Skip to content

Tony Hall’s East End

February 27, 2017
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 complete my 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

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

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Jim McDermott permalink
    February 27, 2017

    One of the most evocative sets yet, to me (my own childhood was entirely monochrome, the landscape car-less). I could happily ‘do up’ the corner house in Stepney Green and spend the rest of my life there.

    And the two recumbent gentlemen outside the library would make a wonderful poster.

  2. February 27, 2017

    Tony’s sensitively composed images reveal a deep passion for the East End. He was a brilliant photographer who captured the essence of working class life. Thanks to Libby I have a wonderful print he made in support of the miners strike. I remember the Roman Road branch library; no doubt if Tony was alive he would be angry at the way libraries are being closed every month in the UK. I look forward to seeing more from Tony’s archive. Many thanks to TGA for publishing these iconic photographs.

  3. Philip Marriage permalink
    February 27, 2017

    Tony’s photos capture their time so well – I can look at them again and again.

  4. stan rondeau permalink
    February 27, 2017

    My daughter and her family moved out of their 18 story flat last week,the flats are
    coming down.
    They moved into a newly built house, in a small road of new built council houses
    in Enfield,the first for years.
    She said it took 20 minutes to walk to thier house talking to her neighbours, I
    said it sounds just like the old days.
    Lets hope its a sign of times.

    Stan

  5. February 27, 2017

    Brilliant photos with many memories of my childhood growing up in those streets. Valerie

  6. February 27, 2017

    A great selection. I also love the gentleman asleep in front of the library and the wee boy in the balaclava.
    .

  7. February 27, 2017

    Wonderful London is always surprising. I have to go there again in near future!

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  8. February 27, 2017

    What a splendid set of photos. Real classics. It made me feel very home sick!
    PCU

  9. pauline taylor permalink
    February 27, 2017

    Well, this gentleman may not have called himself a photographer but he was obviously a modest man as these photos are brilliant, among the best that I have ever seen, just look at the subjects and the composition, he was a natural. Congratulations on your late husband’s work Libby Hall, you must be very proud.

  10. Lucy permalink
    February 27, 2017

    Wonderful photos, so spare and direct. Second to last picture must be Hackney Road looking west with Ye Old Axe in the background.

  11. nicholas borden permalink
    February 28, 2017

    A pleasure to see.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS