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Chris Miles’ East End

May 7, 2017
by the gentle author

Chris Miles contacted me from Vancouver Island, where he describes himself as a Londoner in exile. ‘In the early seventies, I lived as a recently-graduated student in the East End, firstly on Grove Rd and then on Lauriston Rd above a supermarket,’ he explained and sent me his splendid photographs. Published for the first time today, mostly were taken around Bethnal Green, Roman Rd and Mile End, and Chris & I welcome identification of precise locations from eagle-eyed readers.

George Davis is Innocent, Mile End Rd

Linda ‘n Laura

Getting a loaf, Stepney Green

S Kornbloom, Newsagent & Confectioner, Jubilee St

Corner Shop Groceries & Provisions, Stepney Way

Ronchetti’s Cafe, Piano’s & Kitchen Chairs Wanted

Snacks & Grills

The Bell Dining Rooms, Lot 63 Buildings at back

Leslies Restaurant, Fresh Up with your Meal

Harry’s Cafe, Teas & Snacks, Breakfasts & Dinners

Valente’s Cafe, Hackney Rd

Cafe Restaurant

Dinkie

Station Cafe

Fish Bar

J Kelly, No Prams or Trollie’s, Please

G Kelly

Charlie & Mick’s Cafe

Menu at Charlie & Mick’s Cafe

John Pelican

Joe’s Saloon – ‘We cater for long and short hair styles’

M Evans & Sons, Garn Dairy

Marion’s, Blouses, Trouser Suits, Smock Dresses, Ect.

Sunset Stores

N Berg, Watch & Clock Repairs

S Grant, High Class Tailor, Seamens Outfitter

Littlewood Brothers Ltd, Domestic Stores, Grocery & Hardware

J Galley & Sons, Established 1901

Henry Freund & Son, Established 1837

Rito for Better Roof Repairs

Common Market NO

Alan Enterprises Ltd, L & R Ostroff Ltd, Brick Lane

Photographs copyright © Chris Miles

You may also like to take a look at

John Claridge’s Cafe Society

Tony Hall at the Shops

Alan Dein’s Shopfronts

21 Responses leave one →
  1. May 7, 2017

    lovely pinsharp observation

  2. May 7, 2017

    Fabulous photos, but can’t identify anything. I must have had cataracts!
    PCU

  3. Coralie Mattys permalink
    May 7, 2017

    Great photos. I’d have loved to get a look at this had I been someone who had lived in the area at the time. Must bring back lots of memories – good and not so good I imagine.

  4. May 7, 2017

    Just spent happy while checking some of these sites on google maps. A lot have gone but many remain, still shops but different ownership. Happily, magnificent J Galley and sons is still a shop – grocers – and the overflow pipe that poked through the signs is still there, still dripping. Have enjoyed this jaunt down the Roman Road and associated areas.

  5. May 7, 2017

    I love these. It’s great that exiled Londoners follow this blog. How many more East End photographs are scattered around the world?

  6. Chris Hall permalink
    May 7, 2017

    The only picture I’m sure about is George Davis is innocent. It is taken from outside Stepney Green Station looking East. With The Ocean Estate, the rows of flats showing prominently in the background.

  7. May 7, 2017

    The divine decay of J. Galley & Sons — Wow, what a pastiche of scaly, crusty, weathered, and accumulated words and surfaces. One of my favorite photos ever.
    A wonderful series. Many thanks, as ever.
    (bear with a silly question from the US: Who was George Davis and was he innocent?)

  8. Malcolm permalink
    May 7, 2017

    I think the first picture is Poplar. My Aunt Lil used to be the manager of the Peter Pan children’s store. S. Grant Outfitters, which sold a lot of army surplus stock, was in West India Dock Road, next to the Eastern Hotel that stood on the junction of East India Dock Road and West India Dock Road. There were several of these Army/Navy/Airforce surplus stores along West India Dock Road at that time. I don’t know of any extant army surplus stores now. The Eastern Hotel was closed in the 70′s and became The Londoner for a while. Today there are flats on the site. S. Grant used to be where the pizza shop now stands.

  9. May 7, 2017

    George Davis was an East End criminal, wrongly convicted for a crime, released and then back to prison for a crime he did commit. G Kelly still happily serving pie and mash!

