Posts Tagged ‘Stratford Marsh’

Cable Car, Victoria Dock, Olympic Site & Torture 2013

Wednesday, June 26th, 2024

Cable Car, Victoria Dock, Olympic Site & Torture: I was coming to London to photograph the ‘Say No to Torture‘ protest on the evening of Wednesday 26th June, but as it was a nice day and I came up a few hours earlier to take a ride on London’s cable car and then to take a few pictures around Victoria Dock and Silvertown before making quick visit to the Greenway to see what progress was being made in opening up the former Olympic site.


Emirates ‘Airline’ – Arab Dangleway – North Greenwich – Victoria Dock.

Cable Car, Victoria Dock, Olympic Site & Torture

Now known officially since 2022 as the IFS Cloud Cable Car, the dangleway was never a viable transport system, with longer journey time and costing more than alternative routes on almost every conceivable journey.

Cable Car, Victoria Dock, Olympic Site & Torture

It doesn’t quite connect up with the rest of Transport for London’s system, the south terminal being a short and slightly confusing walk from North Greenwich Jubilee and bus station, and another fairly short walk on the North bank to Royal Victoria DLR. Completed in June 2012 its cost of £60m made it the most expensive cable car system ever built.

Cable Car, Victoria Dock, Olympic Site & Torture

As I noted “it should be promoted as one of London’s cheaper and more interesting tourist attractions” giving great views along the River Thames, although the journey is a relatively short on at 7-10 minutes. with London in the distance, Canary Wharf and the Olympic site a little closer and Bow Creek, Silvertown and the Dome both nearly underneath.

Cable Car, Victoria Dock, Olympic Site & Torture

To my surprise, 11 years later the service is still running and TfL say that with the sponsorship deals it actually makes a profit.

Emirates ‘Airline’ – Arab Dangleway


Victoria Dock and Silvertown

I think the more interesting parts of the Thames shoreline here are not yet publicly accessible, but you can – at least most of the time – walk along by Royal Victoria Dock and across the high level bridge for some more interesting views. The area and bridge get closed off when they are flogging illegal arms at the Excel Centre fairs (if you represent a despotic government you’ll have a ticket to that anyway.)

Most of the pictures here were taken from that high level walkway across the dock, but I think I walked on to the stations on the DLR line to Woolwich (then only to North Woolwich) which are elevated and also give some interesting views.

Victoria Dock and Silvertown


Stratford Greenway Olympic Revisit – Stratford Marsh

I took the DLR to Canning Town, changed to the JUbilee to Stratford then back to the DLR for the short ride to Puddling Mill Lane, and walked up onto the Greenway, where I’d photogaphed many times in the past.

Progress in releasing the Olympic site to the public appeared to be very slow and there sre still routes closed off in 2024.

Stratford Greenway Olympic Revisit


Say No To Torture – Trafalgar Square

It was the ‘International Day in Support of Victims of Torture‘, the anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture on 26 June 1987, and the London Guantanamo Campaign had organised a protest in Trafalgar Square.

The London Guantanamo Campaign had been active in calling for the closure of Guantanamo and other torture prisons including Bagram in Afghanistan since 2006. In particular the protest was to draw attention to Shaker Aamer, one of the 166 prisoners still held in Guantanamo. A London resident he was captured by bandits in Afghanistan where he was working for a medical charity and sold to the American forces, who tortured him – with the cooperation of the British Secret Service in Bagram, before illegally rendering him to Guantanamo where he continues to be tortured despite having been cleared for release.

In 2013 he was in very poor health having been – along with the majority of the other prisoners there – on hunger strike for 141 days. It was not until 30 October 2015 that he was finally released to the UK.

The US response to the hunger strike had been regular beatings, keeping those taking part in solitary confinement in bare cells and to use forcible feeding, strapping them into a special chair and forcing a feeding tube up a nostril and down into their stomach. The procedure is extremely painful and both this and the sensory deprivation of solitary confinement in bare cells also constitute torture under the UN definitions.

Many of those taking part wore orange Guanatanamo-style jump suits and black hoods and they held up banners an placards saying ‘No To Torture‘ in 30 languages. Some of those taking part were regular protesters with the ‘Save Shaker Aamer Campaign‘ which has been holding daily lunchtime vigils opposite the House of Commons to put pressure on the UK government to release him. Many think his continued imprisonment is because his testimony would embarrass both the UK and US security services who were clearly involved in his torture.

Others were also protesting against torture, with Balochs in Pakistan being subject to arrests and other human rights violations including torture by the Pakistan authorities for campaigning for independence. The protesters held pictures of a number of Baloch activists who have simply disappeared, believed to be held or possibly killed by Pakistani forces.

And protesters also drew attention to the US treatment of award-winning British poet and translator Talha Ahsan who suffers from Aspergers syndrome. He was extradited from the UK and was currently awaiting trial in solitary confinement in a high-security state prison in Connecticut because of alleged association with an Islamic web site and publishing house said to have links with terrorism. He was eventually released after 8 years following a plea bargain in December 2013 when time already served in the UK and US prisons was ‘time already served.’

