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The East End In The Afternoon

October 22, 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 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

10 Responses leave one →
  1. David Tarrant permalink
    October 22, 2017

    A moving introduction by the Gentle Author to some wonderful photographs. I feel privileged to have seen them. Thank you so much.

  2. Sharon O'Connor permalink
    October 22, 2017

    You may already know but the house named ‘Holly Villas’ is in Clapton Passage, Hackney:
    http://hackneybuildings.org/items/show/19358

  3. October 22, 2017

    Some of these photographs remind me of the mood created in the BBC’s Call the Midwife drama series. I wonder if they carry/carried out some of their research at the Bishopsgate institute? I would love to visit the Institute next time I visit London, though I am not sure I’d know where to begin. People and places, I guess.

  4. Annie Martin permalink
    October 22, 2017

    Ridley Road market looks exactly the same still. Don’t recognise anything else. I waa a baby at this time but a lot of this way of life was still around in the early 70s.

  5. October 22, 2017

    Thanks for publishing these wonderful photographs by Tony.

  6. Helen Breen permalink
    October 22, 2017

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, what a stunning collection of photos of a world soon to disappear. I particularly liked the first one of the small house with the clean widows & curtains that will not long survive the encroaching high rises.

    “He loved the history of the East End, the Victorian overlap, and the sense that it was the last of Dickens’ London.” Well said.

    It is fortunate that Bishopgate exists to preserve these treasures.

  7. Marcia Howard permalink
    October 22, 2017

    What wonderful photographs with such evocative images. I’m so pleased to be old enough to remember similar scenes from my childhood, with the corner shops, and a strong sense of community among neighbours where we all knew each other, and played out in the streets with the other children who lived near.

  8. mark permalink
    October 22, 2017

    It hurts me to see this landscape already gone or taken by force by the rich. The market scenes vim with humanity. Horse and cart very Steptoe. Lovely.

  9. Philip Marriage permalink
    October 23, 2017

    These are so good, perfectly capturing a time of innocence, empty streets during the afternoon, children playing with what they could find, street markets full of bargains. More please!

    Having studied Tony’s other photographs I believe images 1111 and 1057 could well be Old Montague Street before it was demolished.

  10. Ron Bunting permalink
    October 26, 2017

    The car the two boys are playing on is a Singer SM1500 . I’ve had a couple, they were great little cars with a good turn of speed for their day in the early 50′s.

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