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At The Pub With Tony Hall

December 28, 2012
by the gentle author

Libby Hall remembers the first time she visited a pub with Tony Hall in the nineteen sixties – because it signalled the beginning of their relationship which lasted until his death in 2008. “We’d been working together at a printer in Cowcross St, Clerkenwell, but our romance began in the pub on the night I was leaving,” Libby confided to me, “It was my going-away drinks and I put my arms around Tony in the pub.”

During the late sixties, Tony Hall worked as a newspaper artist in Fleet St for The Evening News and then for The Sun, using his spare time to draw weekly cartoons for The Labour Herald. Yet although he did not see himself as a photographer, Tony took over a thousand photographs that survive as a distinctive testament to his personal vision of life in the East End.

Shift work on Fleet St gave Tony free time in the afternoon that he spent in the pub which was when these photographs, published here for the first time, were taken. “Tony loved East End pubs,” Libby recalled fondly, “He loved the atmosphere. He loved the relationships with the regular customers. If a regular didn’t turn up one night, someone would go round to see if they were alright.”

Tony Hall’s pub pictures record a lost world of the public house as the centre of the community in the nineteen sixties. “On Christmas 1967, I was working as a photographer at the Morning Star and on Christmas Eve I bought an oven-ready turkey at Smithfield Market.” Libby remembered, “After work, Tony and I went into the Metropolitan Tavern, and my turkey was stolen – but before I knew it there had been a whip round and a bigger and better one arrived!”

The former “Laurel Tree” on Brick Lane

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

Libby Hall, Collector of Dog Photography

The Dogs of Old London

Sign the Petition to save The Marquis of Lansdowne here

22 Responses leave one →
  1. Chris F permalink
    December 28, 2012

    I love the last but one photo of the ‘Laurel Tree’. Look at the amount of work that must have gone into creating that bay window. What’s in its place now?

  2. December 28, 2012

    tender humour, gentle, respectful, really lovely.

  3. Libby Hall permalink
    December 28, 2012

    I think several of these photographs were taken in Tony’s local: ‘The Prince Albert’ – just called ‘The Albert’ – on the corner of Nevill Road in Stoke Newington. I only know for certain who one person is and he remained a friend of ours years after Tony had moved from Stoke Newington to Clapton – that is George Holness, who was a bus conductor, and is sitting on the left with his back to the camera, in the photograph of the man with his hand on his chin and the beer bottles in the foreground. (I think the man with his hand on his chin was called Alex, and I think that is his daughter in the other photograph of him with the bottles in the foreground.)

    I would love to know about the woman and man sitting on the bench, leaning over talking to each other behind the man’s hand. Notice the bag, which seems to be full of books, next to the woman. Had she come from the library? What were the books? Was she perhaps a retired school teacher? What did she read? What were they talking about so intently? Whatever it was it seems to be making them smile.

    The photograph of the pint glass with the packet of Woodbines and the box of matches is of Tony’s own glass and Woodbines and matches, which makes that image especially moving for me.

    It is marvellous for me to be able to share Tony’s photographs in this way.

    Spitalfields Life, with all the fine and lasting connections it makes between places. and, most of all, between people, is one of the best things that has happened for me since Tony’s death. Hurrah for the Gentle Author!

  4. Vicky permalink
    December 28, 2012

    How sad that so many of these old pubs have now gone, or are derelict, or will close in the near future. Great photos.

    The pub in Brick Lane with the beautiful bay window was formerly the Laurel Tree

  5. Susan Goldman permalink
    December 28, 2012

    Another wonderful collection from Tony Hall. The pictures are so evocative, can’t wait to see more. Thank you Mrs Hall.

  6. Bari Watts permalink
    December 28, 2012

    The Lord Hood Pub pictured in the article was laterly known as the Cavalier.
    Address: 89 Dunbridge Street (formerly at London Street). Bethnal Green.
    Former Name(s): The Lord Hood.
    Owner: Truman Hanbury Buxton (former).

  7. Michael W. Ewington permalink
    December 28, 2012

    I was privileged to know Tony, working alongside him in the Artists’ department at The Sun newspaper. He had a quirky sense of humour, which appealed to me greatly. Not only was he a talented cartoonist, he was a great photographer, as these photos clearly show. And a keen jazz musician, although he did not read music.

    In my youth I ran a quartet of aspiring jazz musicians. Nobody wanted to pay to listen to four inexperienced youths attempting to emulate the jazz stars of the day, so we played dance music, at weddings often in pubs like those illustrated, in the East End of London. One was called The Marshall Keats, somewhere near the docks.

    Often the wedding reception was formal to start with, the two families separated by sitting on opposite sides of the room. As the drinks flowed, off would come the jackets and requests were made for what we called ‘The Cavalcade of Crap’. The evening occasionally ended with a fight. Immediately I saw Tony’s photographs, it transported me back to those times and the pubs, so full of character.

  8. Vivian Betts permalink
    December 28, 2012

    Thank you Libby for letting us see all these lovely photo’s what memories they bring back. I grew up in a pub – one in Stepney and the other across the road to Spitalfield market. You have taken me back to when I was little. All the back bar, cabinets had paper dolies folded on the shelf and this was a job I did with my mum every Sunday morning – we would take them down and dust and replace with new ones. They treated there bar as if it was an extension of there home. Tony has captured the atmosphere thank you.

