Posts Tagged ‘Lewisham’

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day – 2013

Thursday, September 14th, 2023

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day – Saturday 14th September 2013 was a very mixed day for me, beginning with a victory celebration by hospital campaigners in Lewisham, then moving to Westminster for a protest celebrating secularism in Whitehall before finally photographing a highly religious Malta Day celebration at Westminster Cathedral.

Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

Lewisham Hospital is a highly successful and well run hospital serving a large area of South London, and when the government planned to close large areas of its services there was a huge public outcry, with large marches to keep it open, as closure would have severely damaged the health service in the area.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

The planned closure was not in response to any failure by Lewisham; it’s sole purpose was to allow the NHS to continue to make massive PFI repayments due from the building of other London hospitals through contracts that were badly negotiated when interest rates were high and have already delivered huge profits to the lenders.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

As well as a hugely successful public campaign, both Lewisham Council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign went separately to the High Court for Judicial Review of the decision by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and both were successful.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

The immediate response of the Health Secretary was to announce he would appeal the two decisions, and the campaign had launched a petition calling on him to accept the defeat gracefully and not waste any further time or taxpayers money over the appeal. Given the clear judgement of the court any appeal seemed unlikely to succeed.

The government also intend to change the law to make it much more difficult for people to contest their decisions in the courts after being defeated on this and other cases where they have failed to give proper consideration to policies. But having a government which seems to think ‘sod the law, we’re going to do as we like‘ doesn’t seem at all healthy for democracy.

The Victory Parade was rather smaller than the earlier protests which had brought thousands out onto the streets of Lewisham, with perhaps a little fewer than five hundred people, though more turned up to take part in the celebration event at the end of the parade in Ladywell Fields. But perhaps marching now seemed less important, and the poor weather will have put some off.

At the front of the parade was a Lewisham Council dustcart with large posters on it and following it were marchers with a small street band. Among those marching were two nurses wearing their uniforms from the Olympic opening ceremony, some ‘Olympic’ drummers and others in medical uniforms.

More pictures on My London Diary at Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade.

Secular Europe Protest – Downing St

Around a hundred people had marched from Temple to a rally opposite Downing Street for the 6th annual Secular Europe Campaign protest celebrating secularism and demanding an end to religious discrimination and indoctrination.

As well as the protest in London there was also a similar protest taking place in Krakow, Poland, a country where politics are still very much dominated by the Catholic Church.

Things are rather different in the UK, but we still have the anomaly of 26 Church of England bishops sitting in the House of Lords, reflected in some of the campaigners wearing paper versions of a Bishop’s mitre with the number 26 on the front.

We obviously need reform of the House of Lords, but the bishops seem to me a minor issue and are among the more sensible and progressive members of the house. There are still 92 hereditary peers, as well as many more wholly undeserved political appointees, particularly those given a seat as thanks for their political and other services to retiring Prime Ministers. The recent list by Boris Johnson included some that clearly bring our politics into disrepute, and if the list by Liz Truss is approved following her disastrous fifty days in office, our politics will clearly have become a farce.

The campaigners also called for an end to religious indoctrination in schools, though I was pleased to hear one speaker make clear that not all church or religious schools were guilty of this, with many providing a good education that encouraged their pupils to think for themselves.

Others complained about the lack of secular speakers on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’, and though I think the selection has widened a little in recent years there is certainly still room for a wider choice of viewpoints. And they still have some who make me cringe every time they appear.

Some of the other things that concern the secular movement are religious discrimination against women and gays, abuse of children by the clergy, the teaching of creationism in schools, the anti-abortion lobby and misinformation about contraception and AIDs, religious male circumcision and female genital mutilation, false accusations about witchcraft, Sharia law, forced marriages and the right to die with dignity. And of course many of these concerns are shared with many religious people.

More at Secular Europe Protest.

Malta Day Procession – Westminster Cathedral

Finally I walked to Westminster Cathedral where a Mass was taking place for Malta Day, attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Sarah Richardson, taking pictures as people came out from the church for the procession which was to follow.

Malta Day, actually 8th September, is a public holiday in Malta, the Feast of Our Lady Of Victories or Victory Day. Celebrations in villages there mark the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated in statues of ‘il-Bambina’, one of which was carried in the procession.

The day also celebrates the Victory of the Knights of St John of Malta against the Turks in 1565, a victory over the French in 1800 and the surrender of Italy, then occupying Malta, in 1943.

Fire-crackers were set off in the plaza and a band played before the procession finally set off down Victoria Street.

As well as the statue of ‘il-Bambina’, there were also seeral large and colourful banners, men in the robes of the Knights of Malta, and girls in huge black hooded cloaks (Faldetta or Ghonella), which seemed a little sinister to me. For various personal reasons although I’ve never been there I’ve long regarded Malta as an epitome of religious intolerance.

More pictures at Malta Day Procession.

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NHS Birthday Celebrations

Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

NHS Birthday Celebrations: Today the National Health Service marks its 75th Anniversary, founded thanks to the efforts of the Labour Party and in particular Aneurin Bevan, following on from the 1942 report by Liberal economist William Beveridge which had proposed wide-reaching social reforms to tackle the “five giants” of “Want… Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness” (Idleness meaning of course unemployment.) The pictures in this post come from the 65th anniversary ten years ago today, Friday 5th July 2013.

Beveridge was opposed to means-tested benefits which he stated were unfair on the poor, and although the wartime coalition government set up committees to look at how his reforms could be put into practice they were from the onset opposed by many Conservatives and some on the Labour right.

NHS Birthday Celebrations

But Labour stood in the 1945 elections promising to put the proposals into effect, and after their victory passed the National Insurance Act 1946, the National Assistance Act 1948, and the National Health Service Act 1946 and other Acts to do so, founding the UK’s modern welfare state.

