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Dan Cruickshank, Photographer

March 14, 2018
by the gentle author

Dan Cruickshank took these photographs between 1969 when he first came to Spitalfields and 1977 when he led the first campaign to stop British Land destroying Elder St. “I did it to document the buildings that were here then,” he explained to me in regret, “but sometimes you’d go back the next Saturday and there’d be virtually nothing left.”

Barrowmakers in Wheler St

Baker in Quaker St

Quaker St and Railway Dwellings

Junction of Bethnal Green Rd & Redchurch St

Weaver’s House at the corner of Bacon St & Brick Lane

Weavers’ houses in Sclater St, now demolished

Weavers’ houses in Sclater St, only those in foreground remain

Weavers’ houses in Sclater St, now demolished

Corner of Sclater St & Brick Lane

Houses in Hanbury St, now demolished

Houses in Hanbury St, now demolished

Old House in Calvin St, now demolished

Elaborate doorcase in Wilkes St, now gone

Brushfield St

Brushfield St, buildings on the right now demolished

Brushfield St, buildings on the right now demolished

Buildings in Brushfield St, now demolished

Brushfield St, buildings on the left now demolished

Looking from Brushfield St towards Norton Folgate

Selling Christmas trees in Spital Sq

Spital Sq with St Botolph’s Hall

Folgate St with Dennis Severs’ House in the foreground, houses in the background now demolished

House in Folgate St, now demolished

5 & 7 Elder St during squat to prevent complete demolition by British Land

Partial demolition of 5 & 7 Elder St

Rear of 5 & 7 Elder St during partial demolition

Inside 7 Elder St

Douglas Blain of Spitalfields Trust reads a paper in the loft of 7 Elder St after the roof was removed

Alleyway off Folgate St

Photographs copyright © Dan Cruickshank

You may also like to take a look at

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields

Val Perrin’s Spitalfields

14 Responses leave one →
  1. March 14, 2018

    British Land. Like ‘Satan’, it’s a name with no good side to it.

  2. March 14, 2018

    Sad to see the photos of so many houses that were demolished. I am glad the squatters managed to save some of them. Valerie

  3. StephenJ permalink
    March 14, 2018

    Organisations like the one mentioned in the preface are sadly not the only actors in this tragedy, the main one is of course government and its establishment of civil servants, both local and central (party irrelevant). Property companies act in the way they are set up to act, they are like sharks, they know no different, and they are doing their legal duty to their shareholders.

    The biggest crime here is limited liability and public and private share issues, without other peoples money, without responsibility such things could never happen, the risk to family or institutional money would be too big.

    Instead, concepts like re-use, restoration of individual properties and a good clean up of both the area and individual properties could happen. Another aspect is the idea that renting a home from a hospital or a university or other major immortal concept can enable poor people and their succeeding progeny to spend generations in the one central apartment.

    But as usual, the real criminals are the people that look for votes and use other people’s money to do this, socialist politicians, busily pulling the heart strings as they go about levelling cities with their wars and their diatribes and destructive campaigns against folk that make something of themselves.

    Take a look at Rome, where the only places that the government has managed to exert full control, in the very centre where the huge fascist (not Mussolini but the unification wizards) “Altar of the Fatherland” was built… Romans have never forgiven them.

    Throughout the rest of that city, and other Italian cities, people spend generations living the city life, adapting to changing circumstances and peoples, but all the while having stable living conditions in buildings which are re-used and repurposed over and over… The universities, the old wealthy families, the hospitals (the institutions), own these places , do little to them and are happy to take an “affordable” rent from people and their succeeding generations, and the communities thrive.

    Of course the socialist/fascist EU is doing its best to destroy it at the moment, but that is another story.

  4. Barbara fairfax permalink
    March 14, 2018

    Wonderful photographs but terribly sad to see what we have lost.

  5. Jamie permalink
    March 14, 2018

    Wonderful photographs. I used to live on Calvin St and would love a copy of the photograph of Calvin St above. I have previously seen a drawing of the that house (Survey of London, I think), but never a photograph. I don’t suppose it is possible to buy prints of these photographs?

  6. March 14, 2018

    Very depressing. Land grab and a journey into dark. Just like the LDDC.

  7. Mimi permalink
    March 14, 2018

    Sadly this barbarity of the new is happening all over, Brighton has very little left of the older functional Victorian/ Edwardian buildings, they tend to have mysterious fires or roofing removed so they become beyond repair.

  8. Gary Arber permalink
    March 14, 2018

    This vandalism is not only with the big developers, its rot reaches right down to the little men.
    I once passed a basement development where a small domed structure with Elizabethan bricks was uncovered and the builder said to the JCB driver “get that in the skip before the nutters see it”

  9. mark permalink
    March 14, 2018

    Great pics from an entertaining person. You can almost smell Jack the Ripper menacing the pathways and Joe Orton visiting the Gents!

  10. Rod Beattie permalink
    March 14, 2018

    As a small extra aside to the wonderful photographs, the second Hanbury Street photograph shows the shop frontage, number 29, where the body of Annie Chapman one of Jack the Rippers victims was found, in the garden at the rear, on the 8th September 1888. The buildings in the photograph were all demolished in March 1970 to make way for extensions to the Truman Brewery. The actual murder site is now a car park and I believe it is also used as the site of a Sunday market.

  11. Karen permalink
    March 14, 2018

    I worked at Brick Lane late 70s and wish I had a camera because I didn’t know my Huguenot history, then. I remember open spaces, like bomb sites but – looking at these photos’s – potenntially clearances, too. My Grandparents left Bethnal Green in the 30s. Is there a collection of photographs at a local studies library nearby?

  12. Allison permalink
    March 15, 2018

    Thank goodness we have these photographs, but it’s devastating to see what we’ve lost (and what’s replacing it now). One bit of cheer is that in the photographs of Brushfield Street you can see the Verde shop that is still there and still called Verde now owned by the author Jeanette Winterson.

  13. mark permalink
    March 15, 2018

    Thanks to Rod Beattie for the nuggets of info. Fascinating!

  14. Graham permalink
    March 22, 2018

    I enjoy heritage. I enjoy walking around it and even sketching it. My opinion is save a glimpse into the past and how we used to live but not everything about. These buildings don’t accommodate future needs for living nor work. There’s more humans now than there was in the past so we need larger places to live and work. Save one street but not another from demolition.

    In my opinion, these photographs are enough to see into the past.

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