Posts Tagged ‘Thames’

Nine Elms Riverside – July 1989

Friday, December 15th, 2023

Nine Elms Riverside – July 1989: One of the benefits of working as a teacher as I still was in 1989 was certainly the long Summer holiday and I spent quite a lot of these taking photographs as well as going away for several weeks with my family – though some years this was also a photographic opportunity. And most years we also spent a week or so in Hull where I was able to add a few pictures to the work that had resulted in my exhibition Still Occupied in the Ferens Art Gallery there in 1983.

But our travels around the country in the Summer of 1989 – which as well as Hull included a week with a group of friends in a large holiday cottage in Scotland – only began in August, and the day after my visit to Hackney on Friday 28th July 1989 I returned to take up my work where I had left off earlier in Nine Elms.

Brunswick House, Market Towers, Wandsworth Rd, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7k-13
Brunswick House, Market Towers, Wandsworth Rd, Vauxhall, Lambeth, 1989 89-7k-13

Tuuning west out of Vauxhall Station took me to the junction of Wandsworth Road and Nine Elms Lane. Brunswick House at right appeared in an earlier post on my walks in 1989. This mid 17th century house, extended in 1758, bought by in 1869 by “the London and South West Railway Company who used it as offices and a Scientific and Literary Institute. In 1994 it was sold to the railway staff association who again sold it in 2002. It is now a restaurant and the yard around it is used by an architectural salvage and supply company.

Market Towers was clearly a very much later building, or rather pair of buildings, the taller 290ft high with 23 floors, completed in 1975, with offices a pub, the Market Tavern, on the first floor. The pub was built to serve workers at the adjoining New Covent Garden Market completed in 1974 and its licence allowed it to open in the early hours. By the 1980s this had made it into “South London’s first gay pub with a 2am licence“.

According to Wikipedia, the buildings were bought by the misleadingly named property developer Green Property in 2008 and four years later they were given planning permission to redevelop. Instead they sold it to Chinese developer Dalian Wanda. It was demolished in 2014-5 who gained revised planning permission for two buildings containing 436 flats and a hotel, City Tower with 58 floors and 654ft tall and River Tower 42 floors and 525ft. The project was sold on to another Chinese company, and there were various problems over building contracts which delayed completion. The Park Hyatt London River Thames hotel is now predicted to open in mid-2024.

Nine Elms Cold Store, Nine Elms Lane, Nine Elms, Lambeth, 1989  89-7k-14
Nine Elms Cold Store, Nine Elms Lane, Nine Elms, Lambeth, 1989 89-7k-14

This tall, windowless monolith states across its top ‘NINE ELMS COLD STORE‘ and was built in 1964 on a former gas works site to store meat and other frozen goods brought by ship into the London Docks and transferred here by lighters. At its side was a large railway goods yard, from which these goods could be taken by rail as well as lorries from the site. But only a few years after its completion, London’s docks began to close and by 1979 it was redundant.

This gas works had closed in 1956 and the site was in use as a coach park when the cold store was built, and also included a small creek, Vauxhall Creek, which once had been the mouth of the River Effra, long culverted and diverted which was then filled in. After it ceased to be used as a cold store it stood for 20 years with various schemes for redevelopment coming to nothing. Part of the delay was caused by the huge cost of demolition, part by Lambeth Council not then wanting the kind of luxury riverside flats than now occupy the site, the 50 storey 594 ft St George Wharf Tower completed in 2014, as well as by some dodgy business dealings.

The cold store was used for various films as a dystopian urban location, was a dangerous gay cruising handily placed for the Market Tavern, as well as allegedly for “black magic, devil worship, sacrifices, and orgies” but was finally demolished in 1999.

River Thames, Riverside Walk, Nine Elms, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7k-15
River Thames, Riverside Walk, Nine Elms, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7k-15

I had crossed the border from Lambeth to Wandsworth and beyond the cold store the Riverside Walk had been opened up by the council as far as the Thames Water pumping station at Heathwall and after a short diversion past that to Kirtling Street, some years later in 1996 becoming a part of the new Thames Path.

This view from the path across the river past a moored lighter is from its start and there are now new buildings on the riverbank at the left, but the rest remain. These buildings are on Grosvenor Road, Pimlico. You can see the tower of Westminster Cathedral in the distance and I think to its left is the rather ugly block which contains Pimlico station.

A large brick arch on the riverbank is the ancient mouth of the River Tyburn, long since culverted. Plans for the resurfacing of the river by the Tyburn Angling Society seem limited to Mayfair and not to extend to the Thames, though the chances of it happening are as close to zero as can be imagined.

Battersea Power Station, River Thames, Riverside Walk, Nine Elms, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7l-02
Battersea Power Station, River Thames, Riverside Walk, Nine Elms, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7l-02

The bend of the river here makes it look as if I was walking on water to take this picture, but my feet were firmly on dry land. Battersea Power Station has since then been given something of a facelift, with the removal of some of the more interesting features of the riverfront, as well as now being surrounded on several sides by large blocks of flats and being turned into a wasteful luxury shopping centre.

The pair of distant chimneys just to its right are Lots Road Power Station. The nearer bridge is Grosvenor Railway Bridge taking trains into Victoria Station, but Chelsea Bridge just upriver can also be seen clearly.

Battersea Power Station, River Thames, Riverside Walk, Nine Elms, Wandsworth, 1989  89-7l-64
Battersea Power Station, River Thames, Riverside Walk, Nine Elms, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7l-64

Another view upstream from the riverside path, which shows all four chimneys of Battersea Power Station as well as the riverside path and some of the earlier flats built beside the river here, Elm Quay Court. This luxury flat development built in 1976-8 includes secure underground parking and a 47ft swimming pool, gym and sauna.

Elm Quay Court, 30 Nine Elms Lane, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7l-54
Elm Quay Court, 30 Nine Elms Lane, Wandsworth, 1989 89-7l-54

A view of the Elm Quay Court flats from the road. The new US Embassy was built opposite them. Neither building seems attractive to me. The best feature of the US Embassy is the moat which runs along only its north side, and the best feature of Elm Quay Court is the riverside walk, which enables the public to walk past it almost without seeing the building.

My account of my walk will continue in a later post.

FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis
London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.

Our Pre-Chistmas City Walk – 2017

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Our Pre-Chistmas City Walk – On Thursday 7th November 2017 I met up old friends, all photographers, for the early Christmas social event we’ve organised most years. It had proved difficult to find a date everyone could make and several of the group were missing and we were down to five of us.

Our Pre-Chistmas City Walk
Four – and I was holding the camera

It’s a sobering thought that six years on only three of the five are still in the land of the living, with first Alex and more recently John having died. I’ve several times written about John Benton-Harris on this site over the years and he also years ago contributed two guest posts, as well as featuring his surprise 70th birthday party in 2009.

Our Pre-Chistmas City Walk

I’d worked with John in recent years on producing a number of books, including a few for the Café Royal Books series, including his Saint Patrick’s People, though his major work, ‘Mad Hatters’ on the English sadly remains unpublished. And I’d gone with him taking pictures to St Patrick’s Day events in London and elsewhere. Although he had some health problems and was in his 80s, his death still came as a great shock to us all.

Our Pre-Chistmas City Walk

We met at St Paul’s Underground Station and our first visit was to the Guildhall Art Gallery, where we went “down into its depths where a few years ago the remains of the Roman Coliseum were discovered and are now rather well displayed, before looking at the City of London’s art collection on display. It’s a rather mixed bunch with some fine works ancient and modern along with some rather tedious municipal records of great occasions that would have looked fine in the Illustrated London News but don’t really cut it as vast canvasses on the gallery wall.” (Quotes her are from my article written here in December 2017)

Our Pre-Chistmas City Walk

Some years earlier in 2005 I had been to the opening of a show at the gallery featuring works by some of London’s best-known living painters curated by Mireille Gailinou for a now defunct organisation I was then the treasurer of, London Arts Café, ‘London Now – CITY OF HEAVEN CITY OF HELL’ and had given my opinion on the gallery’s collection to the then curator who was very shocked when I’d said I would quite happily burn one of the largest canvases. Fortunately that had not resulted in me being banned from the gallery!

That show is now long gone, as too is the London Arts Café, but its web site with more about this and other shows and events we organised remains currently on-line. And despite my opinions the Guildhall Art Gallery is still worth visiting both for the artworks and certainly for its Roman remains and entry is free.

From there we walked “on past the Bank of England we walked into Adams Court and walked around in a circle before driven by thirst to the Crosse Keys, where I failed to resist the temptation of a pint of Smokestack Lightnin’, a beer from the Dorking Brewery, named after my favourite Howling Wolf track – I still somewhere have the 45rpm record. It was the first time I’ve come across the idea of a ‘smoked’ beer, and while interesting I think it would be best drunk around a bonfire.”

John had left us when we went into the pub, saying there was still light to take photographs and he wanted to make the most of it, but he seemed seldom to enjoy coming with us into pubs. The Crosse Keys is one of many interesting buildings – old pubs, theatres, cinemas, banks etc – around the country that Wetherspoons have taken over and preserved and though their owner has terrible politics and the chain poor conditions of service they offer cheap and generally well-kept beer and plain good-value food. Obviously their staff should unionise and fight for better terms.

