Posts Tagged ‘Westminster’

Police & Public Sector March, 4,000 Days

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

PPolice & Public Sector March, 4,000 Days of the Parliament Square Peace Campaign approaches – some of my pictures from Thursday 10th May 2012.


Police March Against Cuts and Winsor – Westminster

Occupy supporters in plastic helmets joined the police march

An estimated 20,000 police from all 43 forces in England & Wales marched through central London in protest at 20% cuts in police budget and proposed restructuring following the Winsor review. Occupy, Right To Protest and others joined in to protest for justice in policing.

Police are not allowed to strike or belong to a proper trade union, but the Police Federation can organise demonstrations like this when thousands of off-duty police, some with family members made a impressively large if rather dull protest past the Home Office, the Houses of Parliament and Downing St. Most wore one of the 16,000 black caps produced for the protest, the number of officers expected to be lost over the next four years as the police budget is cut by 20-30%.

Police officers attempt to intimidate the Space Hijackers

Like other public sector workers, police had suffered a two year wage freeze, as well as increases in pension contributions and many have also had large cuts in overtime. As well as those protesting, police were also on duty controlling the protest, though it was unlikely to get out of hand. But there were others as well as police, including the Space Hijackers who had a stall giving advice on how to protest, and also Occupy protesters who were calling for “a fully, Publicly funded, democratically accountable Police force who’s aims and objectives enshrine the right to peaceful Protest in some sort of People’s Charter!

Others were there to protest against various aspects of police corruption and faced some aggravation from the officers on duty as well as some protesters. The Defend The Right To Protest group reminded police marchers of Alfie Meadows, Sean Rigg, Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes and many others killed or seriously injured by police officers. Officers on duty made some attempts to intimidate some of the non-police protesters – and also photographers covering the event.

More at Police March Against Cuts and Winsor


Public Sector Pensions Strike and March – St Thomas’ Hospital to Westminster

Public sector workers in Unite, PCS and UCU were on a one-day strike against cuts in pensions, jobs and services, and picketed workplaces and marched from a rally at St Thomas’ Hospital across Westminster Bridge to Methodist Central Hall for a further rally.

PCS picket at Tate Britain

Some of the pickets had begun at 5am, and a few were still in place as I walked past workplaces in Westminster – including the Houses of Parliament to meet the marchers coming over Westminster Bridge.

As they marched, many chanted “Sixty-eight – is TOO Late”, as retirement age is set to increase to 68 and beyond, while retirement contributions are increasing. They are also losing out because the government has decided to index pensions to the lower CPI inflation figures which mans they get around 15-20% less. Over 94% of Unite’s NHS members voted to reject the government’s proposals and take strike action today along with members from the Ministry of Defence and government departments as well as others from the PCS and UCU.

More on My London Diary at Public Sector Pensions Strike and March.


4000 Days in Parliament Square – Parliament Square Peace Campaign

Brian Haw came to Parliament Square to begin his protest there on the 2nd June 2001, and the Parliament Square Peace Campaign he started had been there for almost 4,000 days, with a presence night and day, 24 hours a day since then.

Barbara Tucker

After Brian’s death from cancer the protest was continued by Barbara Tucker and other supporters who have maintained the protest on those various occasions when Brian or Barbara was arrested and held overnight. Over the years the campaign has been subjected to frequent illegal harassment by police officers, Westminster Council officials and thinly disguised members of the security service, and laws have been enacted intended to bring the protest to an end.

A few hours before I arrived, police had come and spent 90 minutes “searching” the few square meters of their display in the early morning, and three days later, at 2.30am on Sunday 13 May, police and Westminster Council came and took away the two blankets that Barbara Tucker, no longer allowed to have any “structure designed solely or mainly to sleep in” by law was using to survive in the open. Clearly a blanket is not a structure, and police and council have also removed other items of property. Later her umbrella was also taken away. Barbara’s health deteriorated and she eventually had to leave the square, and the protest finally ended early in May 2013.

4000 Days in Parliament Square


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A Threatened Hospital, Riverside Walk, Syria & Mali

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

A Threatened Hospital, Riverside Walk, Syria & Mali – pictures from nine years ago on February 15th 2013.

Fight to Save Lewisham Hospital Continues

My work began at a lunchtime rally opposite Lewisham Hospital where the whole local community is fighting to save their hospital with both a legal challenge and further mass demonstrations including a ‘Born in Lewisham Hospital’ protest a few weeks later. Parts of the hospital across the main road are in the picture.

