Posts Tagged ‘London 2012’

Hoxton 1948 Street Party

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

No, I wasn’t taking pictures in 1948, nor was Hoxton’s 1948 street party taking place in 1948, but on Saturday 24th August 2008, the date marking the handover of the Olympics to London from Beijing where the 2008 Olympics had recently finished.

Hackney was one of the three boroughs – along with Tower Hamlets and Newham at the centre of the London 2012 Olympics, coming to London for the first time since 1948. The London Olympics then were very much run on a shoe-string in 1948, with a total budget of well under a million pounds – allowing for inflation probably rather less than a hundredth of the budget for 2012.

People in Hackney had decided to mark the event with a ‘1948 Street Party’ in Hoxton in the area of Hoxton Road where the market takes place (confusingly around half a mile from a street named Hoxton Market) and there were shops, museums and various local organisations taking part and putting on events and displays. And appropriately for a celebration of 1948 they organised their own ‘Austerity Olympics’ on the street, as well as some more serious boxing.

Hackney Council, being doctrinaire New Labour were of course appalled by the idea of a community initiative such as this. Their idea of politics was for people to put an X in the Labour box of the ballot paper and then sit back and let those they elected get on with running things to their advantage – without the people getting in the way of their schemes. So instead of backing a community initiative which might display what people thought about the forthcoming Olympics they snootily set up their own rival event in a park a few minutes walk away, with a giant screen relaying the events from Beijing.

There were two men waving Union Flags at the Hackney Council event.

I went to both, though most of the hour and a half I spent at the council event was an hour and a half of my life lost, tedious in the extreme, except for a short performance by a local kids group. There was a Chinese group with flags and a lion, but they seemed to be deliberately hidden away in a corner.

Back on Hoxton St, things were much more interesting, and very much a reminder of my own youth in the 1950s. I enjoyed 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 at home, 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.

And then there was the ‘Free Hackney Movement’ (aka Space Hijackers) who brought some serious politics to the event along with a ‘tank’. Here’s what I wrote about them in 2008:

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

In 2008 I commented “The Olympic development has so far been something of a catastrophe for the area, and a lot has to be done to recover from this, let alone produce a positive outcome for the area.” Unfortunately most of what has been done since has borne out the fears and predictions that were made by the Free Hackney Movement and others back in 2008. London 2012 was a bonanza for the few but disrupted the lives of many in the three boroughs.

More at:
Hoxton Handover – 1948 Street party
Free Hackney Movement
Hackney Council Hoxton Handover


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


A Hero Remembered, Olympics and Iraq

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021


Some photographers love to travel, but I relish the great variety of events I have been able to photograph in London, (as well as the city itself.) Saturday 4th August 2012 demonstrates that well.

Raoul Wallenberg was clearly one of the great heroes of the twentieth century, and played a huge role while working as a Swedish diplomat in Budapest in 1944-5. Historians now question the popular claims that he saved as many as 100,000 Jews and suggest the actual figure may be between 4,500 and 9,000, but as one of them commented, his “fame was certainly justified by his extraordinary exploits.”

Wallenberg and his fellow Swedish diplomat Per Anger issued thousand of official-looking “protective passports” identifying the bearers as Swedish citizens and rented over 30 buildings in Budapest which he declared to be Swedish territory. According to Wikipedia these eventually housed almost 10,000 people. The money for these came from the American Red Cross and it was apparently at US request that Wallenberg was posted to Budapest.

Wallenberg was not the only diplomat in Budapest issuing protective passports to save Jews, with others being provided with Swiss, Spanish and Portuguese documents. He is also said to have persuaded the Germans not to blow up the Budapest ghetto and kill its 70,000 inhabitants, though the Italian businessman Giorgio Perlasca who was posing as the Spanish consul-general claims that it was his intervention that saved them

Swedish Ambassador Nicola Clase speaks about Wallenberg

Wallenberg disappeared on 17th January 1945 after being summoned to see the commander of the Russian forces encircling the city to answer charges he was involved in espionage. He was taken to Moscow and little definite is known about him after than although the Soviet Government in 1957 released a document stating he had died in prison, probably of a heart attack on 17 July 1947. But there were later reported sightings of him. Documents released in 1996 by the CIA show he was working with their wartime predecessor.

