Posts Tagged ‘housing’

Nine years ago: 6 Oct 2012

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

Proposals to close Accident and Emergency services at four of the nine hospitals in North West London provoked fury among local residents and opposition from local councils as they would mean slow journeys over heavily congested roads for those living in much of northwest London. The proposals seemed to be motivated simply by cost savings with no regard to the consequences.

This protest was one of a number that I photographed, particularly about the closure of A&E and some other services at both Charing Cross Hospital (which is in Hammersmith) and Ealing Hospital. The previous month I had photographed a http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2012/09/sep.htm#hospitals large march from Southall Park to Ealing Hospital against the closure plan and there was another march to Central Middlesex Hospital taking place that same day.

These large and widespread protests and legal actions taken by the protesters were almost certainly a major factor behind the decision in March 2019 by then Health Secretary Matt Hancock to finally scrap the plans for what was the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS. The campaigners welcomed the decision but said it should have come much earlier rather than after seven years of the Dept of Health supporting the plans, which would have involved demolishing Charing Cross Hospital and selling off most the site.

I photographed as people gathered for the march in Shepherds Bush but had to leave as the march was setting off for Hammersmith and a rally in Fulham to go to Westminster.

Britain First, a far-right anti-Muslim movement (it describes itself as “a modern, responsible patriotic political movement”) was protesting at Downing St against what they described as ‘Britain’s secret shame – Muslim Grooming’ and were joined on their protest by members of other extremist groups including the English Defence League. After protesting for around an hour at Downing St they marched the short distance to Parliament Square where they tried to burn an Islamic flag. It proved to be rather fire-resistant.

A few yards away, thousand of Muslims packed Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament in a peaceful protest against an Anti-Muslim film made in the USA. They called for laws to protect religious figures.

The film, Innocence of Muslims, a crude video made by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakoula_Basseley_Nakoula Egyptian-born American writer Mark Basseley Youssef had already prompted violent anti-American protests in various Muslim countries. Youssef was then in jail in Los Angeles for violations of a probation order which, among other things included making false statements regarding his role in the film, and his use of the alias “Sam Bacile”. He had a previous conviction for in 1997 for intent to manufacture methamphetamine and was under probation following release in June 2011 from being jailed in 2010 for his part in a bank fraud.

Youssef, under his alias Bacile, falsely claimed that the anti-Islamic film had been funded by $5 million from 100 Jewish donors and that he was an Israeli Jew. An Egyptian court tried him and others in absentia and sentenced them to death for defaming Islam in November 2012. He was released from prison in 2013 to serve the remainder of his sentence in a halfway house in Californinia followed by 4 years of probabation.

Finally I travelled to Kilburn for a march and rally demanding Brent council rehouse the Counihan family from South Kilburn. Two years earlier, Anthony Counihan, a London bus driver inherited a few acres of poor land in Galway on the death of his father. Rented out, it brings an income of £18 a week.

He reported this to Brent Council, who responded with an eviction order and a demand for repayment of £70,000 of housing benefit, later telling him he should move back with his family to Ireland where he was born – while continuing to drive a bus from Cricklewood Depot. His wife Isabel and five children were all born in Brent.

The case was complicated by the fact that the family had moved out of a council property to go back to Ireland for a year to look after his sick father, and had signed away their lease as the council had not told them they could sublet for the year, and by their treatment by the council after their return, when they were unable to find accomodation they could afford on a bus-drivers salary. Brent decided they had made themselves “intentionally homeless” and were refusing their statutory duty to rehouse the family.

More on all at:
Rehouse the Counihans
Muslims against Anti-Muslim Film
Britain First – Muslim Grooming
Save Our Hospitals – Shepherds Bush


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.


Housing: Focus E15 – Newham Show 2016

Saturday, July 10th, 2021

Housing remains a major problem, with many people and families in London still having to live in inadequate and often dangerous conditions. It isn’t that there is a shortage of homes, as many lie empty. There is a shortage, but it is of homes that people can afford to live in.

