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David Hoffman At St Hildas

October 4, 2023
by the gentle author


We are in the third week of our month’s crowdfund campaign and I am grateful to the 139 people who have contributed so far, and touched by your messages of encouragement. I am hoping that we can reach the target in the next 10 days.





Contributing Photographer David Hoffman sent me these glorious pictures of a party he attended at St Hilda’s Community Centre, Club Row, in 1975.

‘St Hilda’s East was established in 1889 by former pupils of Cheltenham Ladies College as ‘a community of people bound together in the service of the poor’. I came across it by chance in 1975. I was twenty-nine, just starting out as a photographer and this window into an East End from long ago immediately fascinated me.

I just walked in, asked if it would be OK to take some photos and got an immediate easy invitation to help myself. Quickly followed by offers of a cup of tea, a sandwich, a slice of cake… I think this was early December and I saw posters for the Christmas party so I invited myself along.

I found the spirit and the energy of what seemed to me to be such aged pensioners hard to believe. When one of the dancers flashed her knickers and winked at me, I wondered if my tea had been spiked and it was all a delirium. These photos, some unseen since I took them, not only prove that this was no hallucination but, rather disconcertingly, that those seemingly ancient people I photographed were all younger than I am now.’

David Hoffman


Photographs copyright © David Hoffman

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Cherub permalink
    October 4, 2023

    I’m 62 and I think people back then were a lot older looking because they’d had hard lives and many would have been through the war years.

    I do like the lady who is lifting up her frock and showing her bloomers!

  2. Robin permalink
    October 4, 2023

    What superbly outrageous energy! These photos remind me of my own grandmother and great aunt dancing up a storm at local get-togethers in the 1960s.

  3. Karen Rothstein permalink
    October 5, 2023

    These are the best pictures ever?
    Definitely shows all the happiness and carefree thought of the young at heart ❤️

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