Say No To Torture.


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Global Civility and Stratford Marsh – 2006

Sunday, February 18th, 2024

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh – On Saturday February 18th 2006 I photographed one of the continuing protests around the world which followed the publication by a Danish magazine of cartoons featuring images of the Prophet Mohammad in Trafalgar Square, then took the underground and DLR to Pudding Mill Lane station on Stratford Marsh to take more pictures of the area which was to be demolished for the London Olympics.


Proclamation for Global Civility – Trafalgar Square

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

Muslim protesters packed Trafalgar Square for a protest by the Muslim Action Committee over the publication of the cartoons which they regard as blasphemous, but also to publicise a ‘proclamation of global civility‘. The key points of this were the recognition of human dignity as a fundamental right, the need to good manners and etiquette in serious debate, a desire to avoid irresponsible behaviour and to underline the significance of mutual respect for a harmonious co-existence.

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

The protest in London was kept in good order by stewards who remonstrated with some of the demonstrators who were in some way not behaving as they thought they should, and also moved photographers away from them and some other groups. But other protests around the world were much less restrained and news agencies that same day reported rioting outside the Italian consulate in Benghazi, Libya in which at least 10 people were killed as well as the storming and burning of Christian churches in northern Nigeria with at least 16 deaths.

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

“As I pointed out in my report in 2006, human dignity was recognised as vital in “the preamble to the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 217 of 10 December 1948. That declaration also contains a number of important safeguards such as ‘the right to freedom of opinion and expression‘ and states ‘in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.'”

Global Civility and Stratford Marsh

There are still many countries around the world where the principles of human rights in that declaration are not observed, including in many in the Muslim world.

Manners and etiquette are clearly very different in different societies and different religions certainly have very different views, particularly over blasphemy and apostasy. In the west we now prioritise freedom of speech and look back in horror at the Spanish Inquisition and trails for heresy and blasphemy, although in England and Wales, the ‘blasphemy’ and ‘blasphemous libel’ laws were only abolished in 2008, and in Scotland in 2021, while they are still in force in Northern Ireland.

The last conviction for blasphemy in England and Wales was in 1977 when the editor of Gay News received a suspended prison sentence after publishing the poem ‘The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name’ by James Kirkup, and in Scotland it was more than a century earlier when a bookseller was jailed for 15 months in 1843, though until 1825 it had been punishable by death.

While we may find some of the cartoons that were published offensive, it clearly does not justify the irresponsible behaviour and criminal actions of some Muslim mobs protesting against them.

Away from the stewards as I wandered through the crowd I was generally welcomed by the protesters, with many urging me to take their pictures. I left as the speeches, most of which I could not understand as few spoke in English, were finishing and people were getting ready to march,

Scroll down the February 2006 web page for more.


Stratford Marsh – River Lea, Stratford

I’d first photographed Stratford Marsh back in the early 1980s as part of a wider project on the River Lea, once a large and important industrial area in London, but like most of British industry falling into decline, accelerated by the policies of the Thatcher government determined to transform Britain away from manufacturing and into services.

Stratford Marsh was then full of largely small businesses employing local people and many still remained in 2006, though already blighted both by government policies and the tax breaks given to the nearby Docklands area. Now Olympic blight had set in with the whole area to be remodelled, and there were also areas which would be demolished for Crossrail.

As I wrote back then and I think my pictures show:

It is still an intriguing area, where a few yards can take you from wilderness to industrial wasteland, from dereliction to busy workshops (though most were closed on a Saturday afternoon.) Parts are visibly closing down, with compulsory purchase orders hanging on lamposts, some footpaths closed and factories demolished.

There was one small sign of a kind of regeneration. the unusual lock between the Bow Back Rivers and Waterworks River at Baker Road, for many years derelict, at last seems to have been replaced.

My London Diary – Feb 2006

There are many more pictures from this walk – and others – on these pages on my River Lea site.


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Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs – 2009

Sunday, August 6th, 2023

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs: August 6th is Hiroshima Day, and every year when I’m in London I try to get to the London memorial ceremony organised by London CND in Tavistock Square, and 2009 was no exception. But other events were also taking place that day, with a picket outside the offices of the company that organises the world’s largest arms fair and a rally to keep green jobs a wind turbine manufacturer. And between the last two I made a short visit to see what was happening to Stratford ahead of the Olympics.


London Remembers Hiroshima – Tavistock Square

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

The annual ceremony next next to the cherry tree planted there by the Mayor of Camden in 1967 to remember the victims of Hiroshima follows a similar pattern each year, though the speakers and singers change.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

In 2009 events were introduced Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn and speakers included the then Mayor of Camden and who was followed by an number of others including Frank Dobson MP, Bruce Kent the Vice President of CND, sadly no longer with us and other peace campaigners.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

Between some of the speeches there was music from socialist choirs. Raised Voices are a regular contributor and others have joined them in some years, in 2009 it was the Workers Music Association. Often a folk singer and poets contribute and at the end of the event people lay flowers at the base of the cherry tree before everyone sings together one or more of the protest songs including “Don’t you hear the H Bomb’s Thunder.”

