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William Whiffin, Photographer

January 12, 2018
by the gentle author

William Whiffin (1878-1957) is one of the great unsung London photographers, which makes it a rare pleasure to present this gallery of his pictures from the collection of his granddaughter Hellen Martin. Born into a family of photographers in the East End, Whiffin made his living with studio portraits and commercial commissions, yet strove to be recognised for his artistic photography.

Lion Brewery and the Shot Tower, South Bank

The photographer’s son Sid Whiffin at Cooper’s Stairs, Old Queen St

Off Fetter Lane

The Pantheon, Oxford St

In Princes Sq, Stepney

Figureheads of fighting ships in Grosvenor Rd

At Covent Garden Market

Milwall & the Island Horse Omnibus, c.1910

St Catherine Coleman next to Fenchurch St Station

In Fleet St

In Buckfast St, Bethnal Green

At Borough Market

In Lombard St

Rotherhithe Watch House

Wapping Old Stairs

Junction of Cambridge Heath Rd & Hackney Rd

Ratcliff Stairs, Limehouse

Ratcliff Causeway, Limehouse

St Jude’s, Commercial St

Farthing Bundles at the Fern St Settlement, Bow

Houndsditch Rag Fair

At the Royal Exchange, City of London

Weavers’ House, Bethnal Green Rd

Off Pennington St, Wapping

Borough of Poplar Electricity Dept

Pruning in the hop gardens of Faversham

Photographs copyright © Estate of William Whiffin

Hellen Martin & I should be very grateful if readers can identify any of the uncaptioned photographs

You may also like to read about

Horace Warner’s Photography

C A Mathew’s Photography

21 Responses leave one →
  1. January 12, 2018

    Another magnificent time machine! Mr Whiffin’s lost worlds are heart-wrenchingly evocative.

  2. January 12, 2018

    How many of those lovely buildings are still there

  3. Sarah steer permalink
    January 12, 2018

    Wonderful pix.

  4. John Barrett permalink
    January 12, 2018

    I like – a good set of pics with people that means lots of costume shown. Thanks GA for giving us a glimpse into a previous world 1920 -40. There were signs of happiness in that low tech mechanical age. I give top billing for the old fashion tramp. From John a nice bus stop poet

  5. Jane Johnson permalink
    January 12, 2018

    Waking to a misty morning in the north of England, these beautifully evocative photographs were a welcome start to my Friday.

  6. January 12, 2018

    Wonderful, atmospheric photos. Valerie

  7. January 12, 2018

    “In Fleet Street” — Surely that one is for the time capsule. In this whole gathering of magnificent and narrative photos, that particular one pulled me right in.

  8. Helen Breen permalink
    January 12, 2018

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, what a marvelous collection of London shots from William Whiffin’s collection.
    Some of my favorites – the tracery in the signs “In Lombard Street” and “In Fleet Street,” shadows “At Covent Garden,” silouettes in “Ratcliff Causeway, Limehouse,” scary perch in “St. Jude, Commercial Street,” and “Pruning in the hop garden, Faversaham.”

    Enjoyed the ones with people too. Merci …

  9. Annie S permalink
    January 12, 2018

    Wonderful photographs!

  10. Richard Smith permalink
    January 12, 2018

    An exceptional set of truly evocative photographs that gave me great pleasure to look at. Thank you.

  11. Paul permalink
    January 12, 2018

    Dear GA and Hellen,
    Many thanks for sharing these wonderful photographs. One of the unidentified scenes is of Jewery Street in Aldgate. It is Jones Dairy and they are still going strong

  12. Paul permalink
    January 12, 2018

    Dear GA there is a contemporaneous photograph of Jones Dairy on Pinterest but I don’t know how to create a link.
    Kind regards

  13. Anthony Finerty permalink
    January 12, 2018

    The picture in today’s article featuring farthing bundles is featured in a book I have just borrowed from my local library called “Walks through history: Exploring the East End” by Rosemary Taylor published in 2001 by Breedon Books. It is used in the section on Bromley St Leonard to highlight the work of Clara Grant who founded the Fern Street Settlement. Unfortunately the picture in the book cuts her off on the left hand side of the picture but I am pleased to see that today’s picture does show the lady in question. Thank you for an always interesting daily slice of East End life

  14. Peter Holford permalink
    January 12, 2018

    Beautifully composed and crystal-clear photographs – a treat!

  15. Brenda permalink
    January 13, 2018

    Wonderful photos. My favourite is Ratcliff Causeway, Limehouse – I can almost smell the Thames!
    Also liked the wicket chalked on the wall – it brought back memories of many evenings playing street cricket when we were kids. Thank you for sharing them.

  16. Ade Callaghan permalink
    January 13, 2018

    I love the childrens Christmas party. I guess they have their fingers in their ears because of the flash photography. Thanks GA.

  17. Leana Pooley permalink
    January 15, 2018

    These are absolutely fantastic photographs. I feel privileged to have seen them. Thank you.

  18. January 17, 2018

    Thanks for your effort.

  19. Molly Whiffin permalink
    August 20, 2020

    William Whiffin was my great great uncle who unfortunately I never got the opportunity to meet. I myself love photography and after hearing about his work, and researching and admiring his amazing talent in these photos, it inspired me to get more creative with my work and I’d love to one day go and find some of these locations and take photos of how it looks now and put them in a picture frame next to the ones we have framed of his, to compare the change of society and the streets and to continue the photography interest in the family. I’m so proud of his amazing shots and it’s great to think that I’m related to someone so talented.

  20. Philippa Field permalink
    June 30, 2021

    kia ora – I don’t recognise the photos but for some reason feel ‘drawn to them’. Is there anyone in your family called Hannah Pamplin? I believe she married a ‘Wiffen’ but your last name is spelt with ‘Whiff..’ I am grandaughter of Winifred Rose Pamplin of Writtle. In case you make a connection ;ease write! I LOVE the photo display!

    Yes – I am pretty old now! @ 76……………….

  21. Gary Martin permalink
    September 6, 2021

    I am related to this photographer but not sure how.
    A wonderful collection of pictures of a bygone era.

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