What London desperately needs is more low-cost housing. Council housing used to provide that, and by the late 1970s almost a third of UK households lived in social housing provided on a non-profit basis. Post-war building programmes, begun under Aneurin Bevan, the Labour government’s Minister for Health and Housing led to the building of estates both in major cities and the new towns that provided high quality housing at low rents, attempting to provide homes for both the working classes and a wider community.

Successive Conservative governments narrowed the scope of public housing provision towards only providing housing for those on low income, particularly those cleared from the city slums, reducing the quality of provision and also encouraging the building of more high-rise blocks, something also favoured by new construction methods of system building. Housing became a political battle of numbers, never mind the quality.

It was of course the “right to buy” brought in under Mrs Thatcher that was a real death blow for social housing. As well as losing many of their better properties, councils were prevented from investing the cash received from the sales in new housing – and the treasury took a cut too. Tenants seemed to do well out of it, getting homes at between half and two thirds of the market price, but often having bought their homes found the costs involved were more than they could afford, particularly when repairs were needed. Many of those homes were later sold and became “buy to let” houses.

Around ten years ago I passed an uncomfortable 25 minutes of a rail journey into London when a young student with a loud public-school voice explained to two friends what a splendid scheme “buy to let” was. He was already a landlord and profiting from it. You didn’t he told them actually have to have any money, as you could borrow it against the surety of your existing property – or a guarantee from Daddy – at a reasonable rate. You then bought a house and let it out, through an agency to avoid any hassle of actually dealing with tenants. Even allowing for the agent’s fees the rents you charged would give you a return on your investment roughly twice you were paying on your loan. It was money for nothing. And so it was for those who could get banks and others to lend them money, though recent changes have made it a little less profitable.

New Labour did nothing to improve the situation, and even made things worse through encouraging local councils to carry out regeneration schemes, demolishing council estates and replacing them with a large percentage of private properties, some largely unaffordable “affordable” properties and usually a token amount of actual social housing. The situation has been was still worsened since then, both by extending the right to buy to Housing Association properties and also by changes in tenure for those still in social housing. Successive governments have also driven up both house prices and rents by various policies, particularly the subsidies for landlords provided by Housing Benefit.

I’ve written before about Focus E15, a small group based in Newham whose activities have prompted some national debate. Begun to fight council moves to close their hostel for single mothers and disperse them to privately rented accommodation across the country (like Katie in ‘I, Daniel Blake who gets sent to Newcastle), having succeeded in their fight to stay in London they widened their scope to help others fight for decent housing – particularly in Newham, where the Labour council under Mayor Robin Wales was failing to deal with some of the worst housing problems in the country – while keeping large numbers of council properties empty.

Eventually Newham got rid of Robin Wales (and their campaign almost certainly helped) but the housing problems remain. A few days ago Focus E15 tweeted

Brimstone house in Stratford is the former FocusE15 hostel, now run by Newham Council as temporary and emergency accommodation.

One of Robin Wales’ big PR operations was the annual ‘Mayor’s Newham Show’ held in Central Park. Focus E15 were stopped from handing out leaflets inside or outside the show and on 1oth July 2016 set up a stall and protest on the main road a few hundred yards away. After handing out leaflets to people walking to the show for an hour or so, they briefly occupied the balconies of the empty former Police Station opposite Newham Town Hall on the road leading to the show ground in a protest against the Mayor’s housing record and policies.

Tories Out! July 1st 2017

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

It was the so-called Democratic Unionist Party, the DUP, a deeply bigoted party with links to Loyalist terrorists, that saved Theresa May’s bacon after the 2017 election, bribed to give their support after an election result which showed a rejection of the toxic austerity policies of the Coalition and Tory governments.

And in response, Boris Johnson agreed a Brexit deal which put a border in the Irish Sea which the DUP are now up in arms about. Probably the EU will agree to some relaxation of the rules – and exporters will eventually get used to making the changes in the ‘paperwork’ (surely mainly now digital) which will be required and the Tory government may eventually realise that they need to respect and implement treaties that they sign up to. But it seems inevitable that the sea border will remain, and probably eventually lead on to a united Ireland.

