> History


  • Pearly Kings and Queens in East London, London History Workshop Collection, Bishopsgate Institute.

    Pearly Kings and Queens in East London, London History Workshop Collection, Bishopsgate Institute.

    The history of photography in East London

    People have been taking photographs in the East End of London since the beginnings of photography and My East End will add to this important collection of local photography.

    All entries to the competition will go into Bishopsgate Institute's archive to be preserved for future generations to see and enjoy. You can see the kind of photos already held in the archive in this section.

  • Jewish family picture, c1890

    Jewish family picture, c1890. Donated by Annetta Foreman, Bishopsgate Voices Collection, Bishopsgate Institute

    The first photos

    The first photo studios opened in Stepney in the early 1850s, and with the introduction of the ‘Box’ Brownie camera in 1900 photography became accessible to everyone and the ‘snapshot’ became possible.

    From studio portraits to documentary photographs and family albums, the variety of photographs taken in East London is huge; covering lives of its people and cultures, domestic interiors, built environment and open spaces.

  • Unidentified Spitalfields Market trader, c1990

    by Mark Jackson, Jackson Collection, Bishopsgate Institute

    Changing places

    Since the Second World War photographs have recorded the rapidly changing life of the East End, including photos of bombsites, demolition, new housing, the closure of the docks, building of Docklands and the expansion of the City.

    Many photos show the people and place around Bishopsgate and Spitalfields before the old Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market closed and regeneration took hold.

  • Sunahwar Mela, c1985

    Sunahwar Mela, Swadhinata Trust Collection, Bishopsgate Institute

    Changing people

    Photographs can tell a vivid pictorial history of the migrant communities who made East London their home, including people from Chinese, Irish, Jewish, Somali, Bangladeshi and East European backgrounds.

  • Market stalls in Hoxton Street, Shoreditch, c1910

    LAMAS Glass Slide Collection, Bishopsgate Institute

    Changing celebrations

    Documentary photographs of child poverty and slum housing were used in campaigns to help improve living conditions. Disappearing East End trades, the street markets and outdoor celebrations have all been documented through photography.

  • Shop signs in Brick Lane, 2009

    by Becky Stevenson, London Collection Digital Photographs, Bishopsgate Institute

    Your east end

    Today London’s East End is again changing at an unprecedented rate. Local people have always photographed their own communities and streets.

    My East End is part of this story, creating a collective vision of life in the East End in 2010. Your photograph will contribute to this rich history of East End photography.

    We also welcome any old photos of the East End that you may have. If you would like to contribute to the archive collections at Bishopsgate Institute or the Geffrye Museum, please contact the Project Archivist at the Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH. Telephone: 020 7392 9270 .