August 3, 2023

In this second selection of East End market photography by Dragan Novaković from the late seventies, we include rare pictures of the ancient Club Row animal and bird market which closed in 1983 when street trading in live animals became outlawed

Photographs copyright © Dragan Novaković

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August 2, 2023

Kelmscott Press & Doves Press editions at Emery Walker’s House

Typographer and Printer, 老王的灯笼v2.2.9 and Designer and Poet, William Morris both lived in houses on the Thames in Hammersmith, but they first met at a Socialist meeting in Bethnal Green and travelled home together on the train to West London.

Both houses are adorned with plaques commemorating their illustrious former residents, and remarkably Emery Walker’s House in Hammersmith Terrace has survived almost as he left it, thanks to the benign auspices of his daughter, Dorothy, and her companion Elizabeth de Haas. Today it boasts one of London’s best preserved Arts & Crafts interiors and stepping through the threshold is to step back in time and encounter the dramas that were played out here over a century ago.

After their first meeting, Emery Walker and William Morris met each other regularly walking on the riverside path and soon became firm friends. Morris once commented that his day was not complete without a sight of Walker and the outcome of their friendship was that Emery Walker took responsibility for the technical side of Morris’ printing endeavours at the Kelmscott Press – designing the Kelmscott typeface – and then subsequently nursing Morris through his final illness.

The previous resident of Emery Walker’s house was Thomas Cobden-Sanderson, who is credited with coining the phrase ‘arts and crafts.’ After Morris’ death, he and Emery Walker established the Doves Press in 1900, for which Walker designed the celebrated Doves typeface. Although this highly successful creative partnership set the precedent for the private press movement of the twentieth century and they employed typographer Edward Johnston, who also lived in Hammersmith Terrace, it came to grief due to Cobden-Sanderson’s volatile emotional behaviour. The nadir arrived when Cobden-Sanderson dumped more than a ton of Doves type off Hammersmith Bridge to prevent Emery Walker having any further use of it. Only in own time have specimens been retrieved from the Thames and the font recreated digitally.

Meanwhile, William Morris’ daughter May and her husband, Henry Halliday Sparling, who was Secretary of the Socialist League moved in next door to Emery Walker – until May’s lover, George Bernard Shaw, moved in with them too and Henry Halliday Sparling moved out.

As with many old houses, you wish the walls could speak to you of the former residents and at Emery Walker’s house they do, because they are all papered with designs by William Morris. Within these richly patterned walls are rare pieces of furniture by Philip Webb, hangings and carpets by Morris & Co, photographs of William Morris by Emery Walker, a drawing of May Morris by Edward Burne Jones, needlework by May Morris and more. Most of the clutter and paraphernalia gathered by Emery Walker remains, including a lock of William Morris’ hair and several pairs of his spectacles.

Yet in spite of these treasures, it is the unselfconsciously shabby, lived-in quality of the house which is most appealing, mixing as many as five different William Morris textile and wallpaper designs in one room. Elsewhere, a Philip Webb linen press has been moved, revealing an earlier Morris wallpaper behind it and a more recent Morris paper applied only on the walls surrounding it.

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Portraits of William Morris taken by Emery Walker

Four different designs by William Morris for Morris & Co combined in the same room

Emory Walker looks down from the chimney breast in his drawing room. The teapot and salts once belonged to Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Fireplace with tiles by William de Morgan

Traditional English rush-seated ladder back chair by Ernest Barnsley and Morris & Co carpet bearing the tulip and lily design which is believed to have belonged to Morris, acquired from the sale at Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire

William Morris’ daisy wallpaper and Sussex chairs in the bedroom overlooking the river

Woollen bedcover embroidered by May Morris

Looking downstream

A yellow flag iris at Hammersmith Bridge where Emery Walker’s Doves typeface was dumped in to the Thames by Thomas Cobden-Sanderson

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August 1, 2023

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‘I printed very rarely and very little, and for the next forty-odd years had these photographs only as contact sheets.’ explains Dragan, ‘I saw them properly as ‘enlargements’ for the first time in 2012, after I had scanned the negatives and post-processed the files.’

