Photos and Essay: The Inspiring Council House Occupation in Stratford That Is Resonating Across London

See my photos of my visit to the Focus E15 Open House Occupation in Stratford here.

On Friday, I paid a visit to the Carpenters Estate in Stratford, in east London, to show solidarity with the Focus E15 Mothers, a group of single mums, from Stratford, who were recently kicked out of a hostel where they had been staying, because of budget cuts, and were threatened with being scattered across the UK.

On Open House Weekend (September 20-21), making a great political point while the rich and powerful opened up prestigious properties for a day or two, the mums occupied a small block of flats, in perfectly habitable condition, which had been boarded up for years as part of the Labour-controlled council’s ongoing attempts to empty the Carpenters Estate so that it can be sold to housing developers.

In an article for the Guardian last week, Aditya Chakrabortty succinctly analysed the current situation regarding the Carpenters Estate,” which, he wrote, “was long ago cleared of most of its residents as Newham council tried to flog the land. Except the last deal fell through, leaving around 600 council homes empty. This is in a borough where more than 24,000 households are waiting for somewhere to live, and where, last winter, the shopping precinct was full of rough sleepers.” Read the rest of this entry »

East End Odyssey: Photos of a Journey from Leyton to Poplar

The transformation of High Road LeytonHigh Road Leyton's colourful makeoverThe Hertford Union Canal, near the Olympic ParkThe wreck on Wick LaneWall of doorsBroken
The car wash and the Olympic ParkThe Bow BellsLimehouse Cut from Violet RoadFootbridge, Bromley-by-BowSpratt's Patent LimitedRoyal Charlie
Chrisp Street MarketChrisp Street Market clock towerPoplar Public BathsA wonderful mural in Poplar Public BathsArt in Poplar Public BathsInside Poplar Public Baths
Poplar Public Baths: the foyer and staircasePoplar Public Baths: the foyer and doors

East End Odyssey: A Journey from Leyton to Poplar, a set on Flickr.

This photo set is the 81st in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, and is the third of four sets which either precede or follow on from a set I published last July, entitled, “The Olympics Minus One Day: Photos from the Frontline in Stratford” (and see here too), in which 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. In the Olympics set I published in July, I then cycled up to Leyton, along the A12 at the north of the Olympic Park, and then back south via Hackney Wick, Old Ford, Poplar and the Isle of Dogs, stopping in on Greenwich before returning home to Brockley.

The previous two sets, “Adventures in History: The Mile End Road,” and “From Mile End to Bow and Stratford on a Summer’s Day,” covered the first part of this journey, right up to my first glimpse of the Olympic Park from the Bow Flyover. This set largely picks up where the Olympics set left off, although it includes a few photos not specifically related to the Olympics, which I took in Leyton and Hackney Wick and Old Ford, while making my way around the perimeter of the Olympic Park. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos: From Mile End to Bow and Stratford on a Summer’s Day

The green bridge, Mile EndThe Mile End junctionMile End stationMile End Cash & CarryCanary Wharf from Mile EndThe Poplar Boundary Stone (1900)
St. Clement's HospitalInside St. Clement's HospitalThe British EstateCoborn Girls' SchoolOlympic art on Bow Road Methodist ChurchThe alley by Bow Road station
Hot 'n' SpiceOriginal TasteGladstone and the traffic barriersBow Church and churchyardBow Church towerThe Olympic Park from Bow Flyover
The A12 from Bow FlyoverAn Olympic bus on Bow FlyoverOlympic advertising from Bow Flyover

From Mile End to Bow and Stratford on a Summer’s Day, a set on Flickr.

This photo set, the 80th in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, which I began last May, is the second of three that precedes and follows on from a set I published last July, entitled, “The Olympics Minus One Day: Photos from the Frontline in Stratford” (and see here too), in which 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. In the Olympics set I published in July, I then cycled up to Leyton, along the A12 at the north of the Olympic Park, and then back south via Hackney Wick, Old Ford, Poplar and the Isle of Dogs, stopping in on Greenwich before returning home to Brockley.

