Posts Tagged ‘Southwark’

Tories Out March – 1st July 2017

Friday, July 1st, 2022

Class War wrap a march steward in their banner at the start of the march

Tories Out March – 1st July 2017: Five years ago, shortly after the Labour right working inside the party had managed to prevent a Corbyn victory by sabotaging the campaign for the 2017 General Election, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity organised a march through London calling for Theresa May and the Conservatives to go.

Of course they didn’t go, and later when Boris Johnson called an election over Brexit, he gained a landslide victory, rather than the close call in 2017 which left Theresa May having to bribe the Northern Irish DUP, a deeply bigoted party with links to Loyalist terrorists to support her.

This reliance on the DUP has eventually led to the current problem over the Irish Sea border arrangements which Boris Johnson persuaded the EU to adopt as a vital part of his Brexit deal, and which the government is now pushing through a bill to enable us to renege on.

And the Johnson administration has continued and worsened the Tory policies which in 2017 should have resulted in a Labour victory. In my account of the protest march 5 years ago today I wrote

“The election showed a rejection of … austerity policies and the Grenfell Tower disaster underlined the toxic effects of Tory failure and privatisation of building regulations and inspection and a total lack of concern for the lives of ordinary people. The protesters, many of whom chanted their support of Jeremy Corbyn, say the Tories have proved themselves unfit to govern. They demand a decent health service, education system, housing, jobs and living standards for all.”

Rev Paul Nicolson from Taxpayers Against Poverty rings his bell

The full facts of the sabotage of the Labour election campaign from inside the party had not then come to light – and we are still waiting for the Forde inquiry into the leaked report which exposed the racism, hyper-factionalism and electoral sabotage by party officials as well as the misguided attempts of the Corbyn leadership such as the expulsion of Jackie Walker and the resignations of Chris Williamson and Ken Livingstone.

But although this was largely a march of Labour supporters there were still a number of groups on the march who were critical of Labour’s policies and the practices of London Labour councils, particularly on housing, where councils are “demolishing council estates and colluding with huge property developers to replace them with expensive and largely private housing. It is a massive land grab, giving away public land often at far below market value and pricing the former residents out of London in what they call ‘regeneration’ but is quite clearly a process of social and ethnic cleansing.”

It is also a process that has resulted in considerable personal financial advantage for some of those who have led it, with councillors and officers either leaving to work for the developers or in organisations set up by councils to manage their estates. Setting up organisations such as the TMO responsible for the unsafe condition of Grenfell Tower has enabled these bodies to hide information about such activites as using consultants to advise them on circumventing adequate fire inspections outside of the purview of Freedom of Information requests.

Most obvious among these groups was Class War, alway ready to make their views known and to challenge authority. At the start of the march close to the BBC they had a little run-in with the march stewards, which resulted in them briefly wrapping their banner around one of him – though of course they soon released him. Later at the rally in Parliament Square I unfortunately missed a confrontation in which Lisa McKenzie stood in front of both Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and loudly asked them the simple question ‘When are you going to stop Labour councils socially cleansing people out of London?’. Both men simply ignored her and walked away.

Much more about the event and many more pictures at Tories Out March.

West Lane & Spa Road Bermondsey 1988

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

My previous post on this walk was Thames, Rotherhithe & Wapping 1988 and ended next to the isolated former offices of Braithwaite & Dean, close to the Angel pub on the bank of the Thames.

Servewell Cafe, West Lane,Bermondsey, 1988 88-10l-34-Edit_2400
Servewell Cafe, West Lane,Bermondsey, 1988 88-10l-34

I walked a short distance west by the river, photographing some recent flats on Bermondsey Wall East and the riverside warehouse at Corbett’s wharf, since discretely refurbished (not digitised) before turning down West Lane where there was more new housing and finding The Evangelical Church of the Deaf which I think was where there is now a new block of flats on Paradise Street.(also not digitised.)

The Servewell Cafe was then at number 14, and is now a few doors down in larger premises, its former site now an Indian Takeaway. The barbers on the corner remains a Gents Hairdresser, but the wool shop is now ‘glue bermondsey’ creative space.

Bermondsey & Rotherhithe, War Memorial, West Lane, Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-35-Edit_2400
Bermondsey & Rotherhithe, War Memorial, West Lane, Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-35

The Bermondsey & Rotherhithe War Memorial is immediately in front of the shops on West Lane, close to its junction with Jamaica Road on a wide area of pavement. It was erected here replacing a temporary memorial in 1921 “to the honoured memory of the men of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe who fell in the great war 1914 – 1918” and later inscriptions were added for the Second World War, including “In remembrance of all those civilians and members of the civil defence and fire brigade services who lost their lives in this community 1939 – 1945.” The coat of arms is that of the former Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey with its motto ‘Prosunt Gentibus Artes‘ (arts profit the people). Among the sponsors of the memorial was the then owner of Peak Freans, Arthur Carr.

Scott Lidgett Crescent, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-36-Edit_2400
Scott Lidgett Crescent, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-36

John Scott Lidgett (1854-1953) was a Methodist minister, educationalist and politician who was at various times the first President of the Methodist Conference, vice-chancellor of the University of London. He played an important role in the development of women’s colleges and university support for teach training. He became an alderman of the London County Council and led the Progressive Party on the LCC from 1918-28.

