Posts Tagged ‘Tavistock Square’

No More Hiroshimas

Thursday, August 6th, 2020
A prayer by Japanese monk Rev Nagase, from the Battersea Peace Pagoda, 2011

Most years if I am in London at the start of August I attend the London CND Hiroshima Day commemoration in Tavistock Square. This year, the 75th anniversary, I will be at the online event.

The US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime on a massive scale and lacked any real military justification. So far, despite a huge number of atomic weapons being manufactured and many billions spent on them and their delivery systems none have been used, though we now know that it was only the refusal of one Russian soldier to obey orders that saved us from nuclear annihilation.

The theory of nuclear deterrence never made sense, and over the years more countries have created their own nuclear weapons, mainly as a status symbol. US, UK, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea currently have them. South Africa is the only country which has given them up (several soviet republics handed them back to Russia when the USSR broke up) but around 190 countries including South Africa have now signed up the the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, confirming they will not develop them.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature at United Nations headquarters in New York on 20 September 2017 having been passed with 122 countries in favour – but none of the nuclear states or other NATO members voted and the Netherlands was the sole vote against. So far only 40 states have ratified the treaty.

The London 75th Anniversary event is one of many around the world you can join in or view online. I’ve posted a few of my pictures from earlier years here, but there are many more on My London Diary – for 2004, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Jeremy Corbyn introduces the Mayor of Camden, Cllr Faruque Ansari, 2009
Hetty Bower, 105, holds up a Peace Card given her by a primary school class, 2011
Tony Benn speaks, 2011
CND Chair Kate Hudson, 2014
Flowers are laid at the Hiroshima Cherry Tree in Tavistock Square, 2015

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

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


Feb 1987 Camden, London

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Saddler, Monmouth St, Covent Garden, Camden, 1987 87-2c-13-positive_2400
Saddler, Monmouth St, Covent Garden, Camden, 1987

This building is a part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the area, the Comyn Ching triangle, by the Terry Farrell Partnership which took place from 1983-1991, retaining the facades with rebuilt or restored shopfronts. This part of the Grade II listed terrace at 65-71 Monmouth St was only rebuilt in the third and final phase of development which began around two years after I made this picture. The lettering ‘B. FLEGG/ ESTd.1847/ SADDLER & HARNESS MAKER/ LARGE/ STOCK /OF/ SECONDHAND SADDLERY & HARNESS/ HORSE/ CLOTHING/18, with the name B. FLEGG applied diagonally to each side’ was then painstakingly restored.

Though sometimes referred to as a ‘ghost sign’, like many others it should more correctly be called a ‘resurrected sign’.

Thornhaugh St, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987 87-2b-54-positive_2400
Thornhaugh St, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987

One of the minor themes in my work at this time concerned the urban tree. London is a city with a great many of them, notably those London Planes, a hybrid of American sycamore and Oriental plane which first appeared by cross-pollination of these two introduced species in the Lambeth garden of London’s best known plantsman, John Tradescant the younger, who named it after the city around the middle of the 17th century. It has been widely grown in streets and parks across the city since the late 18th century.

I think these trees in their regimented rows are probably flowering cherries though probably some with greater aboreal knowledge will correct me. But this was a militarised forest that rather made me shudder. The planting was apparently designed to stop students playing football in the area. It hasn’t lasted and there is now a green area here – though some of the trees in it may be these same specimens, and there are still a couple of large brutalist concrete boxes around a couple of groups of trees.

UCL Institute of Education, Thornhaugh St, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987 87-2b-43-positive_2400
UCL Institute of Education, Thornhaugh St, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987

And in the background of the previous image was one of my favourite brutalist buildings, with a playfulness by Denys Lasdun’s that is perhaps more exiting than his National Theatre. It was a part of a larger plan, never completed and much opposed at the time, though in the end it was only a lack of money that really stopped the destruction of more of the area and the building on the open areas such as the ‘garden’ above.

Phoenix Cafe, Chalton St, Somers Town, Camden, 1987 87-2a-64-positive_2400

The Ossulston Estate in Somers Town, close to Euston Station was a remarkable council estate built by the London County Council in 1927-31, taking inspiration from modernist public housing which the LCC’s Chief Architect G Topham Forrest had visited in Vienna. The 7-storey housing blocks are behind a low wall of shop units along Chalton St, of which the Phoenix Cafe was one. Some of these units are still in use as shops, though not this one.

