senate House.

More at IWGB welcome new Vice Chancellor

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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

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Church, Pyramid, Star of the East – More Limehouse

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

St Anne's Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-32-positive_2400
St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-32

Church, Pyramid, Star of the East – More Limehouse
My walk around Limehouse came back to the area I think of as its heart, close to St Anne’s Church, one of the Queen Anne Churches built after the 1711 Act of Parliament and consecrated in 1730. St Anne’s is one of the six London churches by Nicholas Hawksmoor along with St Alfege’s Greenwich, St George’ Bloomsbury, Christ Church, Spitalfields, St George in the East Wapping andhis only church in the City of London, St Mary Woolnoth.

St Anne's Churchyard, St Anne's Passage, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-34-positive_2400
St Anne’s Churchyard, St Anne’s Passage, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-34

I turned my back on the church to photograph the entrance gate to the churchyard.

Limehouse Pyramid, St Anne's Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-36-positive_2400
Limehouse Pyramid, St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-36

The church has featured in many books and publications, including the work of psychogeographers and other more esoteric and mystical writers, and seems to have a special place in the works of believers in ley lines. I’ve not read or seen the film ‘Dark Lines Of London’, but a web page claims to give “Factual Information That Provides the Backdrop to the Story” and includes descriptions and photographs of 10 sites, all from centuries after that in which the story is set, along “a real ley line” one of which is this “Wisdom Of Solomon” Pyramid.

Princes Lodge, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-22-positive_2400
Princes Lodge, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-22

THE 4TH CONFERENCE of the Situationist International was held in London, at a secret address in the East End, 24-28 September 1960, seventeen months after the Munich Conference (April 1959). The situationists assembled in London were: Debord, Jacqueline de Jong, Jorn, Kotányi, Katja Lindell, Jörgen Nash, Prem, Sturm, Maurice Wyckaert and H.P. Zimmer. In fact, to ensure that the proceedings were kept well away from any contact with London journalists or artistic circles, the conference took place at the British Sailors Society hall in Limehouse, “an area famous for its criminals”.

Internationale Situationniste #5

Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-23-positive_2400
Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-23

Built in the early 19th century and Grade II listed the Star of the East was serving beer at least from 1845. More recently the building had deteriorated and closed as a pub around 2010, was reopened a couple of years later but closed again in 2016. The pub was then taken over and refurbished by the Old Spot Pub Co, who run around a dozen pubs re-opening again in 2019.

Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-11-positive_2400
Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-11

You can read more about its recent transformation and see some photographs from London Pub Explorer. I’ve yet to return to see for myself. Back in 1988 part of the building was a separate restaurant, but I think the pub now occupies the whole building. The refurbishment appears to have kept at least some of the original interior features.

Three Colts Lane, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-14-positive_2400
Three Colt St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-14

Three Colt St, which has St Anne’s Church at its northern end is one of the oldest roads in the area, part of the route from Limehouse to Stepney and first recorded in 1362. In the Victorian era it was flanked by a number of shops and was something of a middle-class enclave surrounded on both sides by extreme poverty. Little remains from those times. The building here is the former London and Blackwall Railway station, probably dating from the opening of the railway in 1840. The station closed in 1926, but the line remained in use for goods traffic until the 1960s. When the line was reused for the Docklands Light Railway in 1987, Westferry station was built around 300 yards to the east.

Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-16-positive_2400
Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-16

Not only this building but the street that it was in have disappeared since I made this picture. Emmett St was at the end of Three Colt St, roughly where the Limehouse Link tunnel entrance is now. Construction of the tunnel began in November 1989 and the project was officially opened in May 1993, at £293,000,000 the most expensive per mile road scheme ever built in the UK, a huge public subsidy to the Canary Wharf redevelopment.

When Mucho Macho released ‘The Limehouse Link’ in 1998 it had one of my pictures wrapped around both the CD and the 12″ LP, where it looked rather more impressive. But this image was from Poplar – and this is the full image from the Urban Landscapes web site and doesn’t show the Limehouse Link at all.

Clicking on any of the black and white images above will take you to a larger version in my 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.

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DSEI Arms Fair Protests 2015

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

The final protests against the 2015 DSEI arms fair at the Excel Centre on the Royal Victoria Dock in East London took place on 15th September 2015, the day that the arms fair opened. British and foreign warships were lined up alongside the Excel Centre inside which weapons were being sold that would be used to kill people in wars around the globe and to repress, kill and torture in many countries.

