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Ron McCormick’s Whitechapel

April 5, 2018
by the gentle author

Ron McCormick photographed Whitechapel & Spitalfields in the early seventies and these pictures were exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1973. They are included in the new book Whitechapel Boy by Chris Searle, commemorating the centenary of the death of Isaac Rosenberg which is launched with an illustrated lecture at 6.30pm today, Thursday 5th April at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives. All are welcome.

Hessel St

Royal Oak, Whitechapel Rd

Old Montague St

Blooms, Whitechapel High St

Old Montague St

Old Montague St

Princelet St

Black Lion Yard

Fournier St

Brick Lane

Club Row

Brick Lane

Settle St, Whitechapel

Great Eastern Buildings, Quaker St

Woodseer St

Great Eastern Buildings, Quaker St

Sandys Row

Brick Lane Market

Christ Church School

Settle St, Whitechapel

Photographs copyright © Ron McCormick

You may also like to take a look at

Phil Maxwell’s Brick Lane

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields

David Granick’s Spitalfields

Marketa Luskacova’s Brick Lane

Homer Sykes’ Spitalfields

Sarah Ainslie’s Brick Lane

16 Responses leave one →
  1. April 5, 2018

    I think the photo of the newspaper seller was taken outside The Birdcage. I remember seeing the very fabulous Candy DuBarry there in about 1976.
    The doctor giving the bedridden old lady her medicine is Dr. Leslie Gow. His surgery where he practiced with his brother John and sister in law Phyllis was next door to the Blade Bone pub on Bethnal Green Road. They had no appointment system, you just went into the waiting room and asked who was last in the queue – you then knew when your turn was. You always got to see a doctor even if you sometimes had to wait a bit.

  2. Hugh Macfarlane permalink
    April 5, 2018

    Any more information or photographs of the Brick Lane printers?

  3. Stephen Barker permalink
    April 5, 2018

    The shop in Old Montague St looks so run down. The paintwork what’s left of it looks decades old. While we may regret the redevelopment that has taken place since these photos were taken, there is no doubt that much of the building stock and infrastructure was in a very poor state of repair.

  4. mark permalink
    April 5, 2018

    Stephen – Nothing that a sand down and paintjob could sort! Looks sun bleached to me. Marvellous pictures that to me, show a lot of despondency amongst the downtrodden working/retired folk.

  5. April 6, 2018

    Quite haunting; the hardships of decades prior to the 70s seem to be etched on older faces. But I like the shabbiness, in a way – it’s a world from the corporate sterility that characterizes so much of modern London. As with New York, the lived-in patina (to put it politely) of the period was part of what made it a place for, and by, humans.

  6. Annie S permalink
    April 6, 2018

    Great photos!
    The area is a different world now – the people in the pictures would have never imagined.

  7. April 6, 2018

    The tailor in Fournier St somehow makes me think of Eddie Marson.

    Great photographs, which convey a time and place so well.

  8. Leila, Cumber permalink
    April 8, 2018

    Nostalgia is wonderful. A time full of memories

  9. Marcia Howard permalink
    April 8, 2018

    The photographs you share with us just keep getting better and better

  10. Ron McCormick permalink
    April 16, 2018

    Hugh Macfarlane – The printer is Issy Weinberg who had a small letterpress workshop at 138 Brick lane. He printed the first two editions of Stepney Words (No 1) the celebrated book of schoolchildren’s poetry which was published by myself and Chris Searle in 1971. I lived just around the corner at 20 Princelet Street and had got together with Chris in late 1970 working with him and using my photographs to inspire the pupils in his class to write about their own experiences – we went on to publish them in the face of opposition from the school governors and resulted in Chris’s dismissal and the Stepney Schoolkids strike recounted here. Reality Press is the imprint that we used producing many small publications from my studio on the first floor of No20. We sponsored publications by the nascent Basement Writers and produced posters and ‘agit-prop’ for many local community groups and bought a small press of our own housed in premises on Roman Road.

    Issy Weinberg himself had an interesting history being an emigre jew from eastern europe, I understand he and his father before him had been involved in radical socialist movements and his father Barruch Weinberg had produced many radical publications for the Yiddish Workers Circle in East London. The story is well told by Chris Searle in his autobiography “Isaac and I: A Life in Poetry’ by Chris Searle – Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham 1917

  11. Ron McCormick permalink
    April 16, 2018

    Oh – and thanks to everyone else on here who have posted such encouraging comments about my photographs. I hope you will have a chance to see many more of them before too long.

  12. July 21, 2018

    Some wonderful work.

  13. July 29, 2018

    What wonderful photographs and record of that time. Have you any of Jubilee St and the mansions round there, also Murphy’s on Bethnal Green Rd and the Bethnal Green Baths, which was quite a building. I lived there (Jubilee St) at that time and am interested in it from a nostalgic viewpoint too. There was a little collection of Jewish shops in a shopping precinct nearby too, which was also interesting, even though the little precinct was ‘modern’.

  14. August 11, 2018


  15. September 14, 2018

    Issy Weinberg was my uncle (my fathers brother) he died in the 1980’s, can’t quite remember when. Every Christmas he would print cards for my mum & dad to send out -mum was not Jewish & we celebrated Christmas. Whenever we moved, which was quite often, we would always get a supply of printed letter paper – this was an age when one wrote letters. When our son was born Uncle Issy printed some super birth announcement cards for us and the same when we had our daughter.
    An interesting and entertaining man who I still miss. I have tried with little success to find out about the family history, just know that on the 1911 census his father and mother list their place of birth as Russia, although I believe it was on the borders of Russia and Poland. There were some family stories told but I am not sure how true they were.
    I do know that Issy and his half brother Max were involved in something and did go to Russia in the late 20’s or 30’s

  16. March 12, 2020

    Ron’s photos are the best east end pics I have seen

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