Posts Tagged ‘London 2012’

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies 2009

Saturday, February 24th, 2024

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies – Tuesday 24th February 2009 was a long and varied day for me and included some serious issues that are still at the forefront of current news as well as some lighter moments – and I ended the day enjoying a little unusual corporate hospitality with some free drinks for London bloggers.


Al-Haq Sue UK Government – Royal Courts of Justice

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

First came Palestine, with Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq filing a claim for judicial review before the High Court of England and Wales challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s illegal activities in Palestine.

They were calling on our government – then New Labour under Gordon Brown – to publicly denounce Israel’s actions in Gaza and the continuing construction of the separation wall, to suspend arms related exports and all government, military, financial and ministerial assistance to Israel and to end UK companies exporting arms and military technology.

They also asked them to insist the EU suspends preferential trading with Israel until that country complies with its human rights obligations, and for the government to give the police any evidence of war crimes committed by any Israelis who intend to come to the UK.

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

Of course the court refused Al-Haq’s case, declining to deal with the UK government’s compliance with its international legal obligations and stating that their claim would risk the UK’s diplomatic “engagement with peace efforts in the Middle East“, something which seemed at the time to be absolutely zero if not negative. They also refused Al-Haq any right to bring the claim because it was not a UK-based organisation and “no one in the United Kingdom has sought judicial review of United Kingdom foreign policy regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza“.

Al-Haq Sue UK Government


Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Race – Guildhall Yard

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

It was Shrove Tuesday and I couldn’t resist the Pancake Race organised by the Worshipful Company of Poulters, and held – with the permission of the Chief Commoner, in the Guildhall Yard.

Palestine, Pancakes, Post, Olympics & Zombies

As I said, “It’s a shame that the Pancake Race is unlikely to feature in the London 2012 Olympics, because it’s perhaps the one sport in which Britain still leads the world, and we seem to have plenty of talent in training.

Poulters Pancake Race


Keep the Post Public – Parliament Square

Postal workers came out from a rally in Methodist Central Hall against government plans to privatise Royal Mail. The government argued they needed to do this to protect pensions and modernise the service.

Postal deliveries had been deliberately made uneconomic by earlier measures which have allowed private companies to cream off the easily delivered profitable parts of the service, while leaving the Royal Mail to continue the expensive universal delivery service – including the delivery of its competitors post at low regulated prices to more difficult destinations.

The government picked up the responsibility for the pensions when the post was privatised and the privatised post office has been allowed to fail on its delivery obligations. We now get deliveries on perhaps 3 or 4 days a week rather than 6, few first class letters arrive on time, and the collection times for most pillar boxes are now much earlier in the day – now 9am rather than 4pm at our local box. While privatisation was supposed to result in more investment it largely seems to have resulted in large dividends and higher pay to managers and the Post Office is in a worse state than ever.

Keep the Post Public


London 2012 Olympic Site – Stratford

I had time for a brief visit to the publicly accessible areas in and around the Olympic site where a great deal of work was now taking place with the main stadium beginning to emerge.

There were some reports at the time that the landmark building Warton House, once owned by the Yardley company with its lavender mosaic on Stratford High Street was to be demolished, but fortunately these turned out to be exaggerated, with only a small part at the rear of the building being lost. But all the buildings on the main part of the site had gone. Some others south of the mainline railway were also being demolished for Crossrail.

Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans


March of the Corporate Undead – Oxford St

I made my way back to Oxford Circus for the ‘March of the Corporate Undead’, a Zombie Shopping Spree complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

Police watched in a suitably deadpan manner (I did see one or two occasionally smile) as the group assembled and applied large amounts of white makeup before making its way along the pavement of Oxford Street, to the astonishment (and often delight) of late shoppers and workers rushing home.

We stopped off at Stratford Place, opposite Bond Street Station to toss some fried bankers brains in the frying pans and then there was a pancake race, holding up a Rolls Royce that was prevented by the police from driving through while we were there.

The parade continued, stopping for a minute or two under the bright lights of Selfridges before continuing to Tyburn, or at least Marble Arch, with more zombies joining all the time.

Hanging the already dead banker seemed a great idea, but getting a rope up over the arch was tricky. Eventually a severed hand gave sufficient weight to enable a rope to be thrown over the ornamental iron-work and the banker was soon hoisted up to dangle over the continuing revels below.

March of the Corporate Undead

This was an anticapitalist event and in particular aimed against bankers and the huge amounts of cash given to them to in the aftermath of the 2007-8 financial crisis which was seen as rewarding the very people who had caused the mess the system was in. The mass of the population was having to suffer cuts in services under a severe austerity programme while bankers were still pigs in clover. The UK has become a very unequal society over the years since 1979 when Thatcher became Prime Minister. The the top 10% got 21% of the UK income, by 2010 it was around 32%.

I left to go to a meeting of London bloggers – and enjoy a few free drinks thanks to Bacardi. The blue and green Breezers seem to me just right for zombies, though I’m afraid after tasting one I went for the beer instead. But I think the zombies on Oxford Street were more alive than those in the corporate world.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis
London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Global Civility and Stratford Marsh – 2006

Sunday, February 18th, 2024

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh – On Saturday February 18th 2006 I photographed one of the continuing protests around the world which followed the publication by a Danish magazine of cartoons featuring images of the Prophet Mohammad in Trafalgar Square, then took the underground and DLR to Pudding Mill Lane station on Stratford Marsh to take more pictures of the area which was to be demolished for the London Olympics.


