Posts Tagged ‘London’

1986 Page 8

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Page 8 of my album 1986 London Photographs begins with pictures from Wapping in August 1986.

Wapping High St, Wapping, Tower Hamlets  86-8t-55-Edit_2400

I photographed some slogans in Russian on fences – left I understand from the making of a film, supposedly set in Russia, but actually filmed here.

Wapping High St, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-8t-54-Edit_2400

Wapping High Street never failed to interest me back then, though it has now lost a great deal of the old atmosphere. The doorway at the right of this picture now leads to the Captain Kidd pub, converted from an old warehouse which used to store various goods including coffee, edible gums, dried fruit and wool from Australia. Sam Smith’s have done some excellent conversions of a number of historic properties and this is now a pleasant place to sit on a terrace overlooking the river and enjoy a pint of Old Brewery Bitter in a pub blessedly without TV or canned music.

Hays Wharf, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark 86-8u-61-Edit_2400

After making some pictures there I walked back to Tower Bridge and crossed it to wander around a little of Bermondsey and Southwark as I made my way back to Waterloo station. The view towards Guy’s Hospital from Tower Bridge is rather different now, with City Hall and More London almost hiding the hospital tower and a wide walkway along the river bank.

Gainsford St, Bermondsey, Southwark 86-8u-54-Edit_2400

As in Wapping, many of these pictures south of the river show evidence of the great deal of building work then taking place, with many buildings being reduced to street-facing facades. For many buildings keeping the facades is probably the only possible way – if done sympathetically – of retaining some of the atmosphere of the areas, though when done badly a complete modern replacement would be preferable; not all buildings deserve to be kept. Mostly I avoided people in making these pictures, but some were desperate to be photographed.

Southern 777, Steam Engine, Cannon St Station, City 86-8v-65-Edit_2400

Another day in August I went with my two young sons, both keen railway enthusiasts and members of a British Rail kids group ‘Railriders’ to an event taking place at Cannon St station, with vintage Southern Railway electric trains and a steam engine.

Skin Market Place, Southwark 86-8w-01-Edit_2400

The trains didn’t greatly interest me, but I took a few pictures before we left and went over Southwark Bridge for a walk around Southwark, again on our way to Waterloo. Bankside Power Station is now Tate Modern, but I think Skin Market Place and its council depot has disappeared without trace.

100 pictures at 1986 London Photographs Page 8


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.


TQ30

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
Shop, Brixton Hill, Brixton, 1991TQ3074-001

Back in 1986 I began a serious attempt to photograph London. Serious but not entirely credible I set out the photograph the whole of the city. Of course I never thought I could photograph everything, but set out a number of principles or themes that would govern my project, or rather a series of projects that I continued to work on for the next ten or 15 years.

Streatham High Rd, 1990 TQ3071-002

The larger part of this work was in black and white, and concentrated on buildings and streets, the physical infrastructure of London, with the goal of photographing every built structure I thought significant, as well as representatives of the typical across the city. You can see a little of this on Flickr in the album 1986 London Photographs, which contains over 1300 photographs, perhaps a third of those I took in the first six or seven months of the project.

Heads & Dummy, Shop,Streatham High Rd, Streatham, 1990TQ3072-010

In colour I was largely concerned with a more intimate level, or how individuals arranged their surroundings and how this reflected their differing social and cultural values. Some of the more obvious reflections of this came in small businesses with the face they displayed toward the public, particularly in shop windows and interiors, which feature strongly in this work.

Bedford Rd, Clapham, 1992 TQ3075-025

The previous year I had abandoned colour transparency and moved to working with colour negative film which provided much greater flexibility. For some years this was entirely trade-processed, and to cut costs (I had a young family to support) I used cheap processing companies aimed for the amateur market. Technically these were rather variable (even from the same company) and the prints I received back, usually 6×4″ ‘enprints’, were extremely variable in quality.

Shop, South Lambeth Rd, South Lambeth, 1989 TQ3077-005

As the stack of fat envelopes containing the negative strips and prints grew I wondered how to make some order of them, and came up with the idea of a traverse of the city with pictures filed together representing a number of ‘vertical’ north-south 1km wide strips of London based around the National Grid.

