You'll Barely Recognise East London In These 10 Photos From The 1970s And 80s

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 8 months ago
You'll Barely Recognise East London In These 10 Photos From The 1970s And 80s
Giving it some groovy attitude, Brick Lane, 1977

It was an east London of cigarette smoking, hardcore perms, laundrettes and mac wearing wheeler-dealers.

This was the world captured in black and white during the 1970s and 80s, by Paul Trevor.

When a perm was a perm. Commercial Street, 1981
Impromptu market, Chilton Street, 1977

Over 40 years on, Paul has released a book, Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane.

But the photos aren't just being appreciated now: as early as 1976, the photographer was exhibiting his photos in local laundrettes — and the people liked what they saw, recognising characters like them, or perhaps even themselves.

Brick Lane, 1978
Brick Lane, 1978

Subjects in Paul's photo essays sometimes look careworn — quite possibly older than their years; it's certainly a very different Brick Lane to the bright and brash playground we know now.

As Alan Gilbey writes in the book's afterword:

This was a time when the entire East End was in monochrome. The Blitz had blitzed. The largest docks in the world had been declared redundant. Terraced houses were being bulldozed for Brutalist flats. Streets were turning corrugated iron grey.

The real deal? Cheshire Street, 1975
A time before iPads, Fournier Street, 1974

But is it us, or do some of these faces — the children in particular — appear more in tune with their immediate surroundings?

Sclater Street, 1975

Street food was all the rage back then too:

Sclater Street, 1975
Wentworth Street, 1978

Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane by Paul Trevor, published by Hoxton Mini Press.

Last Updated 09 August 2023