Posts Tagged ‘London’

London, Saturday 17th September 2011

Friday, September 17th, 2021

Peter Tatchell and Outrage!

I’d gone up to London mainly to cover the march and rally by the Secular Europe Campaign which was calling for an end to religious privileges and for European institutions to remain secular. Its main focus is the Vatican which still has enormous power and privilege – and a three billion Euro tax exemption.

Maryam Namazie holding the ‘One Law For All’ banner

Among the groups on the march was ‘One Law For All’, opposed to all religious laws and in particular to any attempt to impose Sharia law in the UK. It was also supported by humanist and gay rights groups including the British Humanist Association, the Central London Humanist Group, the Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, OutRage! and the Rationalist Association.

I left the march to go to Bank, where I had expected to cover a protest, but all I found was the group having a picnic, as well as a long queue of people waiting to take a look at the interior on ‘Open House’ day. So I walked back towards Temple, pausing to take a few pictures on the way – such as the legendary giants Gog and Magog on St Dunstan-in-the-West in Fleet Street, who strike the hours and quarters using their clubs on the bells. Traditionally they were simply known at the Giants of St Dunstan, and the ‘real’ Gog and Magog are figures in London’s Guildhall, though these are only replacements installed in 1953, made by David Evans to replace those carved in 1709 and destroyed in the Blitz. These ‘Guardians of London’ are honoured every year in the Lord Mayor’s show – and according to an anonymous commentator are “Symbolic of how The City of London is a Sovereign Satanic Masonic Criminal Bankster Headquarters” and it remains a secretive and undemocratic global centre of money laundering, a criminal cartel “officially outside the authority of parliament“.

Among other things I also photographed the ‘Roman Bath‘ in Strand Lane, a slightly embarrassing National Trust property, though now managed by Westminster Council. A cistern built in 1612 that once fed a fountain in the gardens of old Somerset House, its reputation as Roman remain was an imaginative invention to promote visitors to pay to bathe in it in the 1820s. Normally visits are by appointment, but it opens on Open House weekend and the queue was short.

I was on my way to photograph the City of London Campsie Club, a branch of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, who were holding their annual Carson Memorial parade. You can read more about its origins in my post on My London Diary. Unlike the secular rally I had photographed earlier, this was an event at which I was not welcome by a small minority of those taking part.

As I wrote in 2011:

I’ve photographed this and other Orange parades over the years, and many on them have seen my work on the web and appreciated it – and sometimes used my pictures.

But a few of the nastier elements of Northern Ireland remain, and in 2008 and again while photographing this year’s parade I was threatened and pushed away by some of those taking part. It’s a thuggishness that has no place on English streets, and something that the Orange Order should take firm action against. I fully support religious freedom and the freedom to demonstrate on our streets, but there is no place for this kind of conduct. It sullies the memory of one of our great British (and Irish) jurists, and is an insult to the Protestant faith into which I was born and in which I grew up.

I don’t know why my reporting on these events should lead to such animosity from a few of those taking part. I think it has always been accurate and factual and the pictures show a colourful event and a part of the Orange tradition. Perhaps it is because I also photograph other Irish events but I think more likely that they are aware of my pictures of extreme right protests by groups including the EDL where some of them may have also been in attendance.

Apprentice Boys Carson Memorial Parade
London Oddments
March For A Secular Europe


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.


Darfur – International Day of Action: 2007

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Sudan became independent in 1956 and ever since it has suffered civil wars and political instability. Since 1899 it had effectively been a British colony though Anglo-Egyptian in name, with British policy largely being directed at ensuring the Sudan did not become united with Egypt. Under British rule it was effectively administered as two separate regions, North and South Sudan.

After the 1952 Egyptian revolution Egypt and Britain decided to give both regions a free vote on independence but the country gained independence without an agreed constitution, and arguments continued among the political parties. These were resolved by a military coup in 1958, and the country was under military rule (with three attempts at further military coups) until civil disobedience in 1964 led to a return to civilian rule.