Cafe, Plato Rd, Brixton, 1989 TQ3077-009

Prints from negatives that interested me were then filed in a series of A4 files, labelled with the first 4 digits of the six figure grid reference which I had begun to mark on the prints. The pictures in this post are all from ‘TQ30’, and the 1km wide strip starts at Streatham and goes north from there. I started scrap book style, pasting the prints onto cartridge paper, but soon moved to using plastic file pages which held four prints on each side, arranging the prints roughly in order of their ‘northings’ in kilometre squares.

From these albums – a longish row of A4 files on my shelves – I was able to select images that were worth printing larger, keeping costs down by printing and processing in my own home darkroom. I’d discovered that Fuji colour paper not only gave cleaner looking prints but enabled the kind of dodging and burning that I’d become used to in black and white without the unwelcome colour shifts of other papers. I’ve had one set of prints from a show in the mid-80s framed on the wall beside the stairs since that show. They are out of direct sun and 35 years later show little of no sign of fading.

Bicycle, Shop, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, 1989 TQ3078-005

I began putting images from this project on Flickr several months ago, and at the start tried to replicate the layout of the albums – and the vagaries of the prints in terms of colour balance, exposure, saturation etc. Having done several 1km strips like this I’ve decided it doesn’t really work to well, and although I’m still scanning the prints in their sheets of four have separated them into individual images – still roughly in the same order – for TQ30. And while some of the defects of those trade-processed prints are still evident (and occasionally rather a lot of dust on the plastic sleeves) I’ve tried to improve the colour balance etc where necessary. But they are still showing enprints enlarged on screen and this makes some problems more visible.

So far I’ve put just over 100 prints into the album TQ30, from Streatham to Westminster, with another 250 or more to follow, taking the ‘slice’ north to Hornsey. You can view them on Flickr.


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.


City, Whitechapel and Wapping 1986

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Page 7 of my black and white work in 1986 London Photos begins in the City but then gravitates east to Aldgate, Whitechapel and Wapping.

Holborn Viaduct, Farringdon St, West Smithfield, City  86-7v-12_2400

Holborn Viaduct which carries the road over the Fleet valley – Farringdon St – is a remarkable piece of Victoriana, and a considerable feat of engineering at the time as well as well as a remarkable example of city planning. The scheme, which included the buildings at the four corners of the bridge as well as roads around including Holborn Circus, streets leading to Smithfield Market, as well as provision for gas, water, sewage and other services cost around £2 million in 1863-69 and has been described as “the most ambitious and costly improvement scheme of the [nineteenth] century” and as the world’s first flyover. You can read a detailed account of it at The Victorian Web.

What interested me most were the sculptures which adorn the bridge and I’ve photographed them on various occasions over the years. In 1986 I could only bring myself to stop taking pictures when I came to the end of a cassette of film and also photographed the bridge from below and the corner buildings. I’ve only put two of the 18 frames I took onto Flickr.

Smithfield Market, City 86-8r-45-Edit_2400

There are a number of pictures from the area around Smithfield Market, though I’ve never got up early enough to photograph the market truly in progress – and other photographers have done so pretty well so I didn’t feel I needed to make the effort.

Albion Buildings, Little Britain, City 86-8r-64-Edit_2400

Little Britain remains a fascinating street though now I think only the facades remain and the area behind has been destroyed. I came across it a little too late when demolition of much of it was already underway and by 1986 I think it was well advanced. These properties in Albion Place, for Overbury & Sons Limited at 7 and 8 and John Lovegrove & Co Ltd at 6 had long been closed.

Hessel St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-55-Edit_2400

Hessel St in Whitechapel was a remarkable street full of old shops, some now junk shops, others Bangladeshi grocers but with some still retaining the names and descriptions of their earlier Jewish shops. As well as these black and white picture I also photographed some of the shops in colour.

These pictures were made in August 1986 and I returned some time later hoping to take more but I think then most of the street had disappeared.

