Local photographer Tom Oldham and his Palm Tree crooners project

posted in: Community, Local, Local Heroes | 1

Local photographer Tom Oldham is celebrating his love of the The Palm Tree public house with a series of photographs documenting the pub’s legendary crooners.

East London, and Bow in particular, has become close to Oldham’s heart. ‘I moved here eleven years ago to be closer to my friends and all the creative action. It is an exciting place to be, and now nearly all of  my work is based in the East London as I shoot a lot of bands in the area as well.’

What is it he likes most about the area? ‘The sense of old and new combining. It always feels as though something fresh and inspiringly creative is happening, nestling alongside the rich heritage of the East End.’

The crooners at The Palm Tree have been an object of fascination for Oldham since he first went there. ‘The Palm Tree has always been the crooner’s pub for me. I love it on a Tuesday lunchtime or a packed out Friday night. It was genuinely the first pub I could call my local.’

This exhibition is a homage not only to The Palm Tree pub and the East End in general, but the old-school glitz and glamour that the crooners embody. The fact that the project has been shortlisted for a Sony World Photography Award is just the cherry on top.

‘I was ecstatic when I found out. To be recognised in the biggest competition in the world, for a project shot in The Palm Tree was seriously beyond belief’ said Oldham.

Oldham not only enjoys spending time at The Palm Tree and considers it his local, but spends a lot of time in other parts of our East End. Victoria Park is a common hang-out for Oldham and his sons, and The Pavilion Cafe is a favourite. Oldham (and his seven year old son) recommend stopping by Oyster Boy on Broadway market at the weekend for fresh oysters.

A parting word of advice from this local photographer? ‘It takes years to be good at anything and you need to do your 10000 hours. It’s expensive, heartbreaking, incredible, fun, soul-destroying, utterly bamboozling and you work for free for the first ten years pretty much.’

Oldham’s exhibition launches on Saturday 21 April at the Palm Tree. See more images from his exhibition in our Last of the Crooners gallery.

Old style band playing in an English pub © Tom Oldham
The Last of the Crooners, playing here for the half a century © Tom Oldham
Exterior of Palm Tree with the staff standing outside, © Tom Oldham
The legendary Palm Tree public house in Mile End Park © Tom Oldham

  1. Old Bill

    Another interesting story about London and in particular about the East End andBow

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