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Tony Hall’s East End Panoramas

January 16, 2023
by the gentle author

In the sixties, Tony Hall bought a Horizont camera of Russian manufacture that was designed for taking panoramic photographs and he used it to take these magnificent pictures of East End streets. Originally trained as a painter, Tony Hall became a newspaper artist in Fleet St and pursued photography in the afternoons between shifts.

“He’d always been passionate about wide-angle lenses, it was his landscape painter’s background – he had a painter’s eye,” Libby Hall, Tony’s wife revealed to me, “When he was sixteen, his paintings were accepted for the Royal Academy but he wanted to do something different, so he gave it up in favour of commercial art and photography.”

The Horizont camera had a lens that rotated in sync with the shutter to create a panoramic view, but they were unreliable and, when the lens became out of sync with the shutter, patches of light and dark appeared on the image. Tony bought three cameras in the hope of getting one to work consistently and in the end he gave up, yet by then he had achieved this bravura series of pictures which emphasise the linear qualities of the cityscape to dramatic effect.

“Tony loved tools of all sorts and he always said that if you had the tool you could work out how to use it,” Libby recalled, “He was very frustrated by the Horizont, but he was very pleased when it worked.”

It is the special nature of Tony Hall’s photographic vision that he saw the human beauty within an architectural environment which others sought to condemn and, half a century later, his epic panoramas show us the East End of the nineteen sixties as we never saw it before.

Click on any of the photographs below to enlarge and enjoy the full panoramic effect.

Corner of Middleton Rd & Haggerston Rd

Haggerston Rd

Old Montague St & Black Lion Yard

Old Montague St

Hessel St

Corner of Lyal Rd & Stanfield Rd

Corner of Lyal Rd & Stanfield Rd

Bridge House, Tredegar Rd

Sclater St

Leopold Buildings, Columbia Rd

Pearson St & Appleby St

Corner of Well St & Holcroft Rd

Hackney Rd

St Leonards Rd

St Leonards Rd

Photographs copyright © Libby Hall

Images Courtesy of the Tony Hall Archive at the Bishopsgate Institute

Libby Hall & I would be delighted if any readers can assist in identifying the locations and subjects of Tony Hall’s photographs.

You may also like to read

Tony Hall, Photographer

At the Pub with Tony Hall

At the Shops with Tony Hall

Libby Hall, Collector of Dog Photography

The Dogs of Old London

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Judy Callaghan permalink
    January 16, 2023

    What astounds me about Tony’s photographs, is the cleanliness and litter-free quality of all the streets! Yet I cannot remember that there were street sweeping vehicles at that point in time…only men with brushes. Spotless and car- less…amazing to see!

  2. January 16, 2023

    Magnificent — you haven’t seen that yet! Tony Hall was an absolute visionary with an artistic and photographic eye. He recognised the possibilities of panoramic shots when the 16:9 TV format was still a long way off. The Russian camera worked quite well, as you can see. But I can well relate to his technical perfectionism.

    I myself am experimenting right by now with panorama pictures that are composed of three shots. I will show the result here.

    Love & Peace

  3. Gee Farrow permalink
    January 16, 2023

    What an amazing set of photos

  4. Louise Joly permalink
    January 16, 2023

    I think the photo with the barges may be at Bow Lock or somewhere near. Pretty sure the high rise is Balfron Tower and therefore would be All Saints Church Poplar in the distance.

  5. Paul Loften permalink
    January 16, 2023

    I may be able help with the location of the last four photos. In the early 60’s lived on an old council estate bordering Millfields. It’s no longer there . The fairground looks very much like the one they had at Lea Bridge Road on the Hackney Marshes. You can seethe goalposts in the backroad where they played football . I recall the day they demolished the big chimney on the marshes . It was a spectacle with crowds of people watching .
    As regards the remarkable photo of the old broken boats . We used to ride our bikes across the steel bridge on the River Lea and follow a long path across the Marsh where you would come to a very low bridge . It was so low occasionally you would find a car blocking it . We would wonder how the car got there . Once we rode through the low bridge on the other side you would suddenly come upon this amazing site, a tributary of the river and it had a old broken houseboat just like the one in the photo also there were a few other wrecks lying there.I seem to recall reeds and bullrushes and it was quite dangerous to go near the bank as you couldn’t see the edge of the river . I think you can just see the very low bridge in the photo and in the background you can see the what I think is the James Latham wood yard and the power station where the barges would take the coals to the power station and wood to Latham’s down the Lea and off load them with a tremendous noise . It was a sight to see .
    Thank you for the remarkable photos . I hope this helps

  6. mick o'leary permalink
    January 16, 2023

    Great to see the East End in panoramic vision. Have a hunch the shot with the barges etc is looking south from Bow Locks towards the Limehouse Cut, with Balfron Tower at the southern end of St Leonards rd visible in the distance.

  7. Avril Towell permalink
    January 16, 2023

    Thank you for these beautiful pictures of an area of East London that no longer exists. Many are from the Haggerston area where I once lived. I recognise some which so I will name the streets. After the two pics showing Haggerston road, the next one is looking down the top part of Shap street with the tall building at the end being Randal Cremer school (still there!). Moving on the photo before the one showing the corner of Pearson street and Appleby street, this is the corner of Shap street and Pearson street showing the railway bridge and the school caretakers house (still there) by the lorry. The tall buildings just before the bridge are what remained after the war when number 13 the house my family once lived in since 1880 was bombed so they were moved to Fellows Street.

  8. Val Mutch permalink
    January 16, 2023

    My dad worked for Max Strongwater a butchers in Old Montague Street in the 50’s. I’m always hoping a photograph will emerge.

  9. Paul M permalink
    January 16, 2023

    Thank you for sharing some more of Tony Hall’s really evocative photographs.

    I can identify the location of 2 of the photographs; the 2 photos (which are sandwiched between pics labelled Pearson St & Appleby St and Corner of Well St & Holcroft Rd), which show a corner shop, is the junction of Bushberry Road and Benn Street, Homerton E9.

    Numerous architectural features identify the location and, indeed, the tower of St Barnabas Church is visible in the top left of the photos.

    Whilst the corner shop has been converted into residential accomodation the fine Victorian terraces of Benn Street and Bushberry Road as shown in the photos are still there!

    It’s an area that I know well as I went to secondary school in the 1970’s some 400 metres (in Kenworthy Road) from where the photos were taken!

  10. Philip Marriage permalink
    January 16, 2023

    I love Tony Hall’s photos – he had such a good eye.

    A small correction, the panorama (494) showing a row of houses boarded up with corrugated iron over the windows is Old Montague Street, not Hassel Street as shown. You can spot the wording CONNORS in the bottom left-hand corner. This CONNORS shop can just be made out in another of Tony’s fine photos published as part of the ‘At the Shops with Tony Hall’ sequence – the S.SPITTAL Tobacconist and Confectioner shop. Another Spitalfields Life reader, Tony Baynard, put the SPITTAL shop in Old Montague Street in a comment in 2015 and subsequently the Survey of London: Whitechapel project identified it as 136 Old Montague Street, where Simon Spital was resident in the 1960s.

  11. Juliet Wood permalink
    January 16, 2023

    Wonderful pictures.

    There are two uncaptioned photos (below the picture “Pearson St & Appleby St”) showing a little single-storey shop on a narrow strip of land.
    These are taken at the corner of Bushberry Road and Benn Street in Homerton, E9. The pyramidal roof, just visible above the left-hand terrace in the first of these two photos, is the tower of the catholic church of “The Immaculate Heart of Mary and St Dominic” on Kenworthy Road.

  12. Cherub permalink
    January 16, 2023

    To add to Judy’s comment about clean streets, this was also an era where people took great pride in keeping the pavements in front of their houses swept and their doorsteps clean. We had 5 steps up to our council house and I can remember my mum scrubbing them every week weather permitting. Overgrown gardens were unknown as well, men were always out, weeding, planting, trimming hedges etc. My dad would spend all Sunday on his with garden shears when it needed done, before working a night shift.

  13. January 16, 2023

    Hard to put into words…….but I loved the progression of today’s post. First, enjoying the photos as they are. THEN, the amazement of clicking on them and having them flood my screen. And then enjoying the comments by your sleuthing readers as they spot familiar landmarks, both minor and major. I can only imagine how much enriching time travel they are experiencing.

    I so appreciate the artistry of the panoramic camera — clearly Mr. Hall had the technical chops — and he had an unerring eye for subject matter. The carousel photo made me cheer! However, the real “sleeper” in this group (at least for me) was the snug interior of the corner shop. It is so atmospheric, and I’m enthralled with every detail. Most of all, the man and boy. I imagine them approaching the shop, and their quiet murmurs………”what must we remember to buy, now, my boy? Oh dear, what was it that your mother wanted? Well, no matter. We will be sure to get you those special candies you love.” …………. And then the door opens and they are suddenly, unaccountably, in the midst of an Occasion. A photographer up on a ladder! Taking THEIR photo. What fun it will be to tell everyone at home about this! Oh, my boy, we’re having some fun today.

    Thank you GA and Mr. Tony Hall.

  14. Marcia Howard permalink
    January 18, 2023

    Evocative images. Just love ’em, and agree with Judy Callaghan about the ‘cleanliness and litter-free quality of all the streets’

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