Documentary Photography: The Changing Landscape Of London's East End

Photographers Debra Rapp and Marion Davies took their cameras to East London to document people and businesses before the Olympic Park changed everything.

|  Portraits and People
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Employee of Bowdens Curved Glass


The London Olympic Games were a sporting celebration the whole country enjoyed but amongst the joy, there were some who experienced very different emotions due to a Compulsory Purchase Order that was sent their way in 2007. The order was sent so space could be made for the Olympic Park to be built and photographers Debra Rapp and Marion Davies decided that these businesses and the people affected by the order should forever be captured in a snapshot of how they lived their lives. Fast-forward ten years and the two photographers have now released a book titled 'Dispersal - Picturing urban change in east London' which explores the diverse communities that lived in this area of London.  

The book reveals Stratford in the Lower Lea Valley as a melting pot of people from different races and religions, working side-by-side across a huge variety of trades and professions.

Marion Davies and Debra Rapp documented 60 of the area’s most notable businesses before they were forced to move from the area following the 2007 Compulsory Purchase Order, including 3rd generation salmon smokers H. Forman & Sons, couture fashion manufacturers Panache Outerwear Ltd, set builders for the Royal Opera House, family run upholsterers Adssiz Ltd, Parkes Galvanizing Ltd which ran out of Marshgate Lane since the 1950s, donner kebab producers Harringay Meat Traders Ltd and internationally renowned stained-glass artists Goddard & Gibbs Studios Ltd whose pieces feature in Westminster Abbey and St James’ Palace. 

The book features over 200 black and white as well as colour images, many of which have never been published before, and you can view just a sample of the shots featured in the book below.

'Dispersal - Picturing urban change in east London' is available now for £30 and is published by Historic England. 


Mechanics at M&M


Felicia at LW Saint & Sons


JJ Auto Parts


Harden Singh, Sikh Publican


Brian Paverley of Goddard Gibbs


Lucky Wholesale Company


Measuring tapes


River Lea Navigation and the Northern Outfall Sewer.


White End dispatch operative


All photos © Marion Davies and Debra Rapp.

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