We didn’t stay long in the pub, just a quick pint on the balcony and a short visit to the toilets in the depths, before leaving. Alex said goodbye here, seeing a bus that would take him back home to Hackney rather than go west with us, and I led the remaining two “down to the river, where we turned upstream along the Thames path. The light was fading a little, but perhaps becoming more interesting, but when we left the river at Queenhithe it was time to make our way back to St Paul’s to catch a bus and get a table for our meal together before the city workers crowded in.”

All the pictures accompanying this post were made with a Fuji X-E1 and 18mm Fuji lens, an almost pocketable combination. The 18mm f2 is probably my favourite Fuji lens, though often I prefer the added flexibility of the slightly slower but still fairly compact 18-55mm zoom. Later I moved up to the X-E3, which has better auto-focus and a significantly larger sensor and is slightly smaller, but both are still very usable cameras, and the X-E1 is now available secondhand pretty cheaply. It’s still a great camera for street photography and as an introduction to the Fuji range.

A few more pictures at Photographers Walk.

Greenwich Walk – 2018

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

Greenwich Walk: On Thursday 18th October 2018 I walked with two or three other photographers from North Greenwich Station to the centre of Greenwich and made the pictures in this post. You can see many more of them in a post on My London Diary, Greenwich Walk.

Greenwich Walk

Recently on >Re:PHOTO I’ve published a series of posts about my walks in London back in the 1980s, along with some of the pictures I took then which are now in my albums on Flickr. The most recent walk I’ve featured has been in Brixton and Stockwell and began with Stockwell Park, Bus Garage, Tower and Mason, and I’ve still to finish the posts on this, and will do so shortly.

Greenwich Walk

But I’ve continued to walk around London, if less frequently than before in recent years. My walks now are rather shorter in length and duration and are mostly together with a few friends, other photographers who sometimes lure me into pubs on the way (I’m easily tempted.) And we almost always end up with a meal together in one.

Greenwich Walk

Photographically things are rather different too. I don’t even always take any photographs and am no longer working on the kind of extended projects which I had back in those earlier days, recording the fabric of the city and in particular those areas undergoing substantial change – such as the whole of London’s docklands.

Greenwich Walk

Back in the 80s and 90s I always worked with at least two cameras, one with black and white film and the other with colour. So far I’ve included very little of the colour work in those posts here, in part because I was working on a different project with the colour. You can see more of the colour work in the online project initially put together as a dummy for an as yet unpublished book in the early 1990s, ‘Café Ideal, Cool Blondes & Paradise‘.

More recently several web sites have published features using mainly these colour pictures from my Flickr albums sometimes along with some of the black and white. The most recent of these is on Flashbak, ‘34 Photos From A Walk Around Tooting, South London In 1990‘. It puts together images from several visits to the area and includes a few black and white images of people on the streets, In the introduction Paul Sorene comments “What we love about Peter’s pictures is that he shows us the everyday things we saw but didn’t much notice. Now that we get to look again, things looks strangely familiar.” I think this is about the 12th set of my pictures on that site.

But now I only take one camera on my walks, and always work in colour as the camera is digital. I could easily switch the images to black and white, but have only done so extremely rarely.

The other large change for me is the ease with which I can now make panoramic views, no longer needing to carry a separate camera for these, just the right lens. Many of the images from my walk on Thursday 18th October 2018 are panoramic with a horizontal angle of view of around 145 degrees even though they have a ‘normal’ aspect ratio of 3:2 as they also have a large vertical angle of view. Just a few are cropped to a more panoramic format.

Finally, here is the paragraph I wrote about the area in 2018:

I first walked along here back in 1980, and have done so a number of times since, though in recent years much of the riverside path has been closed as the old wharves are being replaced by luxury flats. It is still an interesting walk, though it has lost virtually all of the industrial interest it once had. A River Thames that is rapidly becoming lined by new and largely characterless buildings is at times a sad state, but there still remain some liminal landscapes and surprising vistas.

Greenwich Walk on My London Diary

Thames Estuary – Benfleet, Leigh and Canvey – 2005

Sunday, October 15th, 2023

Thames Estuary – Benfleet, Leigh and Canvey. I’ve photographed the Thames east of London on many occasions and found much of interest, but I’ve relatively seldom ventured right out to the real Thames Estaury, though there is no real consensus where that begins as the Wikipedia entry discuses. For some purposes it includes virtually all of the river in London, the tidal Thames which begins at Teddington, and extends all the way east, at least to the Isle of Grain.

Thames Estuary - Benfleet, Leigh and Canvey

In my own own working definition I think of the estuary as meaning the river to the east of Greater London, the shores of Essex and Kent, perhaps as far as Southend to the north and Grain on the south. But by any definition this day of cycling out from Benfleet in Essex was definitely around the estuary.

Thames Estuary - Benfleet, Leigh and Canvey

Back in May 2023 I published here a piece here on the exhibition Estuary held ten years earlier to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Museum of London Docklands in 2013 when I was delighted the show included ten of my panoramas along with work by eleven artists, some of them rather well-known. But none of the pictures in the Museum collection were taken on this ride, where I made only a few panoramas, none of which are yet on-line.