In 1891 he established the Bermondsey Settlement, the only Methodist settlement, and became its warden. Among those that this attracted to devote themselves to come and live and work in the community were Ada and Alfred Salter. The settlement closed in 1969.

These solidly built houses were a part of the continuing redevelopment of the area which had been begun by Bermondsey Council – with the Salters as councillors and later Mayor and MP respectively, beginning at Wilson Grove in 1927. In the ten years after the war, the council and the LCC built 9,600 homes.

Salvation Army, Hostel, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-11-Edit_2400
Salvation Army, Hostel, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-11

The Salvation Army Social Services Hostel for Men on Spa Road was much needed in one of the country’s most deprived areas when this ‘elevator’, designed to both house men and provide some paid work to prepare them for work outside, opened in 1899. It was a waste paper depot and the men were employed in sorting the waste – recycling is nothing new.

Back in my childhood, before going to church my father would sort all the waste paper which had found its way into our house, flattening the sheets, piling them on top of each other before rolling them up and tying the roll with string, to be put out next to the dustbin for the council to collect.

The Spa Road hostel also housed some Belgian refugees in the First World War and Italian prisoners of war at the end of WW2. A laundry was added in the 1920s. By the time I photographed it the laundry had closed but the centre also offered other work, including basket-weaving, carpentry, candle-making, and picture-framing. It finally closed in 2001 and was demolished in 2003. The site is now occupied by a large block of flats.

Bermondsey Municipal Offices, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-14-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Municipal Offices, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-14

Bermondsey Town Hall was only Grade II listed 10 years after I made this picture. It was built as an extension to the existing Victorian Bermondsey Town Hall in 1928-1930, architect Henry Tansley indulging in a deliberate recreation of the 19th century Greek Revival. I’ve not digitised the picture I took of its grand frontage, but only this image showing a detail of the building, including some of its listed railings.

Planning permission was granted in 2012 for the conversion of the building into 41 homes and is now rather confusingly called Old Town Hall Apartments.

BermondseyCentral Library, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-15-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Central Library, Spa Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-15

Similarly I’ve yet to digitise the more overall image of the library which is in the background to this picture. The gate pier and railings are all that remains from another municipal building, the old Bermondsey Town Hall which was heavily damaged by wartime bombing and demolished in the 1960. The gate was kept when a new ‘One Stop Shop’ replaced the ruins, and it was retained when this was in turn demolished and replaced by ‘The Exchange’ around 2013. Its ground floor is now a Sainsbury’s Local.

Flats, Fort Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10m-65-Edit_2400
Flats, Fort Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10m-65

I wanders a little around the area by Spa Gardens making an image of new housing in Hazel Way and old in Balaclava Rd and then this which I think is Dartford House in Fort Road, part of the Longfield Estate.

To be continued…

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Thames, Rotherhithe & Wapping 1988

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

From Southwark Park Schools which ended the previous post on this walk, Rotherhithe New Road & Southwark Park Schools, I walked a few yards up Southwark Park Road to the corner with Banyard Road, where I photographed the taxi office (still there but changed from A-Z Star Cars to 5 Star Cars) with the pub on the opposite corner, the Southwark Park Tavern, now closed and converted to residential around 2003.

There was a pub around here, the Green Man, possibly on this site before Southwark Park opened in 1869 but I think this building probably came shortly after the park was opened, and is opposite the Carriage Drive leading into the park.

Unfortunately I haven’t yet digitised this picture, nor one of rather plain two-storey terrace on Banyard Rd or an image showing a play area in the park. I hurried through the park to the Jamaica Road gate at its north, crossing to make my way to Kings Stairs Gardens and the River Thames.

River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-63-Edit_2400
River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-63

The two jetties visible here I think have now gone and there is certainly no line of lighters as in this picture, and there is one striking new building on the riverfront.

River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-65-Edit_2400
River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-65

A second picture taken with a short telephoto lens from almost exactly the same place shows the central area more clearly, with new flats being built on Rotherhithe St.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-51-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-51

Looking across the Thames downstream, with Free Trade Wharf at the extreme right and just to the left the cylinder ventilation shaft of the Rotherhithe tunnel in the King Edward Memorial Park. Both Metropolitan Wharf and New Crane Wharf are covered iwth scaffolding.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-52-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-52

Part of St John’s Wharf and King Henry’s Wharves seen across the River Thames.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-53-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-53

More of St John’s Wharf, including one of the earlier warehouse conversions and the Grade II listed Wapping Police Station, built 1907-10, Metropolitan Police architect John Dixon Butler. At extreme left is a part of Aberdeen Wharf built in 1843–4 by the Aberdeen Steam Navigation Company.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-54-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-54

The end of Aberdeen Wharf is at the right edge of this picture, and at its left the Wapping Police Boatyard, an unnecessarily ugly building opened in 1973. The new building in the centre of the picture also seems something of an eyesore, at least at its ends.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-55-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-55

Continuing up-river from the Police Boatyard are St Thomas Wharf, Pierhead Wharf, Oliver’s Wharf – the first warehouse in Wapping to be converted into luxury flats in 1972 – and Wapping Pierhead, with houses designed by Daniel Alexander in 1811 and the main entrance to London Docks.

