Tony Bock’s Farewell To The East End
Belhaven St – before & during demolition
Photographer Tony Bock left the East End in 1978, and this is the East End he left behind – witnessed in these haunting pictures published for the first time today.
After dropping out of photography school in Toronto, Tony came to the East End and worked as a staff photographer for the East London Advertiser between 1973 and 1978. He encountered a world in upheaval and only just managed to photograph Belhaven St, Mile End – where his mother’s family had once lived – before it was demolished.
Born in Paddington but brought up in Canada, Tony’s quest to explore his East End roots found expression in these soulful streetscapes, largely unpopulated save for sparse, fleeting figures, a boy with a gun, and the photographer’s own shadow. “Much of the East End seemed to be clad in corrugated tin, often covering buildings that had once shown the enthusiasm and optimism of architects and artisan builders.” Tony confided, “The very fabric of the community was disregarded with little consideration of its true value.”
Yet there is a subtle poetry in each of Tony’s pictures that never fails to acknowledge the human presence, even in seemingly abandoned places. They are the poignant memories that he carried away with him when he left after his brief years in the East End, returning to make his life in Canada.
“The buildings were reflections of the communities they housed, where the domestic scale of architecture made the streets feel like home.” Tony concluded, “Those I photographed on Stepney Green exhibit a wonderfully diverse collection of styles, the simple humane beauty of an unplanned group of buildings.”
In old Bethnal Green Fire Station
Children with a gun, Pearl St, Wapping
Tin wall, Hackney
Tin wall, Wapping
Tin wall, Agatha St – with photographer’s shadow
Demolition of Tilbury & Southend Warehouse, Aldgate
Demolition 0f Tobacco Dock with tower of St George-in-the-East
In Hoxton St
In Bethnal Green
Norah St, Bethnal Green
Stanley Terrace, Stratford
In Hackney Wick
On Stepney Green
Photographs copyright © Tony Bock
You may like to see these other photographs by Tony Bock