NHS Birthday Celebrations

Bevan was the wizard who integrated the multifarious per-existing medical services into the single functioning state body of the National Health Service, though he had to make many compromises to do so, working against considerable opposition both political from the Tories and from the medical bodies which were dominated by old men, many with fixed ideas.

NHS Birthday Celebrations

The 75 years since then have seen many changes in the NHS, not all for the good, with both Conservative and Labour governments determined both to penny-pinch and bring in private enterprise to profit in various ways from our health service. The last 13 years have been particularly tough for the NHS, with disastrous reforms brought in and cuts which have made it impossible for NHS workers to provide the services and care they desperately want to do.

NHS Birthday Celebrations

Covid of course didn’t help – and the failure to provide proper protective equipment, with too many contracts going to cronies who didn’t deliver – and fraudsters – was a real disaster, killing far too many health and other key workers. Despite a magnificent effort by health workers too many died, and the only reward for the huge efforts made by the NHS was claps.

Currently we have a government which refuses to talk sensibly with workers across the health centre, instead simply saying that the below inflation rises it is offering – essentially wage cuts – are fair. It obviously hopes that by provoking strikes and getting its friends in our billionaire owned right-wing press to condemn the strikers for the cancellations, increase in waiting lists and possible deaths it will get the public on its side against the NHS.

Instead we need policies which will engage with the problems the NHS faces after years of underfunding, overwork and shortages. The recently announced workforce plan at least is a plan to do something, though it seems unlikely to prove workable. The shortage of doctors, nurses and other medical staff has been clear almost since the start of the NHS, and certainly critical for many years.

We need to both increase the number of training places and tackle some of the other causes. Private hospitals rely on publicly funded doctors and nurses – and should at least have to pay the training costs for those they employ – although personally I’d prefer to see them being brought into public ownership. As well as poaching staff they also cherry-pick offering care for simpler cases but largely passing back more critical care to the NHS.

There needs to be an end to the expensive and somewhat unreliable use of agency staff, at least by the NHS setting up its own temporary staffing organisation and also by ending payments for work at above normal rates. The NHS also needs to become a much friendlier employer in terms of flexibility of shifts etc.

And of course we need to remove the caps on training for doctors, nurses and other staff, and to provide proper bursaries to cover both fees and maintenance for these vital workers. The proposed ‘apprenticeship’ scheme for doctors seems unworkable as such, but all medical course are already in some part apprenticeships, including some on the job training. Finding the additional mentors needed for more work-based schemes seems an example of cloud-cuckoo land thinking, and the setting up of a two-class system of doctors seems highly undesirable.

Importantly too we need to drastically reduce the bureaucratic workload of all doctors and health staff at all levels. Theoretically the increased use of IT could play a role in this – although the NHS has been disastrously shafted by its IT providers in the past, promising much but delivering mainly greater complexity. So far bringing in IT has increased the amount and time spent in form-filling at the expense of treating patients, partly because the various levels of administration up to the government has seized the opportunity for the greater demands it makes possible.

I was born before the NHS and looking at it in recent years I’ve sometimes wondered if my own death will be due to its stuttering demise. I hope not. But the NHS is certainly not safe in the hands of the Tories, and little that we have so far seen about Labour’s plans give me confidence it will be safe in theirs.

The two events I photographed on the NHS’s 65th Birthday were all concerned with its problems and doubts about its future, The GMB trade union came to Parliament with 3 vintage ambulances saying the NHS Is At Risk, campaigners at Lewisham Hospital celebrated hoping and fighting to keep their busy, successful and much needed hospital open and stop it being sacrificed to meet the disastrous PFI debts of a neighbouring hospital. I’d taken my bike to ride to Lewisham, and made a leisurely ride through Deptford on my way back to Westminster.

At the Ministry of Health, then still on Whitehall, Dr Clive Peedell was about to begin his 65 mile ultra-marathon run to David Cameron’s Witney constituency where he was to ceremonially bury the NHS coffin and launch the National Health Action Party plan by doctors and health professionals to revive the NHS. Their 10-point plan included “policies to restore the duty of the Secretary of State to provide comprehensive NHS care, and return the NHS as the preferred provider of services.”

More about the events on the 65th Birthday of the NHS – from which all the pictures in the post come – are on My London Diary.

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Lung Theatre ‘E15’ Battersea March 2017

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

Lung Theatre 'E15' Battersea March

Lung Theatre ‘E15’ Battersea March: Thursday 16th March 2017 was a rather unusual day for me in that rather than photographing a protest I was being part of a theatrical performance, though not in a theatre but on the busy evening rush hour streets of Battersea.

Lung Theatre 'E15' Battersea March

But like many of the others there, I was playing myself as a photographer of protests, and taking pictures as I would if this had been a real protest.

Lung Theatre 'E15' Battersea March

This performance was to announce that Lung Theatre, a small theatrical group, were bringing their Edinburgh festival award-winning performance ‘E15’ to Battersea Arts Centre, and they were doing so with the help of many of the housing protesters, particularly from the Stratford-based Focus E15 campaign, on which their ‘verbatim theatre’ performance was based.

Lung Theatre 'E15' Battersea March

An interesting article, Documentary & Verbatim Theatre by Tom Cantrell of the University of York gives a clear definition, “Verbatim theatre is a form of documentary theatre which is based on the spoken words of real people. Strictly, verbatim theatre-makers use real people’s words exclusively, and take this testimony from recorded interviews.”

The “protest” began in the rather dim light of the street outside Clapham Junction’s busiest entrance, and it was hard for me to distinguish the actors from the housing protesters by their speech and actions, though rather easier in that they were the only faces I didn’t recognise, having met and photographed the activists so often at previous events. But the group certainly put on a convincing performance as they handed out leaflets and fliers, both about the Focus E15 campaign and their forthcoming performances at the Battersea Arts Centre.

Focus E15 began when a group of young mothers housed in the Focus E15 hostel in Stratford were told that Newham council were going to evict them and they would be dispersed not just in the borough but to rented accommodation across the country in far away places where they had no friends, no family and away from any jobs, schools, familiar services and support.

