Posts Tagged ‘London Bridge’

Blessing the Thames & Southwark Walk

Friday, January 14th, 2022

The Bishop of Woolwich throws a wooden cross into the River Thames to bless the waters. 

Sunday 14th January 2007 was a pleasant day for me. The weather was good, a bright winter day and I was up in London to photograph a very positive event, the Blessing of the River Thames, with plenty of time too for me to wander around one of my favourite areas of the city, south of the river in Southwark.

In the first ten years of this millennium I photographed a wide range of religious events that take place on the streets of London, particularly by Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. But there seem to be rather fewer Christian festivals that are celebrated in public, though I think there have been more in recent years, with more public events in particular each year on Good Friday.

The procession comes from Southwark Cathedral

But the Blessing of the Thames is a recent addition, begun in 2004 by Father Philip Warner when he was appointed to the City of London church of St Magnus The Martyr, inspired by similar ceremonies he had experienced in the Orthodox Church in Serbia.

And is met by those from St Magnus at the centre of the bridge

St Magnus The Martyr was Sir Christopher Wren’s most expensive parish church and the traveller’s route into the City of London across the medieval London Bridge, in use from 1209 to 1831 led directly through its entrance porch under its tower after the church was rebuilt around 1676. Until 1729 when Putney got a bridge it was the only way across the river except by boat downstream of Kingston Bridge.

The church is one of the most interesting in London and well worth a visit, and among its treasures includes a very large modern model of the Old London Bridge. This was completed by ex-policeman David T Aggett in 1987, a year after his heart transplant, and found a willing home here after the Museum of London turned it down. A member and past Steward of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, Aggett died a year ago at the age of 91.

You can find out more about the various editions of London Bridge from various bloggers including Laura Porter on Londontopia. Close to the south end of the bridge (which had a chapel on it dedicated to St Thomas which was the official start of pilgrimages to Canterbury) was the Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, until the dissolution in 1538 part of Southwark Priory and since 1905 Southwark Cathedral.

Processions from both churches met at the centre of the new London Bridge completed in 1972 for a brief service with prayers for all those who work on the river and in particular for those killed close to this point in the 1989 sinking of the marchioness close by, which climaxed with the Bishop of Woolwich throwing a wooden cross into the River Thames to bless the waters.

Ofra Zimballsta, Climbers, 1996-8, Borough High St

I’d come up earlier to take a walk around Southwark and Bermondsey and photograph some of the buildings, both old and new, in the area. Back in the 1990s when Desk Top Publishing was in its infancy I had written and published a walk leaflet (now a free download though a little out of date) on West Bermondsey which sold several hundred copies, and it was interesting to visit a part of this again.

#

When first produced, this walk was printed on a dot-matrix printer, though later copies were made on a black and white laser – an HP Laserjet 1100 still in use over 20 years later on my wife’s computer running Ubuntu.

I think I asked 20p for the leaflet, and using cheap third-party laser toners on cheap thin card it cost only a couple of pence to produce, though printing on dot-matrix was slow the laser speeded up things considerably – once the page was in printer memory it rattled off copies fairly quickly.

In 2007 there were few photographers at the Blessing of the River, but blogging was growing fast and more and more people were using camera phones. The following year I wasn’t able to get such good pictures as there were too many people jumping in front of me and obscuring my view. Photographers do sometimes get in each other’s way, but we do try to respect others, something which doesn’t even seem to occur to the newcomers.

But rather than go for a walk I did go with those celebrating the event and have lunch in the crypt of St Magnus, after which I took a few pictures inside the church, then rather thick with incense.

Scroll down the January 2007 page on My London Diary for more pictures of Blessing the Thames & Southwark Walk.


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City Road & London Bridge

Monday, November 8th, 2021

My last walk in May 1988 ended around the City Road which I walked down to catch the ‘drain’ back to Waterloo. In 1988 Bank Station on the Waterloo and City line still was a part of British Rail, and was one of the ‘London Termini’ for which my ticket from the suburbs was valid. Until it was transferred to London Underground in 1994 it provided a cheap route for me into to centre of the City.

Wesley statue, Wesley's Chapel, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-64-positive_2400
Wesley statue, Wesley’s Chapel, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-64

Wesley’s Chapel and Leysian Mission at 49 City Road calls itself the Mother Church of World Methodism. Wesley employed the surveyor of the City of London, George Dance the Younger as his architect and the builder was a member of his congregation; the church is Grade I listed despite considerable alterations in the Victorian era and later. When built it was Church of England Church, as Methodism only became a separate church after his death.

The best bit about the Grade II listed statue of Wesley, created in 1891 by Adams Acton is probably the plinth and the wording below the statue ‘THE WORLD IS MY PARISH’. I particularly liked the shadow of the lantern above the entrance on the door below.

Honourable Artillery Company, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-65
Finsbury Barracks, Honourable Artillery Company, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-65

This Grade II listed ‘castle’ on City Road was designed by Joseph A Jennings in 1857 as a barracks for the Royal London Militia. It later became the home for City of London Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve, and since 1961 has been part of the Honourable Artillery Company estate.

