Category Archives: Events and Ceremonies

Photos and stories from events and ceremonies within London

My 6th Year of Exploring London

The end of February 2020 marks the 6th anniversary of the blog, and exploring London. When I started in 2014 I really did not expect to manage a weekly post for 6 years.

The original aim of the blog was to track down the locations of my father’s photos and to provide an incentive to get out and explore London. It is so easy when travelling around London to take the direct routes between work, home, station etc. and not see how much history is both obvious and hidden across the streets.

This original aim still holds true, and does result in what may seem to be a random series of posts, but hopefully does reflect how much there is to discover across London.

I am also always looking out for ways to take a different view of the city – tomorrow’s main weekly post will be an example. It was inspired by an e-mail from a reader a couple of months ago, and a challenge to see how a subject that at first looked to have limited scope, could reveal a fascinating history of how Londoners lived over a century ago.

Writing at a computer is very much a one way process, and I do worry whether my posts are too long, tedious to read, focus on the right topics etc. In January I started the brilliant Clerkenwell and Islington Tour Guiding course, which will hopefully help with writing a more focused read on a specific topic, learning more about a fascinating area of London, as well as taking the blog from the screen to the streets at some point in the future.

Now for a quick look back over the year, starting in:

March 2019 – The Perseverance or Sun Pub, Lamb’s Conduit Street

When one of the posts covered the Perseverance or Sun Pub, Lamb’s Conduit Street, this was the view of the pub in 1985

So many London pubs have disappeared in the last few decades. The land they occupy frequently more valuable as apartments rather than as a pub. Although the pub has a new name (the Perseverance), it is thankfully still there, although with not such a colourful mural on the typical Victorian pub curved corner.

April 2019 – Walking the South Bank in 1980 and 2019

In April I was back on the South Bank, an area I have visited a number of times over the last 6 years. It is also the perfect site to demonstrate how an area has changed over the years. I started work on the South Bank in 1979, and took photos of the area, which I can add to my father’s photo, and later photos. The following sequence show how the view from the southern end of Hungerford Bridge has changed over the years. This is 1949:

1980:

2019:

A significant change over the past 70 years.

May 2019 – A City Relic In Deepest Hampshire

The City of London has lost so many churches over the years and the contents of these churches could have been destroyed, sold, moved to another church in the City, or perhaps a longer distance move.

One such church is Holy Trinity, Minories, which closed at the end of the 19th century, and today there is no trace of the church, however a key item from the church furniture can be found in a very different place, which I visited in May.

This is All Saints’ Church in the village of East Meon in Hampshire.

And the original pulpit from Holy Trinity, Minories can be seen in the village church:

Including a plaque which confirms the original location of the pulpit, and how it arrived in this Hampshire village.

Strange to see this relic from a City church in a very different location.

June 2019 – St Katharine’s Way and Ship Fires on the Thames

Hopefully I do not make many mistakes, but luckily when I do, the knowledge is out there and readers are able to correct. In June I posted the following photo in a blog about Thomas More Street. The photo had been labelled with this name by my father, so I assumed this was the street, despite some doubts when trying to match the curve in the photo with Thomas More Street.

Luckily readers were able to identify the correct location as St Katharine’s Way, so I was able to return and write an updated post with the right location.

The aim of the blog is to identify the locations of these original photos, so it is brilliant to identify the right place where I have made an error, or there is insufficient information in the photo to identify the location.

July 2019 – Seven St Martin’s Place and London Hotel Growth

In July, I wrote about a former office building at the southern end of Charing Cross Road that was being converted to a hotel. This is Seven St Martin’s Place.

It was interesting to research the considerable growth in hotel capacity across the city, and how this demand is expected to continue to grow.

The front of the building had a number of sculptures by Hubert Dalwood, a very well-respected sculptor in the Modern British movement. When a building undergoes conversion there is always a worry that wonderful original features such as these works could be lost, and there was no mention in the planning documentation of the works, or the requirement to preserve them.

I walked by the building a few days ago, the new hotel is now open, and the sculptures are in the same place and in good condition, so hopefully they will remain there for many years to come.

August 2019 – Southend on Sea – A London Bank Holiday

In August I followed so many thousands of Londoners from previous years and took a trip out to Southend.

Southend is a bit quieter than 1910, when the following newspaper extract introduced a Bank Holiday day at the town:

Very early in the morning the incoming excursion trains began to unload their human cargoes; the railway stations, like gigantic hearts, beat at regular intervals and sent the human tides flowing outwards, to disperse themselves along the various arteries and veins of the town.

Southend Pier, so typical of a Victorian seaside and which marches well over a mile into the Thames Estuary, and the train still carries those who do not want to walk:

Numerous fires have destroyed the buildings at both ends of the pier, but the train is still one of the major attractions on the pier.

September 2019 – Crow Stone, London Stone and an Estuary Airport

Although not in London, this post was my favourite of the year. It involved some careful plan of tides, and an early morning start to get to the London Stone near Yantlet Creek on the Isle of Grain by 6:45 in the morning.

The London Stone is an example of how the City of London extended their authority over much larger areas than just the City, including the most important transport route at the time – the river that carried all cargoes to and from London docks.

It was a brilliant experience standing there at low tide, with the sweep of the Thames Estuary as the day started to brighten.

St Giles Cripplegate and Red Cross Street Fire Station

September also had another fascinating event when I had on display some of my father’s post war photos of the area now covered by the Barbican in the church of St Giles Cripplegate, as part of the Barbican@50 event.

It was brilliant to meet a number of readers and Barbican residents at the event.

