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Roland Collins’ Photographs

June 8, 2013
by the gentle author

For a spell in the sixties, while Roland Collins was working as a commercial artist for the Scientific Publicity Agency in Fleet St, he had access to a darkroom which enabled him to develop his own photography, and he produced striking and imaginative photoessays – exploring different aspects of London life. Today, it is my pleasure to show this selection of Roland’s evocative images of the East End and the City, published for the first time since their original appearance. And next week, I am looking forward to introducing you to his paintings of the territory.

Fairground on the Hackney Marshes.

Salvation Army prayer meeting in the Lea Bridge Rd.

In Petticoat Lane.

In the East India Dock Rd.

Porters at Billingsgate.

Spirits are high as a porter is hoist onto his own shellfish barrow by his sixteen stone son.

A porter makes a bit extra on the side, street trading in boots and shoes.

The Monument.

View from the top of the Monument.

Looking down Eastcheap from the Monument.

Fish shop by the Monument.

Visitors at the top of the Monument.

The shadow of the Monument cast upon King William St.

Relief upon the Danish Embassy at Wellclose Sq at the time of demolition – now removed to Belgravia.

In Albury Rd, Rotherhithe.

At Limehouse Basin.

Photographs copyright © Roland Collins

You may also like to take a look at

Dennis Anthony’s Petticoat Lane

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields

Tony’s Hall’s East End in the Afternoon

16 Responses leave one →
  1. Greg Tingey permalink
    June 8, 2013

    I find the one: “Salvation Army prayer meeting In Lea Bridge Rd” fascinating.
    It is obviously very close to the canal, with the “Price of Wales” (Now “Princess”) pub, usually referred to as “Colditz” because of it’s initials, just out-of-sight to the left.
    Did you also know that the building behind, in the picture, is listed?

  2. Gary permalink
    June 8, 2013

    A fantastic example of complete mastery of the camera. This was the time before cameras did the work for you, the careful setting of aperture and shutter speeds allowing for effects of light and shadow that give an air of tranquillity.

  3. Louisa permalink
    June 8, 2013

    Such beautiful photographs. So evocative of another, somehow gentler time. Thank you.

  4. dermot permalink
    June 8, 2013

    great lost London pictures, do you know the date for the fairground pictures in particular the vaudeville revue one?.

    thank you

  5. tony bock permalink
    June 8, 2013

    Very nice, can we see more?

  6. June 8, 2013

    Wonderful as always!

    ‘Looking down Eastcheap from the Monument’ in particular, great capture!

    Must have a been quite a climb with a heavy camera up those steps!

  7. June 8, 2013

    God, those photos of the Billingsgate porters speak volumes.

  8. John Campbell permalink
    June 9, 2013

    Great pictures! The last one very reminiscent of Roger Maynes photographs on Southam Street.

  9. John Campbell permalink
    June 9, 2013

    …or rather the girl in the doorway shot is very similar to Mayne’s west London pictures of the 50’s.

  10. June 11, 2013

    Love the image of the Billingsgate porters, a ‘Smiths’ album cover in waiting, but also a fantastic image.

  11. Heather Rohrer permalink
    June 11, 2013

    My Mum was born at 10 Salmon Lane, Stepney in 1920. She married my Dad when they were both ‘in the Print’, and I grew up in Edgware listening to Mum’s wonderful stories of life in the east end. Seeing the photograph of the girl in the doorway, I noticed what my Mum called an ‘airie’ (forgive spelling) but to this day I don’t know what an ‘airie’ is. Can someone please explain to a Canadian who has a great love of everything ‘east end’. Thanks in advance.

  12. Cherub permalink
    June 11, 2013

    Thank you for the views from the top of the Monument. I worked right by it in Monument Street from 1985 – 91 and was never brave enough to climb up there!

  13. Roger Tiller permalink
    April 10, 2014

    More more please, can’t get enough of these old wonderful times, my Father had a cabinet makers shop at Rosaman Street, Clerkenwell, he was there from just after the 1920s till the mid sixties, it was called W J Burt, does anyone remember it was on a corner opposite Temple press.
    Excuse my grammar

  14. Connie Collins permalink
    November 21, 2015

    Thank you so much, Gentle Author, for showing Roland’s photographs, and for your part in his Telegraph obituary. And thank you, everyone else, for your lovely comments.

  15. Sandra Warren permalink
    September 28, 2016

    Msg for Connie. Between 1972 and 1975 Roland kindly rented my husband Roger a bedsit on the top floor of 4 Colville Place. Roger left in 1975 when we got married and bought a small house in Essex while continuing to teach at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School. We were thinking and talking about Roland and the weekly dinner parties he held at Colville Place when you were usually always present. We decided to do some research to see if he was still at Colville Place and that perhaps we could visit to say hello. We were pleased to read that you two got married but so sorry to learn of Roland’s passing. Felt a bit sad that we had not tried to see Roland again after we got married, but life with work, children and grandchildren totally absorbed our time. We would like to say hello and hope that you remember us. Sending our very best wishes. Sandra and Roger Warren

  16. Scott Bruce permalink
    April 3, 2017

    Well! That’s me with my parents in the SA open-air meeting. It must date back to the very early 50’s judging by folks appearance. What a serendipitous find of our history.

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