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Spitalfields In Colour

January 7, 2019
by the gentle author

Photographer Philip Marriage rediscovered these Kodachrome images recently, taken on 11th July 1984

Brushfield St

Crispin St

Widegate St

White’s Row

Artillery Passage

Brushfield St

Artillery Passage

Brushfield St

Fashion St

Widegate St

Artillery Passage

Gun St

Brushfield St

Gun St

Brushfield St

Parliament Court

Leyden St

Fort St

Commercial St

Brushfield St

Photographs copyright © Philip Marriage

You may also like to take a look at

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields

Photographs of Time Passing in Spitalfields

18 Responses leave one →
  1. Scott McCarthy permalink
    January 7, 2019

    wonderful to see some images in colour

    but why oh why do so many photos of this area – especially the Black and whites – focus on piles of rubbish as the central feature?

    if it isn’t rubbish, it’s tramps, or hard-bitten looking people hanging around smoking.

    these photographers may have lived in the area for a short time, but I don’t believe they actually came from the area. You can find piles of rubbish and homeless people anywhere in the country. It saddens me to see this area constantly shown in the worst possible way.

  2. Greg Tingey permalink
    January 7, 2019

    The contrast with today & the gentrification ( Artillery passage is particularly stark ) is enormous, but, even so, by 1984 the slow revival had started – as usual, it was probably the mid-70’s that was the bottom of the pit for London & inner London especially.

  3. Jamie S permalink
    January 7, 2019

    Breaks my heart to see these pictures – it might have been a bit of a dump but it was better than what it’s all been turned into…

  4. January 7, 2019

    Incredible pictures, wonderful!

  5. Casa Irlandesa permalink
    January 7, 2019

    Aaaah …. the ‘R’ reg Commer van on double yellow lines and ON the pavement …. no worries….and no doubt having a relaxed ‘Full English’ with “bubble & squeak” in a breakfast caff (café) nearby.

    This traditional ‘delicacy’ of left over mashed potato & cabbage named because of the noise emmited while frying these potato cakes. Ooo the cabbagy smell !
    Not to be confused with my preferred potato & onion latkes always available from Beigel Bakery. A treat for us whenever visiting Petticoat Lane Sunday market.

    The two City policemen, shirt sleeves rolled up, strolling in their distinctive pale blue shirts – the rest of the Met Police wear white uniform shirts.

    l had a crash on Theobalds and Grays Inn in the 70s and two traffic cops gently picked the windscreen glass out of my curly waist length hair. Sigh.

    That’s enough reminiscing for me … a great gentle beginning to my day – reminders of every day observations long forgotten. Thank you once more. ……”

  6. Rick Armiger permalink
    January 7, 2019

    I genuinely loved Spitalfields in the late 70s early 80s, mainly because it was blessedly affordable for my first woody studio.

    But my oh my, and as Scott McCarthy observes, the filth was soooo sad. It can still be filthy depending on the day and time, but nothing like it was back then.

    It makes me wonder; what the algorithm calculation is… for rough and ready neighborhoods VS overpriced sterile yet clean neighborhoods.

    As for the rents now, well I genuinely hate the smell of rotting market veg. And yet I know, however wrong, it’s the price of admission to a ‘hood that’s affordable.

    Alas, brexit was the tipping point that pushed me to head 200 miles east…

  7. Anna permalink
    January 7, 2019

    As a photographer myself, you simply cannot beat the colour of kodachrome.

    Beautiful images.


  8. Paul Loften permalink
    January 7, 2019

    It may offend your middle class opinion but as someone who grew up and still lives in the East End of London and remembers playing in the bombed out ruins it was a miserable and depressing place to live in. My father came home from the war in 1945 and our family had to live in damp and cramped shared housing for 17 years until eventually being rehoused by the local council. Oh its so romantic to live amid piles of rubbish in dark and miserable streets , for those of you who have never had to.

  9. Su Westerman permalink
    January 7, 2019

    Wonderful. The ‘N’ hanging on for dear life on the Widegate St Salvation Army sign seems to metaphorically say so much!

  10. Adele permalink
    January 7, 2019

    I attended school in Spitalfields. Didn’t anyone take any pics of us schoolgirls in our distinctive green uniforms scurrying to get to school on time, or leisurely walking through Brushfield Street at the end of the day? Agree with commenter above, there was so much more than the piles of rubbish.

  11. Les Berkley permalink
    January 7, 2019

    Yank here:

    We’re losing our real places too. The gentrified Yuppie/Hipster world has its virtues, but the baby’s definitely gone with the bathwater. Where do you go to start anymore? (Positive use of ‘anymore’ is a Philadelphia oddity.) Places like this have an organic reality that is vanishing all too quickly.

  12. grace caruso permalink
    January 7, 2019

    The one thing that always strikes me first is that our tolerance for trash has certainly decreased over the years… Then I just leave that and love the rest of them…The color seem particularly good in these photos.

  13. G J BAKER permalink
    January 7, 2019

    All looks a bit sad and down in the dumps. Perhaps you could arrange some current pics taken from the EXACT same spots in order to compare Thatcherite Spitalfields to May Spitalfields. Really enjoy your blog even though I have never been to Spitalfields.

  14. Jill wilson permalink
    January 7, 2019

    Mmmm.. nice pile of firewood in Brushfield Street!

  15. Sarah Catterall permalink
    January 7, 2019

    Trained as a Nurse at the London in 1983 Remember the locals calling us Angels

  16. Vivienne Cuff permalink
    January 8, 2019

    I love the colours, and wish Ektachrome film was reissued.

    It would be interesting to have photos of the same streets to show what they are like now.

  17. January 11, 2019

    Was there a garbage collectors strike on at the time?

  18. Fiona permalink
    June 10, 2019

    Spitalfields was a working market. There were always crates, broken and intact, strewn around and the paper wrappers from the oranges floating around because of the traders. I used to climb over crates to get to school at the fore mentioned Central Foundation. There would be quite alot of noise and calling out then when the market closed the streets would be quite deserted. These photos capture the place well and beautifully. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many found the area depressing and moved away but it wasn’t, it was a really special place with a strong community, quite wonderful in my memory.

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