St Giles Cripplegate and Red Cross Street Fire Station were the subject of one of my father’s photos:

Impossible to get a photo of the same view today, as the Barbican now surrounds the church and the fire station was demolished as part of the Barbican construction, the following photo is the closest that I could get.

October 2019 – Baltic Street School and Great Arthur House, Golden Lane Estate

I was in the same area for a post in October with another of my father’s photos, this time showing the area now occupied by the Golden Lane Estate. During Open House London weekend I had visited Great Arthur House on the estate. I was busy on the Saturday when the weather was brilliant, and on Sunday, the sky had clouded over and rain showers added to the gloom, but the view of, and from Great Arthur House was fascinating.

The view from the roof of Great Arthur House during a break in the rain.

November 2019 – The View from Greenwich Park – Watching the City Evolve

There are some places in London that provide an ideal reference point to watch how the city changes. One of these places is Greenwich Park from where there is a superb view over the Isle of Dogs and along the River Thames to the City of London.

With prints and photos I tracked the development of the city from 1676 to the present day, but the developments of the last few decades has been the most dramatic with the exponential growth in the number of gleaming tower blocks.

This was the view in 1953:

And a very different view in 2019:

A Remarkable Story of Bravery

November also included a rather special post.

The previous year, I visited the Netherlands to photograph the locations that my father photographed in 1952. This included the Oosterbeek war graves cemetery on the outskirts of Arnhem where those who died during Operation Market Garden are buried.

I was really pleased to be contacted by Paul Brooker, the nephew of Richard Bond, the name just visible at the bottom of the list of names in my father’s photo, and Paul kindly contributed a guest post detailing his research into Richard (Dick) Bond, and the crew and final flight of those named on the grave at the left of my father’s following photo.

It is a remarkable read.

December 2019 – Tintern Abbey – Summer 1947 and 2019

As well as London, my father photographed many sites across the rest of the country, including Tintern Abbey in South Wales in 1947.

On a very hot and sunny day in August of last year, I visited the site, and wrote about the visit in December, hopefully also as a reminder of a summer day, when writing in the depths of winter.

Tintern Abbey is next to the River Wye, one of the main reasons for the abbey location, and the scenic position of the abbey today. Hopefully with all the flooding of recent week’s the abbey, businesses and homes along this stretch of the river have survived without any damage.

Tintern Abbey in 1947:

And in 2019:

January 2020 – The Waterman’s Arms – Isle of Dogs

January 2020 included a 1986 view from outside the Cutty Sark pub in Greenwich across to the Waterman’s Arms on the Isle of Dogs.

In 2019, the view is now somewhat obscured, however the pub is still there, and hopefully after a rather patchy recent history, will soon be returning as a traditional pub, with the original name of the Waterman’s Arms. The pub briefly shone on the national stage in the 1960s when Daniel Farson put on entertainment that would normally be expected in the West End than the tip of the Isle of Dogs.

February 2020 – The Dome at Islington Green

Coming up to date, and in February I visited Islington Green to track down the location of a 1985 photo with a unique structure facing the street.

This was originally the Electric Theatre which opened in February 1909. The statue on top of the dome dates from the time of the cinema, and the domed structure formed the entrance foyer.

The 2020 photo sums up two changes that can be seen across the majority of London streets, the take over by chain shops, and the ever-present CCTV.

In working on the blog, and looking at my father’s photos and also the photos I have taken since the late 1970s, I am constantly thinking about what is a good photo. I do not mean in terms of composition, getting the exposure right etc. but what does a photo do – how does a photo provide the viewer with information, how does a photo evoke a specific moment in time, or a specific place.

I have a number of themes I always photograph when walking London’s streets. Hairdressers (possibly strange, but they are a constant on the streets and they do show how fashions change), pubs (before they disappear), the changing view from specific view points (Greenwich, St Paul’s Cathedral etc.).

I have recently added a new theme – newspaper stands.

This was outside Charing Cross Station, and the headline on a newspaper perfect;y captures a specific moment in time.

So that was my 6th year. For me it has been a fascinating year of exploration, but sitting here typing to a screen would be a rather pointless exercise without anyone to read it – so thank you for reading, commenting, subscribing and e-mailing.

Now for the 7th year, and tomorrow’s post will be a bit long (sorry) but hopefully an interesting exploration of a city street, bringing to life the Londoners who lived on the street over one hundred years ago.

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A Remarkable Story of Bravery

Last year, I visited the Netherlands to photograph the locations that my father photographed in 1952. This included the Oosterbeek war graves cemetery on the outskirts of Arnhem where those who died during Operation Market Garden are buried.

Those buried here were not just casualties from the fighting on the ground, but also those who time after time flew supply missions and sustained terrible casualties as they had to fly low and slow to deliver an accurate drop.

In one of my father’s photographs, there is a temporary cross with multiple names, seen below to the left of the photo.

I did discover that they were an aircrew, probably flying supply missions, but could find no further information.

I was really pleased to be contacted by Paul Brooker, the nephew of Richard Bond, the name just visible at the bottom of the list of names in my father’s photo.

Paul has researched the story of Richard, and the aircrew named on the temporary cross, and has uncovered a remarkable story of bravery, so for today’s post, I would like to hand over to Paul to tell their fascinating story.

Richard Bond at Arnhem

Richard (Dick) Bond was the elder of two brothers by 3 years, and he enlisted into the RAF reserves as a fitter on 3rd September 1940, at the time that the Battle of Britain was coming to its climax. Whether it was the fact that his brother Stan was training as a Navigator I don’t know, but he subsequently started training as a Flight Engineer on 21st December 1942, later joining A. V. Roe & Co (AVRO) for a six week period on 25th October 1943. He qualified as a Flight Engineer on 25th November 1943, just 3 months after his brothers’ death. Married, his picture gives me the impression of the quieter elder brother. Much of the following information was unknown to my family until I started my research in 1994.

