Posts Tagged ‘panoramas’

Harlesden, Willesden, Mary Seacole & a Wassail

Friday, February 2nd, 2024

Harlesden, Willesden, Mary Seacole & a Wassail: Sunday 2nd February 2014, ten years ago today was a pleasant winter day, not too cold and with some sunshine and light clouds, perfect for panoramas, so I went early to have a walk around the area before going on to photograph the wassail in Willesden Green.


Harlesden, Willesden & Mary Seacole

Harlesden, Willesden, Mary Seacole & a Wassail

It was long ago on one of the dirtiest trains imaginable, windows think with dust so I could hardly see outside that I first came to Willesden Junction Station from Richmond on the North London Line which ran to the City and Broad Street Station. Upgraded to run to North Woolwich in the 80s with new rolling stock the line became a key way for me to travel to photograph around north London. Nowadays the line is part of London’s Overground, since 2016 run by Arriva Rail London, a part of Deutsche Bahn and rather cleaner, with trains running to Stratford.

Harlesden, Willesden, Mary Seacole & a Wassail

Willesden Junction, which links with the Bakerloo line and another Overground service from Euston to Watford Junction is not in Willesden but in Harlesden and has platforms at two levels, and also has mainline trains rushing past without stopping. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, in earlier years it was was nicknamed “Bewildering Junction” or “The Wilderness” because it contained such a maze of entrances, passages and platforms and it is still rather like that.

Harlesden, Willesden, Mary Seacole & a Wassail

If you can find it, a footpath leads over the mainline tracks next to the line from Richmond and Clapham Junction through an industrial wasteland and eventually to Hythe Road. Google Maps even dignifies it with a name, Salter Street Alleyway. Turning left at into Hythe Road takes you to Scrubs Lane, but going right can take you to the Grand Union Canal, with a bridge leading across to the tow path. I did both.

Harlesden, Willesden, Mary Seacole & a Wassail

The blue sky with clouds was perfect weather for panoramas, and I took a number going back and forth a little in the area, across the Scrubs Lane bridge and back. At the corner of this bridge is a memorial garden to Mary Seacole (1805-81) who nursed many British soldiers in the Crimean War as well as working in her native Jamaica and Panama and Cuba, funding her medical work from the proceeds of her general store and boarding house in Jamaica. The garden, on the canal bank next to Mitre bridge, on Scrubs Lane, not far from where she was buried in St Mary’s Catholic cemetery, Kensal Green, was begun in 2003, shortly before the 2005 bi-centenary celebration of her birth.

The garden, now rather overshadowed by a new development, was a pleasant place to sit in the sun and eat my sandwiches before making my way to Willesden Green for the Wassail. Pictures from the walk start here on My London Diary and include more panoramas as well as other pictures.


Willesden Wassail – Willesden Green

This was the fifth Urban Wassail in Willesden High Street organised by Rachel Rose Reid to celebrate local shopkeepers who give Willesden Green its character and help to create a vibrant community.

The wassail is described as a “small free festival run by and for people from Willesden Green” and also celebrates the work of all who live there and create the neighbourhood and brought together artists and volunteers from the area including James Mcdonald, Berakah Multi Faith Choir, Poetcurious, Errol Mcglashan and several others, with more performing later after the wassail.

The group met at Willesden Green Station, though unfortunately this was closed for engineering works on the day. Here there was a performance from ParkLife singers, a local community choir run as a not-for-profit co-operatvie and led by Charlotte Eaton, before Rachel Rose Reid introduced us to the first shopkeeper who told us a little abor her shop, Daisychain Florist, with all of the 70 or so people present repeating her words in Occupy ‘mike-check’ style.

Then everyone sang a Wassail Song, borrowed from the Carhampton Wassail, with the shop name in place of its “Old Apple Tree”. You can read this on My London Diary.

The same pattern was repeated at a number of shops along the High Stret including Hamada supermarket, Khan Halal Butchers, Pound.com, Corner Barber Shop, Red Pig, Fornetti, Mezzoroma and Buy Wise.

There were other stops on the route for poetry and songs, including one in the yard at the front of Sainsbury’s, one of relatively few chains in the area.

Here we were also told about the campaign to save the Queensbury Pub on Walm Lane from demolition, with a petition of over 4,000 signatures to Brent Council against the demolition of this ‘Asset of Community Value’ and its replacement by a 10 storey block of flats. The pub had been open since 1895 but was bought by developer Fairview New Homes (North London) Ltd in 2012. Brent turned down the development, but the developer, now called Redbourne (Queensbury) Ltd put forward new plans in 2018. Again these were refused by the council but the developer’s appeal succeeded. The pub vlosed in 2022-3 and was demolished in October 2023 to build 48 flats. The development is supposed to include a new pub.

The Wassail ended with a number of poetry performances opposite the Willesden Green Library building site, after which we moved to the neighbouring cherry tree for a final wassail after which everyone let off the party poppers and decorated the tree with ribbons. It was slightly less noisy version of the traditional banging pans and firing guns in order to wake up the apple trees.

