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Just Another Day With John Claridge

September 24, 2012
by the gentle author

Cobb St, Spitalfields 1966

One morning in 1966, photographer John Claridge met these four men working in Cobb St, Spitalfields. “They were bloody silly,recalled John fondly half a century later, “and there’s not enough of that in this world.” It was John’s way of introducing this set of pictures to me, published here for the first time, which he entitles“Just Another Day.”

“They were good people – full of fun - and this picture was nice to take, it has a warmth to it.” he added, upon contemplation of the image. And, if there is a common quality among these pictures, it is an open-hearted delight in the quotidian, or as John puts it -“The daily things that people do, going to work, stopping at the corner, visiting the shops.”

Where others might find only the mundane, John sees the poetry of the human condition. There may be endless sleet in Spitalfields, freezing fog in Victoria Park, and the passengers are eternally falling asleep on the early train out of Upton Park, yet John always reveals the joy and the humanity of his subjects. A generous spirit informs his photographs.

“Some of these pictures are of life drifting by,” John informed me, “because there are gentler ways of seeing the world than the obvious.”

Cup of tea, Spitalfields 1966.

Kosher butchers, Bethnal Green 1962 - “It wasn’t very big and it did have a certain smell to it.”

The cap, Spitalfields 1982 – “I love the things you don’t know as well as the things that are explained.”

Four men, Spitalfields 1982 - “You could create your own story with that.”

The baker at Rinkoffs, Vallance Rd, Bethnal Green 1967 - “Having a cup of tea and enjoying a breath of fresh air as the light’s coming up.”

Rinkoffs, Bethnal Green 1967

Breaker’s yard, E16 1975 - “I was talking to her dad and she just wandered off and got in the car.”

Feeding the birds in Victoria Park, E3 1962 - “there was ice on the lake.”

Passing the graveyard,  1970s

Bridge repair, E3 1960s

The crane, E16 1975 - “I printed this photo for the first time last week.”

SOS motors, Spitalfields 1982

Sewer Bank, Plaistow 1960s - “Where the kids used to go on their bikes and I’d take my scrambler. The craters were fantastic, it was a different kind of playground.”

In Plaistow, 1961 – “Just down the road from where I lived. It certainly has a lot of charm to it, look at how little traffic there is. That could be my dad on the bike, coming back from the docks.”

Station stairs, Upton Park 1963 - “Sometimes I met my mum here after school, when she was coming back from Bow where she worked as machinist making shirts.”

Station entrance, Upton Park 1963 – “I like stations, it’s that feeling you get of arriving on a film set.”

Leaving Plaistow early morning in winter, E13 1963 - “I had a motorbike but I liked going on the tube if the traffic was bad.”

The shed, Plaistow 1969 - “This was at the top of the street where I lived. He used to go round with that barrow and pick things up, and sell bits and pieces in that shed. A very nice man and a gentleman.”

End of the day, Spitalfields 1963.

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

You may also like to take a look at

John Claridge’s East End

Along the Thames with John Claridge

At the Salvation Army with John Claridge

In a Lonely Place

A Few Diversions by John Claridge

This was my Landscape

John Claridge’s Spent Moments

Signs, Posters, Typography & Graphics

Working People & a Dog

Invasion of the Monoliths

Time Out with John Claridge

Views from a Dinghy by John Claridge

People on the Street & a Cat

In Another World with John Claridge

A Few Pints with John Claridge

A Nation Of Shopkeepers

Some East End Portraits by John Claridge

Sunday Morning Stroll with John Claridge

John Claridge’s Cafe Society

Graphics & Graffiti

14 Responses leave one →
  1. September 24, 2012

    Great pics, Love the one with the Ford Capri, it looks like a GT. I had one with a yellow body and a black top. Loved it. G

  2. Lee permalink
    September 24, 2012

    The marvellous atmosphere of the East End in the 60′s captured for posterity !

    Thanks for sharing these great images.

