Posts Tagged ‘history’

Bow, Kingsly Hall, a Nursery, Grime, Quakers & more

Sunday, March 13th, 2022

This post continues from my previous post on this walk by me on 1st August 1988, Coventry Cross, Gandhi, Graffiti, Drag Balls …

Stroudley Walk, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-21-Edit_2400
Stroudley Walk, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-21

The buildings of the Diary and the Rose & Crown are still standing at the north end of Stroudley Walk where it meets the end of Bromley High St, but the closed diary became Hussains Convenience Store and then Jalalabad Grocers and half is now a mobile phone repair shop.

The Rose & Crown had opened here around 1720, as the Bowling Green Inn, though the building here is from the 1880s. It closed in 2007, was boarded up for some years before reopening around 2014 as a coffee bar and fast food restaurant.

This was formerly the north end of Devons Road, and a sign for this painted on the brickwork at the left of the pub had virtually disappeared when I made this picture in 1988. Later repainted it has now almost disappeared again.

Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-25-Edit_2400
Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-25

I wrote more about Kingsley Hall and the sisters Muriel and Doris Lester in the previous post on this walk. They used a legacy from their younger brother Kingsley to set up a house where they lived in relative poverty and served the neighbourhood as well as campaigning for peace and justice across the world. A plaque on the building records that Mahatma Gandhi lived in a small cabin here during his three month stay attending a government conference as a representative of the Indian National Congress. You can read and see more about his visit and the sisters on the Muriel Lester web site.

This image gives a better view of the whole building, which dates from 1928. It faces the Devons Estate, built for the London County Council in 1949 and described by Pevsner as being in their ‘pre-war manner, but with all the drabness of post-war austerity‘. Those moved from slums into its maisonettes and flats would have taken a far more positive view and the estate was solidly built and well-designed to the standards of the day.

Clyde House, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow,  Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-26-Edit_2400
Clyde House, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-26

Clyde House is still there at 46 Bruce Road, looking in rather better condition now. Built in 1884 it appears to have been built as a pair with its double-fronted neighbour at 48.

Children's House, Nursery School, , Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow,  Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-11-Edit_2400
Children’s House, Nursery School, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-11

Sisters Muriel and Doris Lester helped to set up the Children’s House on Bruce Road 1923. Doris had trained as a teacher and they commissioned Charles Cowles-Voysey to design a building based on Maria Montessori’s ideal learning environment for young children. The school was opened in 1923 by H G Wells and is still a school, run by Tower Hamlets Council.

Inside there is a 12 metre mural painted in 1935 by Eve Garnett, the illustrator, artist and writer of the first children’s book about working class characters, The Family from One End Street, in 1937. There is now a campaign to save and restore the mural which is dirty and damaged and the web site is asking for donations to pay for this.

Regent Square, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8a-15-Edit_2400
Regent Square, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-15

The Crossways Estate, built in 1970 was apparently at the time known as the ‘Pride of Bow’, for its three 25 storey towers and a low rise block, Holyhead Close, built over the railway line. Later it was more prosaically referred to as the ‘three flats.’

It was here that Grime developed in 2003, after Rinse FM squatted in a flat and broadcast illegally from here, and it was also where Dizzee Rascal and others grew up.

Like many council developments the area around the estate was hard to navigate, with walkways and roads often not shown on maps. My contact sheet says ‘Regent Square and gives grid reference 375827 for the first of the five images I made. The three towers were Hackworth Point, Mallard Point and Priestman Point and are on Rainhill Way.

And also like many council estates, it was subjected to a policy of ‘managed decline’ and by 1999 was in a very poor state, so bad its demolition was under consideration. Tower Hamlets decided to retain and refurbish the estate which passed to Swan Homes after a residents ballot in 2005. Its towers now refurbished and clad more brightly this is now the Bow Cross Estate.

Bow Church, station, DLR,  Crossways estate, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-56-Edit_2400
Bow Church, station, DLR, Crossways estate, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-56

The ‘three flats’ seen from Bow Road and Bow Church DLR station which opened on 31 August 1987.

Mornington Grove, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-61-Edit_2400
Mornington Grove, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-61

Mornington Grove not only gets a mention in the London 5: East volume of Pevsner (p619) which describes these houses as “unusually grand for the area” but also has an extensive web site covering its history by Ken Ward, a resident in the street, from which this information is extracted – and which has far more detail. And it really is an interesting history – if you have the time do click the link and read more.