When I was very young I had a very secondhand and battered toy fort for my toy soldiers, and either it was based on this building or this building had been based on it.

Lakeside Terrace,  Barbican, City, 1988 88-6a-56-positive_2400
Lakeside Terrace, Barbican, City, 1988 88-6a-56

I think there had just been a shower of rain – and perhaps I had walked into the Barbican to shelter from it and perhaps view the exhibitions in its free spaces. Though I did go also to the major photographic shows that were held there, often taking students to see them. But this walk was in the Whitsun half-term.

But the terrace is clearly wet and there are no people sitting on the many chairs, although a few perch on the low brick walls. At right is the City of London School for Girls.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-36-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-36

My rail ticket could also take me to London Bridge, and my first walk in June on Saturday 8th began there. I went to London Bridge but didn’t cross it, instead staying on the south bank, and taking this slightly curious picture in which the River Thames appears only as a thin rectangle underneath the white rectangle of Adelaide House. When completed in 1925 this now Grade II listed building was the City’s tallest office block, 43 metres – 141 ft – high.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-33-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-33

Looking up into the office block at 1 London Bridge Street it’s hard to distinguish reflection from reality as I’m sure architects John S. Bonnington Partnership intended. Completed two years earlier in 1986 it was still a rather startling building.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-24-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-24

The steps to the riverside walkway go through the corner of 1 London Bridge and over them are some buildings from the Victorian era on the opposite side of Borough High St and the pinnacles of Southwark Cathedral. I seem to have chosen another rainy day for a walk.

Tooley St, Abbots Lane, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-61-positive_2400
Tooley St, Abbots Lane, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-61

I walked east not on the riverside walk, but along Tooley St and photographed this building on the corner of Abbots Lane, a street that has now more or less disappeared and is simply a vehicle entrance to PricewaterhouseCoopers buildin in More London. This former Fire Brigade Headquarters built in 1879, architect George Vulliamy, was for many years the model for other fire stations and the headquarters of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and its training centre for firefighters. It now houses the Brigade Bar and Kitchen, opened in September 2011 by Chef Founder Simon Boyle, a social enterprise which together with the Beyond Food Foundation gives apprenticeships to people who have been at risk of or have experienced homelessness.

It had been the great fire of Tooley Street in 1861 that led to the formation of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in 1862, the greatest fire in London since 1666. Many of the riverside warehouses went up in flames over two days and the man in charge of the firefighters, Mr James Braidwood, was killed when a building collapsed. There have been many fires in Tooley St since, and in 1971 Wilson’s Wharf was the site of the ‘Second Great Fire of Tooley St’, with 50 pumps fighting the fire that started in an unoccupied refrigerated warehouse. The area destroyed is now the site of Southwark Crown Court.

Tumonte House, Tooley Hotel, Tooley St, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-62-positive_2400
Tumonté House, Tooley Hotel, Tooley St, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-62

These were fairly typical of the tall warehouse buildings that line much of Tooley Street. I’m unable to identify the exact locations of these buildings which don’t quite seem to match any of those left standing. The negative has been badly damaged at bottom right and since it only affects the roadway and a car I’ve not bothered to try to repair it.

Anchor Brewhouse, Butlers Wharf, Tower Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-63-positive_2400
Anchor Brewhouse, Butlers Wharf, Tower Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-63

The picture shows the large amount of building work that was taking place along this section of the bank by Higgs and Hill and McAlpine. It seems too that barges were being used to take away some of the rubble.

Tower Bridge, Control Room, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-64-positive_2400
Tower Bridge, Control Room, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-64

I have never understood why quite so many levers were needed to raise two sections of roadway to open the bridge for river traffic. There seem to be two handles to turn around at the end furtherst from my camera and a superfluity of dials at top left.

I think I crossed Tower Bridge and made my way to Tower Gateway for the DLR. The station had opened the previous August and my walk continued from Crossharbour on the Isle of Dogs – in another post. Before the opening of the Jubilee Line this was probably the quickest route there.


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Class War, Murdoch & Cross Bones

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

I began my work on Saturday 28th March 2015 meeting with a small group from Class War in Purley, a Surrey suburb south of Croydon, who had gone there to launch the general election campaign of Class War’s candidate Jon Bigger.

Jon is now Dr Jon Bigger, and his PhD thesis at Loughborough University was on “British anarchist group Class War with a specific focus on their approach to the general election of 2015. As anarchists tend to shun concepts like representation, even within their own ranks, as well as working towards the ending of the state, the groups’ electoral behaviour is worthy of close investigation. The study is ethnographic in nature providing a detailed account of how the group operates, its norms, values, structure and methods of organising.”

His work was very much as an insider, one of seven candidates the group backed at the 2015 election, all of whom lost their £500 deposits. The election campaigns were a form of direct action rather than an attempt to actually be elected, “one that ruptures the norms of electoral campaigning, providing the group with new avenues for activity.”

You can read more of Bigger’s views on his web site Jon Bigger: A Journal of Anarchy and in regular features elsewhere. South Croydon was always going to be a tough constituency for anarchist views and the 65 votes he got were probably more than expected – and recorded on the parliament web site as a 0.1% increase which perhaps compares well with the -16.9% of the Lib Dem candidate.

