Posts Tagged ‘workers’

More Bow – a Grave, Halls, Co-op, Canal & Pub

Monday, March 14th, 2022

More Bow – a Grave, Halls, Co-op, Canal & Pub continues my walk on Monday 1st August 1988 – the previous post was Bow, Kingsly Hall, a Nursery, Grime, Quakers & more.

Bear Family, Memorial, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Mile End, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-54-Edit_2400
Bear Family, Memorial, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Mile End, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-54

The family vault of the Bear Family is marked by one of the more impressive monuments of Tower Hamlets Cemetery, with a long list of names, ages ad date of death which is headed by George Huxley Bear, who died in 1855 aged 4 years and six months. Several of the other entries are also for children, though their father lived to the age of 76. Child mortality was very much a feature of Victorian life.

I made two other pictures of this memorial, with its stems of wheat at the bottom and the consoling text from John XII, v 24 “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” As with all the other pictures you can click on this one to get a larger version and then browse back and forward to see them.

Bromley Public Hall, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-41-Edit_2400
Bromley Public Hall, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-41

Until last year this was the Tower Hamlets Register Office. The Grade II listed building dates from 1880 and was built as the vestry hall for St Leonard’s parish and extended in 1904. At least one web site confuses this with the much older and very different Bromley Hall, on the Blackwall Tunnel Approach road, though to be the oldest brick building in London, built around 1490 but extensively remodelled with a Georgian frontage around 1700.

Former Co-op store, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-42-Edit_2400
Former Co-op store, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-42

Stratford Co-operative & Industrial Society built this splendid store on Bow Road in 1919, proudly listing the names of its leading members under the bee hive signifying co-operation.

In my youth every high street (and some rather lower) had its own Co-operative store, benefiting from the huge buying power of the Cooperative Wholesale Society. We bought most of the few new clothes we could afford there as well as shoes and other items, and it was the Co-op who delivered our milk seven days a week. My mother’s Co-op number is still etched in my memory, essential when making any purchase, and leading to a ‘divi’ at the end of the year which saw us through Christmas.

In 1988 this was the PLH Kakkad Supermarket and although it sold a wide range of goods its frontage was devoted to Rothmans, “The best tobacco money can buy“. More recently it became a Costcutter and then a Nisa local since around 2008.

Lea Navigation, St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers, Stratford, Newham, 1988 88-8b-46-Edit_2400
Lea Navigation, St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers, Stratford, Newham, 1988

I walked further east and crossed the busy Bow roundabout to take this picture looking across the Lea Navigation and up St Thomas Creek, one of the Bow Back Rivers. Stratford High Street at right is now lined with tall flats, and Global Caravans with one stacked on top of a couple of containers is long gone, along with almost all of the rest of the industrial buildings. A few of those nearest on the left before Cooks Road remained but in derelict condition in 2021.

Bow Theatre, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8b-32-Edit_2400
Bow Theatre, Bow Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-32

Walking back west up Bow Road took me to Bow Theatre on the west corner of Fairfield Road. This Grade II listed building was a new Poplar Town Hall built in 1937-8 and was said to be the first modernist town hall, designed by Ewart Culpin and his son Clifford. The frieze by David Evans depicts the various trades of the builders of the town hall and is said to include a welder, a labourer, a mason, a carpenter and an architect. Unfortunately it is hard to decide the occupations of some of those in my picture, partly as they are not critically sharp.

After Poplar became a part of Tower Hamlets, this was no longer a town hall, but remained in use for some years as council offices and also as a theatre. The council sold it in the 1990s and it is now Bow Business Centre.

Caledonian, pub, Fairfield Rd, Blondin St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-34-Edit_2400
Caledonian Arms, pub, Fairfield Rd, Blondin St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-34

The Caledonian Arms on the corner of Blondin St is still standing but no longer a pub, having closed around 2000 and extensively converted to office and residential use in 2010. The building possibly dates from 1851 though it may have replaced a former building later that century. For years a Watney’s pub it later became owned by Shepherd Neame.

