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Phil Maxwell At Chrisp St Market

June 30, 2020
by the gentle author

Now the East End markets are opening up again, Phil Maxwell introduces his photographs of the people of Chrisp St Market

“Every East End market has its own personality and Chrisp St is no exception. As a photographer, I have always been fascinated by markets the world over, they are a magnet for local people as an antidote to impersonal shopping malls.

When I heard last year that the Tower Hamlets had approved regeneration plans for Chrisp Street Market, I knew I had to photograph the market again before it was wrecked by developers.

They claim they want to “to create a thriving town centre – keeping the best of what’s here while providing an improved retail offering, more homes, including more social and affordable, more services and amenities and a greater focus on our heritage.”

Developers always promise more. They always talk about ‘affordable homes’ but the reality is that the people in my photographs will not be able to afford them. The new homes will only be ‘affordable’ to people on high incomes and this is how gentrification drives working class people out of Tower Hamlets.

For me, the living heritage of Chrisp St is as a place where local people can gather, converse, eat pie & mash (and more), purchase fresh food at a reasonable price and meet their neighbours.

When developers claim they are bringing ‘High St names’ they mean displacing independent traders and when they talk about a “new community hub,” you know the soul of a place is about to be ripped out.

These photographs, published here today for the first time, celebrate the people of Chrisp Street Market as it was in early 2019.”

Phil Maxwell

You may also like to take a look at these other stories about Chrisp St Market

The Departure of Ken Long

At Maureen’s Pie & Mash

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Eve permalink
    June 30, 2020

    Sad to see the old markets go – they’re a far healthier open-air option than supermarkets or malls , also a veritable lifeline for community activity and local income. Time the planners stopped putting their profits before people..!

  2. John Venes permalink
    June 30, 2020

    Great photos. I fear that Phil is right.
    LBTH will, no doubt, give it the go ahead and further spoil the East End.
    Looks like another battle ahead, GA.

    It’s funny how things come around. The market was developed after the war from the bombed out streets and, I’m told, the locals were not keen on it as it was all new and lacked character. Well it certainly developed one, thanks to the people of Poplar, and it is diverse and thriving.
    My wife is a Poplar girl and she and her family always pronounce it as “Chris” street. I then say that she is taking the p out of it. OK, not a great joke…

  3. Milo permalink
    June 30, 2020

    I lived opposite Chrisp st market for a while (Mountague square) and used to love the place for exactly the reasons stated in the article. It was a local hub, full of real people and a fascinating place to wander and sit a while. I’m sure if you asked most of the people in the photos they’d tell you they are happy with the place as it is. But when did that ever stop ‘planners’?

  4. Jill Wilson permalink
    June 30, 2020

    Great photos recording a moment in the life of the market before the developers do their worst.

    I wonder how many local people actually want the so called “improved retail offering”?

  5. Dr jonathan van Halbert permalink
    July 1, 2020

    What can we do to stop these Town Planners? This is approved by the Town Councillors!!

    And their hands are deep in the pockets of the Developers…. Traffic Lights are a wonderful example!

    They spring up like Mushrooms.. Even on Roundabouts!! I ask you what is a Roundabout

    For?? And what is a Gate for? Ask a Town Planning Councillor… Their policy is, if in

    doubt stick up a Traffic Light.. We make money out of that…….

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