Jon Bigger makes his election address outside the Tory Pary HQ

My main surprise about the event was the almost complete emptiness of central Purley on a Saturday morning – avery windy desert where Class War found it difficult to find anyone to talk to other than the group of police – roughly the same number as them – who doggedly followed them around happily earning their overtime. Purley man (and woman) appears to have lost the use of their legs, only managing the short distance from supermarket car park to supermarket.

I was sorry not to be able to relax with Class War in the pub after their strenuous campaigning, but had to get back to London Bridge where Occupy Rupert Murdoch week was continuing outside the News International building at London Bridge with the People’s Trial of Rupert Murdoch.

Inevitably he was found guilty, but the sentence seemed extremely mild. My account continues:

Max Keiser then spoke about the economic fraud and the basis of our economic system. London is the the world’s largest tax haven, and the whole basis of the City is corrupt, allowing people to borrow money on the basis of their earlier borrowing in a system that seems rather too much like the Emperor’s new clothes which began to crash in 2008. He ended by handing out StartCOIN scratch cards with free money on them (“The currency of the revolution”) but I think I lost mine. Always been hopeless with money.

Occupy Rupert Murdoch

I decided not to stay on for the attempt to occupy the News International building at 7pm, but was tired and decided to leave it to my colleagues to cover. Rather to my surprise it was successful, with protesters managing to stay in the building for around 20 hours, but it got little or no media coverage. Even Murdoch’s competitors didn’t want to get on his wrong side by covering the event – as I commented “Those 5 billionaires obviously stick together and the BBC always seeks to marginalise any UK protest. Probably there was some important news about a minor celebrity hiccoughing.

I’d earlier seen two men in what looked like Victorian dress on the pavement outside a pub close to News International and had gone over to talk with them. The told me that they were attending an Open Day at the nearby Cross Bones Graveyard. It’s a place I’d visited before, where outcasts who were refused burial in churchyards had been buried until it was closed as overcrowded in 1853. Among them were many ‘Winchester Geese’ prostitutes licenced by the Lord Bishop of Winchester from 1142 on, whose taxes and fines provided a considerable income for the clergy, and their young children. Museum of London excavations of part of the site carried out for the Jubilee Line extension suggest that half of the around 15,000 burials there were of children.

Local writer John Constable (right, above) revived the story of Cross Bones through his cycle of poems and mystery plays, ‘The Southwark Mysteries’, and regular ceremonies and vigils now take place there. In 2020 Southwark Council granted a 20 year lease to Bankside Open Spaces to protect and maintain the graveyard as a public garden of remembrance.

More at:
Cross Bones Open Day
Murdoch on Trial – Guilty as charged
Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon


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


City Walk 2004

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

I can’t remember exactly why I went up to London on 16th December 2004, but my pictures taken that day tell me fairly clearly the route that I took, taking me in a rather roundabout fashion from London Bridge to a meeting with someone at the Museum of London.

It was a fine day, and I’d obviously decided to take an early train to give me time to wander and take a few photographs before the meeting, arriving at London Bridge Station over an hour before. I can tell this because I was using a digital camera, my first interchangeable lens digital camera, a Nikon D100 and can read the times the images were made from the Exif data embedded in the files – such as the example below.

1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 400
Mode: P, Meter: Matrix, No Flash, Auto WB
Focal: 52mm, 16/12/2004 14:49:27, Adobe RGB (1998)
6.1MP (3,030×2,021) NIKON D100

I only used one lens, the very versatile 18-125mm f3.5-f5.6 Sigma lens, a relatively light and compact zoom that really showed the advantage of the DX system over the later bulkier full-frame lenses. I imagine its test results wouldn’t quite match those of more expensive Nikon glass, but the images seem fine and sharp looking at them now.

Although the D100 was only a 6 Mp camera, this provided images at 3030 x 2021 that were large enough for most repro purposes and gave me excellent prints at 12×8″ and even larger – one picture from it – taken with another Sigma lens – went on exhibition 2.3m wide and paid well.

I think I will have taken these pictures using RAW files, though it would take me a while to locate these on a backup disk, and I only have jpegs and some tiff files to view on my current system. Software for converting from RAW has improved significantly since 2004 and I would almost certainly be able to produce some improvements, in particular reducing the little colour noise present in some. But I think they are fine as they stand.

I arrived at the meeting presumably on time but can tell you nothing about it other than it probably lasted for a little over an hour and came out to make my way home a little after 4.30pm, by which time it was dark. I took a picture of Shakespeare’s bust using the D100’s built-in flash – which came out as badly as you would expect, one in the interior of No 1 Poultry you see here, and then stood still for a final picture on the moving walkway taking me down to the ‘drain’ (Waterloo & City line) to Waterloo for the train home.

A few more pictures from the walk and others from December 2004 on My London Diary. It was a month I also visited Mucking (its in Essex) and photographed ‘Fathers For Justice’ protesting in Santa suits and took a couple of walks close to where I live. All have something of a sepia quality – thanks to the raw conversion – which I find quite appealing and perhaps nostalgically appropriate.


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.