Thames Estuary - Benfleet, Leigh and Canvey

On Saturday 15 October 2005 I took my Brompton on the train to London, then on the tube to West Ham where I changed to a train to Benfleet station in South Benfleet. The road leads down from here towards Canvey Island, but a track leads off to the east just before the bridge running alongside Benfleet Creek. The public footpath I could cycle along leads all the way beside the Creek and then between Hadleigh Marshes and Two Tree Island and on to a bridge over the railway close to Leigh-on-Sea Station.

Thames Estuary - Benfleet, Leigh and Canvey

From there I had to cycle along the road, rather less pleasant as there was quite a lot of traffic and even in October quite a few people who had come to enjoy the seaside. Leigh has pubs, tea rooms, fishing boats and more, but I’d soon had enough and turned around to ride back.

This time I took the road and bridge across to Two Tree Island. There is a crossing to the island you can take at low water but I didn’t take my bike across although I saw others doing so. There are rather more than two trees, but only one road, though with several car parks and it ends at a jetty where I could look across Hadleigh Ray to Canvey Island but go no further.

I turned around, cycled back over the bridge and along the footpath back to the bridge to Canvey Island which I then spent some time exploring and photographing. I think I had last been here in 1982 did recognise some of the places I’d photographed back then, but also found quite a lot more to photograph. I don’t think any of those earlier images are on-line as by the time I scanned them the images had deteriorated badly.

Too soon it was time to get back on my Brompton again and ride back to Benfleet for the train back to London.

See many more pictures from my ride on My London Diary.

Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou’s

Tuesday, August 1st, 2023

Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou’s: Thursday 1st August 2019 was a long and busy day for me with an Afrikan Emancipation Day protest, finishing a walk in North Woolwich I’d begun six months earlier and photographing an evening protest outside the exclusive Mayfair club LouLou’s.

Afrikans demand reparations – Brixton, London.

Afrikans demand Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou's

People of African origin met in Windrush Square in the morning to demand an end of the Maangamizi, the continuing genocide and ecocide of African peoples and Africa on Afrikan Emancipation Day.

Afrikans demand Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou's

After speeches & libations they marched from Brixton to Westminster with a petition calling for an end to acts of violence by Britain, the misuse of taxes and the stolen legacy plundered from Afrika under the British Empire and European Imperialism and demanding reparations.

Afrikans demand Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou's

The protest was supported by Extinction Rebellion XR Connecting Communities who marched in an Ubuntu Non-Afrikan Allies bloc.

Afrikans demand Reparations, North Woolwich & LouLou's

I left the march as it went past Brixton Police Station on its way to protest outside the Houses of Parliament so I could have some lunch before going to take pictures elsewhere.

Many more pictures on My London Diary at Afrikans demand reparations.

DLR – Bank to North Woolwich

DLR HQ at Poplar

I’d taken the tube back into central London to have a quick lunch before taking the DLR from Bank to London City to King George V Dock station for the final section of the walk I had begun in February but had run out of time to finish because I’d had to take a roundabout route to get there as the direct DLR services were suspended following an accident.

Bow Creek

This time the trains were running properly. They start from Bank and so come into the station empty and I was able to chose my seat and for once I found myself sitting next to a clean window on my way to North Woolwich and took a number of pictures.

Tate & Lyle

Later on my way back to Canary Wharf from King George V I was less lucky and the windows were rather grimy, but I still made a few images.

More at DLR – Bank to London City Airport.

North Woolwich, Royal Docks & the Thames

The footpath goes across these gates of the entrance lock to Albert Dock Basin

I took a few pictures as I walked from the elevated King George V station at North Woolwich to the King George V Dock entrance and joined the path by the river.

The lock here is huge, 243.8m long and 30.48m wide. I’d first photographed the area back in the 1980s as a part of a wider project on the Docklands following their closure, both in colour but mainly in black and white – in the album 1984 London Photographs. Although the docks themselves remain, much around them has changed, although there are still some derelict areas.

The riverside path here is part of the Capital Ring, and continues north and over lock at the Albert Dock entrance to the curiously desolate Armada Green Recreation Area.

Here the path ends, with beyond it the former site of the Beckton Gas Works, used as a location for at least 17 films and TV series since its closure, though best known as a stand-in for Vietnam in the 1987 Full Metal Jacket. Past that is the Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, set up in 1864 as part of Joseph Bazalgette’s scheme to treat London’s sewage and still receiving it from all of London north of the Thames.

I had to turn inland, through more recent development and the refurbished Gallions Hotel around Alber Dock Basin. I went briefly under the new bridge to see again the East London University student residences, then went back and across it, taking more pictures from the bridge and the road on my way back to King George V station.