Last year here on >Re:PHOTO I wrote the post Hiroshima Day – 6th August which looked at a number of these events from 2004 until 2017, with links to those in 2018, 2019 and 2o21.

More from 2009 in London Remembers Hiroshima.


Stop East London Arms Fair – Clarion Events, Hatton Garden

I left Tavistock Square in a hurry at the end of the ceremony to rush to Hatton Garden, where campaigners from ‘DISARM DSEi’ were picking the offices of Clarion Events in Hatton Garden, calling for an end to the Defence Systems & Equipment international (DSEi), the world’s largest arms fair, which Clarion are organising at ExCeL in East London next month.

The DSEi arms fair is a vast event, with over a thousand companies from 40 companies exhibiting and selling there lethal weapons. Among the buyers are those from repressive regimes around the world who will use them to keep control in their own countries. The arms trade results in millions of men, women and children being killed in conflicts around the world. According to UNICEF, in the ten years between 1986 and 96, two million children were killed in armed conflict and a further six million injured, many permanently disabled.

British companies are among those making high profits from equipment designed to kill people, and our High Street banks invest huge amounts in arms companies.

This was an entirely peaceful protest with a small group of people handing out leaflets to people passing by explaining to them what goes in an an office which appears to be for the diamond trade. Many stopped to talk with the protesters, surprised to find that our government backed and encouraged such activities. Government statistics show the UK’s global security exports as ranking third in the world, only behind the USA and China.

Although the only weapon carried by the campaigners was a small plastic boomeragn wielded by a young child, armed police watched them from across the road, together with other officers who took copious notes, although they seemed to show more interest in the four press photographers present, who were mainly just standing around talking to each other as there wasn’t a great deal to photograph. When the protesters left after an hour of picketing a police car drove slowly behind them as they walked to the pub.

More at Stop East London Arms Fair.


Olympic Site Update – August – Stratford Marsh,

Welcome to Hell’ says the graffiti at Hackney Wick – and it certainly looks like hell for photographers

I had a few hours to fill before the next event and had decided to go to Stratford to see how the area was being prepared for the Olympics in three years time. The actual site had been fenced off by an 11 mile long blue fence, but there were still some places where parts of the site could be viewed.

I went to Stratford and them walked along a part of the Northern Outfall Sewer which goes through one edge of the site. Part of this was completely closed to the public (and remained so for some years after the Olympics because of Crossrail work) but a public footpath remained as a narrow strip between temporary fencing north of the main line railway to Hackney Wick.

Security along this section was high, with security men roughly every 50 yards standing or sitting with very little to do, and the fencing made it impossible to get an unobstructed view. Later these temporary fences were replaced by impenetrable metal fencing and it became easier to take pictures. But on this occasion I could only really photograph the opposite side to the main part of the site where a lot of activity was taking place.

Even at Hackney Wick much of the Greenway was still fenced off, and I was pleased to come down into the Wick itself. Here I could photograph the stadium under construction from a distance, but rather more interesting was the graffiti on many buildings and walls facing the Lea Navigation.

Sadly much of this was cleaned up for the Olympics.

More at Olympic Update – August.


Rally For Vestas Jobs – Dept of Energy & Climate Change, Whitehall

I was back in Westminster outside for a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall calling for the government to support wind turbine blade manufacturer Vestas based in Newport on the Isle of White.

It had started to rain before the rally started and was pouring by the time it finished, though those present listened intently to speeches from a Vestas worker, trade union speakers from the RMT, PCW and Billy Hayes of the Communications Workers Unions, as well as former Labour Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Meacher MP (top picture) and Green Party GLA member Jenny Jones, who arrived at the event by bicycle.

Vestas problems were very much Government-made and as I wrote a result of “its failure to put it’s money where its mouth is on green energy policies, relying on hot air rather than support for wind power and other alternative energies.

Things are even worse now, with a government driven by lobbying from the oil industry granting licences for getting more oil from the North Sea. The Rosebank field west of Shetland will totally sink any hope of the UK meeting its promises on carbon emissions.

More pictures at Rally for Vestas Jobs.


Olympic Park, Barts and Food Poverty – 2014

Sunday, April 16th, 2023

Olympic Park, Barts and Food Poverty. On Wednesday 16 April 2014 there were two events in the evening I wanted to photograph, the first in Whitechapel and another in Westminster. It was a fine Spring day and I decided to go out much earlier and take a long walk around the former Olympic site, much of which had just been opened to the public ten days earlier.


Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Panoramics – Stratford

Olympic Park, Barts and Food Poverty - 2014

My walk got of to a poor start, as I followed the large signs in Stratford Station to the park and found myself hopelessly lost.

Olympic Park, Barts and Food Poverty - 2014

I retraced my steps and went through where I thought I had probably missed a turning and walked though Stratford Westfield past many shops I would never feel any desire to enter.

Emerging on the other side I could still find no way into the Park, keeping coming up to areas still blocked by fencing.