The land of a nursery here was bought by the Quaker meeting in Ratcliff in 1812, and houses on Mornington Road were developed by them from 1854-1889 – those on the east side in this picture being among the later development. Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington was the son of the first Earl of Mornington, and the fourth Earl lived nearby on the north side of Bow Road.

Many of the houses in Mornington Road were compulsory purchased and demolished for the Whitehapel and Bow Railway (later the District Line) and others by World War II bombing of what had in 1939 been renamed Mornington Grove. Under the Quakers, at least 5/7th of the rents of the houses went to the support of the poor.

Most of the houses in the street, by then under multiple occupation, were sold by the Quakers to a housing association in 1980, becoming social housing, though many have now been sold off.


More from Bow in the next post from my walk in 1988. You can see larger versions of any of these pictures by clicking on the image which will take you to my album 1988 London Pictures from where you can browse.


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.


Digital Panoramas on the Thames Path

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Digital Panoramas on the Thames Path
I’ve long had an interest in panoramic photographs, both in taking them and also appreciating the work of well-known photographers who have made panoramic images. From the earliest days some photographers wanted to make pictures with a wider field of view than was possible with a normal camera and lenses, and the first patent for a specialised panoramic camera was filed in Austria in 1843, using a curved Daguerreotype plate and rotating lens.

The earliest existing panoramic photographs appear to be those by Friedrich von Martens made in the early 1840s – such as this example on Wikimedia dated from 1846. There are also paper prints from the same era, presumably made from calotype negatives. As well as making single exposures with an angle of view of around 150°, von Martens and others made panoramas using multiple exposures, often with normal lenses. Martens produced what was probably the first 360° panorama using three curved Daguerreotype plates.

Normally we use cameras with rectilinear lenses to render straight lines in the subject as straight lines in the picture. But as the distance from the lens centre to the film or sensor gets longer towards the edges and corners, the image magnification also increases. This begins to be noticeable with extreme wideangle lenses, although more of a problem with some subject matter than others.

Although I’ve worked with a full-frame lens at 12mm, I’ve found that for general purposes a practical limit is around 15-16mm with 18mm generally more useful, corresponding to an horizontal angle of view of 90°. Beyond that the image stretching usually becomes too noticeable.

The first really popular specialised panoramic film cameras were the 1899 #4 Kodak Panoram and the Circut, patented in 1904 and produced in a range of sizes until 1945. Some were still in use until recently for producing long roll photographs of perhaps 800 pupils sitting in rows on the school field. They rotated slowly enough for some students to run around the back of the group and appear at both ends. Cameras of this type were used to great effect by photographers including Josef Sudek.

Having made several multi-image panoramas and found the process limiting I bought my first rather more modest panoramic camera, a Japanese Widelux taking images on 35mm film in 1991. Later I bought a Russian Horizon which gave similar results, and a 120 format Chinese model. I still have these along with a Hasselblad X-Pan, not really a true panoramic camera, but using a panoramic format – with the standard lens it only gives a similar angle of view to a 28mm lens, and even with the 30mmm wideangle I mainly used only around a 90° angle of view.

These cameras were the main reason I continued using some film after going digital in 2002. But some years later I found a way of working with digital cameras to make panoramic images, using a fisheye lens and then ‘defishing’ this with software to give a similar image to those made with the swing lens cameras.

These pictures were taken seven years ago on a short walk along one of my favourite sections of the Thames Path in London, from Vauxhall to Wandsworth on Sunday 5th January 2014.

I took images handheld with a Nikon D800E using a Nikon 16mm f2.8 fisheye lens, and later converted them using an Equirectangular projection in PTGui software. I now generally use the more convenient Lightroom Export plug-in https://www.imadio.com/products/prodpage_hemi.aspx ‘Fisheye-Hemi’ from Imadio.

You can see larger images and many more from the walk at Thames Path Panoramas on My London Diary.


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.


St George

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

The details of the life and death of St George (as you can read in Wikipedia) are recorded in accounts dating back to around 1600 years ago, though details vary and the Pope in 494 CE who officially made him a saint called him one of those “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God.

