At 1 am on November 14, 2012, I decided to take a late night bike ride to Canary Wharf, the modern mutant offspring of the City of London. The City is an ancient lawless zone, but it is now rivalled by the lawlessness of the Docklands project initiated under Margaret Thatcher, which expanded hugely under Tony Blair.
Canary Wharf, which I first photographed here, fascinates and repels me. Its towers, with their horribly ostentatious show of wealth, and their disdain for even vaguely concealing how much money can be made through devious behaviour that ought to be illegal — and in many cases is — are visible from almost everywhere, and are particularly dominant from all over south east London, where I live. However, while the buildings are, in some ways, architecturally impressive, that is not all that calls out across the miles when One Canada Square and its phallic companions are glimpsed from afar. The wealth they display is also meant to intimidate and/or dazzle those mere mortals — the majority of us, in other words — who earn in a lifetime what well-paid bankers take home in a year.
I’ll be analysing Canary Wharf further in the article following this one, which features the photos I took in the heart of Canary Wharf. In contrast, this set features the start of my journey, through Deptford and Greenwich, including Deptford High Street, which stands in total contrast to the wealth and rarefied shopping malls of Canary Wharf (which I photographed here). I then cycled through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, and took photos in Millwall, and also of Millwall Inner Dock, South Quay DLR station and the mainly residential developments around them, including the Pan Peninsula towers, luxury high-rises that deliberately scorn the ordinary humans below, with their promotional material celebrating those who “inhabit a private universe.”
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Poplar Dock, Canary Wharf and Greenwich on the Eve of the Olympics, a set on Flickr.
This photo set is the 82nd in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, and is the last of five sets taken on July 25 last year, a wonderful sunny day two days before the Olympic Games began, when I cycled east from Whitechapel along the A11 — Mile End Road, which becomes Bow Road and crosses the A12 on the way to the Olympic Park along Stratford High Street. I then cycled around the perimeter of the Olympic Park, up to Leyton on the eastern side, then along the A12 at the north, and then back south via Hackney Wick and Old Ford on the east, then through Bow, Bromley-by-Bow, Poplar and the Isle of Dogs, stopping in on Greenwich before returning home to Brockley.
The first two sets recording this journey were “Adventures in History: The Mile End Road,” and “From Mile End to Bow and Stratford on a Summer’s Day,” canned the third set — “The Olympics Minus One Day: Photos from the Frontline in Stratford” (and see here too) — was published last July, to capture some of the Olympic fervour at the time — even though I was extremely cynical about the outrageous and unaudited cost of the Olympics and the hideous patriotism milked by the government to deflect attention from its own evil heart, and even though I almost always prefer the fruits of cooperation to the chest-thumping Darwinism of competitive sport. Read the rest of this entry »
Greenwich on the Last Day of the Year, a set on Flickr.
Some of my regular readers will have realised that, although I like cycling and photographing London in all weather, and that I am thoroughly enjoying experiencing the seasons first-hand, I am particularly fascinated by the city at night. I have always been a night owl, and at university, more years ago than I care to remember, I would, in winter, stay up all night, cycling around and taking photographs until dawn, and then returning to my room to sleep.
I don’t stay up all night anymore, but recalling those days reminds me of how, although some things in life change fundamentally, others don’t. My love of cycling, which began when I was a small child, has never left me, and nor, it seems, has my love of the night, and of taking photographs at night. Read the rest of this entry »
Christmas in London, 2012, a set on Flickr.
Best wishes for the holiday season to those following my work, or to anyone who has just stumbled across it. This is a selection of Christmas-themed photos that I’ve taken over the last month during my journeys around London, as part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began in May this year.
This is the 69th set of my London photos, and it was fun to go through all the photos I’ve been accumulating from my almost daily journeys, large and small, over the last month, picking out those with a Christmas theme — from locations in north London, in central London and the City, on the Isle of Dogs and at various places in south east London, where I live — including my home in Brockley, and also Blackheath, Camberwell, Deptford, Greenwich, Honor Oak, Lewisham and Rotherhithe. Read the rest of this entry »
South East London At Night: Tunnels, the River and the Surrey Canal, a set on Flickr.
As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — and specifically as the last part of five photo sets recording various autumnal journeys around my home in Brockley, in south east London — the photos collected here record a journey I made on the evening of November 12, 2012, for around two hours, from 9 to 11 pm. This is the 65th photo set in my project, and see here, here, here and here for the previous four sets.
Beginning at my home in Brockley, I cycled down the hill through Lewisham and the edge of Deptford to Greenwich, and then down to the River Thames at Cutty Sark Gardens, along the Deptford shoreline, past Deptford Green, and on to the derelict site of Convoys Wharf, where there are horrible plans to build a £1 billion mini-city for the rich. I then travelled inland to Evelyn Street, the main road that runs to Surrey Quays. Read the rest of this entry »
Early Morning Amongst the Graves of St. Alfege Park, Greenwich, a set on Flickr.
St. Alfege Park, in Greenwich, in south east London, is part of the former churchyard of St. Alfege Church, the 18th century church designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and built on the site of two previous churches dedicated to St. Alfege, who was Archbishop of Canterbury when he was murdered, by Danish raiders who had kidnapped him, on April 19, 1012 AD.