The cafe on the opposite corner has gone completely, its site part of a car park for new buildings down Blondin St. The name suggests that the street was built at the time of the famous tightrope crossing of the Niagra by ‘The Great Blondin‘ in 1859.

Douro St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-8b-35-Edit_2400
Douro St, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-35

This was a short street with small houses shown in the picture with front doors opening directly onto the street and a car breakers behind the fence at left.

The cobbles and the small houses are still there, but the car breakers have been replaced by a large block of flats, Altius Apartments, at 714 Wick Lane, with 4 floors and a roof garden, at a taller 9 floor tower at the east end. The guide price for one of those small houses in the ‘Bow Quarter’ is given as £800,000 and the estate agents rather creatively describe Douro St as ‘tree-lined’.

Tredegar Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-36-Edit_2400
Tredegar Rd, Bow, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-8b-36-Edit_2400

Tredegar Rd is just to the north of Douro St, on the other side of the flats. I think this is at its junction with Wick Lane and I think absolutely nothing of what was in my picture remains, with even the road layout having altered at least slightly.

What was H Bates & Son Scrap dealers is now occupied by a block of around 12 floors, offices at ground level and flats above, but the ‘Bow Quarter’ area is so different that this could well be another nearby corner – also covered with new housing. But my next pictures show I turned south down Wick Lane to the rear of the former Bryant & May match factory, where the next instalment of this walk will begin.


Click on any image to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse other images. You can view most of the sites today on Google Streetview.


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London, Dec 1st 2012

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

Adidas ‘Pay Your Workers’

December 1st 2012 was a Saturday and another busy day for protests over various issues in London. The poor are always with us because employers pay rock-bottom wages, even those who sell high-priced goods on London’s premier shopping streets.

But the protest outside Adidas in Oxford Street was not about the poorly paid staff in their store, but about the workers who make their sportswear in Indonesia who make the sportswear they sell and who have not been paid what Adidas owe them for over a year.

The PT Kizone factory in Indonesia had been making sportswear for Adidas, Nike and Dallas Cowboys for many years with many workers being on pitifully low wages, many being paid as little as US $0.60 an hour (37p), hardly enough to keep them alive. But in January 2011 the factory owner fled and the factory closed in April 2011 and the 2,800 workers were left with no jobs.

Under Indonesian law they were entitled to severance pay, a total of around US$2.8 million (about £1.74 million) and the three companies for whom they had made goods for many years were obliged to share the payments. Both Nike and Dallas Cowboys agreed to pay up, but Adidas are refusing to pay the $1.8 million (£1.12 million) they owe, despite a worldwide campaign with a 50,000 signature petition and 5000 posts on their Facebook page demanding they pay.

On December 1st there were protests outside Adidas stores in London and other cities in the UK, with some protesters wearing masks with the face of Justin Bieber, who is the ‘global style icon’ for their NEO label. The protesters point out that Adidas were “happy to pay their $157m to sponsor the Olympics, but won’t pay 1% of that to avoid the destitution of those that made them their profits.”

Adidas ‘Pay Your Workers’


Free West Papua Independence Day

A short distance away at the Indonesian Embassy in Grosvenor Square another protest was taking place against the Indonesian occupation of West Papua in 1962.

On December 1st 1961, West Papua had been set on the road to independence by the Dutch. The Netherlands had controlled the area since 1898 except during the wartime Japanese occupation. Indonesia had become independent in 1945 and claimed all of the Dutch territories in the area, leading to a long-running dispute between the two countries, and just over two weeks later began moving troops into West Papua, and were in the whole area by the end of the following year. But it was due to the United States fear of Soviet influence in Indonesia that the Dutch finally temporarily transferred the control of the region to Indonesian government as a part of the New York Agreement, which called for a later UN referendum on the future of the country.