Wallenberg was born on August 4th 1912, and a ceremony took place in his honour around the Wallenberg memorial, sculpted by Philip Jackson outside the Western Marble Arch Synagogue. It was a moving event, led by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld with Rector Michael Persson from the Swedish Church in London reading Psalm 121 and giving an address about Wallenburg who he called an ordinary man who was brave when the time came and had followed the Lutheran ideal of living, a calling to be yourself and to do good for other people. The Swedish ambassador also spoke about him.

Earlier I had been at the Olympics. Not the thing on Stratford Marsh, but a rather smaller event organised by War on Want outside Adidas on Oxford St, claiming that workers making clothes for the official sportswear partner of London 2012 get poverty wages are not allowed to form unions and have little or no job security.

War on Want point out that around the world thousands of workers producing clothes for Adidas are working for poverty wages that do not cover basic essentials like housing, food, education and healthcare. Many have to work beyond legal limits, up to 15 hours a day to scrape a living. And workers who try to organise trade unions face harassment and sacking.

The games began with badminton, and then moved on to hurdles, but police told them it was too dangerous on the pavement in Oxford St. They were made to move around the corner. Adidas sent along someone from their PR Agency to give misinformation to the press, but there was damning information on the War on Want web site on wages and conditions in factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China producing goods for Adidas. I don’t expect things have changed that much for these workers since 2012.

Finally I made my way to Iraq Day 2012, “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.

There were some unplanned and fairly dramatic events on stage, and one of the performers stormed off the platform, furious at what she felt was cultural discrimination against the Kurds, and a group of Kurdish musicians were told they had to leave the stage, but generally it lacked much interest for me.

I was sorry for the many Iraqis and others who were unable to eat the Iraqi food that was on offer – for this event was taking place during Ramadan. I had been asked to photograph a fashion show that was a part of the programme, but for some reason it didn’t take place when it should have, and I had to leave before it happened.

More on all of these:

Iraq Day Festival
Raoul Wallenberg 100th Anniversary
Adidas Stop Your Olympic Exploitation


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.


Stratford 2005

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Footbridge at Stratford to Carpenters Estate

Back in 2005 many were still hoping that London would not win their bid to hold the Olympics, particularly those who lived in the area who could see how their lives would be disrupted by this huge event (though in the end it was far worse than they had imagined.)

One of many businesses on Carpenters Road

They also saw how it would impact on the longer term development of the area. Many planners warned how it would distort the proper planning of the area and its future; although investment in the area was welcome, much or most of it would be put into white elephants which would have little long-term utility.

Waterworks River and Old River Lea at Carpenters Lock

On Sunday 23 January 2005 I took my bike with me to Stratford and cycled to the meeting point at Temple Mills for a tour of the Olympic area with No to London 2012, a coalition of east london community groups and social justice campaigners.

Bully Point Nature Reserve

Around 20 of us then took a walk around the area, getting some informative comments at a number of locations. As I remarked in my write-up of the event in My London Diary:

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.

My London Diary: January 2005

I was already familiar with the area, having photographed around it since the 1980s, but still learnt a lot from some of those who spoke – and had just a little to add.

BMX track at Eastway Cycle Circuit is marked out

On our route around and also on my way to the meeting point I took the opportunity to take a few pictures, and after I’d sat down after the tour to eat my sandwiches by the Lea Navigation, to cycle to another area which was to be affected by the Olympics, Marsh Lane in Leyton, before making my way back to Stratford.

Wick Field, Hackney Wick

We were lucky with the weather, mild for January and with some sunshine, and I’d enjoyed the fairly short rides as well as the guided tour. I’d made several hundred pictures, including a number of panoramic images and felt I’d had a good day.

