Posts Tagged ‘Foxtons’

Land Justice, Hizb Ut-Tahrir & Grenfell

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Land Justice, Hizb Ut-Tahrir & Grenfell.
Protests in London on 14th April 2018 calling for Land Justice, against Turkey’s support of Assad in Syria and ten months after the Grenfell fire.


The Landlords’ Game – Mayfair, Belgravia & Brompton

Land Justice, Hizb Ut-Tahrir & Grenfell

I photographed a tour of London’s wealthiest areas led by the Land Justice Network which reminded us that land ownership in Britain is one of the most unequal in the world, both in rural areas and in cities.

Land Justice, Hizb Ut-Tahrir & Grenfell

This unequal ownership of land is the basis of our class system and the aggregation of wealth and inequality that have led to our present crisis levels of homelessness and degradation. Largely beginning with the Norman conquest, the battles over land have continued over the centuries, with the enclosure of common land and the current redevelopment of public land, particularly council estates, as private housing for the wealthy.

Land Justice, Hizb Ut-Tahrir & Grenfell

The tour began in Mayfair, where the land is largely owned by the Duke of Westminster, along with much more of the London borough, although the family’s Grosvenor Group Limited has diversified and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grosvenor_Group according to Wikipedia also owns properties in other parts of Britain and Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia, the Asia Pacific region and parts of Europe.

Land Justice, Hizb Ut-Tahrir & Grenfell
British Virgin Islands is an offshore tax haven where 23,000 properties in England and Wales are registered as a tax scam

From a rally at its meeting point in Brown Hart Gardens where there were songs and speeches by the Land Justice Network, the Landworkers Alliance, the tour including activists from Class War and the Revolutionary Communist Group marched to Grosvenor Square where we listed to a surprisingly lucid account of the anti-Vietnam war protest there on 27th October 1968. I think I was there too, but other than a vague recollection of wildly charging police horses and panic can remember little – and in those days I didn’t even have a camera that worked.

We moved off, stopping briefly at a house known to have been left empty for around 15 years, one of many such empty properties in a city with a huge housing shortage to call for councils to be able to levy truly punitive council tax or requisition long-term empty properties.

A short distance along the road we stopped at ‘Grouse House’ owned by Odey Asset Management whose owner Crispin Odey formed ‘You Forgot the Birds’ to oppose RSPB who want to stop the killing of birds for what is wrongly called sport.

There was a speech by Private Eye journalist Richard Brooks who with his colleague Christian Eriksson set about untangling the great offshore corporate web that covers the country – and you can download his report Tax Havens – Selling England By The Offshore Pound from the Private Eye web site.

Kat from the RCG (Revolutionary Communist Group) also spoke, reminding us that the CIty of London is a huge3 tax haven and the money laundering capital of the world.

The tour continue to Park Lane, where there was a short protest outside estate agent Foxtons which sells and rents some of the most expensive property in London, and Class War were prominent in pointing out that both the Tory government and the Labour local authorities have relied on estate agents to direct their housing strategies.

The tour stopped again on Park Lane outside the Grosvenor House Hotel, the venue for the notorious annual Property Developers Awards before crossing into Hyde Park, open to the public since 1637, but where we were reminded of the battles to make many other parks public, and how now many have only been saved by the growth of groups of volunteer ‘Friends’. We also heard a plea for more free public toilets. Many were closed in the 1980s because of a ‘gay scare’ and others such as those at Hyde Park Corner now charge for use – 50p a visit here.

Across Knightsbridge we walked along one of the most expensive streets in Britain, Grosvenor Crescent to a statue of the first Marquess of Westminster on the corner of Belgrave Square, which has a plaque stating the family came here with William the Conqueror. He divided out the conquered land and many great estates date from then, though the Grosvenor Estate holdings in London came to them when 3rd Baronet Sir Thomas Grosvenor married Mary Davies, the heiress to the 500 acre Manor of Ebury in 1677. He was 21 at the time, but she was only 12. The estate, then largely swamps later became Mayfair, Park Lane and Belgravia.

A left the tour here for a few minutes to photograph the Hizb Ut-Tahrir protest outside the Turkish Embassy, but rejoined it later at the final rally in Cadogan Square, part of the 93 acres of the Cadogan Estate which includes the wealthiest parts of Kensington & Chelsea. Much of the money which enabled Sir Hans Sloane to buy the Manor of Chelsea came from African slave labour on sugar estates in Jamaica. His daughter Elizabeth Sloane married Charles Cadogan in 1712.


