Posts Tagged ‘Nine Elms’

Class War v. Qatari Royals

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Three years ago today, on 8 Feb 2018, Class War had planned a protest outside London’s tallest building, the Shard, to point out the housing crisis, which is currently affecting many in London. They chose to protest at the Shard, because there are ten £50m apartments there which have remained empty since the building was completed.

We don’t actually have a housing shortage as there are more than enough properties for everyone to have a decent home. The problem is that current policies allow property to be left empty and encourage developers to build high priced flats which either remain unsold or are bought as investments and largely left empty for all or most of the time. There were then plans to build a further 26,000 flats in London costing more than a million pounds each, many on former council estates where social housing has been demolished at a time when London has a huge housing crisis with thousands sleeping on the street, and over 100 families from Grenfell were still in temporary accommodation.

The owners of The Shard, the Qatari royal family, went to court to seek an injunction against the Class War protest, seeking an injunction against Ian Bone and “persons unknown” and, despite their fortune estimated at over £250 million pounds, seeking legal costs of over £500 from the 70 year-old south London pensioner.

Fortunately barrister Ian Brownhill offered to conduct Bone’s defence pro bono and in the High Court hearing the Qatari royals were forced to drop the attempt to ban protests and the demand for fees but Bone accepted a legal restriction on him going inside the Shard and its immediate vicinity. But that meant the planned protest that evening could still go ahead, and Bone and his team emerged from the court victorious. His health issues meant that he was himself in any case unable to attend the protest.

At the protest there were large numbers of police and security, along with many in plain clothes and two officers with search dogs. The protest was always intended to be a peaceful one and the protesters were careful to remain outside the boundary of The Shard, marked with a metal line in the pavement. The police nonetheless harassed them, making a patently spurious claim that they were causing an obstruction to commuters attempting to enter London Bridge station and trying to move them further away from The Shard. Although the protest clearly wasn’t causing any serious problems to those entering or leaving the station, the larger numbers of police and security were.

Three years on, London still has a huge problem, with huge numbers of unaffordable flats still being built, particularly in the huge development area in Vauxhall and Nine Elms, including the developments around the US Embassy and the former Battersea Power Station. Some developments here include small areas of social housing, with ‘poor door’ entrances hidden away around the backs of some of the towers, the residents or which are excluded from the many facilities which are provided for the wealthy.

While blocks have large and well-furnished foyers with a concierge service for the rich, as well as some recreational facilities, social housing tenants typically enter a narrow bleak corridor with no space even for parcel deliveries. Just like the block in Aldgate where Class War’s long series of protests put the issue of ‘poor doors’, where poorer tenants are segregated from their wealthy neighbours on the national agenda back in 2014.

In July 2019, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire was “appalled” by the examples of segregation he had seen and promised to put an end to the use of “poor doors” in housing developments in England. It appears to have been a Broken promise, and Class War are thinking it is time for more action.

Class War protest at Shard
Class War victory against Qatari Royals


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.


Protesting Trump’s Deal: 1 Feb 2020

Monday, February 1st, 2021

A year ago I was out taking pictures of a protest at the US Embassy in Nine Elms, and it really does seem a huge age ago. I’ve got so used to staying at home, just occasionally going out for a little exercise. But last Thursday I had my first dose of the vaccine, and in a few weeks time I can perhaps be thinking about getting back to work, though until the current lockdown ends (and who knows when that will be) there won’t be many protests for me to photograph.

I never much liked the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, and what architectural attraction it had was rather spoiled when it got hidden behind some rather ugly security additions. The new embassy isn’t perhaps a great piece of architecture and the screen which covers three sides is rather a plastic add-on, but at least it does make it stand out from the buildings around, and the moat is rather a nice piece of landscaping. But I think the main motivation behind the move was to move the many protests at the embassy out of the public eye, away from the centre of London to a rather obscure location.

Protests here are invisible, hidden from any road and only seen by the armed guards patrolling the area and by people actually going into or out of the embassy. On a weekday there will be queues for visas, but at the weekend the area is deserted. Of course this does make filming and photography of any protests and the publication of these more important.

Although it is still very much of backwater London, the area around here is also the largest development area in London, with new flats already around the embassy and others going up to the east and the west where there is huge development around Battersea Power Station. It’s already easy to get to, with Vauxhall station, one of London’s larger transport hubs, just a few minutes away, but will be even more accessible once the Northern Line extension to Battersea opens – supposedly this autumn – with a station at Nine Elms.

The protest on Saturday 1 Feb was against Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ which they say is intended to liquidate the Palestinian cause and minimise sovereignty for the Palestinian people across Palestine, marginalising them in isolated ghettos in a rigid implementation of the current apartheid regime.

It was organised by various Palestinian groups in Britain and supported by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Friends of Al-Aqsa (FoA) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), and there were many Palestinians among the several hundred taking part.

Also coming to protest against the Palestinians was a rather sad group of four Zionists who came to wave Israeli flags and try to disrupt the protest, shouting insults. Some of the protesters confronted them, shouting back, and police stepped in to keep the two groups a short distance apart while the main rally continued.

Among the many protesters were a couple posing as President Trump who handed a fistful of dollars to another dressed as Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who was holding a bone saw like that used to dismember Saudi dissident and journalist for The Washington Post Jamal Kashoggi by the team he ordered to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on 2 October 2018.

More at Palestinians against Trump’s Deal


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.


Pimlico to Parliament 1987

Sunday, November 1st, 2020
Churchill, statue, Big Ben, Westminster, 1987 87-8m-01-positive_2400

I had my doubts about including this picture in my London album, not because of my opinions about Churchill, but because it is very much a cliché. But at least I think it is a fairly well done version, and the two men with the motorbike add just a little interest.

Churchill was a great leader in wartime, not least because his first action as Prime Minister was to invite Attlee, Sinclair and Chamberlain – the leaders of the Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties – to serve in a Coalition Government. I was too young to vote in the 1945 election (just over two months old) but clearly the nation wanted a change and saw that his strengths were no longer relevant to its future. His return to power in 1951 was something of a disaster for the country, made more clear by his protégé and successor Eden.

Nine Elms Cold Store, RIver Thames, Nine Elms, Vauxhall, Pimlico, Westminster, 198787-9a-12-positive_2400

All of these buildings at Nine Elms, seen from across the River Thames, have now been demolished. None was I suppose a great loss, but together I think they made an interesting ensemble. The cold store, brutally functional but with the elegant spiral staircase at its centre, presumably a fire exit, the curving horizontal of 95 Wandsworth Rd, for long occupied by Cap Gemini, demolished in 2018 and I think the site now owned by a Chinese property developer, and the two tower blocks at the right have also gone.

Riverside flats, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-9a-15-positive_2400

Taken on the riverside path opened up in front of Crown Reach in Pimlico and now a part of the Thames Path. This view of the building looks to me like an Escher drawing, but for real, and I liked the contrast in shape and style with the rounded and decorated riverside lamp post.

Locking Piece, Henry Moore, sculpture, Riverside Walk Gardens, Millbank, Westminster 87-9a-22-positive_2400

Another picture of Henry Moore’s Locking Piece in the Riverside Walk Gardens on Millbank, again with the River Thames, Vauxhall Bridge, Nine Elms Cold Store and Market Towers in the distance. A figure walking past gives some sense of the scale of the piece, and the view is tightly cropped (I think the negative probably just contains the right edge of the plinth at its extreme edge.) I deliberately stood where a small area of sky was visible through the centre of the sculpture.

Millbank Tower, Millbank, Westminster, 1987 87-9a-42-positive_2400

Another example of very deliberate framing at the left and top edges of this view of the buildings around the base of the Millbank Tower.

Millbank Tower, Millbank, Westminster, 1987 87-9a-46-positive_2400

I wasn’t able to quite do the same when I made another exposure including the whole of the tower, but I think it makes effective use of the curvature of the building.

Thorney St, Westminster, 1987 87-9a-56-positive_2400

I think this picture in Thorney St shows the rear of the rather oddly shaped Millbank Tower building, but I think the concrete spiral ramp has been replaced by a garden.