Leyton Marsh

Of course, London lost – and was condemned to host the Olympics. It was an event that caught the imagination of many of the public for the few weeks it was on, but has left a toxic legacy that will last decades.

You can see more of these pictures on My London Diary, where I’ve also written more about it.


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.


Marshgate Lane

Friday, January 15th, 2021

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h-53_2400-2
Marshgate Lane from Northern Outfall Sewer, 1990

Marshgate Lane runs through the centre of Stratford Mash and what became the London 2012 Olympic site. It’s southern end was a short distance north of the bridge over St Thomas’s Creek on Pudding Mill Lane, and it ran parallel and a few yards to the east of Pudding Mill Lane, which rejoined it just south of the Northern Outfall Sewer. Marshgate Lane then continued in its northerly route past Knobs Hill to run beside the Old River Lee and across both the City Mill River and the Waterworks River to Carpenters Road.

City Mill River, Marshgate Lane, from Greenway, Northern Outfall Sewer, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-32_2400
Industry between Marshgate Lane and the City Mill River, 1983

It’s southern area still follows the same route, though it now starts at Stratford High St, which was previously Pudding Mill Lane, and north of the sewage outfall its route is completely different. But what was back in the 1980s a street lined for much of its route with industrial premises is now a wasteland with some athletic facilities, parts of which will shortly be covered with tall blocks.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 199090-9g22_2400
Maryland Plastics, St Thomas’s Creek, Pudding Mill Lane, 1983

As well as the Olympic devastation, Crossrail has also played havoc with the southern area. An earlier addition with little disruption was the Docklands Light Railway, extended to Stratford for the Olympics and opened to the public in 2011 with a station on Pudding Mill Lane, which gives considerably more convenient access to the area.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9g24_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1990

It isn’t always easy to decide now exactly where I took some of these pictures as I wandered freely around the area, both on the streets, on the Greenway and other footpaths and through some small areas of waste land. So some pictures captioned as Marshgate Lane may actually be on Pudding Mill Lane or even Barbers Rd or Cooks Road.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9g26_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1990

There was considerable opposition from some of the businesses in the area to the redevelopment for the Olympics, and for some it was the end of their business, while a few did well out of their relocation. I continued to photograph in the area during the redevelopment, though access to much of it was closed, the area surrounded by a blue fence and security guards. Now there is little to attract me back to Stratford Marsh, and my few visits before Covid have been sadly disappointing.

Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h52_2400
Marshagate Lane, 1990

More pictures from the 1980s on 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.


Stratford Marsh & Carpenter’s Road

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Pudding Mill River and Railway, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h66_2400
Pudding Mill River, Stratford Marsh, 1990

Continuing with pictures from my walks in the 1980s and early 1990s around the area destroyed for the London 2012 Olympics on Stratford Marsh. Although there was then considerable industry of various kinds across the area, many of the factories had closed, and some were derelict, partly as a result of Thatcher’s de-industrialisation policies, but also because of competition from more efficient industry abroad as well as from lower wage economies.

Pauls Cafe, Stratford Marsh, Stratford, Newham, 1990 90-9h63_2400
Paul’s Cafe served the many workers in the area

A few of the empty properties and sites were occupied by smaller local businesses such as car breakers and repair shops, and a few were transformed into artists studios – and I remember going to a great party in one of them off Marshgate Lane, though missing most such events as I lived thirty miles away on the other side of London.

City Mill River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-34_2400
This path beside the City Mill River was well trodden during the fishing season. 1983

This was clearly a liminal area, on the edge of London and in some respects on the edge of society, even though it was surrounded on all sides by the city which now sprawls out much further east. In it there were also areas of wilderness, with paths beside the various streams of the River Lea across the area often overgrown and some largish areas of now disused land.

Caravan, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1982 32w-45_2400
Behind the caravan was the Queen Mary College nuclear engineering dept building. 1982

One large building next to the Pudding Mill River was the nuclear engineering department of Queen Mary College, which in 1966 had the first nuclear reactor of any UK university. This very small reactor was decommissioned about the time I made the picture which shows it behind a caravan and lorries parked beside the road.

