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John Claridge’s East End

February 19, 2012
by the gentle author

The window on the top right of this photograph was John Claridge’s former bedroom when he took this astonishing portrait of his neighbours in Plaistow – Mr & Mrs Jones – in 1968, on a visit home in his early twenties. Once, at the age of eight, John saw a plastic camera at an East End fun fair and knew he had to have it. And thus, in that intuitive moment of recognition, his lifelong passion for photography was born. Saving up money from his paper round in the London Docks, John bought a serious camera and recorded the world that he knew, capturing the plangent images you see here with a breathtaking clarity of vision. “Photography was a natural language,” he assured me, when I asked him about taking these pictures, “This was my life.”

“My father was a docker – everyone worked in the docks, did a bit of boxing or they were villains. My dad went to sea when he was thirteen, he did bare-knuckle boxing, he knew how to rig a ship from top to bottom, and he sold booze in the states during prohibition. I used to get up at five in the morning to talk to him before he went to work and he told me stories, that was my education. People say life was hard in the East End, but I found the living was easy and I loved it.”

With admirable self-assurance, John left school at fifteen and informed West Ham Labour Exchange of his chosen career. They sent him up to the McCann-Erickson advertising agency in the West End where he immediately acquired employment in the photographic department. Then, at seventeen years old, John bravely travelled from Plaistow to Hampstead to knock on the door of Bill Brandt to present one of his prints, and the legendary photographer invited him in, recognising his precocious talent and offering encouragement to the young man.

“I used to meet my mum after work in the Roman Rd where she was a machinist, and you couldn’t see the next street in the fog,” John recalled, when I enquired about the distinctive quality of light in these atmospheric images. At the age of nineteen, John left the East End for good and at the same time opened his first studio near St Paul’s Cathedral. It was the precursor an heroic career in photography which has seen John working at the top of his profession for decades, yet he still carries a deep affection for these eloquent haunting pictures that set him on his way. “My East End’s gone, it doesn’t exist anymore,” he admitted to me frankly with unsentimental discernment, “These are pictures I could never do again, I don’t have that naivety and innocence anymore, but seeing them now is like looking at an old friend.”

Collecting firewood, 1960

1961

1963

1966

1972

1960

Ex-boxer, 1962

1974

1962

1961

Mass X-Ray, 1966

1962

1960

Flower Seller, 1959

1962

Shoe Rebuilders, 1965

London fog, 1959

Going to work, 1959

London Docks, 1964

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

80 Responses leave one →
  1. Rhianwen Guthrie permalink
    February 19, 2012

    Beautiful, haunting photographs – amazing quality. I’d love to see how John Claridge records the present-day East End. Thank you for posting these, and the interview – it’s fascinating to see.

  2. February 19, 2012

    very moving. the surface texture of the photographs is beautiful, like a painting.

  3. joan permalink
    February 19, 2012

    These are beautiful. And reading John’s bio on his website made me think of the new drama series that the BBC keeps trailing ‘White Heat’. John sounds like he could be one of the characters.

    By the way, the Getty exhibition of East End photos at Westfield Stratford (known in this house as the Emerald City -given the way it glitters and offers such promise as you approach), is well worth a visit. Details here:

    http://uk.westfield.com/stratfordcity/news-and-events/2012/getty-gallery-east

    Best wishes,

    Joan

  4. February 19, 2012

    Writing about Spitalfields at the moment but in 1863. These pictures are so wonderful and although my Londoner Nan was from Wandsworth via Southwark, I can see a tiny, textual glimpse of how her life and her mother’s life might have been. Absolutely haunting but I’ve come to expect that from this fantastic blog.

  5. Susan permalink
    February 19, 2012

    Phenomenal! That textured look was partly achieved, I imagine, by the type of photographic paper on which some of the photos were printed, something that is seen less and less in our digital age. I love my digital camera, but I also remember fondly watching images bloom under my fingers in developing trays in the dark room where my dad taught high school photography. He gave me scraps of different kinds of paper to practice on, and, of course, I never realized at the time what a vanishing art form that would be.

