Posts Tagged ‘Victoria’

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism – my Saturday 27th July 2013 began with a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London, continued with a vigil for Bradley Manning who exposed US war crimes and ended with a march and rally against and Injustice.


Rev Billy at HSBC – Victoria

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism
Golden Toads to the rescue with ice

I met the Rev Billy and his choir on the Stop Shopping Church Tour England in a green open space on Victoria Street, opposite New Scotland Yard (which has since moved to the Embankment.) There they practised their performance as species – monkeys, jaguars and eagles – among those threatened by climate change.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Some had heads of Golden Toads, a Costa Rican species already made extinct by climate change. These were hidden away as the group walked towards the HSBC bank at Victoria, and we all walked in trying our best to look like normal customers and going up to the long line of ‘Express Banking’ cash machines.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Then the group erupted into dance action, with the Rev Billy using a megaphone to tell bank staff and customers what is happening and why we are in HSBC. Fossil Fuels are killing life on this planet and London banks and the London Stock Exchange play a key role in this – a quarter of all fossil fuel shares are traded on the LSE and in 2010-12 the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with the HSBC in the lead. He promised that they would leave the bank after the short performance.

Then the Golden Toads arrived to save the species, bringing with them some large eggs of ice to help cool the planet down, and then as promised people left the bank to continue to the end of the performance on the wide pavement outside. Police arrived and went into the bank as the players were leaving to celebrate their action in a nearby cafe and bar.

More at Rev Billy at HSBC


Free Bradley Manning Vigil – St Martin’s, Trafalgar Square

Saturday 27th July 2013 was an international day of action by the Bradley Manning Support Network, and in London they held a vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Bradley Manning’s trial had started on 3rd June in Fort Meade, US, and protests have continued both inside and outside the court, with the ‘gay whistleblower’ being celebrated in countries across the world and awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize. Many see Bradley – later Chelsea Manning as a hero who should be honoured rather than imprisoned. Her trial ended on 30th July with a sentence of 35 years, but in 2017 this was commuted by President Obama to seven years, dating from her arrest in 2010.

Free Bradley Manning Vigil


Against Global Racism and Injustice – US Embassy to Whitehall

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK held a rally outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square before marching to Whitehall in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others to highlight the reality of racism and seek justice, both in the UK and US.

The protest was supported by many anti-racist organisations including Operation Black Vote, the National Black Students Campaign, Global Afrikan Congress, PCS, RMT Black Members, Counterfire, UAF, Love Music Hate Racism, Lambeth TUC and Lambeth People’s Assembly and a number of well-known faces from the British left were among the marchers, some were scheduled to speak at the Downing Street rally.

The US Embassy was chosen as the starting point because of the killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin and the global outcry against the acquittal of his murderer under the Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

But although this was a protest against global racism and injustice, and it had a particular focus on this country, and as Lee Jasper stated “We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney.” And others also made clear in speeches they were appalled by UK cases, including We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney and many, many other cases.

I followed the march as it went through Mayfair, but then had to leave rather than attend the final rally.

More at Against Global Racism and Injustice.


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XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022

Carmen leads the XR Carbon Procession at Hyde Park Corner

Extinction Rebellion had obviously put in a lot of thought and effort into their Carmen’s Carbon Procession on July 2nd, 2019, and there were quite a few photographers and videographers who came to photograph it. Doubtless all of us filed our pictures with the agencies or publications, but I don’t know how many got published. Probably the only pictures used came from later in the day when they ended the event with a protest in Trafalgar Square close to where a large audience had gathered to watch the opera.

Protests in the UK seldom get reported, unless they result in considerable disruption, violence or involve celebrities behaving badly. So far as most editors are concerned they are not ‘news’. Of course much of the press and media is owned by a small group of billionaires whose interests those editors have to bear in mind even where there is not explicit direction. But more generally they operate under a general restraint of upholding the status quo and from their personal position as part of the well paid middle class – something which has been very apparent in the coverage of the recent RMT strikes.

But overall Extinction Rebellion have done much to bring the climate crisis into a wider public consciousness, and I applaude them for this even if I agree with some of their left and anarchist critics. And perhaps an opera-based protest exemplifies the middle-class nature of the organisation. But mobilising such a large middle-class movement is certainly an acheivement, and many of their harshest critics are those who have failed to mobilise more than a tiny fraction of the working class. Though nothing at the moment suggests that XR’s efforts will result in any of the decisive action needed to be anything but too little too late.

Relatively few people actually see protests on the streets, and most who do are too intent on getting on with their life, shopping or hurrying to meetings or to catch trains to take much notice. Much of XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession in any case took part on fairly empty back streets and it was more an event staged for the media than a protest.

