Category Archives: London Photography

The Westferry Road, Emmett Street Newsagent

Gala Day London by Izis was published in 1953 and brings together the photography of Izis Bidermanas with the words of writers. artists and poets of the day. The aim of the book was to have:

“Twenty-two amongst the most representative of our writers, poets and artists have contributed original texts relating to the photographs. Together their work forms a unique anthology both of the creative impulse which is alive in Britain today and of how London appears to our generation.”

The book is a wonderful collection of full page black and white photographs of London and Londoners, providing a snapshot of the city in 1953.

Westferry Road

Izis Bidermanas was born in Lithuania in 1911, but moved to Paris in 1930 to pursue his interest and career in photography. Being Jewish, he had to leave Paris during the war and escaped to Ambazac in south central France, part of Vichy France. It was here that he changed his first name from Israëlis to Izis to try to disguise his origin, but he was still arrested and tortured by the Nazis. He was freed by the French Resistance, who he then joined and took a series of portraits of resistance fighters which were published after the war to great acclaim.

After the war he returned to Paris to continue his photographic career and also started publishing books which portrayed his subjects in a humanistic, affectionate and nostalgic style.

Izis published a couple of books of London photography in 1953, The Queen’s People and Gala Day London – both full of wonderful photos that capture London at a specific point in time.

So why am I featuring Gala Day London for this week’s post?

It was one of my father’s large collection of London books and I was browsing through the book a few months ago and found one of his photos between two of the pages. Written on the back of the photo was “Newsagent – Emmett Street / Westferry Road, 5th September 1986”.

The photo was inserted alongside the page that had the following Izis photo:

Westferry Road

And this is the photo I found inserted in the book, my father’s photo taken on the 5th September 1986:

Westferry Road

Remarkably the photo is of the same location. Under the white washed walls, the bricked up windows, the loss of all the signage and the bollards on the pavement the building is the same.

The Emmett Street sign appears to be the same, but has been moved lower down the wall and painted over so is not immediately obvious. The larger wall of the building behind can also be seen in both photos.

It is incredibly sad to compare the two photos. What had in 1953 been a typical East London newsagent was now derelict and waiting for demolition as part of the redevelopment of the area around Canary Wharf.

My father’s notes on the back of the photo gave me the location – Emmett Street and Westferry Road so I had to find the location today.

The map below is an extract from the 1940 Bartholomew’s Atlas of Greater London. I have put a red circle around the junction of Emmett Street and Westferry Road where I believe the newsagent was located.

Westferry Road

I then checked the 1895 Ordnance Survey map as this is far more detailed and at the same junction there is a building on the corner of the junction with the same angled corner of the building where the entrance was located. I knew the building was on this side of the street as in my father’s photo the pole in front of the wall is casting a shadow, so the wall is facing south.

Westferry Road

The Ordnance Survey map is on the wonderful National Library of Scotland web site and the site has the ability to overlay a modern map on the 1895 map with adjustable transparency, so with a modern overlay and transparency the map looks like this:

Westferry Road

The link to the NLS site for the map is here.

The map gave me the exact location for the newsagent – underneath Westferry Road where it runs up to Westferry Circus.

A note on Westferry Road. In the 1895 OS map, the road is named as Bridge Road. At the time Westferry Road only ran as far north as the entrance to the South Dock, from there onwards it was named Bridge Road, presumably as this part of the road crossed the entrances to the South Dock and the Limehouse Basin.

By the 1940 map, Bridge Road had been renamed West Ferry Road.

Today, it is still the same name, however in the 1895 and 1940 maps it is West Ferry, today on maps and signs the two words have been combined to Westferry Road.

A couple of weeks ago I had a day off from work and for a change the weather was brilliant so I headed out on the DLR to Canary Wharf and took the short walk to Westferry Circus.

Emmett Street today has been lost beneath all the development of recent decades. Hotels, apartment buildings and one of the entrances to the Limehouse Link Tunnel have all erased this street. Emmett Street developed during the early 19th century to provide a link from Three Colt Street to Bridge Road along the back of the buildings constructed along the river front.

Westferry Circus was partly built over the old Limehouse Basin and the Limehouse entrance from the river. It is an elevated structure built higher than the original level of the land so Westferry Road slopes upward to meet Westferry Circus.

This is the view of Westferry Road as it slopes up to Westferry Circus. I tried to accurately locate the old newsagent building by referencing its position on the National Library of Scotland map, using the buildings alongside, the black lights along the edge of the road which appear visible as black dots on the overlay map, and the position of Ontario Way.

I have marked the location of the newsagent building using red lines in the photo below:

Westferry Road

It depends how the land levels have changed with all the building work, but the top of the upper floor of the newsagent would probably have been above the current level of the road.

There are also roads running either side of the elevated approach road to Westferry Circus. This is the view from the side, again I have marked where the old newsagents was located:

Westferry Road

This is the view looking up towards Westferry Circus. The newsagent was on the elevated road, to the left of the direction sign. I doubt if the three men sitting outside the newsagent could have imagined that their view would be changing to this over the coming decades – I wonder what they would have thought?

Westferry Road

As the weather was so good, here are a couple more photos, this one looking across Westferry Circus:

Westferry Road

And this one looking from the edge of Westferry Circus along the Thames to the City. It was here that the Limehouse entrance from the river ran across the open space at the bottom of the steps to a set of locks roughly where I am standing.

Westferry Road

It was fascinating to find my father’s photo in among the pages of Gala Day London. It was one of a number he took in the 1980s around the Isle of Dogs and East London.

The layout of the book consists of an Izis photo on the right hand page and a poem or descriptive text on the left. A wide range of authors and poets contributed to the book including John Betjeman, Laurie Lee and T.S. Lewis.

Opposite the Emmett Street photo was a poem written by Clifford Dyment, a poet, literary critic, editor and journalist, who lived from 1914 to 1971. His contribution appropriately is to the wonderful variety of the corner shop:

Westferry Road

The lines “it may be sherbet suckers, dabs, straps of liquorice” perfectly describe my memories of corner shops as a boy.

I do not know why Izis singled out this newsagent out of all the newsagents and cornershops there were across London at the time, or if the photo was natural or had been set up. The majority of his work in the two London books look natural. The following from the introduction to Gala Day London provides some clues of how he selected his subjects:

“Izis Bidermanas is both a foreigner and a poet who uses a camera. When we look at his photographs we recognise that the obvious subjects have been avoided and that ‘there is a poetry of cities which has nothing to do with things that receive three stars in the guide books. Perhaps it has been specially by way of Londoners rather than by stone and stucco that he has grown to know London. His pictures are above all an evocation of daily life. He has had a capricious sitter and has not attempted to bend her to his will but has preferred to attend upon her whim. This attitude has probably been responsible for the sense of humanity which arises from the pictures.”

It is always strange to stand at places such as Westferry Circus and look down on the view today knowing what was once here – it was then time to move on and make the most of the weather as I had a few more East London locations to track down and photograph.

alondoninheritance.com

London Life In Postcards

The problem with trying to research a weekly post is that work frequently gets in the way and the last couple of weeks have been rather busy, so for this week, let me show you some aspects of London Life as portrayed by postcards.

I am always on the lookout for London postcards, they help with understanding how the city has changed over the years and how Londoners have lived and worked. Some postcards show similar scenes that my father photographed and it is fascinating to compare these, and also to visit the locations of these photos today. Some have changed beyond all recognition whilst others are much the same.

Postcards were published covering a wide range of different topics and below are a sample of some individual cards as well as a series of cards published in the early 1950s titled “London Life”.

The Stock Exchange, London – Throgmorton Street.

london-life-in-postcards-1

The use of roof space for gardens, restaurants and bars is not a new phenomena, Selfridges had the Hanging Gardens of London.

london-life-in-postcards-2

The view along the Strand towards the church of St.Mary-le-Strand. According to the postmark on this card it was posted on the 8th June 1907.

london-life-in-postcards-3

The photo used for the following postcard must have been taken around 1932 as it shows the Daily Express building at 120 Fleet Street and presumably from the remaining scaffolding on the top levels, construction was almost complete.

This remarkable building was constructed between 1930 and 1932 as the headquarters of the Daily Express Newspaper and in the early 1930s must have seemed very futuristic.

The building was technically difficult to construct as printing presses had to be accommodated in the basement. A reinforced concrete deck was used between the ground floor and the basement to provide sufficient free space in the basement for the printing presses.

The distinctive facade of the building comprised black panels, clear glass and chrome strips with curved corners. The building is now Grade II listed.

london-life-in-postcards-4

The Daily Express building must have seemed so out of character with the surrounding buildings on Fleet Street. I do not know what the reaction was at the time, but it does make me question my own views on some of the new developments today, whether in 80 years time they will be considered classic examples of an architectural style and protected.