  9. Libby Hall permalink
    December 28, 2012

    Vivian, it’s lovely to have a message from you. I remembered your name instantly –and the wonderful photographs of you. How I would have loved to have had the one of you and Toto to include in one of my books!

  10. Julia permalink
    December 28, 2012

    The Lord Hood stood at 89 Dunbridge Street, E2 (Weavers Fields). The address was formerly 1 London Street, Bethnal Green. The name was changed to Cavalier in 1991 and the pub closed in 2001.
    More info here –

  11. Vivian Betts permalink
    December 28, 2012

    Hi Libby you are more then welcome to have a copy of the photo of me outside my pub when I was about ten with my lovely dog Toto. They are still at the Bishopsgate Institute were I am going to go and do an interview with the library in the new year, so I will pick the photo’s up then and forward a copy to you.

  12. Peter Holford permalink
    December 28, 2012

    The Cobden’s Head is mentioned in a pdf document at the link above. It says: “Martin subsequently negotiated a boarded-up pub in Poplar ‘The Cobden’s Head’ (189 St.
    Leonards Road, E14) for himself and one or two other properties, including the Post Office in St. Leonards Road. These were all occupied by artists. ” This seems to have been in 1973. There are also a couple of pictures from inside the pub – looks like a great pub!

  13. John permalink
    December 29, 2012

    The Carlton is in Bancroft Road, on the corner of Portelet Road, in Stepney, E1

  14. William Palin permalink
    December 30, 2012

    The Lord Hood (latterly the Cavalier) on Dunbridge Street was demolished about 6 years ago for a nondescript apartment block. The former pub on the opposite corner has been burnt out derelict for a few years – and is destined to go at any time. Further up on Three Colts Lane was the Duke of Wellington, demolished last year(?) for a Peabody Housing development. So much history lost in under a decade. Isn’t it about time the local authority introduced new protections for all former pubs? Lewisham Council is considering this –

  15. janet schroder permalink
    December 31, 2012

    This is a photo of the house under the bridge in Globe Rd is a photo of my childhood home. Six of us plus mum and dad spent our lives in this old house. I lived there from 1941 to 1964 and then after we all left home, mum and dad were rehoused into a flat which they never called home!!!! You cannot imagine the wonderful memories, seeing this photo, has brought back to me and I thank you so much. If you are aware of any other photos of this house I would be so happy to hear about them.
    The best years of my life were spent in this old house!!!!!!

  16. Shaun permalink
    January 5, 2013

    The Victory pub was at the corner of Bright Street and St. Leonard’s Road. The Cobden’s Head was at the other end of the terrace. In between were a few houses along with a Post Office, Pat’s Stores and Cowells bakers which can be seen in the fantastic pictures of At The Shops With Tony Hall.
    There is a terrace of new build on the site now. I have some photo’s of the terrace in the early
    80’s. Both pubs had ceased to trade before I reached legal drinking age, but I remember the Victory derelict. The owners had even left an upright piano behind when they left. The Cobden’s Head was occupied by squatting musicians around 1976.

  17. April 8, 2014

    I think the lady behind the bar is Mrs Wilbrahams, she was/is Welsh and lived in Great Eastern Buildings.

  18. Tina Dixon permalink
    August 25, 2014

    FABULOUS PHOTOS! How I wish Tony could have popped into the Duke of Wellington at 29 Three Colts Lane……..for that is where my Husband’s Grandfather, William Charles Tyler, was the Licensed Victualler in 1901 with his wife Lilian Tyler and employing Wilfred Roberts aged 25 as Barman, Lena Graham aged 29 as Barmaid and Mary Gould aged 42 as the Cleaner…..but alas it had long since been closed down in the 1960’s and now I have discovered it was demolished in 2010. Many of my husband’s family had pubs down through the ages in the East End (he actually now helps his own father run The Three Compasses in Charminster near Dorchester, Dorset so the publican thing carries on……!). How I wish one of the pubs Tony frequented had belonged to one of them as I would have some great photos for the family tree album…….!!

  19. jackie Harvey permalink
    February 14, 2015

    I found this when looking up the Victory and the Cobden in St Leonards Road as in the sixties my two uncles (Butler)were landlords of them . Alf had the Victory and Frank had the Cobden. My other uncle, George, had the Royal Navy in Salmon Lane. I remember visiting them was I a was a child. I wonder if there is anyone who remembers them? Frank and George are gone but Alf, who was the youngest is still with us and living in Hastings.

  20. Ian Luck permalink
    August 29, 2016

    Beatiful, evocative images. It may seem an odd thing to say, but people in old photographs seem to have far more characterful faces than people today.

  21. steve permalink
    April 10, 2017

    Hi everybody,
    I’m writing about Great Eastern Buildings c1950s – 70s. I am sure many of you will remember those buildings. Would love to hear from anyone wishing to contribute memories or stories. If the gentle author will allow: is where you can contact me.

    I have made a lot of progress with the writing but more is always welcome. Do get in touch – help the buildings and brick lane history live into the future.

  22. Garry permalink
    May 11, 2017

    The window configuration of the Laurel Tree is almost still the same.

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