Posts Tagged ‘Southwark’

1986 Page 8

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Page 8 of my album 1986 London Photographs begins with pictures from Wapping in August 1986.

Wapping High St, Wapping, Tower Hamlets  86-8t-55-Edit_2400

I photographed some slogans in Russian on fences – left I understand from the making of a film, supposedly set in Russia, but actually filmed here.

Wapping High St, Wapping, Tower Hamlets 86-8t-54-Edit_2400

Wapping High Street never failed to interest me back then, though it has now lost a great deal of the old atmosphere. The doorway at the right of this picture now leads to the Captain Kidd pub, converted from an old warehouse which used to store various goods including coffee, edible gums, dried fruit and wool from Australia. Sam Smith’s have done some excellent conversions of a number of historic properties and this is now a pleasant place to sit on a terrace overlooking the river and enjoy a pint of Old Brewery Bitter in a pub blessedly without TV or canned music.

Hays Wharf, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark 86-8u-61-Edit_2400

After making some pictures there I walked back to Tower Bridge and crossed it to wander around a little of Bermondsey and Southwark as I made my way back to Waterloo station. The view towards Guy’s Hospital from Tower Bridge is rather different now, with City Hall and More London almost hiding the hospital tower and a wide walkway along the river bank.

Gainsford St, Bermondsey, Southwark 86-8u-54-Edit_2400

As in Wapping, many of these pictures south of the river show evidence of the great deal of building work then taking place, with many buildings being reduced to street-facing facades. For many buildings keeping the facades is probably the only possible way – if done sympathetically – of retaining some of the atmosphere of the areas, though when done badly a complete modern replacement would be preferable; not all buildings deserve to be kept. Mostly I avoided people in making these pictures, but some were desperate to be photographed.

Southern 777, Steam Engine, Cannon St Station, City 86-8v-65-Edit_2400

Another day in August I went with my two young sons, both keen railway enthusiasts and members of a British Rail kids group ‘Railriders’ to an event taking place at Cannon St station, with vintage Southern Railway electric trains and a steam engine.

Skin Market Place, Southwark 86-8w-01-Edit_2400

The trains didn’t greatly interest me, but I took a few pictures before we left and went over Southwark Bridge for a walk around Southwark, again on our way to Waterloo. Bankside Power Station is now Tate Modern, but I think Skin Market Place and its council depot has disappeared without trace.

100 pictures at 1986 London Photographs Page 8


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.


1986 Complete – Page 1

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

Images in this post are embedded from Flickr where you can view them at a large size by clicking on the image. You will need to use your browser back button to return to this post. Or you can right-click and select ‘Open link in new tab’.

Commercial St, Tower Hamlets 86-2d-51_2400

My album 1986 London Photographs is now complete on Flickr, and this is the first of a short series of posts pointing out a few of my favourite images from the year.

Of course the 1370 pictures in the album are not all I took that year, but perhaps about a quarter or a fifth. Quite a lot more than I would have selected or shown back in 1986, but the content has aged well, even if sometimes the actual physical negatives have deteriorated. Images that might have seemed a little mundane when I first saw them on the contact sheets have often gained considerably in interest as historical records.

There is a little redundancy in those 1370, and I’ve sometimes included several pictures of the same subject, where I’ve tried different ways to approach it. But the great majority of subjects were treated to only a single frame.

Crosby Row, Southwark 86-4f-11_2400

Many of those not included still have interest and value as historical records, but preparing them to go on line is tedious and time-consuming, particular as some need quite extensive digital retouching after the ‘scanning’ stage – mostly done by photographing the negatives with a Nikon D810 and Nikon 60mm macro lens. Some of my negatives were damaged by minute insects in search of gelatine, leaving their track as they chewed their way across them and depositing their frass and occasional body parts and complete restoration isn’t always possible.

Reuter, Royal Exchange, City 86-4l-66_2400

I’ve also been having problems in getting even lighting at the negative edges. This isn’t a problem with mounted slides, where the image is cropped, but I want the whole image, and possibly the problem is with light diffusing from the clear film edges. But it does mean every frame needs correction in Photoshop – rather like the little bit of edge-burning we used to do under the enlarger.

