Posts Tagged ‘Newham’

Halloween Housing Protest 2016

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

Focus E15 and their cockroaches try to enter the offices of Theori Housing Management

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide accommodation for families who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, which is described under the 1996 Housing Act and subsequent measures. Many housed under this are placed in temporary accommodation, and this currently includes around 95,000 households across the UK, of which roughly 60% are families with children. Local authorities now spend over a billion pounds a year on this mainly to private providers.

Protesters dressed as cockroaches which infest rooms at Boundary House

Much of this money is spent on accommodation that is unsatisfactory for various reasons, and it often involves placing people outside their local areas, particularly for London boroughs, who currently have over 21,000 households in this situation. The numbers have increased significantly (partly due to Covid) since 2016 when Focus E15 took this action on behalf of families living in rooms in Boundary House, a hostel in Welwyn Garden City which have leaking roofs and mould on the walls, are infested with cockroaches, have upper floor windows that children could easily fall out of and dangerous faulty appliances.

Boundary House in Welwyn Garden City is managed by Theori Housing Management

Theori Housing Management, a private limited company incorporated in 2000 is one of a number of companies which local authorities including including Waltham Forest and Newham make use of to provide temporary accommodation. The campaigners call on boroughs to stop using companies like Theori who provide sub-standard housing and fail to keep it in good order, and say councils should house Londoners in London where they have schools, friends and jobs.

Several residents and former residents of Boundary House were at the protest, but others are scared of being evicted or cannot afford to travel – the return off-peak adult rail fare in 2016 was almost £15. This and the time the journey takes make it almost impossible for those with jobs in London to continue to work. Residents in Boundary House who contact Theori Housing Management with complaints say they are hung up on, placed on hold for hours and called liars, ignored, insulted and patronised.

The door of Theori Housing Management is firmly closed against the protesters

They accuse Waltham Forest Council of adopting what can only be called the ‘Nelson’ approach, refusing to see any of the problems at Boundary House and similar properties. Housing departments are hard-pressed by anti-social government policies and cuts in funding, but this is no excuse for their failure to provide decent accommodation – and certainly not for using management companies that fail to provide decent housing and proper customer service.

Protesters with posters and photographs showing the terrible condition of Boundary House

It isn’t about money but about competence, and about a lack of care for those most in need in the community, the people that councils and mayors like Newham’s Robin Wales (now replaced) are on record as saying should not be living in the borough, where vast luxury housing developments are welcome, but social housing is hardly on the agenda.

As well as speeches and leafleting there was also a Halloween Party outside the Theori Housing Management office

Focus E15 also point to the Carpenters Estate in Newham, where hundreds of properties in better condition than Boundary House have been empty and boarded up for ten years or more as the council has explored various schemes to sell off what was a popular estate. They say Newham has taken out ill-advised loans which have resulted in incredible repayments of interest.

Five years later most of those properties on the Carpenters Estate remain empty, some since 2005, and Newham Council have recently announced a ballot of the remaining residents on a redevelopment scheme which would involve demolition of around 710 existing homes. The Planning Inspector’s report on the Local Plan to the London Legacy Development Corporation published in April 2020 stated “most residents in the Greater Carpenters area are expressing the wish to remain where they live now and would resist comprehensive redevelopment and the inevitable disruption and community displacement, even if those with a ‘right to remain’ would be invited back later to live in the area”.

More on the 2016 protest at Cockroaches at Theori Housing Management and more about Focus E15 campaigns and the Carpenters Esatate on their web site.


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


Housing in Crisis – Newham 2015

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Six years ago I posted about a march through Stratford on Saturday 19th September against social cleansing in Newham, where the council has been rehousing people in private rented properties outside the borough, sometimes as far away as Wales or Liverpool. The directly elected Mayor of this almost monolithically Labour borough until 2018, Robin Wales, made clear his views that if people couldn’t afford to live in London they shouldn’t expect to live there, and council policies appear to reflect this. But Newham – and London generally – needs large numbers of relatively low paid workers – and Covid has helped us appreciate their contribution. Many, even those in jobs well above the London Living Wage, can’t afford market rents and certainly not to buy homes.

