Posts Tagged ‘Lambeth’

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Saturday, June 18th, 2022

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds. 18th June 2017 was a Sunday, and though I now prefer to observe Sunday as a day of rest, five years ago it was for me another working day. Since the lockdown I get tired much more quickly and I’m cutting down a bit on work. Today I’ll probably go for a walk with my wife after lunch, stopping off on the way home to sit and eat an ice cream before picking more strawberries from the garden and relaxing a little before dinner.

But back in 2017 I was making good use of a Travelcard, going first to the Central Hill Estate which looks down over London close to Crystal Palace then travelling to Westminster to remember Brian Haw before taking the tube up to Oxford Circus and walking to the BBC to join marchers gathering for the annual Al Quds march.


Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill – Central Hill Estate

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds
A woman comes to talk to me about living on the estate since it was built

I deliberately arrived very early at Central Hill so I could take a walk around and make more pictures of one of London’s finest council estates, but almost missed the start of the talk I had come to hear opposing Lambeth Council’s plans for its demolition as I spent some time talking with a woman who had seen me taking pictures who was still living in the home she had moved into when the estate was built and had raised her family here. She told me how good it had been living here in a fine home that was still in good condition and had never needed any major repairs.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Ted Knight, former leader of Lambeth Council, had come to speak in support of the campaign to save the Estate, passed for demolition by the council despite the almost unanimous vote of residents for plans to refurbish rather than demolish and the plans by Architects for Social Housing which would achieve the increase in density desired without demolition.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Knight as council leader earned the name ‘Red Ted’ from the gutter press for standing up to the Tory Government’s rate-capping 1984 Rent Act which severely limited the spending of local councils – which eventually led to him and 31 other councillors being surcharged and banned from political office for five years in 1986. He remained an active trade unionist and in the Labour Party and when he spoke was Branch Chair of the Gypsy Hill ward which includes Central Hill. Although his politics and mine were not entirely the same, I was sad to hear of his death in 2020.

As Knight said, under borough architect Ted Hollamby the estate was planned by Rosemary Stjernstedt as a living community and had remained remarkably successful, with a number of original residents from the 1970s still living there and wanting to continue to do so. At that time Labour believed that nothing was too good for the working people and the estate was built to high specifications and is still in sound condition. A deliberate process of managed neglect – like that which had resulted in the Grenfell Tower disaster had – had been carried out by Lambeth Council to legitimise its demolition.

Lambeth council now refuse to allow the community to use the resource centre

Although the meeting was poorly attended, surveys of estate residents have shown a very high proportion of residents want to remain on the estate and oppose the demolition. The council quotes very different figures and its response to feedback from estate residents has been to remove the estate representatives from the consultative body.

Faults in the paving are marked but left without repair

Lambeth Council has also ridiculously inflated the estimate for the refurbishment of the estate and rejected without proper consideration a carefully planned alternative scheme for a much cheaper limited infill of the site rather than demolition which would involve far, far less disruption to the families who live here and also result in the retention of much-needed social housing. The only real problem with the alternative scheme proposed by Architects for Social Housing is that it would not generate excessive profits for the developers.

Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill


Brian Haw remembered – Parliament Square

This was the sixth anniversary of the death of peace campaigner Brian Haw who had made a ten-year political stand against war in Parliament Square despite considerable harassment by police urged on by politicians, laws introduced against his and other protests, Westminster Council officials and almost certainly MI5 agents.

Brian Haw began his camp here on 2 June 2001, and remained in place despite many attempts, legal and otherwise to remove him for almost 10 years, leaving only when arrested, for court appearances and to speak at protests at Trafalgar Square and Downing St until 1 January 2011 when he left England to receive treatment for his lung cancer in Berlin. He died in Germany in the early hours of 18 June 2011.His ten years of protest and the frequent and repeated harassment undoubtedly hastened his decline and death.

His protest in Parliament square was continued by Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005 and had been imprisoned twice for her role in the protest and arrested 48 times. The level of harassment increased and she went on hunger strike on 31st December 2012. Late in January 2013 she was taken into hospital close to death, and was treated for frostbite and exposure. Her protests continued on-line.

Brian Haw remembered


Al Quds march – BBC to US Embassy

Several thousands came from around the country for the annual Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march in London. Organised by a Quds committee with the Islamic Human Rights Commission it was supported by various groups including the Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. At the front of the march were a group of Imams and Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews.

The march called for ‘Freedom for Palestine’ and for all oppressed peoples across the world. It supports of the BDS campaign for a boycott of Israel Israeli goods, divestment from companies supporting Israel and sanctions against the Israeli state. It demands that Israel ends its breaches of international law and its oppression of the Palestinian people in what is an apartheid system, and ends its siege and attacks on Gaza.

Zionists oppose the march with a protest close to the final rally at the US Embassy, but a small militant group carrying Israeli flags attempted to stop the march on its route, calling those taking part supporters of the banned terrorist group Hezbollah.

