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Time Out with John Claridge

July 2, 2012
by the gentle author

Cornerman, E17 1982.

“People take time out of their lives in all kinds of ways, so I thought I’d explore the spectrum of the things people used to do.” Photographer John Claridge told me, outlining his rationale in selecting this contemplative set of pictures, published here for the first time. Each shows a moment of repose, yet all are dynamic images, charged by the lingering presence of what came before or the anticipation of what lies ahead.

While the photograph of the Cornerman above literally shows“time out” at a boxing match, John was also interested in the cross-section of people watching and taking a breather from their working lives. “With a boxing ring, you’re wondering what’s going to happen. You’re waiting for the episode.” he admitted, “I like that tension and quietness, knowing that you’re going to get boxers flying around the ring in a few minutes.”

Similiarly, speaking of  his photograph below of the pub compere, John said to me, “You can’t see anyone on the stage but you know something’s going to happen. I like it that people have to contribute to the picture, it takes you into another environment. You have to enter another world. You have to ask questions.”

John’s pictorial frame equates to the boxing ring or the pub stage, encompassing a space through which life passes – but his is an arena of calm within the relentless clamour of existence, a transient place of both photographic and emotional exposure.

Time out!

End of the Game, E14 1962 – “When the churchyard was dug up, someone arranged the stones respectfully so they could be seen. Life was over and even the churchyard was gone too.”

Sunday Morning, Spitalfields 1963. “He was leaning out the window having a conversation, it just felt like Sunday morning.”

The Allotment, E14 1959.

Soup Kitchen, Whitechapel 1967. “Time out for a cup of tea and a sandwich, time out from the streets.”

Passports, E16 1968.

Game at the Hostel, Salvation Army Victoria Homes, Whitechapel 1982.

The Conversation, 1982.

Underworld, Spitalfields 1982. This toilet outside Christ Church is now a night club called Public Life.

Pub Compere, E14 1964.

My Dad Singing At a Pub, E14 1964. – “He had a good voice, very powerful, and he used to play the ukelele banjo as well. My mum got up and sang too. He’d say, ‘Don’t be silly, you can’t sing.’ and she’d say, ‘Yes, I can,’ and get up there. They had a fantastic relationship.”

The Ring, E17 1982.

Wraps, E16 1968. “This is at Terry Lawless’ Gym. I still have a punchbag at home and start by putting my wraps on.”

After Sparring,  E16 1968. – “He had just finished, marked up a little but not too bad.”

Dance Class, E7 1982. – “Did people go to learn to dance or because they were lonely?”

Dog Racing, Walthamstow Dog Track 1982.

Some Were Got Rid Of. – “It still looks like it’s running.”

Dart Night, E17 1968. – “We were playing darts and sat down for a break, everyone in their own world. The guy with the sideburns, his wife was jealous and always asked him to bring her a Chinese takeaway. He would remove the prawns, eat them himself and then rearrange the food. ‘She’s not worth all those,’ he said to me. ‘She won’t know,’ I said. ‘She’ll never know, but I do,’ he replied.”

Some People I Knew, Cable St 1969.

Don’t Ask, Dockside E16 1986.

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

You may also like to take a look at

John Claridge’s East End

Along the Thames with John Claridge

At the Salvation Army with John Claridge

In a Lonely Place

A Few Diversions by John Claridge

This was my Landscape

John Claridge’s Spent Moments

Signs, Posters, Typography & Graphics

Working People & a Dog

Invasion Of The Monoliths

23 Responses leave one →
  1. July 2, 2012

    Love these John, particularly love “Some People I Knew” looks like one of the Krays in the background. Love the phone number on the photographers sign. Nice memory of your Mum and Dad. Great…G

  2. Lee permalink
    July 2, 2012

    Cornerman [ 1982 ] What a Great shot !

    I just wish that I had been down the Docks in 1986.


  3. July 2, 2012

    Another set of absolutely superb images, this prolific and excellent collection is so worthy of praise – you couldn’t recreate these wonderful scenarios if you tried! The atmosphere leaps out of the picture, grabs you by the scruff of your neck and throws you back in time. I feel like I’ve just been hit by a JCB! Hats off to Mr Claridge for seeing and capturing these amazing scenes. I see he kept the best for last!

  4. Alice Neal permalink
    July 2, 2012

    Another stunning set of pictures, I absolutely love ‘The Conversation’. I really like the feel of movement in it, as if I am passing through and picking up the words being spoken. For a number of reasons I also like ‘Wraps’, that feeling of almost putting on a costume to become someone or something else.

    Thanks again John and Spittalfields Life for showing us all the unseen gems.

  5. Matt Johnson permalink
    July 2, 2012

    Love the man chatting from his window on a Sunday morning. Ah, that’s what they used to be like. Nowadays of course, many people are still shopping in their local Tesco.

