Posts Tagged ‘squat’

Bonnington Square and Kennington Lane – 1989

Monday, November 13th, 2023

Bonnington Square and Kennington Lane – The final set of pictures from my walk on 19th July 1989 which began with Stockwell Park, Bus Garage, Tower and Mason. It continues from my post More From Stockwell & South Lambeth.

Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-31
Vauxhall Grove, Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-31

At the end of Langley Road I came to a remarkable area of Vauxhall. Built in the 1870s for railway workers Bonnington Square was in the late 1970s compulsorily purchased by the GLC who intended to demolish it and build a school. But one resident, a Turkish shopkeeper, took legal action to prevent the demolition and eventually the GLC gave up. Squatters moved in to occupy almost a hundred emptied properties, setting up a vegetarian cafe, a wholefood shop and bars and a community garden.

Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-32
Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-32

The squatters formed a housing co-op and eventually negotiated a lease and in 1998 were able to buy the buildings from Lambeth Council. Most are now still owned by low-rent housing cooperatives. A few are privately owned, I think including some where the GLC had not managed to get residents to move out. The gardens are still collectively run, as was the café.

Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-33
Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-33

The story is told in The Mavericks of Bonnington Square which also includes a 20 minute film produced around 2011 which gives an interesting view of the area and the incredible transformation made by those who moved in, and also includes many of their photographs from the early days. People had more or less to rebuild many of the properties and developed an incredible community spirit in doing so. The area is now described as a “botanical oasis hidden in the midst of Vauxhall” and includes two community gardens, one on an area destroyed by wartime bombing.

Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-31
Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-31

I went to Bonnington Square quite a few times, often taking a short wander through on my way from visiting friends who lived in a council flat close to the Oval to Vauxhall Station, not to take pictures but just because it was an interesting diversion if I had a few minutes before my train came, and I also went to some of the festivals there.

St Peters, Vauxhall, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-26
St Peters, Vauxhall, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-26

I often walked past St Peters Church and went inside a few times, including to a service led by a trendy young cleric in black leathers. Now I think worhips there is rather different. The Grade II* listed church built in 1863-4 was the first major town church by the renowned British Gothic Revival architect John Loughborough Pearson. It has magnificent interior and a fine exterior; shortages of cash meant the church was rather plainer than Pearson’s orginal plans, probably much to its advantage. The site was given free by the developer of Vauxhall Gardens on the provision that all seats in the church should be free and not rented. It has a fine acoustic and now hosts concerts as well as services.

Around the corner linked to the side of the church are the schools built a few years earlier (also designed by Pearson) to train local children to be draughtsmen and artists for Maudslay’s engineering works and Doulton’s pottery factory nearby. The wall at the left of the picture is of another building by Pearson, though you can see little of it in this picture, his St Peter’s Orphanage and Training College for the daughters of clergy and professionals and also Grade II* listed, now converted into flats as Herbert House.

Shops, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-25
Shops, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-25

A lively row of small shops is still present here on Kennington lane, although now rather less useful and perhaps a little more run-down. I stood regularly at the bus stop here for buses to Camberwell and Peckham as well as walking past on another longer route to see my friends or to take my cameras in for repair at Fixation down the road, and made a few photographs here over the years.

Window display, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-11
Window display, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-11

This was part of the window display in one of those shops in July 1989., including two Edward Weston posters of Clark Gable and Grouch Marx. The Marilyn Monroe image was her first of her to appear on the cover of LIFE on April 7, 1952, taken by Philip Halsman, and it was later published widely, including again inside LIFE in 1962 at the time of her death.

Happy Birthday Nicaragua, Harleyford Rd, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-24
Happy Birthday Nicaragua, Harleyford Rd, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7h-24

On the corner of a very busy traffic junction just yards southeast of Vauxhall Station this white wall was a good site for graffiti, though in my picture it is partly obscured by the street furniture. I think I chose the viewpoint to make sure that the message ‘Happy Birthday Nicaragua – 10 years of liberation – (and a long way from Thatcher)’ was clear.

The Sandinistas took power in Nicaragua in July 1979, ending long years of dictatorhsip by the Samoza family who had been put into power there by the US who occupied the country from 1912 until 1933. Thatcher was only prime minister from 1979 until 1990 but it seemed much longer and caused a decisive shift to the right and towards an emphasis on individual greed rather than social responsibility that continues to this day.

Squat, Circus, Garage & Church

Saturday, October 7th, 2023

Squat, Circus, Garage & Church continues my walk on Wednesday 19th July 1989 in Stockwell and South Lambeth which began with the previous post, Stockwell Park, Bus Garage, Tower and Mason.

House, 38, Guildford Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989  89-7g-33
House, 38, Guildford Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-32

I took a couple more pictures of the previously squatted Grade II listed house at 38 Guildford Road, which ended the previous post on this walk. It now seemed firmly bricked up against further occupation.

The garden gate was only tied closed with rope, but I didn’t trespass and photographed from the pavement. At the side of the house the gate was open, announcing thyat this was 38 and The House, with the message to ‘POSTMAN DELIVER LETTERS INSIDE GARDEN PLEASE’ and some drawings, with a leaping figure and the sun for the Solstice Festival as well as smiley faces.

House, 38, Guildford Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989  89-7g-33
House, 38, Guildford Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-33

As the smiley faces and the LSD on the wall show, the Solstice Festival in Stockwell was an acid culture event, celebrating peace and love – part of the ‘Second Summer of Love’ in 1989 which also saw raves and parties in deserted warehouses across the UK, largely propelled by Ecstasy. But I can find no details of this Stockwell event online.

Lansdowne Circus, Lansdowne Gardens, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-35
Lansdowne Circus, Lansdowne Gardens, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-35

Landsdowne Circus is the central element of the area laid out in 1843 with houses built shortly afterwards by John Snell; the land was owned by architect James Humphreys who probably designed the houses in the then popular neo-Classical style. These houses are at 35-41 on the south-east of the circus, which I think is all Grade II listed.

The area had deteriorated considerably by the middle of the twentieth century but fortunately escaped much wartime damage. After Lambeth Council failed to find a responsible legal owner they used compulsory purchase to take control of the area in 1951. It became a conservation area in 1968.

Mondragon House, 49, Guildford Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-22
Mondragon House, 49, Guildford Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-22

Grade II listed neo-Jacobean style former vicarage for St Barnabas Church immediately to the south, in a neo-Jacobean style. It is listed as Mandragon House and was built between 1843 and 1850 by John Snell as the vicarage to adjoining St Barnabas Chapel.

The church was deconsecrated in 1978 and converted into flats as Ekarro House by a housing cooperative, Ekarro Housing Co-operative Limited, set up by local residents which leased the church and vicarage, and now also manages some other properties in the area still as a cooperative.

Kelvedon House, a 22 storey tower block built nearby for Lambeth council in 1966 towers 64 metres in the background.

Stockwell Bus Garage, Lansdowne Way, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-23
Stockwell Bus Garage, Lansdowne Way, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-23

I walked back down to Landsowne Way and could not resist another photograph of the Grade II listed concrete bus garage, one of London’s finest postwar buildings completed in 1952. I hope its concrete is still safe.

Stockwell Baptist Church, 276, South Lambeth Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-25
Stockwell Baptist Church, 276, South Lambeth Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-25

I turned east down Lansdowne Way to South Lambeth Road where around a hundred yards to the north I came to this fine classical church, Stockwell Baptist Church at No. 276. Again Kelvedon House towers in the background.

Stockwell Baptist Church, 276, South Lambeth Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-12
Stockwell Baptist Church, 276, South Lambeth Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-12

The church web site has this short history:

And as it also says, it “has been part of the rich and ever-changing history of this part of London for a long while.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-92) who preached the first sermon in the chapel was a remarkable man and one of the leading non-conformist preachers of the 19th century. For 38 years he was pastor at the Metropolitan Tabernacle at the Elephant & Castle. He founded an almshouse and an orphanage in Stockwell, as well as a college named after him following his death, and set up various institutions to aid the poor, following the Bible example of Jesus and exhorting his congregations to do so too. He had great influence both nationally and internationally and campaigned for free hospitals for the poor, and against slavery which antagonised Southern Baptists in the USA. He wrote many books, some of which are still now re-published and is still held in high esteem by many, particularly evangelical Christians.

My walk continued – more shortly.

North St, Rectory Gardens & Rectory Grove

Friday, July 28th, 2023

North St, Rectory Gardens & Rectory Grove: Continuing with my walk on Sunday 28th May 1989. The first and previous post about this was Lavender Hill & Wandsworth Rd – 1989 which ended with a picture of the Hibbert Almshouses still on Wandsworth Road in Clapham.

