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Spitalfields Parties of Yesteryear

December 13, 2017
by the gentle author

The van drivers of the Spitalfields Market certainly knew how to throw a party, as illustrated by this magnificent collection of photographs in the possession of George Bardwell who worked in the market from 1946 until the late seventies. George explained to me how the drivers saved up all year in a Christmas Club and hired Poplar Town Hall to stage shindigs for their families at this season. Everyone got togged up and tables overflowed with sponge cakes and jam tarts, there were presents for all and entertainments galore. Then, once the tables were cleared and the children safely despatched to their beds, it was time for some adult entertainment in the form of drinks and dancing until the early hours.

You may also like to take a look at

Spitalfields Market Nocturne

Spitalfields Market Portraits

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14 Responses leave one →
  1. December 13, 2017

    That clown looks like he knows where the bodies are buried. I’ll bet he ran the entire illicit custard pie trade in the East End.

  2. Robin Call permalink
    December 13, 2017

    That Santa is going to haunt my dreams,I just know it ! lol

  3. Henrietta Varley permalink
    December 13, 2017

    Looking at these wonderful photos I was remembering my old camera, and the palaver that taking photos meant! Load with different sized film, click, wind on, and then removing film (without letting any light in) and taking it off to be developed which was expensive. For that reason we had to be careful to get the right picture every time. Now we just fire away with out phones!

  4. Melvyn Brooks permalink
    December 13, 2017

    I’ve got a photograph of a long table with lots of kids including myself having a party when we lived in Lea View House, Springfield, Clapton about 1950 when I was all of four years old. One of my earliest memories. A belated thanks to all those who helped and gave a us a such good time. Merry Christmas
    Melvyn Brooks Karkur Israel

  5. Pennie Limming permalink
    December 13, 2017

    Looks like a fabulous party but that Santa wouldn’t pass muster today!!!!!

  6. Helen Breen permalink
    December 13, 2017

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thanks for the memories of old-fashioned, clean Christmas fun. No doubt these children look back fondly on those events ….

  7. William Phillips permalink
    December 13, 2017

    Lovely Photos of yesteryear I used to organise the Trumans Xmas children’s party, I will have to look for the many photos I have merry Christmas to one and all.

  8. Ashley permalink
    December 13, 2017

    Great pictures but that Santa scares me!

  9. December 13, 2017

    The paper hats look so much bigger and more interesting than the mean crowns we get today.
    Presumably they were home-made.

  10. Gary Arber permalink
    December 13, 2017

    The expression on the face of the last girl on Santa’s knee clearly said ” I’m too big for this”

  11. Dave Verguson permalink
    December 13, 2017

    I have a similar photo of myself at children’s party held at Poplar Bus garage in about 1950 where my dad worked.

    I suspect those children’s parties were a feature of post-war Britain; people were over the war and although enduring rationing were committed to celebrating children and giving them a good time. A celebration of life after period when it was all too uncertain. Just a thought!

  12. December 13, 2017

    Trying the work out what the tea is. Jam on toast, cake and tea? Or orange squash in a teacup?

  13. Kitanz permalink
    December 14, 2017

    These Kids are Great!! I Love This!!

  14. December 17, 2017

    Simply the best look back at Christmas I have seen in a long time. Thank you for showing this to us.

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