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The East End in the Afternoon

September 1, 2013
by the gentle author

There is little traffic on the road, children are at play, housewives linger in doorways, old men doze outside the library and, in the distance, a rag and bone man’s cart clatters down the street. This is the East End in the afternoon, as photographed by newspaper artist Tony Hall in the nineteen sixties while wandering with his camera in the quiet hours between shifts on The Evening News in Fleet St.

“Tony cared very much about the sense of community here.” Libby Hall, Tony’s wife, recalled, “He loved the warmth of the East End. And when he photographed buildings it was always for the human element, not just the aesthetic.”

Contemplating Tony’s clear-eyed photos – half a century after they were taken – raises questions about the changes enacted upon the East End in the intervening years. Most obviously, the loss of the pubs and corner shops which Tony portrayed with such affection in pictures that remind us of the importance of these meeting places, drawing people into a close relationship with their immediate environment.

“He photographed the pubs and little shops that he knew were on the edge of disappearing,” Libby Hall confirmed for me, ‘He loved the history of the East End, the Victorian overlap, and the sense that it was the last of Dickens’ London.”

In 1972, Tony Hall left The Evening News and with his new job came a new shift pattern which did not grant him afternoons off – thus drawing his East End photographic odyssey to a close. Yet for one who did not consider himself a photographer, Tony Hall’s opus comprises a tender vision of breathtaking clarity, constructed with purpose and insight as a social record. Speaking of her late husband, Libby Hall emphasises the prescience that lay behind Tony’s wanderings with his camera in the afternoon. ”He knew what he was photographing and he recognised the significance of it.” she admitted.

These beautiful streetscapes – published here for the first time – are a selection of pictures from the legacy of approximately one thousand photographs by Tony Hall held in the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute.

Three Colts Lane

Gunthorpe St

Ridley Rd Market

Stepney Green

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

Tony Hall’s East End Panoramas

Libby Hall, Collector of Dog Photography

The Dogs of Old London

15 Responses leave one →
  1. Dr Melvyn Brooks permalink
    September 1, 2013

    It is always a joy to look at Tony Hall’s photos. I wonder if he would have realised the “classics” they have become. Libby is a great friend of mine and thus I am obvviously biassed.
    Best wishes

    Melvyn Brooks Karkur Israel

  2. September 1, 2013

    I just love Tony Hall’s photos.

  3. Adrian Prockter permalink
    September 1, 2013

    The THIRD picture from the top shows what was (until the 1970s or 1980s) a narrow street leading from Southwark Cathedral with St Mary Overy Dock at the end of it. The dock is still there but the street layout is completely different.

    Below the catwalk it is just possible to see that there is a large board on the wall of the warehouse in the distance. On that board was written ‘St Mary Overy’s Dock’. The wall to which the board is fixed is the east side of the dock. That wall of the original LISTED warehouse was knocked down. SO much for LISTING !!

  4. David permalink
    September 1, 2013

    Supurb photographs. I usually feel sad that I never got to visit the East End before 1990. Then lovely to see Ron’s Salon on Three Colts Lane. When was this picture taken? He cut my hair, first in his shop then at my home, from 1990 to about 2004. I remember him saying that he had worked there for fifty years.

  5. Walter permalink
    September 1, 2013

    Thanks for these pictures. Noticeably less street rubbish (and fewer pigeons) in those days. Take the empty building with the broken windows for example, not a bit of rubbish anywhere, and not a pigeon in sight. Almost clinically derelict.

  6. Chris F permalink
    September 1, 2013

    The big house.. third picture from the bottom… Imagine trying to buy a house like that now! Even in that state…. Times really have changed…

  7. September 2, 2013

    Lovely photos. I met Tony from time to time when he did some work for various magazines I designed.
    The photo of the Victorian house with the Holly Villas plaque above its door in Clapton Passage at the end where it meets Clapton Square, in Hackney.

  8. September 2, 2013

    I’ve never seen these photos but have vague recollections of visiting the East End in 1965 when what shocked me the most was the extent of bomb damage still existing 20 years after the war ended. I was still a young woman and realizing the reality of what I had only known from history made a deep impression on me. Now, sadly photos of people living amongst bomb damage is commonplace but it was a new concept for me.

    Photo 1056 reminds me a lot of the Shambles in York and the little boy with the balaclava could have been my own sons bundled up for Yorkshire winters.

  9. September 2, 2013

    Simply wonderful!

  10. Ron Pummell. permalink
    September 2, 2013

    Very good photographs.
    270. Norah St off of Old Bethnal Green Rd.
    245. Cyprus St.
    686. Hackney Rd, By the Joiners Arms on the left and the “Cats Park” on the right.

  11. September 4, 2013

    Thank you for sharing these. As Walter said, it is noticeable how free the streets are of rubbish and pigeons. The buildings are blackened with coal dust though.

    The women really remind me of my aunts who I used to visit in east London in the 70s and 80s.

  12. ian silverton permalink
    September 8, 2013

    First picture shown is of Norah Street,off Gosset Street Bethnal Green,we lived in the Pub oposite The Westminster Arms,must have played with the two boys in the picture,as was born their in 1944 untill 1963, best, Ian Silverton

  13. Peter Mearns permalink
    September 21, 2013

    I worked at Arbour Square PS from 1969 to !974 and the photos bring back lots of memories. I enjoy the magazine

  14. David Prangle permalink
    October 13, 2014

    Does anyone have any old pictures of The Westminster Arms at 163 Gosset Street?

    It’s been converted into flats and I now live there. I’d love to have an old photo on the wall!

    Thanks

    David

  15. ian Silverton permalink
    March 21, 2015

    David Prangle, send me your adress,and will post you a copy,no worries,what part of the old pub do you have as a Flat? Seen any Ghosts up the top stairs? Interested to know, Iansilverton@aol.com

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