M S Automobiles, 97-9 North St, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-24
M S Automobiles, 97-9 North St, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-24

From Wandsworth Road I turned down North Street and took this picture just a few yards down the street. This rather elegant group of three of houses at 97-1010 have been altered somewhat since my picture and the entrance to the rear yard of M S Automobiles Ltd now leads to North Street Mews workshops and studios, the the two properties on the street now residential.

The doorway for West One Carriers is now a bay window (and was probably originally built as one) and the flower pots and ventilators have disappeared. 99 now has a small plain painted brick wall joining to the post at the right of my picture.

Unfortunately I can’t make out the sign at the left of the door to 99, though it looks rather like a pigeon. Scooter geeks would doubtless be able to tell me more about that parked underneath.

Doorway, 28 North St, Rozel Rd, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-11
Doorway, 28 North St, Rozel Rd, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-11

A small terrace two storey houses with shopfronts on North Street has its north end on Rozel Road, and just behind the shop front – here with a metal shutter at right – is this doorway which is now to 28a North Street which has been considerably extended to the rear.

There were some similar decorations above the doors of most of the houses on Rozel Road, and some with similar brickwork which I imagine were all built around the same time in the late nineteenth century, probably in the 1880s. I’m not sure what the mirrored objects in the relief are meant to represent, possibly a coornucopia or horn of plenty. But for many the bubblegum machine at right of the door will have been of more interest.

NECO, Electric Motors, North St, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-13
NECO, Electric Motors, North St, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-13

Normand Electrical Company were manufacturers and suppliers of ‘NECO’ electric motors and gearboxes here in Clapham from around 1938. The company was bought by P C Henderson in 1982, and later they sold it to FKI Electricals. The NECO brand is still used. The factory was demolished and replaced by gated housing, Floris Place, its entrance in Fitzwilliam Road.

Rectory Gardens, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-14
Rectory Gardens, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-14

Rectory Gardens was built around 1870-80 as philanthropic housing for low paid workers. Many of the 28 houses were in very poor repair after war damage and had been squatted in the late 60s and 70s to form a unique community. In 1969 Lambeth Council planned to redevelop this area and acquired Rectory Gardens in 1970.

Rectory Gardens, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-16
Rectory Gardens, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5i-16

The redevelopment was opposed by the Rectory Gardens Squatters’ Association (RAGS) and Clapham Action Rectory Grove (CARG) and at a public inquiry the council lost an appeal over the compulsory purchase of adjoining properties needed for the redevelopment. The council refused to formalise the occupation by residents who had formed a housing cooperative, but continued to try to evict the squatters who had turned the area into a flourishing artistic community.

Rectory Gardens, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5j-63
Rectory Gardens, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5j-63

Eventually Lambeth Labour Council under Cabinet Member for Housing Matthew Bennett began evictions and put in ‘security guardians’ and in 2016-7 sold off the properties. The very active Clapham Society lobbied for the retention of these houses as a group run by a housing association but developer Lexadon is rebuilding them and marketing them as luxury properties, “a triangular mews-style development” as a private close in an expensive area.

You can read more about Rectory Gardens in posts on The Spectacle Blog.

49, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5j-65
49, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5j-65

49 Rectory Grove is Grade II listed as an early 19th century two storey house with attic and basement. When I made this picture there were new houses being built on both sides of it behind the tall corrugated iron fences topped with barbed wire.

The area behind the house had been the printing works of Clark & Fenn Ltd and was redevelped as the Charles Barry Estate, taking its name from Sir Charles Barry, the designer of the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square who lived not far away at 29-32 Clapham Common North Side.

20-28,Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5j-66
20-28, Rectory Grove, Clapham, Lambeth, 1989 89-5j-66

This fine terrace on Rectory Grove, ending at Turret Grove has the name above it Cromwell Cottages is unlisted, unlike many other properties along the street. Rectory Grove leads to the churchyard of St Paul’s Church which was the original parish church of Clapham around which the village from the 12th century, although the current church dates from 1815.

The tiny village began to grow when people fled London during the plague and the Great Fire and it became a fashionable place to live in the l8th century. By then the area further south and around the common was becoming the centre of the village which expanded greatly in the early nineteenth century.

