Battersea Power Station – The untold story of the East Wall.

According to news emanating from the developers of Battersea Power Station via the Evening Standard– Apple (the suits not the manufacturing) plan to occupy almost half of the beloved art deco building (500,000 square feet) in 2021, relocating 1,400 of its employees from Oxford Circus to Giles Gilbert Scott’s masterpiece.

Despite the expectation of a bright future, the shine has come off the PR coup as the building Apple is moving into, won’t be the Battersea Power Station, but rather a new built Battersea Fake Station. After decades of demolition by stealth, in order to provide daylight to the new office spaces, the East Wall has been demolished. The celebrated expanses of patterned brickwork will be replaced with new Art Deco-Style windows.

The historic brick work East Wall came down just a few weeks ago. It was only after the white plastic scaffold covering was removed that activists and residents realised that the East wall had gone.

East side of the Battersea Power Station without the wall - Work in Progress...

What’s left of the Battersea Power Station – The unexpected demolition of the East Wall.

Battersea Power Station and the unexpected demolition of the East wall.

View from the East side of the Power Station without the wall – Demolition in progress … (?!)

Silence in the news left everyone unaware of this latest act of heritage vandalism. Why this lack of information? And what’s the reason behind this decision to demolish? Conservation or profit?

In our film ‘Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon’, Nigel Barker, Planning and Conservation Director for London at Historic England (formerly English Heritage), described the principle of putting glazing into the East Wall as “quite challenging”.

He added: “One of the key characteristics of the power station was large blank areas of patterned brickwork.”… “If you are going to use that building, if it is going to have a new future then you are going to have to get new light in there.”…”So the decision was taken. Providing (that) the glazing is done in a way that respects and responds to the original design, then we can see it happening.”

Battersea Power Station Development Company got planning permission to put windows in the wall. But what Spectacle and the residents did not know is that they had to knock down the whole wall to realise this plan. Did Historic England know? If so, how does it fit in with their principles of conservation?

Plastic model of the Power Station redevelopment plan.

Plastic model of the Power Station redevelopment plan.

Brian Barnes, founding member of the Battersea Power Station Community Group that has fought for the protection of the site since the 1980s, said that everything has been done “behind closed doors” without any consultation. He reminds us that behind the development planning application there are over 600 documents and many subsequent “variations” which makes it hard to grasp what exactly is going on.

The lack of clarity and the broken promises leave residents and fans of the Art Deco masterpiece with many unanswered questions about the future of Battersea Power Station-  the biggest brick building in Europe.

Rob Tincknell, CEO of the Battersea Power Station Development Company, told The Guardian: “to fill the power station with shops, offices, luxury apartments and £30m-plus penthouses, and surround it with yet more apartment blocks [… is] paying for this [restoration]. You don’t just regenerate this out of thin air.” But this is not restoration: it is desecration.

It started with John Broome in the 1980s who demolished the West Wall and took off the roof. This three decades long process of demolition by stealth of the heritage site has been allowed by Wandsworth Council.

As we can see, the West Wall has never been rebuilt.  Apparently the plan is to create a glass wall so that the luxury ‘ghost’ flats can have the daylight coming through. But the questions are – Who is going to profit and at what cost to us all and to the future generations? Why have the agencies responsible for the protection of our heritage connived in this greedy exploitation of our cultural assets?

Listen to Us: Black Survivors in the Mental Health Care System

In few days the Black History Month will finish and Spectacle is contributing to this important event by republishing an old and powerful documentary about institutionalized racism in mental health care. The documentary “Listen to Us: Black Survivors of the Mental Health Care System“, collects experiences of mental illness and the impact of institutional treatment on black people’s lives.

The trailer:

Unfortunately the experience of unlawful detention in mental health care institutions and the effects of the stereotype of being “black and dangerous” is still relevant today. We hope this document from the ’90, will raise awareness and contribute to make mental health care better.

Full Film

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Could you benefit from professional help with your video project?

Our training and consultancy services are extremely flexible.

We want to help you with your project in the most efficient and effective way possible, be that through comprehensive training for beginners, production and post production services to fill the gaps in your skills or save you time, or simply advice on the best way to go about things.

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Our expertise in video comes from decades of experience in the industry. We understand that every project is different and everybody has different aims, abilities, and priorities. But in almost every case, we believe professional, expert consultation can help you to achieve the highest quality results yourself and to learn in the process.

We’re always happy to speak about how we can help you, so to find out more email us to training@spectacle.co.uk.

Consultancy Case Study: Carlos Varela, MMRG

Carlos Varela recently booked a session. He said he chose Spectacle “due to the flexibility of the content and then fact that we could tailor the content exactly to our needs.”

His company, MMRG, were looking to “action a series of informational videos within the medical field”.

“We have some experience with video as a commissioning and participating client, undertaking two proof of concept projects with separate videographers in the not too distant past,” he said. “These projects have taken the form of planning (storyboards, scripts, on site work), shooting for a number of days and post production with iterative feedback and sign off stages.”

“What ideally we would like to achieve is to have the knowledge to action these videos ourselves, so we need to get a grounding on the basics.”
We asked for feedback after the training. Mr Varela said:

“I found the session we had with Mark very informative, full of insights and easy to digest.

“Mark has an innate ability to communicate his experience and insights in an easy to digest and manageable manner. We found that the hours spent with Mark have moved our initiative forward and enabled us to consider other avenues that we did not initially think would be viable.

“I have no hesitation in recommending Mark to anyone looking to advance their thinking and practical experience using video.”

Memories of Battersea: Jean

Spectacle has undergone a new project, exploring oral history in our beloved Battersea neighborhood, through short videos shot during our training courses.

In Memories of Battersea we start with Jean, a Wandsworth born survivor of the Second World War. Jean recounts for us what life was like living through the German bombardment of V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets, her evacuation spent in Oxfordshire as a child, what has become of her first home in Savona Street as well how she feels about new development in the Battersea area.

Jean grew up in Wandsworth Borough as a child during the Second World War. Losing family members and friends, Jean tells us about the bombardment on London by V-1 flying bombs. Although only a small child, such terrible times have remained with Jean for her entire life.

After life became too dangerous for people in Battersea as a result of the bombing, she was evacuated to the village Grendon Underwood in Oxfordshire. There she was cared for by a couple in a large rectory with many others from London. Jean’s safety was short-lived however when upon her return to Battersea, the German V-2 rockets began, knocking a Church down nearby.

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A still of Jean from her interview

Although Jean and her mother survived the war at home, the same could sadly not be said for her father whom was called up to fight. As many families celebrated in the streets of London, marking the end of WWII at by holding street parties called ‘Peace Teas’, Jean’s family alongside many others would never see their loved ones return from the field.

Now living in Carey Gardens near The Patmore Estate, Jean has witnessed a dramatic change in the area. No longer Savona Street, Jean’s old home has become part of what is now known as Savona Estate. More worrying for Jean however, there are now plans to build a large number of flats on the estate, a building much taller than those surrounding it including Carey Gardens.

Jean worries that these new flats may attract a different demographic of people, which wouldn’t suit the friendly nature of her beloved estate. This film was shot by participants on Spectacle’s 4 day training course.

Watch the full film here

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Students, Academics, Course Convenors – Welcome Back!

We missed you.

After a quiet summer, our Digital Video Production for Anthropologists and Social Researchers Weekends in October (8-9) and December (3-4) are filling up fast with students, researchers, and other academics keen to learn video skills for use in field research in a friendly, efficient, and affordable session.

We offer a large student discount on all our courses, making the weekend £180 for full time students (who are paying for themselves). It’s £240 if your department is paying for you, or if you work too — still a bargain.

We have received great feedback from students and academics who have taken our courses in the past, and there’s the opportunity to buddy up with other participants and arrange affordable edit training following the production course.

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We also offer bespoke group training for university groups. We can travel to universities around the country and have taught groups at Cambridge University, Sheffield University, Lancaster University and many others in the past.

To arrange a bespoke group session email us at training@spectacle.co.uk

 

Fascism in East London in the 1930s- Bosco Interview

In this extract of an interview, John ‘Bosco’ Jones recounts what it was like to be living in East London in the 1930’s when there was an active fascist movement. Bosco was later a member of the anti-fascist International Brigade ( see  Bosco’s interview on International Brigade ). He went to great lengths to help the people of Spain fight against the nationalists during the Spanish civil war. However, when he was living in East London during the early 1930’s the fascist movement was growing stronger and stronger thanks to the British Union of Fascists (BUF), with Oswald Mosley in charge. Mosley was inspired by the likes of Hitler and Mussolini and when he first started campaigning he had the support of the Daily Mail and The Mirror newspapers. This support waned when riots started breaking out at fascist meetings, most famously the Rally of Olympia, which meant their party could not take part in the 1935 general election.

Anti-fascist groups were made up of many different types of people such as communists, Jews, socialists and the unemployed, these groups tended to congregate in areas of the East End of London, such as Shoreditch. Bosco himself took part in anti-fascist meetings and rallies, which were often interrupted by the BUF and fights between the two groups were common, particularly as the BUF were anti-semitic and anti-communist. After the end of the second world war in 1945 many people who were coming out of the army found they were still fighting fascism.

In the 1980’s, when Bosco’s interview took place, although the amount of active fascists had gone down he still expressed concern over Thatcher’s government banning protesting and opposing the trade unions. Bosco states this time as being “as dangerous to me now as it ever was in ’36.”

Watch the full length Bosco interview about fascism here

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Poison Girls – “I’m Not A Real Woman”

“Poison Girls” were a Brighton formed anarcho-punk band fronted by the late Vi SubversaDespite TV produced this music video for Poision Girls’ 1984 single “I’m Not A Real Woman” – which was later re-released on Poison Girls’ 1995 compilation album “Real Woman”. Poison Girls’ 1984 single “I’m Not A Real Woman” was released via X-N-Trix Records. The song explores themes of sexuality and gender roles, influencing feminism and punk in the UK. This video is one of few music videos from Poison Girls, and features singer and guitarist Vi Subversa – who also features in the Spectacle produced documentary film “She’s A Punk Rocker”.

The Poison Girls, originally from Brighton but later relocating to Essex – which also played home to punk band Crass, whom they performed with frequently. The Poison Girls were influential at the time, challenging sexuality and gender roles in both post-punk culture and wider society. Poison Girls were also involved in “Aids – The Musical” and formed their own label “X-N-Trix”.

Vi Subversa – the band’s lead singer and guitarist – was very prominent in punk due to her radical and anarchic punk lyrics. She continued to perform outside of the Poison Girls, with her show Vi Subversa’s Naughty Thoughts. Subversa also had two children, Gem Stone and Pete Fender; who went on to join punk bands Fatal Microbes and Rubella Ballet.

This video features the band performing “I’m Not A Real Woman”, which will go down as iconic punk history.

The full video is available for free here

The full version of Despite TV 5 is available here and includes a US Embassy demo and an East End History Project with Bill Fishman.

Click Despite TV for more blogs
See our Despite TV project pages for more information and videos.

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Video Training for Journalists: become a self shooter

We offer video training for journalists looking to upskill. There’s increasing demand on print journalists to develop multimedia skills, and video skills in particular can increase your employability.

Find out more about our affordable four day and weekend courses on our website: http://spectacle.co.uk/training/

Case Study

Freelance journalist Charlotte took our four day course last year, because she wanted to expand into video…

Since completing training with us, she has been living and working in Myanmar, producing videos in addition to writing for international media.