Newham had adopted a policy which amounted to social cleansing, removing people from its area who, as the then Mayor put it, could not afford to live there. Rather than accept this they came together to fight the council, and inspired others across the country to fight for ‘Social Housing NOT Social Cleansing’.

And Focus E15 won their fight but didn’t stop there, continuing the fight for others in the area faced with homelessness and eviction, demanding the council bring empty council housing back into use in a campaign for ‘Housing For All’. They are still out on Stratford Broadway with a street stall every Saturday, still forcing the council to face up to its responsibilities despite considerable harassment (and more recently a change of Mayor.)

As well as some of the leading activists from Focus E15 at the eevent were also other campaigners including some from Sweets Way in north London and Lewisham People Before Profit and others fighting the demolition of council housing by London’s mainly Labour controlled councils, increasingly in league with estate agents and property developers scrambling for excessive profits from sky-high London market prices. And they had brought some of their banners with them for the event.

From Clapham Junction the “protesters” marched up Lavender Hill to the Battersea Arts Centre, where they occupied the foyer for a few final minutes of protest in what had been a pretty convincing event. And while actors had to go on stage and give their performance, the activists could sit down in the theatre and watch.

I didn’t join them, as I knew I had to come back to view it a week later and then be a part of a panel discussion Art & Accidental Activism, a week later. It was an impressive performance and gave a real impression of some of the more dramatic aspects of the real protests I had covered and made clear the political aspects of the housing crisis and why activism was necessary. But sometimes it did seem strange to hear words I remembered well coming out of a different person.

I couldn’t really enjoy it as much as I would have liked as I was very nervous, considerably daunted at having to appear afterwards ‘on stage’ to answer questions with fellow panelists Jeremy Hardy, journalist Dawn Foster and theatre legend Max Stafford Clark. But in the event it went well (my sternest critic says) and I rather enjoyed it and the session in the bar that followed.

More at Lung Theatre ‘E15’ march to BAC.

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High Rise, Houses, Car Parts, and a Club

Friday, February 24th, 2023

Continuing my walk in Peckham in March 1989. The previous post on this walk was Asylum, Lorry Park, Works, Museum & Office Door.

Bird in Bush Rd, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-21
Bird in Bush Road, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-21

I spent some time exploring the area around Malt Street and Ossory Road, now on the other side of Asda, where some demolition was taking place but took few photographs, none on-line, and then walked back along along the Old Kent Road to Peckham Park Road, going down this to Green Hundred Road. I found myself in a large area of council housing, much of which was fairly standard LCC five storey blocks dating from the late 1930s, solidly built, their height limited back then by the lack of lifts.

The foreground flats in this picture are from the late 60s and are on Bird in Bush Road, part of the GLC designed Ledbury Estate, and as well as these 4-storey maisonette blocks there were also four identical 14 floor H shape tower blocks, including this one, Bromyard House, which has its entrance on Commercial Way.

Bird in Bush Road, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-22
Bird in Bush Road, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-22

This picture was taken from close to the east end of Bird in Bush Road, and the building cut off at extreme left of the image is the former Arthur Street Board School (now Camelot Primary School.)

The design dates of these flats, also on the Ledbury estate, is from the early 1960s and was replicated across London by the GLC, using the prefabricated Danish Larsen-Nielsen system. After one at Ronan Point suffered a disastrous collapse following a gas explosion flats built using this system should have been strengthened, but somehow Southwark Council failed to do so on this estate. I’m not sure whether this had now been put right. but none have yet collapsed.

Doddington Cottages, Commercial Way, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-24
Doddington Cottages, Commercial Way, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-24

This semi-detached residence dating from 1836 which was Grade II listed together with the neighbouring Doddington Place around nine years after I took this picture.

The name possibly comes from Doddington Hall in Cheshire, built by Samuel Wyatt for Sir Thomas Broughton in 1777-90 and its parkland landscaped by Capability Brown. There is also Doddington Place at Doddington near Sittingbourne in Kent, but this was only built around 1870.

Tustin Estate, Old Kent Rd, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-11
Tustin Estate, Old Kent Rd, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-11

The Tustin Estate is on the north side the Old Kent Road immediately west of Ilderton Road. It has three 20 storey towers, Windermere Point, Grasmere Point (in the centre here) and Ambleside Point, each with over 70 flats which were approved by the GLC in 1964. There are also six low-rise blocks on the estate.

According to Southwark Council, “In March 2021, residents voted in favour of demolishing and rebuilding the low-rise buildings in a residents’ ballot. This will include replacement council homes, additional council homes and key worker housing, shared equity homes and homes for private sale. There will also be a replacement school building, new commercial spaces and a new park. All existing residents will be able to move to a new council home in the first phase of the scheme.” I’m unsure how far this scheme has so far progressed and it remains to be seen whether the council will keep its promises, which it almost completely failed to do on some earlier schemes.

Clifton Crescent, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-13
Clifton Crescent, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-13

I returned to Clifton Crescent which I had photographed earlier and too a rather better and closer picture of this magnificent curved terrace. As I explained earlier, it was Southwark Council’s decision in 1972 to demolish this crescent that led to a local action group which became the Peckham Society in 1975. Fortunately they managed to stop the demolition when only No 1 had been lost. They convinced the council that retaining and restoring the properties was a cheaper option, and the lost house was rebuilt and the entire crescent, Grade II listed thanks to their efforts in 1974, was restored by 1977. The Crescent was built in 1847-51 and represents an interesting transition between earlier Regency styles and the simpler Victorian terraces.

Car spares, Loder St, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-15
Car spares, Loder St, Peckham, Southwark, 1989 89-3c-15

From there I made my way east, going under the railway on Culmore Road or Clifton Way and then south to Loder St. This whole area has been redeveloped since I made these pictures in 1989 and is now covered with low-rise housing. I made two pictures of this car breaker’s yard (you can see the other on Flickr).The tower blocks are those of the Tustin Estate.