This referendum took place in 1969, and although called the Act of Free Choice, involved voting by 1025 men and women selected by the Indonesian military who unsurprisingly voted unanimously in favour of Indonesian control. Since then the Free Papua movement has worked to gain independence both by peaceful protest and international pressure but also by guerilla warfare.
Free West Papua Independence Day

Morsi’s Dicatatorial Decree

The Egyptian Embassy is short distance to the south in Mayfair, and in front of it there were over 50 protesters shouting noisily condemning the decree by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and calling him a dictator. A few yards down the street, separated by police was a protest by 5 of supporters of his action.

This was one of widespread protests in Egypt and around the world which led to the president announcing the decree would be scrapped a week later. But he proceeded with bringing in a new constitution which was described by many as an ‘Islamist Coup’ and was approved by a referendum later in the month.


Morsi’s Dicatatorial Decree

Climate March Says ‘NO’ to Fracking

The day’s largest event also started in Mayfair, outside the US Embassy, still in Grosvenor Square. It was the Global Day of Action on Climate Change, and the protest focused attention on the dangers of using shale oil and tar sands for energy, both of which would lead to excessive global warming and make reaching the targets set for carbon emissions impossible.

The US embassy was chosen for the starting rally as the dirty energy lobby in the USA, led by companies including the Koch Brothers, has succeeded in making the US the main barrier to effective climate action over the years.

After the rally they began to lay a mock pipeline from the US Embassy to the Canadian Canadian High Commission at the opposite end of Grosvenor Square to show their outrage at the continued exploitation of high-carbon tar sands. They had brought an impressive number of long pipes for the purpose, but they were not allowed to lay them in the direct route across the square, so didn’t quite make it going around the outside.

The thousand or so marchers then set off towards Parliament Square while I went to cover some of the events elsewhere before meeting them again in Parliament Square just before they erected a mock fracking rig with the message ‘No Fracking in the UK’. After this the rally there continued with speeches from Eve Macnamara from REAF (Ribble Estuary against Fracking), John McDonnell MP (Labour, Hayes and Harlington) and Natalie Bennett (leader, Green party).

Climate March Says ‘NO’ to Fracking


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A Busy 10th October – 2014

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Solidarity for Care UK Strikers

NSSN, TUSC and Southwark Unison protested at the Care UK offices in Southwark during the nation-wide day of solidarity with Doncaster Care UK workers who had been on strike for 81 days after huge cuts in pay and services by a private equity company taking over a part of the NHS, part of the continuing largely hidden privatisation of our NHS.

This protest was one of many around the country outside offices of Care UK and Bridgepoint, the private equity firm that owns Care UK, as well as at shops including branches of Fat Face and Pret a Manger also owned by Bridgepoint. As I wrote:

Their strike is not just about their own cuts in wages, but a stand against the principles involved and the whole idea of a values-based health service. The workers at Care UK are no longer able to proudly address the needs of those with learning disorders in their own community, but are simply required to meet minimum needs at the lowest possible cost – and the greatest profit to Bridgepoint and the company to which they will be sold on once the private equity company has slimmed services and pay to the bone.

Solidarity for Care UK Strikers

Free Ghoncheh Ghavami – SOAS action

Protesters at outside SOAS called for the release of former SOAS Law student Ghoncheh Ghavami, held in prison for 104 days and on hunger strike for 10 days after being detained in Iran with other women after she went to watch a volleyball match. Among those who spoke at the protest was Ghavami’s brother.

According to Wikipedia, “Ghavami was released on bail on 23 November 2014. She was sentenced to a one-year jail term and a two-year travel ban.”

Free Ghoncheh Ghavami – SOAS action

City Panoramas

I had a little time to spare between events and took a short walk in the City, including along one of the remaining areas of ‘highwalk’ at the southwest of the Barbican site, part of the post-war plan to segregate pedestrians from traffic.

The Museum of London had decorated the wall at left with characters related to an exhibition about Sherlock Holmes.