Local people, many of whom have lived in the area for years and have developed connections in the area – friends, families, schools etc – who for any reason become homeless want to be rehoused close to these people and services and demand that local resources be used to house local people.

Newham currently in 2021 has 27,000 people on its housing waiting list and 7,000 children in temporary accommodation. Until very recently the few social homes that were available were allocated using a system that gave priority to those in work and the new system will instead focus on health, need and overcrowding.

But the real problem that there is simply not enough social housing remains, and this is more the fault of national government policies over the years, under both Tory and New Labour. The most obvious and and damaging was of course Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ which has drastically reduced to number of social housing homes, and in particular removed many of the more desirable properties, but councils have also been largely prevented by successive governments from building new and much needed social housing, as well as being starved of the cash needed to properly maintain existing properties and estates.

Many existing council estates were transferred to housing associations, which increasingly seem to be catering for those able to afford the very high ‘market’ rents in London. Councils too, thanks to New Labour housing policies have been demolishing council estates and developing the sites together with private developers to produce mainly homes for sale at high market prices, with often a great reduction in the number of social housing homes available.

Newham has seen a huge amount of building housing in recent years, both on the former Olympic site and elsewhere, with more tower blocks every time I visit the area, but almost all are high rent properties suited to young professionals, mainly working outside the borough, residencies for wealthier students, or expenive investment properties – usually bought with no intention of being lived in but simply to benefit from the increases in London property prices.

In 2013, Newham announced it was going to close a hostel for young single mothers who would then be dispersed in rented flats across England. The women decided to fight and the Focus E15 campaign began. Backed by members of the Revolutionary Communist Group and others who supported them in direct actions that often gained media coverage their fight succeeded and they became well-known nationally and developed into a much wider campaign for proper housing, particularly supporting others in the area with housing problems. As well as holding a street stall in the centre of Stratford every Saturday they accompanied people to the housing offices, gathered to prevent evictions and more.

The march in 2015, two years after the start of their campaign attracted the support of over 40 other organisations, mainly small local groups from around London and the South-East also fighting housing problems. Fortunately not all of them had speakers at the rally before the march but there were quite a few before it moved off from Stratford Park to march around the Town Centre.

As the ‘Housing for All’ march passed Foxton’s estate agency in the centre of Stratford, Class War rushed inside with their ‘New Homes for the Rich’ banner and staged a brief occupation while most of the marchers supported them from outside. They caused no damage and left after a few minutes for the march to continue.

There was another brief halt outside LB Newham’s Housing Office at Bridge House, which was closed. The marchers held banners and posed for photographs and Focus E15 spoke briefly about how their interventions here have prevented homless people from being sent to unsuitable private rented accomodation hundreds of miles away, getting them re-housed in London.

The march ended in the square on the Carpenters Estate in front of the block of four flats which Focus E15 occupied for four weeks as a protest a year earlier. This had made the national news and had ended with the council promising to bring some homes back into occupation – though a year later only 28 of around the 400 empty homes had been re-let. There were a few more speeches and then a party began.


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.


Fire Risk Tower Blocks

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

Newham 12 August 2017

Ferrier Point, Canning Town

In the now over four years since the disastrous Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 there has been little change and no reckoning, with a tediously slow inquiry taking place that began by shifting blame unfairly onto the firefighters but is at last making clear some of the deliberate failures by local government, manufacturers and installers of the fatal cladding and others with a complete disregard for the safety of those living in the tower.

Cladding was not of course the only issue, and there were many other failings that led to the terrible loss of life. Most basic was the attitude of governments of both parties towards health and safety issues, describing essential safety regulations as “red tape” and dismantling what were essential checks to increase the profitability of builders and developers and reduce the liabilities of building owners. It was a system that needed reforming and strengthening, perhaps learning from practice in other countries to provide effective control and not abandoning to commercial whim.

Most of what has emerged in the inquiry only reinforces what was already made clear from informed reports – such as that by Architects for Social Housing – within weeks of the fire, adding truly shameful detail to the broader outline. It surely should have come out in courts within months of the fire and some of those responsible might well be behind bars and companies charged with massive fines, and the main point of the inquiry seems to be to prevent the course of justice.