Courtenay Square, Kennington, Lambeth 86-4q-45_2400

I was working on a number of themes at the time and as well as recording buildings that interested me was particularly interest in sculptures, shopfronts, shop window displays and trees in the city. The first page of pictures on Flickr (100 images) includes work mainly from Southwark, the City of London and Spitalfields.

Brick Lane area, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-4p-55_2400

I took very few pictures of people at this time, partly because I was rather shy, but more that I had been affected by some feelings being strongly expressed by some at the time about privacy and arguments that it was wrong to photograph people without first seeking their permission. I was never convinced by these, but they were off-putting, and I was sometimes shouted at when taking pictures. Perhaps more importantly I wanted to direct attention to the things being photographed, and was aware that people almost always steal the frame.

There are another 95 pictures on the first page of the album, all with a location, taken from the usually rather incomplete information I recorded on the contact sheets. I’ve tried to check these before posting, but corrections and other comments are always welcome. I’m happy for these pictures – with suitable attribution – to be shared on social media, but they remain copyright and any commercial or editorial use requires a licence from me.


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.


London 1986 on Flickr

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

I’ve just uploaded the first tranche of 112 of my black and white pictures from 1986 on to Flickr. These are some of the pictures I took in the first four months of the year.

In 1986 I made around 5500 exposures on black and white film, the great majority of them being photographs taken on the streets of London, concentrating on the fabric of the city – the buildings and shop fronts in particular. At the same time I was also taking colour film, with a greater focus on shops and window displays.

A few of those black and white exposures were taken outside London on holidays and visits to family and friends, and rather more on a project in the industrial areas beside the Thames in Kent from Dartford to Cliffe.

Most motifs were taken with a single frame, carefully thought out and executed much as if I was using a large format camera, rather than the 35mmm Olympus fitted with a shift lens which I used for most of these images. A few received a second exposure, perhaps to concentrate on detail or where I could see an alternative approach and even more rarely I became excited enough to take more.

The almost a thousand images which will eventually be in this album represent about a quarter or a third of this work – the images I now find more interesting. Some of the scans have minor technical problems that annoy me but are probably not apparent to most viewers. Most were made while I was learning to use a DSLR to photograph negatives.

Although I had been walking around London with a camera since 1973 it was really in 1986 that I made a serious start on photographing the city as a whole, much as I had previously concentrated on various areas of docklands. Photographically I was inspired by the work of Eugène Atget in Paris, recording the old city he saw disappearing, but also by the encyclopedic work of Pevsner and his co-workers in ‘The Buildings of England‘, the original series of which were published between 1951-74. These both inspired and infuriated me by their omissions and the sometimes crass judgements and in particular what seemed to be a disdain for the vernacular, the commercial and the industrial. I decided my own view would be more comprehensive and I would photograph any building I found significant or interesting as well as exemplars of the typical.

Later I would often go into the library at the National Building Record, then in Saville Row, and while waiting for my appointment pull one of their London files from the shelves and leaf through its contents. For most areas it was church after church after church, occasionally enlivened by some ancient house or stately home. Perhaps the odd old pub, but little else to reflect where the ordinary people of London lived, worked or shopped. A few of my images helped to widen their collection, much of the older work in which I was told was donated by Church of England clergy with time on their hands and the money to indulge in photography as a hobby.

I had of course set myself an impossible task, and I realised this from the start, but made it even more so by widening my view in later years to take in the whole of Greater London. I kept at work for almost 15 years, by which time I had covered most of those areas that particularly interested me. But it had also become clear to me that times had changed and in particular that technology was changing.

I had already made use of the web to put some of my work online – in my Buildings of London website first put online in 1996 (with later revisions but never brought up to date as I decided it was impossible to scale it up) and this continued with London’s Industrial Heritage in 1999. The images on these sites reflect the But by 2000 it was clear to me that the impact of digital photography would lead to the city becoming on-line as a whole in a new way that made the continuance of my project redundant.

Google brought this to fruition with the launch of Street View in 2007, though I think it only came to London in 2008. When you view an area on this now, you can probably see it as it was some time in the last year, but, if you are fortunate, can also go back to various other views taken as far back as 2008. But for those relatively few areas and buildings in my pictures you may be able to go back to 1986. Much of London has changed dramatically since then.

Richmond Ave, Islington 86-2d-42_2400

You can watch them here, but its better to go to Flickr and watch them at a larger size.


