Take me back to dear old Beckton


I was stunned and exalted when I first saw Derek Jarman’s video for the Queen is Dead – on the big screen at the Scala at Kings Cross.

Still my favourite pop video. Felt like there was a tribe not so far away that might conceivably admit me. Or at least I could adore, speak for. Or at least they knew those streets – outside. And what it felt like.

Made a pilgrimage to the Beckton gas works to the site where most of the video was filmed

queen is dead wall-1

The spray painted ‘Queen is Dead’  lettering from the video is on the wall behind me


gasworks long shot-1

One of the biggest gas works in the world – undone by North Sea gas.

Artfully blown up by no-fly Kubrick for ‘Full Metal Jacket’

Which years later I saw it on video and still think is the best war movie ever made

And not so far away, at Millennium films Jarman made the best Eighties film, ‘the Last of England’


Me gasworks 1-1

At the time the Eighties seemed terrible

me gasworks 2-1

And now it’s currently the coolest decade. Like the sixties were for us. And now the time I feel a nostalgia for. As in a sense of deep comfort whenever I see the everyday streets scenes in the background on Minder – or on any eighties London TV show that doesn’t distract you from the background by being too awful.

When they started excavating it – I thought what on earth are they going to find there? But beneath all the crap about giant mobile phones and Duran Duran, there’s a case to be made. Starting with Rip it Up by Simon Reynolds.

Ronke portrait-1 

That same day I think we also went to Greenwich and I bought ‘Three feet high and rising’ on vinyl (which probably makes this 1989). It was one of those London days when everything was right.

Me blurred distance-1

3 thoughts on “Take me back to dear old Beckton

  1. This blog is great. I am pleased that Dagenham & Redbridge won the playoff final yesterday – it means I can take my 3 girls (including their mother) to see them play my hometown team in a foolball match, see the Bata shoe factory and all the delights of the region on an offbeat awayday. Well done, Enchanted.

  2. I can remmeber my friend saying he saw a war going down at Beckton gasworks, Tanks and gun fire explosions, everyone said he should stop glue sniffing but shit many years later i found out it was used for film sets that must of been some sight to see though full Heavy mental jacket filmed lol

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