London’s bridges in photos

There are no less than 33 bridges across The River Thames in London boroughs. As someone born in that city, and where I lived for 60 years, I have been across most if not all of them during my life. If you have never visited that great metropolis, you may not know just how many there are, and how diverse they are too. So here is a selection.

Westminster Bridge. On the north side, you will find The Houses of Parliament.

London Bridge. The oldest river crossing, from Southwark, first bridged by the Romans. One later bridge was famously sold to an American, and is now a tourist attraction in Arizona.

Before the Great Fire of London, the bridge was heavily built on, with shops and living accommodation. You can see the heads of executed criminals and traitors, on spikes over the entrance. The huge church on the south side is still there today, now extended, and called Southwark Cathedral.

Waterloo Bridge. Stand on this bridge and face east, and you have one of the best views in London. This was immortalised in the Kink’s song, ‘Waterloo Sunset’.

Vauxhall Bridge. On the south side, you will see the famous MI-6 building, shown in a James Bond film.

Lambeth Bridge. The building visible on the north side is the headquarters of MI-5.

Albert Bridge, to the west. Always illuminated at night, it it one of London’s most attractive bridges.

Tower Bridge. Saving the best until last, my favourite London landmark, and an image associated with the city since the bridge was opened, in 1894.

Let me know if you have a favourite London bridge.

Old Dereham in photos

From where we live in Beetley, the nearest town containing shops, banks, and a Post Office is Dereham. Officially it is East Dereham, but it is known to everyone just as Dereham. It is the fifth largest town in the county of Norfolk, and right in the centre of that county too. Only three miles from Beetley to the south, it takes just five minutes to get there by car.

Continuing my search for old images, I found some of that town, taken between 1880 and 1901. It is amazing how little it has changed in that time.

The Corn Exchange. This is now the local cinema, called The Hollywood. The facade was preserved by law.

Church Street. The shops on the left are still trading, albeit selling different things.

The High Street. These shops still exist today. Some are Estate Agents, and others have different uses.

The Market Place. There is no longer a livestock market in the town. But The Market Place has hardly changed, and still holds a general market on Tuesdays and Fridays.

These three ancient cottages date from the 16th century. They were later converted into the town museum.

Here is a photo I took of that same building more recently.

I think if you brought someone back from 1899, they would find this town completely familiar.

Victorian London: Not so different

Less than 100 years before I was born, the London I grew up in was not so very different. Although I can still recognise most of the locations, the living conditions are nothing like those we know today.

Whitechapel, around 1888. In the same area and at the same time where the Jack The Ripper murders happened.

Kensington is now one of the most affluent and expensive areas of London.
It was actually very different, in 1860.

Still recognisable, The Strand had no motor vehicles at the time. Now the traffic is bumper to bumper.

In the 1890s, London’s River Police were still using rowing boats. Here they are close to Tower Bridge. I lived nearby, 60 years after this was taken.

Slum living conditions in East London, around 1865. Ninety years later, little had changed during my childhood.

A street parade in East London, during the 1880s. This is what passed for entertainment back then, with crowds turning out to watch.

It always strikes me that most men still wore suits and ties, even the poorest. And almost everyone never went out without wearing a hat, including children.
During the 1950s, that was still much the same where I lived.

London in WW2

I have mentioned before how my Mum lived her teenage years in central London, during WW2. I searched online to find some photos about what that was like.
(Credits are shown on the photos where available)

The Tube (Subway) stations were quickly brought into use as air-raid shelters. When the trains were still running, people slept on the platforms. Then once the power was off, more people filled the tracks too.

When the bombing had stopped, they would emerge tired and dusty, to try to go about their day. This was the sort of sight that greeted them.
A bomb crater so large, a whole bus has fallen into it.

What had once been a shop or office building the previous day, now completely destroyed.

People became used to the destruction and privations very quickly.
Here a small boy is fixing his home-made cart, next to a cordon around the area of an unexploded bomb.

One the waves of bombers were no longer arriving every day or night, new threats appeared. The V1 and V2 flying rocket bombs.
This shows people still casually going about their business, as a V1 bomb detonates in the Covent Garden area.

For those of us to young to remember that war, these images are a sobering reminder of what that generation had to tolerate, and how they faced it with fortitude and determination.

Positive Blogging

I moan a lot on this site about some bloggers, I know. You will have seen me complain about bloggers who follow without ever actually following, or those that only comment by asking me to ‘follow back’. I have complained about people who are blatantly just advertising themselves as SEO, or have a ‘miracle’ way to make a million a year from blogging, and also those who are trying to sell me ladders, or new car tyres. (In Australia!)

So it is high time that I said something positive. Because let’s face it, 99% of everything to do with blogging is positive.

Well done to so many of you new bloggers. Getting out there with bright new blogs, and a good idea what blogging is all about too. Nice comments, engaging with followers, and putting out content worth reading, or looking at. And the same to so many of my own new followers, with your much-appreciated interaction, and genuine following of my blog posts.