Bermondsey, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-41-Edit_2400
Bermondsey, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-41

Looking upriver on the south bank with Tower Bridge at the extreme right and Guy’s Hospital tower just left of centre. Cherry Garden Pier is at left.

Silver Jubilee, marker, EIIR, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-43-Edit_2400
Silver Jubilee, marker, EIIR, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-43

There is still a marker for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee here but it looks far less impressive than this rugged stonework I photographed in 1988. London has also gained quite a few tall buildings, but the view along the river remains clear and you can still see the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Braithwaite & Dean, Rotherhithe St, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-44-Edit_2400
Braithwaite & Dean, Rotherhithe St, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-44

41 Rotherhithe St, now apparently 1 Fulford St at least according to Google Maps, was the offices of lighterage company Braitwaite & Dean, where their lightermen would come to collect their weekly wage. Apparently it was known locally as the Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe, though the building’s lean is more apparent from across the river than in my picture.

It was left more or less alone on this stretch of the river with just the Angel pub equally isolated a few yards upriver after Bermondsey council bought many of the buildings in 1939 to create a park, with wartime bombing continuing the demolition job. There was some temporary housing by the river when I first walked along here in the early 1980s, but that soon disappeared.

My walk in Bermondsey continued – more about it in a later post.

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Rotherhithe New Road & Southwark Park Schools

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

Rotherhithe New Road & Southwark Park Schools – October 1988

Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-31-Edit_2400
Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-31

I’m not entirely sure whether my next pictures, taken on Rotherhithe New Road were a part of the same walk as my previous post in this series, Down the Blue, Spa Road & Old Jamaica Road 1988 or the start of my next visit to the area from roughly where that ended.

This window was somewhere not far from Raymouth Road which I probably walked down to get to Rotherhithe New Road, and I liked the design of the window with its tall thin iron supports, though it was hard so see them through the branches – which perhaps added to their attraction. I can’t find the actual location and it may well have been demolished.

Debnams Rd, Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-34-Edit_2400
Debnams Rd, Rotherhithe New Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-34

This is the corner of Debnams Road with Rotherhithe New Road and it was obviously the ‘5 Star Batteries’ painting on the first floor wall together with the other signage that made me photograph it. 203-5 is now covered with pebbledash and for some years had an advertising hoarding on this side wall, but this is now gone. The premises have changed hands several times, and in recent years have been a glazing firm, an African Food Store and now ‘Posh Hair Salon’.

Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-22-Edit_2400
Rotherhithe New Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-22

Next to the railway arches on the south side of Rotherhithe New Road in what is now called Jarrow Road I couldn’t resist this smiling lorry for ‘Wood Be Good Paint Strippers’.

Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-23-Edit_2400
Rotherhithe New Rd Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-23

This obviously dilapidated building was on Rotherhithe New Road close to the railway bridges and I think was demolished to build the Rotherhithe Business Estate at 214 Rotherhithe New Rd. Unfortunately I have no idea what it had been – if anyone knows please tell me in the comments.

Cain Hill Cafe, Rotherhithe New Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-11-Edit_2400
Cain Hill Cafe, Rotherhithe New Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-11

The Cain Hill Cafe which offered hot meals served all day, sandwiches and rolls was at the side of this railway bridge on Rotherhithe New Rd. This was demolished to give a wider entrance to the Rotherhithe Business Estate.

Southwark Park Schools, Southwark Park Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-12-Edit_2400
Southwark Park Schools, Southwark Park Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10k-12

Southwark Park Schools on Southwark Park Road, Grade II listed as an early example of a London Board School by E.R.Robson 1873-4. This frontage is a part of the original building which was extended in the 1890’s and 1910, and sensitively comprehensively redeveloped around 2010 retaining the listed buildings.

My photograph shows one of the two ‘2 sculptural reliefs which depict children learning; to each an inscription panel with the words “School Board for London”
and “Southwark Park Schools

From here I walked down to the River Thames, where the next post on this walk will continue.

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Surrey Docks & North Bermondsey 1988

Monday, June 13th, 2022

I can no longer remember whether the short excursion to Greenland Dock from Rotherhithe came at the end of my previous walk or a few days later at the beginning of my walk on 28th October 1988, though of course it doesn’t really matter. The story of my previous walk began at Greenwich and Deptford Creek October 1988 and ended with Deptford to Rotherhithe October 1988.

I’m unsure now whether I took the fist few of these pictures at the end of my previous walk or at the start of my next one, but it hardly matters as they are in the same area and within a few days of each other.

Lifting Bridge, Dockside sheds, Redriff Rd, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-03-Edit_2400
Lifting Bridge, Dockside sheds, Redriff Rd, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-03

This is one of the two bridges that linked the riverside areas of Rotherhithe and the Surrey Docks to the area around Lower Road and Surrey Quays station, then on the East London which ran between Shoreditch and alternately to New Cross or New Cross Gate, linking to the District line at Whitechapel. Both have been preserved, though not in working order and this one a short distance from it former site.

