Durham & Sunderland

Durham & Sunderland – photos

I took some photos of Durham and Sunderland over two days.

Durham is easy – very photogenic – be it the ancient or modern parts of the town. I say ‘town’ – but of course technically Durham is a City – because of the Cathedral – albeit a very small city – with a population of only 65,000.
The University – which completely dominates the City – is building up to a student population of over 22,000 – so one third of the size of the local population. Together with staff – academic, administrative and support people the University adds much more than one third to the locally resident population.

I have taken some snaps of both the old parts of Durham and some of the modern science site.

In the case of Sunderland my photos do not do justice to my impression, which was one of very substantial poverty.
That is not to say that every part of the whole town (again City, I think – it is four times the size of Durham) is poor – but the evidence from life expectancy figures does show this poverty.

Compared to the well to do London Borough in which I live, the average life expectancy in Sunderland for males is 5.4 years lower. The worst areas of Sunderland compare even more unfavourably at a difference of 13.4 years for males compared to my London Borough.

Lower life expectancy is directly related to financial well being, but regardless of this, only a very unobservant person could fail to notice the poorness (if that is the right word) of the population in Sunderland City Centre.

It is not especially caused by unemployment as Sunderland only has slightly worse than average unemployment – though it has suffered long periods of unemployment in the past and this no doubt feeds through to today.

It’s one time major wealth – in shipping – is shown by my snap of one of the panels listing all the shipping built in Sunderland; a set of years which I chose carefully…

Brighton: North Laines area

Brighton: North Laines area – photos

Here are a few snaps of the North Laines area in Brighton. It is an area of interesting shops including various artistic and antique shops. Very busy, with lots of tourists.

I have taken photos mostly of individual shops – but some of the street scene, including some of the housing streets of the North Laines.

With there being, of course, much discussion about ’empty High Streets’ at the moment – and many of these being sadly too clear for all to view, it is interesting to see how well the North Laines in Brighton fare. It is true that there are many tourists – but tourists all too often spend on such small items as an ice cream or a small gift or other – and spend their time viewing without buying from the many interesting shops. There must be other factors at work that make it such a successful area – and the local Council tax charges and rents must be sufficiently low as to make a contribution of significance to the area? There is also significant encouragement from the local authority to designs and decorations of shops – which is some areas would require months of Planning Authority input.

Whilst many towns and cities have none of the tourist draw of a place like Brighton, area like the Laines in Brighton must have some lessons for the many High Streets that are currently facing difficulty.

London Metropolitan Archives

I have now been taking my London building and architecture photographs for some seven years. I have walked many miles about London – I think maybe several hundred miles – in that time.
I took some 30,000 photos and have kept some 16,000 of them. I have tried to take photos from as wide a geographical area of London as possible – though, not surprisingly, I have taken more in central areas, because they are more interesting, than any outer suburbs. My collection of them is kept filed by London Borough – of which there are 32, plus the City.

My main interest has been in the massive changes that have been, and still are, taking place in the built environment of London. It is on such a large scale that certain areas of London are already almost unrecognisable from twenty years ago.

My collection has now been accepted by the London Metropolitan Archives – which is owned and funded by the City of London, and I have formally gifted the collection to them. They will be added to a collection of some 250,000 photographs.

The Archives can be found in Northampton Street in Clerkenwell – not that far from the giant Mount Pleasant Royal Mail sorting office or Saddlers Wells Opera.

It will take some time before my set of 16,000 is uploaded onto their collection – so don’t expect to log-in to the Archives or go along there and try and find my set right away.

My Flickr pages – which have been linked from this blog – will slowly be removed. The Copyright on the photographs now belongs to the Metropolitan Archives.

I hope that you have enjoyed looking at them and that in the future they will be of some help to others, so this may well be my last blog.

On the other hand, I have just acquired an old fogey’s Railcard so maybe one or two other places are ripe for photographic treatment….

(new) City of London

(new) City of London – photos

This set is confined to the City of London – except for the Principal Tower which is, strictly speaking, just outside the City boundary and in the London Borough of Hackney.
It tries to show some of the new buildings – mostly skyscrapers – being put up in the City, though one of the snaps – of Tower 42 – does show a skyscraper which was completed in 1981.
I have concentrated on the new buildings of the City to show what I have been trying to illustrate during the last seven years that I have been taking these photos. This has been an attempt at a record of the massive change that has been – and still is – taking place in London in this early part of the 21st Century.
There is one exception that is not a photograph of a new building – the next to last one – which is a photo of the statute commemorating the pre-War Kinder transports. I felt since I was photographing on the day before Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, it was right and proper to include it.

My point about my attempt to record the changes taking place in London over the last seven years brings me to a second matter of some importance. It is now time for me to start and find a home for all these snaps. I have some 16,000 of them and I must have ‘pressed the button’ on my camera(s) at least 30,000 and maybe 40,000 times – the difference I have thrown away. I want to find a home for them – not for their photographic quality – but for their record. I hope that one day they may be of interest to others.

The fact also is that I am not quite as young as I was when I started – so that very large scale traipsing about London is to say the least a bit slower for me than it was when I started. For example, I at one time found no difficulty in walking along the river path from the O2 to Waterloo (about nine miles) – but only this week my legs got somewhat tired at the walk from London Bridge Station to Waterloo.

For this reason and to put my efforts into finding a permanent home for my snaps, I will now be reducing my ‘monthly’ blog and photos to ‘occasional’ – publishing when there is something that I want to publish.

Wandsworth, Wandsworth

Wandsworth, Wandsworth – photos

I haven’t developed a stutter: the London Borough of Wandsworth covers Putney, Roehampton, Battersea, Southfields, Earlsfield, Summerstown, Tooting and about half of Clapham – so Wandsworth, Wandsworth refers to just the Wandsworth part of the Borough.

Wandsworth – like so much of London – comprises much Edwardian, and older, housing and much new regeneration and redevelopment. Wandsworth – because of the River Thames and the tributary of the Thames – the River Wandle was quite an industrial part at one time and much of the old industrial areas are being redeveloped. I have photographed two of the major new developments on the banks of the Thames – one right next to Wandsworth Bridge is “Battersea Reach” and the other “Wandsworth Riverside Quarter”.
The former Youngs Brewery site in Ram Street – called the Ram Brewery – is being redeveloped by Greenland – a major Chinese property company. It will still include a small brewery as the former Head Brewer is setting up a new small specialist brewing company on the site. In keeping with developers love of the word “Quarter” it is called the Ram Quarter.

Despite the redevelopments taking place, some of which are very pleasant, they are marred by the dreadful road systems of Wandsworth Town Centre. The main problem is the fact that the South Circular and the A3 (together with others) intermingle and run through the centre. There are two major gyratory systems (whizzy word for ‘big fast roundabout’) and together with the roads – which are either congested or rat runs depending on the time of day – make for an unpleasant experience in walking about the area. Once, in taking these snaps I walked across a town centre junction and a lady, fairly young, in a hand driven wheel chair had to be assisted up the dropped kerb at the other side of the road. When she crossed in the direction at right angles she just made it before several lanes of swank-mobiles mowed her down.

One of my snaps is of “WRWA” – which stands for Western Riverside Waste Authority. It is a waste collection point for the London Boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth and Wandsworth. Waste from here goes by barges to the energy from waste plant down the river at Belvedere producing electricity for some 160,000 households. In general we have too few such plants in this country – and the need for more of them will become quite urgent when China stops taking much of our waste during the early part of 2018.

Away from the immediate town centre is Wandsworth Common – where much of the poshest and most expensive housing is situated and the Common itself is like a haven of peace away from all the traffic.

I wish you all a Happy New Year. I am sure that in 2018 the ‘rebuilding’ of London will continue – even though the pace slowed somewhat in the second half of the past year. The areas of really major redevelopment such as the Greenwich Peninsular, Isle of Dogs, the City, Battersea, Croydon, Stratford and so much of the riverside will continue to completely change the appearance of the city.

Some Lambeth – but mostly Southwark

Some Lambeth – but mostly Southwark – photos

I walked from Waterloo, down to Elephant and Castle – but meandering about quite a bit and so a small part of my walk was in Lambeth but most of it was in Southwark, but I have treated the snaps as if they were all in Southwark – so it is possible that I have mis-named one or two of them.

The snaps are dominated by some fine terraces of housing – of a wide variety of styles.

On the way is St George’s Cathedral – a large Catholic cathedral – it’s full proper name is The Metropolitan Cathedral of St George – and is, in a way, the Catholic cathedral to rival the Church of England’s Southwark Cathedral just a short distance to the north in the same Borough. It is however much more modern and was originally built in 1848 – the architect being Augustus Pugin (one of the two architects of the Palace of Westminster). It was much destroyed by incendiary bombs in the War and was reconstructed afterwards – reopening in 1958. Until Westminster Cathedral was opened in 1903, St George’s was the largest Catholic cathedral in the UK.