The wassailers then moved to the Bar Gallery in Queens Parade on the corner of Walm Lane, where refreshments were available and there were to be more performances. I went along but then realised it was time for me to start my journey home and left.

More pictures on My London Diary at Willesden Wassail.



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Roma, Olympic Park and Mind – 2016

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind: After a morning protest by Roma at the Czech Embassy in Kensington I took a walk around the Olympic Park in Stratford before joining the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) who were holding a Halloween Demo at the national office of Mind.


Roma protest Czech Murder – Czech embassy, Kensington

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

Ladislav Balaz, Chair of the Roma Labour Group and Europe Roma Network and others had come to hand in a letter calling for the murder of a young Romani man by neo-Nazi skinheads in Žatec to be properly investigated.

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

The man who had lived in the UK until a year ago was a second cousin of Balaz. He was set upon as he went to buy cigarettes at a pizzeria.

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

Most cases of murders of Roma in the Czech Republic are dismissed by police as accidents and they have already issued false stories about the victim, claiming he was mentally ill and attacked people. The Roma demand justice and equality for everyone in Czech Republic and the elimination of any double standards of justice. Several of the protesters made speeches in Czech as the letter was presented.

Roma protest Czech Murder


A Walk in the Olympic Park – Stratford

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

I had several hours between the protest outside the Czech Embassy and a protest in Stratford High Street and decided it was a good occasion to take another walk in the park at Stratford which had been the site of the 2012 London olympic games and to make some more panoramic images.

It was a year since I had been there, and four years since the Olympics and I had hoped to see the park in much better condition than I found it. Considerable progress had been made in the buildings which are shooting up around it and many of the ways into the park are still closed.

I walked around much of the southern area of the park and found it still “largely an arid and alienating space composed mainly of wide empty walkways rather than a park.”

I took rather a lot of pictures, both panoramic and more normal views before it was time to make my way back through the Westfield shopping centre into the centre of Stratford.

Many more pictures at A Walk in the Olympic Park.


Against Mind’s collusion with the DWP – Stratford

Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive came out and spoke to the protesters

The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) came for a Halloween Demo at the national office of mental health charity Mind in Stratford.

They complain that Mind failed to mention the effects of welfare reform, sanctions, or benefit-related deaths in its latest five-year strategy and has dropped its support for the long-running court case aimed at forcing the government to make WCA safer for people with mental health conditions.

Mind’s policy and campaigns manager Tom Pollard had been seconded to work as a senior policy adviser to the DWP and was to start the following day and they demanded the resignation of Mind’s chief executive, Paul Farmer.

Farmer came out to meet the protesters on the pavement and told them that Mind was still working for people with mental health problems and not for the DWP, and that Pollard’s decision had been entirely a personal one in order to gain more insight into the workings of government rather than to assist them in the any discrimination against the disabled.

The protesters were unconvinced and after he had finished speaking several spoke about how local Mind groups were working against the interests of those with mental health problems. They claimed the local managers were often more interested in empire building than in the welfare of benefit claimants.

More pictures at Mind’s collusion with the DWP.


Greenwich Walk – 2018

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

Greenwich Walk: On Thursday 18th October 2018 I walked with two or three other photographers from North Greenwich Station to the centre of Greenwich and made the pictures in this post. You can see many more of them in a post on My London Diary, Greenwich Walk.

Greenwich Walk

Recently on >Re:PHOTO I’ve published a series of posts about my walks in London back in the 1980s, along with some of the pictures I took then which are now in my albums on Flickr. The most recent walk I’ve featured has been in Brixton and Stockwell and began with Stockwell Park, Bus Garage, Tower and Mason, and I’ve still to finish the posts on this, and will do so shortly.

Greenwich Walk

But I’ve continued to walk around London, if less frequently than before in recent years. My walks now are rather shorter in length and duration and are mostly together with a few friends, other photographers who sometimes lure me into pubs on the way (I’m easily tempted.) And we almost always end up with a meal together in one.

Greenwich Walk

Photographically things are rather different too. I don’t even always take any photographs and am no longer working on the kind of extended projects which I had back in those earlier days, recording the fabric of the city and in particular those areas undergoing substantial change – such as the whole of London’s docklands.

Greenwich Walk

Back in the 80s and 90s I always worked with at least two cameras, one with black and white film and the other with colour. So far I’ve included very little of the colour work in those posts here, in part because I was working on a different project with the colour. You can see more of the colour work in the online project initially put together as a dummy for an as yet unpublished book in the early 1990s, ‘Café Ideal, Cool Blondes & Paradise‘.

More recently several web sites have published features using mainly these colour pictures from my Flickr albums sometimes along with some of the black and white. The most recent of these is on Flashbak, ‘34 Photos From A Walk Around Tooting, South London In 1990‘. It puts together images from several visits to the area and includes a few black and white images of people on the streets, In the introduction Paul Sorene comments “What we love about Peter’s pictures is that he shows us the everyday things we saw but didn’t much notice. Now that we get to look again, things looks strangely familiar.” I think this is about the 12th set of my pictures on that site.

