Posts Tagged ‘Walk’

Manchester Revisited

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Manchester Revisited – May 5th & 7th 2017

Manchester Revisited
Two canals (Bridgewater and Rochdale) and four railways exemplify Manchester’s contribution to the industrial revolution

Pictures here are from walks in Manchester on Friday 5th May 2017 and the following Sunday while passing through the city. It was a short visit to a city I had hardly returned to for around 45 years.

Manchester Revisited
A magic bus crosses the canal

Although I grew up on the western edge of London, I spent most of the years between when I was eighteen and twenty-five in Manchester, at first studying for a degree at Manchester University and later after a short break returning to work for my doctorate at the Institute of Science and Technology.

My school had recommended Manchester for my university course, and I made my first visit there as a day trip for interviews – a very long day as the journey each way took over five hours. I didn’t see a great deal of the city that day, but I was made two unconditional offers of places and my headmaster when told advised me to stop preparing for Oxbridge entrance exams and accept Manchester, which I did. It was a decision that changed my life in various ways.


My course was disappointing – long hours in the lab and largely tedious lectures by staff with no training and little idea of how to teach, keen to get back to their researches. Sitting at a bench with a small plaque informing me that ‘Rutherford first split the atom here’ in 1917 was little compensation for a physics lecturer who seemed unable to explain even the simplest of concepts, though fortunately I’d studied enough of the subject at school to get a decent grade – and the same was true of my other subsidiary, Maths where I passed a rather curious end-of-year exam with 108%.

Knott Mill

But my real study was in the University Union and in the city itself, though I did enough work in my final year to get a decent grade – and to turn down offers of employment from big pharma who I found far too interested in profit rather than human good and also from the government’s explosives research lab from where I got a very long handwritten letter from one of the scientists working there about the exciting research they were doing – but I decided I really didn’t want to spend my life making better bombs.

The old canal dock area became a conservation area in 1980 and an Urban Heritage Park in 1982

I did get turned down for one job I would really have liked, working in the labs at Kodak in Harrow. I was really not sufficiently middle-class for them – and not interested enough in photography – I’d had an interest but never really been able to afford to pursue it, and dropping my camera in a lake in 1966 hadn’t helped – it never really worked properly again. I ended up getting a job in a lab ten minutes walk from my old home, but it disappointed in almost every way but the salary – at least 50% more than my father had ever earned. It didn’t last, and six months later I was back in Manchester.

River Irwell

Two years later I got married, not in Manchester but in Hull. We were both students still and had little or no money and spent our honeymoon in Manchester, with a day out on the Derbyshire hills and a day coach trip to the Lake District. We lived for the next two years on the two first-floor rooms of a small terraced house in Rusholme, close to Manchester CIty’s Maine Road ground.

New Quay St Bridge – Salford coat of arms

We moved away for me to do a course in Leicester. I’d taught for a couple of terms before just to the north of Manchester, and tried at the end of the year to get another teaching job in Manchester, but failed, ending up moving to Bracknell, where I was offered housing in a new flat on one of the new estates.

After we moved away from Manchester I think I went back once for a conference there and a weekend in Didsbury in the 1990s but not really again until 2017. We were on our way to a weekend conference a few miles to the north, and took an early train to have a few hours to look around the city. Our train came into Piccadilly, and we took a walk along the Rochdale canal and the Bridgewater canal before walking back close to the River Irwell to the city centre to catch our bus.

Doves of Peace sculpture by Michael Lyons, Manchester Civil Justice Centre

Back in 1970, the canals were still largely working areas, or mainly disused but still largely closed to the public; you could walk along some towpaths, but they were rather lonely and forbidding places. Now things are very different.

Mechanics Institute – where the TUC, CIS and UMIST began

We had time for a shorter walk on our way home, but mainly spent that in the People’s History Museum. The following year, 2018 we made a similar journey, but with less time for a walk, and then came back to stay for several days at the start of August as a part of a couple of weeks in various places celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary – including a celebration with family and friends in Hull.

More pictures from Manchester in May 2017.

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Hats, Bags, Passports, Mansions, Biocrin & Hollywood

Saturday, April 30th, 2022

Hats, Bags, Passports, Mansions, Biocrin & Hollywood: This post continues my 1988 walk South Stokey & Hornsey Detached posted a few days ago.

Marmel & Grossmith, Hat Co Ltd, Boleyn Road, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-10a-24
Marmel & Grossmith, Hat Co Ltd, 1 & 2 Boleyn Road, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-10a-24

Back Road Kingsland dated from 1839 and was renamed Boleyn Rd in 1877, one of a number of local streets given names associated with Henry VIII who was alleged to have used a hunting lodge on nearby Newington Green. Until 1877 the road like many others in London was divided into a number of blocks or terraces each given its own name by the developers and many streets were renamed around then to end this confusion.

I’m not sure when Marmel & Grossmith set up their hat factory here, but in 1940 they had a hat factory at 159 Commercial St, Whitechapel. I don’t know when hat production ended in Boleyn Road, though the fly-posting suggests the works was no longer in use. The 33 flat Dalston Hat apartments into which the factory was transformed bear little resemblance to it but have an entrance marked by a giant top hat.

Cambay Ltd, Alpha House, Tyssen St, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-10a-25
Cambay Ltd, Alpha House, Tyssen St, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-10a-25

Alpha House was on Tyssen St which runs north from Dalston Lane, just to the south of where it bends 90 degrees to the east until 2014, although around 2010 the signs for Cambay Bags Luggage & Travel Goods were replaced by those for Cyclone Design Lab. The new flats have solicitors offices on the ground floor.

I was attracted by the confusion of notices and also by the pictures of a large bag, and on the van, a man perhaps cleaning a car.

Dalston Lane, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-10a-12-Edit_2400
Dalston Lane, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-10a-12

Back on Dalston Lane there was a photographer’s shop window, something I always stop and have a look in. . The most interesting part to me was a framed selection of 16 passport pictures (with a label stating PASSPORTS in case we were not sure), which I thought gave a good representation of the local community.

Navarino Mansions, Dalston Lane, Hackney, 1988 88-10a-15-Edit_2400
Navarino Mansions, Dalston Lane, Hackney, 1988 88-10a-15

Walking towards Hackney I went past Navarino Mansions built in 1885 by the Four Percent Industrial Dwellings Society as 300 flats for Jewish workers from the East End. The architect, Nathan S.Joseph, set new standards for social housing in creating a building that was in finest style of the era as well as providing for the time high standards of provision.

Still owned in 1986-92 by the same organisation, then called simply the Industrial Dwellings Society [IDS] they were treated to a major refurbishment in 1986 to bring them up to modern standards, including the provision of lifts and new gardens in the courtyards and providing more spacious family accommodation.

House, St Mark's, Church, Colvestone Crescent, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-61-Edit_2400
House, St Mark’s, Church, Colvestone Crescent, Dalston, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-61

I think I continued my walk back towards Dalston, probably going along Ridley Road – I liked going to the market there, though seldom took photographs – and turning up St Mark’s Rise with the intention of photographing St Mark’s Church which is a prominent local landmark – sometimes called the ‘Cathedral of the East End’, it is one of the largest parish churches in London and used once to have over 2,000 attending its Sunday services.

The church is Grade II* listed, with a nave by Chester Cheston Junior built in 1864-6 and its distinctive tower by Edward Lushington Blackburne added in 1877-80. The area around was developed in the 1860s as housing for the wealthier middle class who worked in the City.

Vine's Biocrin Ltd, Clarence Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-52-Edit_2400

Vine’s Biocrin Ltd, 111, Clarence Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-52

You can still buy a range of Vine’s Biocrin hand sanitiser, oils and creams although I think the original company, incorporated in 1937 for the “Manufacture of soap and detergents – Manufacture and wholesale of toilet preparations ” was dissolved around 2000.

The products, apparently still largely made for hairdressers, are now made elsewhere as this small factory has been replaced by flats, although the building part shown at the left is still there, now Capital Die-Stamping and The Hill Church at “Holy Anointing Christian Centre Where All Yoke Are Broken By The Anointing.” I don’t know if Vine’s make an anointing oil.

Kenninghall Rd, Hackney Downs, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-54-Edit_2400
Kenninghall Rd, Hackney Downs, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-54

I think this is De Vere Court at 63 Kenninghall Road, but if so the details on the impressive porch have been lost presumably in the conversion to 14 flats. Their are other impressive porches on the street but the brickwork around the first floor windows is unusual.

Hollywood Studios, Upper Clapton Rd, Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-56-Edit_2400
Hollywood Studios, Upper Clapton Rd, Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-56

The Lea Bridge Tramway Depot at 38-40 Upper Clapton Road was built in the Victorian era for horse-drawn trams, opening in 1873, and remains, its future under much doubt, as one of the few remaining examples of a Victorian horse-drawn tram depot in London.

The existence of the trams, taking people to work in the City and the West End until 1907 drove the development of a thriving suburb in Clapton. Until recently many of the buildings were in use by a range of businesses who were forced to quit after planning permission was given for this locally listed building to be demolished and the site redeveloped in 2011. Statutory listing was refused in 2005, probably because of English Heritage’s snobbish lack of interest in our industrial past. Hollywood Studios was a rehearsal room and recording studio used by groups including Iron Maiden occupied a part of the buildings for a few years from 1983.

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

More South Hackney 1988

Sunday, April 24th, 2022

More South Hackney 1988

Bucknell House, Victoria Park Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-13-Edit_2400
Bucknell House, Victoria Park Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-13

After eating my lunch in Victoria Park where I finished my previous post on this walk I went back to Victoria Park Rd and photographed No 78, Bucknell House, which seemed to be the site of a great deal of building activity, though I suspect not by Barry Bucknell who had been the great DIY expert on TV in the 50s and 60s with “Do it Yourself” and then “Bucknell’s House”.

Back then TV was broadcast live, and the programmes often ended in disaster, much to the viewers amusement. The street was built after Victoria Park, bought by the Crown, opened in 1845, stimulating development in the area which had before been slow.

Warneford St, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-64-Edit_2400
Warneford St, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-64

Much of the land in the area belonged to St. Thomas’s hospital and the trustees of the Sir John Cass Foundation (hence the name Cassland Rd.) I think these houses in Warneforde Street probably date from around the 1880s.

Victoria Park Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-52-Edit_2400
Victoria Park Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-52

These are some of a row of six very similar detached houses on the north side of Victoria Park Road just to the west of Clermont Road, numbers 69-81, I think these are probably 73 to 69. No house numbers are visible in the picture as is often the case, with properties either not having a number or these being too small to be visible. There were seldom bins visible back in 1988 with large house numbers on them, though now we all have wheelie-bins these are often the easiest way to find house numbers.

The Triangle, Mare St, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-53-Edit_2400
The Triangle, Mare St, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-53

I’d walked past The Triangle where Mare St and Westgate Street meet earlier and had taken one picture (not online), but coming back later I made three more, another similar to this one and a third from a few yards further back including a large three-legged notice board telling me the is as the London borough of Hackney and a couple of modern telephone booths. But my main interest was in the building housing M.R.S.[Hackney]Ltd., T.V.s & Appliance Dealers and above them Baker Finance offering Personal Loans.

Just a few yards away I found more large graffiti, urging ‘Don’t mug me. MUG A YUPPIE!!!MUG A YUPPIE!!!’ but so far I’ve not scanned that frame.

Fashions, Mare St, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-43-Edit_2400
Fashions, Mare St, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-43

I walked further up Mare St, past the Cordwainer’s College, now part of the London College of Fashion but originally built in 1877 as Lady Hollis’s School for Girls, which moved to Hampton as Lady Eleanor Hollis in 1936 and it later turned down my sister for having working class parents (picture not online.) I then photographed this entrance, I think on the west side of Mare St, to Le Duman – Fashions of London – Ladies Fashions Factory Shop. It claimed to be ‘Now Open To The Public’ but that was only Monday-Friday, and it was Sunday.

Darnley Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-46-Edit_2400
Darnley Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-46

Further on up Mare St I photographed another block with an interesting corner on Darnley Rd and then this rather narrow alley leading to some industrial premises which I think was between two more interesting buildings on Darnley Road I failed to photograph!

Darnley Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-31-Edit_2400
Darnley Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-31

In Darnley Road I came across these houses which although they seemed to be in poor condition were still lived in. I wondered at their wide double doors. They are still there, though I think most have now been extensively refurbished into expensive flats. Darnley Road dates from 1853 and was one of the areas in which the well-to-do late Victorians lived.

Darnley House, Darnley Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-33-Edit_2400
Darnley House, Darnley Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9d-33

And also in Darnley Rd, No 57, the last house before the corner with Brenthouse Road was certainly very much in the middle of its complete refurbishment, and I was unsure if it was to be demolished. It looks very smart now, except that its gateposts do not quite match. That on the left has a low pyramidal cap with the word DARNLEY on its front edge, while at the right of the entrance is much flatter and wordless – and the brickwork below is not quite the same. The wall and posts are separately Grade II listed to house, and the listing of the posts mentions the inscribed word HOUSE – which isn’t there. My picture only shows a side of the left post. In 1927 this was the home of Dinshaw Phiroze, physician & surgeon, about whom I can tell you nothing more.

More pictures from this walk in South Hackney to follow in a later post, Paragon, Fashion, Morning Lane & Nautilus 1988.

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South Hackney Walk 1988

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

South Hackney Walk 1988
It was not until Sunday 18th September 1988 that I had the time for another walk with my cameras around London, taking a train and tubes to Bethnal Green Station and walking north up Cambridge Heath Road to Mare St in Hackney.

Victoria Buildings, Mare St, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-53-Edit_2400
Victoria Buildings, Mare St, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-53

I stopped to take another photograph of the fine late Victorian commercial building with its row of shops at ground level and a bricked up doorway, particularly attracted by the multiple identities of No 7 as Aarons Van & Car Rental with Doris Car Service partly covering yet another. In the top left corner of the shop window it tells us ‘UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT’ while a rather drunken notice lower down states ‘YOU DRINK WE DRIVE’. Above Simply Seconds at No 9 were peeling posters and the upper floors appeared largely unoccupied.

Rich Scum out of Hackney!!, Westgate St, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-56-Edit_2400
Rich Scum out of Hackney!!, Westgate St, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-56

A little further up Mare St I wandered briefly down Westgate St, to record the graffiti on its railway bridge, which above the advert for LEATHER MERCHANTS gave the clear message ‘RICH SCUM OUT OF HACKNEY!!’. The bridge has been regularly repainted over the years, but I think later graffiti has been non-political.

King Edwards Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-43-Edit_2400
King Edwards Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-43

On King Edwards Road off to the west of Mare Street I came across a fine piece of architectural decoration with peeling paint and shrubs growing from it at No 6. The house next door, No 8 had a similar feature in better condition and a little more ornate which I also photographed but is not on-line.

Synagogue, Ainsworth Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-31-Edit_2400
Synagogue, Ainsworth Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-31

The South Hackney Federation Synagogue or Yavneh Synagogue at 25 Ainsworth Rd was founded in 1904 and was an Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogue incorporated into Clapton Federation Synagogue in the 1990s. It was demolished and replaced by a block of flats.

Church Crescent, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-21-Edit_2400
Southborough Road area, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-21

I often made use of framing a view through some kind of arch – in this case of trees – which had been emphasised by the writers for Amateur Photographer when as a grubby teenager I spent hours perusing it in my local library. And while it can be a useful device it is certainly a cliché and is often used ironically in my work. I’ve also here carefully joined together a 22 storey tower block and the rather grand porch of an older house.

I think the block could be Clare House in Hawthorne Avenue, on the other side of Victoria Park where I was standing on a street corner, somewhere not far from Church Crescent where I made a previous exposure and the next on the corner of Southborough and Lauriston Roads. But I cannot find its precise location

Derby Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-24-Edit_2400
Derby Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-24

These houses were on Derby Road, awaiting demolition as well as those in the image below. There is now a modern two-story housing development on this side of the street.

J Roler, Derby Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-25-Edit_2400
J Roler, Derby Rd, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-25

J Roler was at the corner of Derby Rd though I think its address as No 6 may have been in Rutland Road. It appeared long closed when I made this picture. Perhaps someone reading this will remember visiting the shop and tell us all more in a comment to this post.

Shelter, Victoria Park, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-26-Edit_2400
Shelter, Victoria Park, Hackney, 1988 88-9c-26

A curiously organic shelter in Victoria Park with a generous coating of graffiti, none of any interest. In the background people are sitting beside the lake. I don’t think I walked far into the park and although I can’t identify and of the buildings in the background I think this is somewhere close to Victoria Park Road on the north side of the lake.

I suspect I sat here or somewhere close by drinking a cup of coffee and eating my sandwiches for lunch. Back in 1988 there were still relatively few places you could rely on getting a decent cup of coffee and my camera bag always included a space for a thermos. After a short rest I will have continued my walk – and there will be more pictures in a future post.

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Old Father Thames – Buscot to Cricklade

Sunday, April 3rd, 2022

Old Father Thames – Buscot to Cricklade Nine years ago on Wednesday 3rd April 2013 I was walking the Thames Path with my wife and elder son, who had planned a three day walk along the upper reaches of the river as a birthday present for my wife. Her birthday is in the depths of winter but we thought the start of April might have better weather.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
St John the Baptist at Inglesham, saved by William Morris from the threat of Gothicist ‘restoration’

We’d walked the lower parts of the Thames path and further out towards the estuary in a number of day walks, travelling by public transport to suitable starting points and back home at the end of the day. This had got us as far as Duxford, a short walk from the end of a bus route to Hinton Waldrist, 9 miles southwest of Oxford, west of where public transport to places close to the river is sparse and journey times from home too long.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
The room next to ours at Buscot Manor; ours was plainer but very comfortable

So we had booked two nights accommodation to allow us to complete the walk, ending at the source which is close to Kemble station from where trains would take us home via Swindon and Reading.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
Meanders make the journey longer

On Tuesday we had set off early to take the train to Reading where we changed for Oxford and then found the bus to Hinton Waldrist. By the time we got within five miles of the village we three and the driver were the only passengers. It had been just below zero when we set out but had warmed up a little and the sun was shining as our walk began. You can read more about the days walk and see pictures at Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot. I’d finished the day in which we had walked around 15 or 16 miles totally exhausted, but a good soak in a hot bath had eased some of my aches and pains.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
Old Father Thames

Wednesday we were up early for breakfast, having slept well at Buscot Manor, though we hadn’t paid the extra for a room with a four-poster, though I did take a photograph of one. Breakfast, shared around a large table with the other guests, was enormous and it was hard to get up from the table and begin our walk.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
Ha’penny Bridge in Lechlade

Being gluttons for punishment as well as at the table we started the day by deliberately going in completely the wrong direction to make a tour of the village, now largely owned by the National Trust before rejoining the Thames Path.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
St Agatha in St Lawrence’s Church, Lechlade

At St John’s Lock we found Old Father Thames, made in 1854 for the Crystal Palace and later moved to Thames Head but relocated here as protection against vandalism. At Lechlade, this is the highest lock on the Thames, which is theoretically navigable as far as Cricklade, though few boats now go beyond the Halfpenny Bridge in Lechlade.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
The entrance to the Severn & Thames Canal

We spent some time in Lechlade, buying sandwiches for our lunch, then looking around the church before my companions mutinied and dashed into a tea-shop and I had to follow them. We wasted some time there before we walked out and carried on towards Inglesham. The area around here was perhaps the highlight of the whole walk, but our delay in Lechlade meant we couldn’t stop long enough to properly examine the mouth of the River Coln and entrance to the Thames and Severn Canal and the first bridge over the canal on our way. The canal was abandoned in 1927 though parts have now been restored.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
St John the Baptist, Inglesham

The real gem of the walk is the Church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham, a splendid medieval survival thanks to the efforts of William Morris, who along with his pre-Raphaelite friends founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) or ‘Anti-Scrape’ to oppose the gothicisation of buildings such as these. But past here the walk deteriorates, with a mile and a half beside a busy road and a further 2 mile road walk “offering no scenic attraction at all“.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
A rare glimpse of the Thames , our first since Inglesham

It might have been better if the Thames Path had taken a detour along the Thames and Severn Canal. As the Rambler’s Association noted in their 1977 Survey, the county councils “suggested a new footpath creation to follow the river from Lechlade to Cricklade but objections, primarily from farmers and anglers, led to the abandonment of this concept.” They comment that the Thames path here “is in places so dull or dangerous that it begs the question whether objections from landowning or angling interests should always be allowed to override the need for providing a simple public amenity.”

