Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Leon's, Quaker Street, London E1

Leon's was literally a corner shop selling newspapers, sweets and groceries on the edge of Quaker Street and Grey Eagle Street, just off East London's Brick Lane. I took this photograph of Leon's long shuttered-up shopfront in 1988. At the time, it was one of many closed-down businesses that I was recording in the area - before the so-called 'regeneration'.

Just today, I spoke with someone who had very fond memories of the shop, and its owner. With a tear in his eye, he reminisced about a time when Leon had actually given his father shelter in a room at the back of the shop when he was in troubled times.

47 Quaker Street, twenty five years ago
Years after Leon had shut up shop, this is a remarkable coincidence. It is Leon's old shopfront that had been selected for a spray-painted message for 'Crisis', the national charity for single homeless people (whose headquarters are still based just around the corner from the site of Leon's shop).

The 'Crisis at Christmas' campaign had begun in 1971, with a small team of volunteers providing food and shelter for homeless people at the first 'Open Christmas'. Forty two years on,  there will be ten 'Crisis' centres around England and Scotland, staffed by volunteers and employees, welcoming homeless people in from the cold for warmth, support and comfort. 

Happy Holidays

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