But now I only take one camera on my walks, and always work in colour as the camera is digital. I could easily switch the images to black and white, but have only done so extremely rarely.

The other large change for me is the ease with which I can now make panoramic views, no longer needing to carry a separate camera for these, just the right lens. Many of the images from my walk on Thursday 18th October 2018 are panoramic with a horizontal angle of view of around 145 degrees even though they have a ‘normal’ aspect ratio of 3:2 as they also have a large vertical angle of view. Just a few are cropped to a more panoramic format.

Finally, here is the paragraph I wrote about the area in 2018:

I first walked along here back in 1980, and have done so a number of times since, though in recent years much of the riverside path has been closed as the old wharves are being replaced by luxury flats. It is still an interesting walk, though it has lost virtually all of the industrial interest it once had. A River Thames that is rapidly becoming lined by new and largely characterless buildings is at times a sad state, but there still remain some liminal landscapes and surprising vistas.

Greenwich Walk on My London Diary

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates; On Saturday 27th September 2014 I went to Whitechapel early to photograph campaigners who were to protest against Sainsbury’s who were selling dates and other goods from illegal Israeli settlements, in defiance of international law. Around two years earlier I had made a panoramic image of part of the new Royal London Hospital which interested me but I felt was not quite what I wanted.

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

Going back to re-take photographs is often disappointing, with key features having changed, but I think this time I did at least come up with an improvement. This was a more complex panorama than most of those I now make, and needed me to stitch together three separate exposures. It would perhaps be a little better with some slight cropping on the botton edge.

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

The Royal London Hospital has much great problems, all arising from the poor PFI deal that was used to finance its construction. All PFI schemes have turned out to be a mistake, but this was worse than most and I think has left the hospital group in financial trouble while providing excessive profits to the investors, with payments continuing for many, many years. The contract means they can charge silly prices for necessary services,

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

After several attempts at producing the picture I wanted I went for a short stroll around the area making a few more panoramic images before it was time to join th protest.

More pictures at By the Royal London.


Sainsbury’s told Stop Selling Illegal Goods – Whitechapel High St

Whitechapel & Illegal Dates

Campaigners from the Tower Hamlets & Jenin Friendship Association held a protest on the high Street close to Sainsbury’s, calling on the store to end selling dates and other goods from illegal Israeli settlements, in defiance of international law.

The protes was part of the international BDS campaign calling for a Boycott of Israeli goods, divestment from Israeli firms and sanctions against Israel until it ends the persecution of Palestinians and comes into line with international law and UN resolutions.

Similar protests earlier outside Co-op stores had led to the company in 2013 stating they would ‘no longer engage with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements’.

The BDS campaign was given added impetus early in 2014 by the disproportionate use of force against the people of Gaza. During the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, roughly 1500 of them civilians, among them over 500 children. 66 Israeli soldiers died, along with 5 Israeli civilians (including one child.) Over 500,000 people – roughly 30% of the population of the Gaza strip were displaced from their homes, and over 17,000 homes made uninhabitable, with over twice that number suffering less severe damage.

The raids also destoryed much of Gaza’s industry, including factories making biscuits, ice cream factory, plastics, sponges, cardboard boxes and plastic bags as well as the main electricity plant. Two sewage pumping stations were damaged, as were the main offices of the largest diary product importer and distributor.

The protesters had several tables on the pavement outside the library on Whitechapel High St ,one selling Palestinian olive oil, almonds and a range of decorated purses etc. Some handed out leaflets and a postcard ‘Sainsbury’s: Taste the Indifference’, while others held banners or collecting signatures for petitions. At intervals people made short speeches about the Palestinian situation and the campaign to get Sainsbury’s to stop selling illegal Israeli goods.

After an hour or so on the busy street, some of the protesters decided it was time to visit Sainsbury’s, just a couple of hundred yards away down a side-street. They folded up their banners and walked down to the store, where Sainsbury’s were ready and waiting for them with extra security on duty, and they were stopped in the very spacious lobby area in front to the store.

Here they opened up their banners and protested for a little over 10 minutes. There were a few moments of some tension, when store employees or security tried to grab one of the banners, but the whole protest and Sainsbury’s response was pretty civilised.

After 12 minutes, a man in casual dress arrived, and after asking the store manager to request the protesters to leave came across and talked with the the protesters, showing them his poolice warrant card and apologising that the police station didn’t have anyone in uniform available to send at the moment.

Having made their point by their protest, they decided to go quietly and a little exultantly back to the High Street, where others had been continuing the protest. Shortly after I decided it was time for me to leave.

Sainsbury’s appears still to refuse to follow its own ethical guidelines and still apparently sells some products from the occupied West Bank and to deal with suppliers who source goods from there, although probably rather less than in 2014. They have claimed not to source goods from the occupied territories but do still deal with wholesalers who deliberately mislable such produce.

Sainsbury’s told Stop Selling Illegal Goods

2012 Olympics – Lund Point Holdup By BBC

Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

2012 Olympics – Lund Point Holdup By BBC: Eleven years ago on Saturday 21st July much of the nation was eagerly awaiting the start of the 2021 London Olympics. I wasn’t, though I was at least starting to think it wouldn’t be long before it was all over, but we still had it all to put up with. All the pictures in this post were taken at events around the area that day.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC
Waiting for the Olympic flame – Stratford High St

Many still regard it as having been a great national event, bringing people together, but I still find it hard to have many positive thoughts. Like another major event, most of the promises we were made about its legacy have turned out to be false. Many were clearly lies from the start, and a huge attempt was clearly made to mislead the public, with our newspapers and broadcast media playing a major and continuing role.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

On the streets of east London there were many critics and sceptics from the start, many like me who were surprised and alarmed when the bid was won in 2005. Most of their worse fears have since come to pass and the local area has seen little gain.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

Newham remains an area with huge housing problems, and it was some of those that took me there on Saturday 21st July 2012, specifically over the council’s terrible treatment of the Carpenters Estate, a once popular council estate adjoining Stratford Station.

2012 Olympics - Lund Point Holdup By BBC

It’s location made it a valuable prey for developers and Newham’s elected Labour Mayor, Sir Robin Wales had clearly thought the site was being wasted on its social housing tenants and had begun running it down and ‘decanting’ residents back in 2004. But schemes to sell it off, including one as a new campus for University College London (UCL) were eventually stopped by protests from residents, UCL students and staff and Stratford’s dynamic housing activists, Focus E15.

Good solid 1960s housing on a pedestrianised street . A popular estate on which many bought houses

Focus E15 had begun when Newham Council decided to shut down a hostel in central Stratford for single mothers and their children, offering only to move them out of Stratford to distant towns and cities across the UK into poor quality private rented accomodation with no security of tenure and higher rents, some hundreds of miles away from family, friends, nurseries and other support they had in Newham. Robin Wales infamously told them “if you can’t afford to live in Newham, then you can’t afford to live in Newham”.

A woman still living on the Carpenters estate

The Focus E15 mothers stood together and fought – and largely won, getting rehoused in the local area. But they decided to continue their fight for others in housing need, particularly in Newham. There story became national news and they continue with weekly stalls on Newham Broadway and a shop not far away.

Lund Point – advertising added for Olympics without consultation

Carpenters Estate residents were shocked when the council in 2011, upset that residents wanted to remain on the estate, decided to fix the elections to the Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) by barring freeholders on the estate from standing and simply losing five of the six nominations from leaseholders. Security staff prevented freeholders who had received invitations to the meeting from attending, effectively allowing Newham council to take over the TMO and end any real participation by residents over the esatate’s future.

BBC employed security – the sign says Residents Only

Residents formed Carpenters Against Regeneration Plans (CARP) to challenge the decisions made by the TMO and to get it to fulfil its duties to all residents of the estate, and to fight for the future of the residents and for a sustainable community. In particular freeholders were appalled at the low valuations put on their properties by the TMO commissioned valuation service, with compensation for compulsory purchase often appearing to be only around half of market values for similar propeties in the area.

This Barber – the last man standing on Stratford High St

CARP had arranged a number of tours around the estate, and I met with them at Sratford Station, having on my way taken a few pictures of the Olympic Torch Relay which had passed along Stratford High Street earlier in the day, though only watched there by a small handful of people. There were more on a footbridge built for the Olympics across this busy main road, which would have been a small but useful Olympic legacy, but was to be demolished shortly after.

Police had come to back up BBC security and refuse us entrance

Our tour from the station led by Tawanda Nyabango who lived for many years in one of the tower blocks and several other residents including CARP vice-chairman Joe Alexander talked to us on a lengthy tour of the estate and the nearby Waterworks River, one of several waterways through the Olympic site.

After we were allowed in BBC security try to stop us leaving the lift

We then tried to visit two more residents living in flats in one of the three tower blocks on the estate, Lund Point. The BBC were setting up in the top five floors of the block for their Olympic coverage, and we were prevented from entering the block by BBC security staff who then brought in police to support them.

But finally we made it to a flat on the 20th floor

We argued that we had an invitation from the residents, but were still refused entry, until after and hour and a half waiting finally the police officers present received orders that they had no right to refuse our entry and we were finally allowed in.

The Olympic site from Lund Point

I was able then both to meet the residents and photograph the Olympic site from their windows. The residents of the block have complained strongly about the way the BBC have taken over parts of their building and apparently our holdup was simply one of many incidents. I took rather more pictures including some panoramic views – at Olympic Views though my time here was very limited.

I had intended to finish my day after the Carpenters Estate tour with a visit to the Open Day taking place at Cody Dock on Bow Creek, and I hurried there from Stratford. But because of the holdup at Lund Point, the events there had ended by the time I arrived, and I took a few pictures and left for home.

At Cody Dock

Robin Wales is no longer Mayor, eventually being forced out despite his attempts to manipulate votes to remain in office. Under the replacement Labour Mayor there are new plans for the Carpenters Estate though Focus E15 are still campaigning for the repair, refurbishment and repopulation of the estate with long-term council tenants.

Much more about all these events on My London Diary:

Olympic Flame at Stratford 6 Days Early
Newham’s Shame – Carpenters Estate
Police Deny Olympic Residents Access
Olympic Views
Cody Dock Open Day

I originally posted this on 21st June when it should have been posted on 21st July.


Estuary

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

Ten years ago on Thursday 16th May 2013 I was pleased to attend the opening of the exhibition Estuary, held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Museum of London Docklands at West India Quay, a short walk from Canary Wharf. I was delighted to be one of the dozen artists in various media to be included, with ten of my panoramic images from my work on the north and south banks of the Thames.

Estuary opening

I’d begun photographing the lower reaches of the Thames back in the 1980s, then working largely in black and white and my work concentrated on the then fast disappearing industrial sites along the river. At first I worked on the Kent bank on the south of the river, having a particular interest in the cement industry that occupied and had radically changed much of area between Dartford and Gravesend. Later I also worked along the north bank.

Estuary
Cement works, Northfleet, 2000

Estuary is a term that has various definitions, and both its upstream and downstream limits have, as Wikipedia states, “been defined differently at different times and for different purposes.” For my own purposes it has been rather elastic, usually beginning at the Thames Barrier and going east as far as it was convenient to travel by public transport, on foot or by bicycle from convenient stations. In earlier years I went further along the Kent bank by car in some outings with friends including Terry King as far as Sheppey.

Estuary
Cement works, Northfleet, 2000

The exhibition had come as a surprise. The ten picture in it were from around a hundred images the Museum of London had bought from various of my projects for its collection a few years earlier and I think the first I knew about it was when I received the invitation to the opening, or perhaps by an email a couple of weeks before that.

Estuary
Greenhithe, 2000

These pictures all dated from the early years of this century, those from Kent in 2000 and from Essex in 2004 and all were in panoramic format. In 2000 I was working with two swing lens cameras, a Japanese Widelux F8 and a much cheaper Russian Horizon 202. Both work with rotating lens and a curved film plane, invented by give Friedrich von Martens in his Megaskop-Kamera in 1844, but instead of the daguerrotype plates he worked with use standard 35mm film, producing negatives around 56x24mm.

Chafford Hundred, 2004

The two cameras have a similar field of view horizontally around 130 degrees and have a cylindrical perspective which renders lines parallel to the film edges straight but gives an increasing curvature to horizontal lines away from the centre of the image. The image quality of the two is very similar but the cheaper camera has a rather more useful viewfinder.

Dagenham, 2004

By 2004 I had two further pieces of equipment which extended my panoramic photography. One was a new camera, the Hassleblad X-Pan, which had generally received rave reviews. I found it rather disappointing at first and it was only after I added the 30mm wideangle lens that it became useful for me. The X-Pan is a standard rectilinear camera design but gives negatives 65x24mm rather than the normal full-frame 36x24mm. The horizontal angle of view it produces with the 30mm is at the limits of rectilinear perspective, before stretching at the edges becomes too apparent, and is considerably less than the swing lens cameras at 94 degrees. The lens comes with a separate viewfinder that fits on the top of the camera, but does make operation a little less convenient.

West Thurrock, 2005

The second, and very important for working along the north bank was a Brompton folding bicycle, which enabled me to travel the greater distances needed there. Of course I also used this and the X-Pan for later pictures elsewhere.

Mucking, 2005

You can see more of these pictures in two sections of the Urban Landscapes web site, which also includes work by other photgraphers, both British and overseas. Some of the pictures I’ve chosen for today’s post were in the Estuary show, but others were not – I have a rather larger body of work to select from than the Museum, some of which appears in my book Thamesgate Panoramas.

Northfleet, 2000

The site has separate sections on the Thames Gateway in Essex and Kent, as well as from my Greenwich Meridian project in 1994-6 and a wider selection of panoramic work from around London from 1996-2005, though there is much more that I still have to put on-line. Some is also now on Flickr.


Excalibur – The Estate – 2014

Saturday, May 6th, 2023

Excalibur“, Wikipedia tells me, “is the mythical sword of King Arthur that may be attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Britain.” As a French poem of around 1200AD where it first appears relates, “Arthur obtained the British throne by pulling a sword from an anvil sitting atop a stone that appeared in a churchyard on Christmas Eve“.

Excalibur - The Estate

In this account, as foretold by Merlin, the act could not be performed except by ‘the true king’, meaning the divinely appointed king or true heir of Uther Pendragon“. This won’t happen at today’s event in Westminster Abbey, although there does appear to be rather a lot of medieval mumbo-jumbo – described by the Concise Oxford Dictionary as “an object of senseless veneration or a meaningless ritual.

Excalibur - The Estate

But Excalibur is also the name of of what was one of the more interesting estates in London, a pre-fab estate built during 1945-6 by German and Italian prisoners of war using two prefabricated designs of housing, and was initially intended to last 10 years.