Hatcham Liberal Club, Queen's Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1989 89-3d-61
Hatcham Liberal Club, Queen’s Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1989 89-3d-61

I walked down to Queen’s Road, I think along York Grove, stopping briefly to photograph a street corner. On Queen’s Road before catching a bus I photographed the Hatcham Liberal Club, built in 1880 in Queen Anne Dutch style and Grade II listed ten years after I took this picture. It was one of the largest of a number of late Victorian working men’s clubs and became a popular venue with a large hall at the back available for hire for parties and gigs and also for until it closed in 2006. In 2009 most of the interior was converted into flats.

Shops, John Ruskin St, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-3d-62
Shops, John Ruskin St, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-3d-62

I changed buses in Camberwell, where I made a slight detour to make another visit to photograph the row of shops on John Ruskin Street as the final picture of the day and this walk.

The first post about this walk was Shops, Removals, Housing and the Pioneer Health Centre. I’ll post about my next walk in 1989, in the City of London, shortly.

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Save the NHS – Lewisham 2013

Thursday, January 26th, 2023

Save Lewisham Hospital March & Rally – Saturday 26 January 2013

Save the NHS - Lewisham 2013

On Saturday 26th January 2013 an estimated 25,000 people marched through Lewisham to save their hospital from closure and to protect the NHS, showing south London united against the closure on pure financial grounds of its highly successful and much needed A&E and maternity departments.

Save the NHS - Lewisham 2013

Now the whole NHS is facing a crisis, and a similar united response across the country is needed to save it. It becomes clearer and clearer that this crisis has been deliberately engineered in order to destroy our health service and hand it over to private providers, particularly the US health giants.

Save the NHS - Lewisham 2013

Two years ago, US health insurance giant Centene Corporation took over 49 NHS GP surgeries and practices. Now as Jeremy Corbyn posted a couple of days ago on Facebook, “US health insurance giant, Centene, is the single largest provider of NHS primary care in England. Privatisation is the cause of — not the solution to — the NHS crisis. Stop wasting money on private contracts and start investing in a fully-public NHS instead.

Save the NHS - Lewisham 2013

Unfortunately both Tory and Labour parties have taken part in the move towards privatisation of the NHS, though Tories have been more open in their support of such changes as suggesting the introduction of charges to see a doctor. But both parties have introduced changes which have brought private companies into providing NHS services, have taken large donations from private health companies, and have leading members who profit from them.

It was under Labour that the NHS took on poorly thought out Private Finance Initiative contracts that have landed many local health trusts with huge debt repayments, many of which extend to the middle of the century, and it was these which led to the crisis in Lewisham.

The PFI contracts were negotiated by civil servants and were and are a bonanza for private companies. Under them we pay totally ridiculous charges for simple jobs – such as Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust paying £8,450 to install a dishwasher because they are locked into maintenance contracts. Changing a light bulb can cost a couple of hundred pounds.

Lewisham Hospital wasn’t directly affected by PFI, but it was in 2009 put into the South London Hospitals Trust, which had two hospitals at Orpington and Woolwich whose PFI contracts saddled the trust with debts of over £60 million a year until 2032.

Lewisham Hospital was successful both medically and financially, but Health Secretary Andrew Lansley appointed a special administrator to the trust with a remit to drastically cut the trusts costs. And Matthew Kershaw decided to do so by closing the highly successful and much needed A&E and maternity departments at Lewisham.

It was a decision that made no sense. There wasn’t the spare capacity at other hospitals to cope with those no longer able to get treatment at Lewisham – the system was actually working in the other direction, with these other hospitals having to send patients to Lewisham.

Financially it made no sense – the patients would still require treatment and this would cost more elsewhere. The small annual savings the closure would give would be more than offset by increases in costs elsewhere – though some of these might be in other trusts.

The proposal generated an incredible amount of local opposition, with the campaign to save the hospital supported by all local MPs and policitician both in the area and across south London. Community groups and organisations all came together to save the hospital – Millwall football club even changed their weekend fixture to Friday night so the team and supporters could join the march.

As I wrote back in 2013, “The fight to save Lewisham Hospital isn’t just a local issue, but very much a national one, with the provision of medical services that form the bedrock of the NHS under attack. If the government can close down services at Lewisham, no other successful hospital in the UK is safe in their hands.”

Nurses and ambulance workers are now striking not just for a better deal for themselves, but for the future of the NHS, which the Tories have deliberately run down with drastic underfunding and a deliberate failure to train and recruit staff. Perhaps their most obvious action was the removal of the bursary for nurse training, but as well there has been the continuing decrease in real salaries with below inflation wage rises over the years. Together with the failure to keep European staff in this country after Brexit and the impact of Covid the results have been disastrous – except for those private companies providing agency nurses and doctors, often at horrific cost to the NHS.

If the NHS is to be saved it will need the kind of public mobilisation that saved Lewisham Hospital, with the people as a whole getting behind the nurses and doctors and others who are fighting to save it. We need to fight the policies and greed of the Tories and of Labour and of the billionaire press to preserve the NHS as a national service free at the point of use and organised for the national good rather than for profit.

More pictures at Save Lewisham Hospital

Duck Race, Climate, Zimbabwe & Clean Air

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Saturday 21st September 2019 was an even more varied day than usual for me in London. I began by travelling to Bow Creek for a duck race, moved to Trafalgar Square for a climate protest, then visted the weekly Zimbabwe vigil before going to Catford for a march against air pollution.

Bromley-by-Bow to Star Lane & Cody Dock Duck Race

Duck Race, Climate, Zimbabwe & Clean Air

It was a fine day and still warm for the time of year as I walked from Bromley-by-Bow District Line the short distance to Tweletrees Crescent and Bow Creek.

I’d decided to come to see the Duck Race along Bow Creek being organised by the people at Cody Dock, but had arrived early to give myself time to revisit the gas works memorial site nearby.