Many more pictures at North Woolwich Royal Docks & Thames.

LouLou’s stop exploiting your workers – Mayfair

Finally I joined the IWGB Cleaners and Facilities Branch outside the exclusive Mayfair private club LouLou’s where they were picketing and protesting for kitchen porters to be paid a living wage, be treated with dignity, respect and given decent terms and conditions including proper sick pay, holidays and pension contributions. Recently outsourced to ACT, porters want to be returned to direct employment.

Among those supporting them were Class War, and in the picture above Ian Bone confronts a police office asking why they protect and support the rich. Needless to say the officer had no answer to the question. In general the protesters were reasonably behaved and acting within the law, but police and security hired by the club worked together to try and prevent their protest being effective.

There were angry scenes as staff escorted wealthy clients of the £1800 a year club past the picket, particularly when some roughly pushed the protesters. Police repeatedly warned the protesters but not the security men or customers who had assaulted them. The security also tried to prevent the picket from handing their flier to the customers.

As at previous protests outside of the club, none of the security staff were wearing the visible SIA door supervisor licences required under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, but the police refused to take any action over this.

More pictures at LouLou’s stop exploiting your workers.

Loddon & Thames

Thursday, July 27th, 2023

Loddon & Thames: Eight years ago I published an account of a walk I made with Linda and Sam from Winnersh Triangle to Reading, not by the rather boring direct route of around 4.5 miles but along two of Berskhire’s rivers, the Loddon and the Thames. Here I republish te text in full, though the original is still on My London Diary, which also has many, many more pictures for those who are interested.

Loddon & Thames

Winnersh Triangle to Reading. Mon 27 Jul 2015

Cows next to a footpath by the River Thames

Winnersh Triangle sounds like a dangerous place to go, a new halt (hardly a station with a platform only a foot or two wide) on the Waterloo to Reading line that opened in 1986. It’s lightweight wood structure was designed not to put too great a load on the Loddon Viaduct on which it hangs, though there is a ticket office at ground level, closed when we arrived.

Loddon & Thames

Mostly Winnersh Triangle is home to company men and the companies they work for in what the web site describes as “an 85-acre, mature business environment” between the A329M motorway, the rail line and the River Loddon. The web site says it’s a place where “everyday things become exceptional and exceptional things happen every day“, but very little seemed to be happening on the day we went there. It didn’t look like a place where anything of interest ever happened, and its big selling point is that you can be at Heathrow in 30 minutes.

Loddon & Thames

We took a quick look, didn’t like it and headed south under the railway to walk along the Reading Road to Loddon Bridge, joining a footpath that led north beside the River Loddon under the railway and motorway. You’ve probably never heard of the Loddon, but its a sizeable tributary of the Thames, that often gets too sizeable for its banks, flooding nastily. A man in council hi-viz who was checking the river gave us a 20 minute dissertation on this and related matters before we all escaped, though I’d wandered away taking pictures after the first five.

Loddon & Thames

Fortunately the river was fairly low or we might have been paddling or swimming for the next mile or so, before the path veered away and climbed to a road and we found ourselves briefly in suburbia. Then we came across a large BEA twin prop plane, its presence soon explained by a sign ‘The Museum of Berkshire Aviation’. It was closed which saved us from having to decide if we wanted to be enthralled by “Berkshire’s dynamic contribution to aviation history.”

You can find out more on the museum web site, which includes a picture of a rather dinky little ‘Miles Pusher’, which was “built by F. G. Miles under protest and therefore never flew.” Miles went bust in 1947, and Handley Page took over the designs, accounting for the Handley Page Herald turboprop standing outside. Miles from 1942 had been designing an experimental supersonic jet aircraft to fly at 1000mph, but the Air Ministry in 1946 cancelled this, deciding only to build it as an unmanned rocket-powered scale model which achieved controlled flight at Mach 1.34 – 1020mph. The design of the Miles M52 informed the later English Electric Lightning which I saw at the Farnborough Air Show in the early 1950s and could out-perform anything from that era.

We didn’t hang around, though Sam looked up a few things on his mobile and we photographed the Fairey Gannet out the back before going along the footpath and down to the river to continue our path through rural Berkshire alongside the river to Whistley Mill Lane.

This leads to a ford over the Old River, still a stream of the River Loddon, and unless you are driving a Land Rover or something larger, its probably best to turn around and go back. The level markers were at 2 feet, but fortunately there is a footpath to a footbridge around 60 yards to the south which we crossed, taking us to the Lands End pub, which might have been a good place to lunch, but we had brought sandwiches.

The next mile or so took us through the Charvil, a suburban fringe of Twyford, and with some difficulty across the A4 to Milestone Ave, a narrow lane with some 1930s development on the east side for the first half mile or so. Just before a bridge over one of the minor arms of the Loddon, a footpath leads off to the River Thames. We’ve previously walked along the Thames path on the opposite bank, which we came on to a mile or two later as it crosses the bridge at Sonning.