Proclamation for Global Civility – Trafalgar Square

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

Muslim protesters packed Trafalgar Square for a protest by the Muslim Action Committee over the publication of the cartoons which they regard as blasphemous, but also to publicise a ‘proclamation of global civility‘. The key points of this were the recognition of human dignity as a fundamental right, the need to good manners and etiquette in serious debate, a desire to avoid irresponsible behaviour and to underline the significance of mutual respect for a harmonious co-existence.

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

The protest in London was kept in good order by stewards who remonstrated with some of the demonstrators who were in some way not behaving as they thought they should, and also moved photographers away from them and some other groups. But other protests around the world were much less restrained and news agencies that same day reported rioting outside the Italian consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which at least 10 people were killed as well as the storming and burning of Christian churches in northern Nigeria with at least 16 deaths.

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

“As I pointed out in my report in 2006, human dignity was recognised as vital in “the preamble to the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 217 of 10 December 1948. That declaration also contains a number of important safeguards such as ‘the right to freedom of opinion and expression‘ and states ‘in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.'”

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

There are still many countries around the world where the principles of human rights in that declaration are not observed, including in many in the Muslim world.

Manners and etiquette are clearly very different in different societies and different religions certainly have very different views, particularly over blasphemy and apostasy. In the west we now prioritise freedom of speech and look back in horror at the Spanish Inquisition and trails for heresy and blasphemy, although in England and Wales, the ‘blasphemy’ and ‘blasphemous libel’ laws were only abolished in 2008, and in Scotland in 2021, while they are still in force in Northern Ireland.

The last conviction for blasphemy in England and Wales was in 1977 when the editor of Gay News received a suspended prison sentence after publishing the poem ‘The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name’ by James Kirkup, and in Scotland it was more than a century earlier when a bookseller was jailed for 15 months in 1843, though until 1825 it had been punishable by death.

While we may find some of the cartoons that were published offensive, it clearly does not justify the irresponsible behaviour and criminal actions of some Muslim mobs protesting against them.

Away from the stewards as I wandered through the crowd I was generally welcomed by the protesters, with many urging me to take their pictures. I left as the speeches, most of which I could not understand as few spoke in English, were finishing and people were getting ready to march,

Scroll down the February 2006 web page for more.


Stratford Marsh – River Lea, Stratford

I’d first photographed Stratford Marsh back in the early 1980s as part of a wider project on the River Lea, once a large and important industrial area in London, but like most of British industry falling into decline, accelerated by the policies of the Thatcher government determined to transform Britain away from manufacturing and into services.

Stratford Marsh was then full of largely small businesses employing local people and many still remained in 2006, though already blighted both by government policies and the tax breaks given to the nearby Docklands area. Now Olympic blight had set in with the whole area to be remodelled, and there were also areas which would be demolished for Crossrail.

As I wrote back then and I think my pictures show:

It is still an intriguing area, where a few yards can take you from wilderness to industrial wasteland, from dereliction to busy workshops (though most were closed on a Saturday afternoon.) Parts are visibly closing down, with compulsory purchase orders hanging on lamposts, some footpaths closed and factories demolished.

There was one small sign of a kind of regeneration. the unusual lock between the Bow Back Rivers and Waterworks River at Baker Road, for many years derelict, at last seems to have been replaced.

My London Diary – Feb 2006

There are many more pictures from this walk – and others – on these pages on my River Lea site.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis
London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Hoxton Olympic Hand Over 2008

Thursday, August 24th, 2023

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over: On Sunday 24th August 2008, fifteen years ago the Olympics were officially handed over from Beijing to London. To mark this, events were arranged in Hoxton, part of Hackney, one of the three London Boroughs in which the main Olympic site was being developed.

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over
A critical point in the slow race at the Hoxton Austerity Olympics

Hackney Council hoped that they would gain some money for regeneration from the huge Olympic spending, though it is difficult to find much evidence that it did in any way improve the borough. They had arranged what turned out to be a very boring event in Shoreditch Park with a giant TV screen showing events from Beijing and some performances and speeches. It was very poorly attended – probably only by a few council officials and families of the local kids who ran a few races or took part in the displays and singing. I took a few pictures – including one showing both the Union Jacks being waved in the park, but soon left for the more interesting local event – a 1948 Street party – in Hoxton Street.

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over

The previous London Olympics in 1948 were arranged on a shore-string budget when the whole country was still under rationing and still recovering from the war. They made use of existing facilities and were truly an ‘Austerity Olympics’. But they were also a very successful event.

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over

Back then the athletes were truly amateurs, taking time off from work to compete and training outside their work hours. Now, particularly since lottery funding it is a massively professional affair, with billions going into Olympic sports, and little if any of the original Olympic ideals remain.

Hoxton Olympic Hand Over

Studies published in 2016 reveal that London 2012 was the most expensive Summer Olympics in history, costing $15 billion, overrunning its original budget by 76%. The organisers doubled the estimate after winning the bid, then claimed that they had come in under budget in what the study describes as “deliberate misinformation of the public about cost and cost overrun” saying it “treads a fine line between spin and outright lying“.

But the figures are actually a huge underestimate of the actual cost, as they exclude “indirect capital costs, such as the money spent on upgrading the local transport infrastructure”, much of which is inappropriate to current needs or the future development of the area.

In contrast, the total spending on the 1948 Olympics was £732,268, equivalent in 2012 allowing for inflation to around £16 million, only just over one thousandth of the cost of London 2012. And the 1948 cost was a little under budget and was more than paid for by ticket sales – there was a profit of over £29,000.

Hoxton had decided to put on a ‘1948 Street Party’ in the area of Hoxton St where the market takes place, and there were shops, museums and various local organisations taking part and putting on events and displays.

Back in 2008 I wrote:

I’d had a very nice cup of tea served in 1948 style china by a “nippy”, and in the street were tea parties (with free cakes) and displays of boxing, jitterbugging and various objects from the 1940s kitchen (almost all of which we still use here, including a pastry blender – and no, it isn’t used to make bread.) Pearlies came in force and had a sing-song round the joanna.

Of course there was a bar, and there was also a little welcome madness in the section of road where the Hackney Austerity Olympics was taking place. It was of course highly appropriate, as the last Olympic Games held here were very much run on a shoe-string in 1948.

There was dancing on the street and everyone was having a good time. Including the ‘Free Hackney Movement’ Space Hijackers who arrived in what they call a tank to celebrate the handover of the protest torch for the Olympics from the Free Tibet protesters to Free Hackney.

The Free Hackney protest sees London 2012 as a great opportunity for property developers to rip us off and make obscene profits building luxury flats in the area, while at the same time restricting public access, closing down the existing free facilities and demolishing social housing and local businesses. So far its hard to argue against their case given the closure of local sports facilities including the closure of the Temple Mills cycle circuit and the removal of the Manor Gardens allotments and the wholesale clearance of small local firms which were based on Stratford Marsh.

There are a few locally based companies that have done well from their move, but more that have moved outside the area or closed down, with a loss of jobs in the area. There has also been considerable development of tall blocks of flats, but mainly for private sale or student accommodation which has done little if anything for the huge housing problems faced by local residents who want to remain in Hackney, Tower Hamlets or Newham.

Of course the London 2012 Olympics did give pleasure to many in the UK and around the world who watched the events, including the relatively few who bought tickets and watched them live. But any overall economic benefit for the UK – as claimed by the government – is debatable and given the extreme cost in any case marginal. Personally I find the media induced hysteria generated by the media around sporting events such as this objectionable and feel it is bad for the moral health of the country which needs a greater emphasis on the social and less on individual achievements of a tiny minority.

More at
Free Hackney Movement
Hoxton Handover – 1948 Street party


Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs – 2009

Sunday, August 6th, 2023

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs: August 6th is Hiroshima Day, and every year when I’m in London I try to get to the London memorial ceremony organised by London CND in Tavistock Square, and 2009 was no exception. But other events were also taking place that day, with a picket outside the offices of the company that organises the world’s largest arms fair and a rally to keep green jobs a wind turbine manufacturer. And between the last two I made a short visit to see what was happening to Stratford ahead of the Olympics.


London Remembers Hiroshima – Tavistock Square

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

The annual ceremony next next to the cherry tree planted there by the Mayor of Camden in 1967 to remember the victims of Hiroshima follows a similar pattern each year, though the speakers and singers change.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

In 2009 events were introduced Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn and speakers included the then Mayor of Camden and who was followed by an number of others including Frank Dobson MP, Bruce Kent the Vice President of CND, sadly no longer with us and other peace campaigners.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

Between some of the speeches there was music from socialist choirs. Raised Voices are a regular contributor and others have joined them in some years, in 2009 it was the Workers Music Association. Often a folk singer and poets contribute and at the end of the event people lay flowers at the base of the cherry tree before everyone sings together one or more of the protest songs including “Don’t you hear the H Bomb’s Thunder.”

Last year here on >Re:PHOTO I wrote the post Hiroshima Day – 6th August which looked at a number of these events from 2004 until 2017, with links to those in 2018, 2019 and 2o21.

More from 2009 in London Remembers Hiroshima.


Stop East London Arms Fair – Clarion Events, Hatton Garden

I left Tavistock Square in a hurry at the end of the ceremony to rush to Hatton Garden, where campaigners from ‘DISARM DSEi’ were picking the offices of Clarion Events in Hatton Garden, calling for an end to the Defence Systems & Equipment international (DSEi), the world’s largest arms fair, which Clarion are organising at ExCeL in East London next month.

The DSEi arms fair is a vast event, with over a thousand companies from 40 companies exhibiting and selling there lethal weapons. Among the buyers are those from repressive regimes around the world who will use them to keep control in their own countries. The arms trade results in millions of men, women and children being killed in conflicts around the world. According to UNICEF, in the ten years between 1986 and 96, two million children were killed in armed conflict and a further six million injured, many permanently disabled.

British companies are among those making high profits from equipment designed to kill people, and our High Street banks invest huge amounts in arms companies.

This was an entirely peaceful protest with a small group of people handing out leaflets to people passing by explaining to them what goes in an an office which appears to be for the diamond trade. Many stopped to talk with the protesters, surprised to find that our government backed and encouraged such activities. Government statistics show the UK’s global security exports as ranking third in the world, only behind the USA and China.

Although the only weapon carried by the campaigners was a small plastic boomeragn wielded by a young child, armed police watched them from across the road, together with other officers who took copious notes, although they seemed to show more interest in the four press photographers present, who were mainly just standing around talking to each other as there wasn’t a great deal to photograph. When the protesters left after an hour of picketing a police car drove slowly behind them as they walked to the pub.

More at Stop East London Arms Fair.


Olympic Site Update – August – Stratford Marsh,

Welcome to Hell’ says the graffiti at Hackney Wick – and it certainly looks like hell for photographers

I had a few hours to fill before the next event and had decided to go to Stratford to see how the area was being prepared for the Olympics in three years time. The actual site had been fenced off by an 11 mile long blue fence, but there were still some places where parts of the site could be viewed.

I went to Stratford and them walked along a part of the Northern Outfall Sewer which goes through one edge of the site. Part of this was completely closed to the public (and remained so for some years after the Olympics because of Crossrail work) but a public footpath remained as a narrow strip between temporary fencing north of the main line railway to Hackney Wick.