Olympic Park, Barts and Food Poverty - 2014

Google Maps wasn’t much help. Streetview, claimed to work on some streets in the area, “but actually carries out what seems a fairly random translocation to some varied London locations. All of them seemed more interesting than the actual topography I had found myself facing on the ground.”

Olympic Park, Barts and Food Poverty - 2014

Eventually I managed to access the park, though it didn’t seem much like a park to me. As I wrote back then, “It gives the impression that as little has been spent and done as possible post the Olympics and it largely remains a series of routes to the Olympic stadium, ready for the mass tramping feet of West Ham fans, though some might favour more direct routes. It is a complete contrast to what might be expected of a new park for – and there is a good example of one just a couple of miles away in Thames Barrier Park.”

It has improved a little in the nine years since this visit, but still in many areas seems more desert than park, and my conclusion that it was “a rather bleak area, enlivened occasionally by the odd art work” still seems apt for much of the area.

Of course I was comparing it to the same area before the Olympics, which I had often wandered and enjoyed, and had been a more exciting and much wilder area. Of course a part of its attraction had been its relative isolation and the new park will attract hugely greater numbers to its various attractions. The local schools were on holiday and there were areas in which children were playing which for various reasons don’t feature in my pictures.

Many more at QE Olympic Park Panoramics


Barts cuts Health Advocacy & Interpreting – Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel

From Stratford Marsh and Pudding Mill Lane Station it was a short journey to Whitechapel, with just a short walk in the middle from Bow Church DLR to Bow Road on the District Line.

The Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel is run by the Barts Health trust, who were proposing to make drastic cuts in advocacy and interpreting services.

The hospital is in the centre of a multiethnic community of great deprivation and need, a community desperate for an increase in these services,with an ageing population many of whom speak and understand little English but are now in much greater need of health care.

I was there to photograph the handing over of a petition by GPs and other health professionals as well as members of various parts of the BME community, including Somalis, Bangladeshis and Chinese. The Mayor of Tower Hamlets backed the campaign and had sent apologies and a representative to express his support, and a Labour councillor gave support from the Labour group.

The removal of the services at GP surgeries and community and hospital services would mean the loss of around 11 full-time Bengali/Sylheti Health Advocates and the languages affected would include Somali, Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Tamil and French.

Bart’s Health Trust has huge financial problems because of the huge PFI debt incurred in the building of the sorely needed new hospital in front of which we were meeting, with continuing huge payments that mean that they have been unable to fully use the new building and have cut other vital services. PFI was always a mistake and the civil servants who negotiated the terms were no match for the skilled and highly paid operators for the developers who ended up with terms that were hugely favourable to them – and which changes in the financial conditions since then have made even more so.

The hospital tried to restrict the publicity for the event, although they had agreed to accept the petition, they wanted to do so in private. Hospital security staff tried to stop most of those present from witnessing the handover, and to prevent photography, but without success.

Barts cuts Health Advocacy & Interpreting


End Hunger Fast Vigil against Food Poverty – Old Palace Yard


Over 600 leaders from all major Christian denominations, including 47 bishops had earlier in the day called for urgent government action on food poverty, and earlier in the month thousands had taken part in a 24 hour day of fasting, praying and reflecting on the hunger in the one of the world’s richest countries came to the vigil.

On 16th April, ‘End Hunger Fast’ campaigners held a vigil outside Parliament, lighting candles and breaking bread together.

Earlier in the day figures from the Trussell Trust and independent food banks had been released showing that one million food parcels were handed out over the previoUs year as the safety net for the poor and vulnerable in Britain was crumbling.

There were a number of speeches before a sharing of bread in a minute of silence before eating to reflect on the problem faced by those who cannot afford food. CanDles were then lit (with some difficulty because a a stiff breeze) for another period of silent contemplation before the final address by End Hunger Fast media spokesperson Keith Hebden. He was then going without food for 40 days and 40 nights to draw attention to food poverty, and stressed the importance of getting politicians to take action on the issue.

End Hunger Fast Vigil against Food Poverty


Before the Olympics – 2007

Saturday, February 11th, 2023

Five years and a few months before the London 2012 Olympic Games took place much of the site was still open although businesses had been moved out and some of the buildings were becoming derelict. I’d had an invitation to a party at a site there the previous evening but hadn’t been able to attend, but on Sunday 11th February 2007 I took my Brompton on the trains to Stratford Station for a tour of the area. It began as a rather gloomy day but the weather at least brightened up later.

Carpenters Rd from Wharton Road

I did return to parts of the area in later months as the close down was taking effect – and even led a two-day workshop at the View Tube in April 2010. And in June I was there to photograph workmen putting up the blue fence to keep us out of the whole Olympic area until well after the games were gone.

Before the Olympics - 2007
Footbridge to railway works over Waterworks River, Stratford Marsh.

Here’s what I wrote on back in 2007 about my ride around the area, much of which I spent pushing and carrying my Brompton bike along footpaths. But it did make it possible for me to cover rather more ground than would have been possible on foot. I’ve corrected the capitalisation etc. There are several pages of pictures with the original on My London Diary, just a few of which are shown here.

Before the Olympics - 2007
Marshgate Lane and Bow Back Rivers

2012 Olympic Site – Stratford, Sunday 11 Feb, 2007

Before the Olympics - 2007
Tate Moss, home to four artists and a venue for gigs of various kinds, now lost for the Olympics

Sunday I went to the Olympic site again, keen to photograph before the area becomes ‘fortress Olympics’ and is destroyed. Many of the businesses have now moved out and some of the small industrial estates are looking pretty empty. Tate Moss, who occupied a site by the City Mill River had staged their final event the night before, but the partying didn’t keep going long enough for me to look in and the place was deserted.

Marshgate Lane under the Northern Outfall Sewer is blocked with old tyres

Some of the riverside paths were open again after the test borings that have been going on, although several were fenced off over a year ago. The gate to the path by the waterworks river from the Greenway wasn’t locked, so I took a walk up this, but I knew that it was no longer possible to get out onto Marshgate Lane so had to retrace my steps.

The Marshgate Centre and Banner Chemicals from the Greenway

The route back up to the Greenway from Marshgate Lane was almost completely obstructed by heaps of old car tires, and I had to carry my Brompton for a few yards and climb up onto a grass bank where the steps were completely blocked. Parts of the road were no longer open to cars too.

City Mill River

From there I moved on to Hackney Wick and Waterden road, and I finished the day as the light was getting low on Hackney Marshes, one of the areas in which locally important sporting facilities will be lost at least for a few years, perhaps for good.

Original text on the February 2007 page (you will need to scroll down.)


Banner Chemicals

My article back then ended with the paragraph above, but my ride didn’t – I had to get back home. It had previously taken me to a number of places just outside the condemned area, including some that were to be demolished for Crossrail, and it didn’t actually end on the Hackney Marshes, as the pictures on My London Diary demonstrate.

Kings Yard

I decided to ride back to Stratford to get the train home, and that ride took me back past Clays Lane, where the estate was to be demolished for the athletes’ village and I stopped several more times on my way to take more pictures in the gloom. Even when I arrived at Stratford around sunset there was still enough light for a few final images.

Clays Lane

You can see many more pictures from the entire ride on My London Diary


Before the Olympics – A walk in 2005

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

I published this post seventeen years ago on My London Diary, following an organised walk around the Olympic Site by locals while London was making its unfortunately successful bid to host the 2012 games. I’ve corrected the capitalisation but otherwise it remains as written. Going around the area some ten years after the games there is nothing I would want to change in the piece, though the legacy has turned out even worse than we feared back then, with so many broken promises.


Olympic site? – Stratford and Temple Mills, 23 Jan, 2005

Before the Olympics
Carpenters Road lock, Old River Lea, London

I first got to know the lower Lea (or Lee) valley around twenty-five years ago, when many of the traditional industries, many based around the Lea Navigation, had or were just ending. Parts of it were almost a dark continent, with the Bow Back Rivers machete country. Secateurs became an essential photo accessory, and together with a heavy duty tripod swung with abandon hacked a path alongside streams overgrown with bramble, nettles and bushes.

Before the Olympics
Channelsea River, allotments and path near Eastway Cycle Circuit

Since then, things have changed, with proper paths, nature trails, signposts and more, although it remains an area of relative peace and quiet. All this could soon change. You can hardly move in or around London without the almost continuous reminder of the 2012 Olympic bid. Large sums are being spent to convince us it is a good thing, despite concurrent claims that over 70% of Londoners already support it.

Before the Olympics
Bully Point Nature Reserve, Stratford

For this particular area of London it will mean dramatic changes, and whatever the good intentions of the developers (and I’ve read them) these will probably be environmentally disastrous. Development on this scale almost always is. Even the proponents acknowledge short-term problems, while local environmentalists point out the massaging and misrepresentation in parts of their planning, as well as the failure to ensure a proper post-games future for the area. While some of the proposals make sense for the area, the short-term priorities of the games will result in many that do not.

Before the Olympics
Off-road tracks at Eastway Cycle Circuit, Temple Mills

I’m not against the Olympics as such; in some ways they could be a good thing for the country, although the whole movement has been allowed to get seriously out of hand. I’m cynical enough to know that much of the enthusiasm for London 2012 comes from companies who are already making serious money from the promotion and will make even more should they happen, and realistic enough to know that any local opposition to them can only enforce very minor changes to their impact. Such local views are likely to carry far more weight on developments in the area should the London bid fail.

Allotments on ridge between Old River Lea and Channelsea River, Stratford.

Sunday I cycled from Stratford to Temple Mills to join a walk around the northern part of the site, organised by No To London 2012, a coalition of East London community groups and social justice campaigners. A group of just over twenty of us spent an enjoyable couple of hours looking at the area and the impact the Olympic developments would have. it was an opportunity that IOC delegates are not likely to have, with their view of these particular areas expected to be with a pair of binoculars from a distant tower block.

