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December 28, 2015

27 Brilliant Photographs Capture Working-Class Life on the Streets of the U.K in the Post-war Era

Roger Mayne was one of the outstanding British photographers of the postwar period. He is best known as the photographic poet of London's dynamic street life in the then dilapidated area of Notting Dale in North Kensington. He photographed one street – Southam Street – from 1956 until it was demolished in 1961 to make way for Erno Goldfinger's Trellick Tower.

Using a Zeiss Super Ikonta camera, rather than a Leica, Mayne visited Southam Street 27 times between 1956 and 1961, harvesting around 1,400 negatives. His photographs touched a nerve, drawing praise from key writers of the period such as Colin MacInnes – whose Absolute Beginners (1959) carried a Mayne photograph on its dust jacket – and the architect Theo Crosby, who published 57 of the photographs as an issue of Uppercase magazine in 1961. These timely, punchy photographs also appeared on the covers of important Penguin and Pelican books and such classics as Peter and Iona Opie's The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959).

1956. Girls are doing a handstand. Southam Street, London

1956. Girls gambling, Southam Street, London.
1956. Southam Street, London.

1956. Street scene at Harrow Road, London.

1956. Southam Street, London.

1956. Southam Street, London.

1956. Boys smoking. London.

1956. Southam Street, London.

1956. Children on the road. Southam Street, London

1956. Children dancing jive.

1957. Brinkley Road, Paddington, London.

1957. Girl about to do a headstand. Kensal Road. London

1957. Girl jiving on Southam Street. London.

1957. Boy in the ruins, Waverly Walk, Harrow Road.

1957. Boys playing with a handcart at Hampden Crescent. Paddington, London.

1957. Playing cricket, Addison BC Place, North Kensington. London.

1957. Children's playground, Islington, London.

1957. Children on the road. St. Stephens Garden, London.

1958. Children playing in the bombed house. Portland Road, North Kensington, London.

1958. Children around the truck, Cadence, Glasgow.

1958. Edinburgh.

1958. Glasgow.

1958. Edinburgh.

1958. Glasgow.

1959. Soho.


1961. On the street, Barngriv, Sheffield

(Photos © Roger Mayne)


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