Sunday, 28 March 2010

Cable Street

On Sunday 4 October 1936 Oswald Mosley and his Black Shirts tried to march through the East End, down Cable Street, to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the fascist British Union movement. Over 100,000 counter demonstrators stopped them. Mosley was “denied the streets of Stepney”

It’s generally thought that the Battle of Cable Street was fought between Black Shirts and the people of the East End but the fight was really between the entire London mounted police force plus 6,000 foot police against many separate groups, all anti fascists. Police led baton charges against the protesters but were unable to clear the way and rioting broke out. Mosley, who was to be married the next day in Goebbels’s Berlin home (Hitler was a guest), was afraid of being arrested and so called off the march.

Anti fascists won the day and Mosley was humiliated.


The mural was completed in 1981 and painted by Ray Walker, Paul Butler and Desmond Rochfort. Dave Binnington had originally planed the project but quit after early attempts were destroyed by vandals (or should that be modern day fascists).

Wilton’s is the oldest surviving music hall building in England. It was built by John Wilton in 1858 in Graces Alley, just off Cable Street and was used as a Music Hall for over thirty years. From 1888 to the 1950's it was used as a Wesleyan Mission Hall and destined for demolition in 1964 until successfully rescued by a campaign championed by John Betjeman.

Wilton’s still stages events despite its crumbling appearance and has featured in films such as The Krays and Interview with a Vampire.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Sunset over London

You can tell this is London because of all the bloody craines. Is London just a "work in progress", not yet finished?

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Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Monument

The Monument stands in Monument Street off Fish Street Hill and was built in 1671-77 by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666. The fire began on Sunday 2nd September and lasted until Wednesday 5th September. Although there was little loss of life the fire consumed or damaged thousands of buildings including St Paul's Cathedral. The only buildings to survive were those built of stone.

The balcony is reached by climbing the 311 cantilevered stone steps of the world’s tallest free standing Doric column. The Monument was originally topped off with a copper urn from which flames emerged symbolising the fire.

The Monument is 202ft high (62m) which is the exact distance from the fires source in a bakers shop in Pudding Lane.
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Friday, 12 March 2010

The Shard # 1

The Shard is starting to rise. At 83 stores, 306 metres it will be the tallest building in South London (and Europe). There is no way I can do the scale of this project justice with just a few pictures but it will be interesting to record the buildings progress as it starts to grow.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


The great Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736) helped shape the London townscape in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. Employed by Wren at the age of 18 he worked on St Pauls and Chelsea Hospital before creating six London churches as part of the New Churches in London & Westminster Act of 1711. St Alphege Greenwich, St George Bloomsbury, Christ Church Spitalfields, St Mary Woolnoth, St George-in-the-East and St Anne Limehouse.

Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor portrays his churches as mysterious and full of the occult. Morbid, pagan symbols and Masonic links all feature in the book as do ancient lay lines and murders. None of this is true (I hope) but walking around the grounds of a Hawksmoor church you can see where Ackroyd got his inspiration. This is especially true at St Anne’s in Newell Street in the East End.

This grade A listed building was built in 1730 and has a distinctive pyramid in the graveyard. Originally planned to be atop of the tower it now stands mysteriously in the graveyard.

Gutted by fire on Good Friday 1850 St Anne's was restored in 1851 and again in 1983. The church has a maritime link. A weight is dropped at the top of the tower when a signal is received from Greenwich to indicate the time to sea captains on the Thames. It also has permission to fly the White Ensign, which is normally reserved exclusively for the Royal Navy.

Walk west down Cable Street until you arrive at another Hawksmoor, St Georges-in-the-East. This church was built between 1714 and 1729 costing £18,557.3s.3d. It was also badly damaged by fire when hit by an incendiary bomb during the Blitz in 1941. The outer walls, tower and “pepper pot” turrets survived and now encase a modern church within its walls. It also contains four flats built under each corner tower.

St Mary’s Woolnoth is a small, Grade 1 listed church, squeezed within the confines of the maze of small lanes and alleys of 18th century London that are now Lombard Street and King William Street. It is the only church Hawksmoor built in the City of London. The site has been used for worship for at least 2,000 years and is thought to get its name from a 12th century benefactor Wulnoth de Walebrok. The original church was damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and patched up by Wren. The structure proved unsafe and was demolished in 1711. The current church was completed by Hawksmoor in 1716 with the limited interior space containing twelve Corinthian columns, grouped three to each corner.
Several attempts have been made to destroy St Mary’s (an occupational hazard with Hawksmoor church’s be it the Luftwaffe or London Transport) but the public have always saved it. London Underground tried its best with the Bank Station staircase shaft being built directly under the church. Bones had to be removed from the crypt and reburied. The church is now home to the German speaking Swiss community in London.

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