More from Rectory Grove and Clapham in the next instalment of pictures from this walk shortly.

J11 Carnival against Capitalism – 2013

Sunday, June 11th, 2023

J11 Carnival against Capitalism: Ten years ago on 11th June 2013 we saw one of the worst examples to date of police opposing the right to protest in London. The day had been billed by protesters as a Carnival Against Capitalism and was intended in the week before the G8 talks to point out that “London is the heart of capitalism, and to expose the offices of companies they think are brutal and polluting or exploitative, financiers who are holding the world to ransom, the embassies of tyrants and the playgrounds of the mega-rich.

J11 Carnival against Capitalism - 2013

The organisers had said it would be “an open, inclusive, and lively event” and it would certainly have been noisy and high-spirited, theatrical in some ways but unlikely to cause a great deal of damage.

J11 Carnival against Capitalism - 2013

The police, almost certainly under political pressure had decided to treat it as a major insurgency, leaking invented scare stories to the media and getting a Section 60 order for the whole of the cities of London and Westminster which gave them the power to stop or search anyone on the streets without the need to show any suspicion. These orders are only meant to be put in place for a clearly defined area over a specific time when a senior officer believes there is a possibility of serious violence, or weapons being carried, and this seemed to be a considerable and probably illegal overkill.

J11 Carnival against Capitalism - 2013

This was not a huge protest, probably expected to involve less than a thousand protesters. Quite a few had gathered the previous day at a large squatted former police station in Beak St. Police invented a story that those inside had paint bombs and intended to cause criminal damage and used this to get a search warrant, entering the building early on the day of the protest.

J11 Carnival against Capitalism - 2013

Police turned up intending to arrest all those inside, and came with a couple of double decker buses to take them away.They sealed off a long stretch of the street and held the people inside, preventing them from joining the start of the protest, but the search found nothing.

Along with the rest of the press covering the story I was kept out, and could only see a little of what was happening from a distance, photographing with a very long lens. The police were blocking an number of side streets too and I had to make a lengthy detour to get to the other end of the block where the view was little if any better.

Police were stopping people on the streets and searching them, particularly anyone dressed in black or otherwise looking as if they might be a protester. Most were searched and released but there were a number hand-cuffed and led away. The only arrest where could find the reason was when a woman was arrested and put in a police van on Regent St for having a small marker pen in her handbag.

The protest from Piccadilly Circus began much later than intended. Around a couple of hundred people had eventually made it there, including a samba band, and left for their intended tour of the offices of some of the most powerful and greedy companies, “oil and mining giants, arms dealers, vulture funds, companies that launder blood money, invest in war and speculate on food supplies, and the offices, embassies of tyrants.”

Police kept stopping the protesters and when they did there were some short speeches and the samba band played. Police occasionally rushed in and grabbed a protester, and there were some scuffles as people tried to protect their friends. Police vans blocked some of the major roads in the area, turning what would have been relatively minor traffic stoppages into long major disruptions.

The tour stopped outside the Lower Regent Street offices of arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin for speeches against its activities – including making Trident missiles, after which the samba band began to play. One of the police ‘Liaison Officers’ came and told the band that they needed a licence from Westminster Council to play music in the street and would be committing an offence if they continued to play. He was greeted by shouts of derision from the crowd, but the band were clearly worried and held a consultation before deciding to continue on to protest outside BP around the corner in St James’s Square.

Westminster licences buskers not music on the streets. Many processions and protests take place with marching bands – including military events, the Salvation Army, Orange Lodges and many other protests. This warning was clearly another attempt by the police to harass the protest by applying laws inappropriately.

The protest moved on to the offices of BP in St James’s Square, where after a few minutes I left them, I’d been on my feet too long. The protesters still had a number of calls to make and doubtless the police would keep up their harassment.

The Stop G8 protesters had despite the police carried out at least in part their intention to “party in the streets, point out the hiding places of power, and take back the heart of our city for a day.” The police had wasted huge amounts of public money, provoked some minor disorder, disrupted traffic for much of the day in a large area of London and shown themselves happy to lie and act outside the law to support the interests of the rich and powerful.

Read more and see more pictures at J11 Carnival against Capitalism.

