Posts Tagged ‘Thames’

Deaths in Eritrea & the UK and a Peace March 2017

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Most embassies are in the most expensive parts of London, with a large number around Belgrave Square and others in Mayfair. Eritrea’s is in Islington and I can only recall once having been to a protest outside it. There should be more, particularly by jounalists, as Eritrea, a one-party state ruled by presient Isais Afwerki since independence in 1993, has one of the worst human rights records and, according to Reporters Without Borders, has the worst press freedom in the world. In 2001 all independent media in the country were banned and politicians and ten leading journalists were arrested and thrown into isolation without charge, without trial and without contact with the outside world. Nobody knows their whereabouts and only four were thought to be still alive in 2017.

Those still alive are still in jail and have now been held for 20 years, along with other journalists imprisoned since then. Very little is known about most of them with no official information being released, other than government denials that some have been tortured, which are widely disbelieved. They are held in jails where torture is commonplace. In December 2020, 28 Jehohova’s witnesses, some of whom had been in jail for 26 years were released, raising hopes of the families of journalists, but there have been no further releases.

On Thursday 21st September 2017 there were 12 chairs set out at the protest across the street from the Eritrean Embassy, one four each of the journalists jailed in 2001, with photographs of them all. Protesters sat on four of the chairs, representing those thought still to be alive.

I went to another protest about deaths in prisons, this time in the UK. It was called at short notice after a Chinese man in Dungavel immigration detention centre. This followed the death earlier this month at Harmondsworth detention centre of a Polish man who took his own life after the Home Office refused to release him despite the courts having granted him bail. There have been thirty-one deaths in immigration removal centres since 1989.

Britain is the only EU country which holds refugees and asylum seekers to indefinite detention, and both official reports and media investigations have criticised the conditions at these immigration prisons. The protest outside the Home Office called for an end to immigration detention, which is inhumane and makes it difficult or impossible for asylum cases to be fairly assessed.

Stop Killing Londoners blocked traffic briefly in a carefully planned operation in Trafalgar Square, which involved the simultaneous stopping of traffic at all five entrances to the road system. As in previous events, it was a token block, holding up traffic for less time than it gets halted by congestion on some busy days, and around ten minutes after it began they moved off the road, returning a few minutes later for a short ‘disco protest’, dancing on the road on the east side of the square for a few minutes until police asked them to move.

The protest was to publicise the illegal levels of air pollution in the capital which result in 9,500 premature deaths and much suffering from respiratory disease. It was one of a series of similar protests in various areas of London.

I hurried down from Trafalgar Square to Westminster Bridge, going across it just in time to meet the World Peace Day Walk as several hundred campaigners walk arrived having walked beside the Thames from Borough Market carrying white flowers. The London Peace Walk was one of a number takeing place in Barcelona, Paris and other cities around the world on World Peace Day.

The marchers wore black and walked in silence to grieve for the recent loss of precious life due to violence in all forms, including terrorist, state, corporate, domestic. They stated that there can be no peace without justice, equality and dignity for all and that “We stand together against the forces of hate and division – for peace.” At the end of their march they went onto Westminster Bridge and threw flowers and petals into the Thames.

More at:
World Peace Day Walk
Trafalgar Square blocked over pollution
No More Deaths in immigration detention
Free forgotten jailed Eritrean Journalists


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.


Thames Path

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

One of the many things I ought really to do is to put together a book of my pictures of the Thames Path. Of course quite a few others have done so, but I think mine would provide a slightly different view.

I think I’ve walked every section of it over the years, parts of it many times, though there may possibly be a few yards I’ve missed actually in London where there are routes on both sides of the river. I’ve also gone rather further east on both banks, as the Thames Path stops rather prematurely at the Thamea Barrier while the paths continue.

I’ve never quite been to the mouth of the Thames, traditionally marked at various places including the the Nore sandbank, Yantlet Creek – where the City put up the London Stone, and though I cycled to Leigh-on-Sea in 2005 I think I missed the Crow Stone.

Most of the sections of path upstream from Windsor I’ve walked on various days with my family. As far as a little above Oxford it’s fairly easy to travel by public transport to the start of a day’s walk and back from the end, but above that there are few buses and no stations until you get close to the source. So the final (or initial) 60-70 km had eluded us.

In 2013, my elder son planned the expedition to complete the route, booking bed and breakfast for the three of us at Buscot and Cricklade so we had three days to walk. On the Tuesday following Easter, two trains (both running late) took us to Oxford, despite Easter Holiday engineering works still in operation and we took the bus to Hinton Waldrist. For the last five miles we were the only passengers and the bus had a problem in the village squeezing past a parked tractor.