A Grenfell resident holds up some of the flammable cladding

Grenfell had also recently underlined the toxic effects of Tory failure and privatisation of building regulations and inspection and a total lack of concern for the lives of ordinary people.

A huge number of groups came together for the Tories Out march, organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, with around 20,000 gathering outside the BBC (who if they deigned to mention the event in any of their extremely lengthy news broadcasts will probably have called it ‘several hundreds’) to march to a Parliament Square rally calling on the Tory Government to go, saying they had proved themselves unfit to govern, and demanding a decent health service, education system, housing, jobs and living standards for all.

Had the DUP not sold themselves to the Tories, another election seemed inevitable, and perhaps having seen the closeness of the result, at least some of those Labour MPs an officials who had been actively campaigning against their leader might have decided to change sides, backing Labour and the popular policies which had led the Party to its highest vote share since 2001 (40%) and got behind a leader they had previously discarded as ‘unelectable’ to get back into power.

There was certainly huge support for Corbyn on the march, much expressed through that rather inane singing (which I suspect he finds embarrassing.) But there were a significant number who also showed their anger at the housing policies of London Labour boroughs who are demolishing council estates and colluding with huge property developers to replace them with expensive and largely private housing.

Lisa from Class War greets Victor from the United Voices of the World

One of those groups was Class War, and later at the rally, unfortunately after I had left, Lisa Mckenzie confronted both Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, asking the simple question ‘When are you going to stop Labour councils socially cleansing people out of London?’. Both men simply ignored her and walked away, though Corbyn did look a little shame-faced. His eccentric brother, Piers Corbyn, has long campaigned on the issue, and I suspect Jeremy, like others on the Labour left, would like a change in policy.

More on My London Diary: Tories Out March.

Housing Awards – 2016

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

A resident of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark speaks about the council’s terrible record

Most people have never heard of the annual Municipal Journal Local Authority Awards, a kind of self-congratulatory back-slapping beanfeast for local authorities on the lines of the Oscars and a dinner at the Hilton, doubtless on our council tax.

Protesters ignore hotel staff and police who tell them they must move

The news in 2016 that two of London’s councils with the worst records for housing were nominated for awards angered London housing protesters and Focus E15, the Revolutionary Communist Group, Class War, Architects 4 Social Housing and others organised a protest outside the Park Lane Hilton including a rather different awards ceremony.

Protesters from Newham blame Labour Mayor Robin Wales ‘Robin the poor’

They pointed out that Southwark had by 2016 demolished 7,639 units of social housing, sold off public land to developers, and evicted people unlawfully and accuse Newham of social cleansing, rehousing people in distant parts of the country while council properties remain empty, and of causing mental health problems through evictions, homelessness and failure to maintain properties.

Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing objects to being assaulted by a police officer.

Police tried to move the protesters away from the hotel entrance and across the service road, but most resisted and held their ground, with police keeping the entrance clear, A few did move across the road were they could hand out flyers people arriving by taxi. There were a a few minor incidents when police pushed a protester holding a banner and again when several protesters held banners and placards in front of the restaurant windows.

Class War had brought their banner with a quote from US anarchist Lucy Parsons “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” particularly appropriate for a protest in Mayfair and outside the Hilton. Police made a rather unwise and ineffectual attempt grab this from them but soon gave up.

People continued to arrive for the event and to walk past the protesters. Many had come from towns and cities across the UK for the event and where probably not particularly away of the situation in London boroughs.

I played around a little with the reflections in the polished metal canopy above the Hilton entrance, which was doing a good job in keeping the light rain off most of the protesters, though I was getting a little wet.

Looking up from the service road we could see those attending the awards ceremony talking and drinking before the dinner, while outside the protesters were beginning their own awards.

There were quite a few speeches from various of the activists, and Southwark won the award as London’s worst council, with Newham a close second.

