Fond glance at the 60s

IT IS a well worn cliche-every picture is worth a thousand words. It is not only true but it means that former Recorder photographer Steve Lewis has produced a veritable novel with his book of photos from the 1960s.

Called London’s East End the stunning black and white images jump off the page, to tell stories of hard lives, of making do and smiling through abject poverty.

Much of London was going enjoying the Swinging Sixties, with flower power and free love all the rage with Woodstock but the landscape of much of east London consisted of buildings scarred by the Blitz, people ekeing out a meagre existence while living in Nissan huts which were supposed to be temporary.

Lewis’s book which is launched today, September 27, makes no attempt to hide or gloss over the scenes of poverty - there are scrawny children, in barely-there clothes; there is the tired old greengrocer, egging along his even more exhausted horse to pull along his handcart.

However, despite the abject poverty, Lewis’s focus remains on the people and he manages to capture and communicate the warmth and strength of all the faces whatever their age.


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Those faces reach out, more than 40 years later with every one of them telling their own tales. There is one with a little boy sitting alone at his wooden desk, framed by a door with and the bars of a balcony. His silhouetted shape speaks volumes about him, his home and his environment.

Another features a working mum, a lollipop lady standing by the road, with a pram nearby- a pram which contains her sleeping baby.

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Many are poignant and capture a way of life that has virtually disappeared, making them all the more precious. The choice of pictures, which must have been picked from tens of thousands taken by Lewis speaks volumes and shows his attachment to those he photographed.

Their production in black and white combined with the subject matter and the fact that Lewis obviously managed to get close enough to capture such touching shots means they will stand the test of time and stay with you for a long time.

London’s East End: A 1960s Album, published by The History Press, is priced at �14.99 and is available from all good bookshops, Amazon.co.uk and www.thehistorypress.co.uk

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