At the centre of the picture you can see the curved lower end of the bridge and below it the flat rail on which it rolled back to raise the bascule, with a heavy counterweight above so very little power was needed to raise the bridge.

Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10h-12-Edit_2400
Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10h-12

Several relics from the working docks, including this capstan are still present at the east end of Greenland Quay.

Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10h-13-Edit_2400
Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10h-13

Four people in kayaks link up and stop to talk to each other in Greenland Dock. I was standing at the end of Greenland Quay and looking towards the tower blocks of the Barkantine Estate on the Isle of Dogs across the Thames.

Southwark Park, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-62-Edit_2400
Southwark Park, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-62

My next picture was made in Southwark Park, which I think I walked through to Jamaica Road. I’m not absolutely sure what the building in the background was, and I think the area it was in has now been re-developed. Somewhere in the north-east corner of the park it was probably a part of the former St Olave’s Hospital which closed in 1984 and was demolished and replaced by Ann Moss Way in the 1990s.

I seem deliberately to have tried to make this picture mysterious, taking three near-identical frames, an unusual number for me at the time when film was relatively expensive.

Major Works, James Jackson and Co, Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-65-Edit_2400
Major Works, James Jackson and Co, Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-51

This works was next to Major Road, though I’m not sure if it took its name from the road or gave its name to it. It was demolished to build Bermondsey Underground Station on the Jubilee Line Extension which opened at the start of 2000. According to the text on its frontage the company was ‘Established 1827’ and made ‘Flooring Adhesives, French Polishes, Wax Polishes, Varnishes, Seals, Staines – Etc.’

Jamaica Rd area, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-51-2-Edit_2400
Jamaica Rd area, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-51-2

Relatively few streets in the area aspire to a No 90 and none that I can find that look anything like this now. This was a part of a terrace of 5 similar houses starting at a street corner, with two pairs of doors on the street and one around the corner as another frame (not digitised) shows. It appears to be later Victorian and I suspect has been demolished. The gate was perhaps a 1930s addition.

Lockwood Square, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-52-Edit_2400
Lockwood Square, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10j-52

Lockwood Square was a 1960’s addition to the council’s Southwark Park Estate with flats around a central grass area. There had been a Lockwood Street here and it was probably badly damaged by wartime bombing. The buildings are bounded by Drummond Road, Clements Road and Southwark Park Road. Some of the ground floor is garages and there are a few shop units. To the north is a play area and Saint Crispin with Christ Church Bermondsey and the similar block of New Place Square.

To be continued…

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Deptford to Rotherhithe October 1988

Saturday, June 11th, 2022

Deptford to Rotherhithe October 1988 – the continuation and end of my photographic walk in October 1988. The previous post on this was Liquor, Motors, Furniture, Packing & Timber.

Grinstead Rd, Evelyn St, Deptford, Lewisham, 1988 88-10h-25-Edit_2400
Grinstead Rd, Evelyn St, Deptford, Lewisham, 1988 88-10h-25

I turned around on Grinstead Road and made this picture as I returned to Evelyn Street. Directly ahead on the other side of Evelyn St was the car auction site shown in a previous post, and towering above that two of the towers on the Pepys Estate. On my right was the grim factory wall of the former galvanised iron and zinc Ida works, at the back of Neptune Wharf on the now filled-in Surrey Canal

Clare Villas, Evelyn St, Deptford, Lewisham, 1988 88-10h-26-Edit_2400
Clare Villas, Evelyn St, Deptford, Lewisham, 1988

Clare Villas at 114-116 Evelyn Street and the neighbouring semi-detached pair Oak Villas whose doorway is at the left of the picture show us that there were then some wealthy local residents. These houses back on to Deptford Park and probably date from when this land was market gardens around the time this was bought by the London County Council in 1884. I think one of the two pairs was a little earlier than this date; Pevsner mentions both Clare Villas and Oak Villas, dating the latter to 1881.

Clare Villas, Evelyn St, Deptford, Lewisham, 1988 88-10i-22-Edit_2400
Clare Villas, Evelyn St, Deptford, Lewisham, 1988 88-10i-22

Another picture of Clare Villas. I walked further along Evelyn Street stooping to take a couple of pictures of a large block on the corner with Bestwood Street, with six rounded columns going up between its four storeys of windows with a vaguely deco feel, I think where MacDonalds now is, which I seem to have forgotten to digitise, along with an interestingly angled four-storey building with balconies on the north side of the junction, also not digitised.

Bestwood St, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10i-26-Edit_2400
Bestwood St, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10i-26

I often saw this block of two storey properties with their neatly trimmed hedges from the top floor of a bus, but this time I was on foot and stopped to make a couple of pictures, of whcih this, with its row of striped posts is more successful. Though I think it looked better from the higher viewpoint of the bus. This is a council development from the 1930s.