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade

It’s only in the final mile or three into Cricklade that the walk comes alive again, rejoining the river and giving a glimpse of what the Thames Path in this region should be. We made our way to the White Hart, the principal inn at Cricklade since the time of Elizabeth I, though our room was in a modern extension at its rear. There was still just a little time to explore the town, basically a single street, before settling down to a decent Indian meal a short distance from the hotel.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
Cricklade seen across a meadow from the path

You can read about the final day of the walk, where there were detours due to flooding and flurries of snow in a bitter wind before we reached the end, on my London Diary. Here are the links to all three days of our walk, which I’m glad we did then as I don’t think I could make it now.

Thames Path: Cricklade to the Source
Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade
Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot

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Bow, Kingsly Hall, a Nursery, Grime, Quakers & more

Sunday, March 13th, 2022

This post continues from my previous post on this walk by me on 1st August 1988, Coventry Cross, Gandhi, Graffiti, Drag Balls …

Stroudley Walk, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-21-Edit_2400
Stroudley Walk, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-21

The buildings of the Diary and the Rose & Crown are still standing at the north end of Stroudley Walk where it meets the end of Bromley High St, but the closed diary became Hussains Convenience Store and then Jalalabad Grocers and half is now a mobile phone repair shop.

The Rose & Crown had opened here around 1720, as the Bowling Green Inn, though the building here is from the 1880s. It closed in 2007, was boarded up for some years before reopening around 2014 as a coffee bar and fast food restaurant.

This was formerly the north end of Devons Road, and a sign for this painted on the brickwork at the left of the pub had virtually disappeared when I made this picture in 1988. Later repainted it has now almost disappeared again.

Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-25-Edit_2400
Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-25

I wrote more about Kingsley Hall and the sisters Muriel and Doris Lester in the previous post on this walk. They used a legacy from their younger brother Kingsley to set up a house where they lived in relative poverty and served the neighbourhood as well as campaigning for peace and justice across the world. A plaque on the building records that Mahatma Gandhi lived in a small cabin here during his three month stay attending a government conference as a representative of the Indian National Congress. You can read and see more about his visit and the sisters on the Muriel Lester web site.

This image gives a better view of the whole building, which dates from 1928. It faces the Devons Estate, built for the London County Council in 1949 and described by Pevsner as being in their ‘pre-war manner, but with all the drabness of post-war austerity‘. Those moved from slums into its maisonettes and flats would have taken a far more positive view and the estate was solidly built and well-designed to the standards of the day.

Clyde House, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow,  Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-26-Edit_2400
Clyde House, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-26

Clyde House is still there at 46 Bruce Road, looking in rather better condition now. Built in 1884 it appears to have been built as a pair with its double-fronted neighbour at 48.

Children's House, Nursery School, , Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow,  Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-11-Edit_2400
Children’s House, Nursery School, Bruce Rd, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-11

Sisters Muriel and Doris Lester helped to set up the Children’s House on Bruce Road 1923. Doris had trained as a teacher and they commissioned Charles Cowles-Voysey to design a building based on Maria Montessori’s ideal learning environment for young children. The school was opened in 1923 by H G Wells and is still a school, run by Tower Hamlets Council.

Inside there is a 12 metre mural painted in 1935 by Eve Garnett, the illustrator, artist and writer of the first children’s book about working class characters, The Family from One End Street, in 1937. There is now a campaign to save and restore the mural which is dirty and damaged and the web site is asking for donations to pay for this.

Regent Square, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8a-15-Edit_2400
Regent Square, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-15

The Crossways Estate, built in 1970 was apparently at the time known as the ‘Pride of Bow’, for its three 25 storey towers and a low rise block, Holyhead Close, built over the railway line. Later it was more prosaically referred to as the ‘three flats.’

It was here that Grime developed in 2003, after Rinse FM squatted in a flat and broadcast illegally from here, and it was also where Dizzee Rascal and others grew up.

Like many council developments the area around the estate was hard to navigate, with walkways and roads often not shown on maps. My contact sheet says ‘Regent Square and gives grid reference 375827 for the first of the five images I made. The three towers were Hackworth Point, Mallard Point and Priestman Point and are on Rainhill Way.

And also like many council estates, it was subjected to a policy of ‘managed decline’ and by 1999 was in a very poor state, so bad its demolition was under consideration. Tower Hamlets decided to retain and refurbish the estate which passed to Swan Homes after a residents ballot in 2005. Its towers now refurbished and clad more brightly this is now the Bow Cross Estate.

Bow Church, station, DLR,  Crossways estate, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-56-Edit_2400
Bow Church, station, DLR, Crossways estate, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-56

The ‘three flats’ seen from Bow Road and Bow Church DLR station which opened on 31 August 1987.

Mornington Grove, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-61-Edit_2400
Mornington Grove, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-61

Mornington Grove not only gets a mention in the London 5: East volume of Pevsner (p619) which describes these houses as “unusually grand for the area” but also has an extensive web site covering its history by Ken Ward, a resident in the street, from which this information is extracted – and which has far more detail. And it really is an interesting history – if you have the time do click the link and read more.

The land of a nursery here was bought by the Quaker meeting in Ratcliff in 1812, and houses on Mornington Road were developed by them from 1854-1889 – those on the east side in this picture being among the later development. Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington was the son of the first Earl of Mornington, and the fourth Earl lived nearby on the north side of Bow Road.

Many of the houses in Mornington Road were compulsory purchased and demolished for the Whitehapel and Bow Railway (later the District Line) and others by World War II bombing of what had in 1939 been renamed Mornington Grove. Under the Quakers, at least 5/7th of the rents of the houses went to the support of the poor.