There are many postcards showing the surprising number of exhibitions that were held in London during the early decades of the 20th century. The scene in the following postcard is of the Scenic Railway at the Coronation Exhibition held at White City to commemorate the coronation of George V. Rather tame by the standards of today, but it must have been an adventurous ride at the time. If you look on the left there are many light bulbs across the rather realistic rock so this must have been lit up at night and must have been a sight for 1911.

london-life-in-postcards-5

Two very early postcards of Petticoat Lane. Poor quality, but they do provide a good impression of this crowded street market.

london-life-in-postcards-6

london-life-in-postcards-7

Postcards can confirm that some things do not change. Oxford has always been crowded with buses. The advertising banners on the right selling a Whole Head Permanent Wave for either 30 or 25 shillings. When you have had your hair done, you could then get a passport photo taken at the Venus Studio.

london-life-in-postcards-8

The Guildhall as it was before bombing during the 2nd World War reduced the Guildhall to a shell, and destroyed the surrounding buildings. The card was posted on the 15th July 1907

london-life-in-postcards-9

View down Kingsway. The building at the far end is Bush House, the old location of the BBC World Service. The card was posted on the 31st August 1942 so must show Kingsway in the 1930s.

london-life-in-postcards-10

Leicester Square at night. Interesting that most of the photos of London at night that I have seen on postcards were taken after rain, a trick that brings out the reflections of the lights.

london-life-in-postcards-11

Queen Victoria Street. The corner building on the right is still there as is the church of St. Mary Aldermary on the left.

london-life-in-postcards-12

The following photo of Tower Bridge must have been taken from the brewery by Horselydown Old Stairs. I find the scene behind Tower Bridge interesting as it is very different now. If you stood in the same position today, the view would be dominated by the towers of the Walkie Talkie, the Cheesegrater and the Gherkin.

london-life-in-postcards-13

The following photo must have been taken from the tower of St. Clement Danes looking back along Fleet Street towards the City. The Royal Courts of Justice are on the left, followed by the tower of St. Dunstan in the West, with the tower of St. Brides further to the right with St. Paul’s Cathedral behind.

london-life-in-postcards-14

View towards Holborn Viaduct. On the left is the shop and workshops of Negretti and Zambra, manufacturers of scientific and optical equipment at 38 Holborn Viaduct.

london-life-in-postcards-15

Postcards were used for advertising by many businesses including restaurants such as Simpson’s in the Strand. Originally opened in 1828 and still in business with carvers and roast beef a specialty, although I doubt that today’s staff have the same length of service as the carvers in the photo. The “youngest of them has served there for over a quarter of a century”.  I also suspect you would not want to complain about your Sunday Roast to these rather intimidating carvers.

london-life-in-postcards-16

The original City of London School on the Victoria Embankment by the northern end of Blackfriars Bridge. Although the school has relocated the buildings are still there. At the far edge can be seen the corner of De Keyser’s Royal Hotel.

london-life-in-postcards-17

Earl’s Court was an entertainment and exhibition centre long before the large exhibition centre (currently being demolished) was built-in the 1930s. An early wooden roller coaster is on the right and I am not sure what the ride is on the left which seems to provide some means of gliding people to the top.

london-life-in-postcards-18

London Life

In the 1950s, Charles Skilton published a series of twelve postcards called “London Life”, typical scenes of people and events across London. Often this type of postcard would be a posed, however these photos all look to be natural.

Costermonger ‘Pearly Kings and Queens” in Southwark.

london-life-in-postcards-19

Orators’ Corner, Hyde Park. A well known spot for open-air speaking.

london-life-in-postcards-20

The busy docks in the Port of London.

london-life-in-postcards-21

Judges leaving a service in Westminster Abbey.

london-life-in-postcards-22

Posing for a photograph with the pigeons in Trafalgar Square.

london-life-in-postcards-23

A Flower Seller in Piccadilly Circus.

london-life-in-postcards-24

An Entertainer escapes from a bound sack in the Charing Cross Road. I think this must have been Johnny Eagle as the performers look the same as in the photos my father took on Tower Hill.

london-life-in-postcards-25

A pavement artist outside the National Portrait Gallery.

london-life-in-postcards-26

A Street Market in Soho – the view is looking down Rupert Street with Archer Street running to the immediate left. The pub on the corner, The White Horse is still there and the building on the immediate right is the Gielgud Theatre, which at the time was called the Globe (the name change to Gielgud Theatre was in 1994 as a tribute to Sir John Gielgud).

london-life-in-postcards-27

Artists show their pictures in the open-air at Hampstead. There were a number of open-air art exhibitions in London, as well as Hampstead, I have a series of photos my father took of an open-air exhibition in the Victoria Embankment Gardens.

london-life-in-postcards-28

An East End Rag-and-Bone Man. Crockery is offered as an alternative to cash.

london-life-in-postcards-29

The Guards in Whitehall are a familiar spectacle.

london-life-in-postcards-30

Postcards were generally used by tourists to London, or for sending a brief message which could be quickly written down and posted rather than writing a letter. With the growth in use of technologies such as e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp etc. I suspect that the future for postcards is in a very sharp decline and postcards of London Life will no longer provide a record of the changing city.

alondoninheritance.com

Wonderful London

I have been collecting books about London for many years, my first purchase was in the mid 1970s in a second-hand bookshop in one of the alleys leading into Greenwich Market. It was H.V. Morton’s London, first published in 1940, a collection of three individual books published in the 1920s. H.V. Morton was a journalist and his writing about London was probably embellished somewhat, but at the time it seemed to bring alive the history and romance of London.

I recently bought a remarkable 3 volume set – Wonderful London, published in the late 1920s. It was edited by St. John Adcock (a prolific author and poet who lived in Hampstead and died in 1930) and described as “The World’s Greatest City Described by its Best Writers and Pictured by its Finest Photographers”.

Wonderful London has chapters on all aspects of the city, each written by a different author, for example “How London Strikes A Provincial” by J.B. Priestley, “The Case For Old London” by G.K. Chesterton and “Sunday In Town” by H.V. Morton.

The three volumes run to over 1100 pages and 1200 photos and provides a fantastic snapshot of London in the 1920s with the text highlighting the social attitudes of the time.

As I scanned through the book, many of the photos are of the same scenes that my father took in the late 1940s and early 1950s and which I have been photographing over the years. There are also some remarkable photos showing London in the first decades of the 20th century and for this week’s post, let me bring you a sample of photos from Wonderful London.

To start, the first photo is a fantastic aerial view of Wembley Stadium. the title to the photo is “Ants Nest Carelessly Broken Open Or Wembley Stadium Seen From The Cockpit Of An Aeroplane”. The caption to the photo reads:

“When at the end of 1925, after two years of stucco splendour, the pavilions and palaces of the British Empire Exhibition melted beneath the workmen’s hands, one building, as though in irony remained, the Wembley Stadium, solid-built as the shrine of professional football. It is symptomatic boast that the Stadium exceeds the Colosseum in size by one-half. During the period of the Exhibition the arena was used for various pageants and military displays, but it is not on record that they ever drew a crowd nearly as dense as the one on which we are gazing.”

Wonderful London 1

Continuing on the football theme, the following photo is titled “Street Hawkers Sell Football Favours At Walham Green” and has the caption:

“At Walham Green coloured favours and match programmes are for sale near Stamford Bridge, the ground of the Chelsea Football Club.”

Wonderful London 9

Walham Green is a name that is rarely heard today. Originally the name of a village in west London, dating back to at least 1383 when it was known as Wandongrene. As the above reference to Chelsea Football Club suggests, it was integrated into Chelsea and Fulham. The underground station on the District Line that is now called Fulham Broadway was originally called Walham Green. See the following scan from a 1937 underground map. The name changed to Fulham Broadway in 1952.

Wonderful London 40

Last year I published a couple of posts on the Caledonian Market, including climbing the Clock Tower which can be found here and here. Wonderful London includes a few photos of the market, including the following photo showing an overview of the market in action. The clock tower is still there, but the surroundings are now completely different.

Wonderful London 2

As well as the main cattle market, the Caledonian Market area was also the site of a Friday “pedlars’ market”  where is was possible to buy almost anything. The following photo shows the sale of poultry at the pedlars market.

Wonderful London 3

A couple of months ago, I published a photo my father took after the war of the ruins of Chelsea Old Church. In frount of this photo there is a cart with a few children. The cart appears to be an ice cream cart. In Wonderful London there is the photo below of a similar scene with the title “A Son Of Italy Does A Brisk Trade In Frozen Something-Or-Other.”

Wonderful London 4

At the end of last year, I went on the Massey Shaw Fireboat as it traveled along the Thames to demonstrate how river based firefighting was carried out. Wonderful London includes the following photo of a huge warehouse fire at Millwall with “thousands of tons of rubber are burning here besides large quantities of tallow and carpets”, being fought by fireboats on the river.

Wonderful London 5

Wonderful London includes a couple of full-page spreads showing views along the Thames. The following photo shows the original Waterloo Bridge from the top of the Savoy Hotel and is titled “Before Evil Days Fell Upon Waterloo Bridge After A Century Of London Traffic.” The caption reads:

“This is a last look at the old bridge as it was before two of its arches failed and began to take up that bent and disquieting appearance which caused the steel auxiliary to be built, the old bridge shored up and so much ink spilt about it.”

Wonderful London 6

Another of the panorama photos is the following photo taken from the roof of Bush House. The photo is looking towards the South Bank and shows the Shot Tower and the industrial area on the South Bank prior to the post war redevelopment leading to the Festival of Britain.

Wonderful London 7

It is interesting that London has always been the subject of “before and after photos”, which is also one of my aims for this blog, to take photos today of the locations my father photographed in the 1940s/50s. Wonderful London includes a number of examples, including the following two photos taken from the same position in the Strand. The first photo shows the original Temple Bar city boundary in 1878. The second photo shows exactly the same scene in the 1920s following removal of Temple Bar, widening of the street and new buildings on either side of the Strand. The location can be confirmed by building number 229 which is on the right of both photos.

Wonderful London 10

Wonderful London 11

Wonderful London features a range of photos of London children, including the two photos below which are titled “A Budding Humorist Of The East-End And The Serpentine Smile”. the caption for both photos reads:

“A water-tank covered by a plank in a back-yard among the slums is an unlikely place for a stage, but an undaunted admirer of that great Cockney humorist, Charlie Chaplin, is holding his audience with an imitation of the well-known gestures  with which the comic actor indicates the care-free-though-down-and-out view of life which he has immortalised on the screen. Below is a group of summer paddlers in the Serpentine. On the extreme left is a boy holding the shafts of the inevitable sugar-box cart fixed on perambulator wheels.”

