Posts Tagged ‘housing’

1986 Complete – Page 2

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
Varden St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-5d-11_2400

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My album 1986 London Photographs is now complete on Flickr, and this is the second of a short series of posts pointing out a few of my favourite images from the year.

Fashion St, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-4r-16_2400

Several things come out strongly to me as I look through these pictures, mostly taken around Brick Lane and other areas of Whitechapel. One of the major themes that has run through much of my photography is the writing on the wall, whether graffiti or signs and posters. Language is such an important aspect of our social interactions and its inclusion in these images makes them into a record of how people lived and thought.

Brick Lane, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-5a-01_2400

In 1984 London was rapidly becoming the multicultural city we now know, though of course it had been so on a lesser scale for many years if not centuries. Spitalfields where some of these pictures were made had long been a home for new communities moving to London and there was still abundant evidence of its Jewish population as well as the Bangladeshis who had by then largely replaced them.

Commercial Rd, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-5c-64_2400

Housing, then as now, was an important issue in London in particular, and some of these pictures reflect this and other issues such as racism. Although I think some of these pictures are well-composed and even attractive compositionally, I’ve always considered the formal aspects – line, shape, tone, texture, form etc to be the means to communicate a message rather than an end in themselves. I aimed to make photography that had something to say and said it well rather than to produce well composed, attractive or even striking or popular images.

Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-5h-66_2400

There are another 95 pictures on the second page of the album, all with a location, taken from the usually rather incomplete information I recorded on the contact sheets. I’ve tried to check these before posting, but corrections and other comments are always welcome. I’m happy for these pictures – with suitable attribution – to be shared on social media, but they remain copyright and any commercial or editorial use requires a licence from me.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


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Hackney Housing

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

I took a short walk in Hackney before the protest outside the town hall to remind me exactly where Marian Court was, just behind the rather empty ‘fashion village’, an implant into the area with government money, £1.5m of Boris Johnson’s regeneration funding after the 2011 riots. It seems if anything to have been an expensive way to prove that gentrification isn’t an effective way to combat racist policing with a shoot to kill policy, and has failed to generate the promised jobs.

Marian Court appears to have been a well-designed small estate built for the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney in the late 1950s. It was built to the standards of the time and was in need of modernisation, and had been allowed to deteroriate. But as on many other council estates, rather than investing in the relatively modest cost of the necessary refurbishment, the council decided on an expensive scheme involving total demolition and the building of roughly twice as many housing units on the site by private developers, with a large proportion for sale at high market prices and others also at high prices as ‘affordable’ or shared ownership properties. Reports say that despite the roughly doubling of the number of units there will be 40% less social housing than at present.

The replacement flats in such schemes are almost always built to lower space standards than the existing properties, and demolition and rebuild involves an enormous environmental impact. Given our current problems with global warming and the impending threat of human extinction unless we take urgent actions to avoid this, demolition of existing buildings such as this should now be a rare last resort.

The human impact is of course also huge, with the estate being emptied. Those in social housing will have been offered rehousing, but usually in far less convenient places than this, targeted in part because of its central location and close transport links, and also probably with less security of tenure and higher rents. Leaseholders typically get compensation at far less than the cost of a similar property in the same area – or the new properties.

Schemes such as this effectively lead to social cleansing, despite the promises often made (but seldom kept) by local councils about residents being able to stay in the area or move back into the redeveloped properties. Those on low incomes are forced to move to the peripheries of the borough, to outlying borough or sometimes well outside London, away from jobs, schools, friends and other links in the community.

The protest at Hackney Town Hall, organised by East End Sisters Uncut and London Renters Union was over the failure by Hackney Council to provide suitable rehousing for two families remaining in Marian Court, both of whom attended and spoke at the event, and who seem to have been victimised because they particular housing needs and have stood up for their rights. You can see more about both of them and their issues with the council at Hackney don’t victimise housing activists.

And a few pictures of the area including Marian Court in Hackney


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.

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.


Cold spell – no heating

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Southwark are perhaps the worst of London’s councils so far as their housing policies are concerned, though they face stiff opposition from others. But their demolition of the Heygate estate next to the Elephant & Castle is hard to beat for its combination of lies, total disregard for residents, loss of social housing, veniality and sheer incompetence and has been well-recorded on local blogs. It is a truly sad story for any local council, and particularly for a council dominated – as most of London’s councils are – by the Labour party, which currently holds 49 or the 63 seats with the only opposition being the 14 Lib Dems.

The Aylesbury estate is more or less immediately south of the former Heygate in Walworth, and is said to be the largest public housing estate in Europe, with 2700 homes built between 1963 and 1977. It contains a mixture of huge blocks like those in the picture below and much smaller and lower ones. Residents turned down a plan to pass the estate over to a housing association in 1999 and in a later ballot turned down Southwark’s plans for demolition, calling instead for the much cheaper minor works needed to refurbish each property up to modern standards.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Southwark Council had failed to carry out much necessary maintenance, and although the varied properties were generally well designed and built, the estate was allowed to deteriorate. Like the Heygate it was also used to house people with various problems including mental health and drug use and gained a notorious reputation, very much exaggerated by its use for filming a number of TV crime series.

The lack of proper maintenance has continued into this century, and residents feel it has worsened since the council made the decision to demolish the estate, parts of which have already been emptied and destroyed, to be replaced by properties at expensive market rents or the unaffordable ‘affordable’ rents at around 80% of market rates. Few of the Aylesbury residents can afford to take up any of the new properties, and are forced to move to the outer areas of London.

The Aylesbury was built with a central boiler house to run an energy-efficient district heating scheme. Because of the council’s failure to properly maintain this, there are repeated breakdowns in cold periods of winter such as that we had just been suffering. Residents either freeze or rely on expensive electric heating. One of those who spoke told how she had put £20 into her prepayment meter only for it to run out a day later; another told of having reported the heaters in her flat for six months without the council coming to maintain them.

Residents are convinced that Southwark council have been purposefully neglecting their well built homes to justify the demolition of the estate and bully the residents out against a ballot result which called for refurbishment rather than demolition. They protested outside the local housing office for over an hour, calling for someone from the council to come out and speak to them. No one came out and security men prevented the protesters from going inside.

Southwark Council claimed in a statement to a regional TV programme which covered the protest that they were doing their best to keep the heating going, but no-one on the Aylesbury believes them.

More at Aylesbury residents protest lack of heating


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images