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Dan Cruikshank’s Spitalfields Photographs

August 3, 2023
by the gentle author

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Dan Cruickshank took these photographs between 1969 when he first came to Spitalfields and 1977 when he led the campaign to stop British Land destroying Elder St. “I did it to document the buildings that were here then,” he explained to me in regret, “but sometimes you’d go back the next Saturday and there’d be virtually nothing left.”

Barrowmakers in Wheler St

Baker in Quaker St

Quaker St and Railway Dwellings

Junction of Bethnal Green Rd & Redchurch St

Weaver’s House at the corner of Bacon St & Brick Lane

Weavers’ houses in Sclater St, now demolished

Weavers’ houses in Sclater St, only those in foreground remain

Weavers’ houses in Sclater St, now demolished

Corner of Sclater St & Brick Lane

Houses in Hanbury St, now demolished

Houses in Hanbury St, now demolished

Old House in Calvin St, now demolished

Elaborate doorcase in Wilkes St, now gone

Brushfield St

Brushfield St, buildings on the right now demolished

Brushfield St, buildings on the right now demolished

Buildings in Brushfield St, now demolished

Brushfield St, buildings on the left now demolished

Looking from Brushfield St towards Norton Folgate

Selling Christmas trees in Spital Sq

Spital Sq with St Botolph’s Hall

Folgate St with Dennis Severs’ House in the foreground, houses in the background now demolished

House in Folgate St, now demolished

5 & 7 Elder St during squat to prevent complete demolition by British Land

Partial demolition of 5 & 7 Elder St

Rear of 5 & 7 Elder St during partial demolition

Inside 7 Elder St

Douglas Blain of Spitalfields Trust reads a paper in the loft of 7 Elder St after the roof was removed

Alleyway off Folgate St

Photographs copyright © Dan Cruickshank

You may also like to take a look at

Philip Marriage’s Spitalfields

Val Perrin’s Spitalfields

[youtube UMQBhsJCU7Y nolink]

Tower Hamlets Council Planning Committee will make a decision on Norton Folgate on 21st July so you have until then to object. Click here for your guide to how to object.

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Gee permalink
    August 3, 2023

    The group of young people who squatted, including Dan, were very much unsung heroes. Thanks for sharing his photos of a very different era

  2. Bernie permalink
    August 3, 2023

    Those images resonate with me because my aunt Ray and my mother, Sarah, found refuge thereabouts in the early years of the 19th century. Ray and her husband, and growing family made their long-term home at 61 Wilkes St until the war made it expedient to move to Hendon. Even then Ray’s husband carried on his furrier’s business in the very glassy top floor. I think that the glass survived all the bombing, amazingly. So I remember visiting, and the brewer’s drays and the great horses in the street outside. And the voice-pipe and whistle by which uncle Wolf could communicate with his wife and children downstairs.

    90 years old now; there cannot be many who still remember homes in that area as it once was. And I was born in a nursing-home nearby.

  3. Eve permalink
    August 3, 2023

    Thank you, such a pity they couldn’t all have been lovingly preserved as was Dennis Severs’, instead of left rotting away – cursedly being so close to the City’s ‘high flyers’ backyard..

  4. Cherub permalink
    August 3, 2023

    Sad that such lovely old buildings fell into dereliction and had to be demolished. When I worked at Spitalfields I used to like walking along Brushfield Street, it just seemed to have a nice feel to it.

  5. Adele Lester permalink
    August 3, 2023

    Walked through Brushfield St and the then Spitalfields Market every day on my way to and from school (Spital Square). We didn’t appreciate those old buildings and the warm atmosphere of the market porters throwing us an apple as we stepped over the detritus of a busy day in the market. My grandfather and/or uncle picked up their supplies every morning at 4 am. They had a market stall in Watney St.

  6. August 3, 2023

    You don’t know what you have got, until it’s gone. It is very true of buildings and the environment. We don’t need to keep building from new. It’s a tragedy that so many of these historic buildings have been lost. As others have said, those folk who tried to prevent their loss have been proven correct. Elder St is a remnant of what once was, loomed over by the ugly monstrous towers of hipster Shoreditch.
    By the way, and I am sure that your readers are aware, Dennis Severs’ House are fundraising for urgent chimney repairs. Please do help if you can. Maintenance of this type is essential and also expensive. Thank you.

  7. Linda Porter permalink
    September 2, 2023

    My father and his family lived in Princelet Street off Brick Lane. The houses were in decay, but I loved to wander the streets of Spitalfields during the 60’s and 70’s, on my way home from school, and admire the faded beauty of the peeling paint, and crumbling facades, whilst imagining the lives of people that had lived there in the past. Much to my mother’s dismay, I would mooch about Club Row and Brick Lane on Sunday mornings, then over to Petticoat Lane via Spitalfields. Dan’s photos transport me back to that moment in time. Whilst my grandparents house has been renovated in recent years, my old school, Central Foundation School for Girls in Spital Square, has not been so lucky! All that remains of the building is the school hall that is now a restaurant.

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