“I was introduced to London’s street markets by my friend and fellow countryman Mario who had a stall in Portobello Market specializing in post office clocks and bric-a-brac. I enjoyed sitting there with him amid the hustle and bustle, with people stopping by for a chat or to strike a bargain.

One early winter morning Mario picked me up in his old mini van and told me we were going to Bermondsey Market in search of clocks. It was still dark and foggy when we arrived and what met my eye made me gaze around in wonder – the scene looked to me as something out of Dickens!

The second time we went looking for clocks Mario took me to Brick Lane. Though there were plenty of open-air markets where I came from, I had seen nothing of the kind and size of Brick Lane and was fascinated by the crowds, the street musicians, the wares, the whole atmosphere. I sensed a strong community spirit and togetherness. I was hooked and I knew that I would have to come again in my spare time and take pictures.

Over the years I visited Brick Lane and other East End markets whenever I could spare the time and afford a few rolls of film. Living first in Earl’s Court and then behind Olympia, I would mount my old bicycle, bought in Brick Lane (of course!), and pedal hard across the West End in order to be there where life overflowed with activity.

I took what I consider snapshots without any plan or project in mind but simply because the challenge was too strong and I could not help it. I developed the films and made contact prints regularly but, never having a proper darkroom, made no enlargements to help me evaluate properly what I had done. Now I wish I had taken many more pictures at these locations.” – Dragan Novaković

Photographs copyright © Dragan Novaković

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July 31, 2023
by the gentle author

Wapping Old Stairs

I need to keep reminding myself of the river. Rarely a week goes by without some purpose to go down there but, if no such reason occurs, I often take a walk simply to pay my respects to the Thames. Even as you descend from the Highway into Wapping, you sense a change of atmosphere when you enter the former marshlands that remain susceptible to fog and mist on winter mornings. Yet the river does not declare itself at first, on account of the long wall of old warehouses that line the shore, blocking the view of the water from Wapping High St.

The feeling here is like being offstage in a great theatre and walking in the shadowy wing space while the bright lights and main events take place nearby. Fortunately, there are alleys leading between the tall warehouses which deliver you to the waterfront staircases where you may gaze upon the vast spectacle of the Thames, like an interloper in the backstage peeping round the scenery at the action. There is a compelling magnetism drawing you down these dark passages, without ever knowing precisely what you will find, since the water level rises and falls by seven metres every day – you may equally discover waves lapping at the foot of the stairs or you may descend onto an expansive beach.

These were once Watermen’s Stairs, where passengers might get picked up or dropped off, seeking transport across or along the Thames. Just as taxi drivers of contemporary London learn the Knowledge, Watermen once knew the all the names and order of the hundreds of stairs that lined the banks of the Thames, of which only a handful survive today.

Arriving in Wapping by crossing the bridge in Old Gravel Lane, a short detour to the east would take me to Shadwell Stairs but instead I go straight to the Prospect of Whitby where a narrow passage to the right leads to Pelican Stairs. Centuries ago, the Prospect was known as the Pelican, giving its name to the stairs which have retained their name irrespective of the changing identity of the pub. These worn stone steps connect to a slippery wooden stair leading to wide beach at low tide where you may enjoy impressive views towards the Isle of Dogs.

West of here is New Crane Stairs and then, at the side of Wapping Station, another passage leads you to Wapping Dock Stairs. Further down the High St, opposite the entrance to Brewhouse Lane, is a passageway leading to a fiercely-guarded pier, known as King Henry’s Stairs – though John Roque’s map of 1746 labels this as the notorious Execution Dock Stairs. Continue west and round the side of the river police station, you discover Wapping Police Stairs in a strategic state of disrepair and beyond, in the park, is Wapping New Stairs.

It is a curious pilgrimage, but when you visit each of these stairs you are visiting another time – when these were the main entry and exit points into Wapping. The highlight is undoubtedly Wapping Old Stairs with its magnificently weathered stone staircase abutting the Town of Ramsgate and offering magnificent views to Tower Bridge from the beach. If you are walking further towards the Tower, Aldermans’ Stairs is worth venturing at low tide when a fragment of ancient stone causeway is revealed, permitting passengers to embark and disembark from vessels without wading through Thames mud.

Shadwell Stairs

Pelican Stairs

Pelican Stairs at night

View into the Prospect of Whitby from Pelican Stairs

New Crane Stairs


Execution Dock Stairs, now known as King Henry’s Stairs

Entrance to Wapping Police Stairs

Wapping Police Stairs

Metropolitan Police Service Warning: These stairs are unsafe!

Wapping New Stairs with Rotherithe Church in the distance

Light in Wapping High St

Wapping Pier Head

Entrance to Wapping Old Stairs

Wapping Old Stairs

Passageway to Wapping Old Stairs at night

Aldermans’ Stairs, St Katharine’s Way

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Wapping Tavern Tokens


July 30, 2023
by the gentle author

Sir William Pickering, St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, 1574.

Ever since the discovery of the site of  William Shakespeare’s first theatre in Shoreditch, I have found myself thinking about where else in London I could locate Shakespeare. The city has changed so much that very little remains from his time and even though I might discover his whereabouts – such as his lodging in Silver St in 1612 – usually the terrain is unrecognisable. Silver St is lost beneath the Barbican now.

Yet, in spite of everything, there are buildings in London that Shakespeare would have known, and, in each case, there are greater or lesser reasons to believe he was there. As the mental list of places where I could enter the same air space as Shakespeare grew, so did my desire to visit them all and discover what remains to meet my eyes that he would also have seen.

Thus it was that I set out under a moody sky in search of Shakespeare’s London – walking first over to St Helen’s Bishopsgate where Shakespeare was a parishioner, according to the parish tax inspector who recorded his failure to pay tax on 15th November 1597. This ancient church is a miraculous survivor of the Fire of London, the Blitz and the terrorist bombings of the nineteen nineties, and contains spectacular monuments that Shakespeare could have seen if he came here, including the eerie somnolent figure of Sir William Pickering of 1574 illustrated above. There is great charm in the diverse collection of melancholic Elizabethan statuary residing here in this quaint medieval church with two naves, now surrounded by modernist towers upon all sides, and there is a colourful Shakespeare window of 1884, the first of several images of him that I encountered upon my walk.

From here, I followed the route that Shakespeare would have known, walking directly South over London Bridge to Southwark Cathedral, where he buried his younger brother Edmund, an actor aged just twenty-seven in 1607, at the cost of twenty shillings “with a forenoone knell of the great bell.” Again there is a Shakespeare window, with scenes from the plays, put up in 1964, and a memorial with an alabaster figure from 1912, yet neither is as touching as the simple stone to poor Edmund in the floor of the choir. I was fascinated by the medieval roof bosses, preserved at the rear of the nave since the Victorians replaced the wooden roof with stone. If Shakespeare had raised his bald pate during a service here, his eye might have caught sight of the appealingly grotesque imagery of these spirited medieval carvings. Most striking is Judas being devoured by Satan, with only a pair of legs protruding from the Devil’s hungry mouth, though I also like the sad face of the old king with icicles for a beard.

Crossing the river again, I looked out for the Cormorants that I delight to see as one of the living remnants of Shakespeare’s London, which he saw when he walked out from the theatre onto the river bank, and wrote of so often, employing these agile creatures that can swallow fish whole as as eloquent metaphors of all-consuming Time. My destination was St Giles Cripplegate, where Edmund’s sons who did not live beyond infancy were baptised and William Shakespeare was the witness. Marooned at the centre of the Barbican today like a galleon shipwrecked upon a beach, I did not linger long here because most of the cargo of history this church carried was swept overboard in a fire storm in nineteen forty, when it was bombed and then later rebuilt from a shell. Just as in that searching game where someone advises you if you are getting warmer, I began to feel my trail had started warm but was turning cold.