A resident of Tanner Point speaking

Local authorities and building owners have been forced to inspect their high-rise properties, and the government has provided at lest some of the money it promised to replace unsafe cladding in the public sector. But little has been done for those living in private blocks who are still living in fear and now pay increased charges for extra fire safety provisions. A parliamentary briefing paper estimates the total cost of replacement of unsafe cladding at around £15m, and so far government has come up with a third of that. Government policy has changed from the initial promise to fund “remediation of historical safety defects, to a suggestion that leaseholders should be protected from unaffordable costs” and even the provision for a low interest scheme to ensure they would not pay more than £50 a month has failed to materialise despite the promise in the current Building Safety Bill.

In August 2017, a number of tower blocks in the London borough of Newham were found to have unsafe cladding. Housing activists Focus E15 Mothers led a demonstration putting pressure on the council to act urgently to make the blocks safe. The council came to a decision the following month to remove the cladding though work to do so only began in April 2018.

The march began at Ferrier Point in Canning Town, with other groups including East End Sisters Uncut, Movement for Justice, the Socialist Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, One Housing campaigners and Whitechapel Anarchists joining Focus E15 and some tower block residents.

From there they marched to Tanner Point in Plaistow North for a longer rally outside, including some speeches from tower residents. Then came another long march to Stratford and the Carpenters Estate.

The Carpenters Estate was a popular estate, close to Stratford station and the town centre, and was viewed by the council as a prime opportunity for highly profitable redevelopment schemes, wanting to demolish the estate which is well-planned and in good condition. Focus E15 led opposition that in 2013 ended plans for UCL to set up a new campus here and have constantly urged the council to bring back people to the estate where despite a critical housing shortage in the borough, 400 good homes had been kept empty for over 10 years. The march ended with a ‘hands around the Carpenters Estate’ solidarity event against decanting, demolition and social cleansing.

More pictures at Fire Risk Tower Blocks.


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.


Housing: Focus E15 – Newham Show 2016

Saturday, July 10th, 2021

Housing remains a major problem, with many people and families in London still having to live in inadequate and often dangerous conditions. It isn’t that there is a shortage of homes, as many lie empty. There is a shortage, but it is of homes that people can afford to live in.

What London desperately needs is more low-cost housing. Council housing used to provide that, and by the late 1970s almost a third of UK households lived in social housing provided on a non-profit basis. Post-war building programmes, begun under Aneurin Bevan, the Labour government’s Minister for Health and Housing led to the building of estates both in major cities and the new towns that provided high quality housing at low rents, attempting to provide homes for both the working classes and a wider community.

Successive Conservative governments narrowed the scope of public housing provision towards only providing housing for those on low income, particularly those cleared from the city slums, reducing the quality of provision and also encouraging the building of more high-rise blocks, something also favoured by new construction methods of system building. Housing became a political battle of numbers, never mind the quality.

It was of course the “right to buy” brought in under Mrs Thatcher that was a real death blow for social housing. As well as losing many of their better properties, councils were prevented from investing the cash received from the sales in new housing – and the treasury took a cut too. Tenants seemed to do well out of it, getting homes at between half and two thirds of the market price, but often having bought their homes found the costs involved were more than they could afford, particularly when repairs were needed. Many of those homes were later sold and became “buy to let” houses.

Around ten years ago I passed an uncomfortable 25 minutes of a rail journey into London when a young student with a loud public-school voice explained to two friends what a splendid scheme “buy to let” was. He was already a landlord and profiting from it. You didn’t he told them actually have to have any money, as you could borrow it against the surety of your existing property – or a guarantee from Daddy – at a reasonable rate. You then bought a house and let it out, through an agency to avoid any hassle of actually dealing with tenants. Even allowing for the agent’s fees the rents you charged would give you a return on your investment roughly twice you were paying on your loan. It was money for nothing. And so it was for those who could get banks and others to lend them money, though recent changes have made it a little less profitable.

New Labour did nothing to improve the situation, and even made things worse through encouraging local councils to carry out regeneration schemes, demolishing council estates and replacing them with a large percentage of private properties, some largely unaffordable “affordable” properties and usually a token amount of actual social housing. The situation has been was still worsened since then, both by extending the right to buy to Housing Association properties and also by changes in tenure for those still in social housing. Successive governments have also driven up both house prices and rents by various policies, particularly the subsidies for landlords provided by Housing Benefit.