At the end of 1943 he joined 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit at Woolfox Lodge in Rutland where he met up with his first crew and flew his first Stirling. Although some of the crew members were to change over the coming months, he stayed with his pilot, Bill Baker right through to the end. Apparently Bill was an American pilot who already owned his own aircraft in the States, and he volunteered with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a way of “seeing the action.”

On the 7th January 1944 the crew joined their first operational squadron, 196 at Tarrant Rushton. In the previous months the Stirlings had taken such a mauling that they had been withdrawn from front line bombing duties due to their low ceiling capability of only some 16,000ft. The introduction of the Lancaster in greater numbers, with its higher ceiling and greater bomb capacity meant that the Stirling was now being used to good effect in a transport role.

Their first Operational Mission was flown from Hurn, just a short hop south of Tarrant Rushton on 8th February 1944 in aircraft W ZO.  (See picture above)  The log simply states “Special Mission-Low Level S. France.” This was to be the first of a number of night-time flights deep into enemy occupied France at rooftop height. Five hours forty minutes of intense concentration, especially for the pilot! Although it was generally believed that they were dropping supplies of arms and ammunition to the French resistance, together with SOE agents the exact details are unclear, indeed the full information of most of these low level drops remains covered by the Official Secrets Act.

Throughout much of early 1944 many supply drops were made to France by Stirlings in readiness for the coming invasion. Dick’s Log also shows an increasing number of flights were made towing Horsa Gliders and paratroop dropping – the shape of things to come. On 14th March 1944, 196 Sqn moved from Tarrant Rushton to Keevil where flying took place almost every day, practicing for the invasion. It is interesting to note from the log that flying appears to come to an abrupt halt after 27th May. This is explained by the need to get all aircraft serviced and fully ready to take part in what was to become known as D Day. During this intervening week all personnel were confined to the airfield. Secrecy was paramount and nobody was allowed in or out of the base without a very good reason. Finally, the aircraft were taken up for a short air test on 3rd June 1944.

Dick’s involvement with D Day actually began the night before when 20 troops together with their kit, 9 containers and a bike(!) were loaded into the aircraft. Along with many others from 196 & 299 Sqns, the Stirlings thundered down the Keevil runway and into the night sky on “Operation Tonga.” The only information that I originally had about the destination of this trip was that Operation Tonga involved dropping troops in the dead of night on “Drop Zone N.” Where was Drop Zone N?

In 1994, 50 years after D Day I went to France for the 50th Anniversary of D Day. My first stop in Normandy was the Cafe Gandrée at Ranville, next to what has now become known as “Pegasus Bridge” after the Flying Horse emblem of the Paratroops insignia. This was the first house in the first village to be liberated from German tyranny. Buying a souvenir map of Normandy I was astounded to realise that Drop Zone N was within 800m of where I sat. Dick’s troops must have been involved with the liberation of the first French village!

However, things did not all go smoothly. The anti-aircraft fire was intense, and the log reads “Two inner engines knocked out by flak. Nav. and Bomb Aimer bailed out over France. Crash landed at RAF Ford.” This matter-of-fact report must cover a great deal of fear and anxiety. According to family history, the aircraft had taken a bit of a pasting, and the intercom was u/s, the pilot, Bill Baker, said “prepare to bail out”, unfortunately the Navigator and Bomb Aimer only heard part of the message and they bailed out over the English Channel in the early hours of 6th June and were drowned. Richard Luff DFC, the Squadron Bomb Aimer was never found and his name is remembered along with all other aircrew with no known grave on the RAF Runneymead Memorial overlooking the River Thames near Windsor. He also took with him the whereabouts of a squadron sweepstake! Before D Day they had apparently taken bets on the time and date of the Normandy Invasion. The winner was denied his money as nobody knew where Richard Luff had left the takings!

Richard Luff was not normally part of my Uncle’s crew. Apparently, so I am advised by surviving 196 Sqn members, Richard Luff was the Squadron Bomb Aimer, so perhaps he was making sure he got in on the event! My Uncle’s pilot, Bill Baker, was already an experienced pilot before he came over from America, so perhaps he wanted to go with a reliable pilot! This is just my guessing, we shall never know.

Flying Officer Anderson, the Navigator, was washed up at Calais three weeks later and is now buried in the Canadian War Cemetery on the cliffs overlooking Calais.

The remaining crew then fought to bring their stricken aircraft home, throwing out guns, ammunition, indeed anything they could remove, into the English Channel. They finally made land at 02.28am, crashing just short of the airfield at RAF Ford. When you realise that Ford is only 1/2 mile from the sea, and that they couldn’t make it to the airfield, you begin to understand how close they came to ditching – no fun in the dead of night. The crew were given the customary week’s compassionate leave, but how does one get over leaving part of your crew in the English Channel?

After a week Dick was back to flying again, carrying out three more low level Special Missions to France, dropping containers and panniers for the SOE. On the 8th August, Dick and Bill Baker were transferred to 570 Sqn at Harwell where they teamed up with an existing crew who had lost their pilot due to sickness. This crew were to remain together until the end. A further three missions were flown to France during August and September before the log shows the final entries.