A number of the marchers were holding Hezbollah flags, which carried a message indicating they were supporting Hezbollah as a political organisation – it is one of two main parties representing Shia Muslims, Lebanon’s largest religious group – as a part of national unity governments in the Lebanese parliament.

Police seemed very reluctant to move the Zionists off the road in front of the march which was held up for some time, with marchers simply waiting for the police to clear them. After some time the the marchers held their planned minute of silence for the Grenfell Tower victims before getting up and telling police that unless the police cleared the road they would simply push them aside and march through.

The Al Quds day march is very much a family event but with the numbers involved the march stewards would clearly have been able to do so and the statement did galvanise the police into action, and the march was able to move on slowly.

The event organisers make it very clear that this is not an anti-Semitic event, and I think one or two placards which might have suggested this were rapidly removed by stewards. In 2019 Home Secretary Sajid Javid decided to proscribe Hezbollah’s political wing as well as the military wing which had been proscribed in 2008, so showing any support for Hezbollah would be an offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Al Quds march
Zionists protest Al Quds Day March


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Knives, Afrin and Vedanta

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

Knives, Afrin and Vedanta: Two of the four events I photographed on 26th May 2018 were connected with knife and gun crime in London, the other two about international events – the invasion of Afrin by Turkey and the fatal shooting by Indian police of protesters against the polluting activites of the Sterlite copper plant owned by Vedenta in Tamil Nadu.


‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime – Windrush Square, Brixton

London’s murder rate has increased by over a third in the last three years, and last year saw a 22% increase in recorded knife crime and 11% in gun crime. Of the 39 children and teenagers killed in the UK by knives last year over half were in London. The victims of knife crime are disproportionately young black men. Many attribute the rise in these crimes to the cuts in youth clubs, community projects, counselling and other services for young people, cuts in police and PCSO numbers and changes in illegal drug dealing.

Lambeth is an area that has suffered greatly from the cuts, and with a Labour council that often seems particularly insensitive to local needs, particular over housing where it has been colluding with developers over profiting from the destruction of social housing. It has also been subjected to some of the most discriminatory policing which has led to several riots or uprisings in Brixton over the years.

Brixton Seventh Day Adventist Church is in the centre of Brixton, worshipping a short walk from Windrush Square, where they had come on Saturday morning when normally they would be in church to protest and witness their concerns over the deaths. I’d missed photographing their march to the Square as they had taken a different route to that I’d expected but was able to spend some time photographing them speaking and singing the gospel. But it did seem to me that despite being hugely concerned and convinced in their beliefs that they were preaching only to the converted, with few of those walking past stopping to listen.

More pictures at ‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime.


Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult – Langham Place

I left Brixton and was making my way to the BBC when I was surprised by the Korean-based IYPG (International Peace Youth Group) making their way down Langham Place and stopped to photograph them. I knew nothing about them but saw they were marching with a posted about knife crime in London.

Back home later in the day I did my research on the web, finding the IYPG had held annual peace walks in countries around the world on or around May 25th since 2013, commemorating the ‘Declaration of World Peace’. The group was founded in South Korea by Mr Man Hee Lee, a war veteran and peacemaker who claims to have had a personal revelation linked to the biblical Book of Revelations. He is the leader of a strange heretical Christian cult in Korea called ShinChonji and a linked organisation Mannam. Critics say that although the IPYG hosts events such as these peace walks, they do nothing to promote peace but are a part of a recruiting drive for ShinConji whose followers are obliged to give large donations to the cult.

More pictures at Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult.


March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin – BBC to Westminster

Kurds and supporters held a short rally outside the BBC before marching to Downing St and Parliament Square to call for an end to the Turkish occupation of Afrin.

Among those speaking was the aunt of British volunteer Anna Campbell, killed defending Afrin. The invasion of Afrin began in January, and was carried out by Turkish forces together with former ISIS fighters. The Kurdish forces withdrew in March when they were in danger of being encircled and have vowed to continue the fight to regain Afrin through a guerilla war.

Erdogan would like to completely eliminate the Kurds who have been persecuted for many years in Turkey and to end the autonomous Kurdish led areas in both Syria and Iraq. Afrin was a part of Rojava, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria which has a liberal socialist constitution based on direct democracy which enshrines ethnic and gender equality and other fundamental human rights including freedom of religion – a huge contrast with Turkey’s increasingly Islamic autocracy.

I left the march after a short distance at Oxford Circus to make my way to the Indian High Commission in Aldwych.

More at March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin.


India complicit in Thoothukudi killings – India House, Aldwych

Hundreds had come to protest outside the Indian High Commission protest at the Indian government complicity in the brutal repression of protests against pollution from the Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi, in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu. The protest was organised by Foil Vedanta, Tamil People in UK and PARAI – Voice of Freedom and supported by South Asia Solidarity Group and others including the Socialist Party.