House The Homeless In Empty Properties

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

We don’t actually have a housing shortage in the UK. There are more than enough homes to go round. What we have is mainly a failure to get homeless people into empty homes. A failure to provide homes that people can afford.

Of course there will always be a few empty homes, as people move or die and it takes a little time to sell the empty properties. But the latest official figures for homes that have been empty for more than six months in England is 268,385 – and the figures are growing. According to Crisis, “more than 200,000 families and individuals in England alone will be … finding themselves sleeping on the streets, hunkered down in sheds and garages, stuck in unsuitable accommodation or sofa surfing.”

Covid will make homelessness worse, with huge numbers of people now threatened by eviction as they have been unable to keep up with rent payments. There were various extensions to a ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, but this ban came to an end in England on 31 May – but continues until 30 June 2021 in Wales and 30 September 2021 in Scotland.

As well as making people homeless, evictions also increase the number of empty properties, and those who are evicted are unlikely to be able to afford new tenancies.

There are various reasons why properties remain empty. They may simply be in places where people don’t want to live, and while there is huge pressure on housing in some areas – and we have seen house prices leap up 10% in a month – there are others where houses are difficult to sell – and even some new build houses remain empty for long periods.

Covid has meant that many holiday lets – conventional and Airbnbs – have stayed empty, and demand may be slow to pick up. People with two homes, one close to their place of work, may now have decided they can work from their more distant home and abandon the other. But even when taking these factors into account there seems to be an underlying rise in empty homes.

But housing in England has become a dysfunctional system, and we need changes so that people who need homes can afford them. To put it simply we need some way to provide more social housing. And the best way to provide these is for councils to be given the resources to build this – and to take some of those empty properties into public ownership – including some of those sold off on the cheap under ‘right to buy’, many of which are now ‘buy to let’ properties from which people are facing eviction.

Newham Council, under the then Mayor Robin Wales, began emptying people from the Carpenters Estate in the early 2000s. Many perfectly good properties on the estate have remained empty for years as the council has looked for ways to sell off the area close to the Olympic site, despite the huge waiting list for housing in Newham.

Focus E15 Mums, young mothers facing eviction from a hostel in Stratford, were offered private rented properties hundreds of miles away with little or no security of tenure and relatively high rents. It’s difficult for one person to stand up to the council, but they decided – with support from others – to join together and fight, with remarkable success – which gained them national recognition. And they continue to campaign for others facing housing problems.

Seven years ago on Monday 9th June 2014 they came to the Carpenters Estate to expose the failure of Newham Council pasting up posters on deliberately emptied quality social housing vacant for around ten years on what had been one of Newham’s most popular council estate and called for it to be used to house homeless families.


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.


London 20 May 2017

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

Probably the question I’m most often asked about my photographs of protest is how I find out what is happening. Back in the old days of the last century it was difficult, and I photographed far fewer events. I’m not sure if there were fewer protests, though I think so, but it was certainly then much harder to find out about them. Apart from the printed newsletters and magazines of organisations there were posters pasted illegally on mainly derelict sites around parts of London and the flyers that were handed out at one protest about others in the following months. And word of mouth, again mainly from people I met at protests.

With the Internet, and in particular the World Wide Web and web browsers things began to change, though fairly slowly at first. Organisations slowly began to have web sites and advertise their protests on them; others set up e-mail lists and in 1999 Indymedia began. Google had been founded a year earlier, but there were other search engines more prominent for some years; at the time I was earning money writing for a commercial web site and much of my work depended on web searching to find content to write about – and I also searched for protests, building up a long list of useful sites.

Over the next few years, Google came to dominate web searching and social media began to be more important. By around ten years ago most protests had become Facebook events and much of my diary could be filled in by a search through the events on that platform. Also as I put more of my photographs on-line, at first through Indymedia and later through Facebook and Demotix, I began to get more and more invitations by e-mail and through Facebook to events, some in London and others around the country and world I could not possibly attend. And of those that were in my area I could only cover a fairly small fraction, generally those I saw as most important.