Explaining its history, London Gardens Online provides the following description: “When the original churchyard became full an additional area of land was acquired in 1803 and consecrated as a new burial ground. This in turn became overcrowded by 1853 and the two churchyards and church crypt were then closed for burial, having taken almost 45,000 burials. In 1889 a Church Faculty transferred management and maintenance of the burial land to the local authority, the Greenwich District Board of Works. The churchyard extension to the west, which contained the old mortuary building, was laid out as a recreation ground and opened in 1889. The design and layout of the garden was undertaken by Fanny Wilkinson, landscape gardener of the MPGA [the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association].” Read the rest of this entry »
Greenwich Early and Late, a set on Flickr.
As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, this, the 63rd set I’ve posted, contains photos taken in Greenwich, in south east London, in the early morning and after dark, on two recent trips — the first after an epic journey from Limehouse Basin up the Limehouse Cut and the Lea Navigation to the Olympic Park at Stratford and beyond (which I hope to post soon), and the second in the early morning of the following day, after a good friend helped me liberate my bike from where I had left it overnight, when my key snapped off in the lock.
Celebrated in and of its own right, as a maritime centre and a former royal residence — as well as a venue for this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games — Greenwich is the most significant tourist destination in suburban south east London, with its many attractions — the Cutty Sark, the Royal Park, the Observatory and the Royal Naval College, for example, as well as other attractions like St. Alfege Church and Greenwich Market, a covered market for artists, craftspeople, food vendors and antique sellers, which plays a major role in ensuring that Greenwich is not plagued by a surfeit of the same bland corporate chain stores that have taken over almost ever major population centre in the country. That status, however, is in doubt as the owners are determined to “regenerate” the market, which will only allow corporate raiders to take over and destroy Greenwich’s character. Read the rest of this entry »
When Night Falls: Lewisham, Greenwich and Deptford, a set on Flickr.
This photo set — the 62nd in my ongoing project to photograph London by bike — follows on from the previous set, in which, just a few weeks ago, I recorded a particularly warm and vivid sunset from Hilly Fields, the hill-top park near my home in Brockley, in south east London. After the sun had finally dipped below the horizon for good, I made my way down the hill for a quick circuit of the other areas close to me that are a source of enduring fascination for me — Lewisham, the centre of the borough, and Greenwich and Deptford, both of which meet the River Thames at their northern edge.
With the sky darkening, this was a fascinating journey — through some of Lewisham’s back streets and industrial sites that took on an eerie beauty at night, and then down to Greenwich, where I took photos of some of that famous borough’s celebrated pubs and other sights — including St. Alfege’s Church and the Cuttty Sark by the river — before moving on to Deptford along the path beside the Thames, and a return journey via Deptford High Street, the least corporate high street in London, which was still buzzing with independent life despite the late hour. Read the rest of this entry »
Please sign the petition to save Lewisham’s A&E and maternity services and send it on to your friends and family!
Residents of the London Borough of Lewisham turned up in force for a public meeting yesterday evening in Lewisham Hospital, to show their opposition to the plans, announced last week, to close the hospital’s A&E (Accident and Emergency) Department and to cut maternity services and other clinical functions. Although Lewisham NHS Trust is financially healthy, a special administrator appointed by the government is making Lewisham pay for the problems of a neighbouring trust, the South London Healthcare Trust, which was declared bankrupt in summer, largely as a result of horrendous PFI contracts.
The South London Healthcare Trust runs — or ran — Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington and Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, and under the special administrator’s proposals, it will be broken up, with Lewisham downgraded through no fault of its own trust, and just one A&E Department — in Woolwich — serving the 750,000 inhabitants of the three boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley.
The situation could hardly be more urgent. If the proposals put forward by the special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, are not defeated by pressure from NHS professionals, lawyers, activists and the residents of Lewisham within the next five weeks (by December 13), the Tories’ new NHS butcher, the sleaze-drenched slimeball Jeremy Hunt (who took over from Andrew Lansley, the discredited architect of the NHS privatisation bill that was approved by Parliament in March this year), will approve the plans in the new year, and Lewisham’s slow death will begin. Read the rest of this entry »
As the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E Department intensifies, with a petition launched by Heidi Alexander MP close to reaching 5,000 signatures in just four days, the South London Press, the bi-weekly regional newspaper based in Streatham, has added its support, with a front-page story in Friday’s edition, entitled, “Join the fight: Save our A&E.”
This is the kind of campaigning spirit that is sadly lacking in the mainstream media, and it is to be hoped that the SLP‘s assistance will help to persuade more people to become involved in the campaign to save Lewisham’s A&E Department, and also to prevent plans for maternity services to be severely downgraded, and for half the hospital to be sold off.
As I reported on Monday, the plans for Lewisham were included in a draft report put together by Matthew Kershaw, a special administrator appointed by Andrew Lansley to find solutions to the financial woes of the South London Hospital Trust, a “super-trust” serving Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, which was suspended in July. The trust’s deficit is expected to reach £207 million by next year, although a third of this is because of rip-off PFI deals for rebuilding two of the three trust’s three hospitals under the last government — Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich and the Princess Royal in Orpington (the trust’s third hospital is St. Mary’s in Sidcup). As the Daily Telegraph explained, “The PFIs deals are costing the trust £69 million a year … Some £61 million of that is thought to be interest alone.” Read the rest of this entry »
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