On May 22nd, four days earlier, Indian police had fired into a crowd of protesters, killing 12 and wounding more than 60. Protests had been continuing for 100 days demanding that the plant, owned by a subsidiary of British company Vedanta Resources be closed down. Vedanta is said to be the largest donor to the Indian BJP party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Vedanta, set up by British Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal with UK government help in 2003 is notorious for its polluting activities in India, Goa, Zambia and elsewhere as well as unsafe working practices and tax evasion. Sterlite, which has a long record of dumping toxic waste and operating without proper licences is expanding and opening a second plant in the town. The London Mining Network say the Vedanta operates “like a house without a toilet” and “consistently dump waste next to their smelters and captive thermal power plants.”

Protesters called for an end to Vedanta’s polluting activities around the world, and an end for support for the company by both UK and Indian governments. They called for the Stock Exchange to delist the company – and the company delisted itself a few months later probably to avoid facing more public interest litigation in the UK.

More pictures at India complicit in Thoothukudi killings.


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Reclaim Brixton – Arches, Markets & More

Monday, April 25th, 2022

Reclaim Brixton – Arches, Markets & More – 25th April 2015

A day of events in central Brixton on Saturday 25th April 2015 celebrated its social & cultural diversity, increasingly under threat as increasing rents and property development are forcing out local businesses and residents.

Brixton boomed after the railways arrived here in the 1860s, the new transport links making it both a popular middle-class suburb and the major shopping centre of South London; it had the first purpose built department store in the UK, Bon Marché, opened in 1877 and continuing in business until 1975 and probably the first street market in the world to be lit by electricity in Electric Avenue. While the wealthier moved out in the first half of the twentieth century to leafier areas, the increasingly working-class population grew, as did the markets, cinemas, pubs and other facilities.

After the war Brixton became increasingly multiracial. Arrivals on the Windrush were given temporary housing in the Clapham South deep shelter, and found jobs from the nearby Brixton Labour Exchange and housing in rooms and flats in the area. Though many had intended to go back to the Caribbean, most remained here, bringing over family to joint them and over the years Brixton became a centre of the British African-Caribbean community. In 1981 locals rose up against heavy handed policing but the conclusions of the Scarman report were largely ignored and it was only after the death of Stephen Lawrence that the police were declared “institutionally racist.”

There was further unrest after the death of Wayne Douglas in police custody in 1995, and there was an increasing attempt by Lambeth Council to change the nature of the area seen by them as regeneration but by many in the area as gentrification.


Brixton Arches tenants protest eviction

The railways run on viaducts through central Brixton, and the arches below them, particularly along Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road have long provided low cost spaces for local businesses.

But Network Rail decided to increase the income from these spaces and the existing tenants were threatened with eviction and then a tripling of rent for the refurbished space. One of the businesses, fishmongers L S Mash & Sons, had been trading here since 1932 and others since shortly after the war.

The businesses closed for two hours on Saturday lunchtime, many hanging white sheets with messages across the frontage and others inviting graffiti artists to decorate the shutters. These businesses, the arcades and the market really are the heart of Brixton.

Brixton Arches tenants protest eviction


Take Back Brixton against gentrification

Brixton Black Revs (revolutionaries rather than reverends) had wanted to march peacefully through the gentrified ‘Brixton Village’, but police and security guards blocked their way into the arcade, and instead it became a very short march to take housing and other activists directly to the Reclaim Brixton gathering in Wind rush Square

Granville Arcade which links Coldharbour Lane, Atlantic Road and Popes Road was built in 1937 with over 100 shops in its covered avenues, and was named after its developer, P Granville-Grossman. The site had previously been the Lambeth Carlton Club, a large Georgian-style mansion buit in the 1870s and home to the Brixton Conservative Association.

It was renamed Brixton Village around 2005 and was saved from demolition by a powerful local campaign which resulted in it and Reliance Arcade, Market Row being given Grade II listing. The listing text makes much of the importance of the Afro-Caribbean nature of the markets, but although listing saved them from demolition it has not protected them from gentrification and the replacement of much of this character by trendy restaurants and boutiques.

Take Back Brixton against gentrification


Reclaim Brixton celebrates Brixton

The area in front of the Tate Library and Brixton Ritzy was renamed Windrush Square in 1998. It had long been a popular meeting place for locals and local events, but Lambeth Council with offices in the town hall opposite clearly saw that as something of a threat, and spent a large amount on turning it into a desolate, bleak and unwelcoming windswept area to discourage the informal gatherings that took place there.

Although today the area was reasonably crowded, there seemed to be nothing very organised happening. Unite Community had a microphone at one side and there were a speeches, but few seemed to be taking any notice of them. When I walked around there was a group playing classical music, another of African drummers, and the Revolutionary Communist Group had its own megaphone and speakers, while people were having a light-hearted limbo competition to a musical accompaniment from the Unite ‘stage’. And some of my friends had disappeared to a nearby pub.

Reclaim Brixton celebrates Brixton


London Black Revs ‘Reclaim Brixton’ march

After an hour or two hanging around in Windrush Square, activists again took to the street for a lively march around Brixton.

Rather to my surprise, the march simply returned to Windrush Square. I hung around for a bit but everything seemed very peaceful and I mistakenly thought that perhaps nothing more would happen and decided to take a bus to begin my journey home.

