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Colin O’Brien’s London Life

June 24, 2014
by the gentle author

There cannot be many photographers who have created the expanse of work that Colin O’Brien has done, documenting the changing life of London over seven decades – beginning as a child with a Box Brownie in Clerkenwell in 1948 and continuing today as a regular Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer, taking the digital photos of the Druids for yesterday’s story.

A retrospective of Colin’s photography entitled London Life opens at Hackney Museum this week and today we preview a small selection of pictures from the show.

Car Breakers, Hackney Wick

Fish Shop,  Chatsworth Rd in the eighties

Finsbury, 1951

Hackney, 1998

Old Dalston Station

East Enders Cafe, Hackney

Brick Lane in the eighties

Cafe, Battersea Park

Chatsworth Rd in the eighties

The Griffin, Shoreditch, on the last day of smoking in pubs

Tapping Harlem, Hackney Empire

Regents Canal, Hackney

Victoria Dwellings, Clerkenwell, in the fifties

Hackney, last day of the Routemaster on the 38 bus route

Old Kent Rd

Covent Garden, 2004

St Martin’s Lane

Battersea Power Station

Median Rd, Hackney

Rag & Bone Man, 1959

Colin O’Brien (left) at Sir John Cass School, Aldgate 1954

Raymond Scallionne & Razi Tuffano, Hatton Garden in 1948

Photographs copyright © Colin O’Brien

London Life runs at Hackney Museum until 30th August, Admission Free

Take a look at more pictures by Colin O’Brien

Colin O’Brien, Photographer

Colin O’Brien’s Clerkenwell Car Crashes

Travellers’ Children in London Fields

Colin O’Brien’s Brick Lane Market

Colin O’Brien Goes Back To School

Gina’s Restaurant Portraits

12 Responses leave one →
  1. Janet M permalink
    June 24, 2014

    Interesting photos. He has a fine eye for detail that captures the essence of the moment.

  2. June 24, 2014

    Thank you for sharing. Very nostalgic. Means much more as one grows older!

  3. Greg Tingey permalink
    June 24, 2014

    As always, what I notice, having lived through this period, is how DIRTY everything is or was – especially before 1970.
    And how run-down London was in the 80’s ….

  4. June 24, 2014

    Greta shots of moments frozen in time. Valerie

  5. June 24, 2014

    Wonderful time capsules from the 1940s up to now!
    (PS: When was the “last day of smoking in pubs”…?)

    Love & Peace

  6. Pauline Taylor permalink
    June 24, 2014

    Love the lady in Chatsworth Road and the two men on the park bench, not forgetting the rag and bone man’s horse of course!

  7. Johnny Homer permalink
    June 24, 2014

    As a Finsbury boy myself, I was especially taken with the EC1-themed photographs. I look forward very much to seeing the whole exhibition.

  8. Ros permalink
    June 24, 2014

    Fantastic selection, several of which I’d never seen before, and I’ll certainly be going to see the exhibition. The one of the couple with the baby in the baby carriage, looking in the window of the white goods shop and taken when Colin was nobbut knee high to a grasshopper, is nigh on perfect.

  9. Jude permalink
    June 24, 2014

    Hard to single one pic out above another, but liked the cocky companionship of the last one. Oh yes and the horse 🙂

  10. John Campbell permalink
    June 25, 2014

    Wonderful pictures, and as i’ve said before, Colin’s work is comparable to that of the great Roger Mayne who sadly passed away this month.

  11. June 29, 2014

    Colin has such an amaing archive! More please……

  12. Tony Racine permalink
    January 24, 2016

    Hi Colin

    It looks as if you have done well. Seeing you on the roof of the old school certainly has brought back some memories.

    I didn’t know you ended up head boy but I’m not surprised that you did.

    I notice there is a photo of you and, I think, it was Colin Wines. It seems only yesterday.

    If you wanted to it would be good to chat with you and hear more about how you are doing.

    A blast from the past Tony

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