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Old East End Bollards

October 23, 2019
by the gentle author

Philip Cunningham sent these wonderful photographs of his favourite East End bollards from the seventies and eighties, published here for the first time today. Can anyone tell us if any of these fine specimens are still in place?

Artillery Passage is famous for its unusual bollards

‘I have always been interested in street furniture and street signs, especially the old ones around the East End. In particular, I became interested in bollards because of their curious design. Originally, many were redundant cannons but later they were produced to look like guns. When I became involved in casting bronze I realised what a task it must have been to manufacture these huge lumps of iron.

I often wonder what they have born witness to through the ages. If they could speak, what stories could they tell? Standing in sunshine, cold, wind and snow, what have they seen? As I saw them get bashed up and sometimes stolen, I realised theirs was a transient beauty.

The design of these artefacts is a genre of its own. Often they display an elegance that is at variance with the tough job they have to do. Sometimes, coming home from the pub and walking down the Mile End Rd I would glimpse one on a corner, like a sentry in perpetual solitude.

I realised these bollards would soon be gone and forgotten. As time passed these lovely monsters would be replaced by concrete posts, uniform in character and of little merit. I decided to photograph as many as I could while they were still there.

In many ways, these lonely bollards were symbolic of the East End and its destiny. Deprived as it was, its soul was second to none.’ – Philip Cunningham

Gunthorpe St


Metropolitan Borough of Stepney

In Bow

In Whitechapel

Photographs copyright © Philip Cunningham

You may also like to take a look at

A Lost Corner of Whitechapel

Philip Cunningham at Mile End Place

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