  6. Jose Cadaveira permalink
    February 20, 2012

    A fantastic series with a great atmosphere, simply wonderful!

  7. February 20, 2012

    Wonderful photos. Digital shots are great of course, as is the possibility of just shooting and shooting all day because you don’t have to worry about buying film, or the cost of developing it. But achieving the texture and atmosphere of these photos with our high-tech cameras is simply unimaginable. Thank you

  8. February 21, 2012

    John’s photos are wonderful

  9. February 21, 2012

    I had the privilege of working for John as his Producer for many years,so to see these pictures again are like seeing old friends,and that I have 2 of them in my possession is wonderful (they are treasured!).
    John has always had a special way of dealing with people,so that they give themselves completely to him – thats why all his pictures have that rare quality of truth.

    I too was born in the East End,so for me it is absolutely essential that these pictures are treasured and valued as an important record of a time gone by, and a very important archive as there is all too little left now,although I agree with Rhianwen that John should be starting another project on todays East End!

  10. Cherub permalink
    February 21, 2012

    I love these images. My husband was in London recently on business, he is originally an East End boy and I told him to go to the Getty exhibition at Westfield. He did and as I was unable to be with him, he bought me the book. Wonderful, full of joy and sadness. When I look at the images of the poor I feel people today have no idea. There is also something about black and white photography that is so much deeper than colour. It catches every emotion on a person’s face.

  11. February 21, 2012

    Stunning. So evocative and almost timeless. Thank you. What a treasure trove.

  12. Marco permalink
    February 26, 2012

    Simply beautiful. Can’t take my eyes off of this photos.

  13. Siobhann permalink
    March 14, 2012

    Thank you. Astonishing .

  14. linda sutton permalink
    March 14, 2012

    John Claridge has an empathy with people – not just the young and visually beautiful, but the old who manifest their beauty in a different way. characters. if you get a chance, have a look at his soho portraits too.

  15. Alice Neal permalink
    March 14, 2012

    For a subject that many people would deam as ‘ugly’; poverty and urban degradation, John has managed to capture images that draw you in to reality of what life was like for so many people in London’s East End. His portraits show real emotions in the subjects’ faces, and his landscape and urban shots highlight the grittyness of urban life in the 60′s-70′s yet he has managed to make these ‘harsh reality’ images utterly beautiful. It is a hugely important piece of London’s social documentary and with the coming of the Olympics, only goes to show how much the East End has changed in just a few decades.

  16. Louisa permalink
    March 14, 2012

    Truly extraordinary and beautiful photographs. Taken with such honesty, deep passion and a huge sense of pride of one’s heritage and one’s place within it. An awareness of the coming change, whatever that might be, and a burning need to document it before it vanishes forever. A unique vision and an incredibly important body of work.

  17. March 14, 2012

    John Claridge is to me, the most wonderful photographer around and it’s still a mystery to me why we haven’t seen any more of his work than we have.
    Looking at these images from the East End, gives me great pleasure, it’s not very often we get to see the point of view from a boy who’s just walking round with a camera in his lokal area. It’s brilliant in my opinion, because there’s no messing about, it’s rough and yet at the same time, full of compassion and love for a part of London that has now gone and will never return.
    I hope in time to come, that viewers will realize just how much these images mean, not only to photography but also to history, and hopefully we’ll see more of John’s work in the very near future.

  18. Cindy Salmon permalink
    March 14, 2012

    Funny old world, wasn’t it? All gone now, but perfectly preserved by a passionate young man with a camera and a natural eye. Beautifully printed – with the depth in the shadows and the grain like soot in the air. Both charming and unique.