  10. Gary Arber permalink
    May 7, 2017

    N.Berg, 385 Roman Road.
    Mr Berg was a skilled watch and clock repairer, he sat in the right hand window, his workbench being right up against the glass giving him maximum daylight.
    He spent his entire working day there with his eyeglass on, it was a joy to watch his steady hand working on tiny parts and screws. The shop door remained locked with a bell which summoned Mrs Berg to let you in and serve you. If Mr Berg repaired a watch or clock for you he did a perfect job, no botching.
    Gary

  11. Gary Arber permalink
    May 7, 2017

    Reply to Lynne, George Davis was jailed but his wife fought a long campaign with messages painted on walls and railway bridges all over London and eventually with media attention and interest by people in high places he was freed. Once he was free he took part in more crime and was again jailed, his sad wife was heard of no more.
    Gary

  12. Ros permalink
    May 7, 2017

    In answer to Lynne Perella, George Davis was a career criminal who was probably not innocent, at least not overall. The ubiquitous painted and posted messages which promoted his innocence all over not over just London but other parts of the UK too were quite spectacular and memorable. They led to a review of his case but I think he later blotted his copybook. Try googling him!

  13. Felix Moore permalink
    May 7, 2017

    I’m 90% sure S. Kornbloom Newsagents and Confectioners is my house. The doors and windows and the placement of the tree are exactly right and I know that half of our house (two 19th century houses knocked together) used to be a sweet shop. I’d rather not give out my address on the internet but is there a email address I could send it to?

  14. May 7, 2017

    wonderful set of photos. George Davis is Innocent was written over much of the South London i knew.

  15. May 7, 2017

    The J Kelly pie shop was our local here on Roman Road – now the Meze Barbeque Restaurant (150 Roman Road).

  16. May 8, 2017

    Many thanks to everyone who chimed in and advised me about the significance of “George Davis is Innocent” graffiti. I did indeed “google” the topic, for further info, and have to admit I am
    fascinated about his story and why he-of-all-people captivated folks to the extent that this plea
    ended up written over most of South London. It reminded me that when I first moved to Manhattan in 1967, “FBI in the Library” seemed to be scrawled everywhere. As we say here:
    “Go figure!”.

  17. Ros permalink
    May 8, 2017

    Phil Cunningham says he can’t identify anything but actually one of ‘J.Galley and Sons successors to Henry Freund’ appeared in his own selection of East End shopfronts on March 21st with the caption Roman Road c 1976. Not that I’m suggesting he needs cataract surgery!! I do like these series of photos that you put up GA and am so grateful to all the people who had the foresight to take them

  18. May 9, 2017

    Some of my memory has returned. The picture ‘Common Market No’ is in Redlands Rd. Ian Mikado, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow told me he had a great aunt who lived there. I need a new memory!
    PCU

  19. Philip Marriage permalink
    May 9, 2017

    These are terrific, so interesting to see shopfronts of nigh on half a century ago – nearly all of which show far better typographic taste than todays bland plastic frontages. When shops start having plastic signs you know the area is going downhill and it’s a sign of gentrification when they becoming hand-painted again, eg Brushfield Street which was so poor that it thankfully never went through the plastic stage. The Galley/Freund shop looks almost Victorian with a veneer of so many signs plus the saw looking almost from Georgian times when many in the population were illiterate. Lovely, and thanks!

  20. Chris Miles permalink
    May 9, 2017

    I just wanted to say thankyou for all the comments and compliments that have appeared here since the photos were published.
    I knew that I was catching something special with these photographs when I took them 40 years ago but I didn’t have an audience or a way to share them with others who might be interested so they languished in various boxes over numerous house moves, always in the back of my mind as a project I hadn’t completed.
    The daily updates on the Spitalfields Life blog have come to be a special part of my morning media routine so to have this work published here is a particular thrill.
    Thanks again to all who have commented and communicated by email via the Gentle Author. If there are individual photographs that have a special significance for people I would be happy to make copies available for private use.
    In a few days time I’m making a rare trip back to London and look forward to walking many of these streets again.

    Chris

  21. Maria permalink
    May 27, 2017

    The top photo which features Peter Pan is East India Dock Road , Poplar E.14. My Mum ran The Army and Navy Store just a few shops along towards The Blackwall Tunnel. The photos of shopfronts and cafe’s were fantastic to see.

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