Sonning is home to Uri Geller

We took a look inside St Andrew’s Church there (and were given a copy of what must be one of the most lavishly produced church magazines in the country) and briefly explored the grounds before taking the path from the churchyard to rejoin the Thames path, walking along this into Reading for the train home.

Many more pictures from the walk on My London Diary.

Darent Valley Path & Thames

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

Darent Valley Path & Thames, Dartford, Kent. On Saturday 4th July 2015 I went by train with my wife and elder son to Dartford for a day’s walking mainly beside the River Darent and River Thames.

Darent Valley Path & Thames

It was a hot summer day and the sky was blue with just a few small patches of white cloud. It probably wasn’t the best day to have chosen, as this was a walk with relatively little shade, but as usual there was a little breeze by the rivers to cool us slightly.

Darent Valley Path & Thames

I’d walked (and cycled) along the paths we took several times before, first in the 1980s, but they were new to my companions. After taking a short look at the Darent in Dartford we made our way to Hythe Street. Its name means a landing place or small port, and the Darent was once an important navigation at least as far as the mills in the centre of Dartford. The has been a pub here since 1764 and the Hufflers Arms gets its name from the men who guided and pulled the barges up the river to here.

Darent Valley Path & Thames

A footbridge takes the path across the Darent here, and past the backs of some industrial sites on towards the half-lock which stopped the river above it drying out at low tide, long derelict. It was something of a surprise to see a narrow boat moored close to it.

Darent Valley Path & Thames

There has been a huge change here since 2015, with volunteers working on and around the lock and the river. You can read more about the work of the Dartford and Crayford Creek Restoration Trust on the Facebook page of the Friends of Dartford and Crayford Creek, and see some of the changes in the pictures there.

Darent Valley Path & Thames

Later in the day I photographed a yacht making its way through the flood barrier from the Thames and going upriver. I heard afterwards that it had reached the recent bridge under the Bob Dunn Way bypass when the tide was just a fraction too high for it to creep underneath with its mast lowered.

The Thames is pretty wide here and the channel deep enough to take fairly large ships, with the ferries including the ship in the picture operating regular contianer services to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge.

I made a few panoramic images, but the sky was a little empty and blue for it really to be a good day for that. This one which shows my two companions walking on ahead is interesting to me as I have managed to make use of the curvature inherent in these very wide angle views. The path on which I was standing to make the image was more or less straight, though in the picture it seems to bend at roughly a right angle.

The Littlebrook Power Station had only recently ceased operation, and we walked past some interesting structures there before making our way under the Dartford Bridge.

I was pleased that the ferry was leaving and I was able to take a series of photographs of it going under the bridge and sailing on downriver. Some of the pictures give a better impression of the relative heights of ship and bridge with an enormous amount of headroom for the passage.

By now I was getting tired, mainly from the heat and the lack of any shade, and I took few pictures on the rest of the walk to the station at Greenhithe. We didn’t see any sign of the path marked on the map which would have taken us up to the church at Stone as I had planned, but I think I was releived not to have had to climb up the hill, and perhaps didn’t look too hard. After all I’d been there and taken pictures on various occasions before. And if you are walking this way it’s worth the detour.

More about the walk and more pictures at Darent Valley Path & Thames.

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

Monday, April 17th, 2023

Saturday April 17th 2010 was a long and varied day for me, travelling to various parts of London and making a couple of short walks as well as photographing three events.

New River & Harringay – Finsbury Park

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

My journey across London had been rather faster than expected, probably because TfL’s Journey Planner had estimated rather longer times than I needed for connections, and I arrived at Harringay Green Lanes with rather a lot of time to spare.

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

So I decided to walk around part of the area, walking partly along the New River, a water supply aqueduct opened in 1613 to bring water from Hertfordshire to London. It’s no longer New and was never a river.

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

The light and sky was rather unusual. Like most of the Europe London was under a cloud of volcanic ash from the impossible to spell Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, and no planes were flying. Thee sky had a slightly different blue to usual and lacked the con-trails and wispy clouds that these decay to and was a little dull from horizon to horizon. It wasn’t ideal for the panoramic views I made.

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

More at New River & Harringay.

Olympics and Nuclear Trains – Harringey

New River, Nuclear Waste, Wandle, Orange Order & Syria

A few members of the Nuclear Trains Action Group and London CND were handing out leaflets close to the rail bridge on Green Lanes warning of the dangers of trains carrying highly toxic radioactive waste through densely populated North London. The event was given added moment by President Obama’s recent warning that nuclear terrorism is the gravest threat to global security.