Wonderful London 13

Wonderful London 12

In last week’s post I featured photos my father had taken from the river looking at the north bank of the river. One of these photos had the shell of the church of Allhallows by the Tower which had suffered severe bomb damage during the war. Wonderful London includes the following photo of the church in the 1920s, looking south. The buildings behind the church to the right are between the church and the river. The majority of the surrounding buildings would also be destroyed by bombing in just over 10 years following the decade when this photo was taken.

Wonderful London 14

Photos of views along the river with many of the earlier bridges are included. The following photo shows the view from the Adelphi Terrace looking eastward along the river. The bridge is the original Waterloo Bridge that crossed the river before the version of the bridge in place today, and was photographed after the failures mentioned in the earlier photo. The bridge has the “steel auxiliary” also mentioned above.

Wonderful London 15

The markets of London feature in Wonderful London. Here is Covent Garden, with the title “Early Morning In The Convent Garden Which Has become Covent Garden” and the caption reads:

“It seems that the Convent Garden of Westminster stretched along the north side of the Strand between Drury Lane and St. Martin-in-the-Fields. When Henry VIII made his pounce upon the monasteries and flung the pieces to his followers, the Russell family got the garden and built themselves Bedford House on the south side. They caused Inigo Jones to lay out a piazza on the north and east and a church on the west. Stalls for selling fruit and vegetables were already established. In 1704 the Russells (or Bedfords) moved to Bloomsbury, and in 1830 most of the current buildings were put up. Soon after midnight the carts start their journeys from the market gardens beyond outer London to reach Covent Garden in time.”

Wonderful London 16

Another London market is Billingsgate Market and the photo in Wonderful London below of the streets outside the market is taken from roughly the same location as one my father had taken (see here). The photo is titled “Fish-Porters Of Billingsgate Gathered About Consignments Lately Arrived From The Coast” and the caption reads:

“At Billingsgate is the chief fish market of London. and to it are brought all kinds of fish from aristocratic salmon and oysters to democratic shrimps and dog-fish of rock salmon. At one time smacks brought all the fish sold in the market, and were unloaded at Billingsgate Wharf, which is said to be the oldest in London. Today however, most comes by train, and little by boat.  The daily market is always crowded, and business is conducted at a speed extremely confusing to the casual spectator. Here we may see the fish porters, who have an almost legendary reputation for bad language, handling the slippery loads with the precision of experts. In the background of this view, to the right, is seen the monument.”

Wonderful London 17

One of the ancient customs covered by Wonderful London is Swan Upping. A custom which my father photographed, as did I during the 2015 event. My post can be found here. Photos of the event in the 1920s look almost identical to the event of today.

Wonderful London 18

Among photos of Londoners and their trades is the following of “old cabbies headed by an ancient who claims that he once drove King Edward when Prince of Wales, from Waterloo to Marlborough House, in 1868.” You probably would not want to question the route taken by these cabbies!

Wonderful London 19

A chapter in Wonderful London covers Social Work, but a very different form of Social Work to that we understand today. Provided to Londoners through a range of organisations such as the Salvation Army, Police Court Missionaries, Dr. Barnardo’s, the Watercress and Flower Girls’ Christian Mission, St. Dunstan’s, the Morning Post Home for Destitute Men, a Medical Mission for ailing working women and children and the YMCA.

The following photo has the title: “Little Citizens Of London Who Ask For A Change In Life” and is captioned:

“There is no more important branch of social work in great cities than amelioration of the slum child’s lot. The public conscience is difficult to stir, but much is nevertheless being done by philanthropical societies and by individual effort to brighten the drab lives of these little unfortunates, to rescue them from surroundings of cruelty or crime and to start them upon happy and useful careers. Many east-end children have never been beyond their own disease-ridden courts and the dingy streets that form their playground.”

Wonderful London 20

There are many photos in the books which show exactly the same scenes that my father would later photograph. One of these is The Flask in Highgate (see my post on The Flask which can be found here). The caption to the photo reads:

“At The Flask, labourers from the few surviving farms still drink the good ale, as their forerunners did a century ago. This tavern was much frequented by revellers’ clubs of late Georgian times.”

Wonderful London 21

It is interesting that in almost 100 years, aspects of London’s transport system have not really changed.  The following photo has the title “Herding Passengers On To A Bus On Ludgate Hill” and the caption starts “Londoners endure a state of perpetual and acute discomfort in the daily travelling to and from their work which is really astonishing.” A sentence that could equally apply today.

Wonderful London 22

One of the chapters in Wonderful London covers second-hand bookshops and includes the following photo of a second-hand bookshop in Charing Cross Road, which as well as being the home to Foyles (which originally had a second-hand department) also had many other book shops.

Just looking at this photo makes me wonder what treasures could be found in this shop. Had I been around at the time I would probably have spent far too much time and money in shops like this one.

Wonderful London 23

A range of occupations are covered in the three volumes, including the following photo of steeplejacks defying vertigo on the spire of All Saints, Poplar.

Wonderful London 24

In last weeks post I included a photo taken from the river showing Adelaide House adjacent to London Bridge. Wonderful London includes the following photo of the building soon after completion. The title reads “Adelaide House, A Monument of Modern Architecture On The Site Of Old London Bridge”. The caption to the photo reads:

“In observing this new expression of the architect’s attempt to meet the problems of rebuilding in London it must be remembered that, according to design, a superstructure has yet to be added, and that the bridge level is not the ground level of the building. To get the full height effect, Adelaide House must be viewed from the river or else its south bank. Another place from which to be impressed or perhaps oppressed by the height of the thing is Lower Thames Street. Sir John Burnet and his partners were responsible for the huge study in concrete, and several designs for it were submitted and revised. There is a curious effect about the main entrance as though doorways had shrunk under the tremendous weight above.”

Interesting that the height of buildings has always been an issue in London.

Wonderful London 27

When the telephone was introduced across London, the majority of wiring was above ground. Old photos often show telegraph poles on top of office buildings with wiring strung across the rooftops and streets. These required a good head for heights to maintain. The title for the following photo reads: “Suspending a telephone cable between Conduit and Maddox Streets.”

And has the caption:

Twice a year the steel wires which support London’s telephone cables – each cable may hold the lines of thirty subscribers – are inspected. The cables are fastened to the wires by rawhide suspenders and this man is detaching the thick dark cable from the old wire and fastening it to the new wire, which shows fresh and bright above. The new wire also supports the worker. He sits in a bo’sn’s chair, consisting of a board slung by a loop at either end, which is fastened to the wire. Overhead wires are gradually being superseded by underground systems.”

Wonderful London 28

Some jobs are almost the same now as they were then, for example overnight maintenance work on the city’s railways. The following photo has the caption:

“A gang is at work on the permanent way on Charing Cross Bridge. The lights of the station can be seen in the distance.”

Wonderful London 30

Fog was very much a problem for London in the 1920s. The following photo is titled “Fogbound, Flares For Traffic In A London Particular” and is captioned:

“When the minute particles of dust which are always overhanging London become coated with moisture and the temperature falls below what is called dew point, that is when the temperature at which the moisture in the atmosphere condenses, fog blankets the streets. It is one of the scourges of the city, and much time and money are lost annually by its delaying the traffic. In a real pea-souper acetylene flares are placed at traffic control points. In the photo a constable is directing traffic where Charing Cross meets Trafalgar Square.”

Wonderful London 31

Interesting that the caption refers to the time and money lost due to London fogs rather than the impact on the health of Londoners. Business, trade and making money has always been the main driver of London life.

I covered the cannon in frount of the Tower of London in a post showing my father’s 1947 photo of the area.  Wonderful London includes a photo of the same area from the 1920s with the title “Tower Wharf: One Of London’s Lunch-Time Gathering Grounds” and the caption:

“Despite the tremendous number and variety of eating places, many hundreds of those who work in the City and its surroundings prefer, in fine weather, to eat their lunch on a park seat or as here, seated on the slippery surface of an old cannon. Tower Wharf, whatever its merits as a restaurant, is a fine place to view the Tower, and also the shipping in the Upper Pool and the opening of Tower Bridge. The wharf was built by Henry III who also made Traitors Gate. The wharf gave the fortress one more line of protection. On the very ground where this crowd is sitting another crowd assembled day after day to scream for the trembling Judge Jeffryes to be thrown to them, in quittance for the Bloody Assize.”

Wonderful London 32

A theme during the 1920s was the growth in motorised traffic across London and the need to manage traffic. This required new systems of control and in 1925 manually operated traffic lights were installed at the junction of St. Jame’s Street and Piccadilly.

The photo below shows the junction. Look in the middle of the photo and there is a small hut.

Wonderful London 33

Within this hut is the control equipment for the traffic lights. Operated manually by the levers at the bottom of the photo with the street layout and indicators showing the status of the traffic lights above. Requiring an operator for each set of traffic lights, it is no wonder that they only really started to proliferate across London when automated lights were developed a few years later.

Wonderful London 34

The book also features trades that have long since disappeared. Tanneries were a major industry in 19th century London but in the first decades of the 20th century they were gradually disappearing. The following photo shows one of the remaining tanneries and is captioned:

“At Bermondsey tanning is, so to speak, in the air as one traverses the dingy streets towards the Neckinger Mills, where the photograph was taken. We are looking at the lime yard full of pits about seven feet deep, and built some 60 or 70 years ago. Fifteen to thirty dozen skins go to a ‘pack’ and each pack is soaked in fresh water, then in a solution of limewater, for 3 – 6 weeks to remove the hair. Goat skins are being dealt with here.”

