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Geoff Perrior’s Spitalfields

January 9, 2020
by the gentle author

Geoff Perrior

This small cache of Geoff Perrior’s photographs of Spitalfields taken in the nineteen-seventies was deposited at the Bishopsgate Institute Library by his widow Betty Perrior. Fascinated to learn more of the man behind these pictures, I spoke with Betty in Brentwood where she and Geoff lived happily for forty-two years.

“He was a character,” she recalled fondly, “he belonged to eight different societies and he was a member of the Brentwood Photography Club for fifty-three years, becoming Secretary and then President.”

“He started off with a little Voightlander camera when he was a youngster, but he graduated to a Canon and eventually a Nikon. He said to me, ‘I can afford the body of the Canon and I’ll buy a lens and pay for it over a year.’ Then he sold it and bought a Nikon. He only switched to digital reluctantly because he thought it was rubbish, yet he came round to it in the end. For twenty years, we did all our own developing in black and white.

Geoff & I met at WH Smith. I had worked at WH Smith in Salisbury for twelve years before I went on a staff training course at Hambleden House in Kensington and Geoff was there. We just clicked. That was in July, we were engaged in October and married a year later. I was forty-four and we were both devoted, my only regret is that we had just forty-two years together.

Geoff worked for WH Smith for thirty-seven years and for thirty years he was Newspaper Manager at Liverpool St Station, but he never took photographs in the station because it was private property. He used to do the photography after he had done the early shift. He got up at three-thirty in the morning to go to work and he finished at midday. Then he went down to Spitalfields. One of the chaps by the bonfire called out to him, ‘I love this life!’ and, one day, Geoffrey was about to take out ten pounds from his wallet and give it to one of them, when the vicar came by and said, ‘Don’t do that, they’ll only spend it on meths – buy him a dozen buns instead.’

Geoff had a rapport with anybody and everybody, and more than two hundred people turned up to his funeral. I have given most of Geoff’s pictures away to charity shops and they always sell really quickly, I have just kept a selection of favourites for myself – to remind me of him.”

Geoff Perrior

Sitting by the bonfire in Brushfield St

“Got a light, Tosh?”

In Brushfield St

In Toynbee St

Spitalfields Market porter

In Brushfield St

In Petticoat Lane

In Brushfield St

In Toynbee St

In Brushfield St

In Brushfield St

Spitalfields market porter in Crispin St

In Brune St

In Brushfield St

In Brushfield St

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You might also like to take a look at

Dennis Anthony’s Petticoat Lane

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields

Moyra Peralta in Spitalfields

Tony Hall, Photographer

Tony Bock, Photographer

Spitalfields Market Nocturne

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Richard permalink
    January 9, 2020

    I remember that fire but never had the nerve to speak to those around it. The photos just show how the area and London is changed. Thanks.

  2. paul loften permalink
    January 9, 2020

    Haunting photos of what it was really like in the 70s . Geoff Perrior, they really dont make people like this any more. Manager at WH Smith at Liverpool Street for thirty years, and he would not take any photos as it was private property. I recall the station in the 70s, as I had to pass through it on my way to work for years. The old worn staircase leading up to the ornate Victorian metal scroll bridge where the station office was. Smokey, overcrowded everything old and dirty . There must have been a wealth of material there to photograph as well as the local streets and who would have known ? Geoff’s principles were written on his face.
    Thank you, Geoff, Betty and the Gentle Author for bringing this to us

  3. January 9, 2020

    A very impressive Report, indeed. And a unbelievable fact about the permanent fire!

    Love & Peace

  4. Eric Forward permalink
    January 9, 2020

    I have 2 takeaways from looking at these photos (1) there is something magnetic about the area, it does seem to draw people (2) how much the area has also changed. Brushfield Street in particular is largely unrecognisable, except for the odd detail in the background that still remains to this day. Thanks for the photos Geoff, RIP.

  5. Jill Wilson permalink
    January 10, 2020

    The is another set of photographs that makes me wonder what the smells would have been…
    old fruit and rotten cabbages…the everlasting bonfire…the underlying sickly smell of the malt from the brewery…and the men too would no doubt have been a touch odiferous.

  6. January 10, 2020

    Amazing Sad Pictures not that old, as I am 64. They never go away, as many building s start to fall as new ones rise up. That is History renewing each years.???????

  7. Robert Hardy permalink
    February 17, 2021

    This is amazing! Geoff was the best man at my mum and dad’s wedding. I spent a lot of my childhood around Geoff and Betty. Lovely memories. I’m not 100% certain, but I think my mum took that picture of Geoff holding his light meter, the photo was taken at Alan Bell’s garden party.

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