Clays Lane estate, Stratford

We stood first of all on a part of Hackney Marshes, watching the local footballers play on an area marked for a vast coach park, wondering how long it would take for it to be returned to recreational use, before making our way south across the A12 to the Eastway Cycle Circuit, now a well-used recreational area which will also be dramatically changed, becoming in the long term part of a larger Velopark, and on to the recently established Bully Point Nature Reserve at the southwest of the site between the Channelsea River and the River Lea, a viewpoint over the major land-forming currently taking place as a part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link works and the future development of Stratford City.

Wick Field on edge of Hackney Marsh

Returning to Eastway, we climbed over a barrier onto Arena Field. Until a few years back this was a cricket ground, but travellers occupied it and the pavilion was burnt down. It was then used as a landfill site, raising the overall ground level around twenty feet. On the other side of Eastway we walked through Wick Field, site of massive tree-planting by Hackney. The new path we walked through, designed and made by one of those on the walk, was pleasant if muddy.

Canary Wharf towers from Eastway Cycle Circuit

At the end of the walk I went back to the bench in Wick Field, in the centre of a fine row of plane trees running parallel to the Lea Navigation and sat down to eat my lunch. In front of me a grassy fire-break path stretched into the distance, marred only slightly by dimly seen lorries at its end on the elevated roadway. As I sat there, the unmistakable low-slung red-brown shape of a fox strode slowly across the path a hundred yards away.

London 2012 Olympic advertising at Stratford Station

I made my way back to Stratford by Leyton, returning to look at some of my memories – St Josephs Cemetery and the nearby crossroads on Langthorne Road, the stump of Claremont Road and then a few pictures around the centre of Stratford itself.


You can see more pictures from the walk and my cycle rides from and to Stratford Station before and after the walk http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2005/01/jan3.htm with the original posting. All pictures were made with a Nikon D70, with some of the panoramas stitched together from several images.

You can see these and more pictures from the area on my Lea Valley web site, Some are also in my book Before The Olympics, first published in 2010, ISBN: 978-1-909363-00-7 still available from Blurb both as an expensive paperback or as a PDF.


Olympic Area & Budget Cuts – 2012

Monday, December 5th, 2022

December 5th 2012 was a fine winter’s day and I took advantage of the weather to try and walk around the area which had been fenced off for the London Olympics for around 5 years. In the evening I joined a protest in Westminster against the continuing cuts being aimed at the poorest and most vulnerable by George Osborne and the Conservative-led government.


Olympic Area Slightly Open – Stratford Marsh. Wed 5 Dec 2012

It was around April 2007 that an 11 mile long blue fence went up around the whole of the London Olympic site at Stratford, barring access to the whole site except for those working on it. Parts were replaced in 2012 with a 5,000 volt 4m tall electrified perimeter fence in 2012 for the games itself.

St Thomas’ Creek still blocked to boats

Even the public footpath along the Northern Sewage Outfall, the Greenway, had been closed in May 2012, but after I heard this had reopened on December 1st I had been wanting to visit the area again to walk along it.

Crossrail works

The View Tube, a cafe and viewing area set up on the Greenway had also reopened, under new management, and it was only signs for this that kept me going past a maze of fencing and hostile signage. The Greenway was still closed between Stratford High Street and the main railway lines because of ongoing work for Crossrail, and roads north of the railway were still fenced off.

Wire fences and yellow fences have replaced the blue

Despite it being a fine afternoon for a walk I was the only customer to enter the View Tube while I was there and the Greenway, normally a useful through route for cyclists and pedestrians, was still deserted.

I could see no signs of work going on to bring the area back into use. Ten years later the area is still largely a desert and most of the promises about the ‘Olympic Legacy’ have been reneged on. This is still an Olympic waste; though the developers have done well out of it, the people haven’t.

I walked along the Greenway, finding there was no access from it to any part of the area, with those electric wire fences still in place, and made my way along the Lea Navigation to Hackney Wick, making a number of pictures on my way.

Many more pictures including panoramas at Olympic Area Slightly Open


Osborne’s Budget Cuts – Strand to Westminster, Wed 5 Dec 2012

I around 200 people outside Kings College at Aldwych who were meeting to march to join the rally at Downing St where Stop the War and CND were protesting against Osborne’s attacks on the vulnerable, continued in his autumn statement.

The march had been called by the UCU London Region, and was joined by students, trade unionists, socialists and others, and went down the Strand and into Whitehall shouting slogans against public service cuts, the rich, David Cameron and George Osborne in particular to join a similar number already protesting at Downing St.

Speakers at the rally pointed out the huge cost of military expenditure which was being poured into futile projects – and the pockets of the arms manufacturers:

The Afghanistan war — which everyone knows is futile and lost — is costing around £6 billion a year. The yearly maintenance costs for Trident are £2.2 billion a year. The cost of renewing the Trident system — which this government is committed to do — would cost up to £130 billion. Two aircraft carriers are being built at a cost of £7 billion. Then there’s the £15 billion to be spent buying 150 F-35 jets from the US, each of which will cost £85 million plus an extra £16 million for the engine.”

