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Some Working People by John Claridge

February 27, 2016
by the gentle author

In June, I am publishing the definitive collection of over two hundred photographs of John Claridge’s EAST END. We need a couple more readers to invest £1000 to support production of this important book. Email spitalfieldslife@gmail.com if you can help and I will send you further information. You can also assist publication by clicking here to pre-order a signed copy for £25.

Groundsman, E.15 (1965)

“This is the groundsman at the Memorial Ground where I played football aged ten in 1954.”

When John Claridge went back ten years later to the pitch near West Ham Station where he played football as a child, he found the groundsman was just as he remembered, with his cardigan and tie, and he took the photograph you see above. There is a dignified modesty to this fine portrait – a quality shared by all of those published here – expressed through a relaxed demeanour.

John’s subjects present themselves to his lens as emotionally open yet retaining possession of themselves, and this translates into a vital relationship with the viewer. To each of these people, John was one of their own kind and they were comfortable being photographed by him. And, thanks to the humanity of John’s vision, we have the privilege to become party to this intimacy today.

Kosher Butcher, E2 (1962) - “The chicken was none too happy!”

Brewery, Spitalfields (1964) Clocking in at the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane.

Lady with Gumball Machine, Spitalfields (1967) - “She came out of her kiosk and asked, ‘Will you photograph me with my gumball machine?’”

Saveloy Stall, Spitalfields (1967) - “It was a cold day, so I had two hot dogs.”

Whitechapel Bell Foundry, E1 (1982) Established in 1598, where the Liberty Bell and Big Ben were cast.

Rag & Bone Man, E13 (1961) - “Down my street in Plaistow, there were not many cars about – all you could hear was the clip-clop of the horse on the wet road.”

Shoe Repairs Closed Saturday, Spitalfields (1969) - “I asked, ‘Why are you open on Saturday?’ He replied, ‘I was just busy.’”

Spice, E1 (1976) - “Taken at a spice warehouse in Wapping.  The smells were fantastic, you could smell it down the street.”

Portrait, Spitalfields (1966) - “This is a group portrait of friends outside of their shop. The two brothers who ran the shop, the lady who worked round the corner and the guy who worked in the back.”

Anglo Pak Muslim Butcher, E2 (1962)

Butchers, Spitalfields (1966) -”I had just finished taking a picture next door, when this lady came out with a joint of meat and asked me to take her photograph with it.”

Fishmongers, E1 (1966) Early morning, unloading fish from Grimsby.

Beigel Baker, E2 (1967) -”After a party at about four or five in the morning, we used to end up at Rinkoff’s in Vallance Rd for smoked salmon beigels.”

Newsagent, Spitalfields (1966) -”I said, ‘Shame about Walt Disney dying, can I take your picture next to it?’ and he said, ‘Alright.’”

Selling Shoes, Spitafields (1963) - “My dad used to tell me what his dad told him, ‘If you’ve got a good pair of shoes, you own the world.’”

Strudel, E2 (1962) - “You’ll like this, boy!’ I had just taken a photograph outside this lady’s shop. I said, ‘I think your window looks beautiful.’ and she asked me in for a slice of apple strudel. It was fantastic!  But she would not accept any money, it was a gift. She said, ‘You took a picture of my shop.’”

Number 92, Spitalfields (1964)

Tubby Isaac’s, Spitalfields (1982) - “Aaahhh Tubby’s, where I’ve had many a fine eel.”

Junkyard Dog, E16 (1982) - “I was climbing over the wall into this junkyard.  All was quiet, when I noticed this pair of forbidding eyes – then I made my exit.”

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

You may also like to take a look at

John Claridge’s East End

Click here to pre-order your signed copy of John Claridge’s EAST END for £25

Please email spitalfieldslife@gmail.com if you are willing to invest £1000 in publishing a handsome hardback of John Claridge’s East End photographs

2 Responses leave one →
  1. February 27, 2016

    Amazing photos that could only have been taken on film, you realise how much atmosphere we loose in today’s world of digital clarity.

  2. Neville Turner permalink
    February 27, 2016

    A truely great collection of photo’s.I recall the shoe repairer shown here and in a previous collection as being on the corner of Hanbury St and Brick Lane our family used his skill on repairing our footwear often if he knew you he would let you pay a couple of weeks latter,one of the good guy’s.Keep Up The Good Work.

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