On the 17th September, eight aircraft from Harwell were detailed, as part of a much larger force, to tow Horsa gliders from Harwell to Arnhem. The gliders were carrying the HQ Staff and others from the First Airborne Division. One aircraft crashed on take-off. The remaining aircraft flew in loose pairs in a line astern formation. The trip out was at 2500ft, releasing the gliders over the drop zone at Grave, Holland, and then back at 7000ft. The chalk number of the glider was 504 belonging to 1st Airlanding Light Regiment, delivering them to landing zone Z.  Enemy opposition was light and the weather fair. The only problem was with the planning, it was believed, wrongly as it turned out, that the drop of sufficient troops to capture Arnhem and its bridge could not be achieved in one day, and it was therefore split over two days, losing the element of speed and surprise. As a consequence the paratroops became heavily pinned down, and the rest has now become the sad but heroic history of Arnhem.

The 18th September saw phase two, the continued re-supply, 15 aircraft from 570 Sqn each containing 24 containers and four packages were detailed to re-supply the troops on the ground at Arnhem. The run to the drop zone was carried out at 1500ft, descending to 600ft for the actual supply drop. One aircraft failed to return, another was badly hit by flak over the Dutch Islands and made a successful crash landing. Enemy opposition was getting heavier with most aircraft suffering some flak damage.

View of Horsa Glider being towed:

View of the landing ground to the north west of Arnhem showing gliders scattered over the landing field:

By the 19th September the position of the troops on the ground was getting desperate. The part time German troops that were originally believed to be in the area turned out to be a crack Panzer division on rest leave. The British Paratroops were out-gunned and outnumbered, and were being squeezed into an ever smaller enclave. Food and ammunition were running low and it was clear that the objective of capturing the bridge over the Rhine would not be achieved. The troops were now fighting for their survival. For the third day running 570 Sqn were detailed to fly to Arnhem, 17 aircraft each carrying 24 containers and four packages were briefed to drop on the ever decreasing area occupied by the British troops. The weather was bad over Belgium and Holland with 10/10ths cloud and visibility in most areas down to 2-4000yds. This restricted fighter support as most of the continental airfields were closed. Enemy opposition had greatly increased, especially around the D.Z. area, and crews reported intensive 88mm flak most aircraft suffering casualties and damage. All dropped successfully but three aircraft failed to return to base from 570 Sqn which was doubly hard as it was subsequently learned that the British were no longer in the Drop Zone, having been beaten back into an ever diminishing area by overwhelming fire power.

The adverse weather prevented flying on the 20th. It was 55 years later, sitting in the Oosterbeek Cemetery in September 1999, the 55th Anniversary Commemoration of the Arnhem landings that I realised Dick and his crew had tried to fly on the 21st. It is not shown in his log book as they probably did not have time to keep the books up to date, but the Squadron records show that they took to the air once again but had to turn back after an hour with engine problems – perhaps as a result of flying lead on the last trip – we shall never know.

Dick and his crew were again in the air on 23rd, taking-off at 14.34. Because of the desperate position our troops were now in the drop was ordered at zero feet to try and ensure the supplies got through. At this height aircraft and crew become very vulnerable. Little did the rear gunner, Dennis Blencowe know that a distant relative, George Blinko who was with the 21st Independent Parachute Regt. was one of those fighting below. He was wounded and on his way to hospital in Oosterbeek and ultimately to a German POW camp. George never knew of their efforts but I’m sure he would have been amazed to know a distant cousin was fighting for him in the skies above.

Fighter support was again poor and the usual 88mm flak came up in large quantities. All aircraft were believed to have dropped their supplies, but four failed to return home – including Stirling EF298 V8-T which carried Dick Bond and his crew, plus two Royal Army Service Corps dispatchers who were pushing the supplies from the aircraft.

THE CREW OF STIRLING EF 298 V8-T

  • Pilot F/O William Baker (RCAF)
  • Air Gunner   F/Sgt Dennis James Blencowe
  • Flight Engineer Sgt Richard Bert Bond
  • Air Bomber  F/O Robert Carter Booth
  • Navigator F/O John Dickson DFM
  • Wireless Operator   P/O Francis George Totterdell
  • RASC dispatchers – Robert William Hayton & Reginald Shore

Robert William Hayton:

The time of qualifying as a Flight Engineer to the time of his death was only 10 months. He had flown a total of 121 hours daylight and 110 night. He was 24, leaving a wife and baby daughter.

Postscript

As I mentioned earlier, much of the above information has only come to light during my research since 1994. Dick and Stan’s 3 sisters and one brother, together with Dick’s wife and daughter have only learned recently what quiet heroes these young lads were. In 1994, the 50th Anniversary of Arnhem I visited the town and saw where the fighting took place. Although some 90 aircraft were lost in total, I managed to locate the crash site of Dick’s aircraft, deep in pine woods some 5 miles to the North-West of Arnhem – they had evidently dropped their supplies and were on their way home. The crash site was very much like Stan’s – a peaceful pine forest, but still with broken pieces of aircraft clearly visibly across a wide area. Again, I had an unbelievable stroke of good fortune. The owner of the woods produced two photographs taken of the crashed aircraft and kindly provided copies for me. To be able to actually see the crashed aircraft 50 years later was remarkable.

Pictures courtesy of Mr Koker, the land owner:

Aerial photo taken 3 months later 23rd Dec 1944. The crash site is the rectangular shape in the centre of the picture, to the left of the road and railway line. The Germans collected the metal to recycle.