Prescot St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-61-Edit_2400
Prescot St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-64-Edit_2400

Prescott Street now looks a little different, though a number of the older buildings have survived, including a fine pub. But most are now in very different uses and in rather better condition than when I took these pictures in 1986.

Discovery Walk, Wapping Lane, Wapping, Tower Hamlets Discovery Walk, Wapping Lane, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-8s-23-Edit_2400

My street map describes this as ‘Ornamental Canal’ and I think that the redevelopment of the London Docks in Wapping is perhaps the least successful of all docklands redevelopment in retaining any real impression of the former dock with the exception of just a small area at its southwest and Shadwell New Basin. Wapping outside the dock area has fared a little better too, though it is sometimes only skin deep.

Page 7 1986 London Photos.


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 London 1986

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

The pictures on page 6 of my 1986 London Photographs were all taken in the City of London or close to its edges in Tower Hamlets and Finsbury and include a few of its better known buildings but are mainly less well-known streets and aspects that caught my attention.

P & O, St Botolph St, City 86-7o-45_2400

There is still a Beaufort House on St Botolph St, but it isn’t the same building. This one, dating from the 1950s with a nautical feel, was built as offices for the P & O shipping company. As I turned the corner and it hove into site it always gave me the impression of a huge liner with many deck levels that had somehow been marooned in the city.

Shortly after I took this and the other pictures on Page 6 it was demolished, with construction starting later in the year and completed in 1988 to an overblown postmodern design by RHWL Architects, a “distinctive office building” which many find hideous. In 2016 Amazon took around 47,000 square ft of its space in one of the largest office deals of that year.

Wentworth St, Aldgate, Tower Hamlets86-7q-64_2400

While many of these buildings are still there, often they have changed a little. Permutt Fashion Stores are no longer there at 11 Wentworth St in Petticoat Lane market, which is now ‘Queen of Textile’s’ with a rather curious apostrophe but without the advertising on the upper floors – though the rectangle above the first floor window with the name C PERMUTT when I took my picture is still there, but empty. A Permutt’s at number 13 is now a nameless Dry Cleaners and Tailors. The café at No. 9 is still a café and looks very similar but is now called Simply Tasty rather than being named for the Italian city of Vernasca, though it still appears to offer home-cooked food at reasonable prices.

Searching for more about A Permutt on the web reveals little other than that in 1934 there were bankruptcy proceedings at Carey St against an Abraham Permutt, trading as A Permutt & Co, a timber merchant in nearby Brick Lane. I don’t know if there was any connection with the A Permutt whose shop was in Wentworth St.

Nat West Tower, Tower 42, City86-7p-31_2400

The NatWest Tower is still there, though now longer called that, now known as Tower 42. Completed in 1980, it was the first skyscraper in the City, and still one of its taller buildings at 600ft. It has 47 floors, with 42 of them cantilevered out from a central core, and was renamed Tower 42 in 1995. The tower was extensively damaged by the IRA bomb in Bishopsgate in 1993 and required several years of work and after the refurb NatWest decided to sell it rather than move back in.

The picture shows two of the cantilevered sections. There are several walkways around the base of the building but all are private property and after I had taken several pictures I was approached by a very polite security officer who told me that photography was not permitted, showing me exactly where the boundary of the property was on the pavement and saying I could take as many pictures as I liked from there.

Worship St, Finsbury, Islington  86-7q-32_2400

Although much of the area has been destroyed, this fine row of properties on Worship St remains. The street was once called Hog Lane and there are at least two suggestions for the name change. One says it got its new name from a merchant tailor, John Worshop, who owned several acres of land in the area, while others suggest it was because the first houses on the street were built with stone from the old church of St Mary Islington.

This row of artisans workshops with living accommodation above replaced older slum properties on the site, possibly dating from before 1680. The area was owned from around 1740 by the Gillum Family and in 1862 Lieutenant-Colonel William Gillum commissioned leading Arts and Crafts architect Phillip Webb in 1862 to design this block as affordable properties for craftsmen in line with the ideas of honest handwork advanced by Webb and his colleague and friend William Morris. At the right of the row you can just see the V-shaped porch over a water fountain he incorporated into the design.