Lower Rd, Plough Way, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10i-14-Edit_2400
Lower Rd, Plough Way, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10i-14

Scorer’s Corner has conveniently placed road signs among its wealth of text to tell us that this is the corner of Plough Way and Lower Road. The buildings on Lower Road were demolished before 2008 and the site remained empty until replaced by a rather boring development in 2015-6. This includes the site of the Dreadnought pub at right, first recorded in 1849, although its mock Tudor frontage is rather later.

The buildings along Plough Way at left are still standing, though the Prince of Wales pub, there since at least 1861 closed and became a betting shop around 2012.

The Crystal Ball, Rotherhithe New Rd, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10i-15-Edit_2400
The Crystal Ball, Rotherhithe New Rd, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10i-15

The Crystal Ball frontage at 30 Rotherhithe New Road survived until around 2011 although I think the shop probably closed rather earlier. The building was then converted into residential use.

The Crystal Ball, Rotherhithe New Rd, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10i-16-Edit_2400
The Crystal Ball, Rotherhithe New Rd, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10i-16

It name ‘The Crystal Ball’ was inspired by the pub next door, the Crystal Tavern, first recorded here on the corner of Rotherhithe Old Road in 1852 but the current building, a fine example of a late Victorian pub, is dated 1895. Although it still has the pub sign (altered to read ‘Christ All Tavern’) and the Courage cockerel you can see in part at top left of this picture, it has since 1996 been home to the Christian Arise & Shine Evangelistic Association as their London Outreach Centre.

I think this walk ended here, at Surrey Quays Station, though it was then a rather longer an inconvenient journey for me by Underground back to Waterloo, requiring changes at Whitechapel from the East London Line to the District, then at Embankment onto the Northern Line one stop to Waterloo. The extension of the Jubilee Line to Stratford, opened at the start of 2000 made journeys to Rotherhithe considerably more convenient.

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St George’s Day 2016

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

April 23rd 303 was not a good day for George from Cappadocia. Diocletian, then the senior Roman Emperor had previously purged the Roman Army of Christians but had not really otherwise bothered too much about them, but he was persuaded by fellow emperor Galerius to take a harder line, and after consulting the oracle of Apollo began a general persecution across the empire on February 23, 303, which continued for the next 10 years or so.

For some reason George had escaped the previous army purge was was still serving as a member of Emperor Diocletian’s personal bodyguards. Tradition has it that he refused to recant his faith and was sentenced to death, being beheaded at Nicomedia on 23rd April. Rather different versions of his life (and death) grew up in the Greek and Latin churches. But certainly many Christians were killed by the Romans and George certainly represents one of many brave men who died rather than recant, most probably in the earlier years of Diocletian’s reign.

St George, Emperor Diocletian, the priestess or haruspex and the emperor’s daughter

Legends built up around him, few of which like that of the dragon (an 11th century addition) will have been true. It’s unlikely that he was subjected to more than twenty separate tortures over the course of seven years or that his martyrdom led to “40,900 pagans were converted to Christianity, including the empress Alexandra.” You can read more about him on Wikipedia.

His martydom began to be celebrated in Lydda in Palestine where he was thought to have died, and pilgrims came there and later to Cappadocia where he is thought to have come from. He was made a saint by Pope Gelasius I in 494, who said his was one of those “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God“.

St George fights the dragon on the Passmore Edwards Public Library, long closed

His fame spread across Christendom, though it was only in the ninth century that the first church was dedicated to him in England – and not until 1152 that he displaced Edward the Confessor as the patron saint of England, although he had become a part of some English battle cries in the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) and among the Crusaders, when many went from England to fight against the Muslims in Palestine between 1095 and 1291.

St Georges Day was made a major feast here in 1415 and 1421, a holiday where church attendance was compulsory and other festivities took place. Later its celebration declined, particularly after the union with Scotland, and had more or less died out by the 20th century.

In recent years there has been something of a revival, spurred on in part by the increasing festivals of other communities, sometimes supported by local councils. There has been an increasing emphasis too on our national teams, particularly the English Football and Rugby teams, with minor fixtures being promoted through the mass media in a way that in earlier years was reserved for the major sporting events – the Grand National, the FA Cup FInal and the Boat Race.

London’s dragons are mainly Chinese

The St George’s Flag had become something seldom seen outside football matches, except in the hands of small racist right-wing groups who called themselves patriots. Unfortunately recent years have seen a growth in these, and some have organised celebrations of St George’s Day, but there has also been a growth in less political events, with even English Heritage encouraging celebrations. Radio 3 has celebrated it, and both Conservatives and the Labour Party have campaigned for it – with Labour calling for it to become a public in both 2017 and 2019 manifestos.

The pictures here are from 23rd April 2016, I started the day photographing a couple of protests over the sale of illegal ‘blood diamonds’ from Sierra Leone at Selfridges in Oxford Street and Tiffany in Sloane Square before going on take pictures about St George’s Day, beginning around lunchtime in Trafalgar Square, where despite the support of mayor Boris Johnson little was happening. I went to the Roman Catholic St George’s Cathedral in Southwark, calling in briefly at the peace garden in the Imperial War Museum across the road as I waited for people to arrive for the St George in Southwark Procession.

This, led by led by St George, a Roman Emperor, the Mayor of Southwark and others and with a dragon at its rear made its way from the St George’s RC Cathedral to the Church of England St George the Martyr in Borough High Street.