Security along this section was high, with security men roughly every 50 yards standing or sitting with very little to do, and the fencing made it impossible to get an unobstructed view. Later these temporary fences were replaced by impenetrable metal fencing and it became easier to take pictures. But on this occasion I could only really photograph the opposite side to the main part of the site where a lot of activity was taking place.

Even at Hackney Wick much of the Greenway was still fenced off, and I was pleased to come down into the Wick itself. Here I could photograph the stadium under construction from a distance, but rather more interesting was the graffiti on many buildings and walls facing the Lea Navigation.

Sadly much of this was cleaned up for the Olympics.

More at Olympic Update – August.


Rally For Vestas Jobs – Dept of Energy & Climate Change, Whitehall

I was back in Westminster outside for a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall calling for the government to support wind turbine blade manufacturer Vestas based in Newport on the Isle of White.

It had started to rain before the rally started and was pouring by the time it finished, though those present listened intently to speeches from a Vestas worker, trade union speakers from the RMT, PCW and Billy Hayes of the Communications Workers Unions, as well as former Labour Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Meacher MP (top picture) and Green Party GLA member Jenny Jones, who arrived at the event by bicycle.

Vestas problems were very much Government-made and as I wrote a result of “its failure to put it’s money where its mouth is on green energy policies, relying on hot air rather than support for wind power and other alternative energies.

Things are even worse now, with a government driven by lobbying from the oil industry granting licences for getting more oil from the North Sea. The Rosebank field west of Shetland will totally sink any hope of the UK meeting its promises on carbon emissions.

More pictures at Rally for Vestas Jobs.


2012 Olympics – Lund Point Holdup By BBC

Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

2012 Olympics – Lund Point Holdup By BBC: Eleven years ago on Saturday 21st July much of the nation was eagerly awaiting the start of the 2021 London Olympics. I wasn’t, though I was at least starting to think it wouldn’t be long before it was all over, but we still had it all to put up with. All the pictures in this post were taken at events around the area that day.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC
Waiting for the Olympic flame – Stratford High St

Many still regard it as having been a great national event, bringing people together, but I still find it hard to have many positive thoughts. Like another major event, most of the promises we were made about its legacy have turned out to be false. Many were clearly lies from the start, and a huge attempt was clearly made to mislead the public, with our newspapers and broadcast media playing a major and continuing role.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

On the streets of east London there were many critics and sceptics from the start, many like me who were surprised and alarmed when the bid was won in 2005. Most of their worse fears have since come to pass and the local area has seen little gain.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

Newham remains an area with huge housing problems, and it was some of those that took me there on Saturday 21st July 2012, specifically over the council’s terrible treatment of the Carpenters Estate, a once popular council estate adjoining Stratford Station.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

It’s location made it a valuable prey for developers and Newham’s elected Labour Mayor, Sir Robin Wales had clearly thought the site was being wasted on its social housing tenants and had begun running it down and ‘decanting’ residents back in 2004. But schemes to sell it off, including one as a new campus for University College London (UCL) were eventually stopped by protests from residents, UCL students and staff and Stratford’s dynamic housing activists, Focus E15.

Good solid 1960s housing on a pedestrianised street . A popular estate on which many bought houses

Focus E15 had begun when Newham Council decided to shut down a hostel in central Stratford for single mothers and their children, offering only to move them out of Stratford to distant towns and cities across the UK into poor quality private rented accomodation with no security of tenure and higher rents, some hundreds of miles away from family, friends, nurseries and other support they had in Newham. Robin Wales infamously told them “if you can’t afford to live in Newham, then you can’t afford to live in Newham”.

A woman still living on the Carpenters estate

The Focus E15 mothers stood together and fought – and largely won, getting rehoused in the local area. But they decided to continue their fight for others in housing need, particularly in Newham. There story became national news and they continue with weekly stalls on Newham Broadway and a shop not far away.

Lund Point – advertising added for Olympics without consultation

Carpenters Estate residents were shocked when the council in 2011, upset that residents wanted to remain on the estate, decided to fix the elections to the Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) by barring freeholders on the estate from standing and simply losing five of the six nominations from leaseholders. Security staff prevented freeholders who had received invitations to the meeting from attending, effectively allowing Newham council to take over the TMO and end any real participation by residents over the esatate’s future.

BBC employed security – the sign says Residents Only

Residents formed Carpenters Against Regeneration Plans (CARP) to challenge the decisions made by the TMO and to get it to fulfil its duties to all residents of the estate, and to fight for the future of the residents and for a sustainable community. In particular freeholders were appalled at the low valuations put on their properties by the TMO commissioned valuation service, with compensation for compulsory purchase often appearing to be only around half of market values for similar propeties in the area.

This Barber – the last man standing on Stratford High St

CARP had arranged a number of tours around the estate, and I met with them at Sratford Station, having on my way taken a few pictures of the Olympic Torch Relay which had passed along Stratford High Street earlier in the day, though only watched there by a small handful of people. There were more on a footbridge built for the Olympics across this busy main road, which would have been a small but useful Olympic legacy, but was to be demolished shortly after.

Police had come to back up BBC security and refuse us entrance

Our tour from the station led by Tawanda Nyabango who lived for many years in one of the tower blocks and several other residents including CARP vice-chairman Joe Alexander talked to us on a lengthy tour of the estate and the nearby Waterworks River, one of several waterways through the Olympic site.

After we were allowed in BBC security try to stop us leaving the lift

We then tried to visit two more residents living in flats in one of the three tower blocks on the estate, Lund Point. The BBC were setting up in the top five floors of the block for their Olympic coverage, and we were prevented from entering the block by BBC security staff who then brought in police to support them.