Wonderful London 35

Radio broadcasting, or wireless was a new technology in the 1920s with the BBC having started daily broadcasts in 1922. Wonderful London shows how this technology is starting to impact the lives of Londoners with two photos under the title: “Broadcasting Noises From The Zoo To The Aerials Of Suburbia”

The photos are captioned:

“Howling is only approved of by ‘listeners-in’ when it comes from the Zoo, and several experiments have been made in bringing the wild animal into the home by wireless. We see the officials of the British Broadcasting Co. preparing to receive a few screeches from the aviary.”

Wonderful London 36

“These will be wafted over the forest of wireless poles that has sprung up all over London since the broadcasting craze took its hold on the inhabitants. The poorer neighbourhoods seem particularly to bristle with aerial poles, and this is very noticeable from a train traversing such districts.”

Wonderful London 37

As well as radio providing a new means of communication and entertainment another new technology that started to be widely available and continues to have a huge impact on London is flight.

Long before Heathrow or Gatwick, Croydon was London’s airport, and the following photos show the first steps in London’s aviation journey. The first photo is titled “The Air Port of London As It Was In 1925” and is captioned:

“The official designation of the great aerodrome is “The Air Port Of London” though it is popularly known as the Croydon, or Waddon aerodrome for it is included in the latter parish”

Wonderful London 38

And the following photo “Loading Cargo and Passengers”

“Passengers are embarking for Paris by an Imperials Airways machine.”

Wonderful London 39

When you consider how quickly these first tentative steps in commercial aviation transformed into the scale and complexity that we now see at Heathrow, it does make you wonder what the next 90 years will hold for London.

Wonderful London does live up to its name and with the written chapters that cover almost any topic you could think off, and with so many photos the books really do justice to describing the world’s greatest city.

alondoninheritance,com

A Walk Through 1980s London

When I get the time, it is great to have a walk round London without any fixed purpose other than look at the buildings, shops, streets and people. I always have a camera with me to record how London continues to change.

Last year I posted a number photos we took of 1980s London on a number of walks just exploring the city, and for this week’s post I have another selection of photos from across London in 1986. (The earlier posts can be found here and here)

Many of these shops and businesses have long since disappeared, however surprisingly a number still remain and thankfully many of the buildings have survived.

This was only thirty years ago, but in some ways, a very different City.

To start with, this is the shop of Amos Jones, theatrical chemist on the corner of Drury Lane and Long Acre, Amos Jones has long since disappeared however the building is still there and looking much the same.

Walk through 1980s London 14

S. Krantz & Son, Specialist Shoe Repairers, 180 Drury Lane. Another closed business, but the building remains.

Walk through 1980s London 15

L. Cornelissen & Son, Artists’ Colourmen in their original shop in Drury Lane. The business is still going and is now located at 105 Great Russel Street. The photo also has one of the parking meters that were so common on the streets in the 1980s (on the left, underneath the number 22). Funny how what was so common on the streets can disappear without really being noticed.

Walk through 1980s London 13

G. Smith & Sons – Smith’s Noted Snuff Shop Est 1869 at 74 Charing Cross Road. Lasted for over 120 years, but now closed. The building remains the same.

Walk through 1980s London 16

Dodds the Printers, 193 King’s Cross Road. Again, closed but the building is still much the same.

Walk through 1980s London 10

Covent Garden now and N. Mann, Picture Framers, closed many years ago.

Walk through 1980s London 5

Into the City, and the corner of Wood Street and Cheapside. The building is still there, but L & R Wooderson, Shirtmakers, have been replaced by a gift card shop.

Walk throgh 1980s London 1

Attenborough Jewelers, 244 Bethnal Green Road. The past 30 years must have been good to them as they now occupy the building to the right as well as the original building.

Walk through 1980s London 22

The Monmouth Coffee House at 27 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden. Still at the same location, but now called the Monmouth Coffee Company. Unfortunately the impressive display of coffee beans hanging above the shop are not there now.

Walk through 1980s London 4

Albert France & Son, not sure where this photo was taken, however they are still in business and based in Lamb’s Conduit Street.

Walk through 1980s London 3

James Smith & Sons, 53 New Oxford Street. Umbrella manufacturers since 1830. Still in the same shop with the same signage as back in 1986.

Walk through 1980s London 6

F. W. Collins & Son, 14 Earlham Street, Covent Garden. Run by seven generations of the Collins family, with each first-born son always being named Fred to ensure the continuity of the business. Closed around 2006.

Walk through 1980s London 8

J. Evans, Dairy Farmer on the corner of Warren Street and Conway Street. The shop has long closed, however the exterior decoration has remained and the shop is now a cafe.

Walk through 1980s London 7

LLoyd and Son, Dairy Farmers on the corner of River Street and Amwell Street. The shop has closed, but the building and the original exterior decoration is still in place.

Walk through 1980s London 18

Another photo of Lloyd & Son showing one of the shop windows. Corner shops like this just do not exist anymore.

Walk through 1980s London 19

Camden:

Walk through 1980s London 11

Another Camden shop – walk along Camden High Street today and the shops are much the same,

Walk through 1980s London 12

Syd’s Coffee Stall, opened in 1919 and still going strong on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Calvert Avenue.

Walk through 1980s London 21

Did not make a note of the location of this building – original signs on the walls. Do not recall having seen this building in recent years.

Walk through 1980s London 9

B. Flegg in Monmouth Street. I suspect these signs are not there anymore as I do not recall seeing them when I last walked down Monmouth Street as I would have taken another photo.

Walk through 1980s London 2

Advertising signs on building on the corner of Cambridge Gardens and Ladbroke Grove. The building is still there (much cleaner now) but the signs have gone.

Walk through 1980s London 20

F. Bowman, Engineer’s Pattern Makers, 13 Amwell Street. Although the business has long since closed, the shop front is still in place.

Walk through 1980s London 17

London is a fantastic city to walk, having a few hours to go on a walk with no clear direction and turning down streets at random just to see what is there often reveals so much about the city. Hopefully now that the lighter evenings are here with the hope of better weather, there will be plenty of opportunities for more long, random walks.

alondoninheritance.com

A Walk Along The Greenwich Peninsula

I have to blame a busy week at work for a different post this week to the one I had planned as I had hoped to visit a couple of locations for some research, so for this week’s post I would like to take you on a walk along the Greenwich Peninsula. It is rather brief, but does cover a fascinating part of London and one that is to see some significant change over the next few years.

London is changing so rapidly that it is difficult to photograph places and buildings before they change or disappear and the subject of this week’s post is an area I wish I had photographed before, I have walked the area but did not photograph, so this is very much a catch-up.

Greenwich is mainly known for the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark etc. however step a short distance away from these places and there are the remains of an industrial landscape that will soon be covered in the ubiquitous apartment buildings that can be seen across London, all basically to the same design and of the same materials.

As well as the apartment buildings, this area is also planned to be the site of a cruise ship terminal in the next few years, providing visitors with access to both Greenwich and central London.

The photos below come from a couple of last year’s walks from Greenwich to the O2 Dome. The area has a fascinating industrial history and for a very well researched book about the area I can highly recommend the book Innovation, Enterprise and Change on the Greenwich Peninsula by Mary Mills.

Starting from the Greenwich Pier, the view along the river gives an indication of what is to come with cranes in the distance towering above new construction work.

Greenwich Peninsula 1

Walking along the river path having passed the buildings of the Old Royal Naval College and along a side road, is the Trinity Hospital and Greenwich Power Station.

The Almshouses of Trinity Hospital have been on the site since the 17th century, but the current buildings are from the early 19th century. The adjacent power station was built at the start of the 20th century to power the London tram and underground network, however since the transfer of the power supply for the underground to the National Grid, the Greenwich Power Station retains a role as a backup generator.

Greenwich Peninsula 2

The river wall in front of the Almshouses records past levels of flooding.

The lower left plaque records the height of the tide on the 30th March 1874. The plaque on the right records “an extraordinary high tide” on January 7th 1928 when “75ft of this wall were demolished”.

The plaque at the top records that the wall was “erected and the piles fixed” in the year 1817.

Greenwich Peninsula 3

Walk along a bit further and it is possible to look back to the river wall in front of the Almshouses and see the remains of the original steps that led up from the river. A reminder of when the majority of travel to sites along the river would have been on the river.

Greenwich Peninsula 4

The original coal supplies for the power station came by river and the jetty remains, now unused as the limited amount of oil and gas needed for the power station in a standby role is delivered by road.

Greenwich Peninsula 27

The Britain From Above website has an excellent aerial photo of the power station in full operation in 1924. The almshouses can be seen to the left with their gardens running back in parallel to the power station. This is photo reference  EPW010754

EPW010754

Walk past the power station and the Cutty Sark pub (a good stop before setting off towards the Dome) and the building marked as the Harbour Masters Office is the last building before we come to what was the old industrial area and is now the subject of much redevelopment.

Greenwich Peninsula 5

Walk up a short ramp and this is the view. Whilst there is an urgent need for lots more housing in London, why do all apartment buildings have to look identical and obliterate any local character.

Greenwich Peninsula 6

There are the remains of a number of artworks along this stretch of the Thames. Here a line of clocks tied to fencing.

Greenwich Peninsula 28

Some parts of the walk are between fenced off industrial areas waiting for development. Indeed walking along the path you do get the feeling that the area is just waiting – the industry has gone, the new development has not yet started.

Greenwich Peninsula 8

Where the pathway runs along the river there are a surprising number of trees. Here an apple tree, intriguing to think that this could have grown from the seeds in an apple core thrown down by a long departed worked, or possibly washed down the Thames.

Greenwich Peninsula 9

One of the main industries along this stretch of the river was the manufacture of submarine communication cables which took place at Enderby Wharf and it is here that we can see the remains of some of this activity.