Stability of a sort only came to Sudan in 1989 when Colonel Omar al-Bashir carried out another coup and set up a one-party state with himself as President in 1993. Massive protests in 2019 eventually led to him being overthrown and to a new constitution with a transitional joint milatry-civilian government.

Although there had been previous conflicts in Darfur, a region roughly the size of Spain at the south-west of Sudan with borders with Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic and South Sudan it was only in 2003 that the War in Darfur began when rebel groups accused the government of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.

According to Wikipedia, “The government responded to attacks by carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Darfur’s non-Arabs. This resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the indictment of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.”

Estimates of the number killed “range up to several hundred thousand dead, from either combat or starvation and disease” and millions were forced to flee into refugee camps or across the border. Many seeking asylum in Europe are refugees from the Darfur war.

UN attempts to intervene were largely ineffective and the Sudanese government made clear its opposition to foreign involvement. Various peace talks and ceasefires failed to stop continuing violence and war crimes, but by 2009 the war had quietened down. Peace talks and donor conferences in Doha continued but so did attacks, with villages burnt and mass rapes by Sudanese soldiers in 2014. Sudan was accused of having used mustard gas on civilians in 2016.

Finally in 2019 a draft declaration was signed to make a peace agreement, and some deals were signed in 2020 with the UN and African Union peacekeeping mission coming to an end after 13 years. But deadly tribal clashes have continued in 2021 in Darfur, often fuelled by disputes over land, partly a legacy of the changes to the principles of land ownership from communal to individual imposed under British rule, and exacerbated by climate change.

More from 2007 on My London Diary at Protect Darfur


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.


DSEI Arms Fair Protests 2015

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

The final protests against the 2015 DSEI arms fair at the Excel Centre on the Royal Victoria Dock in East London took place on 15th September 2015, the day that the arms fair opened. British and foreign warships were lined up alongside the Excel Centre inside which weapons were being sold that would be used to kill people in wars around the globe and to repress, kill and torture in many countries.

East London Against Arms Fairs held a procession around the Royal Victoria Dock floating a wreath oppposite the fair and holding a silence for victims of the arms trade, ending with a Buddhist prayer. They met with two Buddhist monks and supporters and some from the Stop the Arms Fair coalition who had been protesting against the Arms Fair at ExCel over the last week at Royal Victoria DLR station.

The procession was led by a woman wearing white and carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ followed by the East London Against Arms Fair (ELAAF) banner with its dove of peace. It slowly made its way around the west end of the dock and then along its south side until it got close to the end of the dockside path, almost opposite the arms fair.

There was then a ceremony with the wreath being floated on the water of the dock and a two minute silence in memory of those killed by the arms from deals made at the previous fairs and those who will die from the weapons being sold at this DSEi fair. This was followed by a period of prayer by Japanese Buddhist monk Reverend Gyoro Nagase, the guardian of the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.


As the first protest lefit, another group came marching along the dockside to take their place. Kurdish Youth Organisation Ciwanen Azad UK and Stop the Arms Fair supporters had also marched around the Royal Victoria Dock and were staging a ‘die-in’ and rally opposite the Excel centre.

The Turkish government’s Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporter’s Association is one of the international partners of the DSEi Arms Fair, and sales of their weapons at DSEi help fund the the vicious attacks on the Kurdish population in Turkey. A week earlier a relentless assault by Turkish military and police on the town of Cizre killed many people, including children. Attacks have increased since the pro-Kurdish HDP party passed the 10% threshold in the general elections in June 2015, winning seats in the Turkish parliament.

The sales of weapons at the arms enables the Turkish arms industry to continue its development of new weapons, including new drones, new MPT rifles and the Altay battle tank which will be used to continue the massacre of Kurds.

The protesters set up a display of banners and six Kurds in bloodstained white robes stages a ‘die-in’ on the dockside against the Murderous Turkish state opposite the DSEi arms fair.

Kurds say Stop arms sales to Turkey
Wreath for Victims of the Arms Trade


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.



NHS Victory Parade in Lewisham: 2013

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Among years of gloom for the NHS, under various reorganisations which have furthered the Tory project for privatisation a few bright spots have stood out, mainly where local people have stood up and fought to retain NHS hospitals and their services. One of these was celebrated on 14th September 2013, when the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign held a community march through Lewisham past the hospital to a free celebration in Ladywell Fields of their High Court victory which overturned the government closure plans.

The government had planned to close most of Lewisham Hospital, a hospital serving a large area of South London simply to allow the NHS to continue to make massive PFI repayments due from the building of other London hospitals at Woolwich and Orpington through contracts that were badly negotiated under a Labour government when interest rates were high; these contracts had already by 2013 delivered huge profits to the banks with payments of over £60m a year.

The popular campaign was also backed by the London Borough of Lewisham and both the 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.

A new Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust was established in October 2013 as it states “following a period of intense controversy” and after early problems claims to have made considerable progress in maintaining a good service at the two hospitals in Lewisham and Woolwich including 24/7 emergency services at both as well as some other services in the area.

There had been previous large protests against the closure plans – which I photographed in November 2012 and January 2013 along with a couple of smaller events. But rather fewer came for the victory celebrations, which were led by a council dustcart with large posters on it. Behind the marchers were a couple of nurses in uniforms that they wore to take part in the Olympic opening ceremony, along with a small street band.

The parade ended in Ladywell Fields behind the hosptial, with live music, dancing and a children’s dance competition, although it and the parade were a little dampened by the continual light rain. But it was a good day for the people of Lewisham and for those of us who support an NHS free at the point of service, for “everyone – rich, or poor, man, woman or child” to “relieve your money worries in times of illness”.

Although they were celebrating victory, Jeremy Hunt had then yet to concede defeat, announcing the government would appeal against the decision. I think his advisers probably told him there seemed no chance an appeal would succeed and any appeal would simply waste public money. Eventually the policy was dropped.


Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade

See also:

Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital – Nov 2012
Save Lewisham Hospital – Jan 2013


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.


Around Chelsea Embankment: 1988

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Dawliffe Hall,  Chelsea Embankment, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 198888-5e-24-positive_2400
Dawliffe Hall, Chelsea Embankment, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-24

Dawliffe Hall is a Grade II listed building probably built between 1881 and 1885. It became known as Rayleigh House in the 1890s when it was bought by the third son of the Second Baron Rayleigh who engaged architect Georg Campbell Sherrin, better known for his various Metropolitan Railway and other stations and Spitalfields Market, to make external and internal alterations. Sherrin’s plans for a new porch ran into planning problems, but eventually more limited modifications to the existing porch shown here were allowed.

I don’t know when at what date 2 Chelsea Embankment became Dawliffe Hall but in 1967-8 it was bought by the Catholic organisation Opus Dei and converted into a women’s hostel, and now continues its work as a part of the Dawliffe Hall Educational Foundation.

Embankment Gardens, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-25-positive_2400
Embankment Gardens, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-25

Although the picture shows Embankment Gardens, this building has the address 1 Chelsea Embankment and is usually known as Shelley House. A house on this site was built for the son of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Sheely in 1878, and he lived there for around six years before leasing to various wealthy individuals, including Sir Arthur Charles, the judge for Oscar Wilde’s first trial.

In 1912 the house was bought and demolished by Charles Harold St John Hornby, who was a director of W H Smith & Son. In 1894 he had founded the Ashendene Press, a small private press inspired by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press which produced high quality editions with no expense spared, using type-faces by Emery Walker and Sir Sydney Cockerell, particularly the Subiaco font, based on 15th century examples. Hornby had the house demolished, and a new house built. Its architect was Edward Prioleau Warren, well known to Hornby as a prominent member of the Art Worker’s Guild.

It was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1939 for living quarters for the WRNS and when they relinquished it in 1953 (doubtless by then realising the war had ended) it was leased by W H Smiths as a staff training centre and hospital. After they left in 1974 it was empty and was damaged by squatters, before being purchased and used as a Catholic educational centre. For a couple of years from 2019 it became The Laurels School, a Catholic independent girls school, but since that has moved out to Upper Norwood is now offices. Much of the information here comes from the school web site.