But finally we made it to a flat on the 20th floor

We argued that we had an invitation from the residents, but were still refused entry, until after and hour and a half waiting finally the police officers present received orders that they had no right to refuse our entry and we were finally allowed in.

The Olympic site from Lund Point

I was able then both to meet the residents and photograph the Olympic site from their windows. The residents of the block have complained strongly about the way the BBC have taken over parts of their building and apparently our holdup was simply one of many incidents. I took rather more pictures including some panoramic views – at Olympic Views though my time here was very limited.

I had intended to finish my day after the Carpenters Estate tour with a visit to the Open Day taking place at Cody Dock on Bow Creek, and I hurried there from Stratford. But because of the holdup at Lund Point, the events there had ended by the time I arrived, and I took a few pictures and left for home.

At Cody Dock

Robin Wales is no longer Mayor, eventually being forced out despite his attempts to manipulate votes to remain in office. Under the replacement Labour Mayor there are new plans for the Carpenters Estate though Focus E15 are still campaigning for the repair, refurbishment and repopulation of the estate with long-term council tenants.

Much more about all these events on My London Diary:

Olympic Flame at Stratford 6 Days Early
Newham’s Shame – Carpenters Estate
Police Deny Olympic Residents Access
Olympic Views
Cody Dock Open Day

I originally posted this on 21st June when it should have been posted on 21st July.


Before the Olympics – 2007

Saturday, February 11th, 2023

Five years and a few months before the London 2012 Olympic Games took place much of the site was still open although businesses had been moved out and some of the buildings were becoming derelict. I’d had an invitation to a party at a site there the previous evening but hadn’t been able to attend, but on Sunday 11th February 2007 I took my Brompton on the trains to Stratford Station for a tour of the area. It began as a rather gloomy day but the weather at least brightened up later.

Carpenters Rd from Wharton Road

I did return to parts of the area in later months as the close down was taking effect – and even led a two-day workshop at the View Tube in April 2010. And in June I was there to photograph workmen putting up the blue fence to keep us out of the whole Olympic area until well after the games were gone.

Before the Olympics - 2007
Footbridge to railway works over Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh.

Here’s what I wrote on back in 2007 about my ride around the area, much of which I spent pushing and carrying my Brompton bike along footpaths. But it did make it possible for me to cover rather more ground than would have been possible on foot. I’ve corrected the capitalisation etc. There are several pages of pictures with the original on My London Diary, just a few of which are shown here.

Before the Olympics - 2007
Marshgate Lane and Bow Back Rivers

2012 Olympic Site – Stratford, Sunday 11 Feb, 2007

Before the Olympics - 2007
Tate Moss, home to four artists and a venue for gigs of various kinds, now lost for the Olympics

Sunday I went to the Olympic site again, keen to photograph before the area becomes ‘fortress Olympics’ and is destroyed. Many of the businesses have now moved out and some of the small industrial estates are looking pretty empty. Tate Moss, who occupied a site by the City Mill River had staged their final event the night before, but the partying didn’t keep going long enough for me to look in and the place was deserted.

Marshgate Lane under the Northern Outfall Sewer is blocked with old tyres

Some of the riverside paths were open again after the test borings that have been going on, although several were fenced off over a year ago. The gate to the path by the waterworks river from the Greenway wasn’t locked, so I took a walk up this, but I knew that it was no longer possible to get out onto Marshgate Lane so had to retrace my steps.

The Marshgate Centre and Banner Chemicals from the Greenway

The route back up to the Greenway from Marshgate Lane was almost completely obstructed by heaps of old car tires, and I had to carry my Brompton for a few yards and climb up onto a grass bank where the steps were completely blocked. Parts of the road were no longer open to cars too.

City Mill River

From there I moved on to Hackney Wick and Waterden road, and I finished the day as the light was getting low on Hackney Marshes, one of the areas in which locally important sporting facilities will be lost at least for a few years, perhaps for good.

Original text on the February 2007 page (you will need to scroll down.)


Banner Chemicals

My article back then ended with the paragraph above, but my ride didn’t – I had to get back home. It had previously taken me to a number of places just outside the condemned area, including some that were to be demolished for Crossrail, and it didn’t actually end on the Hackney Marshes, as the pictures on My London Diary demonstrate.

Kings Yard

I decided to ride back to Stratford to get the train home, and that ride took me back past Clays Lane, where the estate was to be demolished for the athletes’ village and I stopped several more times on my way to take more pictures in the gloom. Even when I arrived at Stratford around sunset there was still enough light for a few final images.

Clays Lane

You can see many more pictures from the entire ride on My London Diary


Before the Olympics – A walk in 2005

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

I published this post seventeen years ago on My London Diary, following an organised walk around the Olympic Site by locals while London was making its unfortunately successful bid to host the 2012 games. I’ve corrected the capitalisation but otherwise it remains as written. Going around the area some ten years after the games there is nothing I would want to change in the piece, though the legacy has turned out even worse than we feared back then, with so many broken promises.


Olympic site? – Stratford and Temple Mills, 23 Jan, 2005

Before the Olympics
Carpenters Road lock, Old River Lea, London

I first got to know the lower Lea (or Lee) valley around twenty-five years ago, when many of the traditional industries, many based around the Lea Navigation, had or were just ending. Parts of it were almost a dark continent, with the Bow Back Rivers machete country. Secateurs became an essential photo accessory, and together with a heavy duty tripod swung with abandon hacked a path alongside streams overgrown with bramble, nettles and bushes.