People were appalled by then Health Minister Jeremy Hunt’s decision to accept the proposals for closure, and to ignore the mass protests by local residents. Not only are the proposals medically unsound and will lead to patient deaths, but they also represent short-term thinking that will result in a huge waste of public funds.

Lewisham was a sucessful and financially sound hospital and had received sensible public investment to provide up to date services, and the services to be cut will have to be set up again at other hospitals. Closing Lewisham would not only incur high costs, but would waste the previous investment in its facilities.

Closure was only considered because of huge debts inherited when it was merged into a group which had earlier made a disastrous PFI (private finance initiative) agreement to build a new hospital a few miles away. Both the hospital group and Jeremy Hunt had been shown to be telling lies about the scope and cost of the replacement A&E and maternity facilities which would be needed if Lewisham were closed.

The well-attended protest was organised by the Save the Lewisham Hospital campaign which was raising funds for a legal challenge as well as a new poster and leaflet campaign and the forthcoming mass demonstration. But this was not just a campaign for Lewisham, but one that is vital for the whole of the NHS. Behind the speakers was a banner for the South-East London ‘Save Our Local NHS Hospitals’ campaign quoting Nye Bevan: ‘The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.‘ They certainly had the faith in Lewisham.

Fight to Save Lewisham Hospital Continues


Thames Path Greenwich Partly Open

Here’s what I wrote back in 2013:

I had some time to spare between protests and it was a nice day, around 10 degrees warmer than we’d been having and sunny, so I decided to take a bus to North Greenwich and walk along the Thames Path, having heard that parts of it had re-opened. The weather changed a little and there were some dramatic skies.

There is still a section of the walk that is closed, a giant building site where Delta Wharf once was up to Drawdock Road, but on each side of this the walk is open. although the council sign on the footpath leading from Tunnel Avenue still indicates it is closed. At the river the path north is blocked, but you can walk south to Greenwich.

A panorama – the same path in opposite directions at both sides

At first the walk goes alongside a giant manmade landscape of sand and gravel, like some alien planet – and behind the conical hills the Dome and the gas holder, with occasional lighting towers and cranes add to the scene. Most of this is behind tall fences, but fortunately these have gaps between the posts allowing you to see and photograph. Years ago the path here went through a working container dock, the Victoria Deep Water Terminal, with yellow lines marking the route, though occasionally it was blocked by crane operations, and we waited rather than have heavy containers overhead. There are a couple of my pictures of this and others from the riverside path in the 1980s on my London’s Industrial Heritage site.

Beyond there the riverside path seems rather empty, with many structures having dissappeared, including the huge concrete silo I photographed. But something new has appeared, ‘guerilla knitting’ on some of the trees and posts along the path.

Many more pictures at Thames Path Greenwich Partly Open on My London Dairy


Stop Western Intervention in Syria & Mali

It was the 10th anniversary of the march by 2 million against the Iraq war, Stop the War organised a small protest at Downing St calling for a stop to Western intervention in Mali and Syria and against the possible attack on Iran.

Many on the left feel that the failure of that huge protest to actually prevent the UK taking part in the invasion of Iraq showed a failure in the leadership of Stop The War to make any quick and efffective action to follow it up. Stop The War have also failed to convince the public at large with their more recent campaigns against intervention in Libya and now against the support being given to the Free Syrians and the Mali government. As the upper picture shows there were some supporters of the Assad regime, from a small left group, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), taking part in the protest. Almost certainly the great majority of supporters of Stop The War while against UK military intervention would like to see more support being given in other ways to the Syrian rebels.

Stop Western Intervention in Syria & Mali


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Chinese New Year 2005

Sunday, February 13th, 2022

Chinese New Year 2005

On Sunday 13th 2005, 17 years ago, London was celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Rooster which started the previous Wednesday – it was 4072.

Chinese New Year in Soho is something I’ve avoided in more recent years – as I wrote in 2005: “I used to enjoy the rather anarchic celebrations in Chinatown, but it’s now more of an ordeal, with far too many people coming in to watch and too much organisation.”

Trying to photograph in such crowded situations was a problem, and one I confronted in two main ways in 2005, something reflected in the two pictures above. At the top is a picture taken standing back some distance with a telephoto lens, while the lower picture is taken with a fisheye lens, both on a Nikon D70 DX camera.

De-fished version

Usually now when I use the a fisheye lens like this, I would convert the perspective to give straight verticals – as in the above image. But back in 2005 I didn’t have a good plug-in to do this conversion, and although it was possible with various programmes I was using for making panoramas it was a rather time-consuming process.

