Posts Tagged ‘museum of london’

Around the City – 1987

Friday, October 30th, 2020
Bank of Kuwait, Bank of England, reflection, Cornhill, City, 1987 87-8k-56a-positive_2400

I can’t now remember why I went to Bank and the heart of the City of London – the world’s greatest money laundering operation. But I do remember thinking how appropriate it was to make this picture of the Bank of England reflected and framed by the Bank of Kuwait. I’ve never found the Bank of England, secretive behind its tall wall, easy to photograph.

Roman Wall, Cooper's Row, CIty, 1987 87-8l-01-positive_2400

I’ve always found this section of wall on Cooper’s Row one of the more interesting of the 21 sites on the Museum of London’s Roman Wall Walk set up in 1984. You can see one of their orientation boards in the picture, though I think ten of the others have been swallowed up in the rebuilding of parts of London or by vandalism.

87-8l-31-positive_2400

Sceptre Court on Tower Hill lies just outside the city, and was clearly under construction when I took this picture. The 90,000 sq ft building is rather less interesting now and is currently completely occupied by The London School of Business and Finance. The building was recently sold to “a Middle Eastern investor” and is among many London buildings – including many government offices – owned by overseas investors often in offshore tax havens. Sceptre Court is one of the teaching sites of Arden University, a private, for-profit teaching university with head offices in Coventry.

Aldgate Pump, Fenchurch Street, Leadenhall Street, City, 1987 87-8k-26-positive_2400

Aldgate Pump is the symbolic starting point of London’s East End. A well on this site was first recorded around 1200. The Grade II listing of this structure describes it as “Apparently C18, altered.” The spout is a wolf’s head, and legend states that the last wolf in the City was shot near here, probably in around 1500. The wolf is one of the later additions, probably from around 1900. Until 1876 the water came from a local underground stream and was then the source of a major cholera outbreak.

Although earlier the water had been praised for being “bright, sparkling, and cool, and of an agreeable taste”, people began to complain of a foul tast and several hundred died. The stream was found to be running through several underground cemeteries including some of the plague pits. The pump was then moved a short distance to its current position to allow widening and connected to a healthier water supply from the New River Company. The pump is being restored and a replica lantern being made to replace that lost around 115 years ago.

Devotees of Cockney rhyming slang allege that getting an ‘Aldgate’, short for Aldgate Pump is used to mean ‘hump’ or upset and annoyed. ‘A draft on Aldgate Pump’ has also been used a punning reference for a worthless or fraudulent financial transaction.

Tower Gateway, DLR, Minories, City, 1987 87-8l-44-positive_2400

Tower Gateway DLR station opened in 1987 as the western terminus of the Docklands Light Railway. Although derided by many as a ‘Toytown railway’ it has proved itself a useful addition to transport in east London, serving some parts which were previously very poorly provided.

Tower Gateway, DLR, Minories, City, 1987 87-8l-56-positive_2400
Crescent, City, 1987 87-8l-54-positive_2400

Crescent was a Georgian development close to the Tower of London, part of a plan by architect George Dance the Younger (1741-1825) which also included America Square to the north and a smaller ‘Circus’ of houses to the south linked by Vine St. It ran in a line parallel to Minories a short distance the west. One of the first planned residential developments in London it was completed in 1767-74. The developer was Sir George Hammet and the short street connecting Crescent to Minories is Hammet St.

The Circus was almost completely destroyed in the ‘Second Great Fire of London’ caused by German fire-bombs on 29-30th December 1940 when around 100,000 incendiary bombs caused incredible damage. Only one house was left standing of the ten built in a tight circle. In poor condition, this was evntually demolished in 1975 for a road widening scheme. The granite roadway of the circus is still present as part of a small public garden at the edge of the road.

