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Philip Cunningham’s East End Shopfronts

March 21, 2017
by the gentle author

It is my pleasure to publish more pictures from Photographer Philip Cunningham‘s astonishing archive of images from the seventies and eighties, seen publicly here for the first time

Shop in Bow, c.1972

“In 1970 my partner, Sally, was a student on the Foundation Course at Hornsey College of Art. They taught her how to use a camera and process film and, in turn, she taught me. When we moved to the East East in 1971, the Council and GLC were still emptying and demolishing streets. People were being moved into tower blocks, which mostly had poor insulation and were physically alienating. By this time, the mythology of ‘streets in the sky’ was already discredited yet they continued anyway. There was still a lot of bomb damage but the remnants of previous communities could be seen, and I was determined to try and document what was left. I was also interested in the buildings themselves which had their own character. Taking at least a film a month, I built up a large archive. We were customers of some of these shops but others were already derelict. They represented a different life.” – Philip Cunningham


Roman Rd, c.1976

Mile End Rd

Mile End Rd, c.1979

Mile End Rd, c.1979

Mile End Rd, c.1979

Mile End Rd, c.1979

Mile End Rd, c.1979

Mile End Rd, c.1978

Mile End Rd

Mile End Rd, c.1981

Mile End Rd, c.1985

Mile End Rd, c.1985

Malplaquet House, Mile End Rd, c.1976

Mile End Rd, c.1976

Mile End Rd, c.1979

Mile End Rd, c.1982

White Horse Lane, c.1979

East End India Dock Rd, c.1978

Roman Rd, c.1977

Stepney Way, c.1971

Antil Rd, c.1980

Hay Currie St, c.1978

Upper Clapton Rd, c.1983

Globe Rd, c.1976

Unknown location, c.1976

Brushfield St

Off Brick Lane, c.1976

Off Brick Lane, c.1976

Quaker St, c.1976

Off Cheshire St, c.1976

Cheshire St, c.1976

Photographs copyright © Philip Cunningham

You may also like to take a look at

A Walk with Philip Cunningham

Philip Cunningham’s Pub Crawl

Philip Cunningham’s East End Portraits

More of Philip Cunningham’s Portraits

Yet More Philip Cunningham Portraits

A Lost Corner of Whitechapel

Philip Cunningham at Mile End Place

18 Responses leave one →
  1. March 21, 2017

    Very atmospheric photos, and a great one of Spiegelhalter’s. Valerie

  2. March 21, 2017

    Amazing collection – especially like the last photograph – almost poignant. Wish I had taken more photographs when I was younger. Thanks for posting.

  3. Barry Smith permalink
    March 21, 2017

    The shop J.Galley & Sons was in Roman Road

  4. March 21, 2017

    The ‘unknown location’ Galley was in Roman Road.

  5. Sarah Lewington permalink
    March 21, 2017

    These are superb. I have so much enjoyed Philip Cunningham’s photos. Could a book be in order?….

  6. Annette Keith permalink
    March 21, 2017

    Beautiful but simple scenes photographed make one feel as if they are stepping into history on the streets and in the buildings witnessing life.

  7. Janet cleaves permalink
    March 21, 2017

    Love love these pics – u remember my ex bought my wedding ring from. Spiegelhalters
    Looking for any shop fronts Cheshire street it scared street with bane Maezell. Cheshire street was a sweet shop and sclater street a timber yard

  8. Christine Maiocco permalink
    March 21, 2017

    I love looking upstairs of these shops and imagining the lives of the people who lived above. I wonder about the sounds and smells that come upstairs, the children who grew up there, or the single gentlemen or ladies of doubtful age. Thanks for sharing!

  9. gary arber permalink
    March 21, 2017

    Galley’s in Roman Road was an amazing shop. Started well before my time by J. Galley, when I first started working in Roman Road it was run by Ebeneezer Galley with his sister only known as Miss Galley, and with his daughter Ethel. In the days before the B & Q’s etc. Galleys was the only store that the local builders could buy their supplies. Old Galley had the reputation of being a bit of a miser, he had stocks dating back many years but you always paid the latest price. He had a yard opposite the shop in Medway Road for sands and heavy stock, two men, Alf and Tom worked for him, during the time that the shop was open old Galley was behind the till. If you bought anything from Galleys it was of the best quality. When the store finally closed after the deaths of galley and his sister the sale of stock was amazing, historic tools, even horses harness chains an bits. I bought many tools from Galleys in my time and they are all in my workshop in prime condition, such was the quality. If Galleys was still trading during the days of the Gentle Author they would have featured in his blog more times even than Gardeners.
    Gary Arber

  10. Ruth shaw permalink
    March 21, 2017

    I know so many of these places but found it so sad to see how they have been neglected, my shop was round the corner to burns and Harris stonemason.

  11. Dick Mathews permalink
    March 21, 2017

    In the late fifties / early sixties I used to buy shoes from Blackmans Shoe Shop in Cheshire St, and a few years earlier we would buy from the same people trading from a stall outside on Sunday mornings. They’re still there! A sign above the shop a few years back read “Buy your shoes where your Dad bought his”!
    My father was a cab driver and he told me tat he has once had Mr Blackman as a passenger, who told him he would take a thousand pounds on a Sunday morning – perhaps an exaggeration, as I seem to remember their Hush Puppies (all the rage!) were about a pound a pair.

  12. Ros permalink
    March 21, 2017

    Another wonderful, bittersweet collection. So many things to think about. Thank you once again Phil Cunningham, for your evocative collection. Hope there’s more to come!

  13. Peter permalink
    March 22, 2017

    Fascinating, evocative photos. Nice to see that Verde & Co are still at the same address in Brushfield Street, although their premises look much smarter these days!

  14. frank hadley permalink
    March 28, 2017

    looking at the last picture of cheshire st. looking west towards brick lane,after sunday market.
    i used to go to school in cheshire st. the area seemed to decline by the early 70s,
    what was once a busy and vibrant area is now unrecognisable , only the new brick lane is worth visiting now. and that goes for petticoat lane too. people looking at these photos couldn’t
    imagine what a great place this once was. all we seem to see are photo’s of the decaying east end
    admittedly there were a lot of building’s that needed pulling down a lot due to war damage, believe me we kids growing up in the east end didn’t know it at the time. as it was such a happy place to live, and i would go back in a heartbeat,as i have fond memories of the dear old east end.

  15. August 23, 2020

    Would you happen to have any photo’s of Cohen’s grocers, I think in Wentworth Street? In the 50’s I was a gofer boy there on a Sunday. The manager was Fay. My uncle was Jack Abrahams, a baker at Kossoff’s nearby. thank you.

    Terry Abrahams

  16. Roy Clarke permalink
    June 22, 2021

    Great pictures

    my family use to own Barretts Store and I use to go there with my Grandmother in the school holidays. The shop was on Stepney Green and not Stepney Way. It was next door to the old Red Coat school building on Stepney Green. Thanks for sharing these pictures, especially the one of my Uncle Tony in the shop.


    Roy Clarke

  17. June 7, 2022

    Is there a single building left out of all these marvellous photos ,it’s a good job you took these photos as youngster would never believe what the east end used to look like

  18. Stephen Gerskin permalink
    November 4, 2022

    My aunt had a shop at number 1 hessel st selling pillows feathers down etc.any photos?.

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