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.
i left for purley way and thornton heath, where there is at least little
pretence, and the sun made an appearance.
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.
i went on for an industrial archaeology walk through limehouse - organised
by the greater london industrial archaeology society (glias), ending at
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.'
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.
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
and you can read what I think about photography at