John McDonnell MP

By now it was freezing, and when the speeches began the speakers were asked to cut their contributions short because of the extreme cold. Among those who spoke were John McDonnell MP, Kate Hudson of CND, author Owen Jones, Andy Greene of DPAC and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.

Kate Hudson CND

We heard from a nurse about the campaign to keep Lewisham hospital open, where a few days earlier 15,000 had marched and formed a human chain around the hospital. The hospital is successful and well run, but huge PFI debts from another hospital in the area threaten its future.

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett

A NUT member talked about the problems the cuts were making in education and campaigners had come from Connaught School in Waltham Forest where they are striking against the decision by school governors to pursue academy status despite the opposition of the teachers, parents, the local MP and councillors.

A speaker from UK Uncut urged people to join the protests against Starbucks the following Saturday and many of those who spoke called for trade unions to take action against the cuts, calling on union leaders to stop simply speaking against them and start organising strike action.

More at Osborne’s Budget Cuts.


March for a People’s Olympics

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Ten years ago on July 27th 2012, as the London 2012 Olympics were getting underway in Stratford, people, mainly from the local area, marched to call for an end to the corporate takeover of the Olympics and the draconian policing and military presence largely aimed at the protection of brands and for the games to meet its legacy promises.

The authorities had done their damnedest to stop the protest taking place – first they had tried to ban it altogether, then Transport for London had refused permission for them to march along any roads which were emergency backup Games routes. But protesters agreed with police that they would leave the road if there was any emergency. Tower Hamlets council tried to ban any speeches or other events on Wennington Green where the march ended, and protesters were threatened they would be arrested if they carried banners, placards or t-shirts with political messages – though it was hard to see any legal basis for doing so.

The ‘Whose Games? Whose City?’ protest went ahead despite the threats, with only one small incident when police seized and searched a man who had cut a piece of police tape. A crowd of marchers supported them and shouted for his release and after a few minutes he was set free without charge and the march continued.

The threats and public controversy had doubtless persuaded many not to come to the event, where around 500 marchers mingled with press and TV from around the world at the starting point in Mile End Park at midday. The organisers, the Counter Olympics Network (CON) had made clear that they were not against the Olympics as a sporting event but against the way it had been taken over by corporate interests. In my long account of the event on My London Diary I quoted from several of their statements, including:

"the close ties between the Olympic brand and its corporate sponsors who, despite IOC claims of vetting on ethical grounds, include serial polluters, companies which seriously damage the environment and which wreck or take lives, Coca Cola, Rio Tinto, BP, Dow Chemical. G4S, Cisco, and Atos deny people their human rights in a variety of situations while Macdonalds helps to fuel the obesity epidemic. London2012 provides benefits at taxpayers’ expense while receiving little in return."

CON also pointed out the many broken promises made about the games and the very doubtful legacy the games will leave, particularly in East London.

"the lack of benefits for local people and businesses, the fantastic expansion of security into our daily lives, the deployment of missiles and large numbers of troops, the unwarranted seizure of public land at Wanstead Flats, Leyton Marsh and Greenwich Park."
A man celebrates after the crowd made police release him

Later in his speech on Wennington Green, Chris Nineham of the Stop The Olympic Missiles Campaign declared that the London Olympics had already set a number of records, including the largest ever number of arrests on the first day, the highest ticket prices, the most intensive application of branding rules and the highest level of militarisation of any Olympic games, with far more being spent on security that even in China. There were now more troops in London than at any time since World War 2, and more than at any time in Afghanistan, where our military activities were now making us a terrorist target in London. Among the other speakers was Melanie Strickland, one of the 182 ‘Critical Mass’ cyclists arrested the previous night for riding near the Olympic stadium.

Industry on the Olympic site, Marshagate Lane, 1990

I had known and photographed the Olympic area since the early 1980s until the public were all excluded from the vast site in 2007 and after when we were only able to peer over the blue fence. In 2010 I brought out a book ‘Before The Olympics’ which included many pictures of the area in the thirty years or so before they took place, as well as looking more widely along the length of the River Lea and the Navigation. Most people miss that parts of the area were formerly thriving industrial and commercial sites, others a verdant wilderness – and of course some thriving allotments. Of course there have been some benefits following 2012 – more housing is something London desperately needs, but much was already being planned before the bid succeeded. But the park remains to me deeply disappointing.

Allotments on the Olympic site, April 2007

The book is still available and you should be able to view a preview at ‘Before the Olympics‘ though Blurb appears to be having some problems at the moment; it is a ridiculously highly priced softback, but there is a more reasonable PDF version. The book includes many of my pictures of the area which are also on my The Lea Valley web site including mainly black and white images from the 1980s and 90s and colour from the 2000s. Later images from before and after 2012 are on various pages of My London Diary. There is a large collection of the black and white images in my Flickr album River Lea – Lea Navigation 1981-1992 including many from what became the Olympic site.


Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh

Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Dangleway, Silvertown and Stratford Marsh: My day out on Wednesday 26 June 2013 began by taking the tube to North Greenwich and then walking to the cablecar for the ride across the Thames.

