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Tony Hall’s East End Panoramas

January 24, 2013
by the gentle author

In the sixties, Tony Hall bought a Horizont camera of Russian manufacture that was designed for taking panoramic photographs and he used it to take these magnificent pictures of East End streets, published today for the first time. Originally trained as a painter, Tony Hall became a newspaper artist in Fleet St and pursued photography in the afternoons between shifts.

“He’d always been passionate about wide-angle lenses, it was his landscape painter’s background – he had a painter’s eye,” Libby Hall, Tony’s wife revealed to me, “When he was sixteen, his paintings were accepted for the Royal Academy but he wanted to do something different, so he gave it up in favour of commercial art and photography.”

The Horizont camera had a lens that rotated in sync with the shutter to create a panoramic view, but they were unreliable and, when the lens became out of sync with the shutter, patches of light and dark appeared on the image. Tony bought three cameras in the hope of getting one to work consistently and in the end he gave up, yet by then he had achieved this bravura series of pictures which emphasise the linear qualities of the cityscape to dramatic effect.

“Tony loved tools of all sorts and he always said that if you had the tool you could work out how to use it,” Libby recalled, “He was very frustrated by the Horizont, but he was very pleased when it worked.”

It is the special nature of Tony Hall’s photographic vision that he saw the human beauty within an architectural environment which others sought to condemn and, half a century later, his epic panoramas show us the East End of the nineteen sixties as we never saw it before.

Click on any of the photographs below to enlarge and enjoy the full panoramic effect.

Corner of Middleton Rd & Haggerston Rd

Haggerston Rd

Old Montague St & Black Lion Yard

Old Montague St

Hessel St

Corner of Lyal Rd & Stanfield Rd

Corner of Lyal Rd & Stanfield Rd

Bridge House, Tredegar Rd

Sclater St

Leopold Buildings, Columbia Rd

Pearson St & Appleby St

Corner of Well St & Holcroft Rd

Hackney Rd

St Leonards Rd

St Leonards Rd

Photographs copyright © Libby Hall

Images Courtesy of the Tony Hall Archive at the Bishopsgate Institute

Libby Hall & I would be delighted if any readers can assist in identifying the locations and subjects of Tony Hall’s photographs.

You may also like to read

Tony Hall, Photographer

At the Pub with Tony Hall

At the Shops with Tony Hall

Libby Hall, Collector of Dog Photography

The Dogs of Old London

20 Responses leave one →
  1. Libby Hall permalink
    January 24, 2013

    The photograph of the corner of Middleton Road and Haggerston Road was taken from a position just to the right of Nicholas Borden’s vantage point for his fine painting of Middleton Road. http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/01/20/nicholas-borden-artist/

    I felt a frisson of recognition when I first saw Borden’s panoramic paintings – they are so like Tony’s photographs in the same shape.

    I know Tony would have very much enjoyed Borden’s paintings.

  2. Bruce Eames permalink
    January 24, 2013

    Gosh these are good. They’re like an incredible time machine…

  3. January 24, 2013

    No. 346 is the junction of Well Street and Holcroft Road in Hackney. I love playing this game!

  4. January 24, 2013

    No. 1230 is the corner of Lyal Road and Stanfield Road in Bow. No. 1231 is taken from the interior of the shop.

  5. Philip Marriage permalink
    January 24, 2013

    These panoramas are fascinating. The Russian Horizont camera may have had its faults but it offered a different dimension for the photographer’s eye as Tony Hall has so ably demonstrated. You can almost walk into the photo of Old Montague Street or the Stores at No 62 with the letter-box outside. Curiously – like the paintings of Elwin Hawthorne – most of these panoramas are almost devoid of people.

  6. January 24, 2013

    Wow, fantastic photos, a real pleasure to see them, thank you.

  7. Libby Hall permalink
    January 24, 2013

    Philip Marriage (himself such a fine photographer of long-gone Spitalfields) has mentioned most of the images being almost devoid of people.

