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Just Another Day With John Claridge

September 19, 2020
by the gentle author

Cobb St, Spitalfields 1966

One morning in 1966, photographer John Claridge met these four men working in Cobb St, Spitalfields. “They were bloody silly,recalled John fondly half a century later, “and there’s not enough of that in this world.” It was John’s way of introducing this set of pictures to me, published here for the first time, which he entitles“Just Another Day.”

“They were good people – full of fun – and this picture was nice to take, it has a warmth to it.” he added, upon contemplation of the image. And, if there is a common quality among these pictures, it is an open-hearted delight in the quotidian, or as John puts it –“The daily things that people do, going to work, stopping at the corner, visiting the shops.”

Where others might find only the mundane, John sees the poetry of the human condition. There may be endless sleet in Spitalfields, freezing fog in Victoria Park, and the passengers are eternally falling asleep on the early train out of Upton Park, yet John always reveals the joy and the humanity of his subjects. A generous spirit informs his photographs.

“Some of these pictures are of life drifting by,” John informed me, “because there are gentler ways of seeing the world than the obvious.”

Cup of tea, Spitalfields 1966.

Kosher butchers, Bethnal Green 1962 – “It wasn’t very big and it did have a certain smell to it.”

The cap, Spitalfields 1982 – “I love the things you don’t know as well as the things that are explained.”

Four men, Spitalfields 1982 – “You could create your own story with that.”

The baker at Rinkoffs, Vallance Rd, Bethnal Green 1967 – “Having a cup of tea and enjoying a breath of fresh air as the light’s coming up.”


Rinkoffs, Bethnal Green 1967

Breaker’s yard, E16 1975 – “I was talking to her dad and she just wandered off and got in the car.”

Feeding the birds in Victoria Park, E3 1962 – “there was ice on the lake.”

Passing the graveyard,  1970s

Bridge repair, E3 1960s

The crane, E16 1975 – “I printed this photo for the first time last week.”

SOS motors, Spitalfields 1982

Sewer Bank, Plaistow 1960s – “Where the kids used to go on their bikes and I’d take my scrambler. The craters were fantastic, it was a different kind of playground.”

In Plaistow, 1961 – “Just down the road from where I lived. It certainly has a lot of charm to it, look at how little traffic there is. That could be my dad on the bike, coming back from the docks.”

Station stairs, Upton Park 1963 – “Sometimes I met my mum here after school, when she was coming back from Bow where she worked as machinist making shirts.”

Station entrance, Upton Park 1963 – “I like stations, it’s that feeling you get of arriving on a film set.”

Leaving Plaistow early morning in winter, E13 1963 – “I had a motorbike but I liked going on the tube if the traffic was bad.”

The shed, Plaistow 1969 – “This was at the top of the street where I lived. He used to go round with that barrow and pick things up, and sell bits and pieces in that shed. A very nice man and a gentleman.”

End of the day, Spitalfields 1963.

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

You may also like to take a look at

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



9 Responses leave one →
  1. September 19, 2020

    As always, wonderful photographs taken by John.
    Yes, many of those images tell a story ….. as that great photographer Diane Arbus said “A photograph is like a secret, the more you see the less you know”.
    Thank you for sharing these.

  2. Richard permalink
    September 19, 2020

    Another great collection from another age. Thanks.

  3. September 19, 2020

    With respectful deference to the historians……..I say: Let’s give thanks to the photographers.
    They not only chronicle our surroundings, but they allow US to be part of the process. We, the viewers, are allowed to “notice” the chosen bits of every image — and there are no wrong
    answers. Notice the young woman, asleep on the subway — her face like an altar painting.
    And the accumulation of goods outside “The Shed” — I felt like I was the woman in the shot, watching and waiting to pounce on some choice bit of merchandise. (but also notice the excessive froth of draperies inside the window above it all……..) John Claridge’s photos are a banquet; served up with a distinctive “grit” that is unmistakably his.
    “East End by John Claridge” is one of my all-time favorite photography books.

  4. Esther Wilkinson Rank permalink
    September 19, 2020

    Great photos and text — so evocative of the time and place. Important to remember and savour these settled routines during these unsettled times.

  5. Mark permalink
    September 19, 2020

    Comparable to Bill Brandt.
    Empathy for the baker as I myself was one for 3 years in the 80’s.
    Looks to me like he has come out for fresh air (& a fag to go with his cuppa, in obligatory filthy mug) after 4 solid hours slaving away and it’s still only 7.30 in the morning
    Hope someone is keeping an eye on the oven!
    John Claridge, greatly missed.

  6. September 19, 2020

    The Rinkoff’s baker looks like Jamie Vardy thirty years from now!

  7. September 19, 2020

    Thank You for these Great Pictures and Stories. I have Enjoyed them Very Much.????????

  8. September 20, 2020

    Beautiful photos of the familiar quiet of everyday life.

  9. William Cahill permalink
    September 24, 2020

    Dear Gentle Author,

    Are you aware of a book called “A London Childhood” by a man called John Holloway? With an introduction by C.P. Snow? A moving book.

    It was published in the U.S. by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1968; I have no information as to the U.K. publisher.

    I think Professor Holloway’s book could very well have been illustrated by Mr. Claridge’s photographs!

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