Appreciating feedback is just the start though. Learning from it is important too, and if you desire to have a large and regular readership, then quality content is more important than quantity. I am pleased to report that this is exactly what seems to be happening. Great photos, explanatory text, and enthusiasm that comes across in both words and pictures. For those new bloggers who are getting all this just right, I salute you. And those of you writing about your life, your past, and your hopes for the future, you are getting it right too.

It really is great to have so many positive things to say. Some superb articles to read, compelling fiction on occasion, and interesting differences in culture, from all around the world. Exotic travel, as well as fascinating places in your own back yards. It’s all out there.

I think 2019 has been one of the best blogging years ever, and that is due to most new bloggers finally realising what it’s all about.

Community, sharing experiences, empathy, and discovery.

And it’s free too. How good is that?

The Parapet Of Obscurity

I mentioned on Maggie’s blog that writing or blogging online might well be an effort to let others know we exist.

I likened it to ‘putting our head up above the parapet of obscurity’.

Maggie liked that line, which made me think more about it.

Before the advent of the Internet, it was all too easy to get lost in the crowd. Unless you were a sporting hero, an eminent politician, a popular film star or musician, perhaps a famous published writer, you could easily spend your entire life unknown other than to your family, friends, and work colleagues.

Most people lived and died without notice or mention, and any legacy they left of their ordinary lives was in some faded photos, and the memories of those who had encountered them.

Then Blogging arrived.

We no longer had to send pages of manuscripts to publishers, in the hope of getting our thoughts and ideas converted into articles or books. Class distinctions no longer applied, with usernames and graphics becoming the norm. Nobody had to know where you were from, whether or not you were well-educated, or what accent you had when you spoke. Unless you decided to tell the world, it was unclear whether you were male or female, old or young. Perhaps the only clue to your origins might be the language you were writing in. But with so many people speaking English, even that was no guarantee of where you might originate from.

Anyone who so desired could tell the world what they thought. They could have opinions that were widely shared, or be outrageously outspoken. The anonymity of your username ensured that you could do what you liked with no repercussions, other than some comment debate with those who didn’t agree with you. But even that could be skipped, as you could just refuse to approve their comments. If you wanted to publish your book, you could serialise it on your blog, cutting out the need to submit it to a company for approval. You could post photos of places you liked, or had visited, and tell anyone who was reading just what you thought of them.

An explosion of opinion arrived online. Opinions about everything from American presidents, to the quality of some blogger’s poetry. You could find yourself very popular, or perhaps reviled, depending on who was actually bothering to read your stuff. Those bloggers could be meek and needy, or rude and arrogant. Nothing mattered, because you were unknown, and anonymous.

Ironically, this very thing still made those bloggers as obscure and unknown as they would have been without the benefit of the online platforms they were using.

So some people, myself included, decided to stick our heads up above that parapet of obscurity, and actually tell everyone who we really were. Where we lived too, and how old we were. What we had done with our lives so far, and what we hoped to do with the rest. Whether we were married, single, gay or straight, depressed or happy. What we liked to eat, and what we didn’t like. We carried on with our ‘like them or not’ opinions, and cast our thoughts out online as if using small fishing nets in an huge, unfamiliar ocean.

We made some friends, and possibly some enemies too. Risking the disapproval of anyone who had access to the Internet, and potentially causing a great deal of embarrassment to those we knew and loved. And many of us laid our lives open to scrutiny, our pasts, and our presents. For all those of us who have chosen to throw off that cloak of anonymity, we should bear something in mind.

It will be ‘out there’ forever, and can never be taken back. Even if you delete your blog, every comment you made elsewhere will still exist. Your photos will be somewhere on a ‘cloud’, and as long as the Internet exists in its present form, whatever you have written about will never disappear. It doesn’t concern me, as I am closer to the end of my life than the beginning. But take heed, before you follow my example.

Once your head appears over that parapet, it cannot go back to obscurity.

Bermondsey: The London Of My Youth

I was born and brought up in a borough of London called Bermondsey. Although it has since been amalgamated into the much larger London borough of Southwark, it still retains its own identity with the people who live there. It is adjacent to the south bank of the River Thames, and close to the iconic Tower Bridge.

In recent years, the area has undergone some ‘regeneration’, and become a relatively fashionable place to live. But during my youth in the 1950s, it was an industrial area of central London, and everyone who lived there came from working class families on low incomes.

Some of the typical local houses I used to walk past as a child.
The empty space is where the house was hit by a bomb, during WW2. You can see the wooden supports holding up another bomb-damaged house on the right.

The busy street market where all my family used to get their shopping.

My Mum worked in the Peek Frean’s biscuit factory, which can be seen in this later photo from the 1960s.

Other local employers included the Pearce Duff Custard and blancmange factory.

The Alaska Fur Factory was later closed, due to the unpopularity of real fur.
It is now converted into smart apartments.

The library I used to go to all the time to borrow books has also closed. It has become a Bhuddist Centre.

The imposing Town Hall, where I once went to participate in a regional quiz. Also closed, and converted into apartments.

There were many popular pubs in the area. This one still stands. The Gregorian Arms was well-known as a venue to watch Drag artists when I was a boy, and my Dad would occasionally sing at the piano there too.