I’ve written before about Focus E15, a small group based in Newham whose activities have prompted some national debate. Begun to fight council moves to close their hostel for single mothers and disperse them to privately rented accommodation across the country (like Katie in ‘I, Daniel Blake who gets sent to Newcastle), having succeeded in their fight to stay in London they widened their scope to help others fight for decent housing – particularly in Newham, where the Labour council under Mayor Robin Wales was failing to deal with some of the worst housing problems in the country – while keeping large numbers of council properties empty.

Eventually Newham got rid of Robin Wales (and their campaign almost certainly helped) but the housing problems remain. A few days ago Focus E15 tweeted

Brimstone house in Stratford is the former FocusE15 hostel, now run by Newham Council as temporary and emergency accommodation.

One of Robin Wales’ big PR operations was the annual ‘Mayor’s Newham Show’ held in Central Park. Focus E15 were stopped from handing out leaflets inside or outside the show and on 1oth July 2016 set up a stall and protest on the main road a few hundred yards away. After handing out leaflets to people walking to the show for an hour or so, they briefly occupied the balconies of the empty former Police Station opposite Newham Town Hall on the road leading to the show ground in a protest against the Mayor’s housing record and policies.

Around Three Mills

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

House Mill, Clock Mill, Three Mills Island, Bromley-by-Bow, Newham, 1981 29q-15_2400
Three Mills

Three Mills Lane which runs from Hancock Road, a short walk from Bromley by Bow Underground station takes you across the Lea Navigation and Bow Creek to a remarkable ensemble of four of Newham’s listed buildings, including the Grade I listed House Mill from 1776, the early 19th century offices and the 1817 Clock Mill, with its 1753 Clock Tower. The fourth is easy to miss, as it is the stone setts and flagstones under your feet, dating back to the 19th century.

The Clock Mill, Three Mills Island, Bromley-by-Bow, Newham, 1981 29q-13_2400

Together they make a splendid early industrial landscape, though now a little hemmed in by rather more recent flats. When I photographed there in the 1980s and 1990s, the area around was full of largely 20th century industrial sites, mainly along the navigation, and a little still remains, particularly an impressive set of gas holders (seven Grade II listings) on the southern side of the Channelsea River at the former Bromley-by-Bow gas works (which also has listings for its bridge across the canal and Bow Creek as well as its war memorial and statue of Sir Corbet Woodhall.)

Three Mills Wall River, Stratford, Newham, 1981 29t-63p_2400
Three Mills Wall River

In more normal times the House Mill, which was saved from demolition in the 1970s and has been partially restored offers reasonably priced guided tours on Sundays from May to October and at some other times as well as hosting various events. The mill is a tide mill, and is on a site recorded in the Domesday Book, with foundations dating back to the end of the 14th century. It was able to generate power for 7-8 hours a day, though the output varied with the monthly changes in tides. Together with the Clock Mill it would grind an average of 125 tons of grain a week.

Works, Lea Navigation, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1981 29t-33_2400
Works, Lea Navigation, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1981

The towpath running south from Three Mills is on a narrow strip with the navigation on the west and Bow Creek to the west, and it leads down under railway bridges to Twelvetrees Crescent (where recent stairs now allow you to go on to the bridge and continue your walk beside Bow Creek) and under the bridge to Bow Locks where you can continue along the Limehouse Cut.

Railway bridge, Wharf, Lea Navigation, Bromley -by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1981 29t-61_2400
Railway bridge, Wharf, Lea Navigation, Bromley -by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1981
Bromley-By-Bow Gasworks, Imperial Gas Light and Coke Co, Bromley-By-Bow, Newham, 1981  29q-25-6_2400
Bromley-By-Bow Gasworks, Imperial Gas Light and Coke Co, Bromley-By-Bow, Newham, 1981
Lea Navigation, Twelvtrees Crescent, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1983 36v-02_2400 (2)
Lea Navigation, Twelvtrees Crescent, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1983

You won’t see the empty lighters on the navigation that were there when I walked along here in 1983, not long after commercial traffic ended. The large pipe across in front of the bridge would have carried gas from the Bromley gas works across to deliver gas to London west of the works. The listed bridge dates from 1872. Under it you can see the bridge which takes the path across Bow Locks and on to Gillender St or to the towpath beside the Limehouse Cut.