Excalibur - The Estate

The owner of the land, a Lord Forster gave it to the London County Council on a promise it would be returned to parkland when these single-storey two bedroom temporary houses were cleared.

Excalibur - The Estate

The estate lasted rather longer than expected and most of the 187 homes were still being lived in when I paid another visit on 6th May 2014 to make some panoramic images and also to visit the Prefab Museum, an art project by Elisabeth Blanchet.

My first visit had been back in the 1990s, when I walked the Greenwich Meridian in London as a part of a proposed Millennium project, Meridian, which failed to attract the funding needed to complete it, though I had taken all the photographs I needed. Only some of those north of Greenwich are on line. The Greenwich meridian actually ran through the centre of the pre-fab which housed the museum.

I’d returned back in 2010 to take more pictures after reading that the estate was to be demolished, despite valiant attempts to save it. And of course that promise made to John Forster, 1st Baron Forster of Harraby was forgotten – and he had in any case died in 1972.

Half a dozen of the pre-fabs were eventually listed after a long battle and so should survive the demolition of the estate. But it was really the estate that was important rather than the individual buildings. Although parts of the estate have now gone, much still remains, but has been allowed to decay considerably since I made these panoramas on May 6th 2014. All of these pictures show a roughly 140 degree horizontal angle of view – and roughly 90 degrees horizontal, with some fine clouds in a blue sky. These are a small sample of the roughly 70 images I made on the day.

The images online – much smaller than the orginals – are actually twice the width they appear on this post and you can view them larger – as well as many more – on My London Diary at Excalibur Estate.


Wandsworth Panoramas – March 2014

Friday, March 24th, 2023

As a photographer I’ve long been interested in the difference between how we experience the world around us and how the camera records it. Some of those differences are obvious but others less so, and some we are seldom aware of.

Wandsworth Panoramas - March 2014

The camera records an image produced by its lens which follows strict optical rules which I learnt about long ago in my physics lessons, though real lenses deviate slightly from those ideal and perfect specimens in those science texts.

Wandsworth Panoramas - March 2014

The camera holds a film or sensor to record that image – and again does so following strict physical (and chemical for film) processes which may fail to record significant features and distort others to produce an essentially flat two-dimensional image. It may not even record colours but if it does they always to some extent arbitrary, as too are the tones.

Wandsworth Panoramas - March 2014

Those of us who grew up on film are perhaps more aware of this than the digital generations. We had to be aware of the differences in recording of, for example Ilford’s Pan F and Kodak’s Tri-X, and how these were affected by processing and printing, and of the rather unreal but different colour renditions of Kodachrome, Kodacolor, Ektachrome, Agfa, Ferraniacolor and the other colour film films, each with its own qualities. Though perhaps if we ever used Orwo film quality was not the right word for its purplish nature.

Wandsworth Panoramas - March 2014

Of course there are differences in the way digital cameras record colour, but these are rather smaller, and we can make use of software to make them match more closely or exaggerate the difference. Lightroom and Photoshop can make my Fuji files look very similar in terms of colour rendition to those from Nikon.

But our experience of a scene is very different, combining inputs from all of our senses, and it would be impossible to over-emphasise the subjective aspects. But even just visually it is still very different. While the lens cuts out all but a small rectangle in front of us, our eyes send information to the brain from a much wider field, much of it except from a small central section lacking in sharpness. Most of us have binocular vision, gathering this data from two eyes a short but significant distance apart, enabling us to see in depth. And our view is always dynamic, our eyes moving around, and as we swing our head around or up and down we have the sensation of moving through a static universe. Doing the same with a camera has a very different effect.

A standard lens – around 40 to 50mm on a full frame digital or 35mm film camera gives a similar idea of depth in its flat images to that we normally experience. With longer lens the effect of depth is reduced and by the time we get to really long lenses the images become flat patterns rather than appearing to represent a three dimensional scene. But what interested me more was what happened when the camera tried to represent a much wider angle of view than the standard, when the rectilinear rendering of normal lenses becomes impossible.

On Monday 14th of March I went for a walk with a painter friend who had brought her sketch book to introduce her to an area I thought she might find interesting. And I wanted to further explore some of the different ways of rendering very wide angles of view with digital cameras. I’d brought two Nikons with me, one fitted with a conventional wide-angle zoom which I used mainly at 16mm, close to the limit for such lenses (and I do have a wider lens which demonstrates this) and the other with a 16mm full-frame fisheye which fills the frame with an image which is 180 degrees across the diagonal.

While my friend stopped to make sketches I had time to make a series of images from similar locations. I kept warmer as I was moving around, but she fairly soon got cold, which was a good excuse to visit the pub which appears in some of these pictures, after which I took her back to the station where we had met and went back to take some more pictures on my own.