The protest took place on the day that BP, a company which began life in 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Ltd, a part of our imperial exploitation of Iran’s vast oil reserves was greenwashing its polluting and climate-damaging activities through sponsorship of a Royal Opera House performance of Carmen to be relayed to 13 BP giant screens in major cities across the UK.

An opera singer performs a little from Carmen

It toured the offices of oil companies belonging to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) urging them to abandon the pretence they can combat global warming without a huge cut in oil production and delivering copies of the Extinction Rebellion Handbook ‘This is Not A Drill’.

As well as Carmen in costume, there was a fine opera singer and a group of musicians, XR drummers to draw attention to the event and a team who marked out the company offices as crime scenes.

The procession found a floral arch in Grosvenor Square

The event met on Ebury Bridge before marking to perform in front of the nearby offices of Italian petroleum company ENI, on an otherwise rather empty street in Pimlico. They then moved on for another performance on a busy lunchtime street corner in Eccleston Square and then the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) close to Victoria Station. By then they needed a rest in Hyde Park before going through Mayfair to the offices of Saudi Aramco at 10 Portman Square.

And an illegally parked symbol of the kind of extreme wasteful consumption that has got the planet in such a mess

It had taken them around three and a half hours to get there, and I decided I’d taken enough pictures and was getting tired. But probably the parts of the event more likely to be featured as news in the UK were to come. Their next planned performance was outside BP in St James’s Square, from where they were going on to protest close to the giant screen in Trafalgar Square, hoping to make clear to the audience there that the Royal Opera House should end their greenwashing sponsorship by BP.

Security at Saudi Aramco take a copy of the XR Handbook ‘This is not a Drill’

More at XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession


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Refugee Children, Dead Cyclists & A Squat

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Refugee Children, Dead Cyclists & A Squat – 11th February 2017

Dubs Now – Shame on May

Five years ago, on Saturday 11th February 2017, a crowd of supporters of Citizens UK and Safe Passage joined Lord Alf Dubs at Downing St to take a petition to Theresa May urging her to reverse the decision to stop offering legal sanctuary to unaccompanied refugee children.

The Tory government had been forced into an unusual humanitarian response when Parliment passed the Dubs amendment, and they were then given a list of over 800 eligible children – although there were known to be more whose details were not recorded. And because of Lord Dubs, around 300 have been allowed into the UK. But although twice that number remain in limbo, many in the Calais camps, Prime Minister Theresa May decided to end the scheme.

Lord Dubs speaks

Among those who spoke at the protest before an emergency petition with over 40,000 signatures was taken to Downing St were speakers from four London Labour councils who all said they had told the government they would take more children but their offers had not been taken up.

Dubs Now – Shame on May


Invest in Cycling – Stop Killing Cyclists

Cyclists and supporters met in Trafalgar Square to march to the Treasury on the edge of Parliament Square to call for a significant increase in spending on infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians on our streets.

That week five people were killed on London streets as a result of careless or dangerous driving – accidents are rare, but such deaths are made much more likely by a road system engineered around the needs of car and other vehicle drivers and cutting their journey times through the city. Facilities for cyclists and pedestrians have long been treated as secondary and chronically underfunded.

But these 5 killed, who were remembered in the protest and die-in are a small fraction of the numbers who die prematurely each week in London as a result of high and often illegal levels of air pollution – estimated at around 180 per week, as well as the much higher number of those whose lives are seriously affected by health problems – both figures including many who drive. Powerful lobbies for motorists and vehicle manufacturers have led to the domination of our cities by cars and lorries.

There are huge health benefits from cleaning the air by cutting down traffic and congestion, and also by encouraging healthy activities including walking and cycling. And the main factor discouraging people from taking to bikes for journeys to school, work and shopping etc is the danger from cars and lorries. Better public transport also helps, particularly in cutting pollution levels, and anything that cuts the use of petrol and diesel vehicles will reduce the major contribution this makes to global warming.

Invest in Cycling – Stop Killing Cyclists


ANAL squat in Belgravia

My final event that day was a visit to 4 Grosvenor Gardens, a rather grand house short distance from Buckingham Palace (and more relevant to me, from Victoria Station.) Squatting collective the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians (ANAL) had taken over this house on February 1st after having been evicted from the Belgrave Square house owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko which they occupied for a week.

I’d meant to go there a week earlier, but a domestic emergency had called me away earlier in the day from a protest at the US Embassy before a programme of workshops and seminars in the seven-storey squat had begun. There was nothing special happening on the afternoon I visited (though some things were happening in the evening) but I was welcomed by the occupiers, several of whom recognised me, and they were happy for me to wander around the building and take photographs.