We were still a couple of km away from the Thames Path, but the sun was out and despite being rather close to zero it was good walking weather. The map and guide book said there was still a ford across an old stream of the river at Duxford which would have saved us some walking, but there had been considerable rain in previous weeks and it was clearly impassable; even on the longer way round we occasionally needed to detour around flooded sections of path.

We just made it for a late lunch before the pub at Tadpole Bridge stopped serving, having seen only one other person on the first five miles or so of our walk. It was good to have a pint, though the food suffered from the restaurant’s aspirations, and service was fast. The river winds considerably around here and I think we walked at least twice as far as a crow might fly to get to Radcot and from there on to Kelmscott where we again paused. We were a day early for the first opening of the Manor there, perhaps as well as we didn’t have time to appreciate it, but we did visit William Morris’s grave and the local pub before continuing our slog to Buscot Manor, an interesting and welcoming place to spend the night.

The following morning after a very large breakfast with other guests we made a short tour of the village before continuing along the Thames Path towards Lechlade, where I was forced to waste time snared into a tea shop by my companions. Eventually we made it and walked on past the start of the Thames and Severn canal to the Church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham, a splendid medieval survival thanks to the efforts of William Morris, who along with his pre-Raphaelite friends founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) or ‘Anti-Scrape’ to oppose the gothicisation of buildings such as these.

Then came the worst section of the Thames Path, a mile or so on the verge of the busy A361 followed by another couple along a bridle path and country lanes out of sight of the river. Between Inglesham and Castle Eaton there is no real Thames Path – except for a couple of hundred yards beside the river in the 4 or 5 mile stretch. Though except for the A361 it is a decent country walk. The route does run beside the river from Castle Eaton to Cricklade where we made for the oldest and poshest pub, the White Hart where we were booked. And after finding our room found a good Indian restaurant not far away.

After a disappointing breakfast we took a short walk around Cricklade before continuing our journey. Flooding in the area meant the path had been diverted but it wasn’t a bad diversion and we were soon walking with the river through a land almost entirely covered by unfilled gravel pits, something there is no shortage of close to home. These cover the land east and west of the charming village of Ashton Keynes, west of which it’s hard to decide where the river actually flows. According to the Thames Path Guide, the Thames follows several coursed through Ashton Keynes, though some distance further up you do walk beside a decent small river.

Past the A 329 the river rather peters out, and by the time we reached Thames Head on the A 433 Fosse Way all that was left was damp grass. Across the road we struggled up a small hill to the official source, a dry spring that is marked by a stone placed here by the Thames Conservators. From here it was downhill to Kemble Station and a long wait for a train to Swindon, where we changed for Reading and then another train home.

More details and many more pictures on My London Diary.
Thames Path: Cricklade to the Source
Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade
Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot

City and Thames

Friday, January 17th, 2020

The area by St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, an Anglican church a few hundred yards south of St Paul’s Cathedral fascinated me when I first walked by it in the 1970s, and of course I’ve tried to photograph it over the years with various success, though mainly failure.

This picture, taken from the steps up to a locked door into the church is one that I found impossible on colour film, with the gloomy alley – with a light on even in the middle of the day when I took this picture contrasting with the more brightly lit street with The Cockpit pub. But the day was overcast, reducing the contrast and the digital camera coped well, though needing some dodging and burning in Lightroom to give the results here.

I didn’t go into the church though I have been inside on at least one previous occasion, just following an Indian Orthodox service there, when the atmosphere was thick with incense. The site has an interesting history, with a church here for perhaps a thousand years or more, though the first written mention is in 1170 or . It became part of an ancient royal residence, Baynard’s Castle, and in 1361¬†Edward III or Edward IV moved his royal clothes and arms from the Tower of London to a more handy site in a building close by.

Like most of London it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, and was rebuilt in 1695 to one of the simplest and last of Christopher Wren’s many church designs. Although it now looks ancient, it was mostly destroyed again by German bombing in 1940 and rebuilt and reconsecrated in 1961, with most of its internal decor being salvaged from previously demolished Wren churches. Among the memorials on its walls is a modern carved wood one for William Shakespeare, a parishoner for 15 years.

From the church I crossed Queen Victoria St and made my way down to the riverside walkway. There was an extremely low tide and I went down the steps onto the foreshore, which here is sand and shingle with many remains of wooden posts.

I walked the short distance along to Queenhithe, a historic monument as London’s first dock though the Roman and Saxon docks are now all buried beneath the mud and stones or hidden behind the visible more modern river walls and the area is surrounded by rather boring modern offices.

