Skip to content

Alan Dein’s East End Shopfronts Revisited

May 19, 2012
by the gentle author

As part of the exhibition After You’ve Gone: East End Shopfronts 1988 by Alan Dein at the Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, Ais Clafferty went out to photograph the same locations today. A quarter of a century later, each has been transformed – some for the better, others for the worse and, in one example, time appears to have gone centuries backwards.

(Captions by exhibition curator Emma Hunt.)

92 Whitechapel High St, 1988.

92 Whitechapel High St, 2012.

Mr Gelkoff stands in the doorway of his shop, imported chocolate meticulously arranged in the window case. His son Barry remembers the smell of chocolates, and the pride his family took in stocking the best and newest lines from all over Europe. Barry closed the shop in 1998, so his parents could retire.

65 Redchurch St, 1988.

65 Redchurch St, 2012.

J.Kay had been gone for at least fifteen years when Alan took this photo. Previously registered as various different furniture dealers, it even enjoyed a brief stint in the thirties as Vittora Ferrari’s Dining Rooms.

47 Quaker St, 1988.

47 Quaker St, 2012.

Leon Kuczynski is remembered fondly by his customers as a Polish or Russian Jew, sitting always on a stool at the counter, head in a newspaper, patiently waiting while local kids chose their sweets and ice creams. He had three of his own, a neighbour recalls, who all went into professions, left the neighbourhood and made their father proud.

30 Toynbee Sr, 1988.

30 Toynbee St, 2012.

Louis Simpson’s shop dates back to 1957 and continued trading until 1986. There had been a kosher butcher at this address since the building was erected at the beginning of the thirties. Frank Plaskowski and Harris Marks were both listed as proprietors at different times.

28a Goulston St, 1988.

Site of 28a Goulston St, 2012.

Schloss’ Woollens started trading in 1930 in Goulston St close to Petticoat Lane Market. By the time Alan took his picture in 1988, it was one of only two businesses still listed on the street. In 2004, the block was redeveloped to become part of the London Metropolitan University.

32 Hessel St, 1988.

32 Hessel St, 2012.

The East Enders Social Club has left no record.

205 Mile End Rd, 1988.

205 Mile End Rd, 2012.

Schwartz’s Shoes maintained a presence in the East End for most of the twentieth century. Samuel Schwartz, boot dealer, is listed at 127 White Horse Lane from the twenties to the mid-forties, before moving to 258-260, 250 and finally 205 Mile End Rd in 1972. The shop closed the year the picture was taken.

7 Toynbee St, 1988.

7 Toynbee St, 2012.

Conway stood at 7 Toynbee St from the early fifties until the late seventies. Originally listed as Frank Conway, warehouseman, the business later became Conway Automatics Ltd, and finally Conway Trading Ltd. By 1980, the shop had moved to 19 Toynbee St and an uncovered sign further down the street reveals another location at number 15.

111 Mile End Rd, 1988.

111 Mile End Rd, 2012.

Empty since 1973, Walter’s was one of four shops at 107-111 Mile End Rd, hiding the Georgian terrace houses behind for over a century. Nearly lost forever, the Grade II listed buildings were eventually bought by the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust and restored to their former glory.

34 Alderney Rd, 1988.

34 Alderney Rd, 2012.

Daniel Bliss was a secondhand furniture shop from the mid-forties until 1984. The name was originally Blitz, changed to Bliss after the bombing of World War II in which a member of the family was killed.

34 Alderney Rd 1979, painting by Geoffrey Fletcher.

1988 photographs copyright © Alan Dein

2012 photographs copyright © Ais Clafferty

After You’ve Gone: East End Shopfronts 1988 by Alan Dein runs from Thursday 17th May until Thursday 12th July at the Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, 277 Bancroft Road, E1. Opening times for the exhibition are here. Alan Dein will give a talk on Saturday 9th June at 2.00pm.

Geoffrey Fletcher’s painting can be seen on the alongside other pictures in the Tower Hamlets Collection as part the National Archive of Paintings online here.

You may also like to see the original post

Alan Dein’s East End Shopfronts of 1988

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Andy Willoughby permalink
    May 19, 2012

    Very interesting to compare. Many thanks for posting.

  2. Marina B permalink
    May 19, 2012

    Such a joy. Thank you!

  3. May 19, 2012

    That’s interesting, and some of the newer developments are rather good. I’d rather visit Mr. Gelkoff’s shop though….

  4. pat permalink
    May 23, 2012

    Great post, thank you……………

  5. teeceedee permalink
    June 16, 2012

    Glad to see no 7 Toynbee Street tidied up after all these years, rather than it being left to decay further. I used to work in an office at the other end of this street in the late 90’s and the parade of (mostly) closed and derelict shops intrigued me. What was the story behind these shops and why were they in their current state?

    Looking at the current day pics of places has me wondering one thing: what is it with cretins leaving shitty little graffiti tags everywhere? Looking at the old location pics, it is interesting to notice an absence (most cases) of graffiti, no matter how grim the locations otherwise looked.

    Mr Gelkoff and his shop: Oh bless, looking at this pic I feel as if he is welcoming viewers into the shop to sample the wares!

    Mr Dein: I am not sure I can get to the exhibition but would love to see a book of your photographs. I hope you are talking to publishers 😉

  6. November 14, 2012

    205 Mile End old town (presumably this is the same street), was a bakers from at least 1893 to past 1911.

    111 was an amazing find I wonder if behind these other shop fronts there are other such gems?

  7. April 12, 2013

    Eastenders Social Club – n0t much change there then!

  8. February 24, 2014

    You can read Frank Conway’s story, written by his son Alan, at my website. It covers his life and work at 7 Toynbee Street and gives an idea of the social and working conditions of the time. The article link is

    I’m very grateful to Alan Dein for originating this story, and helping out with his photo and input.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Frank – Shopfront Elegy

Leave a Reply

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

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS