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Malcolm Tremain’s Spitalfields, Then & Now

May 23, 2019
by the gentle author

I took a walk with my camera in the footsteps of Malcolm Tremain to visit the locations of his photographs from the early eighties and discover what time has wrought …

Passage from Allen Gardens to Brick Lane

Spital Sq, entrance to former Central Foundation School now Galvin Restaurant

In Spital Sq

In Brune St

In Toynbee St

Corner of Grey Eagle St & Quaker St

In Quaker St

Steps of Brick Lane Mosque

In Puma Court

Corner of Wilkes St & Princelet St

In Wilkes St

Jewish Soup Kitchen in Brune St

Outside the former night shelter in Crispin St, now student housing for LSE

In Crispin St

In Bell Lane

In Parliament Court

In Artillery Passage

In Artillery Passage

In Middlesex St

In Bishopsgate

In Wentworth St

In Fort St

In Allen Gardens

At Pedley St Bridge

Black & white photographs copyright © Malcolm Tremain

You may also like to take a look at

Andrew Scott’s East End, Then & Now

Val Perrin’s Brick Lane, Then & Now

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields, Then & Now

C A Mathew’s Spitalfields, Then & Now

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Bernie permalink
    May 23, 2019

    A marvellously informative, creative and eye-opening idea, well-executed too. Bravo!

  2. Jackie K permalink
    May 23, 2019

    Thanks, GA. Wonderful photos. Some improvements (even the quality of the graffiti?!) some definitely not, but real evidence that with some care, buildings can be restored for the good. Quite shocking to see the ruins of Spital Square, but good to see its transformation.

  3. May 23, 2019

    Thank you for these photos they are a revelation . It must have taken some time and effort !
    I think a bronze replica of the old man eating a sandwich should be put outside the gate of Toynbee Street. In Brussels you see many such statues in odd places. They create thought and discussion and add beauty , interest and history to streets

  4. Eric Forward permalink
    May 23, 2019

    Great post. Love the before & after photos. Bet it was tricky getting the right spot for good comparison. Just got the latest Hoxton mini press book and just so many areas that should be familiar that I just simply can’t recognise from the 70s – 90s. I agree most of the changes are for the better, but preferred the Salvation Army frontage myself.

  5. May 23, 2019

    I grew up in East London 1929-1950 when I left for America, and that I published a book, Cockney Girl, a memoir with photographs. I went to Spitalfield High School and to LSE before leaving for America, but visited frequently while my parents and grand parents were alive. We lived on CheshireStreet, Vallance Road and then Columbia Road whee the flower market is still held. My grandmother lived in Whitechapel and ran a grocery shop. This areas had many Irish and Jewish refugees. My father had a barbershop, Alf’s Ladies’ and Gents Hairdressing. During the war, I was evacuated to Newmarket andEly. On my return, I went to Spitalfields and then LSE.

  6. May 23, 2019

    Great to see some familiar places still survive and thank you for sharing this amazing feat!
    Artillery Passage wasn’t always so trendy back in the day…….love some of the restorations but not Middlesex House!

  7. James Patmore permalink
    May 24, 2019

    What a fantastic set of before and after shots! Chapeau! as they would say in France.

    As an amateur photographer, I have tried to replicate old postcards of Lewes in East Sussex. I know just how hard it is to mimic the image even with a variety of lenses. The preparation and attention to detail is quite remarkable.

    My hat off to you, Sir.

    I lived in Walthamstow from 1935 to 1970 and I am very proud to be a true cockney, having been born within the sound of Bow Bells.

  8. Jill Wilson permalink
    May 24, 2019

    Yup – these then and now photos are always fascinating, not only from the changes to the architecture (some good, some bland and some ugly…Middlesex street – yuk!) but also from the social history angle. For example in the early photo of Artillery Row there is a Jewish gentleman but the later photos has a couple of openly gay chaps walking hand in hand. More please…

  9. Derek Cox OBE permalink
    May 24, 2019

    I was very much around in those days, before and after. The picture of the empty Allen Gardens shows how little there was for the kids.

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