Most of the houses in the street, by then under multiple occupation, were sold by the Quakers to a housing association in 1980, becoming social housing, though many have now been sold off.

More from Bow in the next post from my walk in 1988. You can see larger versions of any of these pictures by clicking on the image which will take you to my album 1988 London Pictures from where you can browse.

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Coventry Cross, Gandhi, Graffiti, Drag Balls …

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

Coventry Cross, Gandhi, Graffiti, Drag Balls …

Stanstead House, Devas Street, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets 1988 88-8a-53-Edit_2400
Stanstead House, Devas Street, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets 1988 88-8a-53

My previous walk on 31st July ended at Bromley-by-Bow, and I returned there the following day to continue my wanderings, starting on Devas St and the Coventry Cross West Estate, built by the LCC in the early 1950s, and in 1988 it had recently passed from the GLC to Tower Hamlets. Like all council housing it was very much compromised by the opposition under Thatcher to social housing, with the ‘right to buy’ policies selling off properties to tenants on the cheap and local authorities being largely prevented from building more as well as being starved of cash.

The estate serves as a reminder of an age where councils were able to provide large numbers of socially rented homes before we moved to an era dominated by private profit. Many council tenants who bought their own properties found it very impossible to pay back the loans they had taken on, and sold them as soon as they were able, with many of them now privately rented as ‘buy to let’ properties with rents several times social housing rates.

The six-storey Newmill House at left is linked to the four storey Stansted by a massive archway, with another the west linking to another six storey block, Brimsdown. The estate is now managed by Poplar HARCA and has been renovated around ten years ago.

Stanstead House, Devas Street, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets 1988 88-8a-54-Edit_2400
Stanstead House, Devas Street, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets 1988 88-8a-54

A portrait orientation view of the same arch into the estate. When built Newmill House at left, a long block running parallel to the Blackwall Tunnel Approach, contained 55 flats.

Gandhi plaque, Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets 1988 88-8a-42-Edit_2400
Gandhi, plaque, Kingsley Hall, Powis Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a42

North of the railway line, my walk took me to Patrick Connolly Gardens, now rather lost in the Devons estate, and then on to Powis Road where I made this picture of Kingsley Hall.

Kingsley Hall was opened in 1928 by philanthropists and peace campaigners Muriel and Doris Lester who opened the centre using the legacy from their brother Kingsley who died in 1914 when only 26. They had previously helped to set up a Children’s House on Bruce Road nearby in 1923. Muriel Lester (1883-1968) was one of the world’s leading pacifists, and is thought to have been unsuccessfully nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in the 1930s.

The building had previously been Zion Chapel built by Strict Baptists but was then disused. The sisters were also Baptists, but of a very different nature, they were radical and committed to a social gospel and justice issues and the hall became a centre for their community work with Muriel also serving as its pastor. They donated their wealth to serving the people of Bow and lived a simple and humble life.

Muriel had met and travelled with Mahatma Gandhi often in her work as Travelling Secretary of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and when he came to London as the representative of the Indian National Congress Party to argue in a conference for independence he rejected the suite offered him by the government at the Hilton Hotel, saying he would rather stay with Muriel Lester at Kingsley Hall. He stayed there for three months, living in a cell on the roof in the same simple style he did in London.

Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988
Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-44

I doubt if I would have photographed this street corner were it not for the message ‘big Love’ in large letters on the corrugated iron sheeting. Though it does look as if the writer went on to write something beginning with HATE. This was somewhere fairly close to Kingsley Hall.

Edgar Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-46-Edit_2400
Edgar Rd, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-46

The fence here has several messages as well as some peeling posters. The longest text reads ‘AS LONG AS WE HAVE NOT SMASHED EVERYTHING THERE WILL BE RUINS!!’, an exceedingly philosophical example of graffiti which I’ve not seen elsewhere, though I wonder if it could be from a song lyric.

Considerably more common is the ‘VICTORY TO THE MINERS’, and I think the Female Sign – the planetary symbol for Venus ♀ – may mean the painter was a woman.

Tudor Lodge, Bromley High St, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-31-Edit_2400
Tudor Lodge, 85, Bromley High St, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-31

This may have had some connection with Tudor House, whose grounds were bought in 1898 by the LCC to make a public park, which is now Bromley Recreation Ground a couple of hundred yards away, but more likely just with the Tudor family who lived in Tudor House and in the Old Palace closer to where Tudor Lodge used to be.

The archway informs us that this was Tudor Lodge Sports and Social Club, catering for Weddings and Funerals; over a door at left it tells us the ‘Bow Bridge Sports & Social Club Meets Here’. It was by then a large men’s social club, but the impressive cross above the doorway suggests that this was originally a Christian institution of some kind, perhaps a convent or priory

In the 1980s it became a venue for Drag Balls which had begun as the Chelsea Arts Ball, before moving to the Parchester Hall and then on to here. Later in the 90s was the home of Ron Storme’s Transvesti Extrodinaire club.

There is now a completely different modern Tudor Lodge at 95 Bromley High St on the corner with St Leonard’s Road.

