Posts Tagged ‘Tower Bridge’

Bermondsey Equinox 2015

Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

Bermondsey Equinox: Spring, or rather Astronomical Spring, officially starts today, 20th March, though meteorologists see things differently and start it on March 1st and the weather has its own ideas. Botanists too make up their own minds by looking at plants.

Bermondsey Equinox

Today is the Spring Equinox, which I always assumed meant equal lengths of day and night, but checking the tables I find that today we get 24 minutes more day than night.

Bermondsey Equinox

The actual definition of the Equinox is apparently the moment when the Sun is directly above the equator and the Earth’s rotational axis passes through from being tilted towards the southern hemisphere to the north. So it really is just a moment, this year at 3.06 am UTC 20th March. Most years it falls on 20th March, but in 2007 it was on the 21st in the UK, and this year will be on the 19th across the USA.

Bermondsey Equinox

But watch out for Druids, particularly should you be near Tower Hill, where in some previous years I’ve photographed their celebrations which begin at noon, I think Greenwich Mean Time.

Bermondsey Equinox

It’s an interesting event to watch, and doubtless important for those taking part, and also good to photograph at least once or twice, but when you’ve done it a few times difficult to find anything new to say.

So I won’t be there today. And I won’t write about it here, as last year I posted Druid Order – Spring Equinox at Tower Hill and you can still read all about it there as well on the various other posts here and on My London Diary.

Back in 2015 I didn’t go to Tower Hill but was instead on the opposite side of the River Thames in Bermondsey, out for a walk around one of my favourite areas of London with a few photographer friends.

As I wrote then, it was “really just an excuse to meet up, go to a couple of pubs and then end up with a meal” and though it was a fine afternoon I don’t think any of us took many pictures. I’d photographed the area fairly extensively in previous years and had even written a leaflet with a walk for part of it.

The leaflet came about back in the dark ages of computing, when Desk Top Publishing had more or less just been invented and I was teaching an evening class in the use of Aldus Pagemaker, bought up by Adobe in 1994 who then killed it and brought out Indesign, more powerful but far more difficult to use. West Bermondsey – The leather area was an industrial archaeology walk which I made use of to illustrate some of my lessons.

Over the next few years I printed hundreds of copies on my Epson Dot-Matrix printer – which accounts for the crude illustrations – and sold them at 20p a time – hardly a money spinner but it covered my costs. They were bought and given out by local historian Stephen Humphrey (1952-2017), chief archivist at Southwark’s Local Studies Library for 30 years on his local history walks and sold at the Bermondsey festival. I met Stephen who wrote a number of publications on the history of the area a few times – and had visited him in the Library when researching the leaflet, which also relied on information from a walk led by Tim Smith for the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society where it is one of a very long list of interesting walks in London.

The area has changed considerably since I wrote it, but most of what is mentioned remains despite considerable gentrification. You can find several hundreds of my older images of Bermondsey in colour and black and white on Flickr – including those used in illustrating the leaflet in much better reproduction.

There are a few more images from my 2015 walk on My London Diary at Bermondsey Walk.

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown – 2013

Thursday, September 7th, 2023

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown: On Saturday 7th September 2013 after photographing the EDL attempting to march into Tower Hamlets and the people coming out to stop them I went on to the Excel Centre in Newham where East London Against Arms Fairs were holding a Musical Protest against next weeks DSEi arms fair. And on my way home I took more pictures.

EDL Try To March Into Tower Hamlets

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown:
Whitechapel says ‘Take Your HATE Elsewhere’

I started the day in Bermondsey were around a thousand EDL supporters were gathering for a march across Tower Bridge to Aldgate High St.

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown:

Police had laid down very strict conditions for the march, specifying the exact route and timings and more, which where specified on A4 sheets they handed out to protesters and were also broadcast every few minutes from a loudspeaker van where the marchers were gathering.

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown:

There was a very strong police presence on the streets with police on all sides around the marchers and some mingling with them. The EDL were also on their best behaviour, with many posing for photographs. A couple who arrived in pig’s head masks were forced by police to remove them and hand them over.

EDL Stopped, Musicians at Arms Fair, Silvertown:

There was still a great deal of racism and hate in the comments that were being made and when the march got under way the majority took up the usual Islamophobic chants including “Allah, Allah, who the f**k is Allah“.

There were a small number of anti-fascist protesters in the area, and police tried to keep them well away from the march, although EDL stewards who led away one man with a bleeding face from the crowd alleged he had been hit by a bottle thrown from across the road.

As the march set off, police moved photographers well away, and police handlers with dogs walked in advance of the marchers. Later I was able to get a little closer.

After crossing Tower Bridge I saw red smoke in the distance coming from the ground in front of a row of police vans in Mansell St and rushed there to find a group of around 50 anti-fascist protesters, mainly dressed in black, with red and black flags and a few with Unite Against Fascism placards.

The EDL march stopped for a couple of minutes opposite them and the two sides shouted insults at each other with the police keeping them well apart before the march moved on to Aldgate High Street without further incident. I later heard that the anti-fascists here had been kettled for some hours before many of them were arrested.

I photographed Tommy Robinson addressing the rally, then made my way to where a counter-protest was being held by the community of Tower Hamlets, united in opposing the EDL. I had to go through several lines of police, showing my Press Card. A few officers refused to let me through, but I was able to walk along the line and make my way through.

As I commented, “It was a remarkable change in atmosphere from the feeling of hate and Islamophobia that filled the air with gestures and chanting from the EDL to the incredible unity and warmth of the several thousands largely from the local community who had come out to oppose them and make a statement based around love and shared experience of living in Tower Hamlets with people of different backgrounds and religion.”

There was clearly a determination in Whitechapel, as there was in the 1930s at the Battle of Cable Street which had taken place not far away of a community that had decided that ‘They shall not pass’. And although most had come to protest peacefully, had the police not kept the two sides well apart, the EDL would have been heavily outnumbered by local youths angry at their presence.

I’d left the EDL rally before Tommy Robinson was arrested for incitement, apparently for suggesting that people break some of the restrictions that police had imposed on the EDL march and rally. The police presence had prevented any large outbreaks of public disorder and although the EDL were up in arms over the arrest of their leader had protected them from a severe beating.

More on My London Diary at:
Tower Hamlets United Against the EDL
Anti-Fascists Oppose EDL
EDL March returns to Tower Hamlets

Musical Protest against Arms Fair – Excel Centre, Custom House

I didn’t stay long in Whitechapel but took the tube and bus to Custom House where on the walkway leading the the ExCel Centre East London Against Arms Fairs (ELAAF) were holding a Musical Protest against next weeks DSEi arms fair with a big band and singers and others handing out leaflets opposing the event.

THe DSEi arms fair, held every other year at the ExCel Centre in London Docklands attracts buyers from all over the world, including those from many countries with oppressive regimes. It’s a showcase for the weapons they need to continue to oppress their populations and to wage war on their neighbouring states and others.

There were more and larger protests in the following week against the arms fair.

More at Musical Protest against Arms Fair.


Although the DLR wasn’t running on the branch leading to Custom House, there were trains running on the branch through Silvertown and I walked to there across Victoria Dock on the high-level bridge, taking a few photographs.

The gates to the London Pleasure Gardens which had closed recently only a few weeks after its opening were locked but I was able to take pictures through the gates. I walked on to the elevated Pontoon Dock DLR station and made some panoramas from there before catching a train.

For once the DLR train had a very clean window and I took advantage of this to take some more pictures on the way to Canning Town where I changed to the Jubilee line.

More pictures: Silvertown

Murdoch, Tower Bridge and Poor Doors

Sunday, March 26th, 2023

I came up to London on the afternoon of Thursday 26th March 2015 and began my work by going to News International opposite the main entrance to London Bridge Station where te week of Occupy Rupert Murdoch was on its fourth day. Not much was happening there, so after taking a few pictures I went for a short walk to Tower Bridge and back. Things were only just beginning to start for an evening of events there when I needed to leave and cross the river for another weekly protest by Class War at One Commercial Street.

Occupy Rupert Murdoch – News International, London Bridge

Thursday 26th March 2015

I’d been at News International three days earlier on Monday 23 March 2015 when campaigners against the scandal of the UK’s media monopoly, with 5 billionaires owning 80% of the media, had marched there the short distance from London Bridge to present an arrest warrant for Rupert Murdoch, charging him with for war crimes, phone hacking, political blackmail, tax avoidance and environmental destruction.

Thursday 26th March 2015

Someone from News International had come and taken the warrant, and the campaigners had then set up camp on the pavement outside for a week of activities, Occupy Rupert Murdoch Week. I’d been busy for a few days and this was my first opportunity to return and see what was happening.

Thursday 26th March 2015

The answer when I arrived late on Thursday afternoon was not very much, though the camp and some of its supporters were still there, and still putting up posters and telling people going into London Bridge Station opposite the camp why they were protesting.

Thursday 26th March 2015

I went for a short walk along the riverside to Tower Bridge and came back later when more people were beginning to arrive for the evening session. But unfortunately I needed to leave to walk across the river and join Class War in Aldgate before things really got going.

Occupy Rupert Murdoch

Around Tower Bridge

I’d thought that Tower Bridge was probably the most photographed building in London but a survey of Instagram tags in 2022 showed that Big Ben had inched ahead with 3.2 million posts to Tower Bridge’s 2.6 million.

I don’t often feel a great need to add to the number of pictures of London’s most famous bridge, which I think I first photographed 50 years ago, though I’d gone under it on a school trip almost 20 years earlier, back before primary children had cameras. Most of the pictures which I’ve taken including it in the last 25 or so years have a group of protesters outside nearby City Hall in the foreground.

London’s City Hall is now no longer within sight of Tower Bridge, hidden out beside the ROyal Victoria Dock in Canning Town, though it was still in its rented home, bought back by the Kuwaiti state a couple of years earlier. Tower Bridge is still owned by Bridge House Estates, a charity set up in 1282, its only trustee THE MAYOR AND COMMONALTY AND CITIZENS OF THE CITY OF LONDON.

But mostly my attention was on the north bank of the river now rather dominated by a cluster of ugly and idiosyncratic towers in the centre of the City of London, until close to Tower Bridge where the Tower of London, actually outside the City in Tower Hamlets, still stands out despite its relatively low height.

Around Tower Bridge

A Quiet Night at Poor Doors – One Commercial St, Aldgate.

Eight months earlier in July 2014 Class War had started a series of weekly protest outside the massive largely residential block of One Commercial Street on the corner of that street and Whitechapel High St. The block includes flats for both private owners and a smaller number of socially rented flats, with the two groups having separate entrances.

The ‘rich door’ is on the main road, next to the Underground station entrance, while the ‘poor door’ is down a side alley. When the protests began the alley was dark, with dumped rubbish and a strong and persistent smell of urine, but one positive result of the protests has been that the alley has been cleaned up and new lighting installed.

As the protesters were getting ready at the rich door, I went after Ian Bone of Class down the alley to look at the poor door. We returned to the front of the building and the rich door, followed by two police officers who had come to watch us.

It was good to see again among the banners the ‘Epiphany’ banner based on the Fifth Monarchists who led a short-lived rebellion in London which began on 6th January 1660. Class War had taken part in the filming of a re-enactment of this event in 2013.

It began as a fairly quiet protest with speeches and some chanting, and at some point a yellow smoke flare rolled across the pavement.

There was a small confrontation when one resident entering the rich door pushed rather roughly past the protesters, but very few came in or out of the rich door. The ground floor also includes shops and a hotel, and I think residents could probably use the hotel entrance. We had also found that they were able to exit via the ‘poor door’.

At the end of the protest some of the protesters who had brought a Hello! magazine Queen’s Diamond Jubilee flag attempted to burn it. But this turned out to be difficult and it melted a bit but didn’t catch fire. Some then when down the alley to look at the poor door before everyone left.

More pictures on My London Diary at Quiet Night at Poor Doors.

Warehouses, Boats and Biscuits – Bermondsey 1988

Saturday, July 23rd, 2022

Warehouses, Boats and Biscuits – Bermondsey 1988 continues the walk on 30th October 1988 which my previous post, Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988 left at Chambers Wharf.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-51-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-51

I walked back to the eastern end of Bermondsey Wall West in 1988, where the road had been cut in two in the 1930s by the building of the giant Chambers Wharf cold store. This shows the warehouses to the east of East Lane on the river side of the street. On the 1896 OS Town plan this was named as Vestry Wharf, which had a dock, and beyond it East Lane Wharf.

I can’t remember if the East Lane Stairs leading down to the foreshore were still open here in 1988. They are Grade II listed and still exist but are now behind a locked gate and look unsafe. Vestry Wharf was opened in 1874 and the vestry – then the local authority – used it and East Lane Wharf to ship out refuse collected in the area. The dock there was previously a dry dock.

These buildings have now been replaced by modern buildings and when I walked around here in 2019 it was possible to walk out to a riverside patio here, the street now ends at the Thames super-sewer works on the former cold store site.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-55

Taken from roughly the same spot as the previous image but facing in the opposite direction along Bermondsey Wall West, so the range of buildings on the right of the picture are on the river side.

The warehouses on the left of the street – of which only a small corner is in my picture have been replaced by a modern building, while the row along the left still at least look fairly similar, although there has been extensive refurbishment between the street and the river wall. I think these are all now a part of the Tempus Wharf redevelopment, though in 1896 they were Brunswick Wharf (Grade II listed as Chambers Wharf at 29), Seaborne Coal Wharf and an unnamed wharf closest to camera. East Lane Stairs went down beside the wall of this wharf at the extreme right of the image, though I think they may have been closed by a gate, as otherwise I would probably have gone down them.

George Row, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-56-Edit_2400
George Row, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-56

Prominent on the left is St Saviour’s House on the corner of George Row and Bermondsey Wall West, written about in a previous post on this walk. The three or four storey 20th century building at the centre has now been replaced by a block of flats, River View Heights, a modern gated development with 24-hour porterage on the former site of Slate Wharf.

Closer to camera, the street name is handwritten as Chambers Wharf, though this was and is Chambers Street. The site is now occupied by a modern brick building. You can see from the wall in the picture that this building predates Chambers St, cut through here when Bermondsey Wall was split in two by the huge Chambers Cold Store in the 1930s.

I can’t read the notice on the wall entirely. At the top I think it has two words, the first ‘Daily’ but the second illegible. Under that are two sails and the word ‘Mailboat’ and below more clearly ‘COLLECTION CENTRE’. Perhaps the top line once read ‘Daily Mail’, and this advertised a mail service for sailors moored at the wharves nearby, some of which served vessels from the North of England and the continent – and once the cold store opened further afield.

Moorings, Jacobs Island, River Thames, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-45-Edit_2400
Moorings, Jacobs Island, River Thames, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-45

Back in 1988 there were only two boats moored at what are variously known as the Downings Road, Reeds Wharf or Tower Bridge Moorings off Jacobs Island, close to the mouth of St Saviour’s Dock. By the last time I was there this had grown to a cluster of around 40 houseboats and a few smaller vessels stretching around 165 metres downstream from the narrow access at the corner of Bermondsey Wall West and Mill Street.

The ancient moorings were bought by architect Nicholas Lacey in the 1980s and he “is committed to maintaining their historical usage” as moorings. The interconnected boats have a series of roof gardens and there is a stage for cultural and arts events. They also still provide temporary moorings for other boats.

Southwark Council fought a long an mostly legal battle to get rid of the barges, issuing eviction orders in 2003 and 2004. They were rebuffed by London Mayor Ken Livingstone who told Southwark that moorings fitted in with the London Plan and that these ones were broadly acceptable to long as appropriate amenity and environmental safeguards were in place. It was probably a great disappointment to Labour Southwark Council’s property developer friends, but welcome to most Londoners who like the colour the moorings provide.

New Concordia Wharf, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-41-Edit_2400
New Concordia Wharf, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-41

In 1988 there was no Thames Path – it was approved in 1989 but only opened in 1996, and the bridge across the mouth of St Saviour’s Dock only built in 1995. Instead I turned down Mill Street to photograph the splendid chimney and warehouses of the nicely preserved New Concordia Wharf.

Built as a St. Saviour’s Flour Mill in 1882, the mill had to be rebuilt after a fire twelve years later. These Grade II listed premises were converted to residential use in 1981-3, one of the earliest warehouse conversions in the area.

Office Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Wolseley St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-34-Edit_2400
Works, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Wolseley St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-34

I’d previously photographed the OFFICER and WORKERS entrances to the former biscuit factory of W & R Jacobs on Wolseley St, but this time took a picture of the entire frontage. Jacobs had at least two factories in the area as well their main works in Aintree, Liverpool, and on the wall it also names Manchester and Dublin where the brothers William and Robert moved to shortly after founding the business in Waterford in 1851. This factory was an extension of their earlier works in 1907 and has been demolished. The building at the end of the street on the right of picture is still there.

I’d long been confused over this building being in Wolseley St but the next street to the north off of Mill St being Jacob Street – getting its name from that of the area, Jacob’s Island. Biscuits were also made in Jacob St but for dogs, by Spillers.

Workers Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Jacob St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-21-Edit_2400
Workers Entrance, W & R Jacobs, Biscuit Manufacturers, Jacob St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-21

The Workers entrance was rather small on the previous image, so I took another picture of it.

Tower Finishers, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-24-Edit_2400
Tower Finishers, Mill St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10p-24

Tower Finishers is on the corner of Mill St and Wolseley St, and its address is I think 1 Wolseley St. The street got its name from the Field Marshall parodied as a ‘modern major general’ in the Pirates of Penzance. “Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley, KP, GCB, OM, GCMG, VD, PC (4 June 1833 – 25 March 1913)”, had many victories in Canada, West Africa and Egypt and modernised the British Army and was Commander-in-Chief from 1895-1900. For a time the phrase “everything’s all Sir Garnet” became a common way of saying everything was in order.

Tower Finishers were cutter makers and printing trade finishers. The building is still on the corner, very much tidied up and I suspect rather different behind its exterior wall.

My 1988 walk around Bermondsey will continue in a later post.

Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

Bermondsey Wall – St Saviour’s and Chambers Wharf 1988 continues from the previous post Bermondsey – Rubber, Antiques, Murals & A Martyr 1988

Sr Saviour’s House, Tower Bridge, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o24

I walked up George Row, following what had been the main course of the River Neckinger to Bermondsey Wall and St Saviour’s House, where I made one of my favourite images of London. The building, as No 21 Bermondsey Wall West, gets a short mention in Southwarks St Saviours Dock Conservation area appraisal from 2003 which notes it “has recently been restored and extended, losing some of its character“, though perhaps the main loss has been of its view of Tower Bridge with all that is now visible being the street side of modern riverside luxury flats.

Information I’ve been able to find on-line tells me only what the eye can see (though not all in my picture) which is that it has a “white rendered wall punctuated only by a large door with a classical segmental pediment, and a simple circular window above it.” It obviously gets its name from St Saviour’s Monastery and from its appearance I think was possibly a Catholic institution of some nature. When I posted on-line a view showing the rear of this building (since obscured by an extension) in 1983 a year or two ago I wrote:

“Google maps describes St Saviour’s House as a ‘Religious institution’ and it looks rather like a convent or convent school but it appears now to be expensive flats – around £1m for 2 bed – and one estate agent describes it as a ‘warehouse conversion’.

The road by St Saviour’s House is still narrow and with a slight curve rather like that in the picture, possibly originally following the bank of the river or a tidal canal. The front of St Saviour’s House is on George Row, where the River Neckinger ran, with a bridge over it here. The tidal canals had water let in every few days to for the mill immediately to the west, and the Neckinger, the Thames, St Saviour’s Dock and a canal alongside Wolseley St (then London St) formed the boundaries of the slum notorious in the early 19th century as Jacob’s Island, used by Dickens in Oliver Twist.

River Thames, Tower Bridge, Pier, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-26-Edit_2400
River Thames, Tower Bridge, Pier, Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o26

Much of the riverside here is now full of luxury flats and is private here. On Bermondsey Wall West there is an area where you can look out along the river to Tower Bridge but a new block on the end of the older warehouses restricts the view.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-12
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-12

This warehouse block, now converted to flats and offices as Tempus Wharf is still there at 29 Bermondsey Eall West, just to the east of the junction with Flockton St. This five storey warehouse dating dating from 1865-70 and is Grade II listed as Chambers Wharf, a rather confusing name as there was a much larger building known as Chambers Wharf a short distance to the east.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-14

On the 1896 OS Town plan this is named as Brunswick Wharf. It was built on the former site of Murrell’s Wharf as a granary. Later it was combined with the Seaborne Coal Wharf next door on the east as Sterling Wharf for paper and card. Chambers bought up many of the wharves along here in the 1930s and erected their large cold store (demolished in 2008-9) a little to the east. I think the name Tempus Wharf is just a little bit of Latin added to give it a little more class.

Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-15-Edit_2400
Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988 88-10o-15

A more distant view of the east side of St Saviour’s House from Bermondsey Wall West shows the large area of blank white rendered flat wall. In the redevelopment this was stepped out into George Row and perforated with windows and garage doors, with only a short section of the original now visible. It also gives an impression of the state of the area back in 1988

Robson Road Haulage, Chambers St, Bermondsey, Southwark, 1988

This building and the taller ones behind were a part of the Chambers Wharf Cold Stores site.


When Chambers Wharf and Cold Stores Ltd built their giant cold stores in the 1930s they were in a vaguely Deco style, but those parts rebuilt after wartime bomb damage were rather plainer. The buildings were huge, and resulted in the closing of a section of Bermondsey Wall, dividing it into West and East, with the frontage here on Chambers St. The river frontage had 3 berths and there were frequent services from the continent bringing meat and other perishable goods here. It closed as a cold store in the 1980s and was briefly used as a gold bullion & document store.

Various plans were put forward for its redevelopment, including as a heliport for London, which the graffiti here, ‘BUILD YOUR HELIPORT IN YOR BACK GARDN NOT OURS’ shows was not welcome in the area and a strong local campaign by CHOP saw an end to that proposal. Finally planning permission was given for a residential development. The cold stores were demolished around 2008 but progress on the site has been held up by the Thames Tideway Tunnel super-sewer works for which it it a major site.

Chambers Wharf, Chambers St, Bermondsey, 1988 88-10p-65

A final picture for this post of another part of the Chambers Wharf site, still with its sign. I turned around and walked back to Bermondsey Wall West, where the next post on the walk will begin.

Thames, Rotherhithe & Wapping 1988

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

From Southwark Park Schools which ended the previous post on this walk, Rotherhithe New Road & Southwark Park Schools, I walked a few yards up Southwark Park Road to the corner with Banyard Road, where I photographed the taxi office (still there but changed from A-Z Star Cars to 5 Star Cars) with the pub on the opposite corner, the Southwark Park Tavern, now closed and converted to residential around 2003.

There was a pub around here, the Green Man, possibly on this site before Southwark Park opened in 1869 but I think this building probably came shortly after the park was opened, and is opposite the Carriage Drive leading into the park.

Unfortunately I haven’t yet digitised this picture, nor one of rather plain two-storey terrace on Banyard Rd or an image showing a play area in the park. I hurried through the park to the Jamaica Road gate at its north, crossing to make my way to Kings Stairs Gardens and the River Thames.

River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-63-Edit_2400
River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-63

The two jetties visible here I think have now gone and there is certainly no line of lighters as in this picture, and there is one striking new building on the riverfront.

River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-65-Edit_2400
River Thames, Downstream, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-65

A second picture taken with a short telephoto lens from almost exactly the same place shows the central area more clearly, with new flats being built on Rotherhithe St.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-51-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-51

Looking across the Thames downstream, with Free Trade Wharf at the extreme right and just to the left the cylinder ventilation shaft of the Rotherhithe tunnel in the King Edward Memorial Park. Both Metropolitan Wharf and New Crane Wharf are covered iwth scaffolding.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-52-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-52

Part of St John’s Wharf and King Henry’s Wharves seen across the River Thames.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 198888-10l-53-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-53

More of St John’s Wharf, including one of the earlier warehouse conversions and the Grade II listed Wapping Police Station, built 1907-10, Metropolitan Police architect John Dixon Butler. At extreme left is a part of Aberdeen Wharf built in 1843–4 by the Aberdeen Steam Navigation Company.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-54-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-54

The end of Aberdeen Wharf is at the right edge of this picture, and at its left the Wapping Police Boatyard, an unnecessarily ugly building opened in 1973. The new building in the centre of the picture also seems something of an eyesore, at least at its ends.

Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-55-Edit_2400
Wapping, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-55

Continuing up-river from the Police Boatyard are St Thomas Wharf, Pierhead Wharf, Oliver’s Wharf – the first warehouse in Wapping to be converted into luxury flats in 1972 – and Wapping Pierhead, with houses designed by Daniel Alexander in 1811 and the main entrance to London Docks.

Bermondsey, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-41-Edit_2400
Bermondsey, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-41

Looking upriver on the south bank with Tower Bridge at the extreme right and Guy’s Hospital tower just left of centre. Cherry Garden Pier is at left.

Silver Jubilee, marker, EIIR, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-43-Edit_2400
Silver Jubilee, marker, EIIR, River Thames, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-43

There is still a marker for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee here but it looks far less impressive than this rugged stonework I photographed in 1988. London has also gained quite a few tall buildings, but the view along the river remains clear and you can still see the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Braithwaite & Dean, Rotherhithe St, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-44-Edit_2400
Braithwaite & Dean, Rotherhithe St, Rotherhithe, Southwark, 1988 88-10l-44

41 Rotherhithe St, now apparently 1 Fulford St at least according to Google Maps, was the offices of lighterage company Braitwaite & Dean, where their lightermen would come to collect their weekly wage. Apparently it was known locally as the Leaning Tower of Rotherhithe, though the building’s lean is more apparent from across the river than in my picture.

It was left more or less alone on this stretch of the river with just the Angel pub equally isolated a few yards upriver after Bermondsey council bought many of the buildings in 1939 to create a park, with wartime bombing continuing the demolition job. There was some temporary housing by the river when I first walked along here in the early 1980s, but that soon disappeared.

My walk in Bermondsey continued – more about it in a later post.

May Day – International Workers Day

Sunday, May 1st, 2022

May Day – International Workers Day – May 1st was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day in 1889 by the Second International socialists and communists, and adopted by anarchists, labor activists, and leftists in general around the world, to commemorate the 1886 Chicago Haymarket affair and the struggle for an eight-hour working day. It continues to be celebrated in many countries around the world.

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Anarchist Cricket, Parliament Square, London, May 1, 2005

Although I tested negative for Covid on Wednesday I’m still short of breath and short of energy, with still a little of a cough and have been strongly advised to take things easy for the next week or two. So I’m not sure if I’ll be out celebrating May Day today, much as I yearn to be.

May Day - International Workers Day
Justice for Cleaners, Westminster Cathedral, London, May 1, 2006

Before 2000 I was usually unable to celebrate May Day properly as May 1st was usually a normal working day and I went out around 8am and arrived home from work around 5.30pm, usually with more to do at home after an evening meal. Not much time to celebrate International Workers Day!

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Police Victory Party – Bank, May 1, 2006

Of course, May Day sometimes fell at the weekend, so I would have been free to take part in events that were taking place, but even in 1999 when it was a Saturday I think I had other things on.

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Mayfair Mayfayre – May 1st 2008

There were of course May Day related events that I went to most years, but usually these were on the Saturday or Sunday before the early May bank holiday Monday which was introduced by a Labour government in 1978, when they lacked the nerve to make May Day itself a public holiday. We still have that bank holiday despite plans made by Conservative governments under both John Major and David Cameron to replace it by a Trafalgar Day holiday in late October.

May Day - International Workers Day
Rave Against The Machine – Leake St, Waterloo, London. Saturday 1 May 2010

By 2003 I was getting rather blasé about the London May Day march, writing “May Day Has perhaps settled into a rather predictable event now. The socialist left – and what is left seems to be a few unions and a number of ethnic communist party groups – march from Clerkenwell to Trafalgar square, while anti-capitalist protesters do not a lot around town“, but that didn’t stop me going again to photograph it that year or in 2004, 2005, 2006, and every year until 2019. Covid put an end to the sequence in 2020, but I came out of seclusion for May Day 2021, though perhaps I’ll miss it again today.

May Day - International Workers Day
Anti-Capitalists block Tower Bridge – Tower Bridge, London. Fri 1 May 2015

And I will miss it. Miss the sense of solidarity on the streets. And most of my life I’ve been feeling a loss of what might have been had we ever had a socialist government since my first few years growing up in a welfare state. Tory governments largely did what was expected of them but the various Labour administrations largely failed the people. Perhaps the final straw came in 2017, when people inside Labour actively worked against a Labour election victory.

May Day - International Workers Day
Anti-Capitalist May Day Street Party Starts – One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Sun 1 May 2016

The pictures here come from some of the other May Day events I’ve photographed in the last 20 years or so. You can find other May Day pictures on My London Diary simply by choosing a year at the top of the page and then the month of May at the left of the year page.

May Day - International Workers Day
May Day F**k Parade – London. Mon 1 May 2017

Focus E15 Mums at City Hall 2014

Monday, February 21st, 2022

Focus E15 Mums at City Hall 2014. Focus E15 mothers and children, threatened with eviction from the Mother and Baby Unit at the Focus E15 hostel in Stratford came on a decorated bus to City Hall, holding a party outside and trying to hand in a petition and card to then city Mayor Boris Johnson.

I’d met the Focus E15 Mums the previous month when they partied inside the Stratford offices of East Thames Housing Association who run the hostel, but the eviction notices had come in October 2013 because Newham Council had decided to cut the funding for the hostel.

Newham was then at the centre of a post-Olympic housing boom, with both private developers and East Thames building large blocks of flats around the area. But the great majority of these are for sale or rent at market prices, and many were being bought not to live in but by overseas investors keen to cash in on the steeply rising prices of housing in London. Even housing associations build mainly for those on good salaries who can afford shared ownership schemes, with minimal homes at council-level rents.

Newham Council Mayor Robin Wales told the mothers there were no properties available in the area at council rents. He made it clear than if you are poor, Newham doesn’t want you, and they were offered rented accommodation far outside of London, in Birmingham, Manchester, Hastings and even Wales – “expensive, sometimes poor quality, insecure one year private rents” – with the threat that anyone who turned down the offers would be regarded as having made themselves intentionally homeless and get no help from the council.

The mothers in the hostel decided to stand together and fight the council, demanding they be placed within suitable socially rented accommodation in Newham. Among other areas they point out that there is good quality council-owned housing on the Carpenters Estate, a short walk from their hostel, which Newham council have left empty, in some cases for ten years, as they try to sell off the area for development – despite having the highest waiting list for social housing in London.

As I wrote in 2014, London Mayor Boris Johnson Boris Johnson “has made it clear that he is opposed to the gentrification of London, stating: ‘The last thing we want to have in our city is a situation such as Paris where the less well-off are pushed out to the suburbs’ and promising ‘I’ll emphatically resist any attempt to recreate a London where the rich and poor cannot live together…’ But these turned out to be typically Johnsonian empty words and during his time as London Mayor he did nothing to help those in housing need and stop those cleared from council estates having to move miles further out.

The card Boris Johnson wouldn’t accept

On the day of the protest the mothers tried to deliver a card to him, but his office simply refused to take it. The assistant director of the affordable homes programme in London, Jamie Ratcliff did come down to meet them and took their petition, but had little to say to them, giving them his card and telling them to email him.

Mothers go in to deliver the card but no-one would accept it

More on the event on My London Diary at Focus E15 Mums at City Hall.

The Focus E15 Campaign eventually got all or most of the mothers and children rehoused locally, and they continue to compaign in Newham for Fair Housing For All, holding a street stall despite harassment from council and police every Saturday on Stratford Broadway, helping homeless families get proper treatment from the council, protesting for those in terrible conditions in temporary accomodation and stopping evictions, and taking part in protests and campaigns for social housing in London and elsewhere.

2015 March for Homes – Shoreditch to City Hall

Monday, January 31st, 2022

2015 March for Homes – Shoreditch to City Hall. A year before the march Against the Housing and Planning Bill featured in yesterday’s post there was another march about housing at the end of January, the March For Homes.

Outside Shoreditch Church

The event called by Defend Council Housing, South London People’s Assembly and Unite Housing Workers Branch involved two separate marches, one coming from Shoreditch in north-east London and the other from the Elephant & Castle in south London converging on London’s City Hall close to Tower Bridge for a final rally.

Max Levitas, a 100 year old communist veteran of Cable St

I couldn’t be in two places at once and chose to go to Shoreditch, partly because I knew people from several groups I had photographed at a number of housing struggles would be marching from there. The event was certainly enlivened by the arrival of activists who had marched from Bethnal Green, including supporters of Class War, Focus E15 and other groups.

Many couldn’t get into the churchyard

The Shoreditch Rally was held in a crowded area in Shoreditch churchyard at the front of St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch, the ancient parish church of Shoreditch, and I took the opportunity to go inside and have a look at the church before the rally. The list of speakers there showed the wide range of community support for fairer housing policies, including more social housing desperately needed in London and included Jasmine Stone of Focus E15, Lindsey Garratt from New Era, Paul Turp, vicar of St Leonards, Nick from Action East End, Paul Heron of the Haldane Society of Socialist Laywyers, Max Levitas, a 100 year old communist veteran of Cable St, a speaker from the ‘Fred and John Towers’ in Leytonstone and Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Tower Hamlets benefits from having been formed from some of the London Metropolitan Boroughs with the best records of social housing – such as Poplar, where in the 1920s councillors went to jail to retain more money for one of London’s poorest areas. Unfortunately Rahman, the borough’s first directly elected mayor was removed from office in April 2015 after he was found personally guilty of electoral fraud in his 2014 re-election. Many of the other charges made against him in the media were dismissed by police after investigation.

It was raining slightly as over a thousand marchers set off for City Hall behind the March For Homes banner.

As the march came to the junction with Aldgate High St, Class War split off for a short protest at One Commercial St, where they had held a lengthy series of weekly ‘Poor Doors’ protests against separate entrances for residents owning or leasing at market rates and the smaller section of social housing tenants who had to enter through a door down a side alley. Class War had suspended their 20 weeks of protest for talks with a new owner of the building a month or so earlier, but these had broken down without a satisfactory resolution and the protests there restarted the following week.

As the march approached the Tower of London it was met and joined by Russell Brand riding a bicycle,

and on Tower Bridge, Class War came up to lead the march.

I rushed ahead to meet the South London march as it turned into Tooley Street for the last few yards of its march.

The rally in front of City Hall was large, cold and wet. By now the rain was making it difficult to take photographs, with drops falling on the front of my lenses as I tried to take pictures, and my lenses beginning to steam up inside. But I persisted and did the best I could, though the rain-bedraggled speakers in particular were not looking their best.

The rally was still continuing when some of the activists, including Class War and the street band Rhythms of Revolution decided they needed to do something a little more than standing in the rain listening to speeches. They moved onto Tooley Street and blocked the road. More police arrived and blocked the road even more effectively as the activists moved eastwards to protest at One Tower Bridge, a new development mainly for the over-rich next to Tower Bridge and then left for a long walk to the occupied Aylesbury Estate. But I decided it was time to go home.

More on My London Diary:
March for Homes: After the Rally
March for Homes: City Hall Rally
March for Homes: Poor Doors
March for Homes: Shoreditch to City Hall
March for Homes: Shoreditch Rally

City Road & London Bridge

Monday, November 8th, 2021

My last walk in May 1988 ended around the City Road which I walked down to catch the ‘drain’ back to Waterloo. In 1988 Bank Station on the Waterloo and City line still was a part of British Rail, and was one of the ‘London Termini’ for which my ticket from the suburbs was valid. Until it was transferred to London Underground in 1994 it provided a cheap route for me into to centre of the City.