Duck Race, Climate, Zimbabwe & Clean Air

Bow Creek is the tidal section of London’s second river, the River Lea, and the duck race was a part of the ‘Lighting Up the Lea’ festival for ‘Totally Thames 2019’. It was meant to start at 11.00 but this was delayed as the people in canoes who were to shepherd the ducks were a few minutes late in arriving.

Duck Race, Climate, Zimbabwe & Clean Air

It was close to low tide, and there was little water in the creek when the ducks were dropped from the bridge, and a westerly breeze soon blew the ducks onto the mud on the east side of the creek.

Cody Dock’s Simon Myers had beached his kayak on the gravel bank a hundred yards or so downstream and strode through the shallow stream and mud to rescue the ducks and through them back into the middle of the stream. But the breeze soon returned them to the mud and he had to get them again.

I decided I had to move on to complete my walk and get back to central London for my next event and walked on towards Cody Dock, past several small groups of people waiting to see their ducks. At Cody Dock there were a small line of catchers waiting hopefully in the stream, but they were in for a rather long wait.

I’d hoped to be able to continue my walk by the riverside to Canning Town, but this further section of the Bow Creek path has yet to be opened, and after taking a few pictures at Cody Dock I made my way to Star Lane DLR station.

Cody Dock Duck Race
Bromley-by-Bow to Star Lane

XR Youth International – Trafalgar Square

Members of Extinction Rebellion Youth International came to Trafalgar Square and held a brief protest for the UN Climate conference.

This was a rather more low-key event than I had expected and the group was ignored by heritage wardens as they sat in a circle in the centre of the square with posters while one member at the centre read the letter they are sending to the UN calling for real urgent action to avert the impending climate catastrophe.

XR Youth International

Zimbabwe protests continue – Strand

The weekly Zimbabwe Vigil every Saturday at the side of the embassy at 429 Strand began on 12th October 2002. I’ve joined it and photographed occasionally over the years, but mainly for special occasions. It’s hard to say something new about an event which happens every week.

Mugabe had been forced to resign in 2017 died earlier in the month and had died two weeks before my visit, but the vigils continue and little has changed in Zimbabwe. His successor Emmerson Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s right-hand man for 40 years, and is accused of the genocide of over 20,000 Ndebeles in the 1980s. Although he promised reform he has delivered state terrorism and protesters have been killed, beaten, tortured and raped by the security forces.

Zimbabwe protests continue

Clean Air for Catford Children

The South Circular Road brings large volumes of traffic through Catford, often pumping out fumes at standstill during peak hours. Particles from brakes, tyres and the road add significantly to the pollution – and won’t be reduced as we switch towards electric cars.

Although a major traffic route, the South Circular has always been more an idea than a planned route, going along many fairly narrow roads lined with houses which were never designed for the traffic. Fortunately major schemes which would have laid waste large areas of highly populated parts of South London have never come to fruition – the obvious environmental devastation of roads like the Westway having put paid to urban motorway schemes.

The answer has to be policies at both national and local level which reduce vehicle use and promote greener alternative transport including walking and cycling as well as public transport use. But although Lewisham Council are not responsible for the South Circular Road, remedial actions such as planting screens of trees and hedges can reduce local pollution levels, particularly the levels of harmful particulates.

I met local residents at the Corbett Library on Torridon Road in Catford, built with funding from Andrew Carnegie in 1907. It is now a Community Library run by volunteers and is on the Corbett Estate, 3,000 houses around Hither Green developed by Glasgow-born Archibald Corbett from 1896 to 1911.

They were busy finishing placards and posters for the march, which soon set off, marching up on the pavement to the South Circular at Brownhill Road, on their way to a rally at the council offices in Lewisham. Traffic on the South Circular made it a little difficult for me to take photographs as it was seldom possible to stand on the road. I left them before the rally to travel home.

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl who lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham died from asthma in 2013. Following a 2020 inquest ruling she was the first first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of her death on her death certificate.

Clean Air for Catford Children

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Apocalypse, Cold Blow Lane, Millwall & Surrey Canal

Thursday, September 15th, 2022

The previous post on this walk is Evelina, Sassoon, Queens Road, Montpelier and Mazawattee. The pictures here come from the final film on my walk on 18th December 1988. I only finished the film and developed in it January 1989 so they appear in my Flickr album for 1989.

Mural, Sanford Walk, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-61
Mural, Sanford Walk, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-61

‘Riders of the Apocalypse’ was painted by Brian Barnes on the end property of Sanford Housing Co-operative in 1983. Student Co-operative Dwellings (SCD) was founded in 1968 by John Hands and colleagues and campaigned for five years lobbying parliament and looking for land until the government and Lewisham Council agreed to allow them the build Sanford Co-operative Dwellings. This was the first purpose-designed co-op scheme for the young and mobile, and was completed in October 1974.

Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-63
Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-63

Cold Blow Lane in the 19th century led to Cold Blow Farm, now long gone. In the 1850s the Croydon Railway built several tracks over it, and one of these went on the bridge whose two piers can be seen in this picture though the bridge has gone. Railway tracks still go over the lane, and I took this picture close to the exit of the long tunnel that goes under them. At the end of the lane is Mercury Way, and Cold Blow Lane turns at 90 degrees to go south.

Straight ahead, under another railway line, was ‘The Den’, then the home of Millwall Football Club, and I think the top of a stand is just visible in the picture. On the wall at left, among other graffiti is the message ‘Home of the Lions’

Surrey Canal Road, New Cross, South Bermondsey, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-51
Surrey Canal Road, New Cross, South Bermondsey, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-51

I think I made this and the next picture from a footpath just to the north of the Surrey Canal Road. The contact sheet gives a grid reference 356781 and this may show part of the area which is now Millwall’s ground in Senegal Fields.