Carabiniers' Memorial, Chelsea Embankment, 6th Dragoon Guards, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-26-positive_2400
Carabiniers’ Memorial, Chelsea Embankment, 6th Dragoon Guards, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-26

The Carabineers (Les Carabiniers) released in 1963 remains one of my favourite Godard films, as a satire on war, but the spirit which led to this memorial being erected by public subscription organised by the 6th Dragoon Guards in 2005 was very different.

Carabiniers (there are various spellings) were soldiers, usually cavalry, who carried carbines, short barrelled muskets (later rifles) which were lighter and easier to use on horseback than full length guns. This memorial to the men of the 6th Dragoon Guards killed in South Africa and China, designed by Adrian Jones, was erected in 1906. The regiment had its beginnings in 1685 when Richard Lumley raised a troop of horse riders to oppose the 1685 Monmouth Rebellion, though it went through many name changes before becoming the 6th Regiment of Dragoon Guards (Carabineers) in 1826.

The regiment was sent to South Africa for the Second Boer War in 1899 and remained there until the war ended in 1902. Two plaques record the names of those who died there, one of around 30 killed in action and another slightly longer one those who died of wounds or disease.

Dilke St, Swan Walk,  Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-32-positive_2400
Dilke St, Swan Walk, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-32

Dilke Street is a short street running parallel to Chelsea Embankment around 50 yards to its north between Swan Walk and Tite St. This house is part of a block on the north corner with Swan Walk and at its right is the entrance to Clover Mews, and its address is I think 9 Swan Walk.

Swan Walk overlooks the Chelsea Physic Garden and properties here are said to have an average value of £9m, though I think some are now divided into flats. The street gets its name from the Swan Inn, which gets a mention in Pepys diaries and was the finishing post of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race. Although the race still takes place, the inn here was demolished around 1780 and it now finishes at Cadogan Pier.

Another riverside inn around 150 yards further west on the other side of the Physic Garden was rebuilt as an inn and brewery at around the same time and confusingly renamed The Old Swan. This was demolished as a part of the site for a run of 18 houses built in the late 1870s, designed by some of the leading architects of the day including Norman Shaw. One of his houses is now called Swan House, and has been describe as London’s finest Queen Anne Revival domestic buildings and it was on sale in 2007 for £32m.

Dilke St, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 198888-5e-33-positive_2400
Tite St, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-33

31 Tite St was designed by Robert William Edis (1839-1927), another of the architects who moved from Gothic to Queen Anne revival buildings such as this late 19th century artist’s studio and home. As well as being an architect he became the commanding officer of the Artist’s Rifles in 1883, becoming its honorary colonel in 1909.

The house and studio at 31-33 was built in 1877 for John Abbott McNeill Whistler, and he later persuaded fellow American Sir John Singer Sargent to move into No 31, where he lived until his death in 1925. The plaque above the circular window beside the door, too small to read in this picture, records “JOHN S. SARGEANT, R.A. WHO WAS BORN IN FLORENCE JAN . 12. MDCCCLVI, LIVED AND WORKED 24 YEARS IN THIS HOUSE AND DIED HERE APRIL 15. MCMXXV”.

Swan Walk,Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-46-positive_2400
Swan Walk,Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5e-46

I think I took this largely for the mysterious circular plaque on the brickwork of the post, which seems to be almost exactly the same side as the ball on the top of the post. It is very hard to make out the lettering on it, which seems to include some symbols not in the alphabet but from around the 8 o’clock to 5 o’clock position appears to have the letters ZOVID, possibly followed by an O.

I can find nothing out about this – so perhaps someone will enlighten me? Otherwise I will go on thinking it was placed there by visiting aliens. It could have some connection with the Chelsea Physic Garden whose curator around 1750, Philip Miller, probably lived here.

The houses in the background are I think part of 68 Royal Hospital Rd, since 1998 the home of Restaurant Gordon Ramsey. This part of the street was once called Paradise Row.

