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Val Perrin’s Brick Lane

April 4, 2022
by the gentle author

Photography has been a lifetime’s hobby for Val Perrin. Yet it is apparent from this selection of his pictures of Brick Lane Market, taken between 1970-72, that he possesses a vision and ability which bears comparison with the Magnum photographers whose work he admired at that time.

While studying Medicine at University College, London, Val visited East End markets with members of the University Photographic Club, but Brick Lane drew his attention. Over the next two years, he returned alone and with fellow students, with whom he shared a flat in West Dulwich, to document the vibrant market life and surroundings of Brick Lane.

Born in Edgware, Val moved to live near Cambridge in 1976 and now photographs mainly wildlife and landscapes, but the eloquent collection of around a hundred photographs he took of Brick Lane in the early seventies comprises a significant and distinctive record of a lost era.


Photographs copyright © Val Perrin

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Unknown Photographs Of Brick Lane

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Herry Lawford permalink
    April 4, 2022

    Sir Geoffrey Howe, perhaps……(17th pic)

  2. Bernie permalink
    April 4, 2022

    How ill-nourished and poor most of the people seem!

  3. Marcia Howard permalink
    April 4, 2022

    Truly wonderful images. I studied for a degree in the very early 80’s through the Open University, and Brick Lane plus the Docklands & the East End was one of my early case studies, so of course I had to visit and get to know the area. I’d grown up in Chelsea but my married home was in Berkshire, so it wasn’t quite on my doorstep at the time. I fell in love with the area, so rich in human life and history. Incidentally, the first of my sisters-in-laws came from Canning Town. Just love living the past through your wonderful posts Gentle Author, so thank you. Incidentally, I did manage to get a BA Hons!

  4. April 4, 2022

    Wonderful scenes are captured here: buyers, sellers, young and old, flat-cap wearers, a magician, records, a cup of tea, a puppy, a delighted salesman talking to a customer and three astounded children — and, of course: music. You should be able to travel back in time… Magnum photographers couldn’t have done it better.

    Love & Peace

  5. April 4, 2022

    The ‘street photography’ of today, with modern digital equipment, is rarely as good as this … these images really do tell stories. Thank you.

  6. April 4, 2022

    What a fantastic series. I looked through several times…….the first, to look at faces. The second, to look at surroundings. The third, for the details. And again, just to notice the uncanny compositions of each photo. Near the bottom, look at the photo of the two young boys, facing left. And the old weathered eagle-like gent behind them, facing right. Their youthful faces are so SOFT, his face is so ragged and weary. Beginnings and endings. The entire composition is full of glimpses of faces — and even the sign that pokes up in the rear, seems to be a portrait.

    What a slice of humanity. Many thanks, GA. (would love to flip through those boxes of albums!)

  7. Mark permalink
    April 4, 2022

    Fast forward 10 years plus and I spent the odd occasion at the market. People sold any old crap. It seems them times are on the way back.
    Thanks tories.
    Super snaps.

  8. Douglas permalink
    April 4, 2022

    It was a different world in so many ways and not so long ago. Thank goodness for the photographers that allow us to time travel. Thank goodness for your blog!

  9. Steve Shinners permalink
    April 5, 2022

    I love these photos , they’re like a time machine , back to the seventies.

  10. Jessica permalink
    April 5, 2022

    Thank you for these images. The faces are so striking – but the clothing of the youth gives away the decade. I would like to compare the landscape captured by these photos over time. Will these photos be preserved in the London Metropolitan Archives?

  11. John Cunningham permalink
    April 12, 2022

    I know nothing about photography but what always strikes me is how black and white photographs seem to capture an essence that perhaps colour misses. These pics were taken in the very early seventies. As a teenager of the late sixties my memories are all in bright colour. A colour that reflects for me those colourful times, when all seemed possible. Maybe a dose of black and white is a good antidote to my boomer nostalgia for these times. But I did enjoy them…..!

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