Although there are memorial stones in the Arnhem cemetery to all the crew of six plus the two Army Air Corps dispatchers who were pushing the supplies out of the aircraft, it was known that only three bodies were actually found. Our family have always believed for the last 50 years that Dick was literally blown to pieces. Although his wife has visited the gravestone, she felt that this had little meaning as “Dick was not there”. After my return to England I received a letter from the Dutch man who owned the woods. He had found a negative and had it developed. It showed two crosses. Of the eight people on board, three bodies had been found and buried alongside the plane. Of these three bodies the picture only showed two crosses. On one of the two crosses it is possible to make out on the original enlargement the words “An unknown British Airman”.    On the other is my Uncle’s name –R.B. BOND

My Aunt (Dick’s wife) and her daughter went back to Arnhem in September 1994 for the 50th Anniversary Commemorations. For my Aunt, it was to say a final Goodbye to her husband after 50 years. For her daughter, it was to say Hello to the Father she never knew.

In October 2002 Aunt Jessie died. It was Dick’s daughter’s wish that her mum’s ashes would be buried at her father’s grave in Arnhem. Re-united at last.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission advise that Robert Hayton was found in or near the aircraft and given a field burial by local Air Raid Wardens in the Onder de Bomen General Cemetery Renkum and was re-interred to Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery on 22 August 1945.

The CWGC advise that Dispatcher Shore’s unidentified body was initially buried by the crashed plane in the wood and was subsequently moved to Arnhem in March 1946. He was later identified in 1987 as the other members of the aircraft had been positively identified.

This report is my small tribute to the brave young men who gave their lives for our freedom

Headstones of the Aircrew Baker, Blencowe, Bond, Booth, Dickson & Totterdell

Oosterbeek Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

Headstones of the RASC Army Dispatchers Hayton & Shore

I am really grateful to Paul for telling the remarkable story of those named on the temporary grave marker in my father’s photo, and for letting me publish it on the blog. If anyone has any additional information, or are relatives of the other aircrew, Paul can be contacted on:

 

London Protests – Extinction Rebellion

I take a lot of photos of London. As well as photos for the blog, I also take photos of buildings, street scenes, the river, views from the top of buildings, protests and demonstrations, and indeed as many events as I can fit in with work and other commitments. Probably far too many photos, however I have realised a number of things whilst working through my father’s photos.

I wish he had taken far more, there are so many other places that I would love to have seen how they looked after the war and in the following decades. The constraints of photographic film limited the number of photos that it was affordable to take.

It is also the ordinary scene that I find interesting. Not the carefully crafted photo, but photos which show normal, day to day events, street scenes, buildings etc.

Last Sunday’s post was an example. I started photographing London in the late 1970s and the photos of the South Bank in 1980 were just ordinary photos of an ordinary London day – however for me, they tell part of the story of how London continues to develop and change. Both physically, but also in the way London is used by people. I also wish I had taken more photos, but until the arrival of digital photography I was also limited by the cost of film and developing (and time).

On the same day as my walk along the South Bank, the Extinction Rebellion protests were underway, and as usual, I photographed the event, as I have with many other different protests and demonstrations over the years.

Whenever I photograph London, I try to take an impartial view. Whether a protest, or new buildings – it is the ongoing life and development of London that I find fascinating.

My father’s first photos of protests were taken in 1953, when the Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsman marched through Oxford Circus:

London Protests

London is obviously a magnet for protests and demonstrations. The capital of the country, seat of government, assured media visibility for anything that happens in London, these and many other factors play a role in why many of these take place in London.

I have photographed many over the years, and to start, here is a view of the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, photographed on Saturday 20th April 2019.

Waterloo Bridge

Waterloo Bridge was blocked and had been closed off to traffic for a number of days:

London Protests

London Protests

The camps of people across the bridge included large numbers of plants.

London Protests

Catering:

London Protests

Lorry used as a performance stage:

London Protests

On top of the lorry:

London Protests

London Protests

Campaigning:

London Protests

Slogans on the side of the bridge:

London Protests

Meetings:

London Protests

London Protests

London Protests

On the Saturday the protest was lightly policed, this would soon change when the bridge was cleared.

London Protests

London Protests

London Protests

Compelling slogans:

London Protests

London Protests

Parliament Square

Up until recently the area around the Houses of Parliament were the scenes of pro and anti Brexit demonstrations with the world’s media occupying College Green. With the delay to October the media and demonstrators have left – almost certainly to return at some point later this year. For now, Parliament Square was also closed to traffic, with the Extinction Rebellion protesters occupying many parts of the square. It is perhaps not a surprise how much better the streets of London are without traffic.

London Protests

David Attenborough was a feature of the Parliament Square protests:

London Protests

As with Waterloo Bridge, the roads around Parliament Square were covered in chalked slogans and campaigning:

London Protests

London Protests

London Protests

Very relaxed scenes across the square:

London Protests

The People’s Podium:

London Protests

London Protests

In Broad Sanctuary, alongside Westminster Abbey:

London Protests

London Protests

Between Parliament Street and Square:

London Protests

There were other protests at Marble Arch and Oxford Circus – I ran out of time to get to these as I was also exploring some locations in the City for a future blog post.

Whether or not you agree with the method, the message was important, and as ever, London takes on the role of providing a stage for these events.

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5 Years Of A London Inheritance

I started the blog “A London Inheritance” five years ago, at the end of February 2014. I really did not think I would get this far, or be able to keep up the rate of a post a week (which I know is a very low rate compared to some bloggers).

The original aim of the blog was to track down all the locations of my father’s photos, and also to provide a kick for me to get out and explore more of this wonderful city. I hope I am still true to that original aim, and I feel that I have explored and learnt so much during the last 5 years. Getting out and walking really is the best way to discover London.

I still have very many photos where I need to track down the location, new places to visit, themes for walks – I just need to find the time.

Can I also offer my thanks to everyone who reads my posts, subscribes, comments and e-mails. I apologise for being so dreadfully bad at responding to these. When I finish one blog post it is a panic to get the next completed in time. Work and other activities take time, and I am very aware that many of my posts are too wordy and need a bit of a rewrite, so I apologise for inflicting these on you.