The third snap in this set is one of the Imperial War Museum. This was originally the Bethlehem hospital for the criminally insane – known as Bedlam – but this eventually moved to Beckenham in 1936 (nowadays “Bethlehem Royal Hospital”) and the wings of the original building were demolished and the central domed section became the Museum. The Museum sits on land originally known as St George’s Fields (more or less opposite the Cathedral). This was the marshy area that I mentioned in last month’s blog. Shortly before the Bedlam moved off to Kent there was concern about overdevelopment of the area and the land was bought by Viscount Rothemere – owner of the Daily Mail. He gave it for use as a park to the London County Council and it was named after his mother as the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park. She was a remarkable lady who had 14 children!

Two other sets of snaps – two in each set – are worth a bit of mention: West Square and West Square Garden is a beautiful Georgian square with many very old mulberry trees – much propped up to prevent branches collapsing. Lamlash Street and Lamlash Street gardens – with a view of one of the new Elephant and Castle skyscrapers in the background – was an area where too many dumped rubbish until the locals turned it into a lovely local allotment.

Over the past twenty years, and more rapidly over the last ten years, this area has – like so many other areas of London – become more well to do. It has not yet undertaken the dramatic gentrification that an area like say Notting Hill made over an admittedly longer period from the late Sixties onwards, and it probably will not be the same as somewhere like that but nevertheless the changes have been and continue to be large scale – especially when the Elephant and Castle area is included. It is, in my opinion, likely to continue to look ‘posher and richer’.

In and around Waterloo

In and around Waterloo – photos

Waterloo is the UK’s biggest and busiest station. In 2015/16 there were 99 million entries and exits. With Waterloo East and the Underground it makes it the busiest station in Europe.
During August this year it was subject to several weeks of near closure as the start of some major improvements was made. These are to enable the use of longer trains – ten coaches instead of eight and to bring into normal commuter use the platforms of the former Waterloo International – moved in 2007 to St Pancras. Platforms 1-4 were completely rebuilt to allow for the longer trains – with the various suburban stations having being lengthened over the last two or three years. At the same time, much complex work on the track and signalling coming in and out of Waterloo has had to be undertaken. There is now a further 15 months of work at Waterloo to be completed including building new direct entrances to the Underground from the newly (re)used former International Platforms and the full completion of the return of these “International” platforms into suburban line use.

I have taken snaps of only the area most immediately around Waterloo as well as in the station itself. The farthest I have been from the station for this set of photos is up onto Waterloo Bridge and down Waterloo Road only as far as the Old Vic Theatre.

Fortunately Waterloo Bridge remains one of the great ‘City Views’ of the World – unsullied by the proposed Garden Bridge, which, thank goodness, has now been scrapped – after a substantial waste of public monies.

The variety of views available in such a small area is quite remarkable.

I have taken a few of the Leake Street tunnel under the lines going in to Waterloo. It has become a well known graffiti area and there were artists hard at work when I took my photos. There are also two other photos – both of the rail viaduct that runs onto the Hungerford Bridge across the river going in to Charing cross Station – that show some graffiti – but these are examples of a more political nature. Quite what the Evening Standard had said that led to its being called “Racist Bog Roll” – I do not know – and I see that the same lettering, obviously by the same person, is used on the other graffiti statement of “Do not vote Tory ever”.

To the north of Waterloo is the Shell Centre – which, following a two or three year attempt by just one person to seek a judicial review, is finally being much extended with new swanky towers and offices and it looks to me as though the development will look very good. It was interesting that as I took some of these snaps, one of the ‘gatemen’ to the construction site told me not to take photos – “private property” he said. I pointed out that I was taking photographs on a public road and had therefore no intention of taking notice of him – but I mention it because in recent years this has become something of a problem for photographers, including serious architectural photographers taking pictures for a potential new building. It also sometimes includes news journalists and an organisation called “I’m a Photographer not a Terrorist” campaigns against the increasing actions of representatives, such as security guards, of private owners of major property spaces that appear to be ‘public spaces’ – such as major shopping centres. It is a matter of growing concern, and needs to be completely separated from the concern that might possibly be expressed by an individual against an unwanted personal photo or an unwanted photo of a private dwelling. In part it is caused by the weakness of local authorities in allowing what look like major public spaces to be legally private space and thus potentially subject to private control. If it were to include construction sites being photographed from public highways, it would render vast tracts of London to being photographically out of bounds.

South of the station is Lower Marsh – a street with a market several times a week. It is probably so-called because at one time the area to the south of where Waterloo nowadays is was at one time very marshy ground – all the way down to where the Imperial War Museum stands. I will add a little more about this in a future posting.

