The East End in Colour
|The East End in Colour, 1960–1980 David Granick, Hoxton Mini Press, 2018, 144 pages, 97 colour plates, hardback.|
This collection of recently discovered photographs is the work of David Granick (1912– 1980), a person hitherto quite unknown in the annals of serious photography. This small volume of his pictures and the exhibition that accompanies the publication will place him among the greats.
The two decades during which he put together this memorial to his native east end of London coincided with the last phase of LS Lowry’s much longer life (1887-1976). By producing stark images of the industrial areas they inhabited, both artists broke new ground, bringing the drab scenery and harshness of life in these completely unfashionable areas into the realm of serious art.
In the aftermath of the bombing and rocket attacks of the second world war, much of London’s east end was reduced to rubble or to buildings scarred beyond reach of reconstruction. When Granick began his records in 1960 some of these ruins still lay abandoned in the side streets, and the first class of his photographs includes a number of these scenes. The post-war era saw a huge loss of population as the Cockneys moved out to new areas being provided in places such as Stevenage and Harlow.
The second class of pictures consists of an endless and painful record of boarded-up rows of late- Georgian or Victorian shops, pubs and houses. For viewers of these pages who do not know the story from London’s recent past, the sets of images here are both graphic and highly informative.
Not all is desolation and decay. The photographs, as in Lowry’s work, also show individuals or crowds going about their daily business: shopping at a market stall, hanging around outside the doors of the pubs that were still in business, drinking tea at a cabbies’ shelter outside a bank or catching red buses, including the fondly remembered Routemasters. Vehicles, fewer then, line the streets or wait in queues or at traffic lights. The car-spotter will have a field day with the Ford Populars and Morris Minors seen here.
A more poignant mood still is struck later. Working, one suspects, in the quietness of Sundays, Granick shows the docks and their barges or steamers in impressionistic scenes of tranquillity, with the soft light reflected in the still water of the Pool of London. Tower Bridge is seen in the first photograph in the book and, looking beyond it to the west, the City’s first skyscrapers make their debut almost timidly on the horizon. In the time since Granick’s death in 1980 this City skyline has been transformed. Elsewhere in the book, the modern tower blocks of housing are seen rising above the zones of clearances or looking over the shoulders of an early-19th-century terrace in the Commercial Road in 1970.
The architectural historian will value the colour recording of the condition of such celebrated streets as those around Spitalfields Market in the 1960s, when still playing host to such businesses as ‘Sydney Young, Furrier’. How many furriers do we still have? Gentrification has come to the rescue of some of this heritage but, for the most part, this small volume is an elegy for a segment of London north of the Thames, and its inhabitants, in its final days.
Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- British post-war mass housing
- Demolishing Modernism: Britain's lost post-war gems
- Did the successes of British post-war mass housing outweigh its failures?
- England's Post-War Listed Buildings
- Heritage asset.
- Historic building.
- IHBC articles.
- Mr Barry's War
- The Institute of Historic Building Conservation.
A chance to nominate retired IHBC members and/or successful learners in heritage skills, with prizes that include £500 and a free place at the IHBC’s Aberdeen 2022 Annual School in June.
Donald Insall Associates has been announced as the winner of the new joint award with the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB). The award celebrates the quality of architectural-historical research produced as private consultants or for public bodies etc.
The IHBC seeks to raise awareness and understanding of how building conservation philosophy and practice contributes towards meeting the challenge of climate change.
From Amenity Societies and Wentworth Woodhouse to Kurt Schwitters, Scotland’s Towns, Chester and more...
The former Royal High School building in Edinburgh is to be transformed into a £55 million national centre for music after the City of Edinburgh Council agreed to the lease of the historic property.
The joint-institute document aims to help maintain cultural heritage by providing a consistent framework across different sectors & geographies
IHBC’s Gus Astley Student Awards 2021: Win £500 and a place on IHBC’s 2022 Aberdeen School with your built environment/heritage coursework, closes 31/07!
The last remaining buildings on the site of the Harris meat factory family’s historic mansion are being restored to their former glory and converted into new homes.
The Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV Forum) has unveiled a new guide to the crucial and increasingly complex issue of professional indemnity insurance (PII).
ICOMOS has advised that the new football stadium proposal, if implemented, would have a completely unacceptable major adverse impact its authenticity and integrity.