I was not sure what to write about to mark five years, so what follows is a bit of a brain dump on the past year, what fascinates me about the process, photography, and some thoughts for the future.

The Most Read Post

My most read post of the year is one that I wrote the previous year.

In August 2017 I wrote about St. James Gardens. I had photographed the area shortly before the site was closed ready for the archaeological excavation in preparation for the extension of Euston Station for HS2.

This post was popular at the time and consistently ranks high for viewers. Occasionally there is a very high peak of viewers which usually happens when there is news of a discovery at the excavation.

In January it was announced that the grave of Captain Matthew Flinders had been discovered in St. James Gardens.  Flinders was the first European to circumnavigate Australia in HMS Investigator, demonstrating that Australia was a single continent.

The following graph shows my site states for the days around the announcement of Flinders discovery. The peak day of the announcement was Friday, January 25th and the blog received several thousand views, the majority all going to the page on St. James Gardens that I had written about in August 2017.

London Inheritance

The excavations at St. James Gardens and the changes around Euston are, rightly, of considerable interest. I have e-mailed questions to HS2, but get the same response that, judging from comments on the blog, everyone else gets – a very standard response with answers only to very basic questions.

I can understand why, the scale of the work is considerable and must be handled in a sensitive and considerate manner, but I do suspect it would help with the public perception of the work around Euston if more regular detail on the excavations was made available.

The preparation for HS2 also highlights the rate and scale of change. Just within the last couple of years a whole area of streets have been cordoned off and will soon become part of a much enlarged Euston station. I returned to the site earlier this year, and plan to make an annual visit to photograph the changes as HS2 and the new Euston station gradually complete.

London Ghosts

By ghosts, I do not mean the traditional definition, rather the traces that are left behind by the millions of people who have lived, worked, or just passed through London. Not necessarily those who are famous and have blue plaques or other memorials, rather finding a trace of someone who had a very personal connection with the city.

I love London books and these often provide a link. One of my favourites I found in a copy of the “Geographia” Greater London Atlas. I am not sure of the exact date, but this version was published towards the end of the 1950s or very early 1960s.

On the title page is the name of the owner – Leading Fireman Barlow, No. 3019 of the London Fire Brigade.

London Inheritance

The atlas itself is fascinating enough, lots of lovely pages of colourful maps, but the street index tells the story of how a London Fireman must have kept up to date with street changes across London – long before the days of Satnavs, Google Maps and the IT that is now deployed to a fire engine.

In every single page of the street index, streets have been neatly crossed out, and new names and references have been written at the bottom of each page.

London Inheritance

What it appears that Leading Fireman Barlow was doing was keeping his atlas up to date as streets disappeared and new streets were built across the city. This was a time of considerable change with post war rebuilding gathering pace.

A couple of examples. In the above pages, at lower left, Dixon Street E14 has been crossed out. Looking in the atlas, Dixon Street is one of a cluster of streets in Limehouse, just to the north east of the Regent’s Canal Dock.

London Inheritance

This area was considerably rebuilt in the late 1950s and 1960s with the loss of many of the streets that once covered Limehouse. The following map shows the area today with the original position of Dixon Street marked.

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Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

As well as the loss of streets, Leading Fireman Barlow had to keep up with new streets. At the bottom of the same index page is a reference to Dilton Gardens, SW15, HE47, 103. The last number is the page number and the preceding number is the grid reference within the page.

Turning to page 103 and we are now in south west London, just to the east of Richmond Park. I have marked the location of the new street with a red oval.

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The map of the area today with Dilton Gardens ringed. The map today shows the large area of infill between the boundaries of the park and Roehampton Lane which has been built since the publication of the atlas.

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Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

What surprised me was the range of updates, covering the entire area of the atlas. Leading Fireman Barlow was interested in the whole of Greater London, not just his local fire station. I also wonder from where he got the information? Was this official London Fire Brigade policy to provide updates to staff and did they keep their own atlases up to date? This was at a time when a fireman would have needed to navigate the streets of London using their local knowledge or with paper maps.

Leading Fireman Barlow was very conscientious in updating the atlas and I would love to know why and how.

I found a very different trace of a Londoner in a book I purchased a couple of years ago in a second hand bookshop in Lichfield.

This book, “Achievement – A Short History of the LCC” was published in 1965.

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The book itself is a fascinating read on the London County Council, mainly focused on the years 1939 to 1964, however what turned the book from a printed copy of information, into something with a specific history was the presentation slip on the inside of the book.

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Desmond Plummer was the Conservative Councillor for St. Marylebone to the London County Council from 1960 until 1965. The date is relevant as March 1965 was the last month of the London County Council as the Greater London Council (GLC) took over from the 1st April 1965.

After the formation of the GLC, Plummer was elected leader of the Conservative opposition and became leader in 1967 when the Conservatives won a majority on the GLC. He would continue as leader of the GLC until 1973.

Plummer was a firm believer in the need to upgrade London streets to support the growing levels of traffic, and during his time as Leader, the Westway was built between Marylebone and Acton. He was also in favour of the London Motorway Box scheme, which would have seen the construction of a 30-mile-long, eight-lanes-wide elevated inner ring road (very similar to the schemes published in the “The City of London – A Record Of Destruction And Survival” in 1951). Thankfully, this did not get built.

He died in October 2009 at the age of 95. I do wonder how the book presented to him in the last month of the London County Council came to be in a bookshop in Lichfield?

London Photography

My blog is based on photographs. Tracking down the location of my father’s photos from the late 1940s onward has been a constant theme for the blog.