But there were and are those protests I came across by accident, often when covering other events. I’m not sure now whether or not I was aware that 20th May 2017 was Fight Dog Meat Kindness and Compassion Day, but while I’m against torturing animals I would not have gone out of my way to photograph the End dog and cat meat trade protest but was there in Trafalgar Square for Teen Voice says votes at 16, where young people were saying it was unfair they had not been able to vote in the Brexit referendum – while they can work, pay taxes and even join the armed forces they had no say in a decision which will effect their future to an arguably greater extent than anyone who voted.

The protest at The Guardian newspaper was very definitely in my diary, and I was saddened by their coverage of events in Venezuela, which has consistently taken the side of the right-wing middle class in that country against President Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez whose reforms have done so much, decreasing poverty, providing free health care and education, devolving power into the hands of local collectives and building homes for the working class. While reporting on the ‘pro-democracy’ protests which are part of a US-backed right-wing coup it has failed to report their attacks on hospitals, schools and socialist cities which have led to many deaths and the mass demonstrations in favour of the government by working class supporters.

Thanks to the Jubilee Line I was able to travel on to Stratford to photograph Focus E15 launch The Newham Nag, a handout giving some of the facts about Newham Council which somehow were not included in the council’s glossy information sheet. Newham has more homeless than any other local authority in England – one in 27 residents – and more evictions from rented accommodation than any other London Borough. As well as failing housing policies with many homes deliberately kept empty for over ten years, Mayor Robin Wales is also responsible for huge and disastrous expensive long-term loans which mean 80% of council tax from Newham’s residents goes directly in interest payments to the banks.

The protesters here on the wide plaza in front of Stratford Station were harassed by both police and Newham Council officers who made the ridiculous claim they were causing an obstruction in the large uncrowded area and issued them with a £100 fixed penalty notice, part of the ongoing attempt by Newham to silence Focus E15 who continue to throw a spotlight on the activities of Newham Council and Mayor Robin Wales, both a disgrace to the Labour movement. Eventually even Newham Labour could no longer stomach another term for Robin Wales, though his successor has yet to greately improve matters.

Finally it was back on the Central Line to Grosvenor Square, still then the home of the US Embassy, where March Against Monsanto was protesting – along with others in an international day of protest – against the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, dangerous bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, and the need for improved protection victims of multinational corporations. It turned out to be a disappointingly small protest even though the then ongoing secreetive TTIP trade talks between the EU and the USA could have lead to a deal which would override our national laws which protect our health and safety and endanger the integrity of our food supplies as well as banning or greatly restricting the traditional practice of farmers saving their own seeds.

March Against Monsanto
Focus E15 launch The Newham Nag
End media lies against Venezuela
Teen Voice says votes at 16
End dog and cat meat 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.


Against the Housing Bill – 30/01/2016

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

Five years ago, on Saturday 30th January, Lambeth Housing Activists organised a rally and march from the Imperial War Museum to Downing St to protest against the Housing and Planning Bill, which was to have a particularly large impact in London and greatly worsen the already acute housing crisis here.

Rather unusually, the activists were joined for the march by some local councillors including Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Housing Richard Livingstone. Southwark, a Labour dominated council, has attracted a great deal of criticism over the demolition of council estates in the borough, including the scandal of the Heygate estate at the Elephant & Castle, and many on the protest were residents of estates currently being demolished – such as the Aylesbury estate – or under threat of demolition. Southwark and other Labour-run councils in London have made huge reductions in council housing through their so-called regeneration of estates, with many former residents being forced to move away from inner London and into much higher rent private or housing association properties, often with very poor security of tenure.

There were a number of speakers at the rally, including the then Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett and housing researchers and activists, who were listened to attentively and warmly applauded, both for their condemnation of the Bill and also of the social cleansing effect of the estate demolitions being carried out by councils. It was hardly surprising that when Richard Livingtone came to the microphone he was greeted by boos and loud heckling and a heated argument with one of the activists.

