Posts Tagged ‘Royal Docks’

From the Royals

Monday, July 13th, 2020

I find to my surprise that it is very nearly seven years since I self-published my book ‘The Deserted Royals‘ and wrote a little about it here. Some of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen the rather wider range of pictures from that project made back in 1984 that I’m currently posting daily as my ‘story’ there, though I find Facebook particularly adept in hiding those posts I’d like to see and instead feeding me cats and celebs.

The ‘Royals’ in question are of course the Royal Docks, and most of my work was on the Royal Albert and King George V Docks in North Woolwich, by then part of the London Borough of Newham. I’d tried to photograph them from publicly accessible locations (with the usual mild bit of trespassing) but had found this very limiting, and wrote to the Port of London Authority who still owned these two docks, requesting permission to photograph them from the inside. Rather to my surprise they replied and granted me the access I’d requested. A similar letter to the owners of the Royal Victoria Dock went unanswered.

As well as the daily release on Facebook I will shortly be adding these pictures, along with others I took of London in 1984 to my Flickr album London 1984. At the moment it has pictures I took earlier in the year, including some from the West India Docks. I decided at the start of this year to put pictures on Flickr at a relatively high resolution and high quality and to trust any commercial users to respect my copyright and contact me to pay for usage. Although it’s almost certainly over-idealistic, I don’t think I’m likely to lose any significant income. I’ve used these larger images in this post and if you right click and open them in a new tab you can see them larger than in the post.

Here are a few of the pictures I’ve recently posted on Facebook, along with the usually short texts which accompany them, beginning below with an introductory picture and ending with today’s picture, about which I wrote a little more than usual.


South Quay, King George V Dock, Newham 1984
84-7c-21.
I had obtained permission from the PLA to photograph inside the dock area they owned – the King George V and Royal Albert Docks two docks on two days, and made my first visit in July. The security men in the gate house were clearly surprised that anyone should want to come and take pictures, but not very interested in what I did. Once inside there was no security presence and I could wander freely on the south quay of the King George V dock and on the central peninsula between the two docks, though their was no access to the north side of Albert Dock.
I was not supposed to enter any of the buildings, which could be unsafe, but I did take a number of pictures through windows and doorways, and later did cautiously enter some of the smaller buildings that seemed safe. On my first visit I exposed around ten rolls of black and white film – 360 exposures as well as some colour transparencies over around six or seven hours of work.
Iason and Ion are the two ships which could be seen in the distance in some pictures posted earlier, at the west end of the north quay of the King George V dock. To the left is the dry or graving dock at the west end of the dock, full of water.

King George V Dock, Newham 1984
84-7e-63.
A bollard and a more substantial shed on the land between the two docks, now the runway for London City Airport, looking roughly east. The row of cranes is along the north side of the King George V Dock.

Office curtain, King George V Dock, Royal Albert Dock, Newham 1984
84-7l-53.
This was one of the few pictures, possibly the only picture, where I used flash to capture the curtain blowing in the wind and to balance the light inside the office with that outside. It was quite a pretty curtain, a landscape with trees and something of a Japanese feel, but it was the wall-paper that attracted me more with its groups of small fishing boats in front of a shore with what was probably meant to be a fortress but looked to me more like a cement works like those further down the Thames.
Obviously the scene outside the window with its cranes was vital to the picture, and balancing the light levels inside and outside was no simple matter. Nowadays modern cameras do this kind of thing automatically but back then it involved calculations using distance and the flash guide number, careful exposure measurements through the window and a great deal of luck. It was made more difficult by the slow flash sync speed of all SLR cameras of the time, limited by their focal plane shutters, in this case to 1/60th of a second. I think it was the first time I’d tried to do anything like this, though I had read about it in photographic magazines and I only took a single frame, so it was definitely a case of beginner’s luck

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

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


Royal Docks & the Thames

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

I’d gone to North Woolwich in February for a walk by the Thames and intending to go around Albert Dock Basin, but because of transport problems I had run out of time and had to cut the walk short to go and photograph a protest in central London. Since then I’d been trying without success to find time to complete the walk. It seemed a long way to go just to finish this short walk so I hadn’t wanted to go out just to do this, but on Thursday August 1st I had an event beginning in the morning in Brixton and then another starting around 7pm in Mayfair, and as it was a fine day I thought I would have plenty of time.

I made my way from King George V station as directly as possible to the entrance lock to the Royal Docks where I had cut short the walk on the previous occasion, taking few pictures, and then began a leisurely stroll along a section of the Capital Ring.

I was mainly interested in making some panoramic images of the area. I was disappointed to find that the riverside path still stops at Armada Green and I hope one day it will be possible to walk aong to Barking Creek. Instead I had to follow the Capital Ring and go down Atlantis Avenue and then turned down Gallions Road to go down past the Gallions Hotel (which I photographed around 40 years ago) and then beside Albert Dock Basin to go up on the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge, which passes at a high level over the Albert Dock Basin, giving some good views of the dock and the surrounding area.

On My London Diary you can see over 60 panoramic images I made on the walk along with a slightly smaller number of less wide views. The panoramas(except for a couple including the example above) are cropped to a 1.9:1 ratio, while the other images have the standard 1.5:1 aspect ratio. The panoramas use a cylindrical perspective, which results in some curvature of any non-vertical straight lines except for the horizon which I place at the centre of the image when making the picture, though the crop may raise or lower it. The curvature is more marked towards the top and bottom edges.

North Woolwich Royal Docks & Thames


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

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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


North Woolwich

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

The weather and London’s transport system were both against me. I’d finished photographing the protests against outsourcing and had made my way to eat lunch. I wanted something fast and cheap, and my favourite central London Wetherspoons was ideal, and as I ate I checked my travel plans to find the Docklands Light Railway had shut down somewhere between where I was and King George V, where I’d planned to start taking some urban landscape panoramas.

Probably I should have abandoned my plans, but I pressed ahead, taking an alternative route to Woolwich Arsenal via London Bridge, thinking if need be I could walk across in the tunnel under the river. By the time I got there, the DLR at least at that end was up and running again, but it still meant I started over half an hour later than I had hoped.

It was a bright sunny day, blue sky with not a cloud in sight, and very pleasant for the time of year, but this is possibly about the worst weather possible for making good panoramic photographs. When you have an angle of view og over one and a half right angles, most images are likely to include large areas of sky. It tends to kill pictures if this is either featureless overcast or even worse simply blue. You want detail, nice clouds in a blue or grey sky. And blue sky is the worst of all, because although we generally see it as a uniform blue, as your view gets closer to the sun it gets a lot brighter, and much lighter in the picture.

I’d arranged to meet with some friends who were carrying out a protest in the early evening, and had to be back there for 5.30 pm, so my time was strictly limited. In the end I did less than half the walk I’d intended, and the second half was really the part which held the more interest for me, with the possibility of a little harmless trespass.

At some point I glanced at my watch and had to rush back to King George V for my journey back into central London. I promised myself I would come back soon and complete the walk, but three months later I’ve yet to do so, and in areas such as this things may well have changed significantly.

Some of the pictures, despite the light are not bad, but others were more just a note to myself that I need to return at a better time. As usual when making these panoramic images I work with a standard 3:2 format, intending to later crop them to around 16×9. Not everything works in panoramic format and I also took a number of pictures with a longer lens.

More pictures at North Woolwich.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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