  19. john edwards permalink
    March 14, 2012

    The east side was great for new artists as it was destitute, in shock
    from five years of skies black with planes, terrible explosions, fires
    and destruction. The whole place stunk of under arms, cheap perfume,
    soot/gas fog, old clothes, pickled herring and the ozone of anger.
    [ see the movie 'Hue & Cry ' and much of Johnny Speight / Pinter.]
    It’s not just that my long time friend John Claridge took the assured
    photo’s he did at such a young age, probably on an Ensign, but that
    he got to print them as well as he did as chemicals and especially
    paper [ Nigel Henderson printed on a great roll of thin as Elsan
    toilet paper, he'd snaffled from the Air Force plane camera's ]
    was in very short supply and money was too tight to mention.
    Not just truly great photo’s, archive of a singular time, but a singular
    feat by a very young and very determined mind and eye of conscious
    apprehension. Glad it’s all long gone, but Glad all Over to see that
    east end that we knew, grew in, and loved. Still do.
    Up there with the best of Magnum.
    Hope young JC has some more of this – Outstanding My Son!
    Psst – Got any of Aunty Sukey’s Talent night at the Deuragon or
    The Iron Bridge?

  20. Simon Meyrick-Jones permalink
    March 14, 2012

    John’s photos:To me they seem like illustrations for Thoreau’s dictum
    “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”There’s no romance
    there,just a clear eyed depiction of life as it was.
    Also they reinforce my belief that Black and White is all you need for a
    photograph;colour can be a distraction.
    Lovely,serious images.

  21. Roger Cooper permalink
    March 15, 2012

    Like a photograph left out in the sun, the memory of this world has faded – shoes ‘RE-BUILT’ while you wait, because you only had one pair – MASS X-RAY POPLAR AREA because TB wasn’t a scourge in Hampstead – one chicken for sale in H GOLDSTEIN, and a pretty scrawny one too – a massing of cranes in the London Docks and the men in cloth caps and mufflers who trudged off to operate them – who remembers?

    John Claridge, and I am very glad he does.

  22. March 15, 2012

    An amazing set of photographs! They really show London at a time that looks so completely alien, and yet it was in the so-recent past. Flower Seller, 1959 is a special favourite. Any chance of these being published in book form? Thank you for these, John.

  23. dennis permalink
    March 16, 2012

    These pictures take me back so much to my childhood living in the dockside area of Hull.
    We are framed so much by our early experiences and recollections which is what makes these photographs so arresting and poignant. John says he no longer has the innocence to make pictures like this but they are not naive, they are quite profound in their elegant simplicity and made by John’s love of the printing process. And the one thing I do know about John is that he hasn’t lost one percent of his naive enthusiasm and passion for making images.

  24. Gordon Smith permalink
    March 16, 2012

    Beauty can be seen in all things, you’ve just got to be able to see it.

    Great photographs.

    Lids off to ya John.

  25. Terry Holben permalink
    March 16, 2012

    John,

    Brilliant, evocative, haunting pictures that bring so many images of my past life to mind. I struggled and worked so hard to escape. You have made me realise what a rich experience it all was. The art of a “Young Master”

    Do it again, NOW!

  26. Paul May permalink
    March 17, 2012

    When I first came to London to work, 50 years ago, I spent time exploring around the river. These pictures aren’t beautiful in the conventional sense but I can smell them and taste them. Then again – they’re beautiful.

  27. March 20, 2012

    This is great stuff John. It’s hard to imagine how life has really been like this in our lifetime. It is a fantastic record full of stunning images.

  28. March 20, 2012

    O wow, how I miss prints, so much feeling comes out, lovely to see these, never did get to see much of John’s earlier work until Cindy educated me

  29. Kev O'Neill permalink
    March 20, 2012

    I don’t miss prints as I still work on them every day,but these are a bit special.
    Beautiful,evocative shots that capture the times
    perfectly.

  30. Ashley Bovan permalink
    March 20, 2012

    Great photographs! – a pleasure to see them

  31. March 20, 2012

    What a beautiful time warp. Looking at these images I feel transported. Hard to believe that the eye was that of a young man.

  32. Adrian Taylor permalink
    March 20, 2012

    Evocative. Affecting. Touching. Haunting. Gritty. Gorgeous.
    John is a master with colour photography because it is so brilliantly informed
    by his black-and-white work.
    John is a consummate artist whose medium happens to be photography.
    His prints are rare and powerful documents sprung from a poet’s sensibility.