Shortly after I left some people stormed and briefly occupied Lambeth Town Hall and a large window at Foxton’s estate agents was broken, and a few activists went into Brixton Village with banners.

Marcia Rigg whose brother Sean Rigg was killed in Brixton Police Station in 2008

London Black Revs ‘Reclaim Brixton ‘march


Things in Brixton have got worse since 2015. In 2018 Hondo Enterprises owned by Texan property developer and part-time DJ Taylor McWilliams bought Brixton Market which includes the arcades and the following year announced plans for a 20 storey office block, which were approved by Lambeth Council in November 2020. Hondo now brand the whole market area as Brixton Village.

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


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Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

Saturday, April 9th, 2022

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia – Saturday 9th of April 2016 was a busy day for me photographing protests across London.

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

Lambeth Libraries Occupation and March, Herne Hill

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

My day began in Herne Hill in South London, where campaigners had been occupying the Carnegie Library since March 31st fighting Lambeth council’s plans to turn the building into a fee-charging gym run by Greenwich Leisure Ltd with an just unstaffed lounge with books. They emerged to a huge welcome from over a thousand campaigners after their occupation had given the campaign national news coverage and huge support from around the country.

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

The came out to lead a march to save all of Lambeth’s Libraries after they had been forced to leave by an injunction obtained by Lambeth Council. The march was going via the Minet Library, also closed by the council on 31st March to a rally opposite the town hall in Brixton.

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

I left the marchers to take a train from Loughborough Junction back to the centre of London.

Carnegie Library Occupation Ends
March to Save Lambeth’s Libraries


Cameron must go! Downing St

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

When I arrived, a large and lively protest outside the gates of Downing St was blocking traffic in Whitehall calling on Cameron to resign because of the lack of trust about his financial affairs following the revelations in the Panama papers.

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

Many protesters had come in party mode, with flowered garlands, Panama hats and suitably Central American dress and some with placards and posters referring to Cameron’s pig-related activities.

Cameron must go!


Stop Grand National horse slaughter, Channel 4, Horseferry Rd

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

I left Whitehall where the party was still continuing outside Downing Street and walked to Channel 4’s London HQ, where a small group was protesting the cruelty to horses involved in the Grand National and other similar races. Already 4 horses had been killed that year in the current race meeting at Aintree, and at least 46 following accidents at the annual meeting there since 2000.

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

Race horses seldom if ever actually die from the accidents, but a broken leg makes them worthless and rather than spending money on keeping them alive they are killed.

Stop Grand National horse slaughter


Don’t Criminalise Abortion in Poland, Polish Embassy

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

From Horseferry Road where the protesters told me more people were coming to join the protest I took the tube to Oxford St and rushed up Regent St and Portland Place to the Polish Embassy, where a crowd of several hundred Poles and supporters were supporting large protests in Poland against the bill proposed by the Law and Justice Party (PiS) which will outlaw abortion in all cases, protecting the life of the unborn child even where this may cause extreme distress or even death for the mother.

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

At the end of the protest they hung wire coat-hangers, a traditional crude tool of back-street abortionists, on the embassy door and fence.

Don’t Criminalise Abortion in Poland


Party against Cameron, Downing St

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

I took the tube back to Charing Cross and walked down to Downing Street and the party which had begun before lunchtime was still going on there at 4pm, though most of the people had gone home.

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

They were still blocking the side of Whitehall next to Downing Street and there was dancing on the street to a sound system and it was more of a street party. Police were still standing back and watching but seemed to be making no attempt to clear the street.

Party against Cameron


End Killings in Colombia, Trafalgar Square

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

In Trafalgar Square an emergency protest was taking place on the North Terrace against the massacres in Colombia, organised by the UK Congreso de los Pueblos and Marcha Patriotica supported by the Colombia Solidarity Campaign. The protest was held in solidarity with those taking place that day in Colombia against political persecution and calling for an end to paramilitary killings. They want peace, human rights and democracy in Colombia.

Libraries, Cameron, Grand National, Abortion & Colombia

It’s sometimes difficult to understand what is happening in Colombia – as in some other foreign countries. Our news media seldom report fully and often take a very biased view, relying on reports reflecting only the views of big business, the wealthy classes and US propaganda. Here’s what I wrote about the situation:

Conservative opposition politicians led by former president Alvaro Uribe have protested against ongoing peace talks with leftist rebel groups by President Juan Manuel Santos. Uribe is opposed to talks with FARC and the ELN. If there was a peace agreement there could be investigations of the various human rights abuses and corruption scandals that took place while he was in power. The conservative protest follows earlier protests last month by mainly left and rural Colombians in support of Santos and the peace talks.

End Killings in Colombia

I was tired and it was time to go home.