Yet, resolutely, I walked on through St John’s Gate in Clerkenwell where Shakespeare once brought the manuscripts of his plays for the approval by the Lord Chamberlain before they could be performed. And, from there, I directed my feet along the Strand to the Middle Temple, where, in one of my favourite corners of the city, there is a sense – as you step through the gates – of entering an earlier London, comprised of small squares and alleys arched over by old buildings. Here in Fountain Court, where venerable Mulberry trees supported by iron props surround the pool, stands the magnificent Middle Temple Hall where the first performance of “Twelfth Night” took place in 1602, with Shakespeare playing in the acting company. At last, I had a building where I could be certain that Shakespeare had been present – but it was closed.

I sat in the shade by the fountain and took stock, and questioned my own sentiment now my feet were weary. Yet I could not leave, my curiosity would not let me. Summoning my courage, I walked past all the signs, until I came to the porter’s lodge and asked the gentleman politely if I might see the hall. He stood up, introducing himself as John and assented with a smile, graciously leading me from the sunlight into the cavernous hundred-foot-long hall, with its great black double hammer-beam roof, like the hand of God with its fingers outstretched or the darkest stormcloud lowering overhead. It was overwhelming.

“You see this table,” said John, pointing to an old dining table at the centre of the hall, “We call this the ‘cup board’ and the top of it is made of the hatch from Sir Francis Drake’s ship ‘The Golden Hind’ that circumnavigated the globe” And then, before I could venture a comment, he continued, “You see that long table at the end – the one that’s the width of the room, twenty-nine feet long – that’s made from a single oak tree which was a gift from Elizabeth I, it was cut at Windsor Great Park, floated down the Thames and constructed in this hall while it was being built. It has never left this room.”

And then John left me alone in the finest Elizabethan hall in Britain. Looking back at the great carved screen, I realised this had served as the backdrop to the performance of ‘”Twelfth Night” and the gallery above was where the musicians played at the opening when Orsino says, Adobe Premiere软件下载 免费中文版 下载及安装教程:2021-8-20 · 来自: UI设计老师王林(更多UI知识,关注:老王聊学习) 2021-10-31 10:50:41 Adobe Premiere是一款常用的视频编辑软件,由Adobe公司推出。现在常用的有CS4、CS5、CS6、CC、CC 2021、CC 2021伍及CC 2021版本。是一款编辑画面质量比较好的软件,有 ...The hall was charged and resonant. Occasioned by the clouds outside, sunlight moved in dappled patterns across the floor from the tall windows above.

I walked back behind the screen where the actors, including Shakespeare, waited, and I walked again into the hall, absorbing the wonder of the scene, emphasised by the extraordinary intricate roof that appeared to defy gravity. It was a place for public display and the show of power, but its elegant proportion and fine detail also permitted it to be a place for quiet focus and poetry. I sat on my own at the head of the twenty-nine foot long table in the only surviving building where one of William Shakespeare’s plays was done in his lifetime, and it was a marvel. I could imagine him there.


An old king at Southwark

St Giles Cripplegate where Edmund’s sons were baptised and William Shakespeare was the witness.

St John’s Gate where William Shakespeare brought the manuscripts of his plays to the Lord Chamberlain’s office to seek approval.

The Middle Temple Hall where “Twelfth Night” was first performed in 1602.

The twenty-nine foot long table made from a single oak from Windsor Great Park.

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Shakespeare in Spitalfields

Shakespeare’s Younger Brother, Edmund


July 29, 2023
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Roman London is still under construction

From Spitalfields, you have only to walk down Bishopsgate to find yourself in Londinium, since the line of Bishopsgate St follows that of Ermine St which was the major Roman road north from London Bridge. Tombs once lined the path as it approached the City, just as they did along the Appian Way in Rome.