    Ah those were the days of ‘full employment’ – and Tony’s days off were on weekdays.

    I used to love the sounds of those weekdays if I was home for some reason – perhaps with a cold. The sounds of women and young children in gardens, women hanging out washing, women talking in the street on their way to or from the shops, dogs barking, the road sweeper, the postman… Weekday sounds were totally different from weekend sounds, and they would remind me of the sounds of life when I was a pre-school child. Sounds that I found to be very similar whether in America, Britain, or the rest of Europe.

  8. January 24, 2013

    So nice of Libby to put Tony’s images into this archive for all to see. Tony recorded the East End and his subjects with great compassion.
    These Horizont images are great and also, the wide angle photos shot on his much loved Practica Spr TL with a 24mm Flektogon lens; touches of Bill Brant’s eye in his work .

    Tony was a dear friend who introduced and taught me Photography in the 1970′s. I am still working as a professional photographer today, thanks to a unique artist and a great man.

  9. Susan Goldman permalink
    January 24, 2013

    Another amazing set of pictures, thanks so much Libby. Tony’s photo’s have become my favourite subject on Spitalfields Life and I look forward to seeing more. My Dad grew up in Haggerston and I can’t wait to show him these. Thanks again, wonderful memories.

  10. January 24, 2013

    No. 1227 is Hackney Road up by Teesdale Street. The street scene has changed beyond recognition but you can just see the railway bridge at Cambridge Heath Road in the distance.

  11. January 24, 2013

    These are brilliant, Libby. Thanks for making them availble to us. I lived in the area for 20 years until 1992 and I’d be particularly interested if anyone can identify 203 and 204.

  12. Bernard Steel permalink
    January 24, 2013

    Fabulous photographs. But compare Tony’s photo of the corner of Appleby and Pearson Street with what it looks like today and cry………..

  13. January 24, 2013

    I’m fairly sure that 495 is at the junction with Black Lion Yard. I lived halfway down on the right ’71-’73. It was a street of jewellers’ shops with a little bunch of dope dealers at the far end. A great shame that LBTH smashed it up.

  14. aubrey permalink
    January 24, 2013

    My immigrant grand parents lived in a rat infested “flat” in Old Montague Street and I can clearly remember the squalor of place whenever I visited them in the mid-fifties. My grandfather worked as a furniture carpenter but lost his sight towards the end of his life. I think my grandmother stayed in those rooms to bring up my mother and her five siblings.

  15. Justin permalink
    January 24, 2013

    According to the barely-visible street sign and the placement in the series, 208 seems to be another part of St Leonard’s Road.

  16. Juliet permalink
    January 26, 2013

    Great Pictures! Thank you for posting them.
    - The two pictures above “Corner of Well St & Holcroft Rd” (with the very narrow house in the middle) are of the junction between Bushberry Road and Benn street, off Kenworthy Road in Homerton. The narrow house has now been “improved” with a “classical” balustrade, which you can see from the slip road onto the A12.
    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4SVEA_enGB388GB388&q=bushberry+road
    - In the picture of with the imp car in the foreground, do I see the spire of St Leonard’s Shoreditch in the distance?

  17. Ron Pummell permalink
    January 27, 2013

    As always, very good photographs.

  18. January 29, 2013

    these are so wonderful. the haggerston road leading up to my estate which is nearly demolished. and i love, too, the people trying to locate the locations of the photos taken – it is almost possible to have GPS imprint locators on digital ones now….xA

  19. Mark Tilton permalink
    July 11, 2013

    The corner shop in photo no. 204 is my old house at 35 Bushberry Road. The photo is taken at the junction of Benn Street and Bushberry Road E9.

  20. Joe permalink
    October 15, 2014

    The image with the barges is taken next to the River Lea and Limehouse Cut. The cooling towers in the background is in Canning Town which was called West Ham Generating Station. Demolished in the late 1970′s.

    On the left is the former gasworks.

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