Posts Tagged ‘Tower of London’

Cinelli, Poppies and Music at Class War Poor Doors – 2014

Sunday, September 17th, 2023

Cinelli, Poppies and Music at Class War Poor Doors. I only photographed one event on Wednesday 17th September 2014, one of the long series of weekly protests by Class War over separate entrances for rich and poor occupants of the large block of flats at One Commercial St on Whitechapel High Street.


Music at Class War Poor Doors – Aldgate

Cinelli, Poppies and Music at Class War Poor Doors

One Commercial St is a 21 storey largely residential block occupying an extensive corner site on Whitechapel High St and Commercial St which includes 207 flats above lower floors of offices, shops and an entrance to Aldgate East Underground Station.

Cinelli, Poppies and Music at Class War Poor Doors

The building, opened in 2014, received strong criticism in architectural circles, and Wikipedia quotes Building Design as commenting on what was developer Redrow’s “first flagship development” with “First flagship development? Please God let it also be their last. No one who can liken this incoherent hulk of ill-fitting glass sheets to a blade of light deserves to build again in such a sensitive location” and it was nominated for the Carbuncle Cup for “the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months“.

Cinelli, Poppies and Music at Class War Poor Doors

But it became controversial for other reasons too. To meet planning regulations the block contains some flats at affordable rents. While those in the main part of the building enter through an impressive foyer with a concierge desk and seating from the High Street adjoining Aldgate East Station, tenants of the affordable section had to go down what was then a dirty and dingy alley at the side of building, Tyne Street, to a door with a card-entry reader leading to a long empty corridor. On 17th September the card reader had been broken for 3 weeks, leaving the building insecure and the building management had failed to repair it.

Cinelli, Poppies and Music at Class War Poor Doors

This difference in treatment for rich and poor was highlighted in an article in The Guardian which commented on the growing trend for London’s new housing developments to include separate entrances like this for the less wealthy, known as “poor doors” and which gave One Commercial Street among the examples.

Many people expressed their distaste at this social segregation, and in New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced he planned to take action to prevent new developments having such separate doors for low-income residents after a single such block was built there. But it was becoming common in London.

Anarchist group Class War decided it was time to take some action, and from July 2014 organised a weekly series of evening protests outside One Commercial Street, continuing (with a few breaks) until the following May. I photographed all but a couple of these, and later published a zine with some of the pictures I made. This is still available, but carriage costs make buying single copies expensive, however there is a good preview online.

Others joined with Class War on various occasions, and on Wednesday 17th September 2014 Reggae band Different Moods from Tottenham came to perform their ‘Poor Doors’ song specially written for the protests.

The protests by Class War did raise the profile of the problem, and resulted in some minor changes – including better lighting and cleaning for the side alley. They probably also embarrassed the owners enough to make them sell the building, though the new owners proved no better and the social segregation remains. And it’s perhaps why the building was later renamed and is now the Relay Building.

Music at Class War Poor Doors


Sea of Poppies – Tower of London

On my way to Aldgate I stopped at the Tower of London and made a photograph of the Sea of Poppies, work of art remembering the ‘Great War’, the ceramic poppies, one for each of the British forces killed in the war. I commented that for me “it seems decorative but shallow” and “lacks any real sense of the numbers involved and is far less graphic than the war cemeteries with their seemingly endless rows of crosses.

A little more at Sea of Poppies.


Vintage Cinelli in poor state

Earlier in the day I’d taken a picture showing the terrible state of my old bicycle, no longer ride able. It’s still in my shed, as several attempts to find a replacement chainwheel have failed. You can read more of the story about it at Vintage Cinelli in poor state. Perhaps I should try searching again.


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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.


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