East End photo book republished by Newham photographer

7:51 PM January 27, 2022

An East End photographer has released a new book capturing the “gritty reality” of life in the 1960s.

Steve Lewis, who started his career aged 16 at the Newham Recorder, has published an updated version of his 2010 book East London: A 1960s Album.

His extraordinary pictures show the reality of post-war Britain, with some featuring in drama series Call the Midwife.

Former Newham Recorder photographer Steve Lewis pictured at the paper's office

Former Newham Recorder photographer Steve Lewis pictured at the paper’s office

– Credit: Steve Lewis Photography

Having grown up in Barking, Ilford and Goodmayes, Steve said he has “always loved the East End”.

He said: “I’m fascinated by the people, and how the areas are so different to one another.

“One area would be completely mundane, and then a few miles down the road there was so much crime, so it was an exciting place for a press photographer.”

He recalls coming across two army bomb experts in East Ham diffusing an unexploded wartime bomb, which would often be discovered as developments were built in the area.

One of them told him: “Don’t worry – if it starts ticking, you’ll have a full six seconds to leg it.”

Widespread redevelopment in the East End regularly led to discoveries of unexploded wartime bombs

Widespread redevelopment in the East End regularly led to discoveries of unexploded wartime bombs

– Credit: Steve Lewis Photography

As a junior photographer, Steve learned to use a plate camera, which took a single picture on each slide.

He said: “You could only take one picture at a time, so if you were sent out on seven jobs you’d get about 14 slides.

“You only had one chance to get it right. The camera was very, very heavy, so you didn’t want to lug it around for very long.”

The film camera he used next was a big step up, offering 12 pictures per roll of film.

London's East End in the 60's

Mums housed in brand new high-rises would sometimes feel lonely in their flats, so many would gather for a chinwag on a nearby bombsite each morning

– Credit: photo Steve ewis

After a stint on Fleet Street, he worked for United Press International covering central Africa.

Steve later moved to The Sun newspaper, where he worked for 35 years until retiring.

It was only then that he rediscovered his vast collection of East End pictures tucked away in the loft.

Lollipop lady Lesley Lucking keeps her sleeping baby nearby

Lollipop lady Lesley Lucking shepherding schoolchildren across a pedestrian crossing as daughter Tracey sleeps soundly in the pram nearby

– Credit: Steve Lewis Photography

He spent over two years organising and cleaning up the photographs, before publishing East London: A 1960s Album in 2010 with The History Press.

Former Newham Recorder news editor Geoff Compton wrote the words to accompany Steve’s pictures.

Gypsy families on Beckton Marshes East london.

Romany families, pictured on Beckton Marshes, faced hostility during the 1960s

– Credit: Steve Lewis Photography

East London: A 1960s Album is available to buy from January 28 at: www.hive.co.uk/Product/Steve-Lewis/East-London-A-1960s-Album/25941926


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