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Minor Stepney Disasters Of The Seventies

February 9, 2021
by the gentle author

Photographer Philip Cunningham set me this series of minor Stepney disasters of the seventies

Milk spillage in Bancroft Rd

“In the seventies, when I was studying photography, I carried a camera with me most of the time. The East End was a very lively place in those days and all sorts of things happened, both good and bad, all the time. I never sought out disasters, I just stumbled upon them and the wonder is that, as far as I know, nobody was seriously harmed.

The Mile End Rd leads right into the city and it is straight and safe, but drivers took incredible risks. The car crash happened just at the end of Mile End Place where I lived.

The flat fire in Alderney Rd was tragic, I do not know how it started but everything inside was destroyed. The poor occupant was standing in her dressing gown, devastated. Many more people smoked then and fire-proofed furniture had not been heard of.

One day, after I had dropped my daughter off at school in Cephas St and was late for college, I heard a smash of breaking glass. I ran back to discover the milk disaster. I took a few photos but, curiously, the milkman had disappeared. When I returned in the afternoon to collect my daughter from school, everything had been cleared up, not a even a trace of any broken glass or spilt milk.

The dustcart fire was in Harford St. Like the other disasters, it something I just happened to stumble across. The engine had caught fire and the cart was a write-off, but no-one was hurt.”

Philip Cunningham

Fire in Alderney Rd

Car crash in Mile End Rd

Dustcart fire in Harford St

Milk spillage in Bancroft Rd

Photographs copyright © Philip Cunningham

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Clerkenwell Car Crashes

8 Responses leave one →
  1. February 9, 2021

    Great “photoreportage”. Thank you, Philip Cunningham and dear G.A.

  2. February 9, 2021

    One wishes that today we only had these kinds of “disasters”….

    Love & Peace

  3. Eric Forward permalink
    February 9, 2021

    Always love these daily posts, but particularly attached to today’s as I lived where that gasworks was on Hartford Street for 12 years. It’s incredible to see it as it was. It looks both familiar and unfamiliar as so much of the street is completely changed, yet the tower block in the distance remains, the blocks of flats up the road also. Many thanks to Philip for taking the time, effort and cost. Not as trivial or cheap as just whipping out your mobile then.

  4. Cherub permalink
    February 9, 2021

    Interesting to see old photos of Bancroft Road. When I was at Queen Mary College in the mid 90s, the building housing the students union and shop along there, you could cut through the campus to get to it. A guy in my year from Liverpool used to stand outside at lunchtime selling the Socialist Worker.

  5. James permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Completing a milk round successfully with out having to double back on yourself can be like trying to solve the Königsberg bridge problem.

  6. Pamela Traves permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Good Old Fire Department People!! Yah!!!????????

  7. Kenneth Sherwood permalink
    February 15, 2021

    A the GRP cab of the Dennis dustcart, they did melt if there was a fire. Fitted with a “Rolls-Royce” of a compaction body from SD, probably got a new chassis and a second life. Lovely look back at days past

  8. TCS permalink
    May 1, 2021

    Harford Street Gas works – opposite the Ocean Estate – there used to be a Gas company shop on the corner with Ben Jonson Road. Ben Jonson school and Silvermans were up the other end as you walked towards the Peoples Palace. There was an ambulance station as well.

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