  33. March 20, 2012

    Thought provoking images of the East End.
    A stunning archive of our recent history, beautifully documented by John Claridge.
    A pleasure to look and ponder.

  34. March 21, 2012

    Stunning images ! John Claridge is a visionary master . A significant contribution of invaluable historical moments to be cherished and informed on what it really means to “see”.

  35. March 22, 2012

    Fabulous images of a time that has now gone, John was already way ahead of his time documenting life all around him, while most of us would have just seen it as commonplace and normal everyday life and never bothered to take any photographs. How wrong we were. What more can you say John Claridge…..Photographer

  36. March 22, 2012

    Thank the divine powers that be that we had the likes of John Claridge to so eloquently document a side of London long gone.

    Beautifully haunting images.

    DGS x

  37. Laura D'Alessio permalink
    March 22, 2012

    John’s unique talent shines in these images which show the harsh reality of everyday life in the East End’s 60′s still trying to recover from the devastation of WWII . Beautiful and haunting.

  38. Andrew Wood permalink
    March 22, 2012

    Mr Claridge seems to have an instinctual timing that allows him to capture an individual at the exact moment when they involuntarily give permission and the privilege of looking deep inside there life and soul for just a fleeting moment. Something that even in real life encounters is hard to achieve. Brilliant and fascinating.

  39. March 22, 2012

    More superb work from John. An extreemely important archive of East London. Each shot is all about character, as it always is with John. Even photographs without a person in them are still all about people.Somehow these photographs, from the 60′s & 70′s, feel like they come from a time before and from another world, only hints of which remain today.

  40. March 22, 2012

    “Classic Claridge!”

    Gritty “tell it like it is images”.

    As he says, Spitalfields represents the naivety of his younger formative years, learning his craft . . . but if you follow his career as I have done as an occasional collaborative independent marketing consultant it’s self-evidently the creative foundation leading to the formation of those magnificent images from around the world . . . Cuba and New York always stick in the memory.

    But, as always, it’s the composition that is so striking and which sets him apart from so many of his more formulaic contemporaries.

    And, of course, his deep interest in portraying the human psyche through his images, whether it be international film stars, politicians, famous jazz musicians (a particular interest of his) or, as in Spitalfields, ordinary but just as interesting individuals from working class backgrounds.

    Just visit the famous French House pub in London’s Soho district to see for yourself just how wide a spread of personalities John has photographed and has continued to photograph.

    What’s even more remarkable for someone so committed to the visual arts is the intellect and research John puts into whatever subject he is exploring . . . Spitalfields is a classic example . . . “Classic Claridge!”

  41. Marien de Goffau permalink
    March 22, 2012

    So it was and so it will always be.
    John Claridge, photographer.

    There’s only one way to do something and that’s his way. “For me style is not a considerate or conscious decision. That’s the way it is. That’s the way I take pictures.”
    When we look at his work we know it’s pure and there is no other side of the coin.

    Over the years John has made pictures, whether or not commercial work, those pictures are John Claridge. It all started in that time, London East End and 15 years of age, the beginning of something unique. It’s great to look back again to that beginning. And it’s great to realise John is constantly making those pure pictures over the years. It’s great to know this is pure.

  42. Marien de Goffau permalink
    March 22, 2012

    To collaborate with John is a party. Experiences I will never forget.
    In prior years John did already his thing: The pictures of London’s East End, 1960. The beginning of all the unique pictures that followed over the years. John’s pictures always remain true and pure, like this beginning. A treat to watch.

  43. marie james permalink
    March 24, 2012

    Absolutely wonderful. I can’t find a superlative good enough to desccribe these beautiful photographs. A truly haunting experience.

  44. Ian Freeman permalink
    March 24, 2012

    Just wonderful pictures by one of the country’s finest and most prolific photographers. A sheer delight to view. Looking forward to the book!

  45. Graham Ford permalink
    March 24, 2012

    These passionate and important photographs have a directness and apparent simplicity and that goes straight to the heart.
    This belies their complexity; like Bill Brandt, John not only has great empathy, but is also a master of the technique of image making, never a slave to it.

