1960s Photo album memories

PHOTOGRAPHS published in the Recorder recently of Newham life in the Sixties brought a flood of calls to your favourite local newspaper.

“I was so thrilled”, “it means the world to me” were just some of the comments in response to the black and white pictures taken by ex-Recorder photographer Steve Lewis.

Readers across the borough recognised themselves, their loved ones or childhood friends in the shots featured in Steve’s book, London’s East End – A 1960s Album.

Debra Williams, 49, of Western Road, Upton Park, told the Recorder: “It could be my family album. I was so happy, I just phoned everyone”.

Her late grandfather Billy Williams is featured with his horse and cart, as is his lodger, a man she knew only as Sam.She said: “Sam was an orphan and my grandad took him in. Sam was a Desert Rat and fought with Lawrence of Arabia. He didn’t have anyone and I remember my parents paid for his funeral.”

Debra added: “Grandad used to torment you with his jokes. We all lived in Western Road and he would come in from the pub for his Sunday lunch and leave my pocket money by the side of the plate. He always had plenty of money and would leave a sovereign if there had been a new baby.”

Mr Williams, senior, died in 1971, having founded the family grocery business at Queens Market, Upton Park.

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Debra also recognised others in the book – Maria her childhood friend as well as a group of children playing on a broken down car.

Ann Gray, now 72, is featured on several pages with daughter Debbie and son Jimmy. One picture shows them on a balcony with their friend and neighbour Hazel Murphy and her two children.

Mrs Gray, of Croydon Road, Plaistow, said she received numerous phone calls from friends who recognised the old photos in the Recorder. She said: “They’re lovely. I couldn’t believe it when I saw them.”

Debbie, now Debbie Richardson, 45, of Durham Road, Canning Town, said: “It brings back a lot of memories. They were good times. Everybody knew everybody. It’s the East End that we grew up in. And the pictures capture the East End of those days. I think Steve Lewis has done a great job.”

One of the most striking photos is of Jimmy, now a father-of-four and a grandad, as a three-year-old at his desk.

Steve, who was reunited with his subjects more than 40 years on, was pleased with the reaction to his work. He said many things had changed, with numerous traditional East Enders moving out of the area. He hopes to stage an exhibition of some of the photos at a venue in Newham in the New Year.