East London Against Arms Fairs held a procession around the Royal Victoria Dock floating a wreath oppposite the fair and holding a silence for victims of the arms trade, ending with a Buddhist prayer. They met with two Buddhist monks and supporters and some from the Stop the Arms Fair coalition who had been protesting against the Arms Fair at ExCel over the last week at Royal Victoria DLR station.

The procession was led by a woman wearing white and carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ followed by the East London Against Arms Fair (ELAAF) banner with its dove of peace. It slowly made its way around the west end of the dock and then along its south side until it got close to the end of the dockside path, almost opposite the arms fair.

There was then a ceremony with the wreath being floated on the water of the dock and a two minute silence in memory of those killed by the arms from deals made at the previous fairs and those who will die from the weapons being sold at this DSEi fair. This was followed by a period of prayer by Japanese Buddhist monk Reverend Gyoro Nagase, the guardian of the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.

As the first protest lefit, another group came marching along the dockside to take their place. Kurdish Youth Organisation Ciwanen Azad UK and Stop the Arms Fair supporters had also marched around the Royal Victoria Dock and were staging a ‘die-in’ and rally opposite the Excel centre.

The Turkish government’s Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporter’s Association is one of the international partners of the DSEi Arms Fair, and sales of their weapons at DSEi help fund the the vicious attacks on the Kurdish population in Turkey. A week earlier a relentless assault by Turkish military and police on the town of Cizre killed many people, including children. Attacks have increased since the pro-Kurdish HDP party passed the 10% threshold in the general elections in June 2015, winning seats in the Turkish parliament.

The sales of weapons at the arms enables the Turkish arms industry to continue its development of new weapons, including new drones, new MPT rifles and the Altay battle tank which will be used to continue the massacre of Kurds.

The protesters set up a display of banners and six Kurds in bloodstained white robes stages a ‘die-in’ on the dockside against the Murderous Turkish state opposite the DSEi arms fair.

Kurds say Stop arms sales to Turkey
Wreath for Victims of the Arms Trade

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.

DSEI Arms fair protest 2017

Sunday, September 5th, 2021

Police surround protesters who are stopping a lorry going into the arms fair

Tomorrow, Monday 6th September 2021 sees the beginning of the protests against DSEI 2021 Arms Fair taking place at the Excel Centre in East London. Protests there will continue until 17th September, the final day of the arms fair.

No Faith In War’ protesters block the road by abseiling down from a bridge

I hope to be able to be there and photograph some of the protests, as I have in several previous years. The more dedicated activists will be staying at a protest camp close to the fair, but I will only visit the site for a few hours, making my way across London and then back home – a journey of roughly and hour and a half each way.

Women hold the London WILPF banner in front of a line of coffins on the blocked road

The Arms Fair is certainly one of the largest in the world, and attracts both buyers and sellers from many countries including some of the world’s most repressive regimes. Although the government claims to restrict the sale of British made weapons and equipment to some of the more reprehensible dictators, in practice these controls are ineffectual and somehow don’t seem to apply to some of our largest business clients.

These limited restrictions of course do not apply to those foreign nations and companies who have many stalls inside the fair and can do whatever business they like. In recent years this has been shown to include selling weapons that are outlawed by international agreements.

The protests are organised by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, CAAT, though many other groups also take part. You can find details of the events on their web site. The big day of action, Tank the Arms Fair, is on Tues 14th September, the first day of the fair.

The pictures here come from 2017, the last time I was able to photograph some of the protests. The fair – which the London Mayor and the local council have clearly stated their opposition – takes place every two years. I missed the 2019 protests as I was in Cumbria.

You will find much more about the protests and many more pictures from 2017 on My London Diary at these links:

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

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.


Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

The Docklands Light Railway was one of the good things to come out of the  London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) which was founded by the Tory government in July 1981, though it only came about because the Tories had cancelled earlier plans backed by Labour to extend the Jubilee Line from Charing Cross all the way to Woolwich Arsenal on cost grounds.