I went back and up onto the riverside walkway and then made my way to meet with friends for a short walk through the city, on which I took a few more photographs. One of the places we visited was where I had begun taking pictures, and this time we went inside The Cockpit on St Andrews Hill opposite the church, one of London’s smaller and more fascinating places.

Although the text for it’s grade II listing states tha the building is ca 1860, but the interior is in part older. The pub claims to have been established in 1787 and to have been rebuilt in 1842 and that it was once Shakespeare’s home – and certainly it is on the corner of Ireland Yard where he is known to have lived.

The interior is literally a ‘cockpit’ and the bar and seating is on the very floor where the pair of gamecocks, equipped with razor-sharp metal spurs would be set to fight to the death while gamblers looked on from the balcony above. Cock-fighting was banned in England and Wales by the ¬†Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 and the last fight in this pub was said to have been in 1849. Apparently there are still some illegal fights in the UK.

More pictures at City & Thames.


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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Wapping & the Thames

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

I arrived early for a private celebration of May Day with friends in a Wapping pub and took a short walk along the High St and riverside path, where I sat and ate my lunch sandwiches.

I’d made photographs here in the 1980s, and there were one or two that I’d hoped I would be able to fix the locations more precisely. It wasn’t easy as vitually everything between Wapping High Street and the river has been rebuilt with expensive riverside flats. New Crane Wharf (above) was still recognisable as here the old buildings had been converted.

The Thames sweeps around to the south to go around the Isle of Dogs, and from Wapping you can see Canary Wharf to the North of the River and the gasholder in Rotherhithe to the south – and both appear in photographs to be across the river.

You also see rather too much very pedestrian riverside architecture like the flats above. So little new building on the river bank has any architectural merit, all about maximising profit within the planning restrictions. It’s such a shame that the LDDC didn’t have higher aspirations for its control of the redevelopment of docklands.

Relatively little of the old riverside survives here, and Tunnel Mills and the other buildings at Rotherhithe are one very welcome exception. There are parts of the north bank too where some of the better warehouses have been saved, converted into expensive flats.

It was good also to be able to walk out onto Tunnel Pier, where I met two old friends also taking advantage of the opportunity.

And though the Captain Kidd pub to the left of Phoenix Wharf is relatively modern, dating from the 1880s, like many Sam Smith’s pubs it is a sensitive conversion of an old building, Sun Wharf, which along with Swan Wharf (now renamed Phoenix Wharf) and St John’s F & G Wharf at left were owned or leased by W H J Alexander and Company, who as well as wharfingers dealing in a wide range of goods including coffee, dried fruit, gum and bales of Australian wool, also used these premises to repair their tugs. Swan Wharf I think is the oldest of these buildings, dating from the 1840s and possibly designed by Sidney Smirke.

More pictures at Wapping and the Thames .


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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.



Windsor & Eton

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

I suppose this isn’t everybody’s idea of a picture of Windsor Castle, but it does rather amuse me, and I was rather brought up with Noddy, who I now realise was at times terribly racist. Noddy was created by Enid Blyton when I was only four, and her last book about him was published in the year I went to university, though since then he has been kept more or less alive on TV and through what is still a best-selling franchise. Mr Golly, who serviced Noddy’s little car seems to have disappeared in the 1990s, and the Gollies who stole Noddy’s car and the song book strongly featuring the n-word are no longer mentioned. It was in the mid 1960s that the racist, classist and xenophobic nature of her books first came under attack. And Windsor Castle is a little less prominent than that Pisan tower.

Eton is of course at the very heart of our English class system, and was appropriated by the wealthy from the school founded by Guliemus De Wayneflete for the education of poor boys – as the plaque records.

Much of Eton revolves around the school, and perhaps the most obvious signs of that, other than the school buildings themselves are the tailors shops, though it’s hard to imagine anyone actually buying anything in them.

Eton is a ridiculously wealthy and privileged place, though the school does offer some scholarships to gifted poor children, and we were once encouraged by his primary headmaster to put our elder son forward for one. I don’t think he would have survived, either the preparatory school that scholarship boys start at to repair some of the ravages of the state system and certainly not the school itself.

As you walk back towards Windsor, sanity does start to return and there is at least one decent pub where we lunched before returning over the pedestrianised bridge to Windsor, itself a curious place under the shadow of royalty and the military, and also a town full of tourists.

The swans were massing where tourists feed them, across the Thames from the Eton College boat house. I walked to the bus stop to return to the real world.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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

To order prints or reproduce images