She recently directed and produced a mini documentary about LGBT rights in Myanmar:

 

Charlotte says: “Training with Spectacle gave me the confidence and knowledge and skills to go away and make videos on my own. Mark makes a process than can seem daunting seem simple. I have been able to produce and sell short journalistic videos since training with Spectacle, when I had no knowledge of filmmaking before. I have found that I enjoy video production so much that I have now applied for funding to make a full length documentary.”

Bosco Jones on the International Brigade and Spanish Civil War

 

 

John ‘Bosco’ Jones was a member of the International Brigade from 1936-1939 during the Spanish Civil War. He fought against the fascist government in Spain during this time alongside the Second Spanish Republic and was among over 2000 british people who joined the International Brigade. The International Brigade’s aims were to stop a nationalist dictatorship taking over Spain and to stop fascism from spreading to neighbouring countries such as France.

Bosco left England in ’36 and made his way to Paris where the International Brigade headquarters were. He then had a difficult journey to Spain as France had closed it’s borders to them, so they had to cross the Pyrenees mountains to get there. Many of the Brits who went to Spain were already fighting against the growing fascism movement in the UK. When Bosco and his friends heard about the treatment of the Second Spanish Republic by the government they immediately started collecting donations of food and money for them before going out to fight alongside them.

When Bosco and his fellow soldiers got to Spain they travelled in lorries to their first location and after that spent many months at a time in trenches. They fought in many battles including the famous battle of Jarama where many troops lost their lives, including many of Bosco’s friends. Even though Franco’s government succeeded in taking control over Spain the work of the International Brigade is still appreciated to this day and Bosco has no regrets in fighting against fascism.

Watch the full Bosco on the International Brigade interview here

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Sari Squad- the Afia Begum campaign

The Sari Squad were a group of activist women, mostly South Asian, who helped to defend multicultural clubs and gatherings from racist attacks in the early 1980s. Based in East London, they campaigned to raise public awareness for Afia Begum, a young Bangladeshi widow who was deported from London with her child, Asma, in 1984, despite there being no concrete justification for such action. Her treatment was harsh, described by the European Parliament as ‘callous and showing the racist and sexist nature of the United Kingdom immigration laws’. In April 1984, the Sari Squad took their case to the European Commission of Human Rights. However, in the same year, and before the Commission could rule, the UK Government arrested Afia in a dawn raid and deported her.

In a Commons sitting on 11 June 1984, MP Harry Cohen condemned this deportation as a ‘disgraceful action’. He pointed out how the Home Office’s haste to deport Begum, and their total disregard for her situation (recently widowed after her husband died in a slum fire in Brick Lane) reflected how she had become a ‘victim of prejudice of the worst kind and at the highest level.’ Responding to Cohen, David Waddington MP essentially dismissed all the issues raised as missing the point, arguing that ‘the vast majority of people do, however, accept the need for immigration laws and for adequate machinery to enforce the control required by these laws’

Just what he means by ‘adequate machinery’ is unclear, but if this recent interview with Benjamin Zephaniah for The Guardian is anything to go by, it wasn’t so much machinery but bigotry in the form of attacks, especially from the National Front, that operated to control immigration. Retaliation was a means of survival (‘we still had to fight them on the street’), and Zephaniah praises the ‘legendary’ Sari Squad for the way they fought against racism.

In this extract, taken from our video magazine, Despite TV 3, various members of the Sari Squad discuss how they go about fighting for tolerance and justice, and why Afia Begum’s case is so important to them. Although the footage was shot in the 80’s, it remains just as current today, in our increasingly unsettled, multicultural, yet ironically intolerant society. The post-Brexit climate of casual racism and violent racist attacks makes it all the more crucial to raise awareness that this kind of intolerance is just as prevalent and unjustified today as it was then, and we must continue to raise awareness.

This video is available to watch on Vimeo, and is part of a new series of archive material from Despite TV, which will be re-circulated over the coming months.

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