The essential plan of the City of London was laid out by the Romans when they built their wall around Londinium at the end of the second century, after Boudica and her tribes burnt the settlement. Eighty years earlier, the Romans had constructed a fort where the Barbican stands today and, in their defensive plan, they extended its walls south to the Thames and in an easterly arc that met the river where the Tower of London stands now.

A fine eighteenth century statue of the Emperor Trajan touts to the tourists at Tower Hill, drawing their attention to the impressive stretch of wall that survives there, striped by the characteristic Roman feature of courses of red clay tiles, inserted between layers of shaped Kentish Ragstone  to ensure that the wall would be consistently level.

Just fifty yards from here at Cooper’s Row, round the back of the Grange City Hotel, is an equally spectacular stretch of wall that is off the tourist trail. Here you can see the marks of former staircases and medieval windows cut through to create a rugged monument of significant height.

Yet, in the mile between here and the Barbican, very little has survived from the centuries in which stone from the wall was pillaged for other buildings. It is possible to seek access to some corporate premises with lone fragments marooned in the basement, but instead I decided to walk over to All Hallows by the Tower which has a little museum of great charisma in its crypt. Here is part of the tessellated floor of a Roman dwelling of the second century and Captain Lowther’s splendid model of Roman London from 1928.

At the Barbican, a stretch of wall that was once part of the Roman fort is visible, punctuated by a string of monumental bastions which are currently under restoration. Walking up from St Paul’s, you come across the wall in Noble St first, still encrusted with the bricks of the buildings within which it was once embedded. Then you arrive at London Wall, an avenue of gleaming towers lining a windy boulevard of fast-moving traffic, which takes it name from the ancient edifice.

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In the gardens of the Barbican, the presence of foliage and grass permits the bastions of the City wall to assert themselves, standing apart from the contemporary built environment that surrounds them. From here, I turned west to visit the cloister of St Vedast in Foster Lane, which has an intriguing panel of a tessellated floor mounted in a frame, and St Bride’s in Fleet St, where deep in the crypt, you can lean over a wall to see the floor of the Roman dwelling that once stood there, reflected in a mirror. The reality of these items stirs the imagination just as their fragmentary nature challenges it to envisage such a remote world.

By now, it was late afternoon. I was weary and the sunshine had faded, and it was time to make tracks quickly back to Spitalfields as the sky clouded over – yet I was inspired by my brief Roman holiday in London.

Eighteenth century bronze statue of Trajan at Tower Hill

Model of Roman London in the crypt of All Hallows by the Tower. Made by Captain Lowther in 1928, it shows London Bridge AD 400 – Spitalfields appears as a settlement of Britons beyond the wall.

Roman City Wall at Tower Hill

At Tower Hill

At Cooper’s Row

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Tessellated floor in the crypt of All Hallows by the Tower

Timber from a Roman wharf preserved in the porch of St Magnus the Martyr

In the cloister of St Vedast Alias Foster

In the crypt of St Bride’s, Fleet St

Foundation of a Roman Guard Tower in Noble St

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Part of the entrance gate to Roman London in the underground chamber

Model of the north west entrance to Roman London

A fragment of wall in the underground chamber

Bastion at London Wall

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In Search of the River Walbrook


July 28, 2023
by the gentle author

Bandele Ajetunmobi – widely known as Tex – took photographs in the East End for almost half a century, starting in the late forties. He recorded a tender vision of interracial cameraderie, notably as manifest in a glamorous underground nightlife culture yet sometimes underscored with melancholy too – creating poignant portraits that witness an almost-forgotten era of recent history.

In 1947, at twenty-six years old, he stowed away on a boat from Nigeria – where he found himself an outcast on account of the disability he acquired from polio as a child – and in East London he discovered the freedom to pursue his life’s passion for photography, not for money or reputation but for the love of it.