More on page 4 of River Lea – Lea Navigation. Click any of the images above to go to larger versions on my Flickr site.


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.


Young Mums Party in Protest

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

One of the more encouraging series of protests it has been my privilege to photograph over recent years has been that begun by young single mothers who when threatened with eviction from their hostel in Stratford with Newham Council intending to disperse them into private rented accomodation often hundreds of miles away from their friends and families stood up and fought for their rights.

The mothers and their supporters met on a street corner close to East Thames Housing

The campaign by the mums from Focus E15 gained a great deal of publicity and support for their cause, and some of them became rather unlikely celebrities, speaking at conferences and other events and appearing in theatre performances. And they were largely successful both in getting the council to rehouse them locally, and also in bringing some of the worst aspects of housing policies, both national and by local authorities to the attention of a wider public. They even got me on stage in 2017.

And made their way into the foyer of East Thames Housing

Their campaign widened to a more general campaign over housing problems, particularly in the London Borough of Newham, but also becoming involved in other campaigns across London and elsewhere. Newham is a borough with huge housing problems, but also one that the local Labour Party has managed to make much worse, with policies that have deliberately left good quality council housing empty for years despite one of the longest housing waiting lists in the country.

They pose for a photograph for the local newspaper

Part of the problem with Newham lies in the creation of a directly elected mayor in 2002, the first such mayor in England. This put more power into the hands of the mayor, Robin Wales, and a small cabal of right-wing Labour members, who pursued policies to increase the economic prosperity of the area with little regard for the poorer members of the community, encouraging businesses and bringing wealthier people into the area into new private developments. Focus E15 accused Robin Wales of being a kind of reverse Robin Hood, robbing the poor to give to the rich through his policies which they labelled as ‘social cleansing’.

And then occupy the East Thames show flat for a party

Focus E15 confronted Wales on a number of occasions, and he reacted angrily at times – and later was forced to apologise. Earlier he had been involved in another fight against local residents when he wanted to replace Queen’s Market with a new development including a 31 storey tower; it was seen as so bad that even then London Mayor Boris Johnson stopped it going ahead. And under Wales, the council made some disastrous investments which have lumbered the council with huge interest payments. Newham is essentially a one-party state, but by 2016 many in the local Labour party had become disillusioned with him and wanted change. Wales managed to rig a vote to prevent other candidates standing for Mayor in 2018, but this was overturned after an outcry in the party, and in 2018 Rokhsana Fiaz was elected as mayor. Wales went off to work for the influential right-wing free-market think tank Policy Exchange.

the air is filled with hearts, stars and other shapes

I’m proud to have done a little to promote the campaigns of Focus E15 through photographing some of their events – though I”ve been unable to do so over the past year. They continued to hold a regular weekly outdoor street stall on Stratford Broadway and socially distanced protests through 2020 and hope to do so this year, despite the increased restrictions. You can read about them on their web site, where they make clear that despite the new mayor in Newham little has changed:

The struggle must go on and Focus E15 campaign enters 2021 determined to continue to build a housing movement, challenge the Labour council, give solidarity to all those fighting for housing justice, and…. Educate! Agitate! Organise! so that we expose this ruthless capitalist system and begin to work in unity together for a better future for everyone.

Focus E15 web site
An East Thames officer comes to discuss their sitation with them

The pictures here are from a protest seven years ago today, on Fri 17 Jan 2014, and I hope illustrate something of why I found them so interesting to photograph. They went into the offices of the housing association that ran the Focus E15 hostel and held a party inside the show flat there. They had good reasons to be angry and protest, and were fearless and imaginative in how made their views clear – and provided great opportunites for photography. Many protests are rather dour occasions which are hard to make interesting though our pictures, but their protests were always lively and never run-of-the-mill.

He gets some tough questioning – and states that although it’s up to the council to rehouse them, East Thames will not evict them.