Despite not venturing far at all from the station itself, I think you must agree that the variety of views in this small area is indeed very substantial.

Hammersmith to Wormwood Scrubs

Hammersmith to Wormwood Scrubs – photos

I start off with a photo of Hammersmith Underground Station. There are actually two of them – the second I show just two snaps later. The first is the District and Piccadilly line station; the other is for the Circle and Metropolitan lines.

I walked up Shepherds Bush Road – taking some photos of some of the side streets – including a few down the Uxbridge Road – which now seems to be quite a Syrian area. I have photographed one of the entrances to Shepherds Bush Market but not the market itself as this was the subject of a post in the past.

Further on in Wood Lane, that used to be the home of the BBC, are some snaps of the Westfield Shopping Centre (one of two Westfields in London – the other being at Stratford in East London). The Shepherds Bush one is being extended with the addition of a John Lewis and just next to this there is a new development starting to emerge called “White City Living” being put up by one of the divisions of Berkley Homes. The planned 30 storey tower will have eyeful views of Grenfell Tower from its Eastern side. On the opposite side of the road the former BBC HQ is being converted into residential and on both sides of the this part of Wood Lane a vast second campus is being developed for Imperial College – at what I think is a capital sum of £1Billion.

I have just one snap of the White City Estate – very well described in this excellent blog.

Under the Westway flyover I have taken a photo of the dreadful Grenfell. I have a very similar photo from over four years ago, before the disastrous cladding was even installed – it still has not been on the other three towers on this estate.

Over the road and round the corner into DuCane Road – home of Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, where both my children were born (rather a long time ago!) and also of my last picture which might be titled:
Go Directly to Jail, Do not Pass Go, Do not collect £200.
The Prison was built by prisoners – housed in temporary prison buildings between 1874 and 1890 – though the interior has been modernised since then. I don’t know if they earned any remissions from the work. It houses nearly 1,300 prisoners. The architect was Sir Edmund Du Cane – hence the name of the road.

Earls Court

Earls Court – photos

Earls Court was one time a hamlet near to the present District Line station and acquired its name from a Court set up by the Earls of Warwick and Holland. Now it is a bustling over-busy area of mid London – straddling the two boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham. Like many areas of London it is currently subject to potentially major change.

I came to photograph the area because of this likely change and particularly at the moment to snap the giant crane which is being used in the demolition of the former Earls Court Exhibition Centre. The crane has been set up by Keltbray Engineering and it is capable of lifting the concrete beams which were the base of the Earl Court Exhibition Centre and straddle the District Line. With the aid of this crane the demolition work will be able to be completed without any need to close the District Line. The largest of the concrete beams weighs 1500 tonnes – about the same as 118 London buses.

The Earls Court Exhibition Centre itself has gone – though until a few weeks ago the District Line still announced “alight here for Earls Court Exhibition Centre” – and now the overhead beams are being removed by the giant crane. The area where the Exhibition Centre stood is being rebuilt as posh housing with a new road joining North End Road to Warwick Road. A major new master plan has been drawn up by Terry Farrell architects and can be seen on the developer’s website here. The Earls Court Exhibition Hall section of the master plan is not the most controversial but as it widens to possibly include the area occupied by the West Kensington estates it becomes very controversial, and not surprisingly the residents of these estates are opposed. There is a concern that this is yet another example of what commentators are calling social cleansing as has happened in other areas such as Elephant and Castle. However London (and many other cities of course) have long histories of such social cleansing often resulting in areas that people now revere – or certainly like a great deal – so it is not a cut and dried matter. Though there is a serious concern that working class families are being driven out to distances as far as Slough and farther, and certainly far too little genuine low cost housing is being built for ordinary Londoners.

In addition to the potential new development, I have taken snaps of North End Road and of Brompton Cemetery.

Brompton Cemetery is said to be one of the “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries opened in the mid Nineteenth Century to cope with the overflowing local church cemeteries. As always with such cemeteries there are many well-known people buried there – but I will only mention Emmeline Pankhurst, the suffragette.
At one time – before the Earls Court Exhibition Centre was built – there was a fairground and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show visited there in the 1880’s. Some of the Native Americans – some Sioux people – caught a chill and died and were buried in Brompton. In the early part of the 20th Century a local lady campaigned – successfully – to have them re-interred in the Sioux Burial grounds in the United Sates.

North End Road is a really lively road with many market stalls and sometimes fully closed to traffic to allow a much bigger market. I have taken snaps of a few of the shops and some of the largest water melons – in one of those shops – that I have seen.

It will be interesting to see how Earls Court works out.