I’m a London-based photographer and writer. I’ve lived in London for the past 20 years.
I grew up just down the road in Essex and had various London haunts during my teenage years in the 80s – including Camden Market, Dingwalls, King’s Road, Hyper Hyper, Kensington Market, Pitfield Street (I worked in a bookies there) and Liverpool Street Station. My lasting memories of travelling in and out of London or through London are of a very grimy Liverpool Street Station with a ‘knickers and nighties’ shop window being the only interesting thing to gaze at while waiting for trains that weren’t running or were inexplicably delayed.
So much has changed since then and some of it has disappeared. I hanker after those times – mainly because London wasn’t so busy. But I have not witnessed as much change to London as generations of my forebears who grew up (and lived and died) in the east end.
My grandad, who was born in King’s Cross and grew up in Forest Gate, used to drive us around London, shouting: “I know a shortcut”. And invariably we would end up doing three point turns as we discovered that the said shortcut was now one-way, closed off, had a building across the end of it or simply came to a dead end. And recently I’ve found myself doing exactly the same. I need a new A-Z every week!
My Dad doesn’t recognise areas of the City and Docklands that he worked in as a young man. Many of the homes my grandparents lived in have been demolished to make way for railways and offices. And the people change too. In the space of just a few years an area that was once run down and considered a slum, becomes gentrified, and once posh streets become run down and huge houses are turned into flats.
The transport changes too. Railway lines are closed and then re-opened, new Underground lines are being built, the buses have changed. I’m still mourning the loss of the Routemaster especially on the Number 12 route.
London is a city that doesn’t stand still for 5 seconds. It has been a home of migrants since the Romans 2000 years ago. My own family are descended from Huguenot refugees who came to England from France in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
I’ve always wanted to document the London that I know and love. So, with one eye on the ticking clock, I’ve finally decided to do it! I only wish I’d started earlier and taken some pictures of those 80s iconic places and people.