How Memorial Gateway, St Leonards Priory, St Leonard's St, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-33-Edit_2400
How Memorial Gateway, St Leonards Priory, St Leonard’s St, Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-33

The only part of the parish church of St Mary with St Leonard to survive following bombing in 1942 and the building of the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road. The church was built in 1843 to replace the former chapel of St Leonard’s Priory, a Benedictine nunnery first recorded in 1122 and destroyed after the dissolution of monasteries in 1536, after which its chapel had been used as a parish church. Chaucer wrote of the nunnery as the “Scole of Stratford atte bowe“.

The How Memorial Gateway was erected in 1893 as a memorial to the Rev G A How, vicar of the church from 1872-93. It is Grade II listed and in poor condition.

Bromley High St, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-34-Edit_2400
Bromley High St, Bromley-By-Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8a-34

There is still a large tree and a telegraph pole on the corner of Bromley High St with St Leonards Street, but the lower buildings on the left of the picture were demolished a year or so ago.

Just visible in this picture is the coat of arms of the London County County on 72-4 Bromley High St (Barry wavy of six Azure and Argent on a Chief of the last the Cross of St. George charged with a Leopard of England. The Shield is ensigned with a Mural Crown Or – though it’s too small on the photo to see any details) announcing this as the Bow Bridge Estate, which was completed in 1934. I hope Poplar HARCA kept this when they demolished the building.

My walk through Bow will continue in a later post. Click on any of the images above to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the album.

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Willesden Walk and Wassail 2017

Saturday, February 12th, 2022

Willesden Walk and Wassail 2017

Willesden isn’t a part of London I visit very often, though I sometimes change trains on my way elsewhere at Willesden Junction. But even that isn’t in Willesden but in its neighbour Harlesden – just as Clapham Junction isn’t in Clapham but in Battersea, the railway companies choosing a more reputable nearby settlement to name their station.

I hadn’t intended to go for a walk from Kensal Rise to Willesden Green on Sunday 12th February, but the Transport for London web site had misled me, telling me there were no trains running from my station that day, but a much slower rail replacement bus service. But there was a train just about to leave when I bought my ticket, and I jumped on it.

Good though this was, it meant I arrived at Kensal Rise over an hour before anticipated for the short bus ride to my destination. It was a cold winter day with a bitter east wind, far too cold to stand around waiting on the street so I had a decision to make. I could have sat inside a pub or café, but decided I would keep warm enough if I walked around to make my way to my destination.

Willesden Green Library – where the Wassail would later end

A direct route would not have taken me long enough, but the only map I had was Google Maps on my phone as I was outside the small central London atlas that has a permanent place in my camera bag. While paper maps keep north at the top, on my phone at least the map seems to turn around pretty randomly and at one junction I got confused, turning in the opposite direction to that I intended.

But even with getting a little lost and walking over 3 miles I still arrived 20 minutes before the event I was attending began, but the walking had kept me reasonably warm.

Willesden Green Wassail

I’d been invited in 2014 to photograph the Willesden Green Wassail by its leader and organiser Rachel Rose Reid, and was returning three years later for the 7th Community Wassail there “to invoke successful growth and resilience in the neighbourhood, celebrating community initiatives and the shopkeepers who contribute to making the neighbourhood a friendly and happy place.”

Cricklewood Community Singers

The wassailers, with the Cricklewood Community Singers performed a version of the traditional wassail song, and their were performances by local poets, storytellers and other singers as we called on various shops and other places, slowly making our way to the crab apple trees behind Willesden Green Library.

Rachel Rose Reid

At the shops we stopped at, the shopkeepers came out and told us a little about their businesses and thanked us for the good wishes and our wassailing.

The crab apples having been wassailed, people let off party poppers, which proved to be very difficult to photograph, a reminder to me of the difference between the way the camera and our eyes see things. We can both see the overall scene and concentrate on details, while a still image has to select its angle of view and treats all within that equally. Of course you can take more than one picture, but that doesn’t really deliver with a rapidly changing scene. I would have been better switching to recording a movie of this part of the event.

After this the group walked back to a local coffee shop where there were to be more performances, as well as hot drinks. But by then it was time for me to start my journey home to get back in time for dinner. This time I took the bus back to Kensal Rise.

Many more pictures both from the walk (enough to work out my route in the unlikely event you should wish to do so) and also from the Wassail on My London Diary:
Willesden Green Wassail
Kensal Rise to Willesden Green

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Blessing the Thames & Southwark Walk

Friday, January 14th, 2022

The Bishop of Woolwich throws a wooden cross into the River Thames to bless the waters. 

Sunday 14th January 2007 was a pleasant day for me. The weather was good, a bright winter day and I was up in London to photograph a very positive event, the Blessing of the River Thames, with plenty of time too for me to wander around one of my favourite areas of the city, south of the river in Southwark.

In the first ten years of this millennium I photographed a wide range of religious events that take place on the streets of London, particularly by Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. But there seem to be rather fewer Christian festivals that are celebrated in public, though I think there have been more in recent years, with more public events in particular each year on Good Friday.

The procession comes from Southwark Cathedral

But the Blessing of the Thames is a recent addition, begun in 2004 by Father Philip Warner when he was appointed to the City of London church of St Magnus The Martyr, inspired by similar ceremonies he had experienced in the Orthodox Church in Serbia.

And is met by those from St Magnus at the centre of the bridge

St Magnus The Martyr was Sir Christopher Wren’s most expensive parish church and the traveller’s route into the City of London across the medieval London Bridge, in use from 1209 to 1831 led directly through its entrance porch under its tower after the church was rebuilt around 1676. Until 1729 when Putney got a bridge it was the only way across the river except by boat downstream of Kingston Bridge.