For this particular event I rather liked the fisheye effect, at least in some pictures. Although it does clearly misrepresent those faces close to the edges of the picture, for me it pulls the eye towards the centre of the picture and perhaps gives a greater impression of the crowding I was working in.

A small problem is that the image you see in the viewfinder is the fisheye one, and not that in the ‘de-fished’ version. But as you can see, the fisheye image which you see has the same horizontal limits at the centre of both the horizontal and vertical sides, with just a little of the image towards the four corners being lost. It’s still possible to frame accurately when working.

It’s not I think correct to call the effect of the fisheye lens ‘distortion’. It is simply a different way of recording the subject on a flat rectangle. Most fisheyes I’ve used (and I own four different examples, for DX and full-frame Nikon, for Fuji and for micro 4/3) seem actually to have rather less actual distortion than my ultra-wide rectilinear (i.e. ‘normal’) lenses.

In the de-fished image you can see that as well as the verticals of the building being straight, people at the edges of the picture are also shown naturally, unlike in the fisheye version. I was also taking some pictures with an ultra-wide 12-24mm lens (equivalent to 18-36mm full-frame) and with that at its widest faces at the edge would have been rendered a little stretched out horizontally.


I’m not sure what some major agencies would make of conversions using software like this, whether they would regard it as an unacceptable alteration of the image. For me its just one of many acceptable corrections of the image, but clearly it does alter the image as recorded by the camera. It would be possible to design a specialised wide-angle camera which carried out the correction in firmware but the market for this would probably be small. Rather it could be provided into normal digital cameras as an option – far more useful than all those special effects which clutter the menus on many cameras now.

More pictures on My London Diary – scroll down a little from the top of the page.


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More St John’s Wood

Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

Alexandra Rd, South Hampstead,  88-7g-63-positive_2400
Alexandra Rd, South Hampstead, 88-7g-63

Although the title of this post is ‘More St John’s Wood’, my walks were not constrained by local authority boundaries but often by more important physical restraints, here the main west coast railway line from Euston, and I walked beyond the St John’s Wood boundary a little into South Hampstead or Swiss Cottage.

I can find out little about Hillgrove Estate designed by Peacock, Hodges and Robertson for the LCC around 1960 and inherited by Camden following the local government reorganisation in that decade. This piece of sculpture is not on the list of public art in Camden and unfortunately I failed to record any details of it when I made this picture in 1988 if any were available then. Perhaps someone seeing this will be able to give details in a comment.

7, Boundary Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-65-positive_2400
7, Boundary Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-65

This stucco detached villa dating from the 1840s is only Grade II listed for its ‘group value’, one of quite a number of similar properties in the area, though distinguished for me by its two substantial eagles on top of very substantial gate posts. The house next door, shown in the next few pictures, was much more remarkable.

Boundary Road, as its name suggests, marks a boundary, now between the City of Westminster – which includes St John’s Wood – and the London Borough of Camden, with this and other properties on its south side being in St John’s Wood. It was once a farm track on the boundary between two estates.

Alhambra Cottage,  Boundary Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-66-positive_2400
Alhambra Cottage, Boundary Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-66

Alhambra Cottage is at 9 Boundary Rd certainly one of the most remarkable houses in London, a Grade II listed detached villa in a very detailed Islamic style and I made a number of photographs from the road outside. Later in 2011it was one of the buildings whose garden I photographed for the ‘Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood‘ project initiated by Mireille Galinou of the Queens Terrace Café and shown there in November 2011.

Alhambra Cottage, Boundary Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-53-positive_2400
Alhambra Cottage, Boundary Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-53

Another view of Alhambra Cottage.

Alhambra Cottage, Boundary Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-54-positive_2400
Alhambra Cottage, Boundary Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-54

I’m surprised not to find more information about this cottage online. Possibly the interest in the Alhambra may have been stimulated by the writing of American author Washington Irving who visited the Alhambra in 1828 and published his Tales of the Alhambra in 1832 and the lithographs of John Frederick Lewis, who became known as ‘Spanish’ Lewis published three years later.

At this time of year perhaps I should also mention that it was Irving who first put Santa (or rather St. Nicholas) flying over the rooftops at Christmas.

Loudon Rd area, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-42-positive_2400
Loudon Rd area, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-42

This Grade II listed semi-detached house dates from the 1840s, but was altered in the mid-19th century. ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle‘ and this seemed to epitomise the proverb, with its castellated tower and sturdy gate. All that was lacking was a drawbridge.

