June 1986

I had a busy month in June 1986. Of course there was the teaching, though by that time of year my A Level students were busy sitting exams, which took some of the pressure off for me, though there were the practical exams. And of course exam invigilation, a time of extreme boredom.

At home there will have been strawberries to pick and other little jobs around house and garden, as well as two young boys to help looking after. And sometimes I would take one or both of them out for long walks with me, as I went out taking pictures at the weekends, mainly in that month in Tower Hamlets, occasionally straying into Hackney.

During that month I made over 500 exposures on black and white film, seldom taking more than one exposure of each scene, and perhaps half that number in colour. It was around this time that I started seriously to produce some kind of comprehensive document of the fabric of London which I had been photographing in a less concentrated and asystematic fashion since 1973.

What had previously been largely dérives from a particular starting point now became carefully planned, with research in books on the city and poring over maps. Where previously it might have been the delightful whimsy of Geoffrey Fletcher that lead me to picturesque corners, this was now replaced by the duller encylopaedic prose of writers such as Harold Clunn, whose 1951 ‘The Face of London’ revised his earlier work to take account of wartime losses and attempted to be a complete guide to Greater London from his fifty years of perambulations.

Of course I seldom stuck to those carefully made plans, often being diverted by the lure of the streets, but I did begin making notebooks of where I walked, noting down street names and important details, marking up where I had walked on street maps (many of which have now fallen to pieces.)

After developing the films I would as usual make contact sheets, but I would then mark these up with Indian ink in a Rotring pen (and small writing I now often need a loupe to read) with street names and map references. In later years the A-Z came with the National Grid superimposed and my contacts included grid references too.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and sometimes I got street names wrong, and my writing and abbreviations are not always legible. I’ve now put around 140 of the pictures from June 1986 into my Flickr album ‘1986 London Photographs‘, almost all of them with at least a street name to identify the location. It took a few days to make and retouch the digital files, and once I had done that, over a day’s work to confirm the locations where possible using Google Street View. Some areas of course changed completely between 1986 and the earliest information from Street View – usually 2008, making it impossible in a few cases to be completely sure of where images were taken.

All of the images on Flickr have a longest side of 2400 pixels, four times the size of those in this post (- and landscape images only display at 75% unless you double click to open them.) Although I’m happy for people to share them and use them with proper attribution on personal blogs and non-commercial personal web sites, in student essays etc, they remain copyright, and a licence from me is required for any commercial or editorial use.

You can view the complete album 1986 London Photographs, but June’s pictures start here. Pictures for later in 1986 will follow shortly.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


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