Protesters had come to Haringey because nuclear waste from the power station at Sizewell is regularly shipped by rail on the line through here on its way to be reprocessed at Sellafield. Waste from Dungeness also travels through London, but on a route through the south and west of the city.

A terrorist attack on the trains carrying spent fuel rods could contaminate considerable areas of London with highly toxic materials and deaths could result. The protesters also pointed out that the route also goes past the Olympic site and an incident there would give the terrorists a huge amount of publicity.

Journalists had planted a fake bomb on one of these trains in London in 2006 to show the lack of real security and there has been no attempt to provide adequate security along the whole length of the route.

Transport by sea would be safer but would add significantly to the costs, and nuclear power is already hugely uneconomic when the full costs of decommissioning of power stations and safe long-term storage of wastes are included.

Olympics and Nuclear Trains

Wandsworth and the Wandle – Wandsworth

It hadn’t taken long to take a few pictures of the protesters in Haringey, and I still had rather a long time before my next event.

I’d heard that a new section of path had been opened by the Wandle close to where it enters the River Thames and planning my day I’d thought I would have time to take a look at it. It’s a longish journey from Haringey to Wandsworth, south of the river, but I had plenty of time to eat my sandwich lunch on the journey.

I was disappointed to find that although I could walk along the new section of ‘riverside’ path, it was still a short distance from both Wandle and Thames and these were still largely hidden from view by fences.

More at Wandsworth and the Wandle.

Loyal Orange Lodge London Parade – Westminster

My next journey, to Clapham Junction and then Victoria was rather easier, and I arrived in time to photograph the members of the City of London District Orange Lodge and their guests as the prepared to march though central London on their St Georges Day Orange Parade.

They were going to march to lay wreaths in memory of Crown Forces at the Cenotaph and then on to St James’s Square to lay another at the memorial to WPC Yvonne Fletcher, fatally wounded by a shot from the Libyan Embassy on 17 April 1984.

Among other groups taking part were the Corby Purple Star Flute Band and the Churchill Flute Band of Londonderry.

Even with progress towards peace continuing in Northern Ireland and now 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement, parades such as this are still contentious there. But in London they arouse little or no antipathy and are seen simply as a celebration of a particular Protestant culture.

More pictures at Loyal Orange Lodge London Parade.

Release Syrian Political Prisoners – Syrian Embassy, Belgrave Square

I left the Orange parade to make my way to the Syrian Embassy, where Kurds and others were protesting on the 64th anniversary of Syrian independence calling for the release of Kurdish prisoners of conscience held in Syrian jails.

Similar demonstrations, organised by the International Support Kurds in Syria Association (SKS, based in the UK and founded in 2009) were taking place in Brussels, Canada, Switzerland, France and the USA.

The protesters waved both Syrian and Kurdish flags – which are illegal in Syria – and called for the prisoners to be released and for the repeal of Decree 49. Introduced in September 2008, this controls the movement of people in the border area between Syria and Turkey where most Kurds live, and under it people there have to get a licence to build, rent or buy property.

Around 1.7 million Kurds live in Syria and have been systematically denied their basic human rights for many years. In 1973, around 300 villages were confiscated and the land taken from around 100,000 Kurds and handed over to Arab farmers, with the names of Kurdish villages being changed into Arabic names.

Emergency rule had been in force in Syria since 1963 and a 1962 law led to around 120,000 Kurds being stripped of Syrian nationality and becoming stateless. They are not allowed to move house, own land or businesses, are banned from many jobs, have no passports or other travel documents and their access to medical treatment is restricted.

Since the Syrian revolution of 2011, the largely Kurdish northeast of Syria has become the de-facto autonomous region of Rojava, adopting universal democratic, sustainable, autonomous pluralist, equal, and feminist policies.

More at Release Syrian Political Prisoners.

Wandsworth Panoramas – March 2014

Friday, March 24th, 2023

As a photographer I’ve long been interested in the difference between how we experience the world around us and how the camera records it. Some of those differences are obvious but others less so, and some we are seldom aware of.

Wandsworth Panoramas - March 2014

The camera records an image produced by its lens which follows strict optical rules which I learnt about long ago in my physics lessons, though real lenses deviate slightly from those ideal and perfect specimens in those science texts.

Wandsworth Panoramas - March 2014

The camera holds a film or sensor to record that image – and again does so following strict physical (and chemical for film) processes which may fail to record significant features and distort others to produce an essentially flat two-dimensional image. It may not even record colours but if it does they always to some extent arbitrary, as too are the tones.

Wandsworth Panoramas - March 2014

Those of us who grew up on film are perhaps more aware of this than the digital generations. We had to be aware of the differences in recording of, for example Ilford’s Pan F and Kodak’s Tri-X, and how these were affected by processing and printing, and of the rather unreal but different colour renditions of Kodachrome, Kodacolor, Ektachrome, Agfa, Ferraniacolor and the other colour film films, each with its own qualities. Though perhaps if we ever used Orwo film quality was not the right word for its purplish nature.