Finsbury Dairy, Sun St, Finsbury, Islington 86-7q-43_2400

13 Sun Street is now a part of the One Crown Place development which claims to have retained “the elegant row of Georgian terraces on Sun Street” as a boutique hotel and members’ club. It will perhaps have kept some elements of the facade, but I doubt if the diary will be recognisable. The whole length of the terrace which had been boarded up for years was covered with scaffolding in 2018.

Some London Dairies actually had cows in their backyards, but I think this one seems unlikely to have done so. More likely the milk would have come in churns from farms in the countryside, perhaps to the nearby Liverpool St station, on early morning milk trains.

Great St Thomas Apostle, City 86-7r-23_2400

Close to Mansion House station at the bottom of Garlick Hill is Skinners Lane. Skinners and their trade were important in London and the Worshipful Company of Skinners who have a hall in Dowgate Hill were one of the 12 great livery companies, getting their charter from Edward III in 1327. Back in 1986 there were still a number of fur companies still trading in the area, particularly in Great St Thomas Apostle, including Montreal Furs, just a few doors down from Queen St. Presumably its name indicates it was trading in fur skins from Canada, where trappers still operate cruelly supplying companies such as Canada Goose.

You can still see its rather finely decorated shopfront, now a part of Wagamama.

There are 100 pictures on Page 6 of my Flickr Album 1986 London Photographs


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.


Socialism is Survival

Friday, May 29th, 2020
Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’

In 2008 Richard Wilkinson wrote an opinion in The Guardian, ‘Follow Cuba’s emissions standard‘ in which he states:

“According to the WWF, Cuba is the only country that has managed to combine an environmentally sustainable footprint per head of population with an acceptably high quality of life as measured by the UN Human Development Index. And if Cuba can do that without the latest and most economical technology, how much easier should it be for us?”

Follow Cuba’s emissions standard

Part of the reason for this is, as he also states, that resources in Cuba, though relatively limited are shared much more equally than in market-led democracies such as the UK and the US. He makes the point that material differences between people are destructive, reducing well-being and quality of life and leading to many social problems, and that wealthy societies such as our should be concentrating on reducing inequalities rather than pursuing economic growth.

Cuba Leads the Way

To put it simply, we already have enough, and the important thing is now that everyone gets a decent share. We don’t need exact equality, but we do need to avoid the kind of indecent excess we now see, with the rich with more money than they can ever sensibly spend and the poor unable to afford decent food and safe housing, with too many sleeping on the streets or in overcrowded properties, often with little or no security of tenure and too many in jobs on less than a living wage and often zero hours contracts.

Smach Capitalism! Save Our Planet!

The biggest challenge we face as a world and as a nation is of course not the largely irrelevant matter of Brexit but climate change, and inequality also drives that – both directly by the senseless consumption of the ultra-rich and the poor quality environment of the poor, and indirectly by the encouragement to consume of living in the same society as those who feature most largely in our advertising and media coverage. We are going to have to make huge changes to survive, cutting down our footprint on the world’s resources to perhaps a quarter of the current UK levels, a change that it is hard to see a market-led capitalist system adapting to. And while Wilkinson suggests it should be easier for us, I think our current wealth and political system probably make it impossible. At least without a real revolution.

The Solution is Socialism

The Revolutionary Communist Group put it more starkly and simply than Wilkinson: “Capitalism is Extinction – Socialism is Survival’ but also base their conclusion on the closest we have in the world to a socialist state, Cuba. Despite punitive economic sanctions imposed by the USA (and perhaps sometimes as a result of them) Cuba under communism has made enormous strides in some areas, producing universal literacy and one of the leading health services in the world – and its medical services are one of the country’s main sources of foreign income. Increased life expectancy – to values similar to much rich countries such as the USA and UK – in a roughly static population is now presenting familiar problems. Energy use has remained relatively low with per-capita consumption only around a quarter of that in the UK.