I’d not been inside this before and went in with those taking part for a short address before we came out and the procession formed up. It wound its way through the back streets of Southwark and I was pleased as we went past the Priory on Webber Street to be able to tell the mayor something about Bert Hardy who had recently got a blue plaque there. I’d only met Hardy a couple of times, but one of my friends had worked at Grove Hardy as a printer.

The procession ended with a play in the yard beside St George the Martyr, but I left before it finished. Earlier I’d agreed to meet a couple of photographer friends at the start of the procession, but I think they had got lost on the way there, but I’d now arranged to find them on London Bridge. There seemed to be little going on at the George Inn on Borough High St, but at the King’s Head we walked into the bar and were seated by the window when St George walked in with a few mates. It obviously wasn’t the first pub they had visited. After he had got a pint I went and asked if I could take a few pictures, and he began posing, though moving rather too much in the low light.

After I had taken his picture a rather friendly dragon came up to the bar, followed by a second St George, and I photographed the two St Georges together. And as we left the bar, there in the street was the second of them with his dragon friend – and I took a few more frames.

More on most of these events and the other two protests I photographed that day:
St George in Southwark Procession
Peace Garden at War Museum
St Georges Day in London
Sierra Leone Blood Diamonds at Tiffany
Sierra Leone Blood Diamonds at Selfridges

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The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers
Saturday 13th April 2019 in London, three years ago seems very distant to me now.

Love the Elephant, Elephant & Castle, London

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

The main event I covered on the day was at the Elephant & Castle shopping centre in south London, where local people and supporters were calling on Southwark Council and developers Delancey to improve the plans for the redevelopment of the area.

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

The campaigners main banner had the message ‘LOVE THE ELEPHANT – HATE GENTRIFICATION’ and this is an area that epitomises the changes that have been taking place in many of London’s poorer areas for many years now. Traditionally working class South London, this area has been at the centre of major demolitions of large council estates and their replacement largely by expensive high rise blocks at market rents with a nominal amount of so-called ‘affordable’ and miniscule amounts of truly social housing.

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

Immediately to the east of the shopping centre had been the award-winning Heygate Estate, completed in 1974, once popular for its light and spacious flats, but long subjected to a process of managed decline by Southwark Council who even employed PR consultants to emphasise a negative view of the estate, together putting together what the estate’s architect Tim Tinker described in 2013 as a “farrago of half-truths and lies put together by people who should have known better.” The council deliberately used parts of it in the latter years to house people with mental health and other problems, and as temporary accommodation. I photographed the estate on several occasions, most recently on a tour by residents opposed to the redevelopment of both the Heygate and the neighbouring Aylesbury Esate in 2012, Walking the Rip-Off.

The Heygate estate had a mixture of properties with large blocks of flats on its edges and contained 1,214 homes, all initially social housing, though many were later purchased by residents who became leaseholders. It’s replacement, Elephant Park is far less well planned but according to Wikipedia will “provide 2,704 new homes, of which 82 will be social rented. The demolition cost approximately £15 million, with an additional £44m spent on emptying the estate and a further £21.5 million spent on progressing its redevelopment.” The council sold the estate to the developers at a huge loss for £50m.

Many of the flats on Elephant Park were sold overseas as investment properties, the continuing increases in London property prices making these a very attractive holding. The new estate will also provide housing for those on high salaries in London, with a railway station and two underground lines providing excellent transport links for professionals working elsewhere in the city. Those who previously lived and owned properties on the Heygate have had to move much further from the centre of the city, some many miles away.

The Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, was opened in 1965 on the site of the 1898 Elephant & Castle Estate which had been badly damaged by wartime bombing, and was the first purpose-built shopping centre in the UK and certainly one of the first in Europe. Many of its 115 shops were then owned by local traders.

A market trader speaks about the poor deal they are getting

The rally and procession by Southwark Notes, Latin Elephant and Up the Elephant at the Elephant & Castle called on Southwark Council and the developers Delancey to develop the Elephant for the existing population and users, rather than as social cleansing to attract new, wealthier residents and shoppers. They would like to see a development that retains the existing character of the area which has become very much a centre for South London’s Latin community many of whom live in the surrounding area. It became the most diverse and cosmopolitan shopping centre in London, with also other amenities such as a bowling alley and bingo hall, serving the population of the area.

Security officers order the campaigners out of the market area

They say the development should include more social housing and call for fairer treatment of the market traders, who should be provided with ‘like for like’ new spaces at affordable rents and be given adequate financial compensation for the disruption in business the development will cause.

A long series of protests in which locals were joined by students from the London College of Communication whose new building forms a part of the redevelopment did lead to some minor improvements to the scheme by the developers, but the shopping centre closed in September 2020 and demolition went ahead and was complete around a year later. The new development will include high-rent shops, almost certainly mainly parts of major chains, expensive restaurants and bars and plenty of luxury flats, along with a small amount of “affordable” housing.

Sewol Ferry Disaster 5 years on – Trafalgar Square

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

The good transport links that make the Elephant so attractive to developers also took me rapidly into the centre of London as the procession of protest there came to and end, although events there were continuing all afternoon – only four stops taking 6 minutes on the Bakerloo Line to Charing Cross.

