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Andrew Scott’s East End Photographs

June 7, 2015
by the gentle author

Yesterday, I presented Caroline Gilfillan’s poems with Andrew Scott’s pictures from the early seventies and today I show more of Andrew’s photography from this era, published for the first time

In Sclater St, Spitalfields

In Sclater St, Spitalfields

In Sclater St, Spitalfields

In Sclater St, Spitalfields

“In the autumn of 1974, we stuffed our belongings into a van and headed for London. Like all newcomers, we had to find somewhere to live – and fast, since none of us had family or friends in the capital. Someone who knew someone directed us to the Tower Hamlets Squatters’ Union, a grass roots community organisation who could help us squat an empty property. The people who ran the Union believed that the amount of council property sitting empty or scheduled for demolition was a disgrace. And we agreed with them.

We were first ‘put into’ two prefab dwellings in Shadwell. The next morning we were evicted (and secretly relieved). The Squatters’ Union then delivered us to a terraced house in Stepney where we stayed for several months, hardly able to believe our luck. There was no bath or indoor toilet, but did we care? We were in our early twenties, hungry for everything London could offer. That included the East London street markets – rich repositories of fresh fruit, vegetables, and every sort of tat.

We adored London – its throb and thrum, its variety and eccentricity. Our East End neighbours were tolerant of us, but others were not so lucky. We witnessed blatant racism for the first time. Andrew took photographs for the Squatters’ Union to help publicise their anti-racist work with Bangladeshi families and to document the re-housing of some of those living in the worst housing conditions.”

Caroline Gilfillan & Andrew Scott

In Spitalfields

In Stoneyard Lane, Poplar

At Stephen & Matilda Houses, Wapping

In York Sq, Stepney

In Stoneyard Lane, Poplar

In Bromley St, Stepney

In Corfield St, Bethnal Green

In Corfield St, Bethnal Green

In Corfield St, Bethnal Green

In Corfield St, Bethnal Green

In Aldgate

In Corfield St, Bethnal Green

In Poplar

South of Commercial Rd, Stepney

In Commercial Rd, Stepney

At Stephen & Matilda Houses, Wapping

In Whitechapel

In Whitechapel

In Whitechapel

In York Sq, Stepney

In Ben Jonson Rd, Stepney

In Ben Jonson Rd, Stepney

In Ben Jonson Rd, Stepney

In Broad St Station

In Bromley St, Stepney

Dock Wall, St Katherine’s Basin

South of Commercial Rd

South of Commercial Rd

In Aldgate

In Whitechapel Rd

In Commercial Rd, Stepney

The George in Commercial Rd, Stepney

Photographs copyright © Andrew Scott

You may also like to read about

David Hoffman at Fieldgate Mansions

Val Perrin’s Spitalfields

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields

Dan Cruickshank’s Spitalfields

16 Responses leave one →
  1. Robert Green permalink
    June 7, 2015

    My goodness these bring back memories, I remember the little caravan on the bombsite in Sclater Street, the main thing I notice from the first 3 photos is how empty everything look’s around Sclater St as opposed to now when its always busy 24/7, as someone who is constantly hankering for the past even I must admit that although I never felt so at the time these photos we’re taken looking at these images now I am a bit struck by how grim thing’s look I suppose in those days I was just so use to living amongst it that I never really noticed but as these photos so vividly illustrate there was still a lot of dereliction around the East End well into the 70s, and I suppose in a way that is the great value of photos like these because they make older people like me realise that your memories of the past really can all to easily become softened with age, still, an invaluable set of photos to look at specially for anyone who lived through the period, they certainly make you think.

  2. June 7, 2015

    The photos are very evocative of the times, and bring back a lot of memories. The councils who were responsible for the mass displacement of people and ensuing decay and destruction of housing were nothing short of vandals. Valerie

  3. Caroline Gilfillan permalink
    June 7, 2015

    Beautiful photographs, capturing the streets and estates and those who lived in them.

  4. Steve Smith permalink
    June 7, 2015

    Great collection; Wonderful photos! I ownder if Andrew took any around teh Toc H centres on Trinity Square or The Crescent. The latter was a Youth Hostel for Bangladeshi Boys run by the late Peter East. It would be fabulous to see any photos from those projects.

  5. Kath Posner permalink
    June 7, 2015

    These photos look like the sort of places I used to go traipsing round in Stepney with my dad, trying to flog copies of the Daily Worker/Morning Star. My dad – Arnold Posner – had been a Communist member of Stepney Council (along with Solly Kaye and Max Levitas), but by the time I came along, I think they must have been falling out of favour as I don’t remember selling many!

  6. frank hadley permalink
    June 7, 2015

    what wonderful photos they bring back a lot of memories sadly for many they were forced away some of the street scenes are eerie.

  7. June 7, 2015

    So much enjoyed the poems and photographs over the last two days. And glad you’ve be able to give them the platform to share with readers here, that they so deserve.

  8. June 7, 2015

    Fascinating photos — those were the days!

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  9. Neville Turner permalink
    June 7, 2015

    Andrew Scott’s photo’s of the Spitalfields streets and those nearby do indeed look grim because they were grim,this area was once described as the forgotten zone and had some of the worst living conditions in Europe. Kathy Posner may remember traipsing up and down the stone staires of Blackwall Buildings just off Vallance Rd as I and your dad Arnold Posner did on a Sunday morning often,it was the indomitable spirit of the inhabitants of the area that made it bearable.

  10. Susan permalink
    June 7, 2015

    As someone who lives in an area of Canada where we have a lot of vegetation, what struck me was the complete lack of trees, bushes, grass, flowers… ANYTHING. This is a major contributor to the grimness factor – it makes everything look like a prison yard. It must have been dreadfully difficult psychologically to live in such surroundings.

  11. Eastendbutcher permalink
    June 8, 2015

    Fabulous photos that capture the atmosphere of the era perfectly. I remember many saturday nights sat outside The George in Commercial Road / Jubilee Street with a bottle of Coca Cola listening to my grandparents singing their hearts out.

  12. REDMANTHINKS permalink
    June 8, 2015

    The first shot of Corfield Street now :

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.525947,-0.058304,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sOQEEuTxfhXBjZOjbE9rdVw!2e0!6m1!1e1

    Good to see they kept the houses with their ornate carvings on the right. It was obvious that those on the left would be demolished !!!

  13. Zenergy permalink
    June 16, 2015

    I remember Tubby Issac’s stall now that I see it again. These fotos do a great job of capturing the all too transitory. Google should do time-lapse mapping, I’m not sure I could locate the spot any more?

  14. Mary permalink
    August 10, 2015

    I live in York Square and so it is fascinating to see a couple of old photographs taken from a few doors down, as well as some familiar nearby streets! I read in a comment left on a previous post that squatters ultimately saved the square and neighbouring streets from demolition, so I would love to find out more about this!

  15. stefany reich-silber permalink
    May 14, 2016

    Fantastic photographs!!! Not only as documentation, but beautiful compositions also. Thank you for sharing them after all this time, not to mention still having them!

  16. Terry Fitzpatrick permalink
    September 21, 2016

    Came across this by accident. I was one of the founders of The Squatters Union and am interested in making contact with you both. I must have met you but I met and helped so many people I can’t remember you.

    Terry.

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