Carlton Hill area, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-44-positive_2400
Carlton Hill area, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7g-44

And finally before I left the area, another house with a tower, somewhere on my wandering between the junction of Abbey Road and Blenheim Rd and FInchley Rd. I took a few more pictures on my way south through St John’s Wood, but none are online.


Click on any of the images above to go to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the album.


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MP Threatened Over Brexit

Sunday, December 19th, 2021

Anna Soubry MP harassed by extremists

On December 19th 2018, tempers were still running high over Brexit, and I had been photographing extreme Brexiteers shouting at and threatening Steven Bray and other pro-Europeans as they continued their daily vigil outside parliament.

The protests across lunchtime seemed to be drawing to a close when I noticed the small group of extremists interviewing a bizarrely-dressed blogger outside the public entrance to the Houses of Parliament and went across to take some pictures.

Then they saw Anna Soubry, then the Conservative MP for Broxtowe, on the west edge of Nottingham and a vocal pro-European walking past and confronted her. She stopped to talk and argue with them, and they angrily shouted at her. She called to a police officer nearby for support, but he simply told the protesters to stop and ignored them when they failed to do so. Eventually after a minute or so she managed to turn away and walk past more police into Parliament, and officers then prevented the Brexiteers from following her.

I filed the pictures rather more rapidly than usual to meet deadlines as I realised that I was the only photographer present (though at least one of the extremists was filming the confrontation) and was pleased to see a few of them in the papers later. Though had I been with a more active agency I would have made much more from the set.

Extremist Brexiteers at parliament

Here are a couple of the pictures from a few minutes earlier outside the gates of Parliament.

Police were holding them back as they tried to stop cars leaving through the gates.

Extreme Brexiteers clash with SODEM

Earlier the group of extremist Brexiteers had been harassing Steven Bray and the supporters of SODEM, (Stand of Defiance European Movement) the group he founded in 2017 and which was holding daily vigils whenever Parliament was in session.

They accused Bray of being a drunk and asked “Who funds Drunk Steve”, a question that was rather redundant as two large banners were covered with logos of a wide range of organisations supporting SODEM’s daily pickets. There was a lot of shouting, threats and aggressive gestures, but no actual violence with police trying with little success to separate the two groups.

I’d photographed both groups on previous occasions, and had given up on going specially to photograph them, but was still taking pictures when I had gone up to cover other events – as on this Wednesday. SODEM were always pleased to be photographed, but their opposition at times objected to my presence.

MP welcomes Delhi to London driver

Another event that happened while I was there was the arrival of The Turban Traveller, a Sikh with a film crew from Creative Concept Films in Delhi who arrived in London today after driving overland from Delhi and was greeted by Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall.

Cuts kill disabled people say protesters

But I had come to Parliament to photograph disability groups DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network) who together with WOW campaign were protesting against the cumulative impact of the cuts on the lives of disabled people.

The War on Welfare campaign attracted over 200,000 signatures to its petitions against welfare cuts, and the protest was in support of a debate due later in the day on the cumulative impact of the cuts on the lives of disabled people.

Among those who came to speak with the protesters was Virendra Sharma MP, who had come out to meet the Sikh overland traveller and although showing an interest seemed to be unaware of the problems the cuts had caused the disabled, Laura Pidcock (then MP for North West Durham) and Lib-Dem peer Lord Roberts of Llandudno. Both the latter seemed very concerned about the terrible effect the various cuts falling particularly on the disabled.


Anna Soubry MP harassed by extremists
Extremist Brexiteers at parliament
Extremist Brexiteers clash with SODEM
MP welcomes Delhi to London driver
Cuts kill disabled people say protesters


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More from St John’s Wood

Friday, December 17th, 2021

Marlborough Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-14-positive_2400
Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-14

More from St John’s Wood – and this next photograph is of the entrance to a large detached house at 38 Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood, where a blue plaque informs us that ‘THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY 1825-1895 Biologist Lived Here’.

Huxley was born into a middle-class family in Ealing, but when the school at which his father taught mathematics closed the family were plunged into poverty, and he had to leave school aged 10, only two years after his education had begun. But he determined to teach himself, and did so with great effect, becoming one of the most knowledgeable men in Britain over a very wide range of subjects, and probably the leading specialist in comparative anatomy of his era.