Of course that isn’t the whole story, though it is perhaps difficult to know exactly what is, as all sources of information about the country reflect considerable bias. Many in the RCG have been to Cuba and seen the country at first hand, but what and who they saw will to some extent be affected by their own political affiliations and those of their hosts. Much of the more commonly spread information in the media comes from émigrés who left the country because of their dissatisfaction with the situation and the regime, or from anti-communist individuals and and capitalist organisations.

‘Practically Perfect In Every Way’

Castro and his guerrilla band took the country back from one of the worst and most corrupt governments in history, a dictator who had seized power in a military coup in 1952, but haven’t managed to eliminate corruption – though it is now said to be is the 60 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries by Transparency International. It would be hard not to admire a country which has withstood the sanctions and intrigues of the USA for so many years. Castro himself was apparently the target of over 600 assassination attempts by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency but died of natural causes in 2016.

You can read more about the protest and rolling picket outside various temples of consumerism on Oxford St at Cuba leads on climate say RCG.


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 from Page 5

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

The previous post Page 5 of my London 1986 pictures looked at some from Hoxton and Islington and there were many more in the album that in my post, including a number form Shoreditch. Later in July I returned to Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse and the West India Docks with a few other images from Greenwich, Finsbury and the City.

New Crane Wharf, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-7i-23_2400
New Crane Wharf, Wapping
Gun Wharves, Wapping,  Tower Hamlets         86-7i-32  Thames foreshore, Wapping High St, W 86-7i-31_2400
Gun Wharves, Wapping
Rotherhithe from Wapping, Tower Hamlets v 86-7i-35_2400
Rotherhithe from Wapping
Limehouse Dock entrance, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-7j-46_2400
Limehouse Dock entrance
Limehouse Dock, Limehouse Cut, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-7j-51_2400
Limehouse Dock
West India Dock, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets  86-7k-65_2400
West India Docks

These are just a few of my favourite pictures from the 100 on page 5 of my Flickr album of pictures I made in London in 1986. Clicking on any image will take you to a larger version on Flickr.


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.


A People’s Vote

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Around a million people came to the start of a march from Hyde Park last October to call for a referendum on the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson. Although when we held the referendum in 2016 a small majority won the vote to leave Europe, by the time it had actually become clear what this would really mean many had changed their minds.

But we had a government driven by a small group of people determined we should leave whatever, and whose whole existence was predicated on getting Brexit done and prepared to lie and lie again to do so. Some at least of them stood to make millions or billions out of leaving, and others feared that European legislation might soon force them to pay the large amounts of tax they are avoiding.

Facing them was an opposition which was divided over Europe and with a large group of MPs and officers whose main aim wasn’t to provide meaningful opposition to the government but to undermine and replace their leader. Their activities had already lost enough seats in the 2017 election to deny Labour a chance of leading a government and they were hell-bent on making sure of a disastrous result in the next which was expected before long and took place in December.

The Lib-Dems had shot themselves in the foot in July’s leadership election and that left only the 35 SNP members and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas as an effective opposition.

So while this huge protest was an outpouring of feeling representing a large proportion of the public who feel that now we knew more about what Brexit we should be asked to make an informed choice on whether to leave Europe, it stood little or no chance of success.

Although it is now clear that staying in the EU is far better than any deal that Johnson can negotiate – and that the Tories will do their utmost to reach a ‘no deal’ exit – nothing short of the kind of huge-scale popular revolt that would bring the government down can stop it. The people I was photographing on the streets of London were certainly not the kind of popular mob that would need, and it is difficult in these times to see how that could be achieved – except perhaps by a government ban on Strictly, that Bake Off and the Archers.

More pictures at March for a People’s Vote.


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.


Back to 1986: Page 4

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Broadway Bakeries, Brougham Rd, Benjamin Close, Broadway Market, Hackney 86-6m-35_2400
Borough Market

Returning to my London pictures for 1986, and to page 4 of my Flickr album 1986 London Photographs.

