Posts Tagged ‘workshops’

An Olympic Bike Ride

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

Businesses later demolished at the heart of the site for London’s 2012 Olympics

An Olympic Bike Ride: At the end of 2002 I finally bought a Brompton, a rather expensive folding bicycle which then cost me around £600. Perhaps not a lot for a new bike then and certainly not now, but rather more than the £13-7s6d or so the other bike I was still riding had cost in 1958.

Clays Lane Housing Co-operative – demolished for the Olympics

I’d been thinking about it for years, and it would certainly have been very useful for the work that I’d been doing around outer London in the previous decade, but I’ve only used it infrequently for my photography.

Eastway Cycle Circuit – lost to the Olympics

Though it’s a great way to get to places, taking it by train or underground and riding from a convenient station, Bromptons are a powerful magnet for bike thieves, so easy to put in a car boot or van, and selling at a relatively high price. It isn’t safe to lock them anywhere in public view when even the best cycle lock can only detain the well-equipped thief for around 30 seconds.

Bully Fen Wood – Community Woodland lost to the Olympics

So rather than using it for my general photography – mainly of protests and other events – I’ve used it for cycle rides on which I’ve taken photographs, both around where I live – it’s easier to jump on and off than my full-size bike – and in and around London.

Factory on Waterden Road – demolished for the Olympics

Thursday 4th January 2007 was a nice winter’s day, not too cold and blue skies with just a few clouds, and I went with the Brompton to Waterloo and then on the Jubilee Line to Stratford. Preparations had begun for the 2012 London Olympics and I wanted to see and photograph what I could of the changes that were taking place.

The footbridge has been kept in the new Olympic Park

My account of the day on My London Diary begins with my tongue-in-cheek suggestion that it would have been much preferable on environmental ground to shut down Heathrow and use that as the Olympic site, but goes on to describe a conversation I had with one of the residents at Clays Lane, then about to be demolished (spelling etc corrected.)

‘he talked of living in a fascist state, with lack of consultation and individual powerlessness, and of the games as having always had a militaristic overtone. hardly surprising there is little support for the games here, as initial promises that people from the Clays Lane Housing Co-operative would be rehoused in conditions “as good as, if not better than” their present estate were soon changed to “at least as good as in so far as is reasonably practicable.”‘

My London Diary

Work on the site seen from the Greenway

From Clays Lane I moved to the Eastway Cycle Track, already closed and fenced off – I decided against going through a gap in the fence to ride around it. The Community Woodland at Bully Fen Wood was also already closed. and I cycled on around the roads at the north of the site to Hackney Wick.

Pudding Mill River and Marshgate Lane – all now gone

Along Waterden Road I photographed some of the other industrial sites that were to be lost to the games, then turned along Carpenters Road and into Marshgate Lane, all soon to be fenced off and everthing on them destroyed. After taking pictures around Marshgate Lane I went back and into Hackney Wick, photographing the Kings Yard workshops on Carpenters Road soon to be demolished on my way.

Kings Yard – demolished for the Olympics

Hackney Wick to the west of the Lea Navigation is largely outside the Olympic compulsory purchase area, but some large areas of industry were scheduled for demolition and I took more pictures. I found the towpath here beside the navigation still open and rode down it to Stratford High Street, where more industry to the north of the road is also going.

Canary Wharf from Stratford Marsh

I spent some time going up the roads and paths here going from the High Street into Stratford Marsh which were still open, then went east along the top of the outfall sewer past areas also covered by the Olympic CPO.

St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers – factories at left and right to be demolished

There was still a little light and I came down from the ‘Greenway’ and cycled down to Bow Creek from West Ham, going down the path on the west side of the creek to the Lower Lea Crossing. I wanted a picture showing the Pura Foods site then being demolished, but also made a number of other twilight pictures from this elevated viewpoint, and also some from the Silvertown Way viaduct as I made my way to Canning Town Station for the train home.

Pura Foods being demolished for London City Island development

Many more pictures from this ride on My London Diary, starting a little way down the January 2007 page.