But he is now best-known for his defence of Charles Darwin whose theory of evolution published in On the Origin of Species aroused considerable controversy, particular from religious figures, and Huxley’s defence of Darwin in an 1860 Oxford public debate with Bishop “Soapy Sam” Samuel Wilberforce (one of William’s sons) led to him being nicknamed after his death as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’.

The door to the street from the covered path to the front door was open, allowing me to stand outside and take this picture showing the path and canopy as well as the mosaic on the flooring.

Marlborough Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-15-positive_2400
Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-15

I moved back a few feet and a smidgeon to my left to take another picture of the house, which gives a better idea of the covered path to the street and also shows the plaque for Huxley.

In 1988 this was the Marlborough Family Service of the Bloomsbury Health Authority, a pioneering institution for child-protection cases, school-based interventions and family therapy, founded here by Dr Joshua Bierer in 1946 as the Marlborough Day Hospital, the first social psychotherapy centre in the world. It seems to have been closed and sold off around 2018.

Marlborough Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-63-positive_2400
Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-63

The door to the front garden at 59 Marlborough Place was shut, so I couldn’t see inside, but the gateposts has two rather grand eagles still present. This property, built in around 1840 was extensively refurbished in 2013 and you can see a large set of pictures on the web. It sold in 2016 for £14,900,000.

The Grade II listing has a very lengthy text and describes it as “good example of the early mid-C19 semi-detached villas erected on the Eyre Estate, are of special architectural interest on account of their early semi-detached format and their architectural form and detailing expressed on their front elevations.”

The listing text also mentions that between around 1950 and 1990 it was divided into four flats, one of which was for some time the home of composer Benjamin Britten.

Abbey Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-23-positive_2400
Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-23

This Grade II listed Tudor Gothic detached house at 48 Abbey Road dates from around 1840.

Carlton Hill area , St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-31-positive_2400
Carlton Hill area , St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-31

The doorway of another house in a similar stye in the area, possibly in Carlton Hill.

New London Synagogue, Abbey Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-22-positive_2400
New London Synagogue, Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-22

Just around the corner in Abbey Road is the New London Synagogue.

This was the site of the first Jewish community to be established in 1876 by the new United Synagogue which had been formed in 1870; the permanent building for St. John’s Wood (United) Synagogue, now Grade II listed, was opened in 1882. Its architect Hyman Henry Collins, the City of London District Surveyor, designed eight synagogues in London, but all but this have been demolished.

St John’s Wood gained large Jewish population when people moved out of the East End in the 1930s and 1950s, but in 1964 the congregation had closed and the building was being sold off for demolition. It was saved when followers of Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs who had been refused employment in the United Synagogue’s New West End Synagogue due to allegations of heresy secretly formed a shell company to buy it. They set up a new congregation with him as rabbi, the first in what became known as the Masorti movement in the UK.


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St John’s Wood

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

Abercorn Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-41-positive_2400
Abercorn Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-41

Long ago St John’s Wood was a real wood, part of the Forest of Middlesex, and was the property of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem who were based in Clerkenwell. Pregiously it had belonged to the Catholic Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (better know as the Templars) who were suppressed in 1312. Henry VIII grabbed the land in 1539 when he dissolved the monasteries during the Reformation, but Charles II gave it to one of his mates in settlement of a debt of £1300, and eventually most of it was sold to a city wine merchant, Henry Samuel Eyre in 1733, and much of the area remains the Eyre Estate. Other parts belong to Harrow School.

Development on the Eyre estate began in 1809 The area was developed as an area for the growing upper middle class, with many detached and semi-detached villas with large gardens, the first garden suburb anywhere in the world. Some later were replaced by blocks of flats and terraces of housing, but the area remains one of the most expensive around London. It’s not an area where I often felt at home.

In 2011 I was able to go behind some of the high walls and photograph the ‘Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood‘ in a project initiated by Mireille Galinou of the Queens Terrace Café and shown there in November 2011, but there were still many impenetrable behind high walls, some protected by security guards with suspicious bulges in their clothing. But in 1988 I kept to the streets.

These flats are at the west end of Abercorn Place at its corner with Maida Vale at the rear of Wellesley Court, architect Frank Scarlett, built in 1938. Perhaps surprisingly the St John’s Wood Conservation Area is carefully drawn to exclude this set of expensive private flats.

Nugent Terrace, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-43-positive_2400
Nugent Terrace, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-43

There are still shops in Nugent Terrace, but I think this rather high-class cobblers is long gone. I was amused at how the figurines chosen matched the area.

Hill Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-46-positive_2400
Hill Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-46

This remarkable mansion block, Mortimer Court, on the corner of Hill Road and Abbey Road is certainly not typical of the area, and I have to apologise that my picture fails to record the full horror of its architecture, best appreciated from the opposite side of Abbey Road. It can be seen on the web sites of many of London’s estate agents.

Onslow Ford, memorial, sculpture, Andrea Carlo Lucchesi, Abbey Rd, Grove End Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-35-positive_2400
Onslow Ford, memorial, sculpture, Andrea Carlo Lucchesi, Abbey Rd, Grove End Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-35

English sculptor Edward Onslow Ford RA (1852—1901) was one of the leaders of the British New Sculpture movement of the 1880s, becoming famous for portrait busts and roundels of many leading figures including Ruskin, Millais, Thomas Huxley and Herbert Spencer. A number of his statues including that of Rowland Hill remain on public display.

He produced a long series of “bronze statuettes of adolescent girls in poses loosely derived from mythology or allegorical themes” some of which were also sold widely in smaller scale copies for Victorian homes, though they might not be appreciated now. The monument in St John’s Wood, close to his home was sculpted by his former studio assistant Andrea Carlo Lucchesi and based on one of Ford’s sculptures.

Abbey Rd Studios, Abbey Rd,  St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-21-positive_2400
Abbey Rd Studios, Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-21

It is probably a punishable offence to go to Abbey Road and not take a photo of the now famous studios, though I resisted any urge to photograph the famous pedestrian crossing nearby.

Abbey Road Baptist Church,Abbey Rd,  St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-24-positive_2400
Abbey Road Baptist Church,Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-24

The Baptist Church on Abbey Road was founded in 1863 by a Mr Stott, a preacher from Hyde Park, who engaged leading church architects Habershon & Pite to build this Grade II listed structure in a ‘Free Byzantine’ style.

In 1874 the Abbey Road and St John’s Wood Mutual Benefit Building Society was formed in what was then the Free Church. This later became Abbey Road and St John’s Wood Permanent Building Society and in 1944 joined with The National Building Society to beceome the Abbey National Building Society, which sadly demutualised in 1989 and in 2004 become wholly owned by the Spanish Santander Group.

Abbey Rd,  St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-25-positive_2400
Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-25

This adjoining pair of gate-posts is no longer on Abbey Road, and the block of flats at No 20 have had something of a face lift since 1988. But to me they looked so much like an adult and child – and were perhaps a deliberate attempt to outdo the Joneses.

Abercorn Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-11-positive_2400
Abercorn Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-11

This small group of three houses on Abercorn Place at the corner of Violet Hill stood out among the fairly varied architecture of the street for the flower motifs above their first floor windows – a reminder, like the name Violet Hill, that this was the first garden suburb.

The gateposts, one of which is at right of the picture I think used to have a more obvious pattern on them, unfortunately out of focus in my image, which made them appear less crude.

My wanderings around St John’s Wood on a Saturday in July 1988 will continue in a later post. You can click on any of the pictures here to go to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the album.


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Around Randolph Avenue 1988

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-11-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-11

If you take the Bakerloo Line to Maida Vale, the station exit is on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Randolph Avenue, and within a few yards of the corner I found a number of scenes that interested me enough to take a picture, including several I’ve not put online, including one of the station itself. It’s a nice Underground station, with the typical maroon tiles of the period and Grade II listed, opened in 2015, designed by Stanley Heap for the London Electric Railway but I think I felt it it would look better in colour, though I don’t think I made a colour image of its exterior.

Instead I crossed the road and walked a few yards north up Randolph Ave for this picture of Burke Electrical Services and the White Rose Laundry, both seemingly in an outhouse on the rear of the rather grandiose buildings of Elgin Avenue. All three shops in this picture are now a Starbucks, and those single-storey blocks now have two additional floors above, rather nicely blending in with the surroundings.

Elgin Mews North, Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-12-positive_2400
Elgin Mews North, Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-12

The left hand building of the above picture was a part of the archway leading east from Randolph Road into Elgin Mews North.

Most of the houses in Elgin Mews North seem modern, said to date from around 1984, but the gateway and those on Randolph Avenue are Grade II listed. The mews arch in an Italian Gothic style was built around 1864 but according to the listing text heavily restored and possibly reconstructed behind the facade around 1980.

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-14-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-14

A very similar pair of houses and archway are on Randolph Avenue just to the south of the Underground station, and are again Grade II listed.

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-16-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-16

According to the Victoria County History, Maida Vale gets its name from a victory in the Napoleonic Wars in 1807 when Sir John Stuart defeated the French at Maida in Calabria, and in 1810 a new pub on Edgware Road was named The Hero of Maida in his honour.