March With The Homeless – 2018

Friday, March 3rd, 2023

March With The Homeless

March With The Homeless

No More Deaths On Our Streets Saturday 3rd March 2018

A few days ago in February 2023 a report came out that the number of rough sleepers in England has increased for the first time since 2017.

March With The Homeless

The increase is blamed on the cost-of-living crisis making the various causes of homelessness worse, and the government’s ‘Ending rough sleeping for good’ strategy announced last year has so far failed to be any help.

March With The Homeless

We are still one of the richer countries in the world, and it is a disgrace that so many have no place to go. London’s Mayor is reported as calling it extremely alarming and saying “It is high time ministers got a grip on the escalating food, energy and housing crises and restored the social security safety net which helps stop people becoming trapped in a cycle of homelessness.”

The area with the largest number is of course London, and within London the boroughs of Westminster and Camden at the heart of London top the figures. As well as having the most people sleeping on the streets, these boroughs are also home to many of the wealthiest people in the country (or at least one of their homes) and of the most egregious examples of over-consumption where the wealthy swarm to spend ridiculous amounts on over-priced goods and services.

The increase has also been greatest in the capital, with the figure in Westminster, the home of our government, alone up from 187 in 2021 to 250 in 2022.

London of course has ridiculously high house prices, stoked in part by foreign investors who own properties just to profit from the increases in prices rather than actually live in them. Many too are owned by offshore trusts, still hiding the actual owners, and often empty or underused.

The problem isn’t really house prices, or a lack of homes – we have more than are needed to give everyone a decent home. But inequality, which continues to rise. And at its roots is the greed of the rich, for whom enough is never enough. And there are ten times as many empty houses as there are homeless people.

The March With The Homeless on Saturday 3rd March 2018 took place are a recent cold snap had killed a number of rough sleepers on the streets of London. As well as organisations supporting street homeless including #solidaritynotcharity, Streets Kitchen, Homeless Outreach Central, and London: March for the homeless there were also some of those homeless taking part.

I found the police reaction to this protest shocking. They came out onto the streets to try to stop it happening and to force those taking part to return to there static protest opposite Downing Street where it began.

As well as officers on foot there were also two police horses trying to control the protest, but whose riders seemed unable to control, particularly in some of the narrower streets. I often had to rush out of their way and at one point I was crushed against a wall by a clearly out of control horse, but fortunately only slightly bruised.

I think the police saw their role as protecting the property, particularly the properties of those owners who had empty properties which they feared the protesters might attempt to occupy. The intention of the march wasn’t to actually occupy properties, but to create a little minor disruption to traffic and noise that would bring attention to the problem and put pressure on the government and authorities to take some effective action. But I think there was little if any media coverage of the event.

They intended to march to a squat in Great Portland Street that had occupied empty commercial premises and was giving food and shelter to homeless people, getting them off the freezing streets. The police seemed to be trying to keep them out of the West End, where they might disturb more people. I had to leave the march when police had halted them at Piccadilly Circus, but I think eventually they did make it and the squat provided food and overnight shelter for around 30 people on the night of the march.

More on My London Diary at No More Deaths On Our Streets.

Old Ford, Hertford Union & Hackney

Monday, April 11th, 2022

Old Ford, Hertford Union & Hackney

Gunmakers Lane, Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-33-Edit_2400
Gunmakers Lane, Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-33

The short street which goes across the canal on Three Colts Bridge probably got its name from the pub, the Gunmakers Arms, which stood opposite it 438 Old Ford Road on the west side of St Stephens Road – and perhaps there were once some guns made nearby. In April 1915 the pub was taken over by the East London Federation of Suffragettes, led by Sylvia Pankhurst, a more militant and working class breakaway from Women’s Social and Political Union who turned it into a day nursery and clinic.

The Connaught Works here on Old Ford Road was a furniture factory and is said to date from the 1920’s though it looks earlier and was extended to the east around 20 years later.

Gunmakers Lane, Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8am-34-Edit_2400
Three Colt Bridge, Gunmakers Lane, Hertford Union, canal, Old Ford, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8am-34

This early 19th century cast iron bridge presumably dates from the building of the Hertford Union Canal which opened in 1830. It is Grade II* listed Scheduled Ancient Monument. A pub, the Old Three Colts, was close by at 450 Old Ford Rd from 1792 or earlier but was I think demolished a few years after WW2. St Stephens Road used to be called Three Colts Street, possibly because this pub was more or less at its end.