John Islip St, Westminster, 1987 87-9a-54-positive_2400

And my final picture, taken in John Islip St, is something of a mystery to me, because of the reflections in the large polished stone triangular section fins on its surface. I found two of these fairly close together and the reflections make it almost impossible (at least for me) to see this building as it actually was rather than some optical illusion. If I start at the bottom of the frame where there is less reflection I can force myself to see it as it was.

Abell House and its neighbour Cleland House were I think built as government offices by TP Bennet around 1930, and were over-clad in 1985 using matching dark brown marbleised granite cladding, with a highly polished surface. I’m not sure which of the two is in this picture. Both were demolished around 2011-2 and replaced by taller residential towers with the same names, completed in 2016. The replacements look over-fussy to me, but would be rather easier to photograph.


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.


Nine Elms from across the Thames

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

I sometimes wonder how many times I have photographed Battersea Power Station over the years. I still look out of the window of my train to see it in the distance, and when I’m sitting on the top deck of a bus going over Vauxhall Bridge, on my way to or from the station.

Battersea Power Station, from Pimlico, Westminster,1987 87-8a-11-positive_2400

Occasionally I’ll walk across Vauxhall Bridge too, perhaps on my way to the Tate Gallery or the Home Office, and see it in the distance, often taking a picture. The riverside walk from Vauxhall Bridge upstream on the Surrey bank is one I’ve walked along many times, open years before we had a Thames Path, which it now forms a short part of. Back in 1977 when I first began walking much beside the Thames, the proposed long-distance path – then called the Thames Walk – only began a few miles upstream at Putney.

Locking Piece, Henry Moore, sculpture, Vauxhall Bridge, Vauxhall, from Millbank, Westminster, 1987 87-8b-56-positive_2400
Henry Moore’s ‘Locking Piece’, Vauxhall Bridge, Nine Elms Cold Store and Market Towers

Recently, with the US Embassy having moved to Nine Elms, I have another reason to walk beside the river here, on my way to photograph protests there, or, more often when the light is so good that I can’t stop myself from making a little detour on my way home from one. But at the moment, this is just wishful thinking, as I’m still staying home and away from London and Covid-19.

Nine Elms, River Thames, from Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-8a-16-positive_2400

But even in earlier days, my trips along the Middlesex bank here were rare. There was back in the 1980s relatively little riverside path, a little chance to get away from the busy Grosvenor Rd, though a short stretch of riverside path became available some time after the completion of Nick Lacey’s Crown Wharf in 1983.

Bolton & Fairhead Ltd, Rochester Wharf, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-8b-02-positive_2400
River Thames, Nine Elms, Battersea, from Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-8b-01-positive_2400
William Huskisson, memorial, Pimlico Gardens, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-8a-15-positive_2400

Further on the small Pimlico Garden opens on to the riverside and also has a memorial to William Huskisson, the first widely reported victim of a railway accident, who was killed when he got down from the special train carrying the the Duke of Wellington and his guests on the official opening of the Liverpool and Manchester railway which had stopped at Parkside station in the middle of the line. He got down from the train to speak with the duke, ignoring the warnings of the railway company, and was hit and fatally injured by George Stephenson’s famous engine ‘Rocket’ pulling a train in the opposite direction.

River Thames, Gravel Wharf, Nine Elms, from Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-8a-24-positive_2400

Closer to the power station on the opposite bank, Grosvenor Rd runs beside the riverside and gives good view of the power station. A little downstream from it was a small gravel wharf, where until some time in this century a small ship came daily on the tide with shingle from the estuary. On one walk a few years ago as I photographed the ship I had a talk with the captain who, with his mate brought the ship up the river; I regret I failed to make a portrait of him. He told me then that this would be one of his last trips as the wharf was to close.

River Thames, Gravel Wharf, Nine Elms, from Pimlico, Westminster, 1987 87-8a-21-positive_2400
Battersea Power Station, from Pimlico, Westminster,1987 87-8a-22-positive_2400
87-8a-35-positive_2400

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.