End Killings in Colombia
Party against Cameron
Don’t Criminalise Abortion in Poland
Stop Grand National horse slaughter
Cameron must go!
March to Save Lambeth’s Libraries
Carnegie Library Occupation Ends


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March Against Housing & Planning Bill

Sunday, January 30th, 2022

The March Against Housing & Planning Bill on January 30th 2016 was organised by activists from South London, particulary from the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.

These include many who are fighting against the demolition of social housing that is taking place across London, including in Lambeth and Southwark. Council tenants and leaseholders on council estates are fighting to save their homes – and fighting against Lambeth and Southwark councils who together with private developers and estate agent advisers are bent on demolishing the estates and replacing them with new estates which are largely for private rent or sale at London’s inflated market prices.

Southwark Council in particular carried out an expenisive PR exercise to demonise the Heygate Estate at the Elephant & Castle, having failed to carry out necessary maintenance and flooded the estate with people with various social problems over a number of years. The whole disastrous history has been documented in depth on the Southwark 35% site. A prize-winning estate with 1,214 homes built in 1974 to provide social housing for around 3,000 people was deliberately run-down and demolished. It’s replacement, Elephant Park has less than 100 social housing units. Many of its new flats are simply investments for overseas owners.

Southwark sold the Heygate to developers for one third of its previous valuation, and spent more on the scheme than it received. A study by Global architect firm Gensler concluded that the £35m spent by Southwark in rehousing the estate residents was exactly the same as it would have cost to refurbish the estate up to modern standards – and would have avoided the huge carbon footprint of demolishing and rebuilding.

A well as Heygate, Southwark Council’s main target has been the Aylesbury Estate, where Tony Blair chose to launch the Labour regeneration policy which has enabled corrupt councils to destroy much of what remained of social housing. For many council officers and some councillors it has enabled them to move into highly paid jobs with developers as a reward for their services. Lambeth has also been pursuing similar policies (along with other boroughs in London) and in particular with the Central Hill estate close to Crystal Palace.

An angry heckler – their argument continued after the speech by Livingstone

The protest against the Housing & Planning Bill in 2016 was also attended by people from both Lambeth and Southwark Council, and when Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Housing Richard Livingstone stepped up to the microphone to speak at the rally before the march some trouble was inevitable. Among those loudly heckling him was another of the speakers, Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing.

Class War have also been active in support of social housing in South London in particular and livened up the march by dancing along the street with banners singing the ‘Lambeth Walk’. One banner carried the words of a leading US Anarchist Lucy Parsons (1853-1942), “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” and another had a field of crosses with the message “We have found new homes for the rich“.

Class War supporters rushed across the street for a short impromtu protest in front of a large branch of one of the leading estate agents driving the gentrification of London and advising councils and government on housing policies, but soon rejoined the main march of around 2,000 people heading for Westminster Bridge and Downing St.

At Downing St there was another protest outside the gates. Police had formed a line across Whitehall and directed the march to the opposite side of the street opposite Downing St. The march followed them across but then many simply walked back across the street to mass in front of the gates for a rally led by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! who have been active in supporting the Focus E15 Mothers in their campaign against the housing failures of Newham Council.

More on My London Diary at Housing and Planning Bill March


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Five Bridges: XR – 17 Nov 2018

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

COP26 was in some respects a great disappointment, or rather would have been had we expected very much to arise out of it. But there were some advances, and just a slight glimmer of hope that it may prompt a little more progress in our efforts to save our future on the planet. But that it happened at all and in the way it did is very much down to the efforts of people on the street to raise awareness of the realities of climate change.

Without groups that have been campaigning for years we would have no hope at all, and whatever people think about some of the policies of Extinction Rebellion, it has been one of the more effective movements in bringing the message to the attention of the media, politicians and the public.

Even in the unfortunately toned down words of the COP26 final resolution, the message from the banner in the assembly at the top of this post is now clear: ‘FOSSIL FUEL ERA OVER’ though it still remains to be seen if it can be brought to an end fast enough for us to survive.

On Saturday 17th November 2018, Extinction Rebellion rebels managed to block five of the bridges in central London: Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Southwark. It was an ambitious project that brought much of London’s traffic to a standstill and gauranteed extensive media coverage. You can march 50,000 through London and it won’t merit a mention on the BBC unless windows are broken or police injured – but this was something that could not be ignored, and despite the interests of the billionaire media owners, at least some journalists began asking the right questions and writing the right answers.

I tried to photograph events on as many of the bridges as possible, though with no buses able to run in central London this involved rather a lot of walking. In the end I failed to make it to Lambeth Bridge, where some of the more robust actions by police against the protesters took place.

Here’s my description of XR from one of the three posts I made about them that day:

Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent rebellion against the British government for its criminal inaction in the face of the climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse which is currently on course to make human life extinct. They demand the government tell the truth about the climate emergency, reverse their inconsistent policies and work to communicate and educate everyone, that they bring in legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and reduce our consumption of all resources, with a national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes and create a real democracy.

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2018/11/nov.htm#westminster

More protests will be needed around the world to make politicians do what needs to be done – and I was photographing Extinction Rebellion in London last Saturday when they protested in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show.


