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John Claridge’s Soho Faces

July 4, 2019
by the gentle author

There is a strange atmosphere in Soho these days with the redevelopment of Walker’s Court, the destruction of Foyles and the desecration of Denmark St – which makes it a tonic to enjoy these portraits by Contributing Photographer John Claridge selected from his ongoing series of over six hundred and fifty.

“I started taking portraits of people at The French House in the seventies when I took a picture of Gaston Berlemont. Then, while taking Spike Milligan’s portrait, we got to talking about Soho. At the time, I was living in Frith St, so Ronnie Scott’s and The French were both very familiar to us and, even then, both of us voiced our sadness at changes we saw – lovely delicatessens, independent restaurants and specialists shops closing down, all of which had been there for years.

In 2004, I decided to document the customers at The French in earnest. For me, it was the one place in Soho that still held its Bohemian character, where people truly chose to share time and conversation, and I became aware that many I had once chinked glasses with were no longer around.

These portraits of the regulars are a cross-section of those who sat for me, but there is no rhyme or reason to my selection.”

– John Claridge

Spike Milligan, Comedian & Writer

Molly Parkin, Painter & Novelist

Gaz Mayall, Musician

Lisa Stansfield, Simger & Songwriter

Eddie Gray, Jazz Violinist

Kenny Clayton, Jazz Pianist

Fergus Henderson, Chef & Restauranteur

Georgina Sutcliffe, Actor

John Phillips, Journalist

Norman Balon, Landlord of the Coach & Horses

Millie Laws, Reflexologist

George Baker, Actor

Oliver Bernard, Poet

Clare Shenstone, Artist

Peter Boizot, Founder of Pizza Express

Peter Owen, Publisher

Vanessa Fenton, Dancer at the Royal Ballet & Choreographer

Sebastian Horsley, Artist

Burt Kwouk, Actor

Kevin Petillo, Television Producer

Pinkietessa, Costume maker

James Birch, Art Dealer

Jay Landesman, Nightclub Owner, Writer & Publisher

Anna Lujan Sanchez, Dancer with Ballet Rambert

Freddie Jones, Actor

Paul Lawford, of The Rubbishmen of Soho

Alison Steadman, Actor

Paul Barlow, Cyclist

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

You may also like to take a look at

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round One)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Two)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Three)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Four)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Five)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Six)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Seven)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Eight)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Nine)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Ten)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Eleven)

John Claridge’s Boxers (Round Twelve)


John Claridge’s Clowns (Act One)

John Claridge’s Clowns (Act Two)

John Claridge’s Clowns (The Final Act)


John Claridge’s Darker Side

John Claridge’s Lighter Side

and these other pictures by John Claridge

John Claridge’s East End

Along the Thames with John Claridge

At the Salvation Army with John Claridge

In a Lonely Place

A Few Diversions by John Claridge

This was my Landscape

John Claridge’s Spent Moments

Signs, Posters, Typography & Graphics

Working People & a Dog

Invasion of the Monoliths

Time Out with John Claridge

Views from a Dinghy by John Claridge

People on the Street & a Cat

In Another World with John Claridge

A Few Pints with John Claridge

A Nation Of Shopkeepers

Some East End Portraits by John Claridge

Sunday Morning Stroll with John Claridge

John Claridge’s Cafe Society

Graphics & Graffiti

Just Another Day With John Claridge

At the Salvation Army in the Eighties


8 Responses leave one →
  1. Jill Wilson permalink
    July 4, 2019

    Fabulous portraits, particularly of the old men

  2. Jennifer Taylor permalink
    July 4, 2019

    Wonderful, wonderful, images!

  3. July 4, 2019

    Amazing photographs — incredible!

    Love & Peace

  4. Eric Forward permalink
    July 4, 2019

    Great photographs, a few proper legends in there too. Really interesting style and I do wonder how John achieved that? I think he must have also done the fairly recent photographs for Matt Johnson / The The as that’s a very particular style (my favourite band BTW, and another East Ender).

  5. DEBRA MATHENEY permalink
    July 4, 2019

    Thank you so much for this post and a walk down memory lane. Terrific portraits of unique individuals.

  6. July 4, 2019

    Honest, stunning photographs as always from John Claridge , those shown today capture the very essence of some great characters.

  7. July 4, 2019

    I m continuously in awe of John’s photography. Thank you for sharing.

  8. September 16, 2019

    Great pics John I’m not in the frame yet ? you might be interested ?

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