  46. March 24, 2012

    These days when everybody thinks they are a photographer, John Claridge’s pictures prove that very few people actually can take pictures. Everybody looks at the world around themselves but they do not see the world the way John experiences life. His pictures have soul and an affinity with the subjects and situations he encountered recording the East End. His images make you fully aware how the East End has transformed itself from the past into the present and what we have lost in the process. His images have preserved a library of everything that no longer exists.
    It is reassuring to know that one of our finest photographers in the UK has captured the “lost East End”. I was never there in the early sixties as I was still living in Amsterdam, but after looking at Johns images I feel the sense of loss of a community no longer there.

    Rolph

  47. March 24, 2012

    I have always been a huge fan of John’s work, and was lucky enough to work with him a few times several years ago. These shots are fascinating for me because I love the rich and varied history of Spitalfields and I lived on Fournier Street for many years and saw it change a lot, into the mental place it is now. It reminded me at the time of parts of Italy, even though its so close to one of the financial centres of the world, just like Rome, the remnants of the past are there to be seen everywhere. Beautiful pictures by a great photographer. Nice one. D

  48. Paul Grubb permalink
    March 24, 2012

    These are absolutely amazing shots, I love John’s work. There’s so much retouching on shots now, that the truth is hidden. These are bare reality. Don’t know if I’m allowed to swear for emphasis, but totally *#@=ing AWESOME!!!!! The man’s a genius.

  49. March 25, 2012

    When I first saw these pictures I was taken by the intensity and story telling aspect.

    Something we don’t see often today where much is achieved by manipulated effects that might grab us for a few seconds without leaving an impression on us.

    This are important pictures, not “images” as described by many who try to elevate the not so important to guest room picture art.

    As we grow older we can witness how some views (photographs) ripen with age, like good wines but only good vintages survive time.- If I look at John’s age when these pictures where taken I am glad to confirm my thinking that photography can’t be taught, skills and technique can be learned but a good eye is something a few are borne with.

    With age we might get better with our techniques and the learned experience about the “good and the bad” in fife it might also corrupt us with with what we “think” is expected from us, the pressures to survive and make a living.- John resisted these temptations and was truthful to his art for as long as I have followed his work.

    These pictures are pure and a delight to look at, they are also a gift to the history about that snipped of
    life as it was. Thank you for this.

  50. Peter Bach permalink
    March 26, 2012

    John remains one of our finest photographers. While everyone else rushes about in a kind of snaphappy fashion, there is John, absorbing, showing, reflecting, pinpointing and respecting. He notices everything we should be noticing too but do not. He is therefore crucial. Key. And his work is and will prove to be eternal.

  51. March 26, 2012

    Great work, the portraits are intense!

  52. Bryn permalink
    March 26, 2012

    Ah these pictures bring back memories.
    John and I are contemporaries from the east end.
    These pictures have all of Johns hall marks, of quality and style.

  53. March 27, 2012

    Fabulous work, the pictures are haunting. The images are so raw and unflinching It’s like watching a mans whole life.

  54. Tim permalink
    March 27, 2012

    You can see from these wonderful shots that John has had natural eye for a great composition
    since the moment he first picked up a camera. You can’t teach that. Well done John a great haunting record of the East End.

  55. Matt Cogger permalink
    March 27, 2012

    Epoch defining.
    Like peeking behind a door into a different decade.

    Superb.

  56. Roger Owen permalink
    March 27, 2012

    Unbelievable images! Superb! How things have changed in just a few decades. These stunning photographs are a precious insight to our recent past and a fantastically important historical record.

  57. Cindy Hacker permalink
    March 27, 2012

    Gritty and real – a wonderful pictorial history.

    I am wondering about the lone chicken hanging in Goldstein’s window and the stack of eggs to the right. Is this some sort of warning?
    X Cindy X

  58. Mike Hannett permalink
    March 30, 2012

    To think that John took many of these pictures when he was still in his teens is astonishing. Having worked with him on several occasions on advertising projects I know his enthusiasm for photography has never diminished. Each time we finished shooting an ad together John would disappear with his camera to carry on taking pictures for his own personal satisfaction. He just loves it.