Jerome Engineering Ltd, Johnson-Progress Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 92-8e23_2400
Jerome Engineering Ltd, Johnson-Progress Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

Although there was clearly considerable industry in the area, quite a few of the properties were empty. You can find more pictures from Carpenters Rd on page 3 of the Flickr album River Lea- Lea Navigation.

Asteroid Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 92-8e62_2400
Asteroid Ltd, Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35p-53_2400
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983 35q-26_2400
Carpenters Rd, Stratford, Newham, 1983

The area now is unrecognisable – part of the largely still rather arid space of the new park. And although Carpenters Road still runs through the area, its sides are bare and bleak apart from the Aquatics Centre.


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.


Deep in the Olympic Area

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-33_2400
Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

I titled my self-published book put together in 2010 on the Lee Valley ‘Before the Olympics‘ because many of the pictures in it were taken in an area that was then being largely destroyed for a few weeks of sporting activities in 2012.

Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e51_2400
Footbridge, Carpenters Lock, Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992

It was an area that over the previous 25 or so years had held a particular fascination for me as a post-industrial wilderness close to the centre of London, one of the world’s greatest cities. Within a few yards of busy major roads I could find myself struggling to walk along overgrown paths – and sometimes having to climb over or around fences to do so. For months a pair of secatuers were needed in my camera bag to cut through the brambles that barred my progress (though when I wrote earlier about this I slightly exagerrated them as a ‘machete’.)

Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-24_2400
Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

At times I spent hours wandering the area without meeting or seeing another living soul, or only across rivers, perhaps working in one of the many small businesses still at work, often in ramshackle buildings with smoke or steam emerging though ventilators or cracks. Or I would emerge from under a bridge or around a corner to see large industrial structures such as oil storage tanks.

Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-34_2400
Old River Lea, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

It was of course an area that was bound to change, but not in the way it has. And the old was in some respects dystopian. Many of the remaining businesses were the kind that we like to hide away on the fringes, perhaps necessary but best kept out of sight. The River Lea was during the worst years of the development of industry the outer boundary of London, inside which there was a long history of restrictions to curb the activities of the most noxious and polluting industries; across that boundary almost anything went and factories were set up to enjoy that licence to pollute.

Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 33x-36_2400
Old River Lee, Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983

Those years of largely unfettered industrial activity had left their toxic legacy in the soil, though some plants seemed to thrive on it. There were schemes to tidy up the area in the 1990s, with some streams and paths being cleared and the route beside the Waterworks River being decorated with art from junior schools in the area, but nature soon took it back , and a few years later I was again struggling through shoulder-high weeds.

Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e44_2400
Waterworks River, from Marshgate Lane, 1992

The Olympics were terra-forming, with tons of soil from the area being sterilised, tons being dumped elsewhere in landfill, and virgin soil brought in, in part from building work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. A new landscape emerged, retaining the watery outlines of the old, along with the Greenway and the major rail routes but with different land, and none of what was previously present on the rest of its surface, though with new white elephants fast being constructed.

Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-43_2400
Waterworks River from Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983
Waterworks River, Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1992 92-8e32_2400
Waterworks River, 1992
Footbridge, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-32_2400
Stratford Marsh, 1983
Marshgate Lane, Stratford Marsh, Newham, 1983 35p-36_2400
Marshgate Lane, 1983

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.


Hackney Wick Allotments

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

Allotments, Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1983 36o-15_2400

One story is that some time in the late 1870s boys in the King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor, the chapel of Eton School were visited by an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary which led them to set up a charitable settlement in Hackney Wick, then one of the most deprived areas of London. It was a time when other similar settlements were being set up elsewhere in the capital and the history of St Mary of Eton states that “In 1880, William How, Bishop of Bedford, persuaded the masters and boys of Eton College to establish a mission and support a priest in … Hackney Wick.”

