Posts Tagged ‘Tower Hamlets’

Tower Hamlets Against the EDL

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

On Saturday 7th September 2013 the English Defence League led by Tommy Robinson tried to march into Tower Hamlets. Police had laid down strict conditions for their protest which included an exact route for their march, a limit on length of the rally in Aldgate and a prohibition on going across the border of the CIty of London into Tower Hamlets.

When I arrived well before their march was due to start those EDL supporters present were generally in a good mood and happy to pose for the press and we were able to move and photograph freely. Gradually things got a little edgier, though I was still able to photograph standing next to Tommy and the other leaders when they arrived.

Then the police arrived in large numbers, surrounding the marchers and moving the press away from them. Photography of the march when it began was difficult, with police stopping us going close to it. I was able to take some pictures with a longer lens than I like to use, but police kept moving us further and further away, preventing us from doing our job.

I gave up, and went away in search of the anti-fascists who I knew would be trying to disrupt the march, and had set off some smoke flares in the distance. Police had blocked their route with police vans and were keeping them kettled several hundred yards from the march route. The EDL were still some distance away when I walked out past the police at the north end of the group of protesters to go down a side street and join the EDL. I wasn’t stopped there but did have to show my press card to go through two other police lines before getting fairly close to the march.

I joined on to a small TV crew and we found a raised position from where we could photograph the marchers as they came up to Aldgate, and was then able to move to where I could see the rally beginning. Fortunately I managed to get close enough to make some decent pictures with my short telephoto zoom, working on DX format to get a longer equivalent focal length of arond 158mm. I liked using DX format on the full-frame Nikon D800E as it allowed me to see what was happening outside the image frame and still gave an entirely usable 15Mp image.

I soon tired of hearing the angry and ill-informed Islamophobic speech by Robinson (and the racist comments from the crowd) and moved away. It wasn’t easy to get past the half a dozen police lines between the rally and the people who had come to Whitechapel to oppose the march, even with a UK Press Card and I had to find a senior officer or try again on the other side of the road in some places to get through.

Here a large crowd had gathered including many from Tower Hamlets including the then mayor and many councillors as well as religious leaders, and they were supported by trade unionists and others from across London. The atmosphere here was so different from the hate a block to the west with people defiant but in good spirits and happy to be photographed.

The huge police presence kept the groups apart, and prevented all but a very few minor incidents, and without them there would certainly have been a great deal of violence on the streets with the EDL being heavily outnumbered and forced to flee. It would have been something like a repeat of the humiliating defeat of Mosley and his fascists in 1936 when the police tried to force the march through, but failed. Although this time the police did make the EDL march possible, they also very sensibly stopped it on the edge of the City before it could reach Tower Hamlets.

More text and pictures on My London Diary:

EDL March returns to Tower Hamlets (or rather it tried to but didn’t quite make it)
Anti-Fascists Oppose EDL
Tower Hamlets United Against the EDL


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


Human Rights, NHS and Gold Mining

Saturday, June 5th, 2021

Thursday 5th June 2014 was the day of the AGM of G4S, a company deeply involved in the privatisation of prisons, policing, education and other public services and in human rights abuses both in the UK and in Palestine where it helps to run the Israeli prison system. So unsurprisingly a number of groups had come to protest outside the Excel Centre at Royal Victoria Dock in Newham where the AGM was taking place, and there were also a number of people who had bought shares so they had a right to attend the AGM and also to ask questions, challenging the company’s human rights record.

Among the various groups who had come to protest were the Boycott Israel Network, Boycott Workfare, Campaign to Close Campsfield, Corporate Watch, Friends of Al Aqsa, Inminds.com, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Right to Remain, War on Want, Right to Remain and Global Women’s Strike, though as the protest was on a working day, the numbers representing each group were fairly low.

The protesters sang and handed out leaflets to shareholders attending the meeting, giving details of some of the human rights abuses that G4S has been responsible for or is complicit in. There were also apparently some nasty scenes when shareholders were ejected forcibly from the AGM for insisting on asking awkward questions, but the press was not allowed to photograph inside the venue.

I joined a march in Tower Hamlets, which includes some of the most deprived areas of England, where medical staff and supporters had organised a ‘Nye Bevan’ march to ‘Keep Our NHS Public’, walking around the health practices in the borough. Medical practices were able to give a good level of service in deprived areas by the MPIG, the Minimum practice income guarantee, which was introduced for this purpose in 2004 following negotiations between the government and the BMA to recognise the higher health needs of both some inner city and rural areas. In 2014 the Coalition Government announced this was to be scrapped, with one seventh of it removed each year until 2021.

Many leading politicians (and their family members) have financial interests in healthcare companies, and NHS campaigners see the loss of MPIG as a part of the continuing privatisation by stealth of the NHS. Many GP practices are now run by large healthcare services, who lower costs by providing reduced services and diverting money which should be used for serving the needs of patients into providing profits for shareholders.

As the marchers arrived at each medical practice they were met by health workers and patients who came out to support them. Among those at the health centre on the Whitechapel Road was veteran anti-fascist and former Communist councillor Max Levitas, who had celebrated his 99th birthday 4 days earlier. I left before the march finished and the rally to go to the Colombian embassy.

At the Colombian embassy protesters were condemning the vast La Colosa & Santurbán gold mines which endanger water sources in the high mountain regions and could wreck their fragile ecosystems. The London protests on UN World Environment Day and follow protests and carnivals by thousands of people in Ibague, the closest city to the mines as well as in other cities in Colombia. In Bucaramanga the whole city turned out in protests to stop the Santurbán gold mine owned by Canadian company Greystar Resources, and in 2019 there was a protest by 50,000 against the United Arab Emirates backed Soto Norte gold project which would be the largest underground gold mine in Colombia. Gold mining would releases large quantities of cyanide and arsenic into the water supplies of several million people.

The posters were in Spanish as they were aimed at the embassy staff. The Colombian Embassy is a relatively small section of a building just to the rear of Harrods, which also houses the Ecuadorian Embassy, where while this protest was taking place Julian Assange was still in political asylum in their small part of the building, and regular protests were still taking place calling for his release. Unfortunately he was instead handed over to the UK police and now seems likely to die as a political prisoner either in the UK or, if extradited, in the USA.

Colombian Mines – World Environment Day
Tower Hamlets – Save our Surgeries
G4S AGM Protest Against Human Rights Abuses


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

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


Leamouth Panorama 1982

Saturday, February 13th, 2021
East India Dock Gates, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 19882 32e-14_2400

It was back in July 1982 I took my first walk down Leamouth Road, where there were still high walls for the closed East India Docks and some wharves on Bow Creek were still in use, their walls and sheds hiding the river from view. But at the southern end, where the river swung around a 180 degree bend, the view opened up, with only a fence and a couple of feet of weed-covered earth between the pavement and the river wall. It was getting late and I had to rush away, but I had seen a view that I could not do justice too with even my widest lens, a 21mm f3.5 Zuiko.

Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 32f-63_2400

The fence was old and rusty, and one short section had broken, and on my return in August I made my way through the gap with my hefty Manfrotto tripod. There wasn’t enough space to set it up properly with the legs fully extended and opened, but after a bit of a struggle I managed to get it level. I checked it with the separate spirit level I carried in my camera bag, then put my Olympus OM1 in place and checked with the level again.

J J Prior, Ship Repairs, Orchard Wharf, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32f-53_2400

It was a slow business, and I was just a little worried that someone might come along and question what I was doing, though rather more worried that I might fall over the low wall onto the muddy shingle perhaps 6ft below.

J J Prior, Ship Repairs, Orchard Wharf, Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, 1982 32f-54p_2400

I think the lens I used was probably the 35mm f2.8 shift, though at its central non-shifted position, and I tried to position its nodal point roughly above the axis of rotation, though it was not too critical here as only the first and final exposures would include any near detail.

32f-56p_2400

I then began a series of six exposures, swinging the camera on the tripod roughly 30 degrees between each exposure (the tripod has a scale in degrees) using the handle on the pan and tilt head. All went well until the last of six exposures, though it was a little tricky working in a rather confined space, and I needed to move away from where I had been crouching to the right of the tripod so as not to be in the picture.

Bow Creek, Leamouth Rd, Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, Newham, 1982 32f-41p_2400

It wasn’t a tragedy as I squeezed between the tripod and the fence, and I managed not to knock the whole set-up into the creek, but I did knock it a little out of place, and while the first five exposures have the horizon almost exactly level, the sixth was perhaps ten degrees askew.

Of course I took a replacement, and it was only after I’d printed it that I found it wasn’t quite an exact fit, and when I carefully cut and pasted the six prints to make a single panoramic image the difference showed, at least to me. So instead I put the images, cropped slightly to reduce the overlap, into a row of images with a margin between each of them. More recently of course I’ve been able to scan the images and combine the digital files, and it more or less works, but ends up with a very long thin panorama that doesn’t work well on screen.

A few years later I returned with a panoramic camera and made a very different picture just a few yards away, but the original scene had changed dramatically.

Clicking on any of the larger pictures in this post will take you to a larger version in my Flickr album, from where you can explore other pictures of Bow Creek.


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

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


Meridian 1

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

One of the blogs about London I keep my eye on and occasionally read with interest is the rather oddly named ‘Diamond Geezer‘, who posts daily articles, usually about his walks or bus rides around some of London’s more obscure areas. As someone who spent around 20 years walking around many of these taking photographs, I often find these interesting even though I don’t share his preoccupation with some of the minutiae of Transport for London’s oddities.

The two most recent of his posts have been Prime Meridian 0° Day 1 and Day 2 and by the time you read this, there will probably be a Day 3. Since he is only walking along the line (or rather as close to it as you can) in Tower Hamlets and Newham there probably won’t need to be a Day 4.


Greenwich Observatory – Peter Marshall, 1985

I was particularly interested because I carried out a similar but rather longer project in 1994-96, completing it despite failing to get any of the Millenium funding which was on offer. I began at what seemed the obvious place, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich – as this was the Greenwich Meridian. My walk, carried out over several days, was rather longer, ending more or less at the Greater London boundary in Chingford – and later I extended it south from Greenwich to New Addington at the southern boundary.

Greenwich Riverside – Peter Marshall, 1985

It was rather harder then to actually trace the Meridian on the ground. There were rather fewer actual markers then and I think no published walks along it. Although my application failed, others were successful and obtained funding to put in new Meridian markers and publish walks at the time of the Millenium and yet more have been added since.

West India Dock – Peter Marshall, 1985

Back in 1994-6 I had to draw my own line on my maps – it was only in 1998 that the line was added to the Ordnance Survey maps – in order to allow people to celebrate the Millennium on it. Back then we had no mobile phones and no GPS – the first phone based GPS navigation system was only introduced by Benefon in 1999 and it was a few years before this became universal.

Greenway & Channelsea River, Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995

I first published these images on the web in 1996, having then recently acquired a colour film scanner. It wasn’t a very good scanner and getting good results from colour negative film was tricky. I think I scanned most of them again later, but some could still be improved.

Stratford – Peter Marshall, 1995


To be continued…

Back to 1986: Page 4

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
Broadway Bakeries, Brougham Rd, Benjamin Close, Broadway Market, Hackney 86-6m-35_2400
Borough Market

Returning to my London pictures for 1986, and to page 4 of my Flickr album 1986 London Photographs.

The Oval, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6m-65_2400
The Oval, Bethnal Green

1986 was the year I began to photograph London in depth, and the album reflects this, with 1370 black and white photographs, a fraction of the number I took that year. The hundred on page 4 are from the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and include pictures from Dalston, Shoreditch, Hackney, Bethnal Green, Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Whitechapel and other parts east of the city. There is just the odd image from elsewhere in London.

War Memorial, Cyprus St, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets86-6o-31_2400
Cyprus St, Bethnal Green

Unlike in some earlier years the routes for my walks around the area were carefully planned, with research from a number of published sources, though information was much less readily available than now before the days of the world wide web. Of course I didn’t always stick to my planned routes, but I did carry a notebook to write down where I actually went and even sometimes some details of what I was photographing.

Hessell St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets
Hessel St, Whitechapel

One of my major resources was of course maps, both new and old, not just for the streets but also for the other information included on them. Some marked industrial areas in brown, most showed churches and public buildings and some gave names of various features. The invaluable series of reprints of old 1:2500 OS maps was begun by Alan Godfrey in 1983, but few were available in 1986. I now have a very large collection.

