Skip to content

The East End In The Afternoon

July 29, 2023
by the gentle author

Click here to book for my tours through July, August and September


Click here to buy tour gift vouchers for your family and friends


Yesterday I visited Clapton for a celebration of the life of Libby Hall (1941-2023) at her house in Ickburgh Rd where she had lived since 1967 with her husband Tony Hall (1936-2008). Today I publish this selection of Tony’s photographs.

There is little traffic on the road, children are at play, housewives linger in doorways, old men doze outside the library and, in the distance, a rag and bone man’s cart clatters down the street. This is the East End in the afternoon, as photographed by newspaper artist Tony Hall in the nineteen sixties while wandering with his camera in the quiet hours between shifts on The Evening News in Fleet St.

“Tony cared very much about the sense of community here.” Libby Hall, Tony’s wife, recalled, “He loved the warmth of the East End. And when he photographed buildings it was always for the human element, not just the aesthetic.”

Contemplating Tony’s clear-eyed photos – half a century after they were taken – raises questions about the changes enacted upon the East End in the intervening years. Most obviously, the loss of the pubs and corner shops which Tony portrayed with such affection in pictures that remind us of the importance of these meeting places, drawing people into a close relationship with their immediate environment.

“He photographed the pubs and little shops that he knew were on the edge of disappearing,” Libby Hall confirmed for me, ‘He loved the history of the East End, the Victorian overlap, and the sense that it was the last of Dickens’ London.”

In 1972, Tony Hall left the Evening News and with his new job came a new shift pattern which did not grant him afternoons off – thus drawing his East End photographic odyssey to a close. Yet for one who did not consider himself a photographer, Tony Hall’s opus comprises a tender vision of breathtaking clarity, constructed with purpose and insight as a social record. Speaking of her husband, Libby Hall emphasised the prescience that lay behind Tony’s wanderings with his camera in the afternoon. “He knew what he was photographing and he recognised the significance of it.” she admitted.

These beautiful streetscapes are from the legacy of approximately one thousand photographs by Tony Hall held in the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute.

Three Colts Lane

Gunthorpe St

Ridley Rd Market


Stepney Green

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

Tony Hall’s East End Panoramas

Libby Hall, Collector of Dog Photography

The Dogs of Old London

7 Responses leave one →
  1. July 29, 2023

    Could it be that the progressive decay still exists today, but it is just not as visible…? — And yet: wonderful photographs. Especially the children always seem to make the best of the given situation!

    Love & Peace

  2. Mark permalink
    July 29, 2023

    They’re great.
    Gone or gentrified
    The London I knew and loved to visit.
    Real life. Thanks for showing.

  3. Juliet Wood permalink
    July 29, 2023

    The characterful house* with a bay window below a tripartite window at first floor level is in Clapton Passage, which runs from the NE corner of Clapton Square to lower Clapton Road. Holly Villas (name sign just visible) is the row of houses on the N side of the Passage, and this is the first house on the left when leaving the square.
    I worked on a building site in Clapton Square in the 80s, and I used to walk past this house everyday.
    * third photo down from captioned Gunthorpe Street.

  4. Stephen Watts permalink
    July 29, 2023

    Thanks for these ! I think the one directly under ‘Ridley Road Market’ (with kids preparing for or playing on a bonfire) is of waste ground just off Christian Street, with the school building behind that’s no longer there & the three tower blocks off Cable Street looming in the background. The very first photo could be one of the pedestrian streets parallel to Myrdle Street, though I’m less sure of that. Other images look tantalisingly familiar from Wapping/Whitechapel/Brick Lane

  5. Rick Armiger permalink
    July 29, 2023

    Good to see more of these from Mr Hall.
    Roman Road library is interesting and makes me wonder what books were most popular!

    I helped a student with her exhibition titled ‘Initially Yours or Theirs’ nearby in Grove Road.
    MaMaMummy is how she always addressed her mom – who remembers Gandhi visiting Bow.

  6. Cherub permalink
    July 29, 2023

    The photo of the 2 little boys playing around the old scrap car made me smile today. This is exactly the type of childhood my husband has told me of when he was a boy growing up in East Ham. He used to play on old bomb sites as well, modern day parents would probably be horrified!

  7. Jill permalink
    August 2, 2023

    … the Victorian Overlap …it lasted long,

    Lovely words, Gentle Author always manages to touch my heart and of childhood memories.
    Transfixed by your words and stunning photos.
    Thanks so much

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS