East London Portfolio: Nation of Shopkeepers

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I used to go to the shops with my mum every Saturday morning, and she’d meet people she knew and they’d be chatting for maybe an hour, so I’d go off and meet other kids and we’d be playing on a bombsite – it was a strange education!” John told me, neatly illustrating how these small shops were integral to the fabric of society in his childhood.“People had a pride in what they were selling or what they were doing” he recalled,“You’d go into these places and they’d all smell different. They all had their distinct character, it was wonderful.”

Excerpt taken from an interview with gentle author, Spitalfields Life, who first published these photographs.
To read the full interview and see the remaining 14 photographs in this series, Click Here.

Fruit & Veg, Bethnal Green, 1961
“I’d been to a party and it was five o’clock in the morning, but she was open.”

C & K Grocers, Spitalfields, 1982
“From the floor to the roof, the shop was stocked full of everything you could imagine.”

Fishmonger, Spitalfields, 1965.

Bertha, Spitalfields, 1982. “Everything is closing down but you can still have a wedding!
She’s been jilted at the altar and she’s just waiting now.”

Jacques Wolff, E13, 1960.
“His name was probably Jack Fox and he changed it to Jacques Wolff.”

Bakers, Spitalfields, 1959. “There’s only three buns and a cake in the window.”

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