Kingsland Basin, Regent's Canal, Hackney 86-7c-26_2400
Kingsland Basin

My aim was to not to walk along every street (as the woman who produced the London A-Z was sometimes said to have done) but at least to look down nearly all of them, and to photograph all buildings of interest as well as other things I found on my journeys. Later when I had bought a scanner I produced enlarged versions of the A-Z pages, printing them on a black and white laser printer and used highlighter pen after I came home to mark where I had walked. These both showed me any areas I had missed and helped me, together with the notebooks, to mark on the contact sheets where the pictures were taken.

Nuttal St, Hackney 86-7c-36_2400
Nuttal St, Hackney

I mostly travelled by train or underground so often several walks started from a particular station, and perhaps along the same streets close to them. There were also some areas that particularly interested me, either for simple visual reasons or because they were obviously changing, to which I returned.

I’ve posted some of the pictures on this page previously on >Re:PHOTO and I’ve tried to find others to put on this post. You can see all of the pictures – 100 on page 4 – on Flickr – where you can view them larger than on here – by clicking on the link or the image below.

Russia Lane, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets 86-6l-66_2400

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

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


1986 Complete – Page 2

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
Varden St, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-5d-11_2400

Images in this post are embedded from Flickr where you can view them at a large size by clicking on the image. You will need to use your browser back button to return to this post. Or you can right-click and select ‘Open link in new tab’.

My album 1986 London Photographs is now complete on Flickr, and this is the second of a short series of posts pointing out a few of my favourite images from the year.

Fashion St, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-4r-16_2400

Several things come out strongly to me as I look through these pictures, mostly taken around Brick Lane and other areas of Whitechapel. One of the major themes that has run through much of my photography is the writing on the wall, whether graffiti or signs and posters. Language is such an important aspect of our social interactions and its inclusion in these images makes them into a record of how people lived and thought.

Brick Lane, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-5a-01_2400

In 1984 London was rapidly becoming the multicultural city we now know, though of course it had been so on a lesser scale for many years if not centuries. Spitalfields where some of these pictures were made had long been a home for new communities moving to London and there was still abundant evidence of its Jewish population as well as the Bangladeshis who had by then largely replaced them.

Commercial Rd, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets 86-5c-64_2400

Housing, then as now, was an important issue in London in particular, and some of these pictures reflect this and other issues such as racism. Although I think some of these pictures are well-composed and even attractive compositionally, I’ve always considered the formal aspects – line, shape, tone, texture, form etc to be the means to communicate a message rather than an end in themselves. I aimed to make photography that had something to say and said it well rather than to produce well composed, attractive or even striking or popular images.

Limehouse, Tower Hamlets 86-5h-66_2400

There are another 95 pictures on the second page of the album, all with a location, taken from the usually rather incomplete information I recorded on the contact sheets. I’ve tried to check these before posting, but corrections and other comments are always welcome. I’m happy for these pictures – with suitable attribution – to be shared on social media, but they remain copyright and any commercial or editorial use requires a licence from me.


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

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

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


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1986 Complete – Page 1

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

Images in this post are embedded from Flickr where you can view them at a large size by clicking on the image. You will need to use your browser back button to return to this post. Or you can right-click and select ‘Open link in new tab’.

Commercial St, Tower Hamlets 86-2d-51_2400

My album 1986 London Photographs is now complete on Flickr, and this is the first of a short series of posts pointing out a few of my favourite images from the year.

Of course the 1370 pictures in the album are not all I took that year, but perhaps about a quarter or a fifth. Quite a lot more than I would have selected or shown back in 1986, but the content has aged well, even if sometimes the actual physical negatives have deteriorated. Images that might have seemed a little mundane when I first saw them on the contact sheets have often gained considerably in interest as historical records.

There is a little redundancy in those 1370, and I’ve sometimes included several pictures of the same subject, where I’ve tried different ways to approach it. But the great majority of subjects were treated to only a single frame.

Crosby Row, Southwark 86-4f-11_2400

Many of those not included still have interest and value as historical records, but preparing them to go on line is tedious and time-consuming, particular as some need quite extensive digital retouching after the ‘scanning’ stage – mostly done by photographing the negatives with a Nikon D810 and Nikon 60mm macro lens. Some of my negatives were damaged by minute insects in search of gelatine, leaving their track as they chewed their way across them and depositing their frass and occasional body parts and complete restoration isn’t always possible.