I started taking photos when as children we were taken on walks through London. My very first camera was a Kodak Instamatic. It used a 126 film cartridge which made it very easy to use as the cartridge slotted directly into the back of the camera. The format of the negatives and the printed photos was square rather than the rectangular output of traditional 35mm film.

The camera only had two light settings, bright and shady, so getting perfect photos back from being developed at Boots was a bit hit and miss. This simplicity did ensure the camera was ideal for a very young beginner.

I recently found some of my early London photos taken with the Kodak Instamatic in an old shoe box, so here is a sample of my first London photos taken in either 1971 or 1972.

This photo was taken in Broadway, looking down Tothill Street towards Westminster Abbey, which can just be seen at the end of the street.

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The large building on the right is the London Underground head office at 55 Broadway.

The following photo was taken on the bridge over the lake in St. James Park looking east towards the Government offices along Horse Guards Road.

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The following photo is the hat shop of Lock & Co at 6 St. James’s Street. London Inheritance

It is some 48 years since I took the photo of Lock’s, however this is a trivial amount of time since the shop was first established at 6 St. James’s Street in 1765. The shop looks almost identical today.

The following photo was taken in Cheapside, at the junction with New Change. The church is Christchurch Greyfriars.

London Inheritance

The view from within Cardinal Cap Alley, Bankside, looking across to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

London Inheritance

The alley is gated now, but in the early 1970s, Bankside was an area to explore and had not seen any of the development that would so change this stretch of the river.

I took these photos around 48 years ago. I still have them as they were developed and printed out and these photos have been in a shoe box of photos for the last four decades. Digital photography has opened a whole new world in capability and volume of photos, however I do wonder how many of the amateur photos taken today will still be around in 50 years time.

I last used film for photography about 18 years ago, however one of my planned projects for the coming year is to get back into the use of film. This is my father’s Leica IIIG camera.

London Inheritance

He purchased the camera body in 1957 so it is not the camera used for the majority of the early black & white photos I have published, however the lens is much earlier and was fitted to the Leica IIIc that my father used for his early photos.

I have had the camera serviced as the shutter was sticking, and I have brought some Ilford black & white film so I am ready for some film photography of London. I just need to learn how to use the camera and a separate hand held light meter to set up the correct exposure settings on the camera.

Hopefully later this year you will see some 2019 black & white film photos of London on the blog.

A Year Of Posts

I have been to some really interesting places during the year and discovered how much London has changed, but also in many places, they look much the same.

In December I wrote about the Angel. A brilliant pub on the south bank of the river in Rotherhithe. My father had photographed the pub from the foreshore of the river in 1951.

London Inheritance

Sixty seven years later I was standing in the same position taking a photo of the same pub. The surroundings have changed dramatically, however the pub is much the same.

London Inheritance

Like all London pubs, the Angel has had to adapt to survive and now serves a very different set of customers to when my father took the photo. By chance, from the same year there is a Daily Mirror article written in October 1951 by a journalist who was taken to various locations along the working river by a “merchant skipper”. One of these locations was the Angel, Rotherhithe. He writes of the experience:

“The Angel, Rotherhithe, where the skipper has to meet this mate of his is full of watermen when we arrive. One stocky waterman called Jim – a tough looking character with a grey stubble of a beard – is telling a story indignantly: “So I’m in my boat having a clean-up he is saying, w’en along comes this toff in a boat wearin’ a pair of flippin knickers and a flippen cap. ‘E is trainin some girls ‘ow to sail. Trainin’ em, Jim repeats darkly.

So ‘e comes smack-bang into my boat. O’ course, I could’t even talk to ‘im proper since there were ladies present. ‘get away from my boat, you unsophisticated chucker’ I shouts, ‘E looks up and says: ‘My man’ ‘e says, ‘do you know ‘oo I am?’

‘You might be flippen Joe Louis I says gettin’ really aggravated. But you don’t look like ‘im. An’ unless you push off from my boat this instant, I shall flippin’ well come down and knock your flippin’ ‘ead off – fancy cap an’ all.”

I am sure there was some journalistic embellishment, but an interesting tale from when the customers of the Angel were those who worked on the river and the surrounding warehouses and industries.

Last August we went to the Netherlands. We had lived there for 5 years from 1989 and wanted to revisit places and friends. My father had also cycled round the country in 1952 with some friends he had made during National Service, and as usual took his camera with him. I had not scanned these negatives when we lived in the country, so this was also an opportunity to visit the places he had photographed.

I am fascinated by how places can be connected. Cities do not stand in isolation. London has a road and rail network radiating out across the country and a river flows through the city. There are also networks of power, religion, monarchy and finance which have shaped the City and Country. Trading routes, flows of people from within the country and to and from the world have also established networks of connections.

There are also very unique points of connection. A single event that happened at a specific point in time, and I found one in a wooded suburb of the Hague, when I went to Wassenaar to find the launch location of the first V2 rocket to hit London.

London Inheritance

And a week later on the anniversary of the launch, I went to the site in Chiswick where the rocket landed. At each location there is a small memorial pillar that records the date and the event.

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Two places, 205 miles apart which will forever have a tragic connection.

The Oosterbeek War Cemetery was one of the many locations that my father visited in the Netherlands. He went to many of the locations associated with Operation Market Garden, the battle made famous in the book and film ‘A Bridge Too Far’. Not a surprising set of locations to visit given he had grown up during the war, had just finished National Service and these events were only 8 years previous.

The Oosterbeek War Cemetery really brings home the huge loss of life and the very young age of so many who died. The majority of those killed on the Allied side of the battle were British and Polish forces and I found a number of the graves that my father photographed in 1952 and for the blog post was able to find some of the stories behind those buried here.