  59. March 31, 2012

    A wonderful set of atmospheric images from a time past but captured for future generations by Johns eye. I remember seeing his work back in the 1980′s and was impressed by the unpretentious nature of his images.

  60. Paul Sakoilsky permalink
    April 7, 2012

    Dear John, absolutely brilliant!

  61. April 10, 2012

    John Claridge’s photographs are a sober record of things as they are. Without making it larger than it actually is, but with a surprising compassionate eye. Crowing up in London’s East End, the notorious neighbourhood of working class people in a very class-conscious England, during the years of reconstruction. Claridge is not blind to the poor conditions but without a trace of sensation. His photographs are memories of the days of yesteryear, written with a very sensitive touch of light.

  62. John in Paris. permalink
    April 10, 2012

    Somewhere out there is a famous fly fishers dictum:”Train to be observant.”
    Master Claridge it appears learnt from a very early age(not,one must add to select a fly for trout.)
    Surely ahead of his time,he selected and recorded part of his every life with precocious confidence.Today,
    there is still that powerful-yet sensitive image from Claridge.
    Warhol proposed 15mins of celebrity in ones life.Claridge is well into over time.

  63. April 16, 2012

    Elemental. Get’s beneath your nails.
    I was privileged to work in Spitalfields for three years from 1980. I worked in the community, but I also ran a project on Flower and Dean Street, off Commercial Street. The street is now known as Thrawl Street. One reason for the name change is that the first (alleged) Ripper murder occurred in tenement buildings (now demolished) on the little street.
    Try to obtain a wonderful book – ‘The Streets of East London’ by Bill Fishman (RIP). A wonderful man. Pictures in a similar vein taken with the same depth and warmth as John Claridge

  64. Deidre Wallace permalink
    April 17, 2012

    A gritty reminder of how London was. All the kids complaining about life today, don’t have a clue as to how it was before…

    Great photos.

    And thanks John for recording history.

  65. Val Moore permalink
    May 6, 2012

    Absolutely haunting. They wind back the years on memories half-forgotten, impressions of a 50s childhood as if seen through a narrow lens with dark lace blinds half-obscuring images which seemed timeless then, but have now gone. So many of my 50s memories somehow DO come back to me with grey blurred edges, and these black-and-white photographs so perfectly evoke the feeling.

  66. Keith Horton permalink
    May 8, 2012

    Wotcha my son,
    (I’ve known John for 60 odd years and that takes us together right through this period)

    The pictures to me ain’t sentimental but they do evoke my emotions.

    Life back then was constantly black and white with grey tints and very a tiny hint of colour. The only way to portray that age is in black and white.

    They are beautiful pictures. The photographer wasn’t  naive even back then. He knew exactly what he was portraying!!

    Best regards,
    Keith Horton

  67. May 28, 2012

    Beautiful conceived and captured images of characters and locations of London’s East End.

    The buildings, and the shops so different to the facades of the high street today.

  68. Sasha Devas permalink
    June 5, 2012

    What stunningly beautiful images. Thank you for posting them.

  69. June 10, 2012

    What an amazing set of photos and a great window to a bygone age. High quality images in the modern day of course have their place, but the low quality grainy images here are haunting.

  70. Karen Holland permalink
    June 13, 2012

    Came across these today brilliant pictures.

  71. Jack permalink
    June 20, 2012

    Just wonderful! These are real treasures & should be viewed by all..

  72. June 28, 2012

    Genius.
    At any age. Blow away images, and to achieve that true grit and rawness coupled with a near ‘eye watering’ emotional sensitivity, is just remarkable.
    You need to have an exhibition John!

  73. July 22, 2012

    stunning images…

    I am wondering if anyone knows the location of J Berland shop?

  74. Sonia Murray permalink
    August 6, 2012

    The comments are as poignant as the beautiful images. Thank you, John Claridge, for a living memorial to a time gone by!

