Lionel Swan

In the 1930s, the same time that Jane Baker was running her antiques stall in the market, a man called Lionel Swan was taking photographs. Lionel was a professional photographer at the Acme Art Association on the nearby Camden Road, and a keen collector of oriental art and Japanese armour. His interests gave him good reason to visit the Caledonian Market, and he took a series of outstanding images of the people of the market, some of which have been reproduced inside the Clock Tower.

Each photograph captures a moment in time – three Indian gentlemen inspecting a row of swords; two men, one in African dress, apparently bartering for a mattress; a slightly shabby gentleman fast asleep on a handcart.

The images came to light through Lionel’s son, who is one of the Friends of Caledonian Park and who brought copies of the images to one of the public meetings. Together with the photographs of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Cyril Arapoff, Lionel Swan’s images are a vivid reminder of what made the old Cally Market so special.

The photographs in this film are by Lionel Swan and used by kind permission of the artist’s estate.