My day was made busier as there was another unrelated event taking place that I also wanted to photograph, a Unity against Fascism and Racism march from the BBC to a rally in Whitehall calling for unity against the rising threat of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by far-right groups in the UK, with a level of support for fascism not seen since the 1930s. I missed the start but spent around half an hour taking pictures as it came down Regent St.


More on all these and more pictures on My London Diary:

Extinction Rebellion Bridge blockade starts
Extinction Rebellion: Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo
Extinction Rebellion form Citizens’ Assembly

Unity Against Fascism and Racism


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Afrikan Emancipation Day Call for Reparations

Sunday, August 1st, 2021

2014

Seven years ago on August 1st 2014, the centenary of the foundation by Marcus Garvey of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, I photographed Rastafarians meeting in Windrush Square for speeches and ceremonies before a march to Parliament demanding reparations for the descendants of those taken from Africa by the Atlantic Slave Trade.

2014

August 1 was chosen as the founding date for the UNIA and for the Madison Square meeting and this protest as it was the 1 August 1834 was Emancipation day, following the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, when slavery was ended in the British Empire.

2014

Since then, similar events have taken place each year in Brixton each Afrikan Emancipation Day – August 1st – with the event growing in support each year. Last year the organisers changed the format of the event, as the supporters of the event felt it was having little impact and their demand to the UK Government to establish an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth & Reparatory Justice (APPCITARJ) and to commit to holistic reparations taking into consideration various proposals for reparations in accordance with the United Nations Framework on a Right to a Remedy and Reparation was being ignored.

2014

The decided to hold a series of events in Brixton, blocking local roads to do so, an Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations Rebellion Groundings event. This gained far more attention in the media and the Stop The Maangamizi Campaign and the Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee have decided to hold a similar rebellion on Sunday 1st August 2021.

2019

With some help from Extinction Rebellion who have supported previous events they intend to lock-down Brixton Road for the day, and to establish a series of ‘Grounding spaces’ for public action and learning on various aspects of the struggle under the general theme of ‘Uniting to Stop the Maangamizi for Our Very Survival: Planet Repairs Now’.

2019

Maangammizi is a Swahili word annihilation, used to describe the genocide and ecocide which has taken place over centuries and is still causing huge damage across the planet. Climate change disproportionately effects Africa and the Global South.

2019

The UK Government continues to turn a deaf ear to the demand for reparations, writing in response to a petition in 2018 “we do not believe reparations are the answer” and that they “should focus on challenges that face our countries in the 21st century” rather than historic events such as the Transatlantic slave trade. Unfortunately it hasn’t been doing well on those challenges as a recent deliberately misleading report on racial disparity and our current rise in average temperatures demonstrate.

More at:
Rastafari demand reparations for slave trade
Afrikans demand reparations

Central Hill and more

Friday, June 18th, 2021

One of the original tenants comes to talk with me She tells me she dreads having to move

I began work on Sunday 18th June 2017 on the Central Hill Estate at the south-east tip of Lambeth, built on a hill with splendid views towards central London. Across the road (also Central Hill) at the top is Norwood in LB Croydon, a few yards down from the estate takes you in to the LB of Southwark, while 5 minutes walk east brings you to Crystal Palace in the LB of Bromley.

As Ted Knight, the leader of Lambeth Council from 1978 until disqualified for refusing to cap rates in 1985 and demonised by the press as ‘Red Ted’, told us later in the morning when he came to express his support, the estate was designed and built in 1967-74 when Labour believed that “nothing was too good for the working people” and the estate was built to high specifications and is still in sound condition. Borough Architect Ted Hollamby had earlier brought in Rosemary Stjernstedt from the LCC where she was their first senior woman architect, and she was the team leader, working with structural engineer Ted Happold from Arup & Partners and architect Roger Westman.

The scheme was seen from the start as a living community, and included a burses’s hostel, a day card centre and a doctor’s surgery as well as a small row of shops, a club centre and community hall. It also had a district heating system, though this is no longer in use. The plans made great use of the sloping site and the estate is certainly one of the finest of that era. It has remained a popular estate, with relatively low crime rates, and quite a few of the original residents still live there and wish to stay.

It’s an estate that clearly should be listed, but Historic England decided not to do so in 2016, probably under pressure from politicians, particularly because of the scale of the site and the very attractive possibilities it presents for developers. The Twentieth Century Society were dismayed that their application was dismissed – and you can read their application on-line.

In 2017 Lambeth decided to completely demolish the estate and develop it with an extra 400 homes, roughly doubling the size, most of which will be for private sale. Many residents objected and Architects for Social Housing have developed alternative plans showing how the extra capacity could be achieved at lower cost retaining the existing housing and the main features of the estate.

Nicola Curtis, one of the elected representatives the council refuses to talk with

The council seem to have little concern for the current residents of the estate or their wishes. They have been banned from using the community resource centre on the estate, which was locked. A large mural was painted with council agreement on one of the walls in the estate – but the council then insisted that they remove the name ‘Central Hill’ from it. The council refused to talk with the two representatives of the residents elected to the Resident Engagement Panel. Normal maintenance of the paths and other aspects of the estate appears to have been stopped, and I found examples of very shoddy work by the council on the estate.