Chelsea Embankment Gardens, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 198888-5g-13-positive_2400
Thomas Carlyle, Chelsea Embankment Gardens, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 198888-5g-13

Fortunately the story of the statue of Thomas Carlyle, erected in 1882 is more clearly stated in its inscriptions. On the front of the red granite plinth it states:


THOMAS CARLYLE
B DEC 4 1795
AT
ECCLEFECHAN DUMFRIESSHIRE
D FEB 5 1881
AT
GREAT CHEYNE ROW
CHELSEA

and on its right it records the name of the artist involved in the phrase ‘J.E. BOEHM. FECIT’ though as is says on the read, it was not actually made by Sir Edgar Boehm, sculptor, but cast at ‘H. YOUNG & CO. FOUNDERS. PIMLICO’.

Chelsea Embankment Gardens, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5g-14-positive_2400
Chelsea Embankment Gardens, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5g-14

Carlyle sits there facing the Thames and you can just make out Chelsea Bridge through the trees of the Embankment Gardens. Behind him is Cheyne Row where he moved in 1834, living there for the rest of his life.

Click on any of the images above to go to a larger version in the album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse through many of my black and white images of London made that year.


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Refugees and Corbyn Welcome – 2015

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

Saturday 12th September 2015 was both the day that the Labour Leadership election results were being announced and also of a large demonstration with over 50,000 people of all ages from across the UK marching through London to show their support for refugees facing death and hardship and their disgust at the lack of compassion and inadequate response of the British government.

People celebrate Corbyn’s landslide victory

It had been clear from the start of the leadership election that Labour MPs were completely out of touch with the mood of the party and of the country after five years of cuts made by the coalition government. A number of those who had given Corbyn the nomination needed for him to stand in the election had only done so with the expectation that it would lead to a humiliating defeat for him and the left, and even those who truly supported him had done so with no hope of victory. Corbyn himself had almost certainly not expected to do well, and had probably only allowed his arm to be twisted to stand after being told it was his turn to do so.

When opinion polls indicated Corbyn was the front runner, many Labour MPs panicked, with leading New Labour figures including Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Miliband all over the media saying his election would be a disaster, making the party unelectable. It was the beginning of a long campaign against him both in public and with many dirty tricks in private that resulted in Labour losing the 2017 and 2019 elections. The result of the leadership election, with a resounding 59.5% for Corbyn, three times that of his nearest rival seemed definitive proof they were wrong (and was confirmed by an increased vote of 61.8% in the 2016 leadership challenge) but the plots and back-stabbing continued to ensure defeat in the 2017 general election. But it was a close thing and Starmer and his Brexit policies were needed to make sure Labour lost dramatically in 2019 and could begin the process of purging the party of socialists.

People in Park Lane for the Refugees Are Welcome march

When Corbyn’s vote was announced I was with a crowd of a couple of hundred Corbyn supporters in Hyde Park, with around as many media people, including many TV crews. I’d taken a position before the announcement sitting on the grass with many of them behind me, but both the supporters and the media went wild, photographers and TV crews knocking me flying as I tried to get up and join the rush to get closer to where the champagne corks were popping. All the usual niceties of media scrums went tothe wind and my gear was scattered. I still managed to get a few pictures.

Maimuna Jawo a refugee from Gambia

Most of those celebrating Corbyn’s victory were like me also waiting for the start of the Refugees Welcome Here march protesting against the government’s failure to respond to the huge numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, risking their lives to travel across the Mediterreanean and other dangerous routes to reach safety from civil wars and persecution. Countries on the front lines of these escape routes are flooded with more refugees than they can cope with, and while some other European countries have taken large numbers of refugees the UK has resisted doing so. Many want to come here as they speak English or have relatives or friends already in this country.

Speaker after speaker on a stage in Park Lane gave damning condemnation of the UK government to act humanely and to meet its international obligations. On My London Diary I list most of those I heard: Jean Lambert, MEP; Claude Moraes; Sabby Dhalu; Zita Holborne of BARAC; Maurice Wren from the Refugee Council; Kevin Courtney, NUT; Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP; Antonia Bright of Movement for Justice, Maimuna Jawo, Women for Refugee Women; Zrinka Bralo, Citizens UK; and Sam Fairbairn of People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Park Lane was packed with people along its length and I walked though to the head of the march at its southern end and went with it for the first couple of hundred yards into Piccadilly, where I stopped to photograph the rest of the march as it came past. Fairly densely packed and spreading across the whole of the roadway (and sometimes on to the pavement) it took exactly an hour to go past me.

