Glorious street photographs of London's Brick Lane before decades of gentrification

Brick Lane, London E1, 1978 © Paul Trevor. All images courtesy of the photographer and Hoxton Mini Press. Via CB submission.

The East End has changed dramatically over the last forty years, much like the rest of London. If you want to get an idea of what it was like in the late 1970s, then Paul Trevor's lively street photographs will give you a glimpse into that world.

Full of humour, grit, love and surprise, the great unsung hero of British documentary photography captured a vibrant time before Brick Lane and the surrounding area went through a dramatic change.

Before all the iconic street art, independent shops and hip coffee shops, children played in the street, the devastating effects of the Blitz could still be seen in many places and the area contained some of the worst poverty in Britain. It was a time when Bangladeshi immigrants arrived in significant numbers and racism reared its ugly head. Paul Trevor spent three decades documenting it all, creating an archive of London's most iconic street.

It wasn't until Paul Trevor was 25 years old that he picked up a camera, quitting his job as an accountant. He puts his skill down to the rapid hand-eye coordination he acquired as a teenage table tennis ace. As a result, his photographs are loud and full of so much life and character.

Describing his work, Roger Estop of the London Independent Photography Journal said: "Paul Trevor reacts strongly against being pigeonholed He is motivated by a basic enthusiasm for photography and communication, people, their energy and interactions and is influenced by the European photographic tradition – more emotional, less constrained than the British tradition. His work has never fallen into a rut, and he has always looked towards new ideas."

Now the self-taught photographer is publishing a new book, focusing on images taken in London’s East End during the '70s and '80s. Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane is available via our favourite indie publisher, Hoxton Mini Press.

An introduction by Alan Gilbey reads "...looking at Paul’s photographs, you can see all the special, fleeting, human moments... With the flick of a shutter, at the perfect time, these people live again. Even in monochrome, there is so much life."

Once Upon a Time in Brick Lane by Paul Trevor is published by Hoxton Mini Press.

Brick Lane, London E1 1977 © Paul Trevor

Brick Lane, London E1 1977 © Paul Trevor

Sclater Street, London E1, 1975 © Paul Trevor

Sclater Street, London E1, 1975 © Paul Trevor

Sclater Street, London E1, 1975 © Paul Trevor

Sclater Street, London E1, 1975 © Paul Trevor

Brick Lane, London E1, 1978 © Paul Trevor

Brick Lane, London E1, 1978 © Paul Trevor

Commercial Street, London E1, 1981 © Paul Trevor

Commercial Street, London E1, 1981 © Paul Trevor

Cheshire Street, London E2, 1975 © Paul Trevor

Cheshire Street, London E2, 1975 © Paul Trevor

Chilton Street, London E2, 1977 © Paul Trevor

Chilton Street, London E2, 1977 © Paul Trevor

Fournier Street,London E1 1974 © Paul Trevor

Fournier Street,London E1 1974 © Paul Trevor

Wentworth Street, London E1, 1978 © Paul Trevor

Wentworth Street, London E1, 1978 © Paul Trevor