    Lee

  3. September 24, 2012

    I always remember my Grandad started driving a Ford Capri when he retired. I thought that it made him and my Grandma look like real hipsters at that time! Angella-Dee x

  4. September 24, 2012

    Dead and gone but still alive in these fine prints!

  5. September 24, 2012

    It gets better and better, now we get to inside the shops, I look at these prints and think of John as a young man running around with a camera, taking pictures of his life, no rules, no fear, just for the love of it, it just doesn’t get more real, these images in years to come will become iconic to the history of the real East End.

    Thank you John for sharing, hopefully there’s more to come, I really hope so.

    J

  6. Heather Dyer permalink
    September 24, 2012

    John Claridge, the East End’s Cartier Bresson. Every picture is a gem.

  7. Freddie Edmondson permalink
    September 24, 2012

    Whilst I see noise all around, I hear only whispers and murmurs. Quiet souls speaking softly, mumbling, muttering & sharing secrets.
    A collection of blissful images from a world I never knew. My family had a Kosher fish shop in north London in the late 70′s- Happy days. We also had a much treasured Ford Capri!
    Thank you John.

    Freddie Edmondson.

  8. Marien de Goffau permalink
    September 24, 2012

    Sublime portraiture in a nutshell. Simple and pure. The man and his environment. I fully enjoy the simplicity of these powerful portraits. Great and still alive in these fine black and white prints.

  9. Chris F permalink
    September 24, 2012

    Lovely, lovely scrap yard… I do hope that Heaven has a massive scrap yard where I can potter about all day… Another set of great photos.

  10. Olga Secerov permalink
    September 24, 2012

    Love’ SOS motors’ and ‘The Shed’ . I love the grainy and gritty texture of ‘Station Entrance’ in Plaistow.

  11. September 25, 2012

    Yet more wonderful images John and as usual everyone has said it all before me! It just goes to show that you were totally absorbed by images so early on and had a complete empathy with everyone who crossed your path – a truely compelling set of pictures – thankyou as ever

  12. Cherub permalink
    September 27, 2012

    My husband grew up around Upton Park / East Ham / Plaistow and back in the 70s my elder sister lived on the Barking Road there so the pics are very intesting.

  13. September 28, 2012

    It may be just another day to each of these folk but JC’s lens renders a poetic feel to all of them . . . enshrined forever in the mists of East End time.

  14. john edwards permalink
    October 10, 2012

    See they’ve latched on to the Capri. Phwooar! Carsholton to Chigwell, Barnet to Blackheath, brown suede brogues, Daks slacks, few Babychams or Calypso [ Called 'Leg Openers' by the trade ] for miss
    Permafrost … power where you need it – Derek the Dirty’s dream car – See if he’d got a Jag they’d keyed it
    if not the brake fluid paint job for getting a bit above the manor and mates … but with the Capri – well it was raced wasn’t it, so, egalitie fraternitie what? Moss driving gloves and off to Brighton or Henley.
    Lads at Cobb Street having a good laugh, the one on the left a ringer for Lionel Bart or Lyin’ Abaht as I
    used to scold him trying to get his creative spark going again.
    One on the left in ‘ four men’ He’s wearing my aunt Elsie’s tea cozy her niece bobble knitted for her.
    And those tube trains! High ceilings, quality steel tubing & detail, grooved wood floors, classic patterned and lovely seats – terrific moshing in rush hours. Our pal Pete Butler who was at LSP noe LCP when Tom Eckersley was head used to flit a paper butterfly on a 6fy rod on the heads of his fellow passengers, Pete being 6ft plus …. especially those girls heading for Hornchurch he was tempted by. And, those strap handles eh! Like a stage set of ominous blackjacks hanging above, also of course known as ‘Priests’. Got it again JC – The percussive ring of the echoes of my, and your, mind. The cast is assembled, gangs all here and crazier than Morton Frazier’s Harmonica Gang.
    Brilliant eye/mind/heart JC.

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