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Climate Camp 2009

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

The Blue Group on the way to Blackheath

I’d been a little wary of photographing at earlier Climate Camps because of their published media policy, driven I think by a few individuals with paranoid ideas about privacy and a totally irrational fear of being photographed. It required press photographers visiting the site to sign the media policy and to be accompanied while on the site by a minder, and I’d not been prepared to do so.

Some made themselves comfortable on Blackheath Common

But in 2009 I was invited to attend by the late Mike Russell or ‘minimouse’ to be a part of the documentation team for Climate Camp and took up the offer. At the camp I was given a sash showing I was a part of the Climate Camp documentation team which made things a little easier, though there was still a “certain amount of hostility to photography. There were some ‘no media’ areas marked, and although strictly this did not apply to the documentation team, I largely steered clear of them. I was also asked not to photograph two particular events, and a few people declined my request to take their picture. But in general people were friendly, cooperative and helpful and some clearly enjoyed having their pictures taken.”

Capitalism IS Crisis’

I didn’t spend a great deal of time at the Climate Camp. I travelled down on the Wednesday on the tube and DLR with a group of campers who met at Stockwell Underground, a location chosen because of the murder by police there of Jean Charles de Menezes as he sat on a train on his way to work on 22 July 2005. The Blue Group was one of six groups meeting at different stations waiting for instructions of how to get to the then undisclosed site for the camp.

The Welcome tent for visitors

We left the DLR at Greenwich and made our way up the hill to Blackheath Common past an apparently deserted police station. The common is a large flat grass area that is home to several festivals during the year and is some distance from anywhere where a large gathering would cause any real nuisance. But though it was a very suitable site, it too was chosen for its history. As I wrote in 2009:

this was the site where radical cleric John Ball made what is described as the first speech against class oppression, with its famous “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?” and urged his peasant audience to “cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.”

The Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 ended unhappily, and Ball was hung, drawn and quartered the following month while the teenage King Richard II looked on as the priest was bfirefly hung and then carefully kept alive to watch his genitals and bowels being removed and burnt before he was beheaded and his body hacked into four pieces. Ball’s fate didn’t stop Jack Cade leading a further popular revolt to also camp at Blackheath Common on its way to London in 1450, although Cade was fortunate to be killed in a battle before he could be hung, drawn and quartered; like Ball, his head was then displayed on London Bridge.

My London Diary

Ktichens around the site were preparing food

The Climate Camp hoped for rather more pleasant treatment by the authorities, and while they were setting up the police largely kept their distance. There was a minor incident when an anarchist group indulged in what they described as a ‘little anti-pig action’ hurling insults at two police officers who had come to talk to some of the organisers.

I was busy with other things on the Thursday and Friday, and returned to the Climate Camp on Saturday, and wearing my documentation team sash began to take pictures. I talked with a woman living in Catford who had come to visit the site and she was happy for me to follow her around in the Welcome tent and as she began to look around the site, then went to document some of the activities around the site.

Police surveillance cameras were covering the camp from just outside the fence and after I noticed one following my movements I walked closer outside the camp to photograph it, as I hadn’t brought a very long lens. I was then followed rather ineptly (perhaps deliberately so) by a young black man in plain clothes making notes in his notebook as I wandered around for the next 15 minutes.

Many talks and workshops were taking place

By then I thought I had covered all I could on the camp and it was time to go home. It wasn’t that exciting and the real events of Climate Camp took place whe groups left it to protest elsewhere around London, but I would have had to stay at the camp to take part in these.

In the set of pictures on My London Diary which I also supplied to the Climate Camp you can see something of the enormous amount of organisation that went into the camp. Those who came either to stay for several days or simply as day visitors will probably have learnt much about the climate crisis. Twelve years ago most people didn’t take it particularly seriously, and politicians were happy to ignore it. The Climate Camps were a call to action that was largely ignored and the mass media kept on giving at least as much air time and credence to climate deniers as to scientists and others aware of the impending disastrous consequences of man-made global warming. Now it has become rather difficult to ignore, but we are still not seeing the kinds of action by our government or other governments that will avert disaster.

Climate Camp: Saturday
Climate Camp: Setup
Climate Camp: Blue Group Swoop


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.