Wesley statue, Wesley's Chapel, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-64-positive_2400
Wesley statue, Wesley’s Chapel, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-64

Wesley’s Chapel and Leysian Mission at 49 City Road calls itself the Mother Church of World Methodism. Wesley employed the surveyor of the City of London, George Dance the Younger as his architect and the builder was a member of his congregation; the church is Grade I listed despite considerable alterations in the Victorian era and later. When built it was Church of England Church, as Methodism only became a separate church after his death.

The best bit about the Grade II listed statue of Wesley, created in 1891 by Adams Acton is probably the plinth and the wording below the statue ‘THE WORLD IS MY PARISH’. I particularly liked the shadow of the lantern above the entrance on the door below.

Honourable Artillery Company, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-65
Finsbury Barracks, Honourable Artillery Company, City Rd, Islington, 1988 88-6a-65

This Grade II listed ‘castle’ on City Road was designed by Joseph A Jennings in 1857 as a barracks for the Royal London Militia. It later became the home for City of London Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve, and since 1961 has been part of the Honourable Artillery Company estate.

When I was very young I had a very secondhand and battered toy fort for my toy soldiers, and either it was based on this building or this building had been based on it.

Lakeside Terrace,  Barbican, City, 1988 88-6a-56-positive_2400
Lakeside Terrace, Barbican, City, 1988 88-6a-56

I think there had just been a shower of rain – and perhaps I had walked into the Barbican to shelter from it and perhaps view the exhibitions in its free spaces. Though I did go also to the major photographic shows that were held there, often taking students to see them. But this walk was in the Whitsun half-term.

But the terrace is clearly wet and there are no people sitting on the many chairs, although a few perch on the low brick walls. At right is the City of London School for Girls.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-36-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-36

My rail ticket could also take me to London Bridge, and my first walk in June on Saturday 8th began there. I went to London Bridge but didn’t cross it, instead staying on the south bank, and taking this slightly curious picture in which the River Thames appears only as a thin rectangle underneath the white rectangle of Adelaide House. When completed in 1925 this now Grade II listed building was the City’s tallest office block, 43 metres – 141 ft – high.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-33-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-33

Looking up into the office block at 1 London Bridge Street it’s hard to distinguish reflection from reality as I’m sure architects John S. Bonnington Partnership intended. Completed two years earlier in 1986 it was still a rather startling building.

London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-24-positive_2400
London Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6a-24

The steps to the riverside walkway go through the corner of 1 London Bridge and over them are some buildings from the Victorian era on the opposite side of Borough High St and the pinnacles of Southwark Cathedral. I seem to have chosen another rainy day for a walk.

Tooley St, Abbots Lane, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-61-positive_2400
Tooley St, Abbots Lane, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-61

I walked east not on the riverside walk, but along Tooley St and photographed this building on the corner of Abbots Lane, a street that has now more or less disappeared and is simply a vehicle entrance to PricewaterhouseCoopers buildin in More London. This former Fire Brigade Headquarters built in 1879, architect George Vulliamy, was for many years the model for other fire stations and the headquarters of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and its training centre for firefighters. It now houses the Brigade Bar and Kitchen, opened in September 2011 by Chef Founder Simon Boyle, a social enterprise which together with the Beyond Food Foundation gives apprenticeships to people who have been at risk of or have experienced homelessness.

It had been the great fire of Tooley Street in 1861 that led to the formation of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in 1862, the greatest fire in London since 1666. Many of the riverside warehouses went up in flames over two days and the man in charge of the firefighters, Mr James Braidwood, was killed when a building collapsed. There have been many fires in Tooley St since, and in 1971 Wilson’s Wharf was the site of the ‘Second Great Fire of Tooley St’, with 50 pumps fighting the fire that started in an unoccupied refrigerated warehouse. The area destroyed is now the site of Southwark Crown Court.

Tumonte House, Tooley Hotel, Tooley St, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-62-positive_2400
Tumonté House, Tooley Hotel, Tooley St, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-62

These were fairly typical of the tall warehouse buildings that line much of Tooley Street. I’m unable to identify the exact locations of these buildings which don’t quite seem to match any of those left standing. The negative has been badly damaged at bottom right and since it only affects the roadway and a car I’ve not bothered to try to repair it.

Anchor Brewhouse, Butlers Wharf, Tower Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-63-positive_2400
Anchor Brewhouse, Butlers Wharf, Tower Bridge, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-63

The picture shows the large amount of building work that was taking place along this section of the bank by Higgs and Hill and McAlpine. It seems too that barges were being used to take away some of the rubble.

Tower Bridge, Control Room, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-64-positive_2400
Tower Bridge, Control Room, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, 1988 88-6b-64

I have never understood why quite so many levers were needed to raise two sections of roadway to open the bridge for river traffic. There seem to be two handles to turn around at the end furtherst from my camera and a superfluity of dials at top left.

I think I crossed Tower Bridge and made my way to Tower Gateway for the DLR. The station had opened the previous August and my walk continued from Crossharbour on the Isle of Dogs – in another post. Before the opening of the Jubilee Line this was probably the quickest route there.