Eventually the rally broke up and the march began, starting by walking through the streets of Lambeth before turning around to make its way through Westminster. Class War and friends decided to liven things up a little, first by dancing along the street singing the ‘Lambeth Walk’ and then by rushing across the pavement towards a branch of of large estate agents and protesting outside it for some minutes before moving on.

Earlier at the rally Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing had given a closely researched and caustic assessment of the role of Labour Councils and housing policies which have been largely dictated by estate agents. Class War had brought a number of more controverisal banners related to housing, among them one with a picture of a military cemetery with its field of crosses stretching into the distance and the message ‘We have found new homes of for the rich’ and the Lucy Parsons banner with its quotation “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live”.

Police had rushed to protect the estate agents, but Class War made no attempt to enter or damage the property, and soon moved off. There was what seemed to be some entirely pointless harassment of protesters by police – including the so-called liaison officers – throughout the march, but I saw no arrests.

At Downing St police formed a line to lead the marchers to the opposite side of the road, and the activists followed their direction then simply walked across Whitehall behind the police line and posed for pictures in front of the gates and spilling out to block the north-bound carriageway. Police attempted to persuade them to move and eventually people drifted away and I left too.

More at Housing and Planning Bill 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.


Young Mums Party in Protest

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

One of the more encouraging series of protests it has been my privilege to photograph over recent years has been that begun by young single mothers who when threatened with eviction from their hostel in Stratford with Newham Council intending to disperse them into private rented accomodation often hundreds of miles away from their friends and families stood up and fought for their rights.

The mothers and their supporters met on a street corner close to East Thames Housing

The campaign by the mums from Focus E15 gained a great deal of publicity and support for their cause, and some of them became rather unlikely celebrities, speaking at conferences and other events and appearing in theatre performances. And they were largely successful both in getting the council to rehouse them locally, and also in bringing some of the worst aspects of housing policies, both national and by local authorities to the attention of a wider public. They even got me on stage in 2017.

And made their way into the foyer of East Thames Housing

Their campaign widened to a more general campaign over housing problems, particularly in the London Borough of Newham, but also becoming involved in other campaigns across London and elsewhere. Newham is a borough with huge housing problems, but also one that the local Labour Party has managed to make much worse, with policies that have deliberately left good quality council housing empty for years despite one of the longest housing waiting lists in the country.

They pose for a photograph for the local newspaper

Part of the problem with Newham lies in the creation of a directly elected mayor in 2002, the first such mayor in England. This put more power into the hands of the mayor, Robin Wales, and a small cabal of right-wing Labour members, who pursued policies to increase the economic prosperity of the area with little regard for the poorer members of the community, encouraging businesses and bringing wealthier people into the area into new private developments. Focus E15 accused Robin Wales of being a kind of reverse Robin Hood, robbing the poor to give to the rich through his policies which they labelled as ‘social cleansing’.

And then occupy the East Thames show flat for a party

Focus E15 confronted Wales on a number of occasions, and he reacted angrily at times – and later was forced to apologise. Earlier he had been involved in another fight against local residents when he wanted to replace Queen’s Market with a new development including a 31 storey tower; it was seen as so bad that even then London Mayor Boris Johnson stopped it going ahead. And under Wales, the council made some disastrous investments which have lumbered the council with huge interest payments. Newham is essentially a one-party state, but by 2016 many in the local Labour party had become disillusioned with him and wanted change. Wales managed to rig a vote to prevent other candidates standing for Mayor in 2018, but this was overturned after an outcry in the party, and in 2018 Rokhsana Fiaz was elected as mayor. Wales went off to work for the influential right-wing free-market think tank Policy Exchange.

the air is filled with hearts, stars and other shapes

I’m proud to have done a little to promote the campaigns of Focus E15 through photographing some of their events – though I”ve been unable to do so over the past year. They continued to hold a regular weekly outdoor street stall on Stratford Broadway and socially distanced protests through 2020 and hope to do so this year, despite the increased restrictions. You can read about them on their web site, where they make clear that despite the new mayor in Newham little has changed:

The struggle must go on and Focus E15 campaign enters 2021 determined to continue to build a housing movement, challenge the Labour council, give solidarity to all those fighting for housing justice, and…. Educate! Agitate! Organise! so that we expose this ruthless capitalist system and begin to work in unity together for a better future for everyone.