Back home I uploaded the images. Those from the conventional wide-angle zoom I’ve use as they were taken, with just the normal adjustments in Lightroom. But the fish-eye images I worked on with my panorama stitching software, PtGui, not to join images but to take the raw image data and process it it various different ways to produce cylindrical projections. If the camera was upright when the picture was taken, this will produce straight vertical lines for all upright elements. There are many different approaches to this which produce visually different results, some of which are common in mapping, such as Mercator.

Those I’ve found most useful are the equirectangular, Vedutismo and Transverse Vedutismo projections used in these examples.

More panoramic images from my walk on My London Diary at Wandsworth Panoramas.


An East London Ride – 2010

Friday, February 3rd, 2023

Salmon Lane Locki, Regents Canal

It’s perhaps misleading to call this a ride, since I spent most of the day on Wednesday 3rd February 2010 actually off my bike, parking it neatly to take photographs. Although a bicycle has been my main personal transport now for over 70 years (when I’m not using public transport or walking) I’m not really a cyclist. Or at least just a pragmatic cyclist, using a bike just to get from A to B (and on this day to C,D and most of the letters of the alphabet.)

An East London Ride - 2010
Memorial to firewatchers of Stepney Gas Works

And just very occasionally for a bit of exercise. I have used exercise bikes and always thought why bother when you could use the real thing, though I suppose when its pouring with rain or below zero there might be some point in them. And though one wouldn’t help me to take photographs I would be less likely to be killed by careless or dangerous drivers.

An East London Ride - 2010
Bromley-by-Bow gasholders, Twelvetrees Bridge

Back at the end of 2002 I bought myself a Brompton folding bike, and a year or three later when I was undergoing a Q & A interview for an amateur photography magazine it became my answer to ‘What is your most useful photographic accessory’. It had replaced the answer to a similar question from another such magazine which was ‘a good pair of shoes’.

Eternal flame, West Ham Memorial Gardens

Once you have practised a few times the Brompton folds (and unfolds) in a few seconds into a fairly compact package, which has the advantage you can take it at any time onto our trains and underground system. It’s too heavy for me to comfortably carry any distance, but I added the tiny wheels which mean you can pull it rather like a suitcase, only actually lifting it when necessary. And I bought the bag which fits on in front of the handlebars which was about the right size for my camera gear and essentials like a bottle of water or a flask of coffee and sandwiches.

The end of the ‘Fatwalk’

I can’t know remember exactly how I got to the start of my ride, though I think I probably rode from Waterloo to Fenchurch Street for a train to Limehouse station, crossing the Thames on Southwark Bridge. But from there on the pictures make my route fairly clear.

Bow Creek and Bow Locks

I cycled roughly along the Regents Canal up to the former Stepney Gas Works site north of Ben Johnson Road. There had been a fight to save more elements of the former gas works including gas holders which were some of the oldest surviving in the world; although some were said by English Heritage to be of national importance an attempt to get one of them listed failed. Eventually the area was redeveloped by Bellway Homes with only token ‘public art’ residues of the works.

From there I headed east to the bridge at Twelvetrees Crescent across Bow Creek and the Lea Navigation to visit another gas works site, the West Ham Memorial Gardens where war memorials, a permanent flame and a statue of Sir Corbett Woodhall are in a small wooded area close to the remarkable group of gas holders for the former Bromley-by-Bow Gas Works.

Three Mills

From there I went down to the recently opened path beside Bow Creek, part of a planned riverside walk which had been landed with the ridiculous name of The Fatwalk. As I commented then, most of the walk, meant to lead from Three Mills all the way to the Thames was still closed (and is still closed 13 years later) and by the time they were open the “nincompoop who thought that ‘The Fatwalk’ was a good name for this route will probably have retired or died or moved to another job for which he (or she) is equally incapable and common sense will prevail as we walk or cycle along the Bow Creek Trail.”

New Lock, Prescott Channel

The walk still only goes as far south as Cody Dock, now a thriving community resource and hub with events and exhibitions and worth a visit, but in 2010 still undeveloped. The silly name has gone and this path is now also a part of London’s sculpture trail, The Line, making its way from the Greenwich Peninsula to Stratford.

Three Mills Wall River

At the end of the Fatwalk, I had to turn around and go back to the Twelvetrees Crescent bridge, where I once again photographed the locks from the Lea Navigation to Bow Creek. Now there are new steps leading down from this bridge to the towpath, but then I had to go across and join the fast-moving traffic on the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach to make my way to Three Mills.

Stratford High St

Three Mills is home to one of Newhams only four Grade I listed buildings and the House Mill, a tide mill, was built in 1776, though there had been tide mills here at least since the Domesday book.

Olympic stadium

The film studios here were converted from a gin factory where Chaim Weizmann developed a new biochemical process to produce acetone needed for explosive production in the First World War – which led to the Balfour Declaration and later to Weizmann becoming the first president of Israel.

Bridge over City Mill River

Past the studios I visited the new lock on the Prescott Channel, opened in 2009. Supposedly this was to be used by barges to carry away waste and bring in material for the development of the Olympic site instead of lorries, but was in practice only used for photo-opportunities. The Prescott Channel was built in the 1930s, part of a large flood relief programme, that was also largely to provide jobs at the height of the depression.