Here was manufactured the first cable to cross the Atlantic and up until the mid 1970s much of the world’s subsea communication cables had been manufactured here. The web site covering the history of the Atlantic Cable and Undersea Communications has a detailed history of Enderby Wharf.

The two structures that can still be seen are part of the mechanism for transferring cable from the factory on the right to cable ships moored in the Thames to the left. Cable would be run across the walkway to the top of the tower on the right then to the round hold-back mechanism on the left then onto the ship.

Greenwich Peninsula 10

Again, the Britain from Above web site has a photo of the Enderby Wharf site which is in the middle of the photo. This is photo reference EAW002289

EAW002289

The following photo is why I wish I had taken photos along this stretch of the Thames some years ago. Hoardings now block of the factory site, but only the original Enderby House remains. This is a listed building, built around 1830, but looks to be in a process of slow decay. The Atlantic Cable and Undersea Communications website has lots of detail on Enderby House and how the building has decayed.

All I can do now is climb on the river wall and try to look over the hoardings.

Greenwich Peninsula 11

Looking onto Enderby’s Wharf. Cable being run onto ships would have crossed directly above on its route from the factory.Greenwich Peninsula 12

How Barratt Homes plan to develop Enderby Wharf can be found here.

Look into the river and a set of steps running down into the Thames can be seen. These are the Enderby Wharf Ferry Steps. Whilst steps into the river have been here for many years, these steps are recent, having been installed in 2001.

Greenwich Peninsula 13

The plaque at the top of the steps.

Greenwich Peninsula 14

The plaque records that:

These steps originally gave access to the row boat and ferry man that ferried crew members between the shore and the cable ships anchored off-shore in the deeper central channel of the river.

They also pass alongside the Bendish Sluice, one of the four sluices established in the 17th century to draw off the water from the natural marshlands that constitute Greenwich Peninsula.

From the mid 1800’s until 1975 telegraph and latterly telephone cables have been manufactured at Enderby Wharf and were stored in vast tanks at the works which Alcatel now operate. These cables were loaded into the holds of ships while they lay anchored in the river. Cable produced at this site were used to establish the first links between England and France; the last cable made on the Greenwich site linked Venezuela with Spain.

Looking down the Enderby Wharf Ferry Steps:

Greenwich Peninsular 30

Another view of the cable transfer machinery.

Greenwich peninsula 15

Greenwich Peninsula 26It is in this area that the cruise terminal is planned to be built. The London City Cruise Port will be at Enderby Wharf and will allow mid-sized cruise ships to moor at a site with easy access to Greenwich and central London. I only hope that Enderby House, the original cable transfer machinery and the Enderby Wharf Steps are retained and protected.

A short distance past Enderby Wharf is Tunnel Wharf.

Greenwich Peninsula 16

And the hoardings continue to fence off the areas waiting for redevelopment. This is Morden Wharf.

Greenwich peninsula 17

Parts of the path seem to have a distinctly rural quality with trees lining the slopping river bank down into the Thames.

Greenwich Peninsula 18

But the remains of old industrial areas soon return. London will soon be losing the majority of the old gas holders that were once major landmarks across the city. I do not know if this large gas holder on the Greenwich Peninsula is protected, I suspect not.

Greenwich peninsula 19

Walking past the area where some of the river’s shipping is maintained in a row of dry docks.

Greenwich Peninsula 20

Looking across from the river path to the Dome, with the grade 2 listed entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel.

Greenwich peninsula 21

The final stretch of the river walk before reaching the new developments around the O2 also have an air of waiting for a different use.

A large site is used for the storage and processing of aggregates that arrive by barge along the river.

Greenwich peninsula 22

Greenwich Peninsula 23

And then we reach the area leading up to the Dome consisting of a golf driving range:

Greenwich Peninsula 24

And another building site and behind, a building that I cannot understand how an architect thought would be a good design for this location.

Greenwich Peninsula 25

The Greenwich Peninsula has not attracted the same attention as much of the recent development in central London, however it is an area that will be changing dramatically over the next few years as stretches of almost identical glass and steel buildings run further along the river.

Now where to photograph next in a continually changing city?

alondoninheritance.com

More Mystery Locations

Firstly, a really big thank you to everyone who identified the majority of the sites in this post. The feedback as Comments or on Twitter has been fantastic. I have updated the post with details of the location. These are in italics to separate out from my original post. One reader also identified one of the remaining photos from my post last August. Have a look in the Comments section to see more feedback and some of the many links to more details.

Last August I published some of the photos taken by my father that I had been unable to identify the location or the event. Thanks to the considerable knowledge of readers, the majority of these photos were identified, including one which I had assumed to be in London, but was actually taken in Chester. The post can be found here.

My father took thousands of black and white photos between 1947 and 1953 (later photos would all be in colour). As well as family photos, they also covered London, the rest of the UK photographed during National Service in the Army as well as cycling holidays via Youth Hostels, as well as some taken in Holland during a cycling holiday.

I have identified nearly all the London photos, however there are a few remaining mystery locations that I have been unable to place and I am again seeking help with identification.

The first two photos are taken at the same location and show what looks to be a temporary work of art in the garden of a house which looks to be under repair, possibly due to bomb damage.

I do not know whether this was part of an exhibition, a one of piece of work, or the location. I am sure the location is in London as adjacent photos on the same negative strip show a bombed synagogue in east London along with views in Highgate, so this is possibly in the Highgate / Hampstead area.

Mystery Location 8

Given the way that these two are looking at the statue, I doubt it is to their taste. The woman on the left looks to be carrying a booklet, so I wonder if this was a guide and this work is one of several throughout the gardens?

Mystery Location 7

The two photos above were taken at an outdoor sculpture exhibition at Holland Park. There is more information here and a British Pathe film of the event which can be found here. The film includes the sculpture in my father’s photo.

Many photos were taken along the River Thames. The majority I have been able to identify, however there are some, such as the following, which do not have any clear landmarks. The river in the distance appears to be curving to the left. This is one of three photos showing the same scene and I get the impression that the people are waiting for something. They are wearing jackets and some are wearing ties. They are possibly waiting for a boat to arrive at the jetty.

Mystery Location 1

The consensus for the location of the above photo looks to be near the entrance to the Royal Victoria Dock at Silvertown, although there were a couple of other candidate locations identified. Adjacent photos on the strip of negatives were from the docks so Silvertown looks correct.

The following photo is one of a series taken on a boat journey down the Thames from Westminster Pier to Greenwich on the 23rd August 1947. I have been able to identify them all except for the following two. The first simply has “Rotherhithe” written on the rear of the photo. Normally there is a wharf or some other landmark which I can use to identify the location. There is nothing in this photo, although the two chimneys on the right should help.

Mystery Location 5

The above photo is Upper Ordnance Wharf in Rotherhithe. There is a photo of the site here to confirm.

The following photo was taken on the same journey and I am sure is of one of the dock entrances on the Isle of Dogs, but I cannot identify which one.

Mystery Location 6

The above I thought was on the Isle of Dogs but was in fact on the opposite side of the river and is the entrance to the Greenland Dock in Rotherhithe. The small building on the immediate left of the dock entrance is still there.

And now a couple of photos showing the rail side entrance to a station. Other photos on the same set of negatives were taken in the eastern side of the City and east London so this may be Liverpool Street, but I cannot be sure and there is nothing in the photos to confirm.

Mystery Location 10

On the same strip of negatives, so I assume the same station.

Mystery Location 14

The above two photos have been confirmed as being Liverpool Street Station.

On the same strip of negatives as the following are photos of the area just north of the Tower of London. There is a bridge in the photo, so this may be the railway into Fenchurch Street station. Normally having a landmark such as the obelisk in the middle of the road would make it an easy photo to locate, however I cannot place this one.

Mystery Location 12

Really pleased to have found the location of the above photo, America Square, just to the east of Fenchurch Street Station. There is a really good article on America Square here and a photo of the site immediately after bomb damage here.

I can normally locate pubs where their name is visible, but I cannot track down this pub, the Masons Arms. As well as the location, I am also interested in why each photo was taken. I suspect in this one it was the “No arms for Nazis” graffiti, however given that this photo was taken post war I have no idea why this slogan would be relevant.

Mystery Location 9

The consensus for the above photo looks to be the Masons Arms in Watney Market, Shadwell. The “No arms for Nazis” slogan probably refers to the argument for not rearming Germany in the early 1950s.

The next two photos appear to show the same row of buildings under various stages of repair. They appear to have been taken from opposite ends of the street and the first photo has more scaffolding so I assume taken earlier in the repair process.

Mystery Location 2

In the following photo some of the scaffolding looks to have been removed and there are two statues visible on the top of the building in the centre.

Mystery Location 4

Lots of feedback for the above two photos as Cumberland Terrace, part of the Nash terraces along the edge of Regent’s Park.

The following photo is one of the frustrating ones where there is a street name sign on the house at the end of the street, however the resolution of the 35mm film does not allow the name to be read despite trying many different scan options. The photo immediately before shows the bombed remains of Chelsea Old Church, so I suspect this photo is also in Chelsea.

Mystery Location 15

The above photo is Lawrence Street in Chelsea looking north towards the far western end of Upper Cheyne Row.

Another pub, and one which does not appear to have a pub name, although the words “Doctor Brand” are to the right of the brewery name Barclay’s.

The temporary sign across the bottom of the main sign with the brewery name reads:

Moorland celebrates the

grant of a Justices licence to

.. Shears on the 1st May 1552

…of service to the Public.

