19th February 2020

In_pictures Work, protest and play on the streets of Hackney

In_pictures Work, protest and play on the streets of Hackney

In_pictures

in_pictures Barber, HackneyImage copyright
Neil Martinson

During the 1970s and first half of the 80s photographer Neil Martinson recorded the lives of those who lived and worked in Hackney, east London.

At that time, children still played in the street and on old bomb sites yet to be developed.

Indeed, some of the pictures were taken when Martinson himself was still at school, using a Zenith-E camera, which he describes as “everything a boy could want from a camera”.

“It had lots of knobs and dials and they all had a satisfying clunk when operated,” he says.

“Hackney was a place to leave, with its crumbling council estates and high unemployment.

“Yet there was vitality and resilience among local people.

“Few people owned their own homes.

“There were no gated communities and no gastropubs.

“Students, radicals and artists started to move into Hackney.

“It was an exciting time to be a photographer and activist.”

in_pictures Giorgi’s Cafe, Bethnal Green Road, 1971Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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Giorgi’s Cafe, Bethnal Green Road, 1971

in_pictures Dalston, 1971Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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Dalston, 1971

in_pictures River Lea, 1971Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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River Lea, 1971

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures Graham Road, 1971Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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Graham Road, 1971

in_pictures Rachel Point, Nightingale Estate, 1974Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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A family living in Rachel Point, Nightingale Estate, 1974, one of the high-rise housing blocks being built in the area

in_pictures Children playing in the streetImage copyright
Neil Martinson

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“It was common to see children playing on the streets in the 1970s,” says Martinson. “The lack of traffic, and very different attitudes, gave children a freedom that seems quite remote now. My own memory was of going out to play all day long and my parents having no idea of where I was or what I was doing.”

in_pictures The Telsner family, Stamford Hill, 1981Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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The Telsner family, Stamford Hill, 1981, photographed for a book on Jewish life in Britain

in_pictures Ridley Road Market, 1981Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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Ridley Road Market, 1981

in_pictures Nurses in HackneyImage copyright
Neil Martinson

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Martinson photographed these nurses, protesting over pay outside Bethnal Green Hospital, for the Hackney People’s Press

in_pictures Lesney's, Hackney Wick, 1981Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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Inside Lesney’s factory, where Matchbox cars had been produced since the late 1950s. At its peak, it employed 3,600 people, mostly women, but when this was taken, production had all but ceased, with closure coming a year later

in_pictures Garment factory, Shacklewell Lane, 1981Image copyright
Neil Martinson

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Garment factory, Shacklewell Lane, 1981

Hackney Archive: Work and Life 1971-85, by Neil Martinson, is published by Hoxton Mini Press.

All photographs courtesy Neil Martinson / Hoxton Press

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