The 310 flats were built to high standards for the time and the development also included The Cock Tavern  – all are now listed. Some of the estate has been extensively refurbished.

St Pancras Church, Euston Rd, Bloomsbury, 1987  87-2a-25-positive_2400
St Pancras Church, Euston Rd, 1987

One of my favourite church exteriors in London is that of St Pancras (New) Church in Euston Rd, built in 1819–22 in Greek Revival style to the designs of William Inwood and his son Henry William Inwood. Perhaps its most remarkable feature are these caryatids, who look to me pretty fed up, perhaps unsurprisingly as they have a stone roof sitting on their heads. They are above the entrance to the burial vault and hold symbols suitable to this position, empty jugs and torches which have gone out.

Mahatma Gandhi, Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, Camden, 1987  87-2b-01-positive_2400

A short distance away in Tavistock Square is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, 1869 – 1948, who studied not far away at UCL in 1888. The powerful likeness is by Fredda Brilliant and the site for it was chosen by V K Krishna Menon who was a member of the Theosophical Society and for some years a St Pancras Councillor before being made High Commissioner for India in the UK. The memorial was erected for the 125 anniversary of his birth and unveiled by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Most years for some time I have visited Tavistock Square each August for the annual remembrance on Hiroshima day around the Hiroshima Cherry tree a short distance from this statue. The square also contains a memorial to the victims of the 2005 bombing here, the Conscientious Objectors Commemorative Stone, a memorial and bust of surgeon Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake (1865 –1925) and a bust of Virginia Woolf.

More pictures on Flickr in the album 1987 London Photos.


Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Thursday, January 16th, 2020
The Mayor of Camden Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust lays the first wreath at the Hiroshima cherry tree

Back on the 8th of August 1967, that year’s Mayor of Camden Cllr Millie Miller planted a cherry tree in Tavistock Square in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima twenty two years earlier on August 8th 1945. A second bomb was dropped two days later on Nagasaki.

By then Japan had lost the war and surrender could only have been a few days away. There was no pressing military reason to use these monstrous weapons, but they had been under development in the Manhattan Project which began in 1939 but only got into full swing in 1952. The scientists had developed two different types of bomb, a uranium-235 bomb codenamed ‘Little Boy’ and the plutonium based ‘Fat Man’.

Baroness Jenny Jones

The ‘Fat Man’ device, involving an explosion to compact a plutonium sphere to provide the critical mass for an explosion was complex, and it was decided a test was necessary to determine if it would work. This test, the world’s first nuclear explosion, took place on the 16 July 1945 in a remote desert area in New Mexico.

Planning for dropping the two bombs began in serious in November 1943 and was complex. Specially modified aircraft were needed because of the size of the bombs and a special base was built for the missions on a Pacific island. Originally Kyoto had been selected for a target for the first bomb, but the US Secretary of War ruled it out because of its cultural and historic significance and Hiroshima was selected in its place.

Shigeo Kobayashi, Japan Against Nuclear, reads the English translation of today’s speech by the Mayor of Hiroshima at the commemoration there

The Hiroshima bomb was the logical end of years of planning and scientific effort and was needed more to validate that whole process than for any particular military purpose. There was even less reason for the second bomb on Nagasaki given the destruction the first bomb had caused. Over two thirds of Hiroshima’s buildings had been destroyed, almost a third of its population killed immediately and another third injured. More were to die later from radiation.

Nagasaki was not even the intended target for the second bomb; cloud over Kokura saved it from destruction and instead ‘Fat Man’ was dropped on Nagasaki. It was roughly 1.5 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb but hills protected parts of the city and the destruction and death toll were lower with an estimated 35,000–40,000 people killed and 60,000 injured.

Rev Gyoro Nagase, Buddhist monk from the Battersea Peace Pagoda

The commemoration takes place every 6th August in Tavistock Square, with Camden’s Mayor taking part, as well as peace activists. It is the largest of several events in London and I now usually attend and have photographed it a number of times.

Hiroshima Bomb victims remembered


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