The left side of the sign is difficult to read as it curves away from the camera. I believe the significance of the 1st May 1552 is that prior to this date there was no licensing act and from this date onwards owners of pubs could apply for a licence, so was this a celebration of the fact that a pub on this site had been licensed since 1552?

Again, it is not just the location that fascinates me, it is the significance of the photo and why may father took them, probably due to this anniversary.

Mystery Locations 11

The above photo is of the Hand and Shears pub in Cloth Fair (one I really should have known having walked past and been in this pub a number of times). A pub has been on the site for many hundreds of years hence the reference to the 1552 grant of a licence.

The following photo is probably impossible to identify, however it is my (probably impossible target) to identify them all.

Photos on either side of this one are of Southwark Cathedral and a view of the Thames from Southwark Bridge, so I suspect it taken was on the south side of the river whilst walking from Southwark Cathedral up to the bridge.

Mystery Location 13The above photo is probably around the area where the Globe now stands, leading back into the old Skin Market at the rear of Bankside.

The following photo is between photos of the area around the Albert Memorial in Kensington and photos of Hampstead, and I suspect it may be Hampstead, but I cannot identify the location.

Mystery Location 3

The following photo was taken on a sunny spring morning and I believe shows the Regent’s Canal. I have walked this in the past (before scanning this negative) and need to walk again, but cannot recall this scene.

Mystery Location 16

The above view of the Regent’s Canal identified as being in Maida Vale, between Maida Avenue and Blomfield Road. Google Street View shows a much busier scene today.

My probably unrealistic target when I started this project was to identify all the photos both from London and across the UK (I plan to share some of the photos from across the UK later in the year as they show a country where towns still had their own unique features, there was little traffic on the roads and the heart had not been ripped out of many towns to create shopping centres).

Any pointers and help with identification of the above would be greatly appreciated.

Again, my thanks to everyone who contributed and helped to identify the locations of the above. My target of identifying all the locations of my father’s photos is starting to look almost realistic.

alondoninheritance.com

London Postcards

Back in August, I published a number of London Postcards showing the city during the first decades of the 20th Century. For this week’s post I have another series of postcards from the same time period.

I find these fascinating as they show many different aspects of London and provide a tangible link with those who lived in, or were visiting London.

The first postcard is of a very wintry Royal Observatory at Greenwich. Taken at a time when this was still a working observatory. Very rare to see such snowfall in London today.

The postcard was posted at a very different time of year to the pictured scene, on the 31st August 1905. With a Greenwich postmark, posted to a child in Lowestoft with a birthday wish from his aunt and uncle.

Postcards from London 2 7

As well as scenic views, early postcards are also populated by Londoners. This postcard shows Covent Garden with some fantastic detail of a very busy street scene. This was at a time when wearing a hat was almost mandatory, with the type of hat indicating your position in the social structure of the day. The scene is also piled high with baskets ready to transport goods to and from the market.

Postcards from London 2 8

The following postcard shows Regent Street at a time when almost all shops had awnings or shop blinds. The shop on the right is the London Stereoscopic Company. Formed during the 1850s, the company started selling stereoscopic photos and viewers and then went into the general photographic business selling cameras, photographic paper and other photography supplies. The company lasted until 1922.

The bus in the foreground is the number 13 covering Finchley Road, Baker Street, Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross and Fleet Street. The number 13 bus route today covers many of the same locations.

Postcards from London 2 2

Another street scene, this time Holborn (posted on the 18th September 1913).

Postcards from London 2 3

All these photos show the main street lamps on islands in the centre of the road. When electric lighting was introduced to the streets of London, the centre of the road was found to be the best location to spread light across both sides of the road. These lighting islands also had other benefits. A report presented to the Vestry of St. Pancras in 1891 covering the use of public lighting by electricity claimed that one advantage of central street lighting in busy thoroughfares is that they regulate the traffic. The report stated:

“Your committee are informed that the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police has suggested that there ought to be a rest at that point to prevent the numerous stoppages and accidents that occur there. The Police seem to be strongly of the opinion that the fixing of rests assists very materially in the regulation of the traffic, and your Committee feel therefore that although at first sight many people may think the lighting from the centre of the road would tend to obstruction, it really assists in facilitating the traffic and preventing obstruction in crowded thorough-fares.”

“Rests” refers to the islands built in the centre of the road where a street lamp could be installed and protected from traffic. They also provided a safe stopping point, or rest, for pedestrians trying to cross the road. The report was written as part of the planning for the installation of electric arc lamps in Tottenham Court Road. The following postcard shows Tottenham Court Road taken looking north from the junction with Charing Cross Road. The buildings on the left, along with the pub are still there.

Postcards from London 2 9

The above postcard was sent by a visitor to London from North Wales who “has been seeing the sights and are now going to the zoo.”

Perhaps one of those sights was Leicester Square, much quieter than it is today, possibly a weekend in winter when sitting in, or running through the square was the ideal way to pass the afternoon. The building in the background with the large flag is the original Empire Theatre. Opened in 1884 and demolished in 1927.

Postcards from London 2 5

It was not just central London locations that were popular subjects for postcards. The following card, postmarked 1912, shows Clapham Junction. Although the type of traffic has changed, the scene looks remarkably similar today, although the Arding and Hobbs department store on the corner is now a Debenhams.

The sender of the card wrote “On back is the new Arding & Hobbs. Old building burnt down a few years ago.” The new building shown in the postcard was completed in 1910.

Postcards from London 2 15

At first glance, the following photo looks to be of Charing Cross Station, although, as the name across the building confirms, it is the original Cannon Street Hotel, forming the entrance to Cannon Street Station.

Postcards from London 2 11

To show how similar they are, the following shows Charing Cross Station. This is no coincidence as they were both designed by Edward Middleton Barry who also designed the replica Queen Eleanor Cross which stands in the forecourt of the station. The hotel at Cannon Street has long gone, and the station entrance now looks very different. Charing Cross provides a physical reminder of what once stood in Cannon Street.

Postcards from London 2 10

The next postcard is of the Monument, however what I find more interesting about the scene are the people, and also the large amount of advertising on the building to the left. The postcard was posted at the station at Walton on Thames by someone who had just moved into a new house in Weybridge. Perhaps a City worker who had bought the postcard in London.

Postcards from London 2 6The posters include adverts for, Nestles Swiss Milk, Bass beer, the Royal Military Tournament, Regie Cigarettes, Allsopp’s Lager and Triscuit, which if it is the same thing is a cracker produced in America and is still in production today. The building on the corner on the right is the Monument Tavern.

London’s bridges have always been popular subjects for postcards, and the following view is of London Bridge. The bridge shown is that designed by John Rennie and opened in 1831. It was sold in 1968 to make way for the current London Bridge and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Both the buildings on either side of the end of the bridge are still there, Adelaide House on the right and Fishmongers Hall on the left.

Postcards from London 2 12

And the following postcard shows Blackfriars Bridge. The large curved building at the left of the bridge is De Keyser’s Royal Hotel which was opened on the 5th September 1874 by Sir Polydore de Keyser who came to London as a waiter from Belgium and eventually became Lord Mayor of London. The Uniliver building is now on this site.

Postcards from London 2 14

The following postcard is titled “The Hanging Gardens of London, Selfridges Water Gardens Looking West”. The roof of the Oxford Street department store, Selfridges, had gardens and cafes during the 1920s and 30s and were a popular location after shopping. The roof gardens were damaged during the last war and never reopened.

Postcards from London 2 13

The following postcard shows the London County Council Millbank Estate, and judging by the condition of the streets, this must be soon after construction of the estate finished in 1902. The building halfway down the road on the left is a school. The estate and the school are still in existence and the buildings today look much the same although there is now parking lining most of these streets. The Milbank Estate is Grade II listed. The people in the photo are probably some of the first occupants of the estate.

Postcards from London 2 4

Although the Tower of London is the subject of the following postcard, I find the background of more interest as it shows London when the height of buildings was relatively low compared to the City we see today. This postcard has a 1931 postmark and was sent to Belgium by a visitor to London.

Postcards from London 2 16

The following photo taken from Bankside shows the north bank of the river with the original wharfs.

Paul’s Wharf in the centre with St. Paul’s Pier in front, the London & Lisbon Cork Wood Company (the smaller building towards the right with the white upper part), and Trig Wharf to the right. The Millennium Bridge now crosses the river here, roughly at the site of the London & Lisbon Cork Wood Company.  The Bankside location has always provided a superb view across the river and has a fascinating history which I wrote about here, mainly involving the transport of coal and other goods on the river hence the lighters on the river in the foreground.

Postcards from London 2 1

In the days before the personal ownership of portable cameras, postcards were about the only means of sending a message showing where the author lived or was visiting and as such they provide a fascinating insight into early 20th century London.

alondoninheritance.com

Mystery Locations

Firstly, a really big thank you to everyone who identified the majority of the sites in this post. The feedback as comments or on Twitter has been fantastic. I have updated the post with details of the location. These are in italics to separate out from my original post. You will see I made one big mistake by assuming a location was in London!

The main theme of my blog is to track down the locations of photos taken by my father across London in the late 1940s and early 1950s, photograph the scenes as they are now, and in the process learn more of London’s history. The majority I have been able to identify and I still have to visit the location as it is today for a large number, however there are also many mystery locations that I have not been able to identify.

Although living in Camden, he took photos across London cycling through the city with his camera.

Many of the photos are easy to identify, my father either wrote the location on the back of a printed copy, the scene is recognisable, or there is a street name, pub name etc. within the photo.

Some I have been able to find through accident. I carry the photos on an iPad whilst walking London and occasionally I have recognised a street scene and am able to check with the copy on the iPad.

However there are a number I cannot place and for this week’s article I am publishing some of these in the hope that a reader may be able to help identify the location or event.

