Oxford House Youth Club in the 1970s: More Photos



Youth of Yesterday: More images by Philip Cunningham of Oxford House in the 1970s

Youth of Yesterday is Oxford House’s new exhibition of photographs taken of the Oxford House Youth Club in the 1970s. The photographs were all taken by Philip Cunningham who as then a youth worker at Oxford House and also studying at art college. Philips pictures capture Bethnal Green during this period. He remembers 1970’s Bethnal Green being ‘full of market stalls and second hand shops and lots of pubs like the Albion’. He also remembers that there were demolitions everywhere and quite a few prefabs still around.

While working at Oxford House, Philip used the art workshop at here,  which was then occupied by abstract expressionists from THARGS (Tower Hamlets Arts Group). Above the workshop was a fully equipped dark room that children from the youth club would use. Philip describes Oxford House’s Youth Club as full of activity and energy and fun in the 1970s. Young people would queue up to take part in all sorts of activities and a typical night in the club would have music, music, table tennis, dancing, some kids would be in the art workshop and some in the darkroom. Sometimes there would be boxing sessions and if the weather was good outside sports like fence football or the adventure playground. Philip also remembers the social club where people would head at ten o’clock, which had a bar in it! He remembers ‘good parties and good people!’

Speaking of how it all began, Phillip says: ‘Tutors at Ravensbourne encouraged me to ‘photograph everything!’ which I started to do, and I still do today. That’s how and why many of these photos were taken. They represent a time and an effervescent energy which I now find inspirational”.


We have included a few more of Philip’s photographs of this period below:

Youth of Yesterday is on until 17 December 10-5pm (Mon-Friday) and is free.