He was one of Britain’s first black photographers and he lived here in Commercial St, Spitalfields, yet most of his work was destroyed when he died in 1994 and, if his niece had not rescued a couple of hundred negatives from a skip, we should have no evidence of his breathtaking talent.

Fortunately, Tex’s photographs found a home at Autograph ABP where they are preserved in the permanent archive and it was there I met with Victoria Loughran, who had the brave insight to appreciate the quality of her uncle’s work and make it her mission to achieve recognition for him posthumously.

“He was the youngest brother and he was disabled as well but he was very good at art, so they apprenticed him to a portrait photographer in Lagos. It suited him yet it wasn’t enough, so he packed up and, without anything much, left for England with my Uncle Chris.

Juliana, my mum had already come from Nigeria and, when I was born, she lived in Brick Lane but, after a gas explosion, we had to move out – that’s how we ended up in Newham. When I was a child, we didn’t come over here much – except sometimes to visit Brick Lane and Petticoat Lane on a Sunday – because we had moved to a better place. I understood I was born in Bethnal Green but I grew up in a better class of neighbourhood.

I knew that she didn’t approve of my uncle’s lifestyle, she didn’t approve of the drinking and probably there were drugs too. They were lots of rifts and falling out that I didn’t understand at the time. When everything became about having jobs to survive, she couldn’t comprehend doing something which didn’t make money. In another life, she might have understood his ideals – but we were immigrants and you have to feed yourself. She thought, ‘Why are you doing something that doesn’t sit comfortably with being poor?’

He did all this photography yet he didn’t do it to make money, he did it for pleasure and for artistic purposes. He was doing it for art’s sake.He had lots of books of photography and he studied it. He was doing it because those things needed to be recorded. You fall in love with a medium and that’s what happened to him. He spent all his money on photography. He had expensive cameras, Hasselblads and Leicas. My mother said, ‘If you sold one, you could make a visit to Nigeria.’ But he never went back, he was probably a bit of an outcast because of his polio as a child and it suited him to be somewhere people didn’t judge him for that.

He used to come and visit regularly when we lived in Stratford and there are family pictures that he took of us. His pictures pop out at me and remind me of my childhood, they prove to me that it really was that colourful. He was fun. Cissy was his girlfriend, they were together. She was white. When Cissy separated from her husband, he got custody of her children because she was with a black man – and her family stopped talking to her. She and Tex really wanted to have children of their own but they weren’t able to. They were Uncle Tex and Aunty Cissy, they would come round with presents and sweets, and they were a model couple to us as children. To see a mixed race couple wasn’t strange to us – where we lived it was full of immigrants and we were poor people and we just got on with life, and helped each other out.

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He was not extreme in his vices. He died of a heart attack after being for a night out with his card-playing friends. He lived alone by then, he and Cissy were separated. But he was able to go to his neighbour’s flat and they called an ambulance so, although he lived alone, he didn’t die alone.

I thought he deserved more, that he was important. I just got bloody-minded. It wasn’t just because he was my uncle, it’s because it was brilliant photography. He deserved for people to see his work. There were thousands of pictures but only about three hundred have survived. Just one plastic bag of photos from a life’s work.”

Tex was generous with his photographs, giving away many pictures taken for friends and acquaintances in the East End – so if anybody knows of the existence of any more of his photos please get in touch so that we may extend the slim yet precious canon of Bandele “Tex” Ajetunmobi’s photography.

Whitechapel night club, nineteen-fifties

East End, nineteen seventies


On Brick Lane, seventies

Bandele “Tex” Ajetunmobi, self portrait

Photographs © Bandele ‘Tex” Ajetunmobi / AutographABP. Courtesy Autograph ABP
Autograph ABP is a charity that works internationally in photography, cultural identity, race, representation and human rights. Explore the Autograph ABP archive online and see more pictures by ‘Tex” Ajetunmobi