Wandsworth Panoramas - March 2014

Of course there are differences in the way digital cameras record colour, but these are rather smaller, and we can make use of software to make them match more closely or exaggerate the difference. Lightroom and Photoshop can make my Fuji files look very similar in terms of colour rendition to those from Nikon.

But our experience of a scene is very different, combining inputs from all of our senses, and it would be impossible to over-emphasise the subjective aspects. But even just visually it is still very different. While the lens cuts out all but a small rectangle in front of us, our eyes send information to the brain from a much wider field, much of it except from a small central section lacking in sharpness. Most of us have binocular vision, gathering this data from two eyes a short but significant distance apart, enabling us to see in depth. And our view is always dynamic, our eyes moving around, and as we swing our head around or up and down we have the sensation of moving through a static universe. Doing the same with a camera has a very different effect.

A standard lens – around 40 to 50mm on a full frame digital or 35mm film camera gives a similar idea of depth in its flat images to that we normally experience. With longer lens the effect of depth is reduced and by the time we get to really long lenses the images become flat patterns rather than appearing to represent a three dimensional scene. But what interested me more was what happened when the camera tried to represent a much wider angle of view than the standard, when the rectilinear rendering of normal lenses becomes impossible.

On Monday 14th of March I went for a walk with a painter friend who had brought her sketch book to introduce her to an area I thought she might find interesting. And I wanted to further explore some of the different ways of rendering very wide angles of view with digital cameras. I’d brought two Nikons with me, one fitted with a conventional wide-angle zoom which I used mainly at 16mm, close to the limit for such lenses (and I do have a wider lens which demonstrates this) and the other with a 16mm full-frame fisheye which fills the frame with an image which is 180 degrees across the diagonal.

While my friend stopped to make sketches I had time to make a series of images from similar locations. I kept warmer as I was moving around, but she fairly soon got cold, which was a good excuse to visit the pub which appears in some of these pictures, after which I took her back to the station where we had met and went back to take some more pictures on my own.

Back home I uploaded the images. Those from the conventional wide-angle zoom I’ve use as they were taken, with just the normal adjustments in Lightroom. But the fish-eye images I worked on with my panorama stitching software, PtGui, not to join images but to take the raw image data and process it it various different ways to produce cylindrical projections. If the camera was upright when the picture was taken, this will produce straight vertical lines for all upright elements. There are many different approaches to this which produce visually different results, some of which are common in mapping, such as Mercator.

Those I’ve found most useful are the equirectangular, Vedutismo and Transverse Vedutismo projections used in these examples.

More panoramic images from my walk on My London Diary at Wandsworth Panoramas.

Boxing Day Walks (and Rides)

Monday, December 26th, 2022

Boxing Day Walks (and Rides)
Waterworks, Wraysbury

Our Boxing Days here have followed a similar pattern for a few years now, at least in those years where we’ve stayed at home rather than visiting family elsewhere. We get up, have breakfast and then get ready to go out for a walk. We walk from our home to a mid-day meal with my sister and other family members, in recent years at a pub close to where she lives. Then a leisurely wander to her house for tea. And rather later going home, though so far we’ve not had to walk back.

Boxing Day Walks (and Rides)
Boatyard at Runnemede

Partly we walk because there is little if any public transport on Boxing Day. We could cycle, but the roads are more rather more dangerous than usual thanks to motorists with a higher than usual alcohol level, and also because I like to have a glass or two myself with my boxing day lunch, though it would be easy to do the journey almost entirely off-road. Perhaps this year we will cycle, the weather forecast isn’t too bad.

Boxing Day Walks (and Rides)

The walk is at least five miles. In the past we used to often take longer and sometimes hillier routes to give us a little more exercise. Now we sometimes stop on the way for coffee at one of the few cafés that are open. The walk helps to get up an appetite for another large meal after our minor over-indulgences the previous day. Years ago we often went out for another walk before our late afternoon tea, but others in the family are now too old for this.

Oakley Court

St Mary Magdalene, Boveney,

Of course I take a camera with me, and take pictures on the way, as well as sometimes some family pictures during the meal and after, though these I seldom share outside the family as they have very little interest for others.

Windsor Racecourse

So earlier I spent some time looking for my pictures from boxing day walks in earlier years to post today. These pictures come from a rather longer journey on 26th December 2005, when we cycled a few miles further along the River Thames than necessary before turning back for our lunch.

Home Park from Albert Bridge

I first posted some pictures from this walk on My London Diary in 2005. Although that post describes it as a walk, from the distances involved and the EXIF times we must have been on our bikes. And had a very late lunch.

This is a slightly different collection; all pictures were made with a Nikon D200 DX format DSLR.