Back then I commented “Given the huge losses it is sustaining I can’t see it remaining open too much longer, so if you’ve not taken a ride don’t leave it too long“, and I’m surprised to find it still running 8 years later. But perhaps not for much longer, as the sponsorship deal with the Emirates Airline comes to an end this month, and no other company has come forward to pick up the tab, even though TfL have offered a huge reduction for the privilege.

Never a sensible contribution to London’s travel network it remains one of London’s cheaper and more interesting tourist attractions. I’m not sure whether the fact that it now lands on the north bank spitting distance from London’s now misplaced County Hall adds to its chances of retention, but it could make it more likely to be brought within the normal London fare structures.

There are already fare reductions for people with Travelcards, and frequent users can buy a ticket which reduces the cost to make it a viable part of a commute to work, particularly as you can take a bike with you for free. However I suspect the number of ‘frequent fliers’ is probably only in two figures. Its also a service which is more affected by weather than surface transport, closing down in high winds.

But it does have the height to give some splended views, even if the surrounding area is perhaps less rich than that of London’s other aerial attraction, the London Eye. Actually for me is considerably more attractive, and it’s an area which is now rapidly developing on both sides of the river, with new residential developments replacing old industrial and commercial uses.

The dangleway is also a part of the East London sculpture trail, The Line, which vaguely follows the Greenwich Meridian, from North Greenwich to Stratford and makes an interesting walk, although this will become a more interesting walk once the riverside path from Cody Dock to the East India Dock Road is opened, something we have been waiting for around 20 years. One day it might even extend past Canning Town station to Trinity Buoy Wharf, but we may not live that long.

Although you can see the riverside from above, little of it is now publicly accessible, though I walked along Bow Creek and a little of the Thames here back in the 1980s taking photographs now on Flickr. But back then the Royal Victoria Dock was largely fenced off and you can now walk around it and over a high-level bridge which also has interesting views.

Or at least you can most of the time. But the area becomes a high security zone with the bridge closed when the Excel Centre is full of arms dealers selling often illegal arms to repressive regimes around the world – every other September. Fortunately it was June, though I was back there for the DSEI protests in September – and in other years.

The DLR also runs through the area on a viaduct, and from the train and the stations you also get some interesting views, though the train windows are often rather to dirty for taking photographs. That you are looking south from the line can also mean the sun is shining directly into the lens.

This is the Woolwich branch of the DLR and at Canary Wharf I changed onto a train towards Stratford, alighting at Pudding Mill Lane to walk up onto the Greenway. I arrived just too late to go into the View Tube there so I had to be content with making pictures from the Greenway which runs high through the area.

I’d begun making photogrfaphs here back in the 1980s, and had published some of these on my my River Lea/Lee Valley web site – and in the Blurb book ‘Before The Olympics‘, returning to the area occasionally and photographing it as it changed and particularly as the Olympic site developed. Progress on restoring the area to some useful purpose appeared to be very slow

More on My London Diary where the pictures are also larger – though you can see these ones larger by opening the images in their own window.
Stratford Greenway Olympic Revisit
Victoria Dock and Silvertown
Emirates ‘Airline’ – Arab Dangleway


Stratford 2005

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Footbridge at Stratford to Carpenters Estate

Back in 2005 many were still hoping that London would not win their bid to hold the Olympics, particularly those who lived in the area who could see how their lives would be disrupted by this huge event (though in the end it was far worse than they had imagined.)

One of many businesses on Carpenters Road

They also saw how it would impact on the longer term development of the area. Many planners warned how it would distort the proper planning of the area and its future; although investment in the area was welcome, much or most of it would be put into white elephants which would have little long-term utility.

Waterworks River and Old River Lea at Carpenters Lock

On Sunday 23 January 2005 I took my bike with me to Stratford and cycled to the meeting point at Temple Mills for a tour of the Olympic area with No to London 2012, a coalition of east london community groups and social justice campaigners.

Bully Point Nature Reserve

Around 20 of us then took a walk around the area, getting some informative comments at a number of locations. As I remarked in my write-up of the event in My London Diary:

It was an opportunity that IOC delegates are not likely to have, with their view of these particular areas expected to be with a pair of binoculars from a distant tower block.

My London Diary: January 2005

I was already familiar with the area, having photographed around it since the 1980s, but still learnt a lot from some of those who spoke – and had just a little to add.

BMX track at Eastway Cycle Circuit is marked out

On our route around and also on my way to the meeting point I took the opportunity to take a few pictures, and after I’d sat down after the tour to eat my sandwiches by the Lea Navigation, to cycle to another area which was to be affected by the Olympics, Marsh Lane in Leyton, before making my way back to Stratford.

Wick Field, Hackney Wick

We were lucky with the weather, mild for January and with some sunshine, and I’d enjoyed the fairly short rides as well as the guided tour. I’d made several hundred pictures, including a number of panoramic images and felt I’d had a good day.

Leyton Marsh

Of course, London lost – and was condemned to host the Olympics. It was an event that caught the imagination of many of the public for the few weeks it was on, but has left a toxic legacy that will last decades.

You can see more of these pictures on My London Diary, where I’ve also written more about it.


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.