Apart from being careful to respect the privacy of some of the occupiers who were sleeping or resting in a couple of the rooms I was able to go everywhere from the basement to the top floor, but the door leading onto the roof was locked, probably to stop any possible access from there by bailiffs. Like many other houses and hotels in the area it has a view into the grounds of Buckingham Palace, but I had to make do with the view from a rather dusty window, or the less interesting view from lower down where windows could be opened.

Few squats have blue plaques – this one for soldier and archaeologist Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, but more recently it has been in use for offices, business meetings and conferences. The squatters have tried hard to cause no serious damage and had last week turned out some people who had come to make a mess of the place.

There are around 1.5 million empty buildings in the UK, many like this deliberately kept empty as investments, their value increasing year on year. The number is enough to enough to house the homeless many times over. ANAL say that properties like this should be used for short-term accommodation while they remain empty and they have opened it as a temporary homeless shelter for rough-sleepers.

It remained in use for almost month, with the squat finally evicted at 8am on 27th February. As I ended my post, “There clearly does need to be some way to bring empty properties back into use, and councils should have much greater powers than at present to do so. Until that happens, squatting seems to be the only possible solution.”

ANAL squat in Belgravia


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More Around Belgravia 1988

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

Flats, Ebury St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-43-positive_2400
Flats, Ebury St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-43

The Cundy Street flats, architect T P Bennett, were built as low cost housing by the Grosvenor Estate in 1950-52. As Pevsner points out, the blocks have curved balconies typical of the 1930s but with upright columns typical of the 1950s. I think this block is probably Stack House.

Flats, Cundy St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-55-positive_2400
Flats, Cundy St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-55

Cundy St gets its name from a family who were for several generations surveryor, builders and architects to the Grosvenor estate, probably from Thomas Cundy (see below). Planning permission has recently been granted for the demolition of Kylestrome House, Lochmore House, Laxford House, Stack House, Walden House and their replacement by a new estate which will include shops and a new playground. It will include affordable homes and care homes and assisted living for the over-65s but looks rather duller. The plans have upset some of the wealthier residents in surrounding areas because of a loss of light.

Coleshill Flats, Peabody Trust, Pimlico Rd,Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-45-positive_2400
Coleshill Flats, Peabody Trust, Pimlico Rd,Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-45

This Peabody estate close to Sloane Square is made up of two separate blocks, Lumley and Coleshill flats, which were constructed in the 1870s.

National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Road, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-53-positive_2400
National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Road, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-53

Built in 1938 as the Empire Air Terminal in a streamlined “moderne” style by architect Albert Lakeman with a sculpture of winged figures above a globe, Wings Over the World by Eric Broadbent. Passengers for Imperial Airways flights could check in here and be taken by special Pullman Trains from a platform on the adjacent Victoria Station to Southampton Water for flying boat services, while those for European destinations were ferried by coach to Croydon Airport. Unfortunately the terminal opened only three months before the war stopped private flights. Imperial Airways became a part of British Overseas Aiways Corportation (BOAC).

National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3h-55-positive_2400
National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3h-55

After the war, the building was reasonably placed for coaches along the A4 to Heathrow and was renamed the BOAC Terminal and later the British Airways Terminal. It closed in 1980, but had earlier been made largely redundant by the opening of the West London Air Terminal in a temporary building on the Cromwell Road in 1957, replace by a purpose built building in 1963. Check-ins there ended in 1974 and in 1980 both this and the British Airways Terminal were sold. This was listed in 1981 and became the home of the National Audit Office in 1983, though after extensive restoration in 2009, large parts are now rented out. The West London Air Terminal was demolished and the site became a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Eaton Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-65-positive_2400
Eaton Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-65

66 Eaton Square is described in its Grade II listing test as a part of a grand terrace of houses from the mid 19th century, though I’ve chosen to turn away from most of its grander features and look away down the street and across Eaton Gate.

In 1821, Thomas Cundy became surveyor of the Grosvenor Estate and adapted earlier plans for the area before selling building leases from 1825, mainly to Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855). The ground was rather marshy, and Cubitt brought earth he was then digging out at St Katherine’s Dock to raise it. Work began on Eaton Square, named after the Duke of Westminster’s Cheshire Eaton Hall, in 1827, with the planting of the gardens, but it took longer to complete the houses around the square, though these, probably by Cubitt, were apparently completed by 1843. But the whole square was only finished by another builder in the 1850s.

Eaton Square is not a square, but a rather elongated rectangle around 500 metres long. Even including the mews behind the grand houses it is less than 200 m wide.

Cadogan Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-22-positive_2400
Cadogan Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-22

This house at 6 Cadogan Gate on the corner of Pavilion Rd stands out among the taller red-brick mansions and is more a continuation of the mews buildings in Pavilion Rd, but with a rather less usual architecture, with those circular ground floor windows, rather ecclesiastical tall oval-arched sash window on the first floor and its mansard roof. It probably dates from around 1879.

