It’s fascinating, then to see how Spitalfields – the space between commuter-crammed Liverpool Street, tourist-packed Brick Lane and the bright lights of Shoreditch – looked more than 100 years ago.
A show opening this week at London’s Eleven Spitalfieds gallery is showcasing a series of photographs from 1912.
The images were all captured on one day – Saturday 20 April, 1912 – by C.A Mathew, though their purpose remains unknown to this day.
The photographer lived in Essex’s Brightlingsea, and according to the gallery, had only taken up the discipline a year before he captured these images. He died in 1916, and the images have been preserved in the Bishopsgate Institute archive and restored by contemporary Spitalfields photographer Jeremy Freedman.
We love the unposed spontaneity of the images, capturing people going about their days, like this flat-capped chap on the right, at Norton Folgate:
The picture of Widegate Street, meanwhile, shows that the narrow passage is largely unchanged today:
One of the highlights of the show is this wonderful photograph of Crispin Street, with curious – if slightly confused- looking – children gathering in front of Mathews as he takes his shot:
C.A Matthews :Photographs of Spitalfields a Century ago runs from 6 March – 25 April at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, 11 Princelet Street , Spitalfields, London E1