I took the tube from Green Park to Westminster and arrived just in time to meet the head of the march as it got to Downing St, going with it from there the short distance to its end in Parliament Square, which soon filled up. I photographed more marchers arriving and coming down Whitehall and Parliament Street and then realised I was rather tired and hungry. I sat down on a wall and had a late sandwich lunch before deciding I’d heard enoough speeches and taking the train home.

More at:
Refugees Welcome march reaches Parliament
Refugees are welcome here march
Rally Says Refugees Welcome Here
Victory Party for Jeremy Corbyn


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.


9/11 Remembered: 2010

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

September 11th 2001 was a Tuesday and I had been teaching all morning and was picking up my bike from where I kept it safely in the caretaker’s store to go home just before 2pm when a colleague who had previously lived in New York came in extremely agitated to break the news to me of an attack on the World Trade Center there. I rushed with her to her office a short way along the corridor and watched with her the news unrolling on the screen of her desktop computer, sharing her horror.

American Airlines flight 11 had been piloted into the north tower at 8.46am, and while we were watching news came through of the second plane, United Airlines flight 175 hitting the south tower at 9.03am.

I was then as well as a little part-time teaching working full-time as a freelance providing content about photography for an American web giant and knew that I had to find out more and particularly more pictures and write about the event. I cycled home, switched on my computer and started searching, not the news agencies and papers but for first person accounts and photographs by those who had been inside or close to the twin towers when the planes hit.

Social media was very much in its infancy in 2001, but I knew that people would be posting their experiences and some photographs in various forums on line, and I was soon able to find some. Normally I would have contacted people and asked for permission to use their images and text, but there wasn’t time for this, and I mainly linked to their posts with just short quotes and wrote about the pictures in these.

It was the first major news event where most of the immediate content was posted by the people involved, citizen reporting. Most of the pictures were snatched on phones and their blurred and poorly framed images gave them an authentic quality that more professional results would have lacked, rather like those ten or eleven frames snatched by a shaking Robert Capa lying cold and wet on a Normandy beach.

I don’t think the post I made a few hours later has survived – at least I can’t find a copy of it, but I doubt if it was one of my better written or more interesting pieces. But however ephemeral it did meet the occasion and within 24 hours had been read by over a million viewers, more than ten times my normal viewing figures, and the biggest immediate response of anything I wrote in the seven years I worked on the site.

The EDL returned to protest against the Muslims and the press.

This year, 20 years on, there are going to be plenty of films, TV programmes and magazine and newspaper articles about 9/11 and still a few clinging to the discredited conspiracy theories that quickly sprung up around it. But there seem to be few if any live events taking place in London to remember those who died other than a private gathering for families who lost relatives on Saturday 11th.

In 2010 the event became controversial when both the EDL and Muslims Against the Crusades decided to remember it. The EDL came first, marching to pay their respects to those killed on 9/11 at the Grosvenor Square memorial, going on for a brief stop at the American Embassy before going on to protest at the Saudi Embassy.

Later in the day around a hundred extremist Muslims from Muslims Against the Crusades, a fringe group led by Anjem Choudary, arrived at the US Embassy. As a response to Florida pastor Terry Jones’s threat to burn the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11, they had called for the day to be made ‘International Burn The American Flag Day’ and for groups around the world to burn the US flag, which they see as a symbol of unbelief and of war – military, ideological, social and economic – against the Muslim religion. I don’t think anyone else followed there lead and they found the flag hard to set alight despite lighter fuel being poured on it.

The EDL came back to shout and threaten the Muslims, but fortunately police were able to keep the two groups apart. I’m still unsure why Choudary was allowed to carry on his activities for so long without arrest, but the suggestion that he was used by MI5 to attract Muslim extremists so they could be easily identified seems likely.

More on My London Diary:

EDL Protest Against MAC
Muslims Against Crusades Burn US Flag
EDL Remember 9/11


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.