Following the previous set, “Adventures in History: The Mile End Road,” in which I passed various historical landmarks on the way to Queen Mary, University of London and the Regent’s Canal, this set begins at the “green bridge” that crossed Mile End Road, and then traces my journey along Bow Road, past the derelict St. Clement’s Hospital, and other landmarks, to Bow Church, marooned on a traffic island, and the Bow Flyover, which vaults over the A12, where bikes were exempt from the Olympic traffic ban, and I had great views, from a highway that is never normally empty in the daytime, of the Olympic Park, the Lea Navigation (the River Lea), the A12 and the northern reaches of Bow and Stratford. Read the rest of this entry »

The Olympics Minus One Day: Photos from the Frontline in Stratford

The Olympic Park, July 25, 2012The route to the OlympicsThe Athena TowerSpeculative riverside Olympic housingThe JhankaarThe Stratford Shoal
The Olympic crowds in StratfordThe Olympic VillageFlags in the Olympic VillageThe Olympic Gift ShopAvoid the Olympic AreaRound the back of the Olympics
Check point aheadThe Velodrome and the River LeaThe Riverbank ArenaThe VelodromeThe Olympic Park from the Hackney CutMove to the Beat of London 2012
Olympics advertising beside the A12Sprinting in the skyThe Olympic Park from the westWick Lane Depot: The Olympics' Funkiest Entrance

The Olympics Minus One Day: Photos from the Frontline in Stratford, a set on Flickr.

So the Games are nearly upon us! I won’t be here in London, as I’ll be at the WOMAD festival in Wiltshire; that’s World of Music, Arts and Dance, the wonderful world music festival celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, where my wife has been running children’s workshops since 2002, and a whole crowd of us has a wonderful escape from the normal routine for four days.

However, I couldn’t leave without paying one more visit to the Olympic Park in Stratford to see how everything was proceeding with preparations for the Games, with just one day to go before the Opening Ceremony on Friday July 27. I last paid a visit three weeks ago — the photos can be seen here — and I had wondered whether security would be hectic.

The bad news, of course, is the same as ever. In the run up to the Games, we have been subjected to jingoism, militarism, the corporate tax evasion of the Games’ sponsors, the brand police patrolling up and down the land, the International Olympic Committee’s inflexibility and arrogance, the dubious “cleansing” of the Lea Valley, and the inexcusable decision by two successive governments to write blank cheques for the Games without even a proper audit. Read the rest of this entry »

In Search of the Olympics: Photos of a Journey from Limehouse to Stratford

On Limehouse CutThe blue bridgeThis property is condemnedThe floating towpathThe white warehouseThe black door
Bow LocksWater dividedThe white bridgeBow Locks and Canary WharfThe broken bridgeA darkening sky
Graffiti on the green bridgeFirst glimpse of Three MillsLooking towards Bromley gas works across Abbey CreekThree MillsWhere rivers meetFirst glimpse of the Olympics
On the towpath near the OlympicsCoots nestingThe Olympic ParkAn Art Deco Olympic "upgrade"Opportunistic constructionDystopian Olympics

In Search of the Olympics: A Journey from Limehouse to Stratford, a set on Flickr.

On July 5, after I had undertaken the photographic tour of Canary Wharf that I recorded in my previous set of photos, The Power of Greed: Photos of Canary Wharf, I headed north, up to Commerical Road, unsure if I would travel on to the East End or visit the Olympic Park at Stratford. After joining a towpath, which I thought was the Regent’s Canal, which I had travelled the day before, I soon realised that I was, in fact, on Limehouse Cut, the southern end of the 18-mile Lea Valley Walk, which follows the formidable River Lea all the way up to its origin at Leagrave, north of Luton, near Waulud’s Bank, one of the great henges — circular earthen banks and ditches — of Neolithic Britain, along with those at Durrington Walls (near Stonehenge), and at Avebury and Marden in Wiltshire.

Having found myself on the Lea Valley Walk by accident, I took it as a sign that I should follow it to Stratford and the Olympic park, but I had no idea that, after travelling through Bow Common and Bromley in Tower Hamlets, I would suddenly — after passing under the A12 — find myself in what appeared to be the countryside, as the canal came up alongside the River Lea, and there were locks, sweeping views, the extraordinary old buildings at Three Mills, and then, suddenly, the gigantic building site in Stratford that is the home of the 2012 Olympics.

As another stage of my ongoing mission to travel the whole of London by bike, photographing whatever interests me — the buildings old and new, the rivers and canals, the skies and trees, the street art and decay — this journey pitted the traditional infrastructure of London’s waterways with the modem developments that have sprung up alongside it, and, in particular, with the cleansing of history along the Lea Valley and the outrageous and irresponsible blank cheque issued to those erecting the giant Olympics playground. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer (The State of London).
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