Hizb Ut-Tahrir protest against Turkey – Turkish Embassy, Belgrave Square

Land Justice, Hizb Ut-Tahrir & Grenfell

Hizb Ut-Tahrir Britain, Sunni Muslims who call for the restoration of the Muslim caliphate which whose armies conquered much of the Middle East in 632-661CE, were protesting against Turkish complicity in handing Syria back to Assad in accordance with colonial interests and calling for Muslims to support the brave people of Palestine who “are raising their voices to speak out and protest against the illegal occupation, as they are mercilessly killed by the Zionist regime.”

Women were strictly segregated from men at the protest and some stewards were unhappy for me to photograph them.

Their criticism of Turkey goes back to the 1922 abolition of the Ottoman state and the Turkish recognition of the Zionist occupation of Palestine in 1949, and they accuse President Erdogan of strengthening Turkish military and economic ties with Israel. They claim the Turkish state is a secular state “whose role is to protect the colonialist’s interests in our lands, defending and strengthening our enemies who murder us in Syria and Palestine” and call on “Muslims to join us to STAND, STRUGGLE AND SACRIFICE FOR PALESTINE.”


Grenfell – 10 months on – Kensington Town Hall

Land Justice, Hizb Ut-Tahrir & Grenfell

A large crowd was assembling at Kensington Town Hall for the monthly silent walk marking 10 months since the disaster. They hold Kensington and Chelsea Council responsible for the tragedy and for failing to deal effectively with is aftermath, with many survivors still not properly rehoused.

Five years later a public inquiry is still proceeding at a snail’s pace, and there have been no prosecutions of those responsible for approving and installing the highly dangerous cladding on the tower block, for cutting costs, for failing to install the cladding properly, for governments cutting out essential safety regulations which their friends in the building industry thought were ‘red tape’ hampering profits and it looks unlikely if there will ever be justice. Instead we have seen politicians trying to blame the residents for not leaving the building and almost entirely unjustified criticism of the fire service.

There were some speeches, poetry and music before the silent march began, and then a very noisy protest by bikers from the Ace Cafe including Muslim bikers Deen Riders and others taking part in a United Ride 4 Grenfell, from the Ace Cafe on the North Circular Rd, riding to Parliament and then coming to Kensington Town Hall.

The long silent walk towards Grenfell Tower began immediately after the bikers left, and I followed it for a short distance before turning away and leaving to make my way home.


More at:
Grenfell silent walk – 10 months on
Bikers for Grenfell
Hizb Ut-Tahrir protest against Turkey
The Landlords’ Game


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Class War Notting Hill Pub Stroll

Saturday, March 5th, 2022

Class War Notting Hill Pub Stroll. The peaceful pub crawl on Saturday 5th March 2016 by a small group of Class War supporters revisiting sites important in the early years of the movement attracted rather more police than participants; several venues closed for the event and Notting Hill Foxtons was fully boarded up.

The event had been widely publicised as ‘Historic – Riotous – Fun’ although it lived up to the first and last of these three words, it was never likely to be more than a little good humoured horseplay.

The event started with something of a whimper; unfortunately the Ground Floor Bar, formerly the Colville Hotel at 186 Portobello Road on the corner of Talbot Road which was the advertised starting point was unavailable as the whole pub had closed down shortly after the event was conceived and was boarded up awaiting sale. It did reopen briefly a few months later before becoming The Ginstitute.

Class War’s first conference was held in a private room at the Colville on 27th August 1983, shortly after the second Class War magazine had been published, and according to the speech Ian Bone made outside the closed pub it ended with a fight between Sean Mason and the landlord. In his entertaining memoir ‘Bash The Rich‘, still available, Bone writes “To be honest, I doubt if anyone who was there can really remember what the fuck happened” over the course of an 8 hour lock-in when even the landlord joined in the political arguments over “Stonehenge, IRA, sexual politics“, though he does give considerable detail.

Class War has been described as “fearless, hilarious and, for the rich and powerful of this benighted isle, absolutely terrifying” and this still appeared to be the case with their activities of a small handful of people in Notting Hill on this afternoon being closely watched and followed by a small team of police who appeared on every street corner. Class War found the second pub on the trail, ‘The Castle’ mysteriously ‘closed for maintenance’ as they arrived, though the staff were still working inside and it was open as usual later in the afternoon, with staff trying hard to scrape off an number of Class War stickers from its frontage.

The Castle was once Portobello Road’s the Warwick Castle, but it was sadly gutted some years back, gentrified and is now called simply ‘The Castle’. You can read about its heyday in the book by book ‘3000 Hangovers Later’ by Ray ‘Roughler’ Jones, another Class War stalwart who briefly joined the event later.

It was at the Warwick Castle that Ian Bone saw Joe Strummer of The Clash drinking, came up on the spot with the idea of a ‘Rock Against the Rich’ tour, and found the man to be enthusiastic for it – prepared not only to take part, but put money into it. Class War recorded the event by putting up a number of ‘Blue Plaques’ to Strummer and to Rock against the Rich – actually ‘Blue Plates’, paper plates fixed to the windows and walls with Class War stickers.