Victoria park Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-35-Edit_2400
Victoria park Rd, Homerton, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-35

The Three Colts Bridge leads to the Gunmakers Gate of Victoria Park, and I walked across the park to Victoria Park Road. This gothic fantasy of a building is now the Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy but was built in 1864-5 by Robert Lewis Roumieu as a French Protestant Hospital by a Huguenot charity, La Providence, who had decided to move out of earlier almshouses and hospital in Finsbury to a larger and more rural site here.

After WWII, La Providence moved to Rochester, selling the building to Roman Catholic nuns, the Faithful Companions of Jesus, and it reopened as the St Victoire Convent Girls’ Grammar School. When I made this picture it had become Cardinal Pole RC School and in 2014 was sold to be an academy school. The building is Grade II* listed.

Terrace Rd, Church Crescent, South Hackney, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-21-Edit_2400
Terrace Rd, Church Crescent, South Hackney, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-21

These Tudor-style group of cottages are thought to have been built in 1847-8 to designs by George Wales who was the architect of Monger’s almshouses further down Church Crescent. The other houses between the two sites are more classical in design but also thought to be by Wales.

They are Grade II listed and still there and look now rather neater, with the middle property of the Tudor three having had its brickwork cleaned and looking considerably brighter. It also appears to lack the variation in colour of the darker brickwork which I find more attractive, though perhaps it looks more like when it was newly built.

Terrace, Cassland Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-25-Edit_2400
Hackney Terrace, Cassland Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-25

This remarkable terrace at 20-54 Cassland Road overlooking Cassland Crescent is Grade II listed and was built from 1794 using funding from subscribers who made monthly payments over a period of four years, with the houses being allotted by ballot to a subscriber as each was built. All 18 were completed and occupied by 1801. This kind of co-operative funding of a development predates the earliest more conventional building societies.

James Taylor, gallery, Collent St, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-26-Edit_2400
James Taylor, gallery, Collent St, Hackney, 1988 88-8am-26

The James Taylor warehouse was built in 1893 in Collent Road, which was described by the James Taylor gallery as “Formerly a Victorian factory, china warehouse, squat and film location.” Around ten years ago it was transformed with the facade and front building on the site being retained, along with a long wall along the north almost to Cresset Road as a part of a complex redevelopment with up to 10 storeys containing 69 flats, office space and an underground car park.

I made a few more exposures around Well St and I think my walk probably ended on neaby Mare Street, where I photographed the Crown pub (not online) and then probably caught a train from Hackney Central.

Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse other images in the album.

Refugee Children, Dead Cyclists & A Squat

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Refugee Children, Dead Cyclists & A Squat – 11th February 2017

Dubs Now – Shame on May

Five years ago, on Saturday 11th February 2017, a crowd of supporters of Citizens UK and Safe Passage joined Lord Alf Dubs at Downing St to take a petition to Theresa May urging her to reverse the decision to stop offering legal sanctuary to unaccompanied refugee children.

The Tory government had been forced into an unusual humanitarian response when Parliment passed the Dubs amendment, and they were then given a list of over 800 eligible children – although there were known to be more whose details were not recorded. And because of Lord Dubs, around 300 have been allowed into the UK. But although twice that number remain in limbo, many in the Calais camps, Prime Minister Theresa May decided to end the scheme.

Lord Dubs speaks

Among those who spoke at the protest before an emergency petition with over 40,000 signatures was taken to Downing St were speakers from four London Labour councils who all said they had told the government they would take more children but their offers had not been taken up.

Dubs Now – Shame on May

Invest in Cycling – Stop Killing Cyclists

Cyclists and supporters met in Trafalgar Square to march to the Treasury on the edge of Parliament Square to call for a significant increase in spending on infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians on our streets.

That week five people were killed on London streets as a result of careless or dangerous driving – accidents are rare, but such deaths are made much more likely by a road system engineered around the needs of car and other vehicle drivers and cutting their journey times through the city. Facilities for cyclists and pedestrians have long been treated as secondary and chronically underfunded.

But these 5 killed, who were remembered in the protest and die-in are a small fraction of the numbers who die prematurely each week in London as a result of high and often illegal levels of air pollution – estimated at around 180 per week, as well as the much higher number of those whose lives are seriously affected by health problems – both figures including many who drive. Powerful lobbies for motorists and vehicle manufacturers have led to the domination of our cities by cars and lorries.