I’ve photographed the small monthly vigils by campaigners in remembrance of the victims and in support of their families of the 304 people who died in the Sewol Ferry Disaster of 16 April 2014 on a number of occasions, though its always difficult to find anything new to say, either in words or pictures.

But this was a special event, the fifth anniversary of the disaster, and the 60th 60th monthly vigil. Campaigners continue to call for a full inquiry, the recovery of all bodies of victims, punishment for those responsible and new laws to prevent another similar disaster. They tie cards on lines with the class and name of the 250 high school children who were drowned after being told to ‘stay put below deck’.

Brexiteers march at Westminster – Westminster Bridge

The Elephant, Sewol and Brexiteers

Brexiteers were continuing to march weekly around London holding Union Jacks, St George’s flags and placards and many wearing yellow high-viz jackets because although there had been a small majority in favour of leaving Europe in the 2016 referendum, Parliament had not found a way to get a majority to pass the legislation needed. It was this indecision that led to a resounding victory for Boris Johnson in the 2019 election in December, though unfortunately his ‘oven-ready’ agreement has turned out to be extremely half-baked and most of the things dismissed by Brexiteers as scaremongering have turned out to be true, while the promises made by the Leave campaign have so far largely failed to materialise and most seem unlikely ever to do so.

Johnson’s deal – important parts of which he seems not to have understood, particularly over the Irish border arrangements has left us in the worst of all possible worlds, though it has made some of his wealthy friends – including some cabinet members – considerably wealthier and protected them from the threat of European legislation that would have outlawed some of their tax avoidance. Back in 2019 I commented “We were sold the impossible, and things were made worse by a government that thought it could play poker when what was needed was a serious attempt at finding a solution to the problems that both the UK and Europe face.”

The protesters were also protesting with flags and banners supporting members of the armed forces against their trial for killings in Northern Ireland and for the Islamophobic campaign ‘Our Boys’ which seeks to have a drunk driver of Hindu origin who killed three young men prosecuted as a terrorist.

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Class War, Murdoch and Cross Bones

Monday, March 28th, 2022

Class War, Murdoch and Cross Bones – three rather different events around London on Saturday 28th March.

Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon – Purley, London

Class War, Murdoch and Cross Bones
Jon Bigger

Class War had decided to stand candidates in the 2015 General Election, and among those who volunteered to stand was Jon Bigger, now Dr John Bigger and the publisher of The Journal of Anarchy “a repository of work from published articles to blog posts, videos and podcasts.”

Class War, Murdoch and Cross Bones

Croydon South was probably not the most fertile ground for anarchism which was perhaps largely why it was chosen as one of the handful of seats for the party to fight. On the southern fringe of London it remains spiritually in deepest true-blue Surrey, one of the Conservatives’ safest seats in London. Though there was also a particular distaste for the Tory candidate Chris Philp who had called for benefit claimants to be forced to undertake unpaid community work, as well as calling for Purley to get a grammar school.

It wasn’t a very successful visit as although we went to what was considered to be the centre of Purley there were very few people about, and Bigger’s campaign speech was delivered to the small group of Class War supporters and one rather confused elderly gentleman at the Conservative Party Office. We found only a few more outside a nearby supermarket, where most customers seemed to be in two much of a hurry to get back into large cars to hear anything political.

As I wrote:

“Probably all of Purley was by this time slaughtered at home in front of the TV as the sun was definitely over the yard arm. Wherever they were it wasn’t where we were on Brighton Road, except for a few desperate souls at the bus stops on each side of the road trying to escape. But Class War made the best of it, handing out their election flyer to the police posse still devotedly following their progress (though mainly sitting in their van enjoying the overtime), the occasional local youth and elderly demented.” Perhaps some of them were among the 65 who voted for Jonathan Bigger, but somehow 31,448 came out of the woods to vote for the Tory.

Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon

Murdoch on Trial – Guilty as charged – News International, London Bridge

I arrived rather late back from Purley for the People’s Trial of Rupert Murdoch being conducted by activists on the sixth day of Occupy Rupert Murdoch week outside the News International building at London Bridge, just in time to hear the last witnesses before the jury gave its guilty verdict and Judge Donnachadh McCarthy pronounced the sentence.

But though the sentence was to remove his power base and treat him with love there seemed little chance of it being carried out for real, and his organisation continues to spread its disinformation and messages of hate.

Max Keiser then spoke about the economic fraud and the basis of our economic system, with London at its centre, the world’s largest tax haven. The system, which allows the rich to borrow on the basis that they have borrowed before is rather like the Emperor’s New Clothes, and it began to fail in 2008. Whether the StartCOIN scratch cards he handed out with free money on them (“The currency of the revolution”) will prove more stable I can’t say as I lost mine.

I was told that more would happen later, but I was getting tired and decided to leave, missing the rush to occupy News International at around 7pm. As I wrote, “The rush past security proved successful and the occupiers managed to stay in the building for around 20 hours, although there was surprisingly little coverage in even the non-Murdoch news media. Those 5 billionaires obviously stick together and the BBC always seeks to marginalise any UK protest. Probably there was some important news about a minor celebrity hiccoughing.”