According to the early texts, George was born in Cappadocia, now a part of Turkey, where his father came from, but his mother was a Palestinian Christian. Cappadocians were generally historically regarded as Syrians, though St George’s family are usually said to be of Greek descent. St George became, like his father, a Roman soldier, becoming a member of the elite Praetorian Guard, and was beheaded in the eastern capital of the Roman Empire on 23 April 303CE, 1718 years ago, during Emperor Diocletian’s purge of Christians who refused to recant the faith.

His behaviour and suffering apparently convinced one prominent Roman woman, Empress Alexandra of Rome, possibly the Emperor’s wife – to become a Christian – and to share his fate. The purge failed to have its intended result, and around 21 years after George’s execution, Christianity became the preferred religion in the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine.

George’s body was buried in Lydda in Palestine and Christians there soon became to regard him as a martyr. Some legends say that his martyrdom resulted in the conversion of not just the Emperors’s wife but 40,900 other pagans.

The dragon came along considerably later, only appearing in legends around 700 years after his death, apparently terrorising the city of Silene in Libya, which there is no evidence that St George ever visited. The dragon in my picture above, from a St George’s Day procession in Southwark, seems to have come from Chinatown. But dragons can fly.

The traditional patron saint of England was the last king of Wessex, Edward the Confessor who died in 1066, and it was only in 1552 that as a part of the English Reformation that St George officially became the only saint recognised in England, although along with various other countries English armies adopted him during the crusades and in our battles with the French in the Hundred Years War from 1337-1453. Surprisingly we didn’t drop St George although we lost rather badly.

St George’s Day remains an official feast celebrated by the Church of England, usually, though not always, on April 23, as Easter sometimes interferes. Rather more is made of it by some other countries and churches.

The St George’s cross, widely used by football supporters and right-wing extremists in England, comes from the 10th century in the city of Genoa in Italy, becoming used in England in 1348 when Edward III founded the Order of the Garter and made St George its patron saint. It has never been officially adopted as the national flag, though now widely used as such. It is of course a component of many other flags, including the UK’s national flag.

Over the years I’ve photographed many different celebrations of St George’s Day in and around London, and the pictures come from a few of these in 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2016.

2005 St George’s Day
2009 St George & the Dragon
2009 England Supporters,Trafalgar Square
2009 The George Inn, Southwark
2009 The Lions part: St George & the Dragon
2009 St George’s Day – Trafalgar Square
2011 St George’s Day in London
2016 St George in Southwark Procession
2916 St Georges Day in London


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.


Stand with Hong Kong

Friday, January 24th, 2020
Supporters of Hong Kong and the protests there march from Trafalgar Square towards Downing St.

History is catching up on Hong Kong and Britain. Back in the 17th century the British East India Company had begun cultivating large quanties of opium in Bengal which was then imported into China in order to pay for the luxury Chinese goods much desired in Europe. This led to a huge increase in opium addiction in China, and in 1839 the Emperor decided the trade had to stop.

Chinese students and others in Trafalgar Square oppose the pro-Hong Kong march

The trade went through the port of Canton, and the Emperor’s man there tried to persuade the foreign merchants to hand over their opium in exchange for tea, and when they refused, seized around 1200 tons of the drug and publicly destroyed it. We sent in the Navy to fight this ‘First Opium War’, and Chinese war junks were no match for our gunboats. In 1842 China was defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking, opening up China to free trade and ceding Hong Kong to Britain.

Protesters pose for photographs before they march in support of the Hong Kong protests

This wasn’t the end of our quarrel with China over the opium trade, and in 1856 we picked a second fight with the Chinese to get greater access and to legalise the opium trade, ending in the 1869 Convention of Peking which also ceded a part of Kowloon to join Hong Kong. The final area of Hong Kong, the New Territories were added on a 99 year lease in 1898.

At the rally on Whitehall facing Downing St. But the British Government can no longer send a gunboat and dictate to China.

In 1984 when the end of that lease was only a dozen years away, Margaret Thatcher signed the Sino–British Joint Declaration with China, returning all of Hong Kong to China on 1 July 1997. Under this agreement Hong Kong would be a ‘Special Administrative Region‘ which would retain its capitalist system and way of life unchanged for 50 years until 2047 in what is known as the “one country, two systems” principle.

Posters make the Chinese response to the Hong Kong protests clear.

