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A framed photograph of Tony Platia


Framed photograph

Production date


Object number


Physical Description

A framed photograph of Tony Platia. Broadway Market 2005

Associated Event

E8 4PH

Associated Person

Platia, Tony (Featured)
Motola, Gabrielle (Photographer)

Associated Place

Broadway Market (Place)




Width (Frame): 62cm
Height (Frame): 67cm

Credit line

E8 4 PH
Portraits on Broadway Market, 2006
Photographer Gabrielle Motola

These photographs were part of a much larger exhibition that was originally exhibited at the Seven Seven Gallery on Broadway Market in 2006 (now Stella Blunt’s and a bookstore). It featured over 200 portraits of residents, visitors, market traders, and passers-by. The photographs documented the people who came and went, live and worked just as the neighbourhood was beginning to gentrify. Some of the photographs were taken on the market street using a backdrop and available light. Others were taken over the years in various locations around the market.

I moved to Broadway Market in 2002. The market then was very different to what it was in 2006 and of course it has changed radically now. For one thing there were no estate agents, and we didn’t have a Saturday market either. The street was pretty empty most of the time, though the Dove was always a place to go and indulge in the wry mixture of hostility, comfort and Belgian beer. The benches of Benjamin Close were equally populated with assorted characters partaking in the favoured English pastime of drink.

Broadway Market has always felt like home to me, and what a spectacularly inspiring home at that. I got to know many people in the neighbourhood by way of photographing them, and through an expressed curiosity and a sustained interest in them; I got to know their stories as well. Some of them are happy and some of them very sad. Some are unbelievable.

The market’s rise in popularity has meant that property and commodity prices have increased and many of the original traders are no longer there, unable to keep up with the changes. Reluctantly they have moved on; some have prospered, others have not.

Tony Platia sits in Cafe Francesca (no 34 Broadway Market) days before his eviction. Tony operated the cafe for some 30 years. As a leaseholder, he paid his rent and non-domestic rates to the Council and he made a modest living to keep himself and his family. In 1999 he sought to buy the freehold interest in the property. When he was close to achieving this, information about his confidential arrangements were leaked to Dr Roger Wratten, a Kent based property developer who owned the adjoining properites and who had been trying to buy 34 Broadway Market. From this point on, all attempts by Tony to buy the freehold were obstructed. In February 2003 the property was sold at auction to Dr Wratten. An intense legal battle followed. Surprisingly Tony lost out and Eviction Warrants were issued in favour of the developer. Twice the police and bailiffs tried to enforce the warrants. With local support, both attempts were thwarted. After the first attempt on February 21st 2005 the locks on the shutters securing the cafe were cut off at 10.30pm and 3 firebombs were thrown into the premises. Some form of similar action had been anticipated and the police and fire service arrived within minutes. The fire was quickly extinguished. Local supporters worked on a 24hour basis and the business was operating again within days. On July 1st 2005 a large group of bailiffs, supported by 50 uniformed police officers, stormed the cafe just as Tony opened up and secured the premises. A few months later local people took measures to gain possession of the cafe and occupied it to prevent the building from being demolished. They were thrown out and demolition began. On Boxing day 2005 locals broke back into the half-demolished building and rebuilt it. On February 23rd 2006, 4 months after their initial occupation, the riot squad showed up at 4.30am and forced everyon out. Number 34 was then derelict and unoccupied. Tony lost his business and Broadway Market lost Cafe Francesca.

Gabrielle Motola
October 2011

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Signature of photographer