So, to start, the following photo just has “a temporary café on a bomb site” written on the back but unfortunately no further details. I am not exactly sure what the vehicle used to be. It looks to have been something that would have run on rails, but appears to have normal tyres. I like the three wheeler bike with the milk churn, either used for collection or perhaps a delivery service.

Unknown Locations 9

The above photo is the corner of Greenfield Road and Commercial Road, E1. Whilst the view in the immediate foreground is now completely different, the buildings along Commercial Road on the right are much the same.

I suspect the following photo was taken in East London, possibly around the Docks judging by other photos on the same strip of negatives. It appears to have been taken from underneath a railway arch. There is a pub on the right, but the grain of the film does not allow the name to be read when zooming in.

Probably all these buildings were demolished over the last 60 years with only the railway arch remaining.

Unknown Locations 8

The above view just does not exist anymore. The whole street has disappeared and has now been replaced by a rather desolate view of buildings surrounded by high security fencing. This is Hardinge Street, E1, looking north from under the railway arches.

This photo also appears to have been taken around the Docks and I am sure I recognise the bridge from walking round the area but cannot place the location. Again there is a pub in the distance but the grain of the film does not allow the name to be read.

Unknown Locations 7

The above photo I should of known. I knew I had seen the bridge but could not place the location. The pub at the end is the Prospect of Whitby and the photo is looking along Glamis Road. The bridge is over part of the Shadwell Basin. The pub and bridge are still there but the surrounding area has changed considerably. 

And again somewhere around the Docks. Given how straight the channel is I suspect it may be the Limehouse Cut, but from limited walking in the area I have not been able to place the photo. I need to walk the area again, however I suspect the buildings have also long gone.

Unknown Locations 6

And now for my big mistake. After the war, as well as photographing London, my father took lots of photos around the UK and Holland during cycling trips and National Service. The above photo was on the end of a strip of negatives with photos of East London so I wrongly assumed this was the same area, however it was taken in Chester. Must have been the last photo on the roll of film. See this link, there is a photo towards the end of the page showing almost the same view.

Now three photos of an event I cannot place. Judging from other photos on the same strip of negatives this was either 1949 or 1950. The girl in the background looking at the photographer would probably now be in her early 70s.

The following three photos could be the Pioneer Run from London to Brighton for pre 1915 motorcycles. the event had a Westminster start but the buildings could be around County Hall on the south of the river.

Unknown Locations 4

It seems to have been the start of some form of motorbike race. I thought the building in the background could have been the Ministry of Defence building on the Embankment, but on checking the style of the windows, it would appear not.

Unknown Locations 3

Same event, but a different building in the background.

Unknown Locations 5

This photo appears to show the aftermath of a fire, but I have no idea where. Hoses are still scattered across the street and there appears to be much destruction beyond the wall.

What I like about this photo is the group of boys by the wall in the centre of the photo, also one having climbed to the top of the wall. This fits in with the stories my father told me about being a boy in London during the war and the freedom to explore bomb sites, collect shrapnel, remains of incendiary bombs etc. There were no real restrictions on where you could go and London was an open book to explore.

The following two photos could be around the Caledonian Market estate in Islington, with the building in the background being one of the pubs on the corner of the market.

Unknown Locations 2

The scene through the gate of what must have been a really bad fire. Note the man on the right, standing on the roof of his outbuildings surveying the scene.

Unknown Locations 17

This photo probably has a cleared bomb site on the left. I wish I could read what was on the signs around the site. It is photos like this that bring home what a grey and desolate place many areas of London must have seemed just after the war. Reconstruction had not started, reminders of wartime damage were still very much in evidence and day to day life was still tough.

Unknown Locations 16

Some limited reconstruction had started and this photo shows the framework of a new building, almost certainly on a bomb site which extends into the foreground of the photo. It would be fascinating to know if this building is still there. From other photos on the same strip of negatives I suspect it may be in Holborn.

The following photo was taken looking across towards Harpur Street. The construction work is for new flats which are still there. It is not possible to reproduce the view due to new building, however the following Google Street View shows the flats today and the original buildings along Harpur Street to the right.

Unknown Locations 1

Back to another event I cannot place. It must be in one of London’s parks but I cannot identify either the location or the event.

The following photos could be of the Van Horse Parade or the Cart Horse Parade, held in Battersea Park on Easter Monday. The parades merged into the London Harness Horse Parade and although still held on Easter Monday’s, the parade has now moved to Ardingly, West Sussex.

Unknown Locations 15

It seemed to be an event with all forms of horse drawn vehicles from the simple…..

Unknown Locations 14

….to the more comfortable, but I have no idea of the location or event.

Unknown Locations 13

Many photos show streets and alleys which have probably long since been demolished, despite that with some modernisation of facilities they could still be perfectly good homes. I always try to avoid romanticising the past, living conditions and life in general for so many Londoners was very tough but this style of street and home looks far better than many that have been built since.

Unknown Locations 11

An empty building, probably through bomb damage, awaiting demolition. The far right of the building with the Union Jack still looks occupied. There were so many buildings like this across London in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Awaiting their fate, but some inhabitants still clinging on.

Unknown Locations 12

And finally an unknown street scene. Other photos on the same strip of negatives were taken in Campden Hill Road, Kensington, however I have been unable to locate this street.

Unknown Locations 10

The above photo is Tryon Street, off the Kings Road in Chelsea. Still very much the same.

When starting out on this project, I had the probably very unrealistic target to locate all the photos and visit and photograph the current location, learn about the area and understand what aspect of the scene interested my father to photograph these locations.

Although I am making reasonably good progress, any help with the photos shown above would be very gratefully received.

alondoninheritance.com

Postcards From London

The photos we as a family have been taking of London only go back to 1947, so to go back further I also collect any old London postcards I can find with photographs of London. These really help to understand how London has changed, what specific areas looked like at a moment in time and what it would have been like to have been walking the streets when the photographs for these postcards were taken.

The following postcard is from the top of the Monument and shows how much the London skyline has changed over the last 100 years. Long gone are the days when the City churches stood well above their surroundings.

The road to the right is King William Street running up to the Bank. On the left of the photo is the original Cannon Street Station. The platform roof running off the edge of the photo with the station hotel being the large building to the right of the station roof. One of the adverts on the building to the lower right is for the “Aerated Bread Company” – a company formed in 1862 by a Dr. John Dauglish using a special yeast free process to produce an additive free bread. the company also had well over 200 tea shops, many of which were in London.

Postcard 2

The next postcard is also from the Monument but this time the photographer has moved to the left and much of Cannon Street station is now visible. These old postcards also show how dominant St. Paul’s Cathedral was on the London skyline.

Postcard 8

In the following postcard the photographer has moved further round the viewing platform at the top of the Monument and is now looking towards Tower Bridge. Billingsgate Market is to the lower right. Opposite Billingsgate Market is the London Coal Exchange, the building with the ornate tower on the corner. The church tower on the left is that of St. Dunstan in the East.

Postcard 12

As it still is today, St. Paul’s Cathedral was another favourite spot for views of the London skyline. This time we can look back at the Monument. Compared to today where the Monument is surrounded by much taller buildings,  in the early years of the last century it was one of the City’s highest points. This photo also provides another view of Cannon Street station and the substantial hotel / station entrance at the front.

Postcard 13

We can continue past St. Paul’s and now have a look at the City from the tower of St. Brides Church, Fleet Street. This photo again shows how dominant the cathedral was and by far the tallest building in London. The church in the foreground is St. Martin-within-Ludgate. The large building to the left is the old Post Office headquarters.

Postcard 1

The following postcard is from the Second World War. On the rear of the postcard is an extract from a broadcast speech made by Winston Churchill on the 11th September 1940 at the time when the major air raids on London had begun:

“This is a time for everyone to stand together, and hold firm!”

Postcard 4

The next postcard also has an aerial view of St. Paul’s Cathedral before the devastation of the area by bombing. This shows how close the buildings used to press up against the cathedral. The area behind the cathedral, Paternoster Row and Square was a major location for the publishing trade with many book sellers and book warehouses. For a view of the devastation to this area see my posts with my father’s photos taken just after the war which can be found here and here.

Postcard 14

Some old postcards capture a moment of major change in London. The following postcard shows not only the original Waterloo Bridge, but also the temporary bridge to the right that was constructed to carry traffic during the demolition of the old bridge and construction of the new.

Postcard 5

I find the subject matter of some postcards rather surprising. The following two postcards show bomb damage in London during the last war. I would have thought to maintain morale, postcards showing significant bomb damage in the heart of London would not have been available, alternatively they could also have been used to inspire when coupled with the speech extracts on the reverse of the cards.

The first postcard shows the damage to Paternoster Row to the north of St. Paul’s. Both postcards carry extracts from speeches made by Winston Churchill. The first postcard has the same extract as the one above.

Postcard 6

The following postcard shows St. Andrew’s Church from High Holborn. Note the “Passed by the Censor” statement on the lower right of the card.

On the rear of this postcard is the following extract from one of Winston Churchill’s speeches:

“Let us all strive without failure in faith or in duty”

Postcard 7

The following postcard shows the view from the Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament. This is a post war card of the late 1940s / very early 1950s, and what I find interesting with this one is the empty patch of land on the right between Hungerford Bridge and County Hall. The photo for this postcard had been taken at a moment in time when the land had been cleared in preparation for the construction of the Festival of Britain. The Shot Tower can also be seen between Hungerford and Waterloo bridges.

Postcard 10

Postcards also show the busy streets of London during the first years of the 20th century. The following postcard shows the view down Cheapside with the church of St. Mary-le-Bow on the right. If you look on top of the buildings on the left you can see the telegraph poles that carried the wiring for the early telegraph / telephone system in the City. This was before the installation of underground cabling and much of the wiring was carried across the roofs of the City.