China now considers the joint declaration to be only of historical significance, while the UK government and the G7 still regard it as an important international treaty. In practice there is probably little Britain can do to see that either the letter or the spirit of the agreement is adhered to. China – and the Chinese students and others who came out to oppose the protest supporting the Hong Kong protesters see Hong Kong as a matter of China’s internal affairs.

More pictures from the pro-Hong Kong and Chinese protests at Stand with Hong Kong & opposition.


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.


Osterley House

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Osterley is a place few people seem to know about, though many pass through its station on the Picadilly Line between Central London and Heathrow or drive past it on the Great West Road. It’s place where few actually live, a handful of streets to the north of that road along with a huge estate of Osterley Park House and an even vaster area of Green Belt with sports areas and a golf club between Southall, Heston, Hanwell, Isleworth and Brentford, whose football club have a training site there. Now the M25 runs through the northern part, cutting it off even more.

I knew it from my early years, an easy bike ride from my home in a densely built up part of Hounslow, with a grand avenue of Sweet Chestnuts where you could rummage through the grass to pick up chestnuts to take home and roast in the oven. Doubtless in earlier years one might have been transported to Australia for such theft, but things were easier in the 1950s.

Later I ran through the ‘Hole in the Wall’ into the fields of Osterley Park on cross-country runs from my secondary school – at least until we learned to disappear into Jersey Gardens on the way there, hiding out enjoying a few fags until the mud-spattered runners came past on their way to the finish a few hundred yards away, coming in respectfully down the field.

Osterley was a country house for two of the wealthiest of English Bankers, the first house built here for Sir Thomas Gresham in 1576.  Sir Francis Child acquired it after a mortgage default and his two grandsons had Robert Adam do a much more fashionable makeover in the 1760s. The stable block survived and now contains the shop and tea-room.

On the death of his brother the property as a whole passed to his younger brother Robert Child; when his only child, a daughter eloped with the Earl of Westmoreland the enraged father changed his will leaving the property in trust to his as yet unborn first granchild. She was born a couple of years later and went on to marry George Villiers, the 5th Earl of Jersey (later he got a royal licence to change his surname to Child Villiers) which explains why Osterley’s main road along which you approach the estate is Jersey Road.

The house was first opened to the public briefly by the 9th Earl in 1939, before becoming a Home Guard training establishment. After the war he moved to Jersey selling the furniture to the V&A and giving the house and park to the National Trust – who handed it over to the Ministry of Works and the V&A for restoration. There was some limited opening of the house to the public and I remember going there when quite young, but it was only in 1991 that it was handed back to the National Trust.

Our visit to Osterley was a short one, and I didn’t have time to go around the house but after a meal in the stables (not hay, but I don’t recommend it) did go into the gardens. Although the wider park is free to the public, there is a charge for the house and gardens, but free entry for members of the National Trust and the Art Fund.

More pictures at Osterley Park.
Images taken on National Trust property are copyright but not available for reproduction or sale.


Streets & people

Monday, May 27th, 2019

Thanks to PetaPixel for bringing to my attention the video 1838-2019: Street Photography – A Photo For Every Year with 182 photos — one photo for every year between 1838 when Daguerre set up his camera overlooking the Boulevard du Temple and 2019 with activists hassling an MP outside Parliament in London.

It’s a curiously hypnotic experience, with each photo appearing for around 6 seconds, with a musical soundtrack that reflects the changing decades, and a rather strange selection of images by Guy Jones, taken on streets around the world, though majoring on the USA. I found it rather annoying but I couldn’t stop watching, though I did turn the volume right down.

Almost all of the pictures certainly are taken on streets and show people, but it rather reflects the lack of any real integrity in the term ‘street photography‘. And while the pictures do reflect the changes in technology over the years, any real historical oversight is entirely prejudiced by every picture from the 20th and 21st century being presented as colour – which for most means a recently colorized version of an original black and white picture. Some colours were rather less than believable. This is faux history in the making.

You’ll probably recognise a few of the pictures, and some of the photographers, but mixed in with these are some rather anonymous postcard views, press images and amateur holiday snaps, which don’t always seem particularly appropriate to represent the year in which they are taken. It’s in a way a very uninformative video; often I found myself wanting to know more about why a particular picture was taken and what it it shows. And for those taken in more recent times I did wonder whether Jones has permission to use the images from the copyright holders. I hope so, though I saw no closing credits to indicate this.