Before the Olympics
Channelsea River, allotments and path near Eastway Cycle Circuit

Since then, things have changed, with proper paths, nature trails, signposts and more, although it remains an area of relative peace and quiet. All this could soon change. You can hardly move in or around London without the almost continuous reminder of the 2012 Olympic bid. Large sums are being spent to convince us it is a good thing, despite concurrent claims that over 70% of Londoners already support it.

Before the Olympics
Bully Point Nature Reserve, Stratford

For this particular area of London it will mean dramatic changes, and whatever the good intentions of the developers (and I’ve read them) these will probably be environmentally disastrous. Development on this scale almost always is. Even the proponents acknowledge short-term problems, while local environmentalists point out the massaging and misrepresentation in parts of their planning, as well as the failure to ensure a proper post-games future for the area. While some of the proposals make sense for the area, the short-term priorities of the games will result in many that do not.

Before the Olympics
Off-road tracks at Eastway Cycle Circuit, Temple Mills

I’m not against the Olympics as such; in some ways they could be a good thing for the country, although the whole movement has been allowed to get seriously out of hand. I’m cynical enough to know that much of the enthusiasm for London 2012 comes from companies who are already making serious money from the promotion and will make even more should they happen, and realistic enough to know that any local opposition to them can only enforce very minor changes to their impact. Such local views are likely to carry far more weight on developments in the area should the London bid fail.

Allotments on ridge between Old River Lea and Channelsea River, Stratford.

Sunday I cycled from Stratford to Temple Mills to join a walk around the northern part of the site, organised by No To London 2012, a coalition of East London community groups and social justice campaigners. A group of just over twenty of us spent an enjoyable couple of hours looking at the area and the impact the Olympic developments would have. it was an opportunity that IOC delegates are not likely to have, with their view of these particular areas expected to be with a pair of binoculars from a distant tower block.

Clays Lane estate, Stratford

We stood first of all on a part of Hackney Marshes, watching the local footballers play on an area marked for a vast coach park, wondering how long it would take for it to be returned to recreational use, before making our way south across the A12 to the Eastway Cycle Circuit, now a well-used recreational area which will also be dramatically changed, becoming in the long term part of a larger Velopark, and on to the recently established Bully Point Nature Reserve at the southwest of the site between the Channelsea River and the River Lea, a viewpoint over the major land-forming currently taking place as a part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link works and the future development of Stratford City.

Wick Field on edge of Hackney Marsh

Returning to Eastway, we climbed over a barrier onto Arena Field. Until a few years back this was a cricket ground, but travellers occupied it and the pavilion was burnt down. It was then used as a landfill site, raising the overall ground level around twenty feet. On the other side of Eastway we walked through Wick Field, site of massive tree-planting by Hackney. The new path we walked through, designed and made by one of those on the walk, was pleasant if muddy.

Canary Wharf towers from Eastway Cycle Circuit

At the end of the walk I went back to the bench in Wick Field, in the centre of a fine row of plane trees running parallel to the Lea Navigation and sat down to eat my lunch. In front of me a grassy fire-break path stretched into the distance, marred only slightly by dimly seen lorries at its end on the elevated roadway. As I sat there, the unmistakable low-slung red-brown shape of a fox strode slowly across the path a hundred yards away.

London 2012 Olympic advertising at Stratford Station

I made my way back to Stratford by Leyton, returning to look at some of my memories – St Josephs Cemetery and the nearby crossroads on Langthorne Road, the stump of Claremont Road and then a few pictures around the centre of Stratford itself.


You can see more pictures from the walk and my cycle rides from and to Stratford Station before and after the walk http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2005/01/jan3.htm with the original posting. All pictures were made with a Nikon D70, with some of the panoramas stitched together from several images.

You can see these and more pictures from the area on my Lea Valley web site, Some are also in my book Before The Olympics, first published in 2010, ISBN: 978-1-909363-00-7 still available from Blurb both as an expensive paperback or as a PDF.


Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival – 2012 On Saturday 4th August 2012 much of the nation and all of the media were in the grip of another sporting obsession the 2012 London Olympics and two of the events I covered had at least some link to this. The third was something rather more serious, celebrating the work of one of the great heroes of the Second World War, not a military hero but a man who saved the lives of many.


Adidas Stop Your Olympic Exploitation – Adidas, Oxford St

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

War on Want held a protest outside Adidas on Oxford Street, playing games and handing out leaflets because workers making clothes for the official sportswear partner of London 2012 in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China get poverty wages are not allowed to form unions and have little or no job security.

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

War on Want stated:
Around the world thousands of workers, mainly women, producing clothes for Adidas are not paid enough to live. There wages do not cover basic essentials like housing, food, education and healthcare.
With such low wages, workers have to work excessive hours just to scrape together enough to get by, sometimes beyond legal limits – up to 15 hours a day.
In many cases workers are told that if they try to organise trade unions to defend their rights, they face harassment or they will be fired.

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

Around 20 police stood around watching as War On Want began their games in protest, and they stopped play as the protesters began their badminton game using a banner as a net, claiming it might endanger people walking past. The street was even more crowded than usual with people who had come to London to attend the events, some of whom stopped to talk with the protesters and express their disgust at the exploitation of foreign workers, but the action by Scottish police drafted down to London perhaps reflected a lack of experience in dealing with protests.

The badminton continued for a few minutes in a side street, and then they turned to a rather short hurdles event. Again when they ‘ran’ this on the pavement in front of the Adidas shop police fairly soon stopped it, perhaps because Adidas complained that half the area of pavement was its property.