Netanyahu’s visit – 2015

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Around a thousand people came to protest against the visit to Downing Street by the then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and several hundred came to oppose the protest and support Israel. Police struggled to keep the two groups apart.

The larger group said the Netanyahu should be arrested for war crimes in the attack on Gaza last year. Many refused to go into the penned area on the opposite side of Whitehall that police had designated and it was probably too small for all of them.

Police tried to persuade them to get off of the roadway and back onto the pavement, but were eventually overwhelmed and the protesters moved across the road to the pavement in front of the Downing St gates.

Some of the pro-Israeli protesters then moved out from their pen, and for some time the two groups faced each other across the fairly narrow way into Downing Street that police managed to keep clear. A few protesters from each side were arrested and led away, mainly when they argued aggressively with police or their opponents.

Among the protesters against Netanyahu and calling for freedom for Palestine there were as usual both Palestinians and Jews; later a group of Neturei Karta arrived, having walked from North London to join them. These ultra-orthodox Jews support Palestine and are opposed to any political state of Israel on religious grounds. One of their banners read ‘JUDAISM – G-dly & Compassionate – ZIONISM G-dless & Merciless’.

The supporters of the Israeli state included a number of right-wing Christians who came with a Union Flag with ‘UK Christians Love Israel’ on it. Like Neterei Karta they are only a small and unrepresentative group.

Some of the pro-Israel demonstrators were reluctant to be photographed and complained to police about photographers as well as about the other protesters who they felt police were failing to control. One man stretched out his hand to cover my lens – so of course after photographing that I made sure that I took his picture and you can see him on My London Diary.

The protest was still continuing as I left to photograph another event nearby, though I suspect that Netanyahu had already arrived and been taken inside by a back entrance. Movement for Justice were in Parliament Square calling on MPs to support the proposals of the detention inquiry. They want an end to detention, fast track and immigration raids, the opening of the Calais border and an amnesty for migrants. Many of those taking part were asylum seekers who had been subjected to indefinite detention in UK detention centres after making their asylum claims.

Fight immigration detention MfJ tells MPs
Support for Israel & Netanyahu
Netanyahu visit protest – Free Palestine

Grow Heathrow Open Day 2012

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

A bike-powered smoothie maker

Transition Heathrow had moved onto the disused market garden site in Sipson immediately to the north of Heathrow Airport at the start of March 2010 when the site was a local eyesore and dumping ground. They had come to fight against the plans for a third runway at Heathrow, which would destroy the whole village of Sipson, but immediately realised the potential of the site to create a productive alternative home that would become a creative hub for the area.

Being a relatively local resident and also involved in the fight against the third runway I’d heard about them more or less from the start, but I’d not managed to visit – and on the couple of occasions I’d passed the gates they were locked. Later they got more organised with advertised opening times but I was busy with other things.

Inside a temporary home

They had to begin by clearing out 30 tons of rubbish, including much that had been illegally dumped there, and persuading the local council to take it away. They made some of the existing buildings habitable and many of those who came to live there built their own small temporary homes, while others continued to live in tents.

A wood-fire heated shower on the site

By 2012 the site had become in an inspiration for alternative life-styles with lessons for us all, and when the site owners won a court case to evict the site, Judge Karen Walden-Smith described the project as “much loved and well used” by the local community and they were granted leave to appeal on human rights grounds. They were evicted from a part of the site in 2019, but the final eviction only came on 8th March 2021. It was a sad end.

On Saturday 8th September 2012 I made my first visit to what was by then a thriving site having an Open Day, with a special welcome and programme of events. Among the other visitors I met and photographed was local MP John McDonnell, a firm supporter of the project who was quoted on their web site:

“This inspirational project has not only dramatically improved this derelict site but it has lifted the morale of the whole local community in the campaign against the third runway and in planning a sustainable future for our area. We cannot lose this initiative and I will do all I can to enable it to continue.”