The DLR was put forward as a cheap alternative (and many years later in 2009 it did reach Woolwich Arsenal)  and was referred to by many as a ‘Toy-Town’ railway. Certainly now it is a rather slow way to get to Woolwich, and the Jubilee Line is seriously faster to get to Canary Wharf or Stratford, but the DLR has provided a very useful local link as well as providing a direct link from the City of London to Canary Wharf.

I first photographed the DLR seriously for a project on transport in London which was exhibited at the Museum of London in 1992, making use of a newly purchased Japanese panoramic camera and working on the extension then taking place to Beckton. During that project as well as working from the ground I also photographed on my way to the area through the front and rear windows of the driverless trains, as well as out of the side windows.

During my journey to King George V station from the city, I found myself sitting next to a clean window, and took advantage of this to take a number of pictures. My return journey was less fortunate, with a train with windows that were rather dirty, and few of the pictures were successful. I think in the early days they cleaned the trains more frequently than seems to be the case now.

I’d boarded the train at Bank Station, and began taking pictures as it emerged from the tunnel, but most were taken on the section of the line from Poplar to London City Airport which opened in 2005.

Hackney XR March

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

On Friday I’d had to leave the Extinction Rebellion ‘The Air That We Grieve’ march as it reached the Hackney border to go to a protest at Senate House, but on Saturday afternoon there was another march as a part of the ‘East London Uprising weekend, walking through the centre of Hackney from Hackney Fields and on to the centre of the event in London Fields.

Before the march in Hackney Fields there were a couple of things taking place, a dance performance which I found less than exciting visually and some kind of meditation thing which was frankly off-putting. There is an odd-ball new age side to XR that I think works very strongly against it appealing to the great majority of people and which certainly turns me off.

But there were the people, the giant bees and the skeletons to photograph, so I stayed and took pictures, and of course I wanted to photograph the march. But it did make me think that perhaps this was a part of the reason why of the several million East Londoners only a couple of hundred were with us for this march. XR has had a remarkable success, but only with some sections of the community and I think rather more in small towns and rural areas than in working class urban communities.

Looking through the many pictures I made on the march it doesn’t really look like a Hackney event, though I’m sure many or most of those taking part were from the area. Official figures show that “around 40% of the population come from Black and Minority Ethnic groups” but these were severely under-represented.

This isn’t a criticism of those that did take part, and I think the XR has been important in raising awareness of the urgency of the enviromental crisis we are now facing. It has performed a vital service and we see its efforts represented to some extent in the manifestos of all the political parties in the current general election – though so far there has been little real commitment by our government – or those of most other countries.

It was a hot day and I’d been on my feet for several hours and I needed a rest by the time the protest passed Hackney Town Hall. I had intended to continue to the festival taking place on London Fields, but couldn’t bring myself to walk any further, and after a brief rest made my way to Hackney Central to begin my journey home.

More pictures at East London Extinction Rebellion March.

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.

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March for Clean Air

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

Extinction Rebellion East London had organised a whole weekend of event , a festival of play, protest and education, the East London Uprising calling for a rapid end to the use of fossil fuels.

Apart from their huge contribution to our increasing carbon dioxide levels which are leading to unprecedented man-made global heating the will put the future of humanity at risk, the pollution levels already present in London and other cities from coal, petrol and fuel oils which pollute the air with toxic chemicals and particulates is already causing many thousands to suffer from various often serious lung diseases and is estimated to lead to almost 10,000 early deaths in London alone.

The marchers met in a small open space called Paradise Gardens, between the busy Cambridge Heath Road and houses in Paradise Row. It may have seemed like paradise when these houses were built in the late 18th and early 19th century, and doubtless they are now horrifically expensive, but this paradise is now highly polluted.

The march set off from Bethnal Green to Hackney behind a banner ‘The Air That We Grieve’, and included a marching jazz band, and of course plenty of families with children. As well as the jazz band there were samba drummers, and the ‘king of the bottle tops’ and others.

The march attracted considerable interest as it went up the Cambridge Heath Road, with many expressing support. But there was no general uprising and perhaps there are releatively few who are actually changing the way they behave, changing to lower carbon lifestyles as we all need to do. It requires a much greater urgency from a government which is prepared to make statements but not to take on the vested short-term interests of many of its backers by significant green investments and policies that will really impact on personal choices.

More pictures from the event at XR East London marches for clean air

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.