Reuter, Royal Exchange, City 86-4l-66_2400

I’ve also been having problems in getting even lighting at the negative edges. This isn’t a problem with mounted slides, where the image is cropped, but I want the whole image, and possibly the problem is with light diffusing from the clear film edges. But it does mean every frame needs correction in Photoshop – rather like the little bit of edge-burning we used to do under the enlarger.

Courtenay Square, Kennington, Lambeth 86-4q-45_2400

I was working on a number of themes at the time and as well as recording buildings that interested me was particularly interest in sculptures, shopfronts, shop window displays and trees in the city. The first page of pictures on Flickr (100 images) includes work mainly from Southwark, the City of London and Spitalfields.

Brick Lane area, Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets 86-4p-55_2400

I took very few pictures of people at this time, partly because I was rather shy, but more that I had been affected by some feelings being strongly expressed by some at the time about privacy and arguments that it was wrong to photograph people without first seeking their permission. I was never convinced by these, but they were off-putting, and I was sometimes shouted at when taking pictures. Perhaps more importantly I wanted to direct attention to the things being photographed, and was aware that people almost always steal the frame.

There are another 95 pictures on the first page of the album, all with a location, taken from the usually rather incomplete information I recorded on the contact sheets. I’ve tried to check these before posting, but corrections and other comments are always welcome. I’m happy for these pictures – with suitable attribution – to be shared on social media, but they remain copyright and any commercial or editorial use requires a licence from me.


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

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

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


July 1986 on Flickr

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
Pipe Bridge, Regent’s Canal, Baring St, Islington

I had more time to take pictures in July as my teaching came to an end for the summer vacation around halfway through the month. This meant I could go up to London on some weekdays, though I still had two small boys to look after on days my wife was working. That usually meant staying at home, but sometimes I took them both out with me to London.

Regent’s Canal

I spent some time in Shadwell and Bethnal Green, but also further north in Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston, occasionally wandering into Islington. Though I obviously photographed on foot, I had to travel from my home outside London and then around London to the starting point for my walks, and the One Day Capitalcard, valid on all public transport in London after 9.30am made this much simpler after its introduction in June 1986 – the one-day Travelcard launched in 1984 had been for bus and tube only.

The Mission, Holywell Lane, Shoreditch, Hackney

Towards the end of the month I moved my focus to the City of London, even easier for transport then as the Waterloo and City line was still run by British Rail and my ‘London Terminals’ ticket was valid all the way to Bank.

Blackfriars Rail Bridges

When I began photographing London there were two railway bridges across the River Thames at Blackfriars, but all that remained of one of these by 1986 were the pillars that had supported it. And while these were rather a fine set of pillars they were (and remain) a rather curious river feature, presumably left in position simply to save the cost of removing them.

Queenhithe and the River Thames

Queenhithe, a small inlet on the City side of the river has a long history. The Romans built a quay here, and buried deep down in the wet mud some of the timbers they put here survive, as do remains of the dock contructed when Alfred the Great, King of Wessex re-established the City of London aroudn 886 AD. It got the name Queenhithe (a hythe is a small harbour) when Henry I gave the right to levy dues on goods landed there to his wife Matilda around the time of their marriage in 1100. Queenhithe was still a major harbour for the city hundreds of years later and remained in use, with lighters bringing skins for the fur trade which was based a short distance to the north until the Second World War.

Fur shops in Great St Thomas Apostle

Around 300 of the black and white pictures I took in July 1986 are now online:
Peter Marshall: 1986 London Photographs on Flickr.
July’s pictures start here.

The images are copyright but may be shared on non-commercial personal social media. A licence is required for any corporate, commercial or editorial use.


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

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

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


Regents Canal – Bethnal Green

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

More panoramic images from the Regents Canal and nearby areas in Bethnal Green.

The Oval
From Corbridge Crescent
Corbridge Cresecent
Corbdige Crescent and Grove Passage

This is an area I photographed for the first time around 1980 and that I’ve returned to occasionally over the years. On My London Diary you can see more of these cylindrical perspective panoramic views – each around 147 degrees horizontal field of view, as well as some more normal rectilinear lens views at Regent’s Canal.

I’m hoping to use some pictures from the canal in a small show next year – more later.


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

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

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

To order prints or reproduce images