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Philip Marriage, Photographer

February 24, 2017
by the gentle author

Quaker St, 1967

The passage of time in Spitalfields became visible to Philip Marriage as he made successive visits over three decades to take these photographs. Working for HMSO publications in Holborn and commuting regularly through Liverpool St Station, he revisited Spitalfields sporadically over the years, drawn by a growing fascination with those streets where his ancestors had lived centuries earlier.

The poignant irony of these pictures is that while Philip came to Spitalfields in search of the past, he discovered many of the streets which interested him were retreating in time before his lens, disintegrating like phantoms into the ether, even as he was photographing them.

In 1967, when Philip Marriage first visited with his camera, he found a landscape scattered with bomb sites from World War II and he witnessed the slum clearance programme, as settled communities were displaced from their nineteenth century cottages and tenements into new housing complexes. Twenty years later, he encountered  the opposing forces of redevelopment and conservation that were reshaping the streets to create the environment we recognise today.

But other, less obvious, elements affect our perception of time in these photographs too. Those pictures from 1967 exist in a lyrical haze which is both the result of air pollution caused by coal fires and the unstable nature of colour film at that time. By the eighties, the smog has been consigned to the past and better colour film delivered crisper images, permitting photographs which appear more contemporary to us.

Yet it was relatively recent events in Spitalfields, that came after he took his pictures, which render Philip Marriage’s photographs so compelling now – as windows into a lost time before the closure of the Truman Brewery and the Fruit & Vegetable Market.

Quaker St, 1987

Quaker St, looking west, 1967

Quaker St, looking west, 1987

Artillery Lane, 1967

Artillery Lane, 1985

Samuel Stores, Gun St, 1985

Samuel Stores, Gun St, 1986

Former Samuel Stores, Gun St, 1987

Verdes, Brushfield St, 1988

Verdes, Brushfield St, 1990

Poyser St, Bethnal Green, 1967

Poyser St, Bethnal Green, 1967

Cheshire St with Rag & Bone Man, 1967

Middleton St, Bethnal Green, 1967

Photographs copyright © Philip Marriage

You may also like to take a look at

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields

Alan Dein’s East End Shopfronts of 1988

Sarah Ainslie’s Brick Lane

Mark Jackson & Huw Davies, Photographers

Marketa Luskacova’s Brick Lane

C.A.Mathew, Photographer

Phil Maxwell’s Brick Lane

Colin O’Brien’s Brick Lane

The Ghosts of Old London

5 Responses leave one →
  1. February 24, 2017

    A marvellous record reinforced by the ‘colour instability’ of the shots from the 1960s.

  2. February 24, 2017

    Its photographer’s such as Phillip that leave powerful images of old London no glit or greenery here just its-self. I liked the Victorian view of Quaker St 1967 a super capture just a misty long view. London suffered greatly in WW2 with horrendous bomb damaged it did hastened some regeneration but did/has lingered on. I am sure these pics are archived for future generations to see in say 2100. Poet John PS must mention the civilian population suffered greatly too during the war, people do matter.

  3. February 24, 2017

    Excellent photos. Very enjoyable and nostalgic. The colour was very interesting for that period.

  4. February 24, 2017

    Wonderful time, those Sixties — especially in Color!

    Love & Peace

  5. Neville Turner permalink
    February 24, 2017

    A collection of photo’s of an area that inspired a lot of us to aspire to improve our enviroment.
    Keep up the good work.

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