This is an address mentioned in the Panama Papers, the giant 2016 leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposing a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies, though of course the activities with which this address is connected could be entirely legal.

Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-23-positive_2400
Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-23

I think this is 59 Cadogan Square, where a large second floor flat was recently on offer for £7m. Cadogan Square is one of the most expensive residential streets in the United Kingdom, with all but around three houses converted into flats, and these houses are estimated to be worth £25m.

The large tall houses were built between 1877 and 1888 for the Cadogan Estate in Flemish inspired red brick which I find overpowering, but in the centre of the square there is a residents’ only garden where they can sit and, at least in summer the red-brick hell is largely hidden by trees.

More from my Flickr Album 1988 London Photos in later posts.


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Victoria & Kensington

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020
Victoria Palace, theatre, Victoria St, Victoria, Westminster, 1987 87-9g-25-positive_2400

The car in the foreground seemed appropriate for ‘High Society’ at the Victoria Palace, but I would have preferred it without the foreground post. But this wasn’t a planned photoshoot, just a car that happened to stop at the traffic lights while I was looking at the threatre, and it moved off before I could change my position.

Morpeth Terrace, Victoria, Westminster, 1987 87-9g-31-positive_2400

Morpeth Terrace runs along the west side of Westminster Cathedral, and its mansion flats have over the years housed some notable residents. A few doors down the street a black plaque records that Winston and Clementine Churchill lived here from 1930-39.

They had apparently bought the flat on the fifth and sixth floor from Lloyd George, who reportedly had housed his mistress there. It was in the study of the flat that Churchill held a meeting with other MPs and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain urging him to send Hitler an ultimatum the day before war was declared in 1919.

Later the same flat is said to have been home to Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva. But if so, her stay there was probably brief as she defected while on a trip to India, going to the US embassy in New Delhi and became a US citizen, though later moved for a short while to Cambridge before returning to Russia and then back to the USA.

I photographed this end of building rather than the part of the block with the Churchill plaque as it seemed more interesting. You can also see it was in rather poor external condition at the time – it has since been refurbished.

Baxendale & Sadler, Hatherley St, Victoria, Westminster, 1987 87-9g-52-positive_2400

It looked as if Baxendale & Sadler, Electrical Engineers and Contractors might still have been in business, though their shop front was rather the worse for wear. I think it had once said they were established in 1956.

The shop, a few yards from Vauxhall Bridge Road, is now residential.

Empire Hospital, for Paying Patients, Vane St, Westminster, 1987 87-9g-54-positive_2400

The Empire Hospital for Paying Patients in Vane St, Westminster obviously rather predated the National Health Service, and according to the Lost Hospitals of London web site was “opened in December 1913, intended to receive paying patients, primarily visitors from overseas” and was a nursing home with no doctors or surgical staff. Taken over as a military hospital it became the “Empire Hospital for Officers (for Injuries to the Nervous System)” and closed in 1919.

Later it became the Grange Rochester Hotel and is now the the Rochester Hotel by Blue Orchid, and looks rather more welcoming, with the text above the door covered by a hotel sign.

Palace Garden Terrace, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-56-positive_2400

Wyndham Lewis (1882-57) disliked the name ‘Percy’ and dropped it, but others continued to use it and it appears on the GLC plaque in Palace Garden Terrace, Kensington which does not record when he lived here.

Born on a yacht, Lewis went to Rugby School and the Slade before studying in Paris before settling in London. A founder member of the ‘Camden Town Group’ he became one of Britains leading painters, best known for what Ezra Pound named as ‘vorticism’. After serving as an officer in the Great War he was made a war artist. In the late 1920s he turned mainly to writing and had produced over 40 books before his death.

Between the houses you can see Courtlands, described as a former coach house, though it looks rather more grand than that. The terrace seemed overpowering with long and largely unbroken stretches of largely white stucco, and these brick houses with a vista of a white villa attracted me.

Mall Chambers, Kensington Mall,  Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-55-positive_2400

The Grade II listing for Mall Chambers on Kensington Mall is unusually concise, at least at its start: “Improved industrial dwellings. 1865-8. J Murray. Yellow brick, stone dressings. Five storeys. Corner site, with corner entrance.” Towards the end it quotes Building News from 1868 “”intended for a class somewhat above ordinary mechanics and labourers”.

That is of course even more true now. A three bed flat here sold for £741,000 in 2014.

Kensington Church St, Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 87-10d-52-positive_2400

Joseph Yates Timber Merchants were suprisingly still in business here until fairly recently and its timber yard now houses a luxurious four bedroom town house. Yates’ shop on the left of its carriage entrance is now The Kensington Cigar Shop.

The planning permission granted in 2004 required the retention of the lettering on the front of the building.

You can click on any of the images to see the larger version on Flickr and to browse more of the album 1987 London Photos.