continued from Jan 2005 page 1
as usual, january for me started with the new year parade in westminster. there seemed to be more people this year, and a great participation by various london boroughs, though the event is still dominated by us school marching bands and cheerleaders.
however there was a strong british contingent, including firework clubs, morris men, various borough floats, the odd carnival queen (some very odd), clowns, old cars and military vehicles, vintage bicycles, mods, rockers, gold wing riders, traction engines and more.
even some of the cheerleaders were british, with one group from surrey challenging the americans with their gymnastics.
i met many i'd photographed before, including pearly kings and queens,
and the pipe band from north london. it got chilly waiting around for the
start, but it got us all out of bed and started on the year.
probably we all think our local authority is the worst in the country, because its the one we know best. spelthorne is not only blessed with a silly name, but must also rank among the councils with least grip of the plot. there are rumours that the next labour government will reorganise local government, and spelthorne must then go, not before time.
it should never have happened in the first place, an anomaly created by conservative tricky dealing when greater london was set up. the posh end of the area didn't want to join greater london, kicked up a fuss, twisted the right arms and dragged the end of middlesex out and over the thames into the hands of its ancient enemy, surrey.
who didn't want us, managed to leave us out of most lists and everything else for around 30 years. meanwhile spelthorne has an embroidery and a walled garden, but precious little in the way of community facilities or public transport (and a particulary raw deal on transport for pensioners.) having neglected staines for 35 years they have been tarting it up a bit recently, but with pretty dire results, including a riverside wasteland.
recently they have sold off one of the few remaining buildings of any architectural merit, the old town hall, which had also served as an arts venue. only strenous efforts by a town society have saved a few of the other parts of the area worth keeping - and had previously stopped the council knocking this building down. community plans to take it over and run it as a community venue were treated with contempt as the council rushed to sell it as a pub/club to add to the nightly mayhem around closing time in the centre of staines.
anyway, here are some of my pictures of the better bits of the area, including
some across the river on chertsey meads.
i first went to hackney wick in 1983, walking along the lea (or lee) navigation. its an isolated enclave, between the east cross route, which curves around its top as eastway, and the canal. there are few roads in - others end at the motorway, with a few footbridges. then it was a bustling industrial area, packed with wharves, small workshops and factories, and a few larger ones. but the river traffic which had largely created it had just come to a halt. since then, every time i've been there it has been more and more run down. empty properties, vandalism, dereliction, dust and waste. more and more car parts dealers with yards heaped with scrap bits of bodywork.
the north of the area has been largely rebuilt after the demolition of a tower block, with a council estate and a private riverside development. some older council properties have gone. one of the main paths through the area is now blocked by new private flats, with closed off access areas around it. the riverside wharves are no longer used, and some have been cleared awaiting development.
the area even has a new name, fish island, for the area including roach
and dace roads and bream street. the new footbridge is finished but not
yet opened as it leads into a building site.
some of my work gets put into nice organised websites.
this isn't meant to be like that, but you can see some of the rest at
and you can read what I think about photography at