  75. Alan Scarff permalink
    December 19, 2012

    In one of his poems Phillip Larkin described photography as “Faithful and disappointing!”.* John Claridge’s images prove Larkin correct in his assumption. The characters and places in John’s photographs are old and dark as the East End itself.
    I used to live in East London and I always remember it as okay and not at all tragic, but photography is like a microscope focussing on the minutae of time and existence. Most East End people’s lives probably were hard and grey but you just live the life and didn’t notice anything until you look over the parapet, so to speak. The one time I did (Junior reporter in a small Fleet Street office) I was soon told to get back to the Docks where I belonged. Unlike John, I didn’t have the ambition or the talent to break out.
    When I think of the East End that I knew I remember the Ilford Palais, Barry’s in Hackney, the Jive Dive in Forest Gate and, of course, The Lotus Ballroom also in Forest Gate, just up the road from where John Claridge used to live. I have to say that my enduring memory of the Lotus was watching Weeksey, with his Crombie trailing dramatically behind him, kicking some poor devil across the ballroom floor.
    So my memories are a little brighter than John’s pictorial essay, perhaps he should have put his metallic gold painted Vespa GS in the background!
    I guess this is the disappointment that Larkin writes of in his poem and the East End was a hard place to be.
    All these thoughts and memories resurrected by the skill of a photographer and his grim but evocative images depicted in black and white and pinned forever into a vanished past.

    *”Lines on a Young Lady’s Photograph Album” from The Less Deceived” collection.

  76. Chris Love permalink
    January 19, 2013

    Haunting photographs of a time in which I grew up, not in the East End but never the less a time I remember very well. Times were hard something which many people today will never experience, but if they take the time to view these photographs that experience may be felt……..fantastic photography , I’ve enjoyed looking at all Johns pictures.

  77. March 15, 2013

    Shear magic, moments captured in time!
    Thanks for sharing them.

  78. Pauline Allen permalink
    June 14, 2013

    Thank you, John. Your words in ‘My East End has gone now…’ are exactly what I think and feel. I always felt safe and secure in E16 and E13. Always. If you fell, there would always be someone to help you up. In the same way that you would be there, to help someone up. It’s second nature and it never leaves you. There would always be someone who would start a conversation, be it at a bus stop, hospital or any queue. You can always tell us East enders. We talk to anyone. Whether they want it or not!

    I feel calm and proud when I look at your photographs. This is me! This is what I am!

    Thank you.

  79. September 19, 2013

    I’ve spent the past 3hrs. discovering scenes that have been etched in my mind and sub-conscious these past 70yrs. or so, I’m 82 now and for some reason they have never left me, I have often thought of trying to write about the characters, the pubs (I was also one of the kids
    playing in the tiled doorways, hoping for the bag of crisps and lemonade, the odd penny given by strangers on their way home) the dark but amazingly safe streets to the young. Looking at the pictures, I never thought I would set eyes upon Peggy-Leggy-Steps going across the railway at the end of my home in Star Lane, just past my school Star Lane School with the view of the Cooling Towers and Glass Works leading to Gainsborough Rd. School that I used to walk to each week along Manor Way (I recognised the picture) for carpentry, and this was all in the turmoil of the 1940-45. It has so many memories for me and I still remember the names of the classmates and teachers, the boxers the images of the paper sellers wandering those streets every night, Kosky’s fried fish next the Anchor pub it goes on and on. Many, many thanks for these pics they explain so many things that words just cannot capture. I’m looking forward to purchasing the books. I also shined my shoes like your mates, what is it about that part of London?

    I wish we had met, I had moved on by the sixties, although I visited my parents at least twice a month until the 80′s and was pleased when I was able to leave it all behind, I found the memories preferable, even though they were clouded by war.

    My regards and best wishes — Michael Bacon.

  80. February 8, 2014

    John’s photography was a huge inspiration to me for many years before I eventually turned professional. The images here are truly evocative and emotive with grainy film and gritty contrast. Amazing!

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