Murdoch on Trial – Guilty as charged

Cross Bones Open Day – Cross Bones Graveyard, Redcross Way

Two well-dressed men with Southwark poet and playwright John Constable in the Crossbones Graveyard

I’d seen one of the men on the left of the picture earlier opposite News International and talked briefly with him and he had told me he was waiting for a friend to go to the Open Day at the Cross Bones Graveyard and I decide to call in their on my way home. Here’s what I wrote in 2015, along with some pictures.

I’d been to the graveyard before, the first time years ago when I’d wandered in and the whole site was in a complete mess, with loads of rubbish and rubble. I’d read about its use for hundreds of years as a place where outcasts, particularly the ‘Winchester Geese’, prostitutes who were licenced to carry out their trade on the south bank on the Thames, in Bankside surrounding Winchester Palace, formalised by the Lord Bishop of Winchester in 1142, and providing a considerable income for the clergy through taxes and fines for several hundreds of years thereafter.

These ‘single women’ and their children, along with paupers and miscreants were buried in this patch of ground until some time before it was formally closed in 1853 as too overcrowded to continue. Plans to build over it were stopped in the 1880s by the e Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884, and it remained largely unused and forgotten until disturbed by the Jubilee Line extension in 1990, when the Museum of London made some excavations. Their survey of the site suggested that up to 15,000 had been buried there, half of them children.

I’d walked past it earlier and assumed like some other areas of waste ground that it was a bombsite, but then became aware that ribbons and other tokens were being tied to the railings. Later I read about the site in various places.

Apart from the mysterious phantom gardener, the other figure responsible for increasing interest in Crossbones was local writer John Constable who revived the story of Cross Bones through his cycle of poems and mystery plays, ‘The Southwark Mysteries’. Various events began to be organised around Crossbones, and although I never got to them, the ribbons on the fences multiplied.

My London Diary

I was pleased to be able to give the appeal for the creation of a new public garden by the Bankside Open Spaces Trust a little publicity.

Cross Bones Open Day

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March Against Housing & Planning Bill

Sunday, January 30th, 2022

The March Against Housing & Planning Bill on January 30th 2016 was organised by activists from South London, particulary from the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.

These include many who are fighting against the demolition of social housing that is taking place across London, including in Lambeth and Southwark. Council tenants and leaseholders on council estates are fighting to save their homes – and fighting against Lambeth and Southwark councils who together with private developers and estate agent advisers are bent on demolishing the estates and replacing them with new estates which are largely for private rent or sale at London’s inflated market prices.

Southwark Council in particular carried out an expenisive PR exercise to demonise the Heygate Estate at the Elephant & Castle, having failed to carry out necessary maintenance and flooded the estate with people with various social problems over a number of years. The whole disastrous history has been documented in depth on the Southwark 35% site. A prize-winning estate with 1,214 homes built in 1974 to provide social housing for around 3,000 people was deliberately run-down and demolished. It’s replacement, Elephant Park has less than 100 social housing units. Many of its new flats are simply investments for overseas owners.

Southwark sold the Heygate to developers for one third of its previous valuation, and spent more on the scheme than it received. A study by Global architect firm Gensler concluded that the £35m spent by Southwark in rehousing the estate residents was exactly the same as it would have cost to refurbish the estate up to modern standards – and would have avoided the huge carbon footprint of demolishing and rebuilding.

A well as Heygate, Southwark Council’s main target has been the Aylesbury Estate, where Tony Blair chose to launch the Labour regeneration policy which has enabled corrupt councils to destroy much of what remained of social housing. For many council officers and some councillors it has enabled them to move into highly paid jobs with developers as a reward for their services. Lambeth has also been pursuing similar policies (along with other boroughs in London) and in particular with the Central Hill estate close to Crystal Palace.

An angry heckler – their argument continued after the speech by Livingstone

The protest against the Housing & Planning Bill in 2016 was also attended by people from both Lambeth and Southwark Council, and when Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Housing Richard Livingstone stepped up to the microphone to speak at the rally before the march some trouble was inevitable. Among those loudly heckling him was another of the speakers, Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing.

Class War have also been active in support of social housing in South London in particular and livened up the march by dancing along the street with banners singing the ‘Lambeth Walk’. One banner carried the words of a leading US Anarchist Lucy Parsons (1853-1942), “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” and another had a field of crosses with the message “We have found new homes for the rich“.

Class War supporters rushed across the street for a short impromtu protest in front of a large branch of one of the leading estate agents driving the gentrification of London and advising councils and government on housing policies, but soon rejoined the main march of around 2,000 people heading for Westminster Bridge and Downing St.

At Downing St there was another protest outside the gates. Police had formed a line across Whitehall and directed the march to the opposite side of the street opposite Downing St. The march followed them across but then many simply walked back across the street to mass in front of the gates for a rally led by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! who have been active in supporting the Focus E15 Mothers in their campaign against the housing failures of Newham Council.

More on My London Diary at Housing and Planning Bill March

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