I took the train back into central London and to Parliament Square, wherre Veterans for Peace had organised a remembrace of Brian Haw on the 6th anniversary of his death. They held a small banner with the message ‘War is is not the solution to the problems we face in the 21st century’

Brian Haw began his camp here on 2 June 2001, and remained in place despite many attempts, legal and otherwise to remove him for almost 10 years, leaving only when arrested, for court appearances and to speak at protests at Trafalgar Square and Downing St until 1 January 2011 when he left England to receive treatment for his lung cancer in Berlin. He died in Germany in the early hours of 18 June 2011.

His ten years of protest and the frequent and repeated harassment undoubtedly hastened his decline and death. His protest in Parliament square was continued by Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005 and had been imprisoned twice for her role in the protest and arrested 48 times. The level of harassment increased and she went on hunger strike on 31st December 2012. Late in January 2013 she was taken into hospital close to death, and was treated for frostbite and exposure. Her protests continued on-line.

It was also the day of the annual Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march in London, attended by several thousand from all over the country. Led by Imams and Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews, it called for ‘Freedom for Palestine’, and for all oppressed people’s across the world, and for a boycott of Israel.

As usual the march met with opposition from a small group of Zionists with Israeli flags and they were better organised than in previous years, with around 20 of them managing to block the route for around a quarter of an hour before police managed to move them on and allow the march to continue, though rather more slowly than usual.

Al Quds Day was inaugurated by Ayatollah Khomeini and some of the groups which support it may still receive support from the Iranian regime. Some of the protesters carried a small flag with both the Palestinian flag and that of Hezbollah and the message ‘Boycott Israel’. Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group uses the same flag for both, and the militant wing is a proscribed group in the UK. The flag carried by some on the protest made clear in the small print it was in support of the political party.

Al Quds march
Zionists protest Al Quds Day March
Brian Haw remembered
Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill


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.


Richmond and Clapham

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Oak House, Old Palace Place, King St, Richmond, 1988 88-1a-53-positive_2400
Oak House, Old Palace Place, King St, Richmond, 1988

I went to Richmond fairly often fairly in my youth some 25 years or so before I took these pictures, sometimes on my bike, on the 37 bus from Hounslow Garage or by car with a friend from school who had a part-time job and could afford to run a Morris Minor. On the bike I would generally ride around Richmond Park, and I took my first cassette of black and white film mainly of the trees there, sending them away to be processed and getting back 36 crinkle-edged black and white enprints. D & P cost something like 17s11d (around 90p) and it was several years before I could afford to take another film. The prints were a dull grey, with no trace of either white or black, but even well-printed they would have been of no great interest.

Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988 88-1a-62-positive_2400
Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988

When we went together in my mate’s car, often with a third friend, it was to sit with a cup of coffee on the terrace of a coffee bar, watching the girls go by while our coffee cooled. I doubt we could ever afford more than a single cup, and certainly none of us had the nerve to talk to any of those passing girls. Richmond at the time was full of young foreign au-pairs, all rather older than us.

Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988 88-1a-02-positive_2400
Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988

I think most of my bus journeys were made on my own, visiting the Palm Court Hotel to listen to jazz in the bar there, standing making a pint of bitter (probably Red Barrel or Worthington E – I then knew no better) last and last as I couldn’t afford another. It was always a rather lonely evening, with little conversation – though occasionally some older man would attempt to pick me up but I wasn’t interested. But there was some truly great music from the likes of Bobby Wellins.

Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988 88-1a-01-positive_2400
Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988

Later, in my thirties, I would visit Richmond regularly, having joined the photographic society there and made a few friends who shared some of my photographic interests. Club photography was in general tired and formulaic and had little to offer, but became used to doing my own thing often to the derision of the majority of the members. I still remember the frisson of revulsion when a visiting judge for an inter-club competion not only praised my entry but awarded it one of the prizes.

Flooding is frequent at Richmond, where the Thames is still tidal (though a half-lock prevents it draining out completely at low tide) and there are always motorists who ignore the warning notices. I think it comes up over parts of the towpath most months during Spring Tides. These pictures were taken in March when I had probably come on one of my regular visits to a couple of second-hand bookshops that often had decent photographic books in stock at a time when these were rare. Many were review copies, probably never reviewed but sold to the dealers as one of the perks of a poorly-paid job. I decided if ever I became a book reviewer (which eventually I did) I would never sell copies, and I didn’t though there were some I gave away, but many more I refused to take.

Heath Terrace, Wandsworth Rd, Silverthorne Rd, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988 88-3a-01-positive_2400
Heath Terrace, Wandsworth Rd, Silverthorne Rd, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988

Once a month we came to visit friends in Kennington, arriving for lunch on a Sunday, and I would often travel up earlier than the rest of my family and spend some time walking around and taking pictures, and I think this may have been taken on one of those mornings. I think I will have chosen this angle on the ornamented Heath Terrace carefully, not just to show the 4 white chimneys of Battersea Power Station at left, but also the rather Lego-like tower block at right, and choosing to put a concrete post at the right edge.

