Tag Archives: Docklands

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.

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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.

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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…..

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

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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.

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