Development and Decay: Commercial Road in Stepney and Limehouse, a set on Flickr.
As part of my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, this is the 59th photo set I have posted, and the last of three photo sets recording a journey I made along Commercial Road, in the East End, one hot and sunny day in July (see here and here). It was something of a revelation to me, as, although I know parts of the East End, I was largely unfamiliar with this area, and cycling the whole of the road from Aldgate to the junction near Canary Wharf, as well as making diversions into the back streets, helped bring to life this vibrant and historically fascinating part of town that I have since revisited on several occasions.
This whole part of the city — rather frayed around the edges, and with an uneasy mix of wealth and poverty, featuring the white working class and Asian immigrants on the one hand, and bankers on the other — is primarily subject to drastic changes because of its proximity to the City and Canary Wharf, and is, in a very real sense, up against the full force of international money, with developers intent on exploiting any land they can get their hands on to build new housing aimed at foreign investors — a bubble of exploitation, with investors charged too much for properties that they, in turn, sell or rent for too much to London residents. Read the rest of this entry »
Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping: Art, History and the Summer Sun, a set on Flickr.
This is the 44th set of photos in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, and is the second set recording a journey I made, one sunny Sunday in July, with my wife and son from our home in south east London, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, up the western shore of the Isle of Dogs, which is infested with high-rise housing developments, and on to Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping. Here the great wharves that dealt with the imports of Britain’s global trade during the heyday of Empire, and of the London docks, were converted into apartments during the Docklands development programme in the 1980s and 1990s. The first set of photos is here.
Money doesn’t scream, the way it does in Canary Wharf, in the narrow strips of former wharves in Limehouse, Shadwell and Wapping, although obviously most of the wharf living is aimed squarely at the rich, and elements of this are obvious — the matt grey Aston Martin that, for instance, almost ran me over at one point, driven by some young idiot who obviously believed the words of Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel: “Matte cars are cool, they come across as a bit aggressive.” Read the rest of this entry »
Sunny Sunday: The Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf, a set on Flickr.
In my quest to catch up on posting some of the photos that I didn’t manage to post before my family holiday in Italy in August, this set and another to follow record a glorious Sunday in July when, with my family, I cycled from our home in Brockley, in south east London, down to Greenwich, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and along the western shore of the Isle of Dogs to Limehouse, and then on to Wapping, where our objective was to visit the Wapping Project, an art gallery and restaurant housed in Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, which was built in 1890 and closed in 1977.
This is the 43rd set of photos in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which is progressing extremely well, despite my inability to post the results to keep up with my photographic journeys, as I have 160 sets still to post, with more on the way on an almost daily basis. Come rain or shine, I am out on my bike, having discovered, after my illness last year, when I gave up smoking after 29 years, that being healthy, and relentlessly exploring this fascinating and sometimes infuriating city I live in, by bike, is the perfect antidote to years of imperilling my health by smoking like a madman and working obsessively on Guantánamo. Not that I’ve given up on Guantánamo, of course, as I still write regularly about the ongoing horrors of indefinite detention for the men still held there, and, just this week, published an exclusive article based on notes from a lawyer’s meeting with Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, which Shaker wanted to be made available to me. Read the rest of this entry »
Regular readers will be aware that, for the last month, I have been posting photos to an account I set up on Flickr, and publicizing them here, adding a new outlet for my creativity, and my perceptions of the world, to the other methods — primarily the written word, but also TV and radio shows, personal appearances and film-making — which I have been using to chronicle the injustice of Guantánamo and the “war on terror” for the last six years, and the horrors of life in Britain under a Tory-led coalition government, which I have been chronicling for the last two years.
Taking photos is a great passion of mine, but one that I largely let slip from 2006, as I began researching and writing about Guantánamo on a full-time basis, until Christmas last year, when my wife gave me a digital camera. I then took photos of my Guantánamo-related visits to the US in January, and Kuwait in February, and began taking photos in London — and on various trips in the UK — on an occasional basis until, in May — on May 11, to be specific — when the sun started shining after roughly six weeks of almost unremitting rain, I decided to start making journeys by bike around London on a regular basis, taking photos of whatever interests me — buildings old and new, rivers, canals, parks and trees, and forgotten corners of this vast city, where the unusual, the unremarked and the abandoned exist beyond the illusions of endless wealth and perfect order conjured up by those in positions of power. Read the rest of this entry »
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