The Duke of Wellington had remained open, though perhaps with rather more bouncers than usual on the door, but they let us in and Class War settled down for a pint or two, with several more joining the group, including Lisa McKenzie who made a dramatic entry, throwing off her coat to reveal her ‘Class War Womens Death Brigade’ t-shirt. This used to be the main H H Finch’s bar on the Portobello Rd but was subjected to an entire refurbishment after being taken over by Young’s in 1991, now catering to the tourist trade.

Class War after a few expensive pints were led out again by Rita the Raven down Portobello Road where they danced briefly outside at the record stall before settling in the only remaining real pub in the area, the Earl of Lonsdale, a Sam Smith’s pub that was once Henekey’s. Sam Smith’s in many of their pubs have gone to a great deal of trouble to keep or recreate the character of a real British pub, and then their bitter was reasonably cheap (for London) as was the chips and other food.

Class War had published a route with timings for the afternoon but of course were running well behind. Despite this some supporters managed to find them and join in, though others I met at another event the following day had tried but failed. Most of us made it out of the pub to walk down to George Orwell’s former house – a venue that had gone viral with a faked image on social media showing a photoshopped CCTV camera next to its blue plaque. Here Lisa McKenzie gave a speech praising George Orwell, a scholarship boy at Eton, for recognising the nature of the war by the elites against the working classes.

Next came a visit to the Notting Hill branch of Foxton’s, securely boarded up for the day, outside which Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing spoke about the housing crisis and the role of estate agents in gentrification and the Foxtons sign gained a few stickers.

After he had been speaking for around ten minutes a number of police vans and motorcycles drew up noisily to reinforce the small group of officers who had been watching all afternoon from a polite distance of a few yards, and Class War quickly melted away into a nearby pub and I went with them.

An hour later, after the unexpected bonus of seeing a Class War make-up demonstration for a comrade it seemed unlikely that they would complete their tour with visits to the homes of Tory Chancellor George Osborne and his father and the Daily Mail, and I left for home.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Brompton: 1988

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

Brompton Rd, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-51-positive_2400
Brompton Rd, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-51

Estate Agents seemed to be taking over the world and this large Foxton’s seemed to symbolise this. In an article in ‘Property Chronicle‘ in 2020, Dan Channer suggests that Foxtons is the only UK Estate Agent brand “truly differentiated” for several reasons, one of which was that “It spent money on its offices like no other agent.” This building is perhaps an example of this and part of what has made them probably the most hated estate agent by those opposed to gentrification. Perhaps surprisingly this building on the Brompton Rd, though still and estate agents is now a branch of the other contender for that title, Savills.

Egerton Gardens,  Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-62-positive_2400
Egerton Gardens, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-62

Although the street sign says Egerton Crescent which is the address of the row of Grade II listed houses, I was standing in Egerton Gardens, and the garden with its threes and flowering daffodils is the garden between the two. The street is one of several to have been described in recent years as the “most expensive street in Britain”, with average house prices in 2015 of over £7.5m. (Wikipedia.) Among those who have lived there are broadcaster David Frost and film director Tony Richardson.

These houses were designed by George Basevi and built by in the 1840s as Brompton Crescent by developer James Bonnin, responsible for much of the development in the area (and other parts of London) from 1822 on. Bonnin leased the site in 1843 and some of the houses were occupied by 1845, with the work being completed by 1848. The site had previously been occupied by a mansion named Brompton Grange, which was demolished. The street was renamed Egerton Crescent in 1896 after the Honourable Francis Egerton, one of the trustees of the Smith’s Charity who owned the land.

Egerton Terrace,  Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-65-positive_2400
Egerton Terrace, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-65

This Grade II listed terrace was also built on land owned by the Smith’s Charity and Basevi may possibly have been involved in its design. This cul-de-sac at the east end of Egerton Gardens was also developed by Bonnin in the 1840s on the land he leased in 1843, and was originally called Michael’s Grove.

Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-4m-66-positive_2400
Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-66

Anglicans who followed the lead of John Henry Newman and became Catholics in the middle of the 19th century first established a London Oratory near Charing Cross, but soon purchased a site in Brompton in 1852. They first built an Oratory House and temporary church but in 1874 launched an appeal to build this Italianate Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, more commonly known as the Brompton Oratory. They held a competition for the design, which was won by Herbert Gribble in 1876 and the church was consecrated in 1884, although it was made taller and the cupola added in 1895. (Wikipedia). The church is Grade II* listed.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-11-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-11

This is one I took for the tree, and shows why I liked photographing on London streets in winter when you see the remarkable patterns made by the branches. Of course there is another huge advantage, as in summer you can’t see the houses for the trees in many streets which created an impenetrable green barrier.