The site was running regular bicycle workshops, art workshops and gardening with site residents and local residents. The bike workshop was recycling old bicycles, using the parts from old and abandoned bikes to create impressive ‘new’ machines as well as teaching people to repair their own bikes. I only wish it was still running as there are now a couple of old bikes in my own shed I’d go there with for their help.

A new meeting area, built with mud and waste materials

I was also impressed by their vegetable growing – which as I say in My London Diary made some of those produced in my own garden a few miles away look rather pathetic. The meeting room, newly built from recycled materials with walls of reinforced mud and donated straw bale seating was also impressive. Many rural buildings in the past were built using ‘wattle and daub’ and this is a more modern use of a similar technique, with thick walls giving good thermal properties, though I think this example is too well ventilated to be cosy.

Comfortable seating – all thrown out from homes

Living ‘off-grid’ and making use of recycled furniture and household goods is obviously not a possible future for the whole of society, but it does provide inspiration for how we might live better with less, and in doing so reduce our own carbon footprint. But despite the comfortable furnishing and great vegetarian or vegan food, it made me feel I was too old and used to my way of life to join them, and as I ended my comments I wrote “But although it seemed to be a very pleasant place to live on a warm summer day, I think it might be rather a harsh existence in winter.”

I returned several times in the following years and was always impressed by Grow Heathrow.

More at Grow Heathrow Open 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.


Tower Hamlets Against the EDL

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

On Saturday 7th September 2013 the English Defence League led by Tommy Robinson tried to march into Tower Hamlets. Police had laid down strict conditions for their protest which included an exact route for their march, a limit on length of the rally in Aldgate and a prohibition on going across the border of the CIty of London into Tower Hamlets.

When I arrived well before their march was due to start those EDL supporters present were generally in a good mood and happy to pose for the press and we were able to move and photograph freely. Gradually things got a little edgier, though I was still able to photograph standing next to Tommy and the other leaders when they arrived.

Then the police arrived in large numbers, surrounding the marchers and moving the press away from them. Photography of the march when it began was difficult, with police stopping us going close to it. I was able to take some pictures with a longer lens than I like to use, but police kept moving us further and further away, preventing us from doing our job.

I gave up, and went away in search of the anti-fascists who I knew would be trying to disrupt the march, and had set off some smoke flares in the distance. Police had blocked their route with police vans and were keeping them kettled several hundred yards from the march route. The EDL were still some distance away when I walked out past the police at the north end of the group of protesters to go down a side street and join the EDL. I wasn’t stopped there but did have to show my press card to go through two other police lines before getting fairly close to the march.

I joined on to a small TV crew and we found a raised position from where we could photograph the marchers as they came up to Aldgate, and was then able to move to where I could see the rally beginning. Fortunately I managed to get close enough to make some decent pictures with my short telephoto zoom, working on DX format to get a longer equivalent focal length of arond 158mm. I liked using DX format on the full-frame Nikon D800E as it allowed me to see what was happening outside the image frame and still gave an entirely usable 15Mp image.

I soon tired of hearing the angry and ill-informed Islamophobic speech by Robinson (and the racist comments from the crowd) and moved away. It wasn’t easy to get past the half a dozen police lines between the rally and the people who had come to Whitechapel to oppose the march, even with a UK Press Card and I had to find a senior officer or try again on the other side of the road in some places to get through.

Here a large crowd had gathered including many from Tower Hamlets including the then mayor and many councillors as well as religious leaders, and they were supported by trade unionists and others from across London. The atmosphere here was so different from the hate a block to the west with people defiant but in good spirits and happy to be photographed.

The huge police presence kept the groups apart, and prevented all but a very few minor incidents, and without them there would certainly have been a great deal of violence on the streets with the EDL being heavily outnumbered and forced to flee. It would have been something like a repeat of the humiliating defeat of Mosley and his fascists in 1936 when the police tried to force the march through, but failed. Although this time the police did make the EDL march possible, they also very sensibly stopped it on the edge of the City before it could reach Tower Hamlets.

More text and pictures on My London Diary:

EDL March returns to Tower Hamlets (or rather it tried to but didn’t quite make it)
Anti-Fascists Oppose EDL
Tower Hamlets United Against the EDL


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