The Grade II* listed church of St Mary of Eton with St Augustine, according to the listing text “was built 1890-2 to the designs of George Frederick Bodley, under the title Bodley and Garner. Enlarged 1910-12 at the west end, with vestries and tower added by Cecil Hare, Bodley’s successor.” This also calls William How “first Bishop of Wakefield”. The St Augustine was added to its title when parishes were combined in 1953.

Allotments, Waterden Rd, Hackney Wick, Hackney, 1982 32z-53_2400

As well as providing a church there were other buildings used for various clubs and actitivites, including a Boys Club was established by the mission in 1880 and various sporting activities including the Eton Mission Rowing Club founded in 1885. Many Old Etonians came to support the mission, including Gerald Wellesley, a grandson of the Duke of Wellington, who together with Alfred Ralph Wagg, Sir Edward Cadogan and Arthur George Child-Villiers, in 1909 set up an Old Boys’ Club independent of the Mission. Various other clubs were formed as subsidiaries to this, including a short-lived ‘Junior Bachelors’ Club’ which rewarded members with four trips a year for promising they would not ‘walk out with young ladies’. As most who joined failed to keep their promise the club was soon abandoned.

The Bridge over the River Lea to Manor Gardens allotments. 2007

During the First World War there were shortages of food due to the torpedoing of British merchant ships bringing provisions from the colonies, and the club made parts of 30 acres of land across the River Lea from Hackney Wick, in Leyton available to club members as allotments. By the 1920s the main figure in the Eton Manor clubs was Major Villiers, a director of Barings bank, and one of the allotment gates I photographed in 1982 has the notice ‘Major A Villiers Gardening Club Private’ on it. The second pleads ‘Please Leave The Old Age Pension Plots Along You May Get Old One Of Thes Days’ – the Old Boys had grown very old over the years. Major Villiers lived in a house on the Eton Manor Boys Club sports grounds, known as the Wilderness on Ruckholt Rd and Temple Mill Lane from 1913 until his death in 1969 but decided in 1967 to close the club.

One of the 80 plots at Manor Gaardens. 2007

One of these allotment areas, reached by a bridge on a road leading over the River Lea was the Manor Gardens Allotments, and this continued to be a thriving community there until it was evicted in 2008 when its land was taken for a path in the London 2012 Olympic site. The allotment holders put up a strong fight to be allowed to remain in situ, but although the land they were on was not a vital part of the site, they very much represented an activity which the promoters of elite sports felt was undesirable. They had to go, along with the pylons and Hackney Wicks vibrant graffiti in a tidying up of the area which left it sterile – and from which it is only now beginning to recover some atmosphere.

2007

Manor Gardens put up a strong fight to remain, enlisting the support of many celebrities (though unfortunately the links with Eton had long disappeared or they might have been more successful.) I paid a number of visits to the allotments and various events they organised. The colour pictures heres are from their New Year Feast in January 2007, which included a runner with a mock Olympic flame who lit the bonfire, several celebrity speeches, an exhibition and a party.

A runner stands ready with the ‘Olympic Flame’. 2007
and uses it to light the bonfire. 2007
And the party continues. 2007

For those of us concerned about the environment (and there are now rather more than when the 2012 Olympics were being planned) the failure to preserve the Manor Gardens allotments was a real missed opportunity. It could have been seen as a golden opportunity to give the games some green credibility behind the lip-service the bid gave to biodiversity and sustainability, and certainly as a commitment to the post-2012 legacy of the games – to leave sites such as Manor Gardens and the adjoining nature reserve as a green centrepiece to the site. Unfortunately the architects and developers seem hell-bent to create a brown Olympics, creating an irredeemably distressed site that will only be economically recoverable when all the concrete has crumbled.

It would be a great shame to lose this splendid facility for four weeks of use in 2012, when it could easily be built around. It isn’t in a critical area but will simply be under concrete as a footpath, and probably also the site of a huge advertising ‘scoreboard’ for the games sponsor.

What will it say about the 2012 Olympics for a site that is currently a beacon for healthy green eating to be used for selling big macs?

New Year Feast – Manor Garden Allotments

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.