Angel Alley

Lighting East London’s most historic alleyway

London’s East End has always been a place of hidden treasures, mysterious alleyways, and intriguing secrets. Among these historic lanes, Angel Alley in Whitechapel holds a unique place in the heart of East London’s history.

A narrow passage stretching from Wentworth Street to Whitechapel High Street, Angel Alley, has roots dating back to as early as 1676. It owes its name to the Angel Inn, which once stood proudly on its south-west corner.

Originally a shortcut to the top of Brick Lane, its fascinating history includes tales and stories of migration, where communities of Irish, Huguenot, Jewish and Bengali migrants have called this community home. There is also a rich history of political activism and organising and offering shelter and refuge to people who have been considered “outsiders”.

Today it stands as a beacon of anarchy and art and is renowned for its association with the anarchist ‘Freedom’ press and bookshop. Since the 1980s, it has also been a fundamental part of the locale of the Whitechapel Gallery which has a side entrance into the space.  

Angel Alley’s historical significance and its role as an access point for residents and businesses demanded a transformation. Acrospire collaborated with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Whitechapel Gallery to bring about much-needed illumination to the alley.

Brief &

  • Safety First: The lighting installation needed to provide adequate lighting for guidance and safety of those using Angel Alley
  • Adding Character: A colour change scheme was desired to attract new visitors and enhance the alley's character


The chosen luminaire for this project was the Sicura RGB by Disano. Ceiling mounted and suspended across the walkway, this luminaire not only excels in energy efficiency and luminous performance but also boasts a long service life, with IP66 protection to meet the demands of outdoor installations. It provides a full-colour range to meet all lighting design needs, ensuring the safety and ambiance of the area.

Ross Hughes, Programme Manager High Streets, Growth & Economic Development, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, emphasised the importance of this lighting installation: “The installation of lighting down Angel Alley has been long overdue and is a necessary part of Tower Hamlets’ ongoing efforts to improve safety in the area. Angel Alley is an access point for residents and businesses and has a long-term ambition to become a public space for arts and performances hosted by the Whitechapel Gallery.”

The lighting installation in Angel Alley not only aides the council’s safety goals but also introduces a vibrant colour scheme that promises to attract new visitors and infuse the area with character. Ross comments, “The new lighting will “help drive new visitors and add to the character of the alley by introducing new visual art to the area.”

Acrospire’s work in Angel Alley beautifully combines history, safety, and artistry, contributing to the ongoing evolution of London’s iconic East End.

"The transformation of Angel Alley through lighting has been remarkable. It not only provides safety and accessibility but also brings a new artistic dimension to our space. We look forward to welcoming even more art enthusiasts, local history admirers and visitors to explore the rich heritage of Whitechapel."

Luke Gregory-Jones, Whitechapel Gallery's Deputy Director