Postcard 3

And this postcard shows a very busy Piccadilly Circus.

Postcard 9

The following postcard is looking down the Strand towards Trafalgar Square. The building to the right is Marconi House. Originally built as the Gaiety Restaurant, it was taken over by the Marconi Company in 1912 and played a key part in the development of wireless. During 1922 and 1923, the original 2LO – London Broadcasting Station was broadcast from this building.

Wrapped around the stairs on the buses are adverts for some of the consumer brands of the time – Wrigley’s, Swan Vestas and Dunlop.

Postcard 11

Postcards also show that London has always been a centre for tourists and visitors with some of the postcards above being sent from London to destinations across the world.

Today, with the ability to take a photo on a phone and instantaneously send it across the world, the future of postcards looks rather bleak, however for roughly the past 150 years they provide a fascinating view of a changing city.

alondoninheritance.com

One Year Of Blogging, Seventy Years Of Photography

A year ago I wrote my first blog post. It was about the location of the first bomb on central London in the last war, a site in Fore Street commemorated by the sign in one of the photos my father took shortly after the war:

IMG01992 - 1

It seemed a fitting place to start a blog where my main focus is to discover how London has changed over the last seventy years, and to learn more about the history of each location.

It has been a fascinating year and I have learnt so much about London by researching the subject of each week’s post.

I would like to thank everyone who has read, commented, provided some additional information, subscribed by e-mail and followed on Twitter. It is really appreciated.

To mark the first year, it would perhaps be a good time to provide some background as to why I started the blog and the photography that I am using to build up a personal view of how London has changed.

As a family, we have a long attachment to London. My great-grandfather was a fireman in East Ham, my grandfather worked in an electricity generating station in Camden, but it was my father who was born and lived in Camden during the last war, who started taking photos of London at the age of 17 in 1946. I also grew up listening to family stories about London and being taken on walks to explore the city.

I have had his collection of photos for many years. Not all of the photos were printed, many were still only negatives and have been stored in a number of boxes in the decades since the photos were originally taken.

Film for cameras immediately after the last war was in short supply. The first film he used was cut from 35mm movie film which had to be rolled into canisters before use. When standard 35mm camera film cartridges became more readily available, the film quality also improved with Ilford being a major provider to the retail market.

I have been looking after these boxes of photos and negatives and about 10 years ago started a project to scan all the negatives. The very early ones on the worst film stock were starting to deteriorate so the time was right to begin this work. Due to family, work and other commitments it took the 10 years (and now on my third negative scanner) to complete the series of black and white photos, over 3,500 covering not only London, but also post war cycle trips around the UK and Holland along with his period of National Service starting in 1947.

Some of the storage boxes of negatives:

negatives 1It was a really interesting project. Seeing long-lost London scenes appear on the computer screen. Never knowing what a new strip of negatives might contain.

A number of the photos were easily identifiable. Those which my father had printed often had the location, date and time written on the back, but for many there was no location.

Flicking through these photos on the computer, a project to find the locations, understand the changes since the original photo was taken and use this as a means to learn more about this fascinating city seemed the logical next step.

I also needed an incentive to follow this through. A blog seemed a possible method to document the project and attending one of the Gentle Authors blogging courses last February provided the final kick I needed to get this underway.

Photography just after the war was very different when compared with the cameras available today. My father started taking photos using a Leica IIIc camera in 1946.

Leica_IIIc_mp3h0295

(Photo credit: By Rama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Leica produced these from 1940 to 1951 and apparently they were readily available after the war, brought home by returning solders who had bought them cheaply in Germany. This was the source of my father’s camera.

Unfortunately he sold this in 1957 to purchase a Leica IIIg camera, however this one I still have as he continued to use this until the late 1980’s when he finally bought a new SLR camera. This is his Leica IIIg which I still posses:

Leica IIIG 1The lens on the camera is not the standard for the Leica IIIg, it came from my father’s original Leica IIIc. Lenses on the Leica III range up to and including the “g” model were a screw fitting and compatible throughout the range, so although the camera body of the Leica IIIg was not used for the early photos of London, the lens was from the original Leica IIIc and was used for all the 1940s and 1950s photos in my blog.

I have recently had the camera serviced to fix a sticking shutter, so a future project for the Spring is to start taking photos using the Leica, which, having the same lens as used for the original photos should make it easy to get the same perspective. Not always possible when using a new digital camera with a completely different lens for the current comparison photos.

It will be an experience to be taking photos of the same scene, from the same place, almost 70 years apart and with the photo taken through the same lens.

I have used cameras with inbuilt light meters since my first camera in the mid 1970s. The Leica III range did not have this facility and external measurement was needed in order to set the correct aperture and speed before taking a photo. I still have the Weston Light Meter that my father used for all his photography with both the Leica IIIc and g:

Weston 1The Weston Master Universal Exposure Meters were made by Sangamo Weston in Enfield from 1939 and provided a method of measuring the light level. The user would hold up the rear of the light meter (which had a light-sensitive cell which generated an electric current proportionate to the intensity of the light), towards the subject of the photo. The meter on the front would then display the light intensity and using the dial below the meter, this reading would be used to calculate the aperture and speed settings for the camera, specific to the scene being photographed.

With practice it was possible to visually estimate the light level and the settings needed, and some degree of wrong exposure could be corrected when the photo was developed in the dark room. There was both an art and a skill to getting the correct exposure, something I need to try to learn before taking the Leica back onto the streets of London.

Any serious amateur photographer of the late 1940s and 1950s would develop their own photos and my father was no exception (he was also a member of the St. Brides Institute Photographic Society). The lens on the camera also served as the lens on the enlarger which projected the negative onto the paper during the developing process (another reason why he kept the lens from the first camera).

When printing photos, it was useful to record the details, not just when and where the photo was taken, but also the settings on the camera and developer. He recorded this on the back of the photo. The following is a photo of the Thames at Shadwell:

shadwell front

And on the rear is recorded that the photo was taken on the 26th May 1953 at 11:15 am, along with the speed and aperture settings and that a filter was used. On the third line is recorded the film type and the parameters used during developing.

Ishadwell rear

My father continued taking photos of London through the 1980s and 1990s. I have started scanning these and they cover not just central London, but also the Isle of Dogs, north and east London, Greenwich etc.  The posts on London Hairdressers and Murals and Street Art from 1980s London are some of the first I have scanned.

I started taking photos of London in the mid 1970s (can an urge to photograph London be inherited?). The photos from the posts on Baynards Castle and a Dragon Rapide over London are some of my early photos.

The first camera I could afford on pocket-money was a Russian built Zenith-E. The only problem with this camera was a random sticking shutter so you would never know whether you would have a good photo until after they were printed. Very frustrating.

My first serious camera was a Canon AE-1 bought on hire purchase in the late 1970s when I first started working.

ae1

A job on the South Bank, started in 1979, introduced me to the photos my father had taken when he showed me the printed photos he had taken of the same area just after the war and before the Royal Festival Hall and the Festival of Britain.  I think it was from this point that I knew I wanted explore all the photos he had taken. I included some of these photos in last years posts here, here and here.

I switched from film to digital in 2002 and now use a compact Panasonic Lumix and a Nikon D300 and hopefully soon a Leica IIIg if I can master the techniques needed to correctly set the exposure levels.

Digital photography has provided significant benefits over film photography, however having been through the process of scanning these negatives, the earliest of which are almost 70 years old it does make we wonder how many of today’s digital photos will still be usable in 70 years time.

Negative film can be stored cheaply in a shoe box and providing it is not exposed to extremes of heat, cold, humidity and light will last a long time. To view the original photo, it is simply a matter of shining a light through onto a receptive surface, whether photo paper, within a scanner etc.

Apart from professionally archived digital photos, how many personal digital photos will survive the next 70 years? Computer hard disk failures, changes in technology etc. over the next 70 years may well mean that the majority of photos will be lost or unreadable.

Looking back on the first year of the blog, one of the most remarkable events happened when I published the following photo of a man repairing a chair on a London street:

Chairmender2

Thanks to the Internet, the photo was seen by Rachel South who identified him as her grandfather, Michael George South. Remarkably, Rachel is still following the same craft and her website can be found here. The original post is here.

My favourite location from the first year has to be the Stone Gallery of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  It was from here that just after the war my father took a series of photos showing the whole panorama of London. The devastation caused by bombing in the immediate vicinity was clearly visible and the City skyline looks very different when compared with today.  The full posts can be found here and here, and below is one example of the original photo, looking towards Cannon Street Station with the 2014 photo of the same scene following:

IMG02591- upload

And the same scene in 2014:

DSC_1392-uploadMuch of the devastation around St. Paul’s was caused on the night of the 29th December 1940. It was fascinating to research the story of the St. Paul’s Watch and the night of the 29th December for posts here and here.

London continues to change. One of the major projects going through planning approvals during the year was the Garden Bridge. This will have a dramatic impact on the Thames and surrounding areas. I gave my thoughts on this in a post in December which can be found here.

The Garden bridge will have a very dramatic impact on this view from Waterloo Bridge:

garden bridge 13So looking forward to the second year, I have many more places to explore and research. I plan to extend the range a bit further. My father took a river trip from Westminster to Greenwich and there are a whole sequence for photos showing the old docks and wharfs along the river as they were in the early 1950s. Also a series of photos of Hampstead will require a couple of visits to hunt down all the locations from these original photos.

Again, my thanks for your interest in the blog, and if you see someone in the coming year on the streets of London trying to work out how to take a photo with an old light meter and camera, that will be me with the Leica IIIg.

alondoninheritance.com