The Oval, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6m-65_2400
The Oval, Bethnal Green

1986 was the year I began to photograph London in depth, and the album reflects this, with 1370 black and white photographs, a fraction of the number I took that year. The hundred on page 4 are from the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and include pictures from Dalston, Shoreditch, Hackney, Bethnal Green, Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Whitechapel and other parts east of the city. There is just the odd image from elsewhere in London.

War Memorial, Cyprus St, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets86-6o-31_2400
Cyprus St, Bethnal Green

Unlike in some earlier years the routes for my walks around the area were carefully planned, with research from a number of published sources, though information was much less readily available than now before the days of the world wide web. Of course I didn’t always stick to my planned routes, but I did carry a notebook to write down where I actually went and even sometimes some details of what I was photographing.

Hessell St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets
Hessel St, Whitechapel

One of my major resources was of course maps, both new and old, not just for the streets but also for the other information included on them. Some marked industrial areas in brown, most showed churches and public buildings and some gave names of various features. The invaluable series of reprints of old 1:2500 OS maps was begun by Alan Godfrey in 1983, but few were available in 1986. I now have a very large collection.

Kingsland Basin, Regent's Canal, Hackney 86-7c-26_2400
Kingsland Basin

My aim was to not to walk along every street (as the woman who produced the London A-Z was sometimes said to have done) but at least to look down nearly all of them, and to photograph all buildings of interest as well as other things I found on my journeys. Later when I had bought a scanner I produced enlarged versions of the A-Z pages, printing them on a black and white laser printer and used highlighter pen after I came home to mark where I had walked. These both showed me any areas I had missed and helped me, together with the notebooks, to mark on the contact sheets where the pictures were taken.

Nuttal St, Hackney 86-7c-36_2400
Nuttal St, Hackney

I mostly travelled by train or underground so often several walks started from a particular station, and perhaps along the same streets close to them. There were also some areas that particularly interested me, either for simple visual reasons or because they were obviously changing, to which I returned.

I’ve posted some of the pictures on this page previously on >Re:PHOTO and I’ve tried to find others to put on this post. You can see all of the pictures – 100 on page 4 – on Flickr – where you can view them larger than on here – by clicking on the link or the image below.

Russia Lane, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6l-66_2400

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 From May Days: 2019

Friday, May 15th, 2020

2019 was a rather disappointing May Day for me in terms of the number of events I photographed, and I only covered the annual May Day March from Clerkenwell Green.

Before the march began there were several speeches outside the Marx Memorial Library. This year was the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar when British troops opened fire on a peaceful protest, killing at least 379 people and injuring many others. A speaker from the Indian Workers Association talked about the massacre and called for the UK to fully apologise. It seems to me surprising that Labour governments have never made an apology for this appalling incident, but it seemed rather unlikely that our current Conservative government would have any thought of doing so.

Our government too was heavily involved in the seizure of power in Venezuela by Juan Guaidó, actively supporting his coup attempt and siding with the USA in forcing companies to impose sanctions and preventing the Bank of England releasing Venezuelan gold to the legitimate government, while urging it to grant Guaidó access to the £1.2bn of Venezuelan gold reserves. He came to London for talks in January this year and it has now emerged that the Foreign & Commonwealth office has a specialist unit dedicated to the ‘reconstruction’ of Venezuela, and that the Department for International Development has also pledged some £40m of ‘humanitarian assistance’ for undisclosed activities – perhaps including the recent failed US-backed landing by mercenaries on May 3rd intending to kidnap President Maduro. May Day 2019 saw a defiant speech by the Venezuelan ambassador to the UK defending Maduro and calling on the UK government to defend the legitimate government of Venezuela rather than attempt to undermine it.

As usual I photographed the marchers on their way to Traflagar Square, including a lively group representing the English Collective of Prostitutes calling for changes in the law to keep all women safe and for workers rights for sex workers.

Unwelcome on the march were a pair of women holding a banner against trans women, and I understand they were later forced to leave.

I decided I couldn’t face another Trafalgar Square May Day rally and left. The weather was fine and I went for a walk and to eat my sandwiches by the river in Wapping, where I was to meet with some friends for a May Day celebratory drink later.