    Still amazes me that they turned all the old public toilets into nightclubs, underground tanning salons etc. .. meanwhile the drunks now freely urinate all over the streets, including our front doors!

  6. cindy hacker permalink
    July 2, 2012

    Such a talent. And still so young! x

  7. sarah marsham permalink
    July 2, 2012

    Amazing record of social history in our city well done .

  8. July 2, 2012

    What a greatly diverse set there! I never know what’s coming next. A veritable story of the east end in this selection!

  9. John in Paris. permalink
    July 2, 2012

    Another timeless set of images available to the world!Thanks to JC.

  10. July 2, 2012

    Brilliant! Love ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘the Dance Class’….and all the others too

  11. July 2, 2012

    Another wonderful set of pictures. The out of focus foreground guy in “Dart Night, E17 1968” looks like a young Kevin Spacey 🙂

  12. Kenny Baker permalink
    July 2, 2012

    Wonderful pictures ! I used to see the man with the dark glasses ,in the “People I knew” photo , in Kilburn in the late sixties. He was in some adverts – “St Bruno” pipe tobacco was one I think – and he used to drive a very large American car with the roof down . A bit of a character I think .

  13. July 2, 2012

    love ‘Some people I knew – Cable Street’……. What a ‘dude’ in those sandals……

  14. Caroline Button permalink
    July 2, 2012

    The picture of the man on the allotment reminded me of my Grandad … who would have been doing the same thing at the same time I imagine on his allotment at Goodmayes just down the road.. happy thoughts

  15. July 3, 2012

    Its getting difficult John to come up with more superlatives regarding this amazing portfolio of images!! They are wonderful and my favourites have to be “Cornerman” and “Sunday morning” which could have come straight out of West Side story – but I love them all.

    Personal favourite are the dancers as my mum and dad went to classes (Arthur Murry I believe) only because dad needed to relearn how to dance after having been somewhat side tracked by the war and every now and then they would dress up (all tuille and water silk) and take off for the night very happy I have to say – happy memories thankyou John

  16. john edwards permalink
    July 3, 2012

    Hit me with your best shot- or rhythm stick – ‘Talent’ night at the Deuragon / Iron Bridge …
    Stan the ex-lightweight that kept the once lovely ‘Green Man’ corner of Cambridge Heath/
    Bethnal Grn Rd. Pete Samuels & me were cornered in there by the Newman Brothers who took a shine to us & made Stan deliver us [ bit hazy here ] about 6 pints apiece – before they let us stagger into the night. That beautiful possibly georgian bar is now a squalid 24 hour hooch shop with a vile ‘ Park View’
    flop hotel bolted on.
    Walthamstow dog track under Percy Chandler was the only straight run track in England, and remained under V ic & Annie when Perce went to the Great White City in the Sky ….
    Great of your Pa up on the boards – Wish you had one of yr Mama giving out too – Cracker of the Cable St pals …… whew! And the Angel on the Bridge too Far – looks as if she fell it wouldn’t leave a mark on her Pac-A-Mac or crack the Max Factor slap. I note the mast in the mist at the end of the tunnel. Let there be light – & bitter. Terrific.

  17. July 3, 2012

    I love The Ring and Cornerman. I can almost feel the tension. They are so unique and yes they are a big part of London’s social history.

  18. July 4, 2012

    JC’s vivid depiction of “Time Out” in Spitalfields all those years ago contrasts strongly
    with the current sedentary i-dominated pursuits of the current era . . . a telling reminder by
    way of his by now familiar creative capture of all those fascinating personalities that they had to seek their own (mostly!) leisure activities before the advent of SmartPhones, i-pads,
    i-pods, games consoles and whatever else persuaded the current generation(s) to stay home and guzzle obese enhancing burgers and coke!

  19. Marien de Goffau permalink
    July 5, 2012

    Beautiful moments. Beautiful prints. Beautiful Time Out.

  20. July 5, 2012

    The moment I heard John Claridge was showing some images he took of the East End I knew they would be special, and by looking at these images it just gets better and better, can someone please explain why these prints are not hanging up in a cool gallery in London at the moment? because that’s where they belong.
    I am in awe of John’s prints, they fill me with joy and sadness, it’s like being on a rollercoaster, BRILLIANT, it’s not every day that happens.
    Keep em coming John, I look forward to the next round.

  21. July 6, 2012

    Enjoyed these !
    ‘Some People I Knew’ is brilliant
    and as for ‘Don’t Ask’…well…:-)

  22. Cindy S. permalink
    July 8, 2012

    As the late Freddie Mercury so beautifully reminded us:

    ‘You can’t turn back the clock you can’t turn back the tide
    Ain’t that a shame
    I’d like to go back one time on a roller coaster ride
    When life was just a game’

    Love them all JC.

  23. August 28, 2018

    Nice to see some proper art photography…such a far cry from all the Instagram sh*te that’s pushed in our faces.

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