The church is one of the most interesting in London and well worth a visit, and among its treasures includes a very large modern model of the Old London Bridge. This was completed by ex-policeman David T Aggett in 1987, a year after his heart transplant, and found a willing home here after the Museum of London turned it down. A member and past Steward of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, Aggett died a year ago at the age of 91.

You can find out more about the various editions of London Bridge from various bloggers including Laura Porter on Londontopia. Close to the south end of the bridge (which had a chapel on it dedicated to St Thomas which was the official start of pilgrimages to Canterbury) was the Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, until the dissolution in 1538 part of Southwark Priory and since 1905 Southwark Cathedral.

Processions from both churches met at the centre of the new London Bridge completed in 1972 for a brief service with prayers for all those who work on the river and in particular for those killed close to this point in the 1989 sinking of the marchioness close by, which climaxed with the Bishop of Woolwich throwing a wooden cross into the River Thames to bless the waters.

Ofra Zimballsta, Climbers, 1996-8, Borough High St

I’d come up earlier to take a walk around Southwark and Bermondsey and photograph some of the buildings, both old and new, in the area. Back in the 1990s when Desk Top Publishing was in its infancy I had written and published a walk leaflet (now a free download though a little out of date) on West Bermondsey which sold several hundred copies, and it was interesting to visit a part of this again.


When first produced, this walk was printed on a dot-matrix printer, though later copies were made on a black and white laser – an HP Laserjet 1100 still in use over 20 years later on my wife’s computer running Ubuntu.

I think I asked 20p for the leaflet, and using cheap third-party laser toners on cheap thin card it cost only a couple of pence to produce, though printing on dot-matrix was slow the laser speeded up things considerably – once the page was in printer memory it rattled off copies fairly quickly.

In 2007 there were few photographers at the Blessing of the River, but blogging was growing fast and more and more people were using camera phones. The following year I wasn’t able to get such good pictures as there were too many people jumping in front of me and obscuring my view. Photographers do sometimes get in each other’s way, but we do try to respect others, something which doesn’t even seem to occur to the newcomers.

But rather than go for a walk I did go with those celebrating the event and have lunch in the crypt of St Magnus, after which I took a few pictures inside the church, then rather thick with incense.

Scroll down the January 2007 page on My London Diary for more pictures of Blessing the Thames & Southwark Walk.

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Belsize Park Hampstead 1988

Saturday, January 8th, 2022

Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-02-positive_2400
Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-02

Belsize Park Hampstead 1988
Belsize is a confusing area for the casual wanderer and many of the streets have ‘Belsize’ in their name, including Belsize Avenue, Belsize Court, Belsize Crescent, Belsize Gardens, Belsize Grove, Belsize Lane, Belsize Mews, Belsize Park, Belsize Park Gardens, Belsize Place, Belsize Square, and Belsize Terrace.

Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-04-positive_2400
Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-04

I’m not entirely sure whether my captions place all of the houses that are featured in exactly the correct Belsize street, though I’ve tried hard to get them correct. But many of these streets are lined with very similar houses by the same developer – or rather they fall into two groups, the stucco and the later red-brick.

Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-61-positive_2400
Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-61

As my previous post Hampstead & Belsize 1988 stated, the older houses in the area from the 1860s which feature in this post were stucco, built by Daniel Tidey who went bust in 1870, when development in the 1870s was largely in red brick by William Willett.

Belsize Square, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-63-positive_2400
Belsize Square, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-63

I liked the Ladies bicycle parked at the bottom of the stairs, its wheels contrasting with the rectangular columns at the gate and base of the steps. It seemed a suitably old-fashioned steed, with caliper brakes and a wicked basket, held by a rather flimsy looking lock to the rail at the bottom of the steps. It was also a tonal contrast, although actually a rather rusty red colour. I also took a colour picture from an almost identical viewpoint which works well, with the green of the vegetation and some attractive muted colours on some of the doors.

Belsize Square, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-65-positive_2400
Belsize Square, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-65

The backs of these houses have an unusual rounded bay extending from basement to roof.

Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-53-positive_2400
Belsize Park, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-53

A grand set of steps up to the front door, now with three bells – most of these large properties have now been converted to flats. The tiles here are breaking up and a small area at right is now filled with flowers. There are bootscrapers at both side, probably rather more necessary in the days of horse-drawn traffic than now.

Belsize Park Gdns, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-56
Belsize Park Gdns, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-56

Two different framings of the same profusely growing plant – I think a false castor oil plant – and I can’t decide which I prefer. The leaves were beautifully lustrous dark green.

Belsize Park Gdns, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-32-positive_2400
Belsize Park Gdns, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-32

It is a beautiful plant, and has flowers and produces black seeds, but unlike the true castor oil plant it vaguely resembles, the seeds of Fatsia japonica are I think not particularly toxic.

Belsize Grove, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-33-positive_2400
Belsize Grove, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7m-33

The iron-work on this house is perhaps a little too much for my taste, both over-intricate and somehow too fat looking. I think it may now be rather more hidden by vegetation than when I made this picture around 33 years ago.

This was the last picture I made on this walk, probably as I made my way to Belsize Park Underground station on my way home.

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