George Gutch (1790-1894) architect to the Bishops of London who owned the area made plans on a grand scale including a long avenue Portsdown Road parallel to Edgware Rd crossed by Elgin Road, but these were slow to be put into action, and it was only in the 1860s that the area began to be built up.

By this time the white stucco of earlier developments was being replaced by buildings in brick, often multicoloured which give the area its distinct look. Elgin Road was renamed Elgin Avenue in 1886, but it was only in 1939 that Portsdown Road was renamed to its current Randolph Avenue.

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-02-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-02

These long terraces are just beyond the mews in the image above.

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 198888-7e-51-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 198888-7e-51

The terrace continues for some length down Randolph Avenue.

Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 198888-7e-52-positive_2400
Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 198888-7e-52

I walked back to the tube station and Elgin Avenue, where a couple of shopfronts took may attention. The pillar dividing 294 and 296 is spiral, like those Italianate examples in Randolph Avenue.

Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-54-positive_2400
Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-54

And a little further east there was a blind stating ‘312 MEN’ above quite a few images of women which probably amused me slightly.

I walked out of Maida Vale across the Edgware Road and into St John’s Wood – where my next post from 1988 will continue. You can click on any of the images here to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos and browse the album from there.


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Around Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale – 1988

Friday, December 10th, 2021

Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-43-positive_2400
Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-43

It was the middle of July 1992 before I returned to photograph London, starting again in Carlton Vale, where I think there must have then been some convenient bus route for me, perhaps from Putney or Clapham Junction – many London routes were longer back then. I walked from there through Paddington Recreation Ground to Elgin Avenue. This was the eighth picture on my walk but the first which I’ve put online, chosen for the ornate porch and balcony above. 101 is the start of a short terrace of similar properties to the east of Shirland Road and reaching to Widley Road ending at 113, the last four of which are named Westside Court. This is part of the Maida Vale Conservation Area and these houses here probably date from the late 1880s or 90s.

Elgin Avenue area, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-32-positive_2400
Elgin Avenue area, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-32

The Walterton and Elgin Action Group began in 1985 when estates here owned by the GLC were transferred to Westminster Council who decided to sell them off to private developers without even informing residents.

Many 99 year leases in the area expired in the 1960 and had been bought up my private landlords, some unscrupulous including Perec “Peter” Rachman a few years earlier at low prices. Many homes became empty and derelict and in the 70s many were squatted and there was a high profile Elgin Avenue squatting campaign involving housing activist Piers Corbyn and punk legend Joe Strummer of the Clash.

The council then tried to set up barter deals with developers but an active series of protests inside the officers of the developers by WEAG stopped the deals. When I took these pictures Westminster City Council had emptied one third of Walterton Estate homes, blocking them with steel doors and others were heavily squatted. The 1988 Housing Act intended to encourage the sale of council housing to private landlords included a Tenant’s Choice provision and three quarters of the residents signed up as members of Walterton & Elgin Community Homes (WECH). A 72% vote was then obtained to transfer the properties to WECH, and Westminster Council had to pay over £22 million between 1992 and 1997 to WECH to make up for their years of neglect and pay for the refurbishment of properties. As an outsider I was only very vaguely aware of what was going in the the area when I took these photographs. The video on the WECH site tells the story well.

Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-33-positive_2400
Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-33

These shops on Shirland Road are close to the junction with Walterton Road. They are still there though as different businesses.

Lanhill Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-34-positive_2400
Lanhill Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-34

I was standing in Lanhill Road to make this photograph but the house with the bricked up windows is 79 Chippenham Rd. It still has bricked up windows but the outbuilding at right has been demolished to provide an off-road parking space for a single car. It is the end of a terrace on Chippenham Road and the other end on Grittleton Rd and the other end also has similarly bricked up windows, which I think were built like this simply to avoid a large expanse of brick wall and were never actually windows.

Chippenham Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-35-positive_2400
Chippenham Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-35

This shop selling plants, trees and greengrocer at 97 Chippenham Road seemed to be in the middle of rebuilding and is now a carpet store while the area behind the rather rickety boarding is enclosed restaurant seating. The pineapples almost appear to be growing on a tree and it seems to be doing a trade in 25kg bags of potatoes, several months supply for the average household. It seems also to have been a café, taking luncheon vouchers.