There are huge health benefits from cleaning the air by cutting down traffic and congestion, and also by encouraging healthy activities including walking and cycling. And the main factor discouraging people from taking to bikes for journeys to school, work and shopping etc is the danger from cars and lorries. Better public transport also helps, particularly in cutting pollution levels, and anything that cuts the use of petrol and diesel vehicles will reduce the major contribution this makes to global warming.

Invest in Cycling – Stop Killing Cyclists

ANAL squat in Belgravia

My final event that day was a visit to 4 Grosvenor Gardens, a rather grand house short distance from Buckingham Palace (and more relevant to me, from Victoria Station.) Squatting collective the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians (ANAL) had taken over this house on February 1st after having been evicted from the Belgrave Square house owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko which they occupied for a week.

I’d meant to go there a week earlier, but a domestic emergency had called me away earlier in the day from a protest at the US Embassy before a programme of workshops and seminars in the seven-storey squat had begun. There was nothing special happening on the afternoon I visited (though some things were happening in the evening) but I was welcomed by the occupiers, several of whom recognised me, and they were happy for me to wander around the building and take photographs.

Apart from being careful to respect the privacy of some of the occupiers who were sleeping or resting in a couple of the rooms I was able to go everywhere from the basement to the top floor, but the door leading onto the roof was locked, probably to stop any possible access from there by bailiffs. Like many other houses and hotels in the area it has a view into the grounds of Buckingham Palace, but I had to make do with the view from a rather dusty window, or the less interesting view from lower down where windows could be opened.

Few squats have blue plaques – this one for soldier and archaeologist Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, but more recently it has been in use for offices, business meetings and conferences. The squatters have tried hard to cause no serious damage and had last week turned out some people who had come to make a mess of the place.

There are around 1.5 million empty buildings in the UK, many like this deliberately kept empty as investments, their value increasing year on year. The number is enough to enough to house the homeless many times over. ANAL say that properties like this should be used for short-term accommodation while they remain empty and they have opened it as a temporary homeless shelter for rough-sleepers.

It remained in use for almost month, with the squat finally evicted at 8am on 27th February. As I ended my post, “There clearly does need to be some way to bring empty properties back into use, and councils should have much greater powers than at present to do so. Until that happens, squatting seems to be the only possible solution.”

ANAL squat in Belgravia

Deaf & Disabled March & a Harvest Festival

Sunday, September 26th, 2021

Saturday 26th September 2015 wasn’t one of my busiest Saturdays, but the two events I photographed were very different, and took place some distance apart. The first was in the centre of London, at Westminster and was a protest over the discrimination by the Tory government against disabled people.

It was clear from the start of the coalition government that came to power in 2010 that the Tories were out to target the disabled, and that they saw them and the benefits they were getting as a drain on our taxes they were keen to diminish. They declared that cuts in government spending were essential, blaming the previous New Labour government for the results of the world-wide banking crash which in reality was caused by the exploitation of an unstable system by greedy bankers and using this as an excuse for largely counter-productive austerity.

Looking at ways to make cuts, they picked on the disabled as they thought they would be an easy target and could bring large savings. But the disabled have turned out far more resilient than they expected, with groups like Disabled People Against Cuts turning out to be formidable opponents and getting considerable public support.

This particular protest was over the the cutting of the DWP’s Access to Work scheme which enables disabled people to work on an equal basis to non-disabled people. They want to work and have careers and to make a contribution to society, but cutting this essential support will prevent them doing so. And as the protesters pointed out, every £1 spent on Access to Work results in a return of £1.48.

Local resident Christine Taylor of Stop Heathrow Expansion points at the Heathrow plan

A long tube journey, changing to go almost to the edge of London on the Piccadilly line and then catch a bus to Sipson took me to Grow Heathrow in Sipson. It was a reminder that although London once led the world with its Underground system, it has failed to keep up with the times and now so many other cities have more modern and faster systems. When I first went to Paris we used to laugh at the quaint Metro clattering slowly and noisily around under the city, but now Parisians used to the RER must enjoy at least a little smile at our creaking system – and perhaps gloat that some of their system is now financed by the profits from Londoners using RATP run buses. Germans too profit as DB Arriva run the Overground as well as buses as well as three rail franchises.

