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Tony Armstrong Jones’ East End

November 10, 2020
by the gentle author

Tony Armstrong Jones (1930-2017) is remembered today as Lord Snowdon, husband to Princess Margaret, yet – before all that royal hullabaloo took over his life – he was a jobbing photographer in his twenties and took these photographs of the East End, as published in his book LONDON in 1958.

Cheshire St

Sclater St Market, Sunday Morning

Bomb site, St Mathias School, Bethnal Green

Rathbone St Market, Canning Town

Rathbone St Market, Canning Town

Garage hand, Stepney

The Magpie & Stump, Cable St

The Railway Tavern, West India Dock Rd – open 6am to 8am

Cafe in East India Dock Rd

Wens Cafe, Bethnal Green

Tattoo parlour

Tower of London

Smithfield Market

Christmas in Cable St

Pub in Cable St

Juke Box Dance

Deuragon Arms, Hackney

Bethnal Green Rd

Photographs copyright © Estate of Tony Armstrong Jones

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14 Responses leave one →
  1. Ian Silverton permalink
    November 10, 2020

    Wow GA, very interesting pictures taken by TAJones, lets have more please if possible we very interested in those area at that time, always had him passionate about Wapping not Bethnal Green, what bought him there and who????

  2. Ian Silverton permalink
    November 10, 2020

    Bye the way is that Eamon Andrews singing on that mike at the Pub??? He used a Taylors along with his mate Monty Mollin in Roman Road back then.

  3. November 10, 2020

    I am delighted these photos were published and survived. But as you noted, TAJ was only a young jobbing photographer in his twenties in 1958. Since he couldn’t have known how famous he would become in 1960 and on, the book was a very confident move.

  4. Mark permalink
    November 10, 2020

    And off he trots back to the palace after “mixing” with the hoi – polloi.
    Just like any celebrity before or since who has no purpose in life and too much money, pick up a camera!

  5. Mary permalink
    November 10, 2020

    What a wonderful set of images. Although he is best known for his celebrity and royal images I think these show Tony Armstrong Jones was a great photographer. Each image is a gem and much more than just a “record” shot, but tells a story. I love the grainy texture.

  6. November 10, 2020

    Lord Snowdon’s Photographs full of Atmosphere show a Mixture of Poverty and Hope. Very important — especially in this Day and Age!

    Love & Peace

  7. paul loften permalink
    November 10, 2020

    He was a good photographer. These photos captured the feel of life in Bethnal Green in the late 50’s. Whatever people may say about him He may have had an aspect to his character that we are not aware of. Being married to Princess Margaret could not have been that easy The British public was well aware of her tantrums. I once stood next to him outside a cinema in Fulham. I think it may have been after the showing of the film A Bridge too Far. There he was just standing there and chatting with his children at the entrance, quite oblivious to anyone.
    The photo of a little boy intently reading the Dandy caught my eye. I also was a Dandy reader and would love to know what became of Desperate Dan. Unfortunately, I was tempted away by the Wizard comic that offered a wonderful choice of free gifts inside, such as whirring cardboards on a string that you pull in and out. The Dandy was a far better read though.

  8. Jessica Ann Sheetz-Nguyen permalink
    November 10, 2020

    Thank you for these images which show the concerns of the photographer. I would like to know if these photos are housed in an archival collection. If so, where? Thanks so much. JSN

  9. November 10, 2020

    I’m a real fan of the “Christmas” photo. It cuts through the fuzzy-focus/idealized version of the holiday season, and the viewer is left peering over the shoulders of these young men. We’re left to wonder what their reactions are…..what were they saying, or thinking? The starkness of the surroundings, the garish look of the humble sidewalk-level nativity scene bathed in almost-nuclear lighting, the warnings expressed in the signs above — Did any of these elements reach the young men, as they paused to look? There is a mournful depth to this photo that has me wondering, wondering, wondering.

    Thanks for treating us to this array of fine photos.

  10. Jared permalink
    November 10, 2020

    “A death occurred here” – I wonder what that was about? A road safety memento mori? Oh, Mark! As my Grandmother would say – If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

  11. Pamela Traves permalink
    November 10, 2020

    Tony Armstrong Jones was a Great Photographer. These are Great Pictures. ?????????

  12. November 12, 2020

    TAJ’s photographs always leave me asking a hundred questions.
    Everyone of these made me more than curious, asking myself aloud :

    What symbol or name might she be having tatooed? Will her parents go nuts?

    Did the Juke Box dancer really mind being snapped?

    What happened to all the pub singer’s teeth? Had they just flown out? Were they in his pocket til he finished belting out his song ?

    In Simon Callow’s SNOWDON ON STAGE he photographs not just the actors but all the writers, producer & directors we might never have got to see. Many in fun, quirky poses. Some not posing.
    Every theatrical phenonomen from the 50s to 90s is captured magically in one pocket sized volume. An alluring young Helen Mirren adorns the front cover.

    The mentor who encouraged TAJ’s immense creative gift was his favourite uncle, OLIVER MESSEL, the award winning theatre + opera house set designer.
    Messel’s first home crafting of a doll’s house chandelier from Quality Street foil wrappers, then two papier maché Venetian masks unwittingly set him on the path to his international design career.

    TAJ made a transparent glass desk paperweight with the innards of a watch ticking away inside and he was so delighted that we loved it when he demonstrated his work of art.
    His face lit up – far from any delusions.
    l could imagine him chatting naturally with the subjects in these very early photos and putting them entirely at ease, and just as Paul observed him, at the cinema.

    l, too, would love to see an archive of more of them.

  13. James Harris permalink
    November 16, 2020

    This article got me looking for a copy of the book which I managed to find via a certain well known on-line outlet from a charity shop in Suffolk.
    I was really pleased with the book and its contents but then really pleased when I found that Anthony Armstrong Jones had actually written on the inside addressing it to ‘Daphne’ in ‘New York’ and signed and dated it. Having had a look on google images it is definitely his signature too.
    I wonder who Daphne who lived in New York was?

  14. lester farnan permalink
    August 3, 2022

    Mr Jones inspired me in Sydney in 1976 (I think) when I was a passionate street photographer in my 20s, with his compassionate studies of the disadvantaged in society, and I have not stopped looking ever since. I am now retired, and a beginner in Diploma level photographic studies in Perth. In have chosen him as a prerequisite in mentorship.

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