Wapping and the Thames
London May Day Banners
London May Day


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 From May Days: 2018

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

My May Day in 2018 was rather more varied than usual, taking in several other events as well as the traditional May Day march and rally where I started as usual at Clerkenwell Green, along with the Kurdish and Turkish communists and others. Without our various migrant communities it would have been a very much smaller and less colourful event.

Rather than photograph the actual march I left a few minutes before it started to take the underground to Westminster, where the Chronic Lyme Disease Support Group UK was holding a protest to raise awareness of the hidden epidemic of the disease here. Carried by ticks, the disease is hard to diagnose and the NHS has failed to introduce proper tests and make doctors aware of its prevalence and proper treatment.

The general public need to know about the dangers and in particular to take precautions against tick bites and to be ready to remove ticks promptly and safely from their skin. I was fortunate to have met this group shortly before a holiday with friends a couple of years earlier so carried a small bent plastic tick remover for when we got bitten. If you ever walk through tall grass or woods you should have one ready.

From outside Parliament it was a short walk to the Home Office, where Movement for Justice were protesting against a planned charter flight later in the week for a mass deportation to Jamaica. This was in the middle of the Windrush scandal and the flight would include members of the Windrush generation. The Home Office, particularly under Theresa May, has been guilty of enforcing an unjust, scandalous and racist immigration policy which is still continuing.

I rushed away from the Home Office and up Whitehall to the Strand, where I was just in time to meet the May Day march from Clerkenwell Green. I was almost certainly more out of breath than the members of the Musician’s Union whose band were leading it.

The rally was, as I noted, a rather humdrum event dominated by trade union speakers which failed to represent the make-up of the march, dominated by our migrant communities.

It seemed rather curious that speakers apparently were supposed to be ‘non-political’ in their speeches because of the elections later in the week. If you can’t be political at a May Day Rally why bother?

May Day Rally

The rally was enlivened a little by the final contribution which was from a victimised union rep from the Brixton Ritzy, but by the time she spoke most had left either to go home or to the local pubs. Those left were getting ready to continue the day with a protest organised by the IWGB (Independent Workers Union of Great Britain), United Voices of the World the union, staff from Picturehouse Cinemas, the Women’s Strike Assembly – UK, London Wobblies, Another Europe Is Possible, Plan C London, Labour Campaign for Free Movement and the Precarious Workers Brigade representing precarious workers, people on poverty pay and exploitative contracts whose largely unskilled work is essential to keeping society running.

They marched to protest outside a number of exploitative workplaces where disputes were currently taking place, demanding guaranteed hours of work, a living wage, the decriminalisation of sex work, an end to trade union victimisation and repeal of the anti-union laws.

After their first protest at the Ministry of Justice where cleaners are demanding a living wage, they went on to further protests at King’s College, where cleaners demand to be directly employed with proper terms of employment and a living wage.

I left the protest at King’s to join the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union CAIWU who had been celebratingd International Workers’ Day with an open-topped bus tour stopping to protest outside some of London’s most notorious employers. Their final protest of the day was at the Royal Opera House, where they were in dispute over the victimisation of five members for their trade union activities.

By now I was getting rather tired, but made a short detour on my way home taking the tube to Brixton, where an emergency demonstration outside Lambeth Town Hall before Thursday’s council elections was calling for a public inquiry into Lambeth Labour’s housing policy, an immediate halt to estate demolitions and a call to stop the privatisation via Homes for Lambeth which is leading to social cleansing.  

Lambeth Labour’s election manifesto had a proud claim that it was well on the way to “complete our ambitious programme of building 1,000 extra homes at council rent for local families“, while the actual number of council homes with with secure council tenancies built was – according to a Freedom of Information request – only 17. The protesters say that even than figure was around double the actual number.

Lambeth Housing Tell Us the Truth
CAIWU Mayday Mayhem at Royal Opera
Precarious Workers – King’s College
Precarious Workers – Ministry of Justice
May Day Rally
May Day March on the Strand
Against Deportation Charter Flights
Lyme Disease epidemic
London May Day March meets


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

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