Quite by chance I discovered this DVD in Waterstone’s, and for £9.99, how could I resist?

It contains fifty minutes of archive footage from 1900 to the late 1930s, much of which is out of period for Basilica Fields, but nevertheless it all exudes the unmistakable atmosphere of the East End which I’ll be attempting to recreate. It’s fascinating to watch the working conditions  at the turn of the century, such as the match factory at Bromley-by-Bow, and it brought home just how hard the lives people led day-in-day-out. Equally fascinating is the footage of well known historic events like the Siege of Sidney Street in 1911.

The footage suddenly brought to life all the still photographs I have of the area in this period, and it’s strange being able to see a world so different, but at the time of writing, still just about within living memory.  Not a time or place I’d like to live,  but one I’d love to pay an extended visit to. Someone hurry up and invent a Tardis…

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