I get interviewed for a student film

Finally I cycled up to the Olympic site, a building site with little or no public access, but parts of the ‘Greenway’ – the path on the Northern Sewage Outfall – were still open and gave extensive views. The reason I was in London on this particular day, when the weather wasn’t at its best was to be interviewed and filmed by a group of students at the View tube on the Greenway. I can’t remember ever seeing the video. After the interview I made my way to Stratford to fold the Brompton and start my journey home on the Jubilee Line.

Bow Creek – right click to open at a viewable size in a new tab

As well as taking single images I also produced a number of panoramas, taking a series of pictures from the same position to be stitched together. These include some 360 degree views, produced by software from 6 or 8 individual images. The pictures were taken on a Nikon D700 and are each 12Mp, but the combined files are huge. It isn’t easy to display these on the web, and they fit even less well on this blog. I’ll post one here on a rather smaller scale and invite you to double click on it to see it larger, though still much reduced. You can find more online here.

Olympic Site Revisited
Three Mills
Bow and The Fatwalk


Iran, Palestine, Hong Kong, UK Strikers & City Views

Monday, October 10th, 2022

Solidarity protests on Friday 10th October 2014 and some extreme wide angle views in the City of London.


Solidarity for Care UK Strikers – Care UK, Southwark

Iran, Palestine, Hong Kong, UK Strikers & City Views
Protesters outside the offices in Great Guildford St

The protest by members from the National Shops Stewards Network, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Southwark Unison was one of many around the country in a nation-wide day of solidarity with Doncaster Care UK workers who had been on strike for 81 days after huge cuts in pay and services were made by a private equity company who have taken over this part of the NHS.

Iran, Palestine, Hong Kong, UK Strikers & City Views

Care UK is now owned by Bridgepoint, which also owns businesses including Fat Face and Pret a Manger. The workers are on strike not just over cuts in their own wages, but also against the changes in how Care UK is allowed to operate by the new bosses. What was formerly a values-based health service able to address the needs of those with learning disorders in their own community has been radically altered to providing minimum standards of service at the lowest possible cost to get the greatest profits for Bridgepoint, and for the company they will be sold on to once the private equity company has slimmed services and pay to the bone.

Solidarity for Care UK Strikers


Free Ghoncheh Ghavami – SOAS action

Iran, Palestine, Hong Kong, UK Strikers & City Views

The current unrest in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the morality police’ for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly, so that some of her hair was visible is unprecedented, but women there have been oppressed by religious police since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

An Iranian woman who cannot go back to Iran

In 2014 former SOAS Law student Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested and detained with other women for going to try to watch a volleyball match in Tehran. At the time of the protest outside SOAS University of London she had been held for 104 days and had been on hunger strike for 10 days. The protesters included a number of Iranian students one of whom told the protest she could not return to Iran as the TV coverage of a volleyball game in Rome had shown her reacting to a score.

The rally was supported by staff and the SOAS staff unions UCU and Unison, as well as by the SOAS Student Union, and some students took part in a day’s hunger strike in solidarity and there was a candlelight vigil. Ghavami was released on bail on 23 November 2014 and later sentenced to a year in jail and a two-year travel ban for “propaganda against the regime”.

Free Ghoncheh Ghavami – SOAS action


City Panoramas

I had an hour or two to spare before the next protest I was to cover and spent some of this walking around the city and making some extreme wide-angle photographs.

Although these pictures have a normal aspect ratio, they have a horizontal angle of view of over 145 degrees and a vertical angle of around 90 degrees, only possible by using a lens which does not give the more normal ‘rectilinear’ perspective but represents the scene with some curvature.

City Panoramas


Palestine protest at Hewlett Packard – Wood St

The Palestinian Prisoners Campaign continued their campaign against Hewlett-Packard, which boasts of ‘a massive presence’ in Israel and are the IT backbone for the Israeli war machine with a picket outside their London offices.

Police watched the protest across the street from HP’s offices carefully and umbrellas in the colours of the Palestinian flag and large banners made the protest very visible. Speeches and posters taped on the pavement gave details of HP’s involvement in the oppression and imprisonment of Palestinians which were also stated on the leaflets the protesters handed out.

Palestine protest at Hewlett Packard


Solidarity with the Umbrella Revolution – Chinese Embassy

Umbrellas were also on display at the protest around the doorway of the Chinese Embassy on Portland Place organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts in solidarity with the ‘umbrella revolution’ of the students and workers of Hong Kong in their fight for democracy.

Most of the umbrellas were on posters and placards, though some protesters carried small yellow paper umbrellas and there were just a few full-size ones too.

Police tried to move the protesters to the other side of the road, but they refused to move. They called for the immediate release of all the arrested, an end to the suppression of peaceful assembly, replacing the “fake universal suffrage” formula with the genuine political reform workers have been demanding, and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying.

Solidarity with the Umbrella Revolution