At the protest they did get an assurance that they would not be evicited, though it was clear than there was a lack of trust from the mothers in this statement. I left them still partying to file my story, and after a while they also left and went to protest at the nearby council housing offices.

More at Focus E5 Mothers Party Against Eviction.


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.


November 2014

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

I had a busy week at the end of November 2014, with protests on Monday, Tuesday, two on Wednesday and three on Friday. Fortunately there was only one event I felt I needed to cover on the Saturday and I took the Sunday off; I think there were some things happening but I needed another day of rest.

2020 is rather different. The only real event in my diary is a visit to the health centre for my regular six-monthly diabetic review, though there are a couple of virtual events. Back in 2014 I got plenty of exercise covering events, but this week I’ll be going out for my now usual 10 mile bike rides most mornings. Otherwise I’ll be stuck in front of a computer writing things like this or digitising, editing and contextualising pictures I made in the 1980s, sometimes a tricky process. Back then we didn’t have metadata or geolocation and I wasn’t always good at record keeping. And when I start falling asleep at the keyboard I’ll probably watch a film.

Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith and Caroline Lucas hold a banner

Monday’s protest, on 24th November 2014, We Stand With Shaker, was in Old Palace Yard, Westminster in front of the Houses of Parliament. Present were two of my favourite MPs, Caroline Lucas and John McDonnell, as well as civil rights activist including Peter Tatchell and Clive Stafford Smith, my favourite comedian Jeremy Hardy and of course people from both the We Stand With Shaker campaign and the ‘Free Shaker Aamer Campaign’ whose regular protests I’ve often photographed.

Jeremy Hardy, Peter Tatchell and John McDonnell

Attracting a little more media attention (though not much) was music legend Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s chief songwriter, who had become involved in the campaign after hearing that Shaker Aamer recited some of his lyrics in his Guatanamo prison cell to help him keep sane in long spells of solitary confinement.


And there was Shaker Aamer. Not the man himself, still held in Guantanamo seven years after being cleared for release, but a giant inflatable figure of him for people to be photographed with holding the message ‘I stand with Shaker.‘ Someone took my picture too, but I don’t think it was ever seen again. You can see more at We Stand With Shaker. Thanks to the long campaign, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident to be held in Guantanamo was finally released on 30 October 2015.


Protesters meet in front of Newham Council’s Housing Office

I caught the train rather earlier than I liked on a cold Tuesday morning to travel across London to Stratford where I met with a small group of protesters from the housing protest group Focus E15 and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) to support a young mother and her child. Newham council had a statutory obligation to rehouse Candice and her child, but were trying to do so by sending her over 200 miles from the borough and her community to private rented accommodation in Liverpool.

Candice is allowed into the offices for her interview

The group accompanied her to the Housing Office to support her claim to be rehoused locally. Candice wanted two of them to go in with her as support in her meeting with the officials to discuss her case, but they were refused entry by council staff. Something of a ruckus with security staff on the door eventually led to the two, Jasmine and Sam, being pushed past them along with one other protester, but the rest of the group were kept outside, along with myself and two videographers.

Security stop Jasmine and Sam from going in to advise Candice

It was difficult to take photographs, though I made a few through the windows and doors despite the security staff attempting to block the view of what was happening inside.

Sam and Jasmine argue with a council official to be allowed to support Candice

I was also restricted by wanting to respect the privacy of other clients inside the office. The police arrived and went inside – and I think told the council officials to It wasn’t easy to know what was happening inside, though Sam did occasionally come to a window to try and tell us what was going on.

Sam tries to speak through a window to let those outside know what is happening

The protest continued outside the door, and unfortunately the security staff decided not to admit others who had come for interviews, despite promises by the protesters outside not to impede them or rush in.

Sam and Stan at the door to the meeting – with Jasmine sitting inside

The meeting with a housing officer was taking place inside, and through a window when Sam held the door open I could see Jasmine’s back as she sat giving her support and advice.

The protest continued outside the door, and unfortunately the security staff decided not to admit others who had come for interviews, despite promises by the protesters outside not to impede them or rush in.

Eventually one of the protesters negotiated with security to allow clients to enter by a rear door which they would not protest outside but would direct the clients too. The protesters were rather more concerned than council staff at allowing them access.

