What East London looked like in the 1960s

What East London looked like in the 1960s
The East End in Colour — When Chris Dorley-Brown stumbled upon thousands of old colour slides belonging to local photographer David Granick, he quickly set to work. The result is The East End in Colour, a series that remembers the warmth and character of a bygone London.

Last year, when photographer Chris Dorley-Brown was invited to examine the Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, he stumbled upon thousands of old colour slides belonging to local, East End photographer David Granick.

Taken between the late 1950s and 1980, the photos – untouched, unseen and unpublished – warmly captured the post-war streets of Stepney, Whitechapel and Spitalfields, at a time when monochromatic depictions were the norm. Galvanised by the discovery, Dorley-Brown registered as a volunteer at the facility and quickly set to work scanning and organising the collection.

“The collection has about 3,000 slides going back to the fifties,” explains Dorley-Brown, “but they have been well preserved. Many had been unseen for fifty years or more.”

CommercialRoad_1969_credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives (1)The result is The East End in Colour 1960 – 1980, a bittersweet love letter to a bygone London, made up of Granick’s distinctive images. Spanning a period that opens with the post-war boom and concludes with the first signs of Thatcherism, the book, published by Hoxton Mini Press, encapsulates a critical period in the city’s history: a London on the cusp of change.

“The East End is well documented photographically, [but] nearly always in monochrome,” Dorley-Brown continues. “Those images have defined our perspective of the period: stark, foggy and loaded with political agitation and unrest.”

“Granick takes a step back. Shooting in colour, we are presented with a very different matrix of information. Colour does that, it’s a different language. It’s really astonishing how few colour images survive from that era. They have a modern sensibility to them – they are minimal, topographic.”

CommercialRoad_1969_credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives (1) BelhavenStreet_1977_credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & ArchivesIn his work, Granick – who died in 1980, aged 67 – entangles the old world with the new. From the swaggering vibrancy of the Mile End high street to the distinct loneliness of the docklands, there’s a strength and spirit to the work that illustrates East London as it once was. Through the photos, the East End of then is – for a moment, at least – brought back to life.

“They are the pictures of an insider, with an emotional but reserved response. What he has left is unique: a tribute to a lost paradise.”

Watney_Market_1974_credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives (5) credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives (4) credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives (3) credit_DavidGranick_Courtesyof_Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives (2)The East End in Colour 1960-1980 is available now via Hoxton Mini Press. The book coincides with an exhibition running 3 February – 5 May, 2018 at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

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