Focus E15 web site
An East Thames officer comes to discuss their sitation with them

The pictures here are from a protest seven years ago today, on Fri 17 Jan 2014, and I hope illustrate something of why I found them so interesting to photograph. They went into the offices of the housing association that ran the Focus E15 hostel and held a party inside the show flat there. They had good reasons to be angry and protest, and were fearless and imaginative in how made their views clear – and provided great opportunites for photography. Many protests are rather dour occasions which are hard to make interesting though our pictures, but their protests were always lively and never run-of-the-mill.

He gets some tough questioning – and states that although it’s up to the council to rehouse them, East Thames will not evict them.

At the protest they did get an assurance that they would not be evicited, though it was clear than there was a lack of trust from the mothers in this statement. I left them still partying to file my story, and after a while they also left and went to protest at the nearby council housing offices.

More at Focus E5 Mothers Party Against Eviction.


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.


Another side of Marylebone

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020
Paddington Green, Paddington, Westminster, 1987 87-3b-15-positive_2400
Paddington Green, Paddington, Westminster, 1987

There is another side to Marylebone, particularly to the north of the Marylebone Road, around Lisson Grove and Edgware Road. The trees are still there on the Green, and I think my tilted camera was an attempt to maximise their effect. The tower blocks at right, Hall and Braithwaite Towers, both 22 stories were commissioned by Paddington Metropolitan Borough Council, more or less identical blocks by R A Jensen, completed in 1966 and still standing, each with 80 flats, but Paddington College, opened here in 1967 was replaced by a new building for what is now City of Westminster College in 2011.

Ralfe Electronics, Transept St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-3c-42-positive_2400
Ralfe Electronics, Transept St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987

Ralfe Electronics was indeed ‘The “Famous House” for Electronic Components‘ and a company of that name still exists, but is now in Watford. They were at 10 Chapel St, on the corner of Transept St, just a few yards from Edgware Rd (District) line station. Electronics geeks used to come from all over the country, if not the world, to shop here.

Bookmakers, Crawford Place, Paddington, Westminster, 1987 87-3c-15-positive_2400
Bookmakers, Crawford Place, Paddington, Westminster, 1987 87-3c-15-positive_2400
The Christian Union Almshouses, Crawford Place, Paddington, Westminster, 1987  87-3c-26-positive_2400
The Christian Union Almshouses, Crawford Place, Paddington, Westminster, 1987

The bookmakers was in Crawford Place, a short street off the Edgware Road in the rather plusher area south of the Marylebone Rd, close to the Christian Union Almshouses. This building is still there, and in very much better condition. Built as a small hospital for the elderly and inform in 1899 it was converted into a dozen self-contained flats a few years after I took this picture. It still provides housing “for older or retired people in housing need, who are of the Christian faith“, particularly those “who live in, or have a strong local connection to the Boroughs of Westminster, Camden, or Kensington & Chelsea.

Ken's Junk Shop, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987 87-3b-21-positive_2400
Ken’s Junk Shop, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987
87-3b-36-positive_2400
Lisson Grove Cottages, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987

The date on the houses in this small street off Lisson Grove is 1855, and they were Grade II listed a few months after I took this photograph. I think I was aware of these artisanal dwellings and Bell St from the drawing and writing of Geoffrey Fletcher – these cottages are drawn on p51 of his London Souvenirs (1973).

It was easy to walk past the entry to them without noticing, and I think it is now behind a locked gate.

Bookseller, Bell St, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987 87-3b-23-positive_2400
Bookseller, Bell St, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987

Bell St here now has a very different character, with most of the shops including this second-hand book dealer now converted to residential properties. Back in 1987 it was difficult to walk along this street without being diverted into browsing the extensive stock in search of a bargain, though these were hard to find.

The first Turkish Bath in London was opened in this street by Roger Evans in 1860, but the area was described at the time as being densely crowded with a population lower than the ‘decent poor’ on the east side of Lisson Grove, with Bell St “the main stream of a low colony, with many tributary channels.”

Stirling & Sons, Bell St, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987 87-3b-12-positive_2400
Stirling & Sons, Bell St, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987

One of my favourite pictures from this area shows the street and pavement outside Stirlings at 54 Bell St, a junk and scrap metal dealer with an extensive range and whose premises appear to need scaffolding. But it is the group of people in the doorway that provide much of the interest, as well as their backdrop.

Numbers on the street now go direct from 52 to 56, with no 54. The space of this shop and that on its right are now the Lisson Gallery, built to the designs of Tony Fretton shortly after I made this picture. The concrete pillar at left, part of a run-down single-storey building, continued to deteriorate until around 2010 when it was refurbished and in 2015 had two storeys added in a late Victorian manner that could be original.

More pictures of various areas of London in 1987.


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.


1986 Page 12

Thursday, June 25th, 2020
Leeke St, Pentonville, Camden 86-10c-44_2400
Leeke St, Pentonville, Camden

Page 12 of 1986 London Photographs

1986 was the year I began seriously to photograph the fabric of London, and the number of photographs on Flickr, 1,370 reflects this, although I took several times this number, mainly in a series of planned walks exploring different areas of the capital.

76-78, Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, Islington 86-10g-11_2400
Caledonian Rd, Kings Cross, Islington

A few of those I’ve not digitised are near duplicates, though usually I only took a single image of each subject, often taking some time to consider the best viewpoint and sometimes waiting for people or traffic to leave me a clearer view. Although I was working on 35mm and almost always hand-held, my approach was generally like that of a photographer using a larger camera – and the 35mm Olympus shift lens gave me much of the flexibility of large-format camera movements.

Nat West Tower, Old Broad St, City 86-10e-61_2400
Nat West Tower, Old Broad St, City

I had tried using 4×5″ cameras, a first with a monorail and then with an MPP, but found them too restrictive. Heavy to carry any distance, slow to set up and even with several magazines and a small pile of dark slides I was very limited in how many exposures I could make in a session. The movements on the MPP were also fairly limited, and the Olympus shift lens was more useful for this. While I admired the quality of large format results – and tried at times to emulate it by using Kodak Technical Pan – it wasn’t practical (or affordable) for the kind of large-scale project I had embarked on.

Venus, Canonbury Rd, Islington 86-10k-64_2400-2
Venus, Canonbury Rd, Islington

Most of these walks in October 1986 were in Islington, where I walked around areas including Clerkenwell, Pentonville, Canonbury, Barnsbury, Highbury and Islington itself, though I think I occasionally strayed across the borough border into the City of London and Camden.

Bartlett Export Packers, Regent's Canal, Islington 86-10t-31_2400
Bartlett Export Packers, Regent’s Canal, Islington

I travelled on public transport, using either the North London Line or the Underground, and it was sometimes easier (or cheaper) to travel to stations outside the borough – such as Bank (then still ‘City’), still a ‘London Terminus’ of British Rail Southern Region until 1994. I didn’t often use buses, partly because it was still rather harder than now to find out where they might go.

St Agnes Place, Kennington, Lambeth 86-10c-66_2400
St Agnes Place, Kennington, Lambeth

There are also a few pictures from south of the river, around Walworth and Kennington, where we used to go to a monthly meeting with friends, arriving for Sunday lunch. I’d often leave early in the morning for a few hours of walking and photography before these meetings.

The pictures here are just a few of those I now find more interesting from the page, but there are many others worth seeing in the hundred that make up Page 12 of 1986 London Photographs.


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.