Grow Heathrow was celebrating another harvest at their occupied nursery site with ‘music, pumpkins and pizza’ as well as an open ‘No Third Runway!’ discussion. They had squatted the derelict site in 2010 and five years later were still resisiting eviction with their court case then adjourned until the following summer. Half the site was evicted in 2019 but the rest continued until the final eviction in March 2021.

I was late (thanks to that slow journey) for the start of the discussion on Heathrow, but got there in time to hear much of it and take pictures – and as a fairly local long-term resident to make a very small contribution to the debate led by John Stewart of HACAN and other campaigners including Christine Taylor of Stop Heathrow Expansion and Sheila Menon of Plane Stupid. I grew up under the flightpath a couple of miles from touchdown and have lived the last 47 years a similar distance from the airport. Established by deception it has long been clear the airport is in the wrong place, and now even clearer that we can’t continue expanding air transport if we want to avoid climate catastrophe.

It is hard to take the government’s environmental policies seriously when they continue to support the expansion of air travel and transport and plans for another runway at Heathrow. We should be looking urgently at ways to cut our dependence on air freight and reduce travel, as well as ways to reduce the carbon emissions involved in the lower amount that will continue. This is one of the government policies that seriously undermines its national and international credibility at the forthcoming COP26 climate talks.

Grow Heathrow showed how people could live in different ways and evolve stronger communities and more democratic systems, although few would want to live as ‘off-grid’ in the rather spartan conditions of the residents here. But although we might not all want to make our own charcoal, nor go back to running vehicles on it, producing biochar is one of the few practical methods currently feasible of carbon capture and storage.

Grow Heathrow celebrates Harvest Festival
Deaf & Disabled Access to Work protest

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.

2015: Grow Heathrow at Five

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

On 28th February 2015, Grow Heathrow, a non-hierarchical free community in an occupied derelict nursery at Sipson, just north of Heathrow Airport celebrated 5 years with open workshops and a party.

It had been set up as a symbol of community resistance to the economic, ecological and democratic crises and to oppose the increasing development of the aviation industry and Heathrow, at a time when local residents, myself included, were protesting against the building of a “third runway” to the north of the current airport.

Local protests had begun back in 2003, and by the time squatters occupied the long-abandoned market garden victory on the specific issue of the new runway seemed more or less assured. Transition Heathrow’s ‘Grow Heathrow’ had longer term and more far reaching goals, hoping to create more sustainable and resilient Heathrow villages after the dropping of the third runway and more widely to build long-term infrastructure and networks to deal with peak oil and the threat of climate change. On their site they set out to demonstrate how we could live differently, ‘off grid’ and with a different and cooperative lifestyle.

I wasn’t particularly closely involved with Grow Heathrow, though I visited the site a number of times for various events, as well as taking part in the local protests and events at the nearby Greenpeace ‘Airplot’, where I was one of the 91,000 of beneficial owners of a very small area of land. It’s an area I knew from my youth, when I often cycled through Sipson ,Harmondsworth, Longford, Horton and Colnbrook.

Grow Heathrow weathered a number of legal battles to stay in occupation, but were evicted from the front half of the site where most of these celebrations took place two years ago at the end of February 2019 after around 9 years of occupation and growth. I’ve not visited since the eviction but so far as I am aware there are still some residents on the back part of the site – which had a different owner, but visits have not been possible since the start of the pandemic.

The project was an important one and brought together many people from different backgrounds, including local residents and international visitors, some who stayed for months and years. Among those who came to the 5th birthday party to join the celebrations and speak were local MP John McDonnell, Tristram Stuart, a pioneer of the radical food movement with his 2009 book on food waste, anthropology professor David Graeber and activist Ewa Jasiewicz.

Grow Heathrow was an inspiration to many, though some of us were unable to envisage its rather spartan lifestyle for ourselves there were lessons that could be learnt in particular from its involvement with the wider community. Heathrow expansion is back on the agenda today, though it is hard to believe it will go ahead given the growing realisation of the vital importance of the climate crisis. Aviation as we know it is incompatible with the kind of Green future our government now plays lip-service too – and will need putting into action for civilisation to survive.

Many more pictures at Grow Heathrow’s 5th Birthday.

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.