Heath Terrace is still there, though I think now entirely residential, and I’m not sure you can still see the power station, certainly not in summer when Streetview is on its rounds, as that small tree has grown considerably. The concrete post, which I assume was a lamp post as well as holding some other sign has disappeared.

Clapham Manor St, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988 88-3a-04-positive_2400
Clapham Manor St, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988

This Grade II listed building at 42 Clapham Manor St is now home to the London Russian Ballet School and Kids Love Lambeth. It was built in 1854, architect by James Thomas Knowles Snr, as the Clapham General Dispensary for the ‘The Clapham Sick Poor Fund’ formed in 1849 and provided free medical and surgical services for almost a century, closing in the early 1950s.

In 1959 the building was used by the London County Council for industrial training for people with special needs. It later became a pre-school playground and adult education centre, which I think it was at the time of my photograph. Shortly after in 1989 it became empty and suffered some fire damage which led to considerable internal rebuilding. Still owned by Lambeth council, it became a taxi training school until 2005-6 when the council sold the building and its considerable premises at the rear. For some years it was in illegal use as ballet studios, with this being made legal in 2013.

James Thomas Knowles Snr (1806-1884) designed the building free of charge and it was paid for by public subscription. As well as its architectural merit is is listed as one of the earliest provident dispensaries to survive 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.


Extinction Rebellion and more

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Extinction Rebellion (XR) began 11 days of protest which initially brought most of central London traffic to a halt on Monday 15th April 2019. They didn’t manage to keep up the protest until “the government takes necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency” as we have yet to see that two years later, but they did considerably raise public and media awareness about the severity of the problem the world faces.

Unfortunately there seems to be little chance that effective action will be taken in time to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2015 as they demanded, though perhaps the half-hearted measures that will come out of the delayed climate summit later this year will do just a little to slow the rate our our planet’s decline, possibly enough to see my life out, though I worry about the future of my children and despair for that of my grandsons and daughters.

XR have now very much lost the initiative, mainly I think because of internal dissensions, perhaps inevitable because of some of the rather odd characters that they attracted. But some of their ideas, particularly over the police and arrests cut them off from many on the left who attacked them as a movement funded by shady capitalists and led by wacky idealists, more a Glastonbury festival than a political movement. Much of the criticism was ill-founded but not all.

The major effect they had on our government was for them to put pressure on the police to get rid of these pesky protesters – first by more arrests and prosecutions and now by the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill to give the police greater powers to control all protests.

Early on the Monday morning, XR protesters set up camp at a number of key locations in London in a well-planned exercise. I turned up rather later to take photographs, first at Waterloo Bridge, which XR had turned into a ‘garden bridge’, blocking all traffic and bringing flowers and trees. There had been arrests earlier, but police had been unable to stop the protesters and the bridge – despite many further arrests – remained closed for over a week.

Because of the XR actions traffic all around the centre of London was at a halt, with buses not moving. Fortunately the tube was unaffected and took me to Oxford Circus, which now had a large pink yacht at its centre, named after the Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres, assassinated for her activism in 2016. It was here that I met the dance troupe dressed in red that were such a visible presence in XR protests.

XR were not the only environmental game in town, and I took the Underground to St Paul’s Cathedral for a protest organised by the Green Anti-Capitalist Front, Earth Strike and London Students for Climate Justice. I arrived when there protest was due to start, but there were only a few of them present. I hung around for half an hour or so, and then gave up and left. Later I saw the accounts of their protest which did eventually attract a small crowd and was sorry I’d missed the action.

But there was rather more happening at Marble Arch, one of London’s main gyratory systems, where XR had blocked Oxford St, Park Lane, Edgware Road and a couple of other routes and had set up a stage, workshops and a tent village as well as the road blocks.

But XR had also planned an event for Parliament Square, where the roads around were blocked for a New Orleans funeral procession with jazz band to make its way around the square.

The funeral was perhaps also designed as a diversion for some more direct action, which I again missed at the Shell Centre on the South Bank. A small group of activists daubed slogans across the front of the building and two occupied the glass porch over the door. The activists had deliberately broken the glass in one of the doors, with the intention that this would result in a trial before a jury rather than by magistrates, enabling them to present the reasons for their action, and three had been arrested and taken away by the time I arrived, but the two were still up on the porch and others holding banners on the street in front.

My day had not quite finished as I made a small diversion on my way home to visit Brixton, where staff, families and children from children’s centres were protesting against plans by Lambeth Council to close five centres and make drastic cuts at seven others. The council had recently spent £68 million on refurbishing the Town Hall and building a new Civic Centre.

Save Lambeth Children’s Centres
Extinction Rebellion at Shell
Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession
Extinction Rebellion Marble Arch
Anti-capitalist environmental action
Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus
Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge


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.