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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Windrush Monument – no pictures please!

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People wishing to visit the Windrush Monument are likely to be prevented from take pictures of it if the memorial is placed, as planned, at Waterloo station.

Network Rail, which owns and runs Waterloo, has imposed a blanket ban on photography at the station. Although countless thousands of pictures have been taken at Waterloo over the past 150 years, these days staff members approach anyone they see taking pictures on the platforms or concourse and tell them to go to Station Reception. There they are told that the Department for Transport forbids photography unless the person obtains permission in writing before they arrive at the station. Had the rule been applied in the 1950s, the iconic images of newly arrived West Indians arriving at Waterloo could never have been taken.

This seems calculated to ensure that the monument will swiftly be forgotten. Not only is it to be placed in an out-of-the-way part of the station that few people visit, but also there will be no chance to record it for posterity on social media, in guide books or, indeed, in Soca News.

The photography ban is odd, as there are no signs forbidding photography on the station, no reference to the mysterious ‘rule’ on the Department for Transport’s website, no ban in Network Rail’s guidance on photography at railway stations and no rule against photography in official Metropolitan Police guidance.

When Soca News asked specifically about how this would affect the proposed Windrush monument, Waterloo Station Reception staff simply shrugged and said, in effect, “Nothing to do with us, mate”.

We suspect that if the monument is placed at Waterloo and over-zealous staff try do to prevent people taking photos, some lively scenes will develop. Network Rail would do well to rethink this foolish and unnecessary – possibly illegal – restriction on freedoms.

Soca News readers may remember the ill-advised attempts a few years ago to force photographers to buy a licence for the ‘right’ to take pictures at Notting Hill Carnival. That foolish policy was swiftly confirmed as illegal and unenforceable by the Met and led to many respected photographers boycotting the event.


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