J Welford & Sons, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-22-positive_2400
J Welford & Sons, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-22

J Welford & Sons had their dairy in the old Warwick Farm Dairies building, on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Shirland Road from 1845. They merged with United Dairies in 1915 but there is now a Facebook Page devoted to the Largest Diary In London which occupied nearly two acres here, still with long frontages of their buildings along Elgin Ave and Shirland Road, though the cows are long gone.

Elgin Avenue, Lanhill Road, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-25-positive_2400
Elgin Avenue, Lanhill Road, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-25

This is the corner of J Welford & Sons Dairy Farm. The Dairy wall you can see down Lanhill Road is now demolished.

Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-14-positive_2400
65-7 Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-14

I took several pictures of this large property up for sale by auction on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Grittleton Rd. It was obviously in poor condition and I wondered if it might be demolished, but it was renovated and is now known as Greenvale House.

Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-16-positive_2400
Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7c-16

Apparently it has been restored recently and Savills describe it as “a beautiful white Edwardian building that has undergone an extensive refurbishment program to provide 6 luxury apartments in the heart of Maida Vale comprising 3 duplex and 3 lateral apartments.” Whatever those are.

Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-62-positive_2400
Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-62

What was the most distinctive feature of this property, the gate to the street that features in all three of my pictures here was removed some years ago, replaced by a rather ordinary entrance. One section of the original wall survived until a few years ago, but all is now plain flat white.

My walk in Maida Vale will continue in a later post.

Clicking on any of the images will take you to a larger version from where you can browse my album 1988 London Photos.


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Students March Against Huge Fee Rise

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Thursday 9th December 2010 was the day of a third student protest against the three-fold increase in university tuition fees which was being debated in Parliament that day, and the scenes in the area around were probably the most confusing of any I’ve seen in London.

My account of my day on My London Diary runs to around 1,700 words, and I’ll attempt not to repeat myself here, while giving a rather shorter account. The march started outside the University of London Union in Malet St, with a crowd of perhaps 10-20,000 including many sixth-formers who would be hit by the £9,000 a year fees when they went to university as well as current students and supporters.

There was a good atmosphere as the crowd listened to speeches there from trade unionists, John McDonnell MP and two sixthformers from schools that were being occupied in protest who got the largest cheers. As usual with student protests there was plenty to photograph.

The march began well though progress was rather slow, and several hundred students decided to walk in front of the main banner and for some reason police tried to stop them. They thought they were about to be kettled and rushed off towards Covent Garden. The official march continued without obstruction along the agreed route along the Strand. It wasn’t at all clear what the police had intended, and this was something that set the scene for the day.

Many more protesters joined the march at Trafalgar Square, and rather than proceed down Whitehall, police and march organisers had agreed on a route though Admiralty Arch and down Horseguards Road, and then left into Parliament Square. The march was then meant to continue down Bridge Street to an official rally on the Embankment, but most marchers had a different idea and wanted to stay in Parliament Square, the obvious place for the protest to continue.

It’s hard to understand why either police or march organisers had thought people would march on rather than stay outside Parliament – and probably many on the march had simply assumed it would end there. And soon police were actually preventing any who wanted to go on by blocking all the exits from Parliament Square except that into Whitehall (which they later decided to block.)

I managed to move around thanks to my press card, but even with this I was often refused access through police lines even in calm areas, and had to move along and find other officers in the line who would let me through, or take a longer walk around to get to where I wanted. The police didn’t appear to know what they were supposed to be doing and at one point I was being crushed by the crowd against the barriers in front of the riot police who were threatening us with batons unless we moved back – which was impossible because of the crush. Several press colleagues did get injured.

Late in the day students who wanted to leave were told by officers they could do so by going up Whitehall – only to be stopped by other police who were closing the street off. We were pushed back into Parliament Square by riot police and police horses. Police told protesters they were not being detained although they were not being allowed to leave, a kind of police logic most of us find infuriating.

Kettling like this is used by police as a kind of minor but arbitrary punishment, and as in this case it often leads to violent incidents and arrests which are then used to retrospectively justify police actions. After I had managed to get through one of the police lines and catch a bus away from the area I heard that Police had pushed a large group into a very confined space on Westminster Bridge with a total disregard for their safety, with some needing medical treatment for crushing. As I pointed out “there could easily have been more serious or fatal injuries and people pushed into the freezing river below.”

Of course protests like this need to be policed to avoid serious disorder. But the confused and sometimes unnecessarily violent way it was done on this occasion seemed to create most of the problems of the day.

As well as a long account of my day there are many more pictures on My London Diary in Students Against Cuts – Day 3.


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