These pictures were made in 1978 and 1979 in Aldgate where there was a wet crypt – one where people were free to bring their drink or drugs - beneath St Botolph’s Church in some damp cellars where street drinkers would gather in the evening to booze and talk and fight and get a little food.
The wet crypt at St Botolph’s was a scary place. On a cold night there could be 60 or more homeless, mostly alcoholic and/or addicted, badly damaged men and women jammed in. Very loud and chaotic – singing, shouting swearing. The thick stink of old clothes and rarely washed bodies mixing with meths, cider, surgical spirit and piss. Violence and threats of violence were frequent. I lost count of the number of times I was told “point that thing at me and I’ll stuff it up your arse” but there’d always be others, no less drunk and violent, who would come to my rescue.