This large building site was on what used to be St Alphage Highwalk. The ambitious post-war plans to separate pedestrians from traffic in the City were never really practical on a large scale and large sections such as this have been demolished, although there are still some highwalks including throughout the large Barbican estate.

City Panoramas

Palestine protest at Hewlett Packard

The Palestinian Prisoners Campaign continued their campaign against Hewlett-Packard, which boasts of ‘a massive presence’ in Israel and are the IT backbone for the Israeli war machine with a picket outside their London offices in Wood St in the City.

Palestine protest at Hewlett Packard

Solidarity with the Umbrella Revolution

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts organised a protest at the Chinese Embassy in solidarity with the ‘umbrella revolution’ of the students and workers of Hong Kong in their fight for democracy. Many of the protesters carried umbrellas and others had small yellow paper umbrellas as well as their posters and placards.

Solidarity with the Umbrella Revolution


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More from May Days: 2016

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Clerkenwell Green was more packed than ever for May Day 2016, with the big attraction being a rally before the start of the march with Jeremy Corbyn as the main speaker, along with TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.

While the event usually attracts little media attention, TV crews and photographers were out in force, with a crowd of photographers around the open-top bus from which he was speaking, and mobbing him as he arrived and left. The stewards became rather heated and there were some who threatened the photographers and a considerable amount of pushing from both them and the photographers. I was glad I had decided to keep well clear.

The march was much as usual, and I tried to photograph all the banners – and most of them are on My London Diary.

Having had the main speakers before the march started, the rally which followed was perhaps something of an anticlimax, though there was perhaps a wider range of speakers than usual having got the political big guns out of the way earlier. The event was enlivened by a colourful protest by Ahwazi Arabs against their repression over many years by the Iranian regime which has stolen their land and is trying to eradicate their culture.

I left for Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel, where the Bangladeshi Workers Council along with Red London, trade unionists, labour movement, political and community activists had organised a rally to commemorate and celebrate May Day.

 I met up with a small group from Class War at a pub in Aldgate and walked down with them to 1 Commercial St, the ‘Poor Doors’ tower block where the fourth in a series of anti-capitalist street parties organised by anarchists in East London was to start.

Several hundred turned up, some in fancy dress and others in black and the party got started. After partying and blocking Whitechapel High St the set off to protest elsewhere, first outside the sleazy misogynistic Jack the Ripper tourist attraction in Cable St, and then on to block Tower Bridge for a few minutes, where as well as the usual smoke flares we also get a show of fire breathing.

As they paused by the Southwark Council Offices in Tooley St I kept walking. I’d been on my feet for far too long and needed to rest on a train home. I had to take several days off before getting back to taking pictures.

F**k Parade 4: Ripper & Tower Bridge
Anti-Capitalist May Day Street Party
May Day Rally & Gonosangeet
May Day Rally
Ahwazi Protest at May Day Rally
May Day March
Day at Clerkenwell Green


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


IWGB welcomes new Vice Chancellor

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Although Universities like to present themselves as centres of enlightenment, when it comes to their relationship with workers who provide vital services to them, things are rather different. Unions including the IWGB have a long record of fighting and eventually winning battles against intransigent university managements for the London Living Wage and for better terms and conditions of service.

The IWGB, supported by other unions, after a series of protests and strikes in the ‘3 Cosas’ campaign won improved sick pay and holiday pay for outsourced workers at the University of London (Central Administration). But outsourced workers employed by contracting companies to work for the university are still under far worse conditions than those directly employed by the university, and often subject to poor and bullying managers, and a new campaign began in 2017 to bring them into direct employment.

Actions by IWGB members and its supporters – including many university students and staff – forced to the University to make a committment to bring the workers in-house, but a year later this promise was still to be kept, with only 12 receptionists having been brought back to direct employment

This action followed a failure of the newly appointed University Vice-Chancellor Wendy Thomson to reply to the IWGB’s request for a meeting to discuss the issue. Instead of talking with the IWGB union about their demand for all the workers to be taken into direct employment without delay the University has been spending large amounts on buying in extra security staff.