Parts of America Square to the north were lost when the railway into Fenchurch St station was built in 1841, and the rest devastated by wartime bombing. Crescent fared just a little better, with the Metropolitan railway requiring demolition of five of the 11 houses, and bombing destroing another four, leaving only two of the originals standing. In the early 1980s a painstaking reconstruction to the original plans added four replicas to them. Only the left-most part of my picture is one of the originals, the rest are the replicas. There have been some small changes since I took my picture. You can read more about the area on the Commuter Consultant’s admirable Lost London blog from which much of the above information comes.

Photographs from my 1987 London Photos album. Clicking on any of the above pictures will take you directly to the album where a larger view is available.


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

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


Secret Rivers

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Just opened at the Museum of London Docklands is the exhibition Secret Rivers, which is worth going to see if you are around – and is free. Not all of the rivers featured are secret – they include the Thames and the Lea – but they are all of interest. As well as videos and maps and pictures including a few photographs there are also objects found in the rivers on display.

I’ll leave more general comments about the show to the reviews listed at the bottom of this post, but say a little more about my own minor contribution, the picture above of the DLR being built across the not very secret Bow Creek which I made in morning fog back in 1992. It was one of around a dozen images of the DLR extension shown as part of a group show on Transport at the Museum of London later that year.

I’d left home early on a Sunday morning in mid-January as a fine morning with clear sky was dawning, catching the first early morning train to Richmond then the North London Link to Canning Town. As we approached the destination I was disappointed to find everywhere was shrouded in mist; had I known I would have stayed in bed at home!

I’d recently bought what was then the most expensive camera I’d ever owned, a new Japanese Widelux 35mm model, a rotating swing lens camera, which had cost me around £2000 (equivalent to around £7000 today allowing for inflation) and had decided this was an ideal project to make use of its unique characteristics.

I was pretty fed up with the mist, as I wanted nice clear pictures, and it was also much colder than I’d anticipated in the mist, but as I’d spent a couple of hours travelling to the location I decided to take some pictures, and stuck at it for an hour or two, making around 40 exposures – roughly two films. The camera gave around 21 exposures on a normal 36x 35mm casette with negatives the same width as those made with a 6×6 camera but only 24mm tall.

It was a slow job, as the camera had to be carefully levelled on a tripod for each picture, otherwise the horizon would appear curved. The viewfinder was imprecise, and I soon learnt it was better to rely on the two arrows on the top plate which indicated the field of view to visualise the result.

The camera used no batteries, but was clockwork and entirely manual. Winding on the film also wound the shutter and rotated the lens, held in a vertical cylinder in front of the curved film behind, to its starting point. On pressing the shutter release, a slit behind the lens opened to epose the film as the lens rotated around a roughly 130 degree arc. I think the shutter speed was probably 1/125 s, based on the exposure of any point on the film, but it took perhaps 1/30th for the slit to travel across the film as the lens rotated.

I calculated the exposure using a separate hand-held meter, a Weston Master V, which could make relected light readings as in-camera meters do or, with the aid of a curiously shaped lump of translucent plastic, it could measure the light falling on your subject, almost certainly what I used for these pictures in the fog. The Weston meters used a selenium photo cell around two inches in diameter, which generated enough electricity to power the meter, and again needed no battery.

I’d walked from Canning Town down the Silvertown Way and over the Lower Lea Crossing to where the DLR crossed the creek. The mist I think was rather thicker than it looks in the picture, and I could hardly see Pura Foods. I took a few more pictures then my way back via the East India Dock Road to Canning Town cold and disappointed. It seemed to me to have been a wasted day – and I came back a week later to retake the images in clear daylight.

Once I’d developed and printed the films a couple of weeks later, I realised that although for most of what I’d taken the mist really spoiled the pictures, this image, with the viaduct disappearing into the distance was rather special. It remains one of my most widely published and exhibited works, but is the only one from that foggy day day that appears on my River Lea website.

More about the Secret Rivers show at:
Londonist
London Live (video)
The Guardian
Evening Standard
MuseumCrush

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images