Posts Tagged ‘Kensington & Chelsea’

Architectural Icing

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Brunswick Gardens, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-35-positive_2400

I suppose my photography is always a catalogue of obsessions, but at times and in particular places this shows more strongly.

Palace Garden Terrace,  Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-43-positive_2400

Most of these pictures were taken in Kensington, with just a couple in Primrose Hill.

Brunswick Gardens, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-32-positive_2400

Photographically there is a certain interest in rendering these essentially white surfaces – as some photographers have found with subjects like white eggs on a white plate.

Inverness Gardens, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-26-positive_2400

But I suppose that there might be more Freudian interpretations of at least some of these pictures.

Inverness Gardens, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-24-positive_2400

London developed hugely in the nineteenth century with stock brick for the workers and stucco for the middle classes, and I still feel something of an outsider in these wealthy areas, although some had become pretty down-at-heel by the 70s and 80s when I was making these pictures.

Inverness Gardens, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-22-positive_2400

Since then, most of them have been tidied up and refurbished, and more divided into flats now often worth rather my than my own outer suburban house.

St Mark's Square, Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987 87-10c-53-positive_2400

There are times I find myself rather despising what appears to be overdone icing on the architectural cake, and looking for something with a little more depth and variation.

Park Village East, Regent's Park Camden, 1987 87-10c-31-positive_2400


Kensington Church St, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10c-15-positive_2400

There is something of the fairly tale about these houses and the pictures, and although I had committed myself to photographing all of London I felt a longing to get away from Kensington and back to the real world.



Clicking on any of the pictures above will take you to my Flickr Album 1987 London Photos where you can view larger versions.


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.



More West London 1987

Sunday, November 8th, 2020
Campden Hill Rd, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-9b-32-positive_2400

Although my caption states than this modern house is in Campden Hill Rd, its address is in Campden Street which leads off at the left of the picture. The building by architect Douglas Stephen is said to be in the style of pioneering Italian modernist architect Giuseppe Terragni, (1904-43), something perhaps best seen in his 1937 Villa Bianca in Seveso. I think like a similar larger block by Stephen in Bedford Gardens it was probably built in the mid-60s.

Gourmet Gascon, Hillgate St, , Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-9b-51-positive_2400

Le Gourmet Gascon gives I think a fairly clear idea of the population of this area of Kensington, where there is a takeaway service offering Quenelles au Brochet. The shop is no longer there and a short walk away you can now get rather more plebian food for tourists at Notting Hill Gate, though I think there is still no shortage of over-priced restaurants in the area and of course Fortnum & Mason still deliver.

Doulton, Southbank House, Black Prince Rd, Lambeth High St, Lambeth, 1987 87-9d-12-positive_2400

Later in September I was back south of the river in Lambeth, and photographing in Lambeth. The terracotta carving above the doorway on the corner of Black Prince Rd and Lambeth High St is of Mr Doulton in his studio, and seated at left Hannah Bolton Barlow paints on one of the vases from his pottery, her pet cat under her chair.

Doulton, Southbank House, Black Prince Rd, Lambeth High St, Lambeth, 1987 87-9d-13-positive_2400

Pottery was produced not far from this site in Vauxhall Walk by  Jones, Watts & Doulton from 1815 and they moved to Lambeth High St in 1826. In the early years their most successful product was ceramic sewage pipes, for which their was a surge in demand driven by the 1846-60 cholera pandemic.

The company had several parts and a complex history but by the time this building was erected as their museum, school and design studio in 1871, with close links to Lambeth School of Art. The Lambeth studio pottery was producing signed works of art as well as more mundane items in the rest of the factory – and they later bought a factory in Burslem for making bone china tableware. The company only became Royal Doulton when it obtained a Royal Warrant in 1902. Production at Lambeth was forced to end in 1956 with the Clean Air Act which prohibited their salt glazing in this urban area, and all work went to the Potteries.

Doultons were major producers of the architectural terracotta or stoneware which adorns many Victorian buildings, and their building acted as a real life catalogue for their wares, though they also produced many specifically commissioned pieces as well as the more general stock.

London Fire Brigade, obelisk, snorkel tower, Albert Embankment, Lambeth, 1987 87-9e-03-positive_2400

A few yards up Lambeth High St is a view of this rather strange obelisk in the yard beside the (now former) headquarters of the London Fire Brigade, which moved to a new building here on a part of the former Doulton pottery factory site in 1937. This obelisk or ‘snorkel tower’ was built to provide ventilation for the war-time underground control room, according to the listing text “constructed to withstand a direct hit and a gas attack, with its own reserve electric light installation and forced ventilation.”

Ventilator, Metropolitan Police Central Communications Command Centre, Lambeth Rd, Lambeth, 1987 87-9e-45-positive_2400

A short distance away in Lambeth Rd is another rather bulkier structure, also a ventilator, for the underground Metropolitan Police Central Communications Command Centre. A new special operations room was opened there in 2008, but there are also other communications centres in Bow and Hendon.

Works, Old Paradise St, Lambeth, 1987 87-9e-56-positive_2400

As this and other pictures in the Flickr album 1987 London Photos show, there was rather more evidence of the area’s industrial past then. This chimney and works was a former soap factory.


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.


Levitation, Police Robbery and Catalonia

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Three years ago on October 21st I spent an interesting Saturday travelling around London and photographing several quite different events – unlike last Saturday when all I did was sit at a computer and work on old pictures and take a short walk along a familiar stretch of the River Thames close to my home, taking care to avoid getting close to the other strollers.

The Catalan protest at Piccadilly Circus was colourful, with many of the several hundred present fyling or wearing flags and calling for independence. And many of the placards were in English, unlike some other protests about overseas events. While Spain seems to have managed so far to have stopped the indepenence movement by forceful policing and political trials in the longer term I think there has to be movement towards a more federal approach with much greater autonomy for the region. We are begining to see a similar trend here in the UK, where our government appears to be failing to honour the 1707 Acts of Union between England and Scotland as well as creating increasing division between Wales, Northern Ireland and Westminster, with the likely no-deal (or very limited deal) over Brexit seeming certain to lead to to a break-up of at least parts of the union.

Conveniently the Catalan march took me to Parliament Square where I could take the Circle line to Kensington and join a small group of Class War in their attempt to levitate the offices of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, responsible for the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower.

It was also a celebation of the 50th anniversary of the Yippee levitation of the Pentagon during anti-Vietnam War protests, and Class War’s Ian Bone and shaman Jimmy Kunt (aka Adam Clifford) stood on the steps of the town hall and called “Out, demons, out! Out, demons, out!” to the demons of councillors Nicholas Paget-Brown, Rock Feilding-Mellen & Elizabeth Campbell in their attempted to levitate the town hall to a height of over 70 metres. Unfortunately I failed to capture a photograph of the building in mid-air.

As I reported in My London Diary:

Inspired by their success at the town hall, Class War’s Levitation Brigade then moved on to Northcliffe House, the home of the Daily Mail.

Security staff there reacted angrily to Class War calling out the demon of Paul Dacre and their attempt to raise the building by over 70 metres, perhaps fearing it might damage the Rolls-Royce parked outside, but the levitation ceremony went ahead despite considerable interference.

Class War levitate the Daily Mail

Several security staff objected to the protesters and told me that I couldn’t take pictures, although there is strong evidence that this was not the case, though I did have to move back several times when one attempted to grab my lens. But most of the time at least I was on the public highway and knew I had the right to photograph as I liked and told him so. But it was perhaps this harassment that again made me miss the moment of actual levitation – or perhaps not.

It was a rather longer journey to Kentish Town by Underground, but only around half an hour (Circle to Embankment and then the Northern line) and I arrived in good time for the protest outside Kentish Town Police Station. Police, urged on by Camden Council had been removing and stealing tents from homeless people on the nearby streets ‘in the interest of public safety‘.

A small group of protesters met outside the police station carrying tents before five of them went inside to hand themselves in for being in possession of these now illegal items, calling on the police to arrest them. The police were rather suprised and kept them waiting for an hour or so, before telling them after I had left that carrying a tent was not a crime.

Later both police and Camden Council denied they were harassing the homeless – in direct contradiction to the evidence from the street that they had done so. Perhaps this small protest meant that at least in Camden this cruel policy used in some other boroughs in London and elsewhere will no longer apply.

More at:
Stop Robbing the Homeless
Class War levitate the Daily Mail
Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall
March in Solidarity with Catalonia


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.


Another Grenfell protest

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

It seems increasingly unlikely that we are ever going to see justice for the victims of Grenfell as the establishment use all the tricks in their book to protect those responsible.

Perhaps in the end after years of purposefully drawn out inquiry by police and judges a few small companies will be found guilty of failing to follow some aspects of building regulations and be given insignificant fines, though I doubt even that. But the real culprits seem almost certain to escape scot-free.

THe RCG have a fine banner by Andrew Cooper

So far we have only seen the first stage of the official  Grenfell Tower Inquiry which appears to have been a travesty, with the judge shifting blame on those responsible for fighting the fire and coming to a conclusion that not only flies in the face of what experienced fire-fighters say, including those who were there on the night, but could well lead to more deaths in other high-rise fires. People are almost certain given the publicity by the report to die in some future fires because they try to escape rather than staying safe in their homes. And quite clearly had the idiotic Jacob Rees Mogg lived in Grenfell he and his family would have died there.

These blocks – Grenfell included – only got approval on the basis that any fire would be contained within a flat and would be expected to be able to burn itself out even if fire-fighters did not attend. Building regulations made sure that this was the case, and the towers were built to enable any firest that did occur to be safely fought from within the building. The flats were essentially small self-contained concrete units, isolated from each other, with dry risers to supply water on the landings when needed and smoke traps.

Simon Elmer of ASH who produced a report on Grenfell

The blame for Grenfell lies squarely with the government ministers who altered the regulations and allowed building owners to make their own fire inspections, with owners who saved money by arranging inadequate inspections and employing contractors to add unsuitable cladding and otherwise compromise the building safety. Contractors too bear some resposiblity for agreeing to install unsafe cladding and for doing so in a way which removed the gaps essential for safety.

Another small left-wing group declined the offer to join the RCG protest

Kensington & Chelsea Council and its TMO must bear the main responsibility for this particular building, with councillors and others taking the decisions which made the building a fire-trap. They were more than incompetent, bullying those who informed them of some of the problems.

The council too failed to properly deal with the survivors, despite some extravagant promises made in the early days after the fire by Theresa May and others. A full year after the fire only 41% of the households from Grenfell Tower and adjoining Grenfell walk had been permanently re-housed. Of those in the wider affected area, 29% had been able to return to their homes and 1% – one family – permanently rehoused. The other 70% (90 families) were still in some form of temporary accomodation. This despite Kensington & Chelsea being one of the wealthiest boroughs in the country.

Many of those most closely involved are still suffering intensely from trauma and both initial relief and counselling were other areas where the council and other official response are felt by many to have been inadequate – and put to shame by the community response. As an outsider I don’t feel entitled to comment, though I’ve certainly heard the pain expressed by some of the community.

People pose on the council steps at the end of the RCG protest

Various groups formed after the fire, some with more support among the victims and wider community than others. Although all have I think taken part in the monthly silent walks which aim to keep the memory of the events alive, there have been arguments with some groups urging a more radical stance is needed to get action.

Two of these groups, both relatively small, had come to protest at the Kensington & Chelsea town hall outside the council meeting. I had gone to photograph the protest by the Revolutionary Communist Group who have run street stalls on Ladbroke Grove close to Grenfell and organised other protests in the area as well as taking part in the silent walks. As well as their own speakers they had invited others to talk, and as main speaker Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing, whose report and film produced within a few weeks of the fire remains the most authorative account of the reasons why Grenfell was a tragedy waiting to happen.

More at No Justice for Grenfell


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.


Grenfell – 2 Years on

Sunday, October 27th, 2019
Just Us – the community has responded to the disaster while council and government mouth empty promises and attempt to let long grass grow over Grenfell

Thousands walked in silence from close to Grenfell Tower remembering the victims of the disaster on the second anniversary of the disastrous fire which killed 72 and left survivors traumatised.

Some people brought flowers to mark the occasion

Promises made by Theresa May and her government and Kensington & Chelsea council have not been kept and the inquiry seems to be simply providing an excuse for inaction and passing blame onto the fire-fighters who risked their lives to save people. There have been no arrests, no prosecutions, no improved building regulations and few buildings have had unsafe cladding removed.

and many – including this photographer – wore green scarves for Grenfell

The community feels failed and abandoned by the authorities and angry that Grenfell victim Reis Morris in jail for the anniversary after an angry exchange with a fire chief over the flammable plastic cladding on the building in which the traumatised campaigner who lost a relative in the fire put his hands around the fire chief’s neck.

Grenfell Tower has been covered up, but the community refuses to let the atrocity be covered up
Some carried portraits of the victims who died in what was the largest mass killing in this country since the war
but one for which no one has yet been brought to justice.

A large slogan on the bridge over Ladbroke Grove stated “In The Face Of Injustice Anger Is Justified – #IamReis Morris – #JusticeforGrenfell“.

More pictures on My London Diary: Grenfell Silent Walk – 2 Years on.


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.