Posts Tagged ‘Tower Hill’

Workers’ Memorial Day

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

April 28th is International Workers’ Memorial Day

As the TUC points out:

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) 28 April commemorates those workers.

https://www.tuc.org.uk/wmd

The day is commemorated around the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government. It is a day both to remember those we have lost and importantly to organise in their memory. The motto is ‘Remember the dead, fight for the living‘.

Each year the International Trades Union Congress sets a theme for the day and for 2021 this is:

Health and Safety is a fundamental workers’ right

There is a dedicated web site for the day set up by the ITUC and Hazards magazine which gives information about IWMD events in over 25 countries and an annual hashtag – this year #iwmd21. The ILO estimates that there 2.3 million people worldwide die each year because of their work – and there are 340 million workplace injuries.

Covid has brought the need for health and safety protection for workers to the fore – in 2020/21 there were around 8,000 recorded deaths of workers from Covid-19. This year the TUC has organised a national zoom meting and there is an online memorial wall, but there are also various local mainly virtual events.

In most recent years before 2020 I managed to attend the main London event held at the statue of a building worker on Tower Hill, and occasionally to also cover other events around the capital.

An article by Annabelle Humphreys for Talint International lists the most dangerous jobs in the UK, based on information from the Health and Safety Executive. Fishing is the most dangerous of UK industries although the actual numbers of deaths is small. Seven fishermen lost their lives in 2018, but all were cases that were preventable. Waste and recycling also has a small workforce but a high level of ill-health and deaths. It’s hardly surprising also that oil and gas riggers have a high injury rate and that deep sea diving is also a dangerous occupation , though the numbers involved again are low.

What stands out is the construction industry, were 40 UK workers died in 2020 and around 81,000 suffered work-related ill health. Almost half the deaths were from falling from a height, while others died when trapped by things collapsing or overturning or by being hit by falling objects or struck by moving objects or vehicles or by electrocution.

But there are also high levels of deaths in other industries, particularly farming – often cited as the most dangerous of all – and manufacturing. And while Healthcare always has the highest sickness rate in the UK, Covid-19 will have greatly increased the number of deaths in this sector.

Spring Equinox

Saturday, March 20th, 2021


I’m not sure how Druids will be celebrating this year’s Spring Equinox on today, March 20th, but for several years I went to photograph the annual celebration at noon at Tower Hill. But after I’d photographed the event several times I decided there seemed to be very little more I could say about it and it was no longer something I felt a need to cover.

Spring comes every year, and we celebrate it in different ways, and I think that other festivals around this time of year, including St Patrick’s Day and Easter all owe something to this Druidic festival of new life. Before Julius Caesar updated the Roman calendar a date around the Equinox was often chosen to celebrate the New Year, and this lives on in our names for the months of September and October, the seventh and eight months of a year starting in March. In London we can join with the Kurds in celebrating their New Year, Newroz, at the Equinox.

Druids claim to have a long history but we know very little about how the ancient inhabitants of our country actually celebrated, though clearly they did mark the solstices and equinoxes as sites such as Stonehenge attest. But there is no record of exactly what they did and what they believed, and traditional Druidic ceremonies are a relatively modern creation.

Wikipedia has a lengthy article on modern Druidry, which includes the following:

Many forms of modern Druidry are modern Pagan religions, although most of the earliest modern Druids identified as Christians. Originating in Britain during the 18th century, Druidry was originally a cultural movement, and only gained religious or spiritual connotations later in the 19th century.

Druidry (modern)

The oldest remaining of these modern druidic groups is the Ancient Order of Druids founded in 1781. The public ceremonies at Tower Hill and for the Autum equinox at Primrose Hill are by The Druid Order, founded in1909 by George Watson MacGregor Reid but claiming lineage from earlier Druids. They have apparently also been known as The Ancient Druid Order, An Druidh Uileach Braithreachas, and The British Circle of the Universal Bond. Their public rituals have now been carried on for over a century.

On My London Diary you can see the pictures I took in the various years and in each report I’ve posted the images in chronological order and I try to give my interpretation of the various aspects of the ceremony. But mine is an outsider’s view and you can also find out more from their web site.

The Druids process away to a nearby hall at the end of the ceremony. Most years they have used the church next door, but one year this was not available and they had to go a short distance through the city, crossing the road through an underpass.

You can see my pictures and text from the Spring Equinox ceremonies in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2014 on My London Diary – and if you look on some of the October pages – or use the search on the site – there are also pictures from the Autumn Equinox at Primrose Hill.