Surrey Canal Road, New Cross, South Bermondsey, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-52-Edit
Surrey Canal Road, New Cross, South Bermondsey, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-52

You can still see this long range of buildings on Stockholm Road, just south of The Den. and parallel with Surrey Canal Road, occupied by a range of commercial companies. I imagine they date from when the Surrey Canal bed was filled in and the road bulit by Lewisham Council in the early 1980s.

Footpath, Senegal Rd, New Cross, South Bermondsey, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-54-Edit
Footpath, Senegal Rd, New Cross, South Bermondsey, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-54

Since 1993, the Millwall football ground has been on Senegal Fields. The footpath now runs next to the new Millwall Stadium and then under the railway lines which have some very impressive Victorian brickwork.

These are most of the lines out of London Bridge Station which begin to diverge in this area. You can see all three bridges in this picture. This was a very run-down area and the abandoned parts of a moped at right seemed an appropriate way to express this.

Hill, Bridgehouse Meadows, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-56-Edit
Hill, Bridgehouse Meadows, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-56-Edit

I turned around here and walked back south across the Surrey Canal Road and to Bridgehouse Meadows.

This was the site of the former New Cross Stadium opened as an athletics stadium in the early 1900s but from the 1930s used for greyhound racing and speedway before its closure in 1969. For some years Millwall FC whose old ground was next to it used it for training. The stadium was demolished in 1975 and there were ambitious plans for it be part of the site of a new ground for the club – but these fell through and the new stadium was eventually built further north.

Factory, from Bridgehouse Meadows, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988  89-1a-42-Edit
Factory, from Bridgehouse Meadows, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-42

This factory has been demolished and new housing built in its place. I think this site was also part of the over-ambitious plans for expansion by Millwall who wanted to take over a huge area.

Path, Bridgehouse Meadows, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988  89-1a-43-Edit
Path, Bridgehouse Meadows, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 89-1a-43

The path through the meadows crosses the Surrey Canal Road on a bridge you can see in the distance, no longer present. Both sides of the park area now have new housing.

Ilderton Rd, New Cross, Southwark, 1989 89-1a-44-Edit
Ilderton Rd, South Bermondsey, Southwark, 1989 89-1a-44

This is part of a site for travellers on Ilderton Rd and this house is still there, though there were no Christmas window decorations when I last walked past – but that was on a housing protest march in March 2017, where we stopped briefly at the Bermondsey Travellers Site. Behind is the railway line from South Bermondsey Station next door to the site where my walk ended.

This was the last picture from my walk on December 18th and completed a series of walks around this part of South-East London. My walks in 1989 began around the Elephant.

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Evelina, Sassoon, Queens Road, Montpelier and Mazawattee

Friday, September 9th, 2022

This is another post on my walk on 18th December 1988; the previous post was Pepys Road and Nunhead Cemetery.

GHM, Evelina Rd, Nunhead, Southwark, 1988 88-12e-56-Edit_2400
GHM, Evelina Rd, Nunhead, Southwark, 1988 88-12e-56

GH Metals is I think still operating in Evelina Rd, although its premises are now covered by graffiti and there are no prices on the list of metals still above the shopfront. Their web site states the family have run successful scrap metal yards all over South London and in Peckham since 1968.

Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World was the title of a novel by Fanny Burney published in 1778 but I suspect the road like the Evelina London Children’s Hospital was named after the English wife of the wealthy Austrian Baron, Ferdinand de Rothschild – she died in 1866, probably around the time the street began to be built up.

R E Sassoon House, St Mary's Rd, Peckham. Southwark, 1988 88-12e-44-Edit_2400
R E Sassoon House, St Mary’s Rd, Peckham. Southwark, 1988 88-12e-44

From Evelina Road I went up St Mary’s Road, photographing the strangely squat St Mary Magdalene Church (not digitised) , described on the Twentieth Century Society’s web site as “a bold and innovative 1960s landmark” but sadly demolished by the Church of England and replaced by a building “of no architectural merit”. Designed by Potter and Hare it was built in 1961-2 and demolished in 2010.

Sassoon House designed in an International Modernist style by Maxwell Fry is Grade II listed and was built as a part of the Peckham project around the neighbouring Pioneer Health Centre in 1934 to provide high quality social housing. The Sassoon family were one of the wealthiest in the world, known as the Rothschilds of the East amd when R E Sassoon, the amateur jockey son of the philanthropist Mozelle Sassoon, was killed steeplechasing in 1933 his mother commissioned this block in his memory.

Queens Road,  Peckham. Southwark, 1988 88-12e-32-Edit_2400
Queens Road, Peckham, Southwark, 1988 88-12e-32

I’ve only digitised one of the six frames I exposed on Queens Road, where there are several listed buildings on the corner and just to the west of St Mary’s Rd. This is Grade II listed as ‘QUEEN’S ROAD (South side) Nos.156 and St Mary’s Court (No.158)’ and the houses date from around 1845.

Montpelier Rd, Peckham. Southwark, 1988 88-12e-21-Edit_2400
Montpelier Rd, Peckham. Southwark, 1988 88-12e-21

Montpelier Road (single L) was apparently named in 1875 after Montpellier in France (2Ls) which was a fashionable resort at the time and is now the seventh or eighth largest city in France. As well as one of the oldest universities in the world with an historic centre and the famous the Promenade du Peyrou from which you can on a clear day see the Meditteranean, Montpellier was also well-known for its wine. Montpelier Road has none of these and previously the road had been called Wellington Villas. It may have taken the name from the nearby Montpelier Tavern in Choumert Road, which although in a more modern building probably dates back earlier.

This unusual terrace of houses is fairly typical of most of the west side of the street which ends at Meeting House Lane.Those further up the street are a little more decorated.

London Customs, Hart Lane, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12e-25-Edit_2400
London Customs, Hart Lane, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12e-25

I walked back along Queen’s Road towards New Cross where there is now no trace of the building at No 3, though these is still a garage workshop, now 3a. But the name that had attracted my attention has gone. I imagine it offered the service of customising cars rather than any interest in the customs and traditions of the city. I thought it might make a good title picture.

Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12e-13-Edit_2400
Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12e-13

I made a single exposure while walking north up Brocklehurst Street (not digitised) showing the window detailon this long street of identical houses, probably pressing the shutter out of boredom, and then turned into Cold Blow Lane, where there are the solid brick piers of a dismantled railway bridge leading to a narrow tunnel still takes the road under the railway, followed by a newer brodge under more lines with a slightly wider roadway underneath.

It was a rather scary walk underneath, though not as scary as it might be had it been a match day at the Millwall stadium nearby – still then at the Old Den in Cold Blow Lane.

Elizabeth Industrial Estate, Juno Way, Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12e-15-Edit_2400
Elizabeth Industrial Estate, Juno Way, Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12e-15

Juno Way was between the railway bridges over Coldblow Lane, but is now closed off at this southern end by a continuous fence between the bridges and can only be entered from Surrey Canal Road.

The building with the tower carrying the estate name was once the Mazawatee Tea factory, purpose built for them in 1901 when they were the largest tea company in the world. As well as tea they also processed coffee, cocoa, cakes, sweets and chocolates here and doubtless some raw materials would have come here on the Surrey canal from the London docks. It employed up to 2000 people but was heavily damaged by wartime bombing. The name is from the Hindi ‘Maza’ – pleasure – and the Sinhalese ‘Wattee’ – garden – and thus reflects two of the areas from which they brought tea. It was the most advertised brand in the UK until the Second World War.

The tower building was renovated from a complete shell in 2011 and ‘Unit 13’ now houses 12 self-contained studios with high ceilings and good natural light, including the 2300 square foot Tea Room Studio and a number of smaller spaces on the top floor.

I still had a little way to go on my walk and a few more pictures – I’ll post the final instalment of this walk later.

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A Mattress, Pub, Cinema, Listed Pipe & Naval Baroque

Sunday, August 28th, 2022

My walk on Sunday December 18th 1988 began on Lewisham Way in New Cross, where I think I must have got off a 172 bus from Waterloo and begun by walking a short distance south-east down Lewisham Way.

Lewisham Way, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-41-Edit_2400
Lewisham Way, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-41

A Mattress, Pub, Cinema, Listed Pipe & Naval Baroque: This shop was on the corner with Malpas Road, and there is still a shop there, looking a little different but still selling second hand furniture the leaning post was seeking, though that post is gone, with a street sign in a fairly similar position. And the pavement is now often crowded with secondhand furniture.

This was the second of two frames made here as my first picture on the walk.

New Cross Rd,  New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-42-Edit_2400
New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-42

I turned around and walked back up Lewisham Way to New Cross, taking no more pictures until I came to the junction with New Cross Road, where I found this fine group of buildings on the north side of the street. At left is the New Cross Inn at 323 New Cross Road. There was a pub on this site at least by 1783 but this impressive but unlisted building dates from 1890. It does appear to be an area where the worst prejudices of Nicolaus Pevsner prevented many fine late Victorian buildings getting a mention.

Next to the right is the site of the former New Cross Kinema built in 1925 to seat 2,300. You can read more about the building on Arthur Lloyd’s Musical and Theatre History Site. It closed as a cinema in 1960, and much of the building behind the facade demolished for an office building. It was empty for some years but when I made this picture was a furniture store. Its first floor dance hall became an Irish dance hall, the Harp Club which also hosted an indie music venue lower down. In 1989 the nightclub The Venue opened there, soon becoming a leading music venue with groups including Oasis and Radiohead playing there as well as Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – you can find some long lists on the web. The exterior was restored in 2006 and The Venue took over the ground floor as well. It had to close for Covid and I think has yet to re-open.

At the right is the former Midland Bank, built in 1903 and Grade II listed, probably the least interesting of the three buildings.

New Cross Rd,  New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-43-Edit_2400
New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-43

The door and window of a shop on the New Cross Road, cluttered with advertisements and fliers which reflect the large local population of African and Afro-Caribbean heritage. I’m only sorry that the ISO 100 Kodak TMX tabular fine grain film I was using has failed to record the finer details, lost in its grain pattern.

Part of the problem may have been that it was a rather dark corner, and I probably made the exposure with the lens at fairly wide aperture where the resolution would not have been as good as usual. I think it’s another example of where a larger format or digital would have done better.

New Cross Rd,  New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-44-Edit_2400
New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-44

Pagnell Street drops steeply down from New Cross road and this slightly odd window is actually on the first floor of a block of flats, probably council-built in the 1950s or 1960s with shops on the New Cross Road frontage. Empty when I photographed it, in recent years this has been a restaurant. At right you can see the ground floor of the building.

New Cross Inn, pub, New Cross Rd,  New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-31-Edit_2400
New Cross Inn, pub, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-31

In the foreground is the decorated ventilation pipe which is a listed building while the New Cross Inn behind is not. The pipe and lamp post, made in 1897 by MacFarlanes of Glasgow apparently derives from a design by noted Glasgow architect Alexander “Greek” Thomson for Glasgow’s Egyptian Halls. This column once stood on top of underground public toilets nearby on the junction with Lewisham Way. The pub is another noted music venue in the area.

This is at the top of Clifton Rise, where supporters of the Socialist Workers Party gathered to oppose the National Front march on 13th August 1977. Police stopped them here and used horses to try to push them down the hill away from the march route. The SWP had refused to cooperate with other anti-fascists in the various London Anti-Fascist Committees who together with many local residents were able to oppose the march more effectively, preventing it reaching its destination of the centre of Lewisham. Unfortunately I was away from London at the time or I would probably have been there. Camerawork magazine – I was a subscriber – devoted the whole of its Issue 8 to it, and you can see it in the Four Corners Archive if you don’t have a copy.

Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-32-Edit_2400
Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-32

Deptford Town Hall was designed by Lanchester, Stewart & Rickards in 1905 for the Metropolitan Borough of Deptford which existed from 1900 until 1965. Its baroque style includes various figures on the frontage including a ship’s prow and a depiction of a naval battle as well as statues by Henry Poole of four naval figures including Drake and Nelson, appropriate to the naval history of the area.

After 1965 it was used for various purposes by Lewisham Council and was acquired by Goldsmiths College in 2000.

Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-22-Edit_2400
Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Rd, New Cross, Lewisham, 1988 88-12b-22

Apparently according to the Grade II listing these are “Tritons as corbels supporting large oriel bay with carving of ship and marine symbols at its head.”

My walk in New Cross will continue in a later post.

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XR, Hong Kong, Animal Rights & London – 2019

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022

XR, Hong Kong, Animal Rights & London

XR, Hong Kong, Animal Rights & London – 2019 Three years ago today, on Saturday 17th August I made a few journeys around London to photograph protests in Greenwich by Extinction Rebellion and Animal Rights marchers in central London as well as protests supporting Hong Kong’s Freedom marches and Chinese students opposed to them in Westminster.

Royal College and Thames with sailing barge from Greenwich Park, Greenwich. 1982 31p-44: barge, college, palace, river, Thames

My day taking pictures ended in Greenwich Park, where I made the picture at the top of this post, a view looking down the Queen’s House and the Old Royal Naval College and on towards Canary Wharf. I’d made a photograph from a very similar position in 1992 and the pair make an interesting comparison.

XR Rebel Rising March to the Common – Greenwich

XR, Hong Kong, Animal Rights & London

Supporters of South East London Extinction Rebellion met beside the Cutty Sark in Greenwich to march to a two-day festival on Blackheath Common, calling for urgent action on Global climate change.

XR, Hong Kong, Animal Rights & London

Blackheath Common has a long history of involvement in protest. It was here that around 100,000 anti-poll tax rebels gathered under Wat Tyler in 1381, and in 1450 that Jack Cade’s 20,000 Kent and Essex yeomen camped in their revolt against Henry VI’s tax hikes. Neither of these events ended well, nor did the several thousand Cornishmen killed and buried on the common after they rose up against taxes levied to fight the Scots 1497. The Chartists who met here also largely failed, but the Suffragettes did better.

XR, Hong Kong, Animal Rights & London

Ten years earlier, I’d come with Climate Camp to swoop to a secret destination which turned out to be Blackheath Common, and photographed the camp being setup and spent another day there as a part of the Climate Camp documentation team. But that too had failed to spur the UK into any really effective action, though perhaps more lip-service.

The situation by 2019 was clearly critical and Extinction Rebellion were calling on our and other governments to take the urgent actions needed to avoid the extinction of species including our own, and also for local councils to do everything within their powers.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay with the marchers all the way to the festival ground as the march started late, waiting for the samba band to arrive. I had to leave them halfway up the hill and rush back down to the station for a train to central London.

XR Rebel Rising March to the Common

Stand with Hong Kong & opposition – Trafalgar Square

My train took me into Charing Cross and I rushed the short distance to Trafalgar Square where I found a rather confusing situation. It took me a few moments to realise that the first group of Chinese protesters I met were supporters of the Chinese government, but the number of Chinese flags they were waving was an undeniable clue.

There are many Chinese students studying at UK universities, providing a very useful source of finance to these institutions. Most of that money comes from the Chinese government or from families that are very wealthy from their Chinese businesses which depend on that government, and as they intend to return to China have no choice but to come and be seen showing their support for China.

I spent a few minutes photographing their protests, then moved on a few yards to a protest with a very different colour, dominated by yellow posters, banners and umbrellas of the Hong Kong Freedom Movement.

Eventually they set off to march down Whitehall, stopping to protest opposite Downing
St. The Chinese students followed them, but police largely kept the two groups on opposite sides of the road, with the Chinese supporters shouting to try and drown out the speakers opposite.

After a rally at Downing St the Hong Kong freedom protesters moved off towards a final rally in Parliament Square – followed too by some of the Chinese who continued to shout and mock them. But I left to go elsewhere.

Stand with Hong Kong & opposition

Official Animal Rights March 2019

I’d missed the start of the vegan Animal Rights march in Hyde Park, but met them and took some pictures as they came to Trafalgar Square, where they halted, blocking all the roads leading in and out of the square.

This march was organised by the vegan activist collective Surge and non-violent civil disobedience movement Animal Rebellion, who say animal lives matter as much as ours and call for an end to speciesism, and the misuse of animals for food, clothing and sport.

Some of the marchers wore t-shirts with the number 269, the number of a calf on an Israeli diary farm whose number Israeli animal rights activists branded themselves with in a 2012 protest after which 269life became a worldwide movement.

Official Animal Rights March 2019

Charing Cross to Greenwich & Back

Deptford Creek

For once my trains to Blackheath and back from Greenwich after photographing the central London protests both had reasonably clean windows, and I took a number of photographs on the outward and return journeys. Also in this section I included the picture from Greenwich Park at the top of this post, along with a couple of others from much the same position.

Charing Cross to Greenwich

XR Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In – Greenwich

From Blackheath Station I rushed to the Rebel Rising festival on Blackheath Common, arriving just in time for the start of a march from the festival to protest at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park.

The march proceeded behind a black banner with the text asking the question ARE WE THE LAST GENERATION? Unfortunately at least for the younger members of the marchers, some of whom were in push-chairs the answer could well be YES.

At the Royal Observatory there was a die-in on the area in front of the gates, the site chosen to symbolise we have zero time left and that we need to act now on climate change. Some taking part had clock faces drawn on their faces and the protest was just a few yards to the east of the markers for the Greenwich meridian, zero longitude.

Many of the tourists passing the protest including those going in and out of the Royal Observatory stopped at least for a few moments on the crowded paths to watch and listen, and many expressed their support for the need to take urgent actions to avoid global climate catastrophe.

Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In

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