As well as leaflets, War On Want was handing out Freepost postcards to people to send to Herbert Hainer, the CEO of Adidas, care of War on Want, calling for Adidas to end the exploitation of workers.

Unusually Adidas sent out a person from their PR agency to talk to me as I began to take pictures of the event, and she later sent me an e-mail stating Adidas was “fully committed to protecting workers rights and to ensuring fair and safe working conditions in factories throughout our global supply chain.” Unfortunately it was clearly an attempt to mislead as it was irrelevant to the claims that were made by War on Want about wages and conditions in factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China producing goods for Adidas. She also said that they had tried to contact War on Want to discuss their claims but had been unable to do so.

A War on Want press release gave full links to the cases on which their claims were made and stressed that they had taken part in discussions with Adidas, “but the multinational continues to deny the widespread nature of the problems and has failed to respond to the organisation’s demands that the firm commits to paying a living wage.”

Of course Adidas is not the only major sponsor of London 2012 and other major sporting events – and London 2012 showed itself also to be blind to the activities of Dow, Atos, BP and all the others.

More at Adidas Stop Your Olympic Exploitation.


Raoul Wallenberg 100th Anniversary – Great Cumberland Place

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

A ceremony took place around the monument erected to Raoul Wallenberg in 1997 in Great Cumberland Place, outside the Western Marble Arch Synagogue to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. Led by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld it was attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster and the Swedish Ambassador as well as many from the synagogue and the Swedish Church in London.

Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue leading the chanting of a Psalm in Hebrew

Rector Michael Persson from the Swedish Church talked about Wallenberg, who he called ‘an average man’ who grew up in a banking family but was too sensible, too friendly and too nice to be a banker and so became a businessman. Faced with the situation of thousands of Jews being sent to their death in Hungary he did everything he could to help, following the Lutheran ideal of living, a calling to be yourself and to do good for other people, an ordinary man who was brave when the time came and became one of Sweden’s greatest heroes.

The Swedish Ambassador lays one of several wreaths

The memorial shows Wallenberg standing in front a a large wall made of stacks of the roughly 100,000 very official looking ‘protective passports’ he issued identifying the bearer as Swedish subjects awaiting repatriation. Although these had no legal status, they looked impressive and, sometimes with the aid of a little bribery, saved the bearers from deportation.

Raoul Wallenberg 100th Anniversary


Iraq Day Festival – Queen’s Walk, South Bank

Olympic Shame, Holocaust Hero And Iraq Festival

The Iraq Day 2012 festival also had an Olympic link, being “organized to celebrate the games with a hint of Iraq flavor” by the Iraqi Culture Centre in London and sponsored by Bayt Al Hekima-Baghdad in conjunction with the Local Leader London 2012 program.

Although it aimed to build stronger relationships among British-Iraqi communities and promote the the rich cultural heritage of Iraq including its music, food and art in several ways it actually demonstrated the differences between different Iraqi communities.

Given the continuing political divisions and unrest in Iraq after the US-led invasion the stated aim to promote tourism to the country seems entirely wishful thinking. Current UK advice on travel to Iraq begins “Iraq remains subject to regional tensions. Militia groups opposed to western presence in Iraq continue to pose a threat to UK and other interests in Iraq – including through attacks on Global Coalition military bases, diplomatic premises, and foreign nationals…” and ends with the paragraph “If you’re travelling or moving to Iraq, you should take appropriate security precautions before travelling. Outside of the Kurdistan Region you are strongly advised to employ a private security company, make arrangements for secure accommodation and transport and consider pre-deployment training.

US travel advice is even blunter: “Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, civil unrest, and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.”

I saw one performer storm off the platform, furious at what she felt was cultural discrimination against the Kurds and overheard a loud and bitter argument between the director of a fashion show and the event organisers. I’d been told the show would start in two minutes and when I went home an hour later it still had not happened.

Afternoon prayers

There was a great deal of Iraqi food on offer, and while many of those going past along the riverside walk stopped to taste and buy some this was perhaps rather insensitive so far as many of the Iraqis present were concerned. The event was taking place during Ramadan and although they could see and smell the Iraqi food on offer they were fasting until after sunset at 2041.

March for a People’s Olympics

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Ten years ago on July 27th 2012, as the London 2012 Olympics were getting underway in Stratford, people, mainly from the local area, marched to call for an end to the corporate takeover of the Olympics and the draconian policing and military presence largely aimed at the protection of brands and for the games to meet its legacy promises.

The authorities had done their damnedest to stop the protest taking place – first they had tried to ban it altogether, then Transport for London had refused permission for them to march along any roads which were emergency backup Games routes. But protesters agreed with police that they would leave the road if there was any emergency. Tower Hamlets council tried to ban any speeches or other events on Wennington Green where the march ended, and protesters were threatened they would be arrested if they carried banners, placards or t-shirts with political messages – though it was hard to see any legal basis for doing so.

The ‘Whose Games? Whose City?’ protest went ahead despite the threats, with only one small incident when police seized and searched a man who had cut a piece of police tape. A crowd of marchers supported them and shouted for his release and after a few minutes he was set free without charge and the march continued.

The threats and public controversy had doubtless persuaded many not to come to the event, where around 500 marchers mingled with press and TV from around the world at the starting point in Mile End Park at midday. The organisers, the Counter Olympics Network (CON) had made clear that they were not against the Olympics as a sporting event but against the way it had been taken over by corporate interests. In my long account of the event on My London Diary I quoted from several of their statements, including:

"the close ties between the Olympic brand and its corporate sponsors who, despite IOC claims of vetting on ethical grounds, include serial polluters, companies which seriously damage the environment and which wreck or take lives, Coca Cola, Rio Tinto, BP, Dow Chemical. G4S, Cisco, and Atos deny people their human rights in a variety of situations while Macdonalds helps to fuel the obesity epidemic. London2012 provides benefits at taxpayers’ expense while receiving little in return."

CON also pointed out the many broken promises made about the games and the very doubtful legacy the games will leave, particularly in East London.

"the lack of benefits for local people and businesses, the fantastic expansion of security into our daily lives, the deployment of missiles and large numbers of troops, the unwarranted seizure of public land at Wanstead Flats, Leyton Marsh and Greenwich Park."
A man celebrates after the crowd made police release him

Later in his speech on Wennington Green, Chris Nineham of the Stop The Olympic Missiles Campaign declared that the London Olympics had already set a number of records, including the largest ever number of arrests on the first day, the highest ticket prices, the most intensive application of branding rules and the highest level of militarisation of any Olympic games, with far more being spent on security that even in China. There were now more troops in London than at any time since World War 2, and more than at any time in Afghanistan, where our military activities were now making us a terrorist target in London. Among the other speakers was Melanie Strickland, one of the 182 ‘Critical Mass’ cyclists arrested the previous night for riding near the Olympic stadium.

Industry on the Olympic site, Marshagate Lane, 1990

I had known and photographed the Olympic area since the early 1980s until the public were all excluded from the vast site in 2007 and after when we were only able to peer over the blue fence. In 2010 I brought out a book ‘Before The Olympics’ which included many pictures of the area in the thirty years or so before they took place, as well as looking more widely along the length of the River Lea and the Navigation. Most people miss that parts of the area were formerly thriving industrial and commercial sites, others a verdant wilderness – and of course some thriving allotments. Of course there have been some benefits following 2012 – more housing is something London desperately needs, but much was already being planned before the bid succeeded. But the park remains to me deeply disappointing.

Allotments on the Olympic site, April 2007

The book is still available and you should be able to view a preview at ‘Before the Olympics‘ though Blurb appears to be having some problems at the moment; it is a ridiculously highly priced softback, but there is a more reasonable PDF version. The book includes many of my pictures of the area which are also on my The Lea Valley web site including mainly black and white images from the 1980s and 90s and colour from the 2000s. Later images from before and after 2012 are on various pages of My London Diary. There is a large collection of the black and white images in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 including many from what became the Olympic site.


Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh

Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh: My day out on Wednesday 26 June 2013 began by taking the tube to North Greenwich and then walking to the cablecar for the ride across the Thames.

Back then I commented “Given the huge losses it is sustaining I can’t see it remaining open too much longer, so if you’ve not taken a ride don’t leave it too long“, and I’m surprised to find it still running 8 years later. But perhaps not for much longer, as the sponsorship deal with the Emirates Airline comes to an end this month, and no other company has come forward to pick up the tab, even though TfL have offered a huge reduction for the privilege.

Never a sensible contribution to London’s travel network it remains one of London’s cheaper and more interesting tourist attractions. I’m not sure whether the fact that it now lands on the north bank spitting distance from London’s now misplaced County Hall adds to its chances of retention, but it could make it more likely to be brought within the normal London fare structures.

There are already fare reductions for people with Travelcards, and frequent users can buy a ticket which reduces the cost to make it a viable part of a commute to work, particularly as you can take a bike with you for free. However I suspect the number of ‘frequent fliers’ is probably only in two figures. Its also a service which is more affected by weather than surface transport, closing down in high winds.

But it does have the height to give some splended views, even if the surrounding area is perhaps less rich than that of London’s other aerial attraction, the London Eye. Actually for me is considerably more attractive, and it’s an area which is now rapidly developing on both sides of the river, with new residential developments replacing old industrial and commercial uses.

The dangleway is also a part of the East London sculpture trail, The Line, which vaguely follows the Greenwich Meridian, from North Greenwich to Stratford and makes an interesting walk, although this will become a more interesting walk once the riverside path from Cody Dock to the East India Dock Road is opened, something we have been waiting for around 20 years. One day it might even extend past Canning Town station to Trinity Buoy Wharf, but we may not live that long.

Although you can see the riverside from above, little of it is now publicly accessible, though I walked along Bow Creek and a little of the Thames here back in the 1980s taking photographs now on Flickr. But back then the Royal Victoria Dock was largely fenced off and you can now walk around it and over a high-level bridge which also has interesting views.

Or at least you can most of the time. But the area becomes a high security zone with the bridge closed when the Excel Centre is full of arms dealers selling often illegal arms to repressive regimes around the world – every other September. Fortunately it was June, though I was back there for the DSEI protests in September – and in other years.

The DLR also runs through the area on a viaduct, and from the train and the stations you also get some interesting views, though the train windows are often rather to dirty for taking photographs. That you are looking south from the line can also mean the sun is shining directly into the lens.

This is the Woolwich branch of the DLR and at Canary Wharf I changed onto a train towards Stratford, alighting at Pudding Mill Lane to walk up onto the Greenway. I arrived just too late to go into the View Tube there so I had to be content with making pictures from the Greenway which runs high through the area.

I’d begun making photogrfaphs here back in the 1980s, and had published some of these on my my River Lea/Lee Valley web site – and in the Blurb book ‘Before The Olympics‘, returning to the area occasionally and photographing it as it changed and particularly as the Olympic site developed. Progress on restoring the area to some useful purpose appeared to be very slow

More on My London Diary where the pictures are also larger – though you can see these ones larger by opening the images in their own window.
Stratford Greenway Olympic Revisit
Victoria Dock and Silvertown
Emirates ‘Airline’ – Arab Dangleway