Although the great majority of the staff involved are now IWGB members, the University continues to take advantage of our immoral trade union laws which enable them to ignore the union and instead only officially talk and negotiate with a union which has no or very few members among the workers involved.

To their great shame our larger established trade unions collude with this practice – and even often claim the credit for concessions which have only been won because of the work of the IWGB and other grass roots unions who similarly remain unrecognised by the employers. Workers have a right to choose who should recognise them, and this is something that the unions once fought for but now too often refuse to support.

The 12 receptionists were given new contracts in May 2019, but these were negotiated with another union “behind their backs and behind the back of their chosen trade union, the IWGB“, and 7 of the 12 have brought grievances against the university, some of which involve a breach of transfer of employment (TUPE) regulations.

Since this protest, the University have also set a timetable to bring the  security officers in-house in May 2020 and cleaners in-house in November 2020, but have refused to bring the gardeners also involved back in house.

The IWGB are continuing to demand that the gardeners are also brought back in house and that any new contracts should be made in consultation with the union to which the workers belong and be approved by them.

More about the protest and more pictures at  IWGB welcome new Vice Chancellor


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Goldsmiths Occupation

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Goldsmiths, University of London was once a small college in New Cross, establishe in 1891 by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths as Goldsmiths’ Technical and Recreative Institute in a building built in 1844 for the Royal Naval School who had outgrown the site. It became a college of the University of London in 1904 as as Goldsmiths’ College, losing the apostrophe in 1933.

Goldsmiths College is still its official name, but it no longer uses the ‘College’, perhaps too much of a reminder of its past role largely in training teachers, although also offering other courses. Many well-known British artists studied there, perhaps benefitting greatly from a thriving south London art scene in the 1970s in Bermondsey and other areas of nearby Southwark.

Goldsmiths too has outgrown its old building, although it is still its main building, but has spread its campus across a much larger area, with both new buildings and incorporating older ones, the most prestigious and ornate of which is the former Deptford Town Hall on the New Cross Road.

Over half the students at Goldsmiths are mature students, and around a fifth are overseas students as well as many BAME students from this country. That mix was evident when I visited Deptford Town Hall where students were preparing for a party to celebrate 50 days of occupation in the building – as it has also been on other visits to the campus. It feels more like a London university than most.

The Goldsmiths occupation was prompted after a candidate standing in student elections was racially abused and the university authorities failed to take action, but has longer and deeper causes. Students claim that the university fails to treat its BAME students and workers fairly, with higher dropout rates for them as well as lower academic results. I’d been at Goldsmiths a couple of months earlier, on St Valentines Day for a protest to launch the campaign by the IWGB union and students to directly employ its security officers and give them decent pay and conditions.

I was signed into the building by a student and given a conducted tour of the occupied areas, then watched and photographed the occupying students preparing for their party – and wished I could stay as the food looked delicious.

The students had a long list of demands, including that Goldsmiths develop a strategic plan to tackle the institutional racism – and bring workers on the campus into direct employment, several versions of which were written up in the occupation and on-line.

They also demand that Deptford Town Hall be made more available to the local community, as they say Goldsmiths have failed to live up to the promises they made about this. It really is a splendid building, and the interior even more so than the impressive facade, and it would be good to see it become a community asset rather than solely used for university purposes. It was after all built for the people, doubtless with money from taxpayers as well as from our exploitation of the Empire.

The occupation finally came to a successful end in July after 137 days when the Black, Minority Ethnic, Muslim, LGBTQ and disabled student-led occupation by Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action obtained a legally binding dcument signed by the Senior Management Team to their demands including that they would not pursue further legal action against those who had carried out the occupation.

More pictures from my brief visit: 50 days anti-racist occupation at Goldsmiths.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.