Up the Elephant

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

A quick trip on the Bakerloo line took me from elephants in Cavendish Square to the Elephant, where Southwark Notes, Latin Elephant and Up the Elephant were holding their Love the Elephant Street Celebration.

For generations the Elephant & Castle has been a lively South London hub, its nature changing over the years. The country’s first shopping mall was built here in 1955 on the site of a bomb-damaged estate, and while showing its age is still more interesting than most, and one that both reflects and caters for the local community, increasingly Latin-American, as well as largely older bingo-playing local residents.

Shopping malls are generally pretty soulless places, and on going inside you transition from whichever town or city you were into some strange limbo of franchises and chains. The few with a little more character are some of the older ones, usually incorporating market traders and other small local businesses, while the more recent examples have little to offer except the same as every other more recent mall.

Virtually the only reason I ever enter them is to search for the public toilets most offer, which usually involves a long trek following often confusing signage designed to take you past every retail outlet en-route.

Not of course that the Elephant shopping centre is perfect, far from it. It is certainly showing its age and needs improvement, and it has been deliberately run down by its owners to promote the redevelopment.

But campaigners say it should be redeveloped with the local community in mind while the developers Delancey working with Southwark Council and the London College of Communications, seem largely concerned with maximising their profits from the scheme.

Years of campaigning by local community groups has resulted in some minor improvements to the proposals – including more social housing, though it remains to be seen if this will actually happen.

Although the plans were finally approved last December, the campaing goes on, to keep the shopping centre alive until it is demolished and to get fairer treatment of the existing traders. Some have been promised space in the new development, but sometimes only a small fraction of their current area, and the campaign want all to be made offers on a ‘like for like’ basis, with an increase in the relocation fund.

More at Love the Elephant.


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

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.

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.


Cold spell – no heating

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Southwark are perhaps the worst of London’s councils so far as their housing policies are concerned, though they face stiff opposition from others. But their demolition of the Heygate estate next to the Elephant & Castle is hard to beat for its combination of lies, total disregard for residents, loss of social housing, veniality and sheer incompetence and has been well-recorded on local blogs. It is a truly sad story for any local council, and particularly for a council dominated – as most of London’s councils are – by the Labour party, which currently holds 49 or the 63 seats with the only opposition being the 14 Lib Dems.

The Aylesbury estate is more or less immediately south of the former Heygate in Walworth, and is said to be the largest public housing estate in Europe, with 2700 homes built between 1963 and 1977. It contains a mixture of huge blocks like those in the picture below and much smaller and lower ones. Residents turned down a plan to pass the estate over to a housing association in 1999 and in a later ballot turned down Southwark’s plans for demolition, calling instead for the much cheaper minor works needed to refurbish each property up to modern standards.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Southwark Council had failed to carry out much necessary maintenance, and although the varied properties were generally well designed and built, the estate was allowed to deteriorate. Like the Heygate it was also used to house people with various problems including mental health and drug use and gained a notorious reputation, very much exaggerated by its use for filming a number of TV crime series.

The lack of proper maintenance has continued into this century, and residents feel it has worsened since the council made the decision to demolish the estate, parts of which have already been emptied and destroyed, to be replaced by properties at expensive market rents or the unaffordable ‘affordable’ rents at around 80% of market rates. Few of the Aylesbury residents can afford to take up any of the new properties, and are forced to move to the outer areas of London.

The Aylesbury was built with a central boiler house to run an energy-efficient district heating scheme. Because of the council’s failure to properly maintain this, there are repeated breakdowns in cold periods of winter such as that we had just been suffering. Residents either freeze or rely on expensive electric heating. One of those who spoke told how she had put £20 into her prepayment meter only for it to run out a day later; another told of having reported the heaters in her flat for six months without the council coming to maintain them.

Residents are convinced that Southwark council have been purposefully neglecting their well built homes to justify the demolition of the estate and bully the residents out against a ballot result which called for refurbishment rather than demolition. They protested outside the local housing office for over an hour, calling for someone from the council to come out and speak to them. No one came out and security men prevented the protesters from going inside.

Southwark Council claimed in a statement to a regional TV programme which covered the protest that they were doing their best to keep the heating going, but no-one on the Aylesbury believes them.

More at Aylesbury residents protest lack of heating


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images