There was a bitter wind and it was wet outside, and after the meeting had been going on inside for over an hour I was shivering, despite being warmly dressed. I would have liked to have photographed the group coming out and sharing the news that Candice would be rehoused in the borough at Canning Town but decided I had to leave. By the time I was home and writing up the story I’d got the news on the group’s Facebook page.

More pictures at Focus E15 Support Homeless Mother


My week in November 2014 continues in another post…

Meridian 1

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

One of the blogs about London I keep my eye on and occasionally read with interest is the rather oddly named ‘Diamond Geezer‘, who posts daily articles, usually about his walks or bus rides around some of London’s more obscure areas. As someone who spent around 20 years walking around many of these taking photographs, I often find these interesting even though I don’t share his preoccupation with some of the minutiae of Transport for London’s oddities.

The two most recent of his posts have been Prime Meridian 0° Day 1 and Day 2 and by the time you read this, there will probably be a Day 3. Since he is only walking along the line (or rather as close to it as you can) in Tower Hamlets and Newham there probably won’t need to be a Day 4.


Greenwich Observatory – Peter Marshall, 1985

I was particularly interested because I carried out a similar but rather longer project in 1994-96, completing it despite failing to get any of the Millenium funding which was on offer. I began at what seemed the obvious place, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich – as this was the Greenwich Meridian. My walk, carried out over several days, was rather longer, ending more or less at the Greater London boundary in Chingford – and later I extended it south from Greenwich to New Addington at the southern boundary.

Greenwich Riverside – Peter Marshall, 1985

It was rather harder then to actually trace the Meridian on the ground. There were rather fewer actual markers then and I think no published walks along it. Although my application failed, others were successful and obtained funding to put in new Meridian markers and publish walks at the time of the Millenium and yet more have been added since.

West India Dock – Peter Marshall, 1985

Back in 1994-6 I had to draw my own line on my maps – it was only in 1998 that the line was added to the Ordnance Survey maps – in order to allow people to celebrate the Millennium on it. Back then we had no mobile phones and no GPS – the first phone based GPS navigation system was only introduced by Benefon in 1999 and it was a few years before this became universal.

Greenway & Channelsea River, Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995

I first published these images on the web in 1996, having then recently acquired a colour film scanner. It wasn’t a very good scanner and getting good results from colour negative film was tricky. I think I scanned most of them again later, but some could still be improved.

Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995


To be continued…

Stonewall 50

Friday, November 15th, 2019

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, police began a raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, a Mafia owned pub according to Wikipedia known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth.”

Police raids on gay locations were not uncommon, but usually the police who took money from bar owners and tipped them off in advance of the raids, but this hadn’t happened at Stonewall that night, probably because the police felt they weren’t getting enough payback.

In the raid, police separated all those dressed as women and as usual in such raids tried to get them to go into the toilet with a woman officer to be examined – and, if they had male genitals, arrested. But people refused, and men refused to show police their ID.

You can read a lengthy account of how the events developed in the Wikipedia article. The riots that arose from the raid, largely started by lesbians and transgender people who stood up to the police continued the following day and are generally accepted to have begun the gay liberation movement not just in the United States but elswhere across the world.

The annual Pride celebration in London is now largely a corporate event, a parade rather than a march, and although this year it was said to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, to many it hardly seemed to do so in an appropriate fashion. But there are other Pride celebrations around London that now seem more authentic, and the Forest Gayte Pride festival had the advantage of taking place on the actual 50th anniversary of Stonewall, with events on the 28th and 29th June.

I arrived a few minutes late for the start of the Pride march in Forest Gate, which appeared to have started a little earlier than the time I had been given, but managed to photograph its final few hundred yards and the speeches in the Pride Market at its conclusion. Unlike the huge event in central London, this was very much a community event, and far more interesting for that.

Among those who took part in the march and spoke was the local mayor Rokhsana Fiaz. She replaced the former mayor of Newham, Robin Wales, who had been mayor since the post was established in 2002 but was deselected in 2018 after a challenge to questionable voting procedures by affiliates which would have kept him in power despite the votes of local party members.

More at Forest Gayte Pride celebrates Stonewall 50


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