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Ron McCormick’s Spitalfields

March 8, 2020
by the gentle author

Ron McCormick took these splendid pictures when he lived in Princelet St in the seventies

Knifegrinder, Spitalfields

Fishman’s tobacconist & sweet shop, Flower & Dean St, Spitalfields

Entrance to Chevrah Shass Synagogue, Old Montague St

Clock seller, Sclater St

Dressed up for the Sunday market, Cheshire St

Maurice, Gents’ Hairdresser, Buxton St

Gunthorpe St

Club Row

Steps down to Black Lion Yard, Old Montague St

Old Castle St, Synagogue

Sunday market, Cheshire St

Corner of Gun St & Artillery Lane

Shopkeeper, Old Montague St

Inter-generational conflict on Princelet St

Goldstein’s Kosher Butcher & Poulterer, Old Montague St

Great Eastern Buildings, Quaker St

Convenience Store, Artillery Lane

Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor, Brune St

Alf’s Fish Bar, Brick Lane

Waiting for the night shelter to open, Christ Church Spitalfields

Resting, Spitalfields Market Barrows, Commercial St

Great Eastern Buildings, Quaker St

Rough sleeper, Spitalfields

Mother and her new-born baby in a one bedroom flat, Spitalfields

Photographs copyright © Ron McCormick

You may also like to take a look at

Ron McCormick’s Whitechapel

20 Responses leave one →
  1. March 8, 2020

    What an amazing collection of photographs.

  2. Penny Gardner permalink
    March 8, 2020

    Yes,I do remember. We visited from our council estate in North London, on our way to get our teeth fixed at Eastman dental clinic. My Mum did not like it. Those with get up and go went. Half went to Canada and become millionaires. Thank God for the Welfare State and the Butler Education Act or we could still be there, without the means of gentrification. Education is the answer, only teachers today don’t offer it , only the glorification of grievances.

  3. Bernie permalink
    March 8, 2020

    Barrows of the same design appear in several images and were not uncommon in the London of my childhood; no doubt some still survive. I wonder about their design: was it peculiar to the local area or to London? Are any still in use and are examples preserved anywhere?

  4. March 8, 2020

    These Pictures are Amazing and Sad. Thank You Very Much.???????

  5. Stephen Barry permalink
    March 8, 2020

    A wonderful glimpse into a forgotten past. As a boy in the 1950s at a school in Whitechapel Road I particularly remember the small shops along Old Montague Street where we brought our lunchtime sweets. The pictures may look grey but life wasn’t!

  6. March 8, 2020

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thanks for sharing these great pics by Ron McCormick of Spitalsfields in the 1970s. The signage alone tells us so much about how things were.

    My favorites are: “Clock seller, Sclater St,” “Intergenerational Conflict of Princelet Street,” “Waiting for the night shelter to open, Christ Church Spitalfields.” All wonderful …

  7. March 8, 2020

    Extraordinary, wonderful Photographs from a very special Time …

    Love & Peace

  8. Hilda Kean permalink
    March 8, 2020

    I do like these images but also feel concerned that the presence of a range of working class ordinary people who had existed for centuries -including in the 1970s – have now almost died or gone from much of the Spitalfields area.

    During the recent Don McCullin exhibition at Tate Britain images also related back to an earlier time, including the 1960s, but the photographs were realised to be images of people no longer seen.

    Indeed in McCormick’s interesting photographs are any of the people now alive in this area? Are even the buildings now kept ? Like many of the interesting recent articles written by The Gentle Author there is a worrying display of what used to be there – and which exists in a rather different mood to the earlier times

  9. paul loften permalink
    March 8, 2020

    Flower & Dean street what a lovely name. My mother was born there just after ww1 and lived in Nathaniel Buildings until just before the second world war. The lovely name belies a place that was amongst the roughest neighborhoods in London. However, the stories that she told of the people that lived in the “flowery” or ” the flary” as it was known locally, were sometimes far from a rough and coarse environment. You would hear the sound of music and piano being played and practiced coming from the flats. It was the birthplace of well-known musicians, band leaders, artists,, filmmakers, and actors. She knew them all as children and could name them, but I have long forgotten, but a few of their names.

  10. Jason Payne permalink
    March 8, 2020

    Thank you! The photos are an amazing reminder of a time lost and these will ensure it’s will never be forgotten. Please publish more!

  11. Ian Silverton permalink
    March 8, 2020

    Eastmans Dental practice now that rings a bell as a small child going there with my mother they drilled your teeth like ther is no tomorrow what the hell was that all about, never went for years when left school bad memoirs of those times, but still have all my teeth in tact FACT!!!! All those poor down and outs we passed to and from school in the 50s very sad men so many yet they never bothered you as kids, everybody including me passed them by, never asking or offering help, we where so used to seeing it in East End, you just had to get on with what you had and making the best of it, made us who survived strong and resilient in life. Thanks GA makes me feel good to be alive and kicking , even if it’s a long way from those times. Stay Safe UK, blimey you do have so many problems on a weekly basis, or so it seems from here.

  12. Ian Silverton permalink
    March 8, 2020

    GA, the Guy in picture 5 down, is he somebody you have featured in previous East London Stories, he seems so familiar from the past??

  13. paul loften permalink
    March 8, 2020

    In my earlier post, I mentioned my mother who was born In “The Flowery” and I described, Just a little, about Nathaniel Buildings where she lived. I should have said that at 11 years old she passed an exam for the Royal College of Music. She was put forward for it by her tutor Meyer Rosenstein who was an accomplished Pianist before the war. He would give her lessons in her home in Nathaniel Buildings . Sadly she was not able to take up the offer. I do not know the full circumstances why. All I know is that her father was against it and that wealthy people did not live in Flower and Dean street During her lifetime she felt as though she had missed out on a big opportunity to go into a career that she was born for. She was gifted with her hands and became a court dressmaker at Madame Hetties in the West End . It was hard grinding work from morning to night, sewing by hand continuous tiny stitches. Later in her life, she returned to playing the piano. but after such a long break could never again reach the standard that she once was at. Just a memory for my mother on International Women’s Day.

  14. Moyra Peralta permalink
    March 9, 2020

    Lovely, Ron! So atmospheric. Several of the streets possess memories and special meaning to me…

  15. John Flood permalink
    March 9, 2020

    Wonderful photographs! Despite the change in people in Spitalfields now, the buildings tell us so much about life back then. Please keep on publishing these photos.

  16. Brian permalink
    March 9, 2020

    My great grandfather’s death certificate states he died in Flower & Dean Street in what I believe was a tenement building. I sadly never knew him or for that matter all those years ago of visiting Brick Lane & in latter years, the surrounding streets.

  17. David Green permalink
    March 9, 2020

    “Inter-generational conflict on Princelet St.” looks more like an ethnic conflict to me, as the girl in the doorway appears South Asian, whilst the woman brandishing the umbrella is white.

  18. Andrew Carpenter permalink
    March 12, 2020

    These pictures are wonderful in their character and poignancy; thank you for sharing.

  19. Michael Edward Hardie permalink
    March 16, 2020

    Used to leave the Vallence youth club and always went to Alfs for a bag of chips

  20. DJ Evans permalink
    March 22, 2020

    Great Eastern Buildings Quaker St had dust chutes and backed on to Bishopgate Goods. The washing photo isn’t Quaker St.

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