Although I find Google’s Streetview extremely useful at times – and check any locations I’m unsure about using it, one extremely annoying feature is that it only seems to have views taken between April and October, many of which are obscured by leaves. That seems a poor decision. The earliest views were taken in 2008, and its often useful to be able to go back to that date; if it had been going in 1988 I might not have thought my long walks necessary, though you often find that it doesn’t allow quite the view you want.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-12a-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-12

Here’s another picture of Harcourt Terrace where you can see some of the houses.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-13-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-13

And walking a little further down the street shows a little more variety.

Land in this area south of Brompton Road was bought up by the builders and consolidated by around 1866 and became the Redcliffe estate. Building continued until around 1876 with over 800 houses and “72 mews premises” (British History Online) The builders, William Corbett and Alexander McClymont, were noted for their modern methods, including the use of steam powered joiner’s machinery and building fire-resistant roofs, but went bankrupt in 1878 with liabilities of around one-and-a-quarter million pounds. William Corbett in his earlier years described himself as an accountant, and the huge debt was possibly a result of the work being based on unconventional “modern” accounting methods. Fortunately most of the building was completed by then.

Redcliffe Mews, Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-14-positive_2400
Redcliffe Mews, Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-14

Redcliffe Mews is behind the houses on the west side of Harcourt Terrace and is one of the few mews in this area. The date of 1869 probably applies to the terraces on the main street as well as the mews behind them.

Click on any of the images to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos


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.


Reclaim Brixton 2015

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

Brixton has been in the news again recently, with various analyses published on the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Brixton uprising (aka Brixton riots) which began on 10th April. Official reports put the 3 days of unrest which caused £7.5m of damage and left almost three hundred police (and an impossible to estimate number of the local community) injured down to poor housing, unemployment, and police harassment.

It was largely the actions of the police that led to the events. Their failure to effectively investigate the arson attack on a party in New Cross which killed 13 young black people in January 1981 scandalised much of the nation and the racist reaction of the mass media to a protest march about this raised tension, exacerbated by the police arrests of the march organisers who were charged with riot – and later acquitted. But the final straw was when police at the beginning of April began ‘Operation Swamp 81’ with large numbers of officers coming into Brixton and stopping an searching almost a thousand people – almost entirely African-Caribbean – under the ‘Sus law’, the 1824 Vagrancy Act which allowed police to stop and search anyone they believed was acting suspiciously.

Little changed after the official reports came out, and it was only 19 years later, following another scandalous police failure to properly investigate the murder of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993 that the Macpherson report found that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist. Although some changes have been made, there are still plenty of signs that this continues to be deeply embedded in the ethos of the force.

The publication of ‘The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ on 31st March this year (2021) came at perhaps a particularly insensitive time for a report that is widely seen as a whitewash by a commission set up to reflect particular views. Set up in opposition to the protests by the Black Lives Matter movement over the death of George Floyd (and three weeks before the trial of his killer ended in three guilty verdicts) it evoked fury from many experts in the field as well as the millions who still experience discrimination.

More recently is has been condemned in remarkably forthright terms by the independent experts of the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council who state “In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent” and call on the British government to categorically reject its findings.

Brixton has changed since 1981 and some of those changes are very much for the worse for the local population. There were further riots, and there have been deaths at the hands of police – such as those of Ricky Bishop in 2001 and Sean Rigg in 2008 – but the main threat facing the local communities is gentrification as Brixton is changing from a working class area home particularly to migrant communities to a trendy up-market suburb. Its a change which is in part inspired by the vibrant communities which it is displacing, but also driven by the excellent transport links the area enjoys.

25 April 2015 saw Reclaim Brixton, a day long protest against gentrification which saw several thousands gathering at various events in what is still so far as I’m aware the largest protest of its kind. One major blow to local people has been the decision by Network Rail, backed by Lambeth Council to redevelop the railway arches in the centre of the town, home for many years to some of Brixton’s best loved – and cheapest – businesses. The current tenants, one of which came here in 1932 – are being evicted and after renovation the rents will be triple and their places largely taken by the same chains and franchises that we see in so many other high streets.

Soon after I left Brixton – in what seemed like a quiet period and I thought things had probably ended, activists took direct action against some of the major players they hold responsible for gentrification, breaking a large window Soon after I left Brixton – in what seemed like a quiet period and I thought things had probably ended, activists took direct action against some of the major players they hold responsible for gentrification, breaking a large window at Foxton’s estate agents, going into Brixton Village with their banners and briefly occupying Lambeth Town Hall.

More at:
London Black Revs ‘Reclaim Brixton ‘march
Reclaim Brixton celebrates Brixton
Take Back Brixton against gentrification
Brixton Arches tenants protest eviction