Around the City – 1987

Friday, October 30th, 2020
Bank of Kuwait, Bank of England, reflection, Cornhill, City, 1987 87-8k-56a-positive_2400

I can’t now remember why I went to Bank and the heart of the City of London – the world’s greatest money laundering operation. But I do remember thinking how appropriate it was to make this picture of the Bank of England reflected and framed by the Bank of Kuwait. I’ve never found the Bank of England, secretive behind its tall wall, easy to photograph.

Roman Wall, Cooper's Row, CIty, 1987 87-8l-01-positive_2400

I’ve always found this section of wall on Cooper’s Row one of the more interesting of the 21 sites on the Museum of London’s Roman Wall Walk set up in 1984. You can see one of their orientation boards in the picture, though I think ten of the others have been swallowed up in the rebuilding of parts of London or by vandalism.

87-8l-31-positive_2400

Sceptre Court on Tower Hill lies just outside the city, and was clearly under construction when I took this picture. The 90,000 sq ft building is rather less interesting now and is currently completely occupied by The London School of Business and Finance. The building was recently sold to “a Middle Eastern investor” and is among many London buildings – including many government offices – owned by overseas investors often in offshore tax havens. Sceptre Court is one of the teaching sites of Arden University, a private, for-profit teaching university with head offices in Coventry.

Aldgate Pump, Fenchurch Street, Leadenhall Street, City, 1987 87-8k-26-positive_2400

Aldgate Pump is the symbolic starting point of London’s East End. A well on this site was first recorded around 1200. The Grade II listing of this structure describes it as “Apparently C18, altered.” The spout is a wolf’s head, and legend states that the last wolf in the City was shot near here, probably in around 1500. The wolf is one of the later additions, probably from around 1900. Until 1876 the water came from a local underground stream and was then the source of a major cholera outbreak.

Although earlier the water had been praised for being “bright, sparkling, and cool, and of an agreeable taste”, people began to complain of a foul tast and several hundred died. The stream was found to be running through several underground cemeteries including some of the plague pits. The pump was then moved a short distance to its current position to allow widening and connected to a healthier water supply from the New River Company. The pump is being restored and a replica lantern being made to replace that lost around 115 years ago.

Devotees of Cockney rhyming slang allege that getting an ‘Aldgate’, short for Aldgate Pump is used to mean ‘hump’ or upset and annoyed. ‘A draft on Aldgate Pump’ has also been used a punning reference for a worthless or fraudulent financial transaction.

Tower Gateway, DLR, Minories, City, 1987 87-8l-44-positive_2400

Tower Gateway DLR station opened in 1987 as the western terminus of the Docklands Light Railway. Although derided by many as a ‘Toytown railway’ it has proved itself a useful addition to transport in east London, serving some parts which were previously very poorly provided.

Tower Gateway, DLR, Minories, City, 1987 87-8l-56-positive_2400
Crescent, City, 1987 87-8l-54-positive_2400

Crescent was a Georgian development close to the Tower of London, part of a plan by architect George Dance the Younger (1741-1825) which also included America Square to the north and a smaller ‘Circus’ of houses to the south linked by Vine St. It ran in a line parallel to Minories a short distance the west. One of the first planned residential developments in London it was completed in 1767-74. The developer was Sir George Hammet and the short street connecting Crescent to Minories is Hammet St.

The Circus was almost completely destroyed in the ‘Second Great Fire of London’ caused by German fire-bombs on 29-30th December 1940 when around 100,000 incendiary bombs caused incredible damage. Only one house was left standing of the ten built in a tight circle. In poor condition, this was evntually demolished in 1975 for a road widening scheme. The granite roadway of the circus is still present as part of a small public garden at the edge of the road.

Parts of America Square to the north were lost when the railway into Fenchurch St station was built in 1841, and the rest devastated by wartime bombing. Crescent fared just a little better, with the Metropolitan railway requiring demolition of five of the 11 houses, and bombing destroing another four, leaving only two of the originals standing. In the early 1980s a painstaking reconstruction to the original plans added four replicas to them. Only the left-most part of my picture is one of the originals, the rest are the replicas. There have been some small changes since I took my picture. You can read more about the area on the Commuter Consultant’s admirable Lost London blog from which much of the above information comes.

Photographs from my 1987 London Photos album. Clicking on any of the above pictures will take you directly to the album where a larger view is available.


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.