my london diary

sept 2003

wandsworth is few people's favourite area of London, with too much traffic and a truly depressing shopping centre. what it did have, around its edges were some splendidly neglected areas, such as the mouth of the Wandle, reaching the Thames under the railway line, past the council depot and squeezing out between the waste transfer depot and a run down industrial estate. the wandle was once an imporant source of power for london industries, and had one of the first railways running along its route. now there are new riverside flats speading rapidly in both directions along the banks of the thames (not yet along the wandle), sanitization, new footbridges and public art. downriver in battersea, things have also changed. parts of the new have some interest, but most lacks individuality. the gloomy day i walked there seemed in keeping with the surroundings.
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i left for purley way and thornton heath, where there is at least little pretence, and the sun made an appearance.
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i didn't get to the arms fair - and nor did most of the demonstrators, with the police misusing anti-terrorist legislation to harass them (we all knew it would be misused, depsite Blunkett's protestations.) along with a few thousand others i did take part in a march in central london to oppose it. organised at short notice, it surprised us all by starting almost immediately after the time giving for turning up, before most of the would-be demonstrators had arrived. by the time it had reached the imperial war museum it was at least three times as large, having added two samba bands, coachloads from out of london, stragglers from everywhere and this butterfly from surrey.
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i went on for an industrial archaeology walk through limehouse - organised by the greater london industrial archaeology society (glias), ending at canary wharf.
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the brick lane festival is now an annual event, but it seems rather empty, crowds of people with nowhere much to go. moving the stages off the street into courtyards and the park has taken too much away from the lane itself, leaving only the food stalls, serious eating and a few street performers. the samba band gave the event its only real life.
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there are still a few streets around waterloo left as a film set, although the yellow lines and street furniture don't fit with the period. i walked through them on the way to an event at the bargehouse, a semi-derelict building used for several years as a museum. i had some old pictures on show there, taken of southwark in the 1970s and 80s. you can see these and many more on the londons industrial history site, but the ones on show were rather nice prints made to A1 size from my scans.
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a new london is emerging around city hall near tower bridge, and i strolled past it to see the git-wizard in his box. even more boring than i expected, so i'll save you the pictures.
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staines was firmly put in london long ago, when the city erected the london stone there to mark the end of their part of the thames. the one there is now only a good replica. the local mayor was being rowed there from the other end of the borough. staines has been badly mauled by local politics, most importantly in being kept out of london by tory gerrymandering in the sixties. the council's latest debacle is selling off the old town hall despite the protests of local residents and community groups. the new gateways are a positive feature, set in a new wasteland of grass leading to the river.
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no-car day didn't see any great events in london this year, but part of central leytonstone was closed to traffic and people were having fun. it was certainly good to be able to enjoy walking down the streets without traffic, but again the event seemed to lack a centre.
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the anti-war march on 27 september was another big event, though not on the massive scale of february's event. it took about an hour and a half to pass me on park lane. the numbers reported by the police and bbc both seemed derisory. perhaps they were closer to the numbers that ended up in trafalgar square, but there were far more on the march itself. estimating numbers is hard once the numbers get too high to really count - perhaps a few thousand. the countryside alliance had the right idea on this, with their arch on whitehall although i never see one of their car stickers with 400 thousand and something on without thinking 'and i was 3 of them.'
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mixed feelings on the whole cockney thing, pearlies and all that. but they came to be as a reaction to queen victoria visiting slum areas and patronising the poor. who said 'up yours' and created their own effing royals. now they work hard collecting for charities.

personally i'd happily swap these characters from peckham, lambeth and elsewhere around london for the windsor family.
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some of my work gets put into nice organised websites.

this isn't meant to be like that, but you can see some of the rest at

london pictures
londons industrial history

and you can read what I think about photography at


All pictures on this site are © Peter Marshall 2002;
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The mouth of the Wandle    more pictures

Sainsbury's, Purley Way, Croydon   another picture

Demonstration agains the London arms fair   more pictures

Canary Wharf   more pictures

London School of Samba at Brick Lane Festival   more pictures

Waterloo   more pictures

New development by City Halll - More London   more pictures

Staines war memorial and new gateways   more pictures

Leytonstone   more pictures

Anti-war march   more pictures

Pearly Queen and daughter   more pictures

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