Posts Tagged ‘Lambeth’

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


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.


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.


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.


Mainly Westminster

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020
Archibishop Tenison School,  Lambeth High St, Lambeth, 1987 87-9e-63-positive_2400

Thomas Tenison (1636- 1715) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1694 until his death. Archibishop Tenison School, Lambeth High St, and according to Wikipedia founded boys schools in Lambeth in 1685 and Croydon in 1714. A school for 12 girls began in Lambeth in 1706, and this was built as a new girls’ school in 1863. In 1961 the school amalgamated with a nearby Church of England boys school and this building went out of use, though it was later used as an annexe to the combined school until this closed in 1974. It has since been demolished and replaced by a hostel.

Bennett House, Page St, Westminster, 1987 87-9f-11-positive_2400

Bennett House in Page St, Wesminster is a Grade II listed tenement courtyard block of flats built in 1928-30. It was a part of the Westminster Housing Scheme for the Grosvenor Estate and Sir Edwin Lutyens acted as consultant; the listing text calls it “An imaginative Lutyens treatment of a standard LCC type of housing block.”

Unemployment Benefit Office, Chadwick St, Westminster, 1987 87-9f-55-positive_2400

I admired the stark simplicity of the Unemployment Benefit Office on Chadwick St, Westminster. It remained in use – with changes in name – closing as a Job Centre Plus in 2017.

Old Pye St, Westminster, 198787-9f-65-positive_2400

New office buildings seen from Old Pye Street in 1987. Parts of this still remain though rather more difficult to see.

Salvation Army, Great Peter St, Westminster, 1987 87-9f-66-positive_2400

The building on this corner still has the foundation stone laid by James S Burroughes in 1893, though it has moved a few yards around the corner and I think the site is now occupied by “modern purpose-built flats for single people and couples set in a city centre location” built by SAHA, the Salvation Army Housing Association and allocated through Westminster Borough Council’s housing register.

Vauxhall Bridge Rd, Westminster, 1987 87-9g-02-positive_2400

Avocet House at 92-96 Vauxhall Bridge Road was the home of Avo Ltd, a company founded by Post Office engineer Donald Macadie who was fed up with having to carry separate meters for different measurements and in 1923 designed a meter than would measure Amperes, Volts and Ohms. The Avometer was the leading electical test equipment for many years. The company became too large for this site and bought land for a new factory at Dover in 1962. The company is now called Megger, and its testers are still made and in use around the world.

Francis St, Westminster, 1987 87-9g-14-positive_2400

This 1865 Grade II listed building in a free version of Italian Renaissance style by H A Darbishire was an orphanage for children of Crimean War guardsmen. Later it became a Franciscan friary, and they added the statue of St Francis just visible at the far corner around 1960. When they moved on it became offices. Close to Westminster Cathedral, in 2017 it was bought by the cash-strapped Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster to be refurbished as a pre-prep for Westminster Cathedral Choir School, at a cost thought to be around £10million. The school is said to be the most expensive prep school in London, and sends pupils on to public schools including Eton and Winchester.

Shop window, Upper Tachbrook St, Westminster, 1987 87-9g-22-positive_2400

I don’t know which shop this was in Upper Tachbrook Street, but it appeared to be selling clothing, jewellery and similar items. From the few details of the shop front which can be seen it looks rather like that now occupied by ‘Mr CAD – For Everything Photographic’. This began around 1960 in Croydon, and although it at one time had nine branches at various sites from Colindale in north London to Brighton became just a giant Aladdin’s cave in Windmill Rd full of secondhand gear, moving to these rather smaller premises in Pimlico but also supplying mail order around the world as “the largest independent photographic dealer in the UKW with “the biggest stock of used analogue photographic equipment worldwide specialising in film, cameras, lenses, enlargers, chemicals, paper, all manner of studio & darkroom hardware & software.”

Clicking on any of the images above will take you to my Flickr album of over 750 images of London in 1987 selected from several thousand exposures I made that year


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.


Brixton march against government racism

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Brixton in south London has a special place in the history of our country, as it was in this area that the first wave of post-war Black migrants found homes and jobs, with those who had arrived on the Empire Windrush being given temporary accomodation a short distance away in an underground bunker on Clapham Common.

Brixton had the nearest government Labour Exchange where they went in search of jobs, and many found them in local businesses and found cheap lodgings in the area, and in time brought their families to the area. Soon this working class area of London was developing the more vibrant and colourful culture that now, together with its location close to central London and good transport links makes it a prime target for gentrification.

Brixton has also been a flashpoint for social unrest, with riots (or uprisings) in 1981, 1985 and 1991 after heavy-handed and racist policing as well as in the London riots of 2011. The 1981 riots came at a time of high unemployment, particularly among the local African-Caribbean community who felt under attack by excessive policing and also by lurid press stereotyping of them, their culture and the area.

I began going to Brixton regularly in 1991, when a photography collective I had links with moved from near Clapham Junction in Battersea to the heart of the area on the edge of Brixton market and reconstituted itself as Photofusion. For years I went to most of their exhibition openings as well as visiting to take prints in to their picture library, which was then an important source for images of British social life. Photofusion is now in new premises but just a short distance away, though I think all the people I knew there are gone and it’s a year or two since I last visited the gallery.

But I have continued going to Brixton, mainly to photograph protests and events, particularly at Windrush Square, outside Lambeth Town Hall and at Brixton Police Station. And on September 14th I found myself again in Brixton, beginning at Windrush Square. This is a rather bleak and windswept area in front of the Ritzy Cinema, the Tate Library and the Black Cultural Archives, with a busy road along its west edge, ‘landscaped‘ a few years back by Lambeth Council apparently with the aim of making it a less attractive place for people to gather.

Here’s what I wrote about the protest on My London Diary:

Movement for Justice and Lambeth Unison Black Workers’ Group protest in Brixton against the continuing persecution of Windrush family members and other migrants, calling for freedom of movement, the closure of immigration detention prisons, and an end to Brexit which is being used to whip up immigrant-bashing and nationalism to establish a Trump-style regime in Britain under Boris Johnson.

After speeches in Windrush Square they moved to Brixton Market where wide support was shown by the public for speeches. Before they left Green MEP for London Scott Ainslie spoke about his LDNlovesEU campaign. They then marched up to Atlantic Road and back along the main street, Brixton Road for a final short rally in Windrush Square.

More pictures at Brixton anti-racist march.


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.

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