London Inheritance

The photos above and below show the temporary marker in 1952 and the permanent stone marker in 2018 on the grave of Mieczyslaw Blazejewicz. A rank of Starszy Strzelec (this seems to translate to a Senior Private or Lance Corporal) in the 3rd Parachute Battalion of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade. He was born on the 24th November 1920 at Lancut, a town in south eastern Poland.

He was killed whilst trying to cross the River Rhine to get to Oosterbeek on the 26th September 1944. As with many of those killed whilst trying the cross the river, his body would drift downstream and be later recovered from the river at Rhenen on the 9th October. He was 23, just two months short of his 24th birthday.

London Inheritance

One of the posts I found personally most interesting was about the King Edward VII Memorial Park in Shadwell. I have walked along the river at the side of the park many times and occasionally through the park, but decided to explore the park in more detail.

I found a partially derelict pavilion and the flat grass of a bowling green, both of which had once been for the Shadwell Bowls Club.

London Inheritance

I was initially going to write about the park as I found it, but the more I researched, the more I found. A fascinating history of an area once crowded with streets, houses, pubs, industry, and a fish market that was a potential rival to Billingsgate.

I also found a collection of photos on the London Metropolitan Archives, Collage site and was able to trace the locations of where the photos were taken.

This photo is looking up towards the High Street (the Highway) along Broad Bridge. The building on the left is the Oil Works and residential houses are on the right. Note the steps leading up to the High Street, confirming that the height difference between the Highway and the main body of the park has always been a feature of the area, and is visible today with the terrace and steps leading down to the main body of the park.

London Inheritance

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_381_A361.

Again, another way in which the ghosts of those who have lived and worked in London return, hidden within books, maps, photographs and the physical traces we can find when out walking.

To finish, can I again thank you for reading the blog, subscribing, following, commenting and e-mailing and putting up with my random travels around London and further afield.

I am now off to try to learn how to use a sixty year old film camera.

alondoninheritance.com

Trafalgar Square, New Year’s Eve, 1981

In my last post of the year, I revisit an earlier New Year’s Eve celebration in London, but can I firstly wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2018 and thank you for reading my posts and your feedback over the past year – it is so very much appreciated.

New Year’s Eve in London has become a very organised event. Large areas of central London are closed, tickets must be purchased, and sell out very quickly, security will, understandably, be very tight. This is all very different to my first experiences of New Year’s Eve in London. In the late 1970s and 1980s we would occasionally spend the evening out and about, wandering the streets, pubs, clubs of the West End and celebrating midnight with thousands of people in Trafalgar Square.

One year I took my camera with me and recently I found some of the negatives. Many had camera shake a I was trying to take hand held photos at night and using a film camera. I still have to find some of the other negatives of photos taken whilst walking the streets, however here is a set of photos taken in the crowd in Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve, 1981.

New Year's Eve

Trafalgar Square was then the centre of New Year’s Eve celebrations until the focus moved to the Embankment with the firework displays along the Thames.

My memory of these nights in London are probably influenced by the passage of time and alcohol on the night (the reason why I only risked taking my camera along on one New Year’s Eve), however I remember the very large crowds that assembled in Trafalgar Square ready for midnight and so many people walking the streets before and after midnight, usually with bottle or cans in hand.

New Year's Eve

This was only 36 years ago, but it feels like a different world. If you compare these photos with those of the crowds in London tonight there is one very big difference – in 1981 there was not a single mobile phone in sight. Tonight the glow of mobile phone screens taking photos of the fireworks, selfies etc. will be seen across the crowds.

There was also minimal security, I do not remember seeing many police around and those that were visible would not be armed.

I do not remember any road closures (although the roads around Trafalgar Square probably were closed), however there was hardly any traffic. I do remember the freedom to wander the streets into the early hours and the alcohol induced friendliness of everyone on the streets – probably one of the few times Londoners will talk to so many strangers.

There was also a need to be careful – as when any such large crowd assembles there were rowdy elements, those who had been drinking too much and for too long, and crime such as pickpocketing – but at the age I was then it was all a big adventure.

New Year's Eve

Some detail from the above photo – if it could be climbed then it would be climbed:

New Year's Eve

The only organised facilities that I remember were some first aid facilities around the base of Nelson’s Column:

New Year's Eve

I have no idea how many people there were in Trafalgar Square, however you had to get there well before midnight to get in the centre of the square. Crowds would stretch along all the roads leading into Trafalgar Square. In the following photo the sea of heads can be seen stretching off into the Strand.

New Year's Eve

I am not sure what time we got home that night, but after midnight, celebrations continued for many hours in the streets across the West End.

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve in Trafalgar Square could not compete with the massive firework display along the river tonight, however I suspect that the New Year’s Eve fireworks are aimed just as much for TV viewers around the world as they are for those standing along the Embankment, as London competes with other global cities.

With the now ubiquitous mobile phone, they will also probably be one of the most photographed large events in London.

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The London Harness Horse Parade 2017

Back in January I published a post on the London Cart Horse Parade showing some of the photos my father took of the event in Regent’s Park in 1949. A couple of photos from the post are shown below:

London Harness Horse Parade

They show the vehicles that in 1949 were still probably in use across London transporting people and all manner of goods essential for the functioning of the city.

London Harness Horse Parade

The original London Cart Horse Parade was founded in 1885 with the aim of improving the conditions of the thousands of horses that carried both goods and people along the streets of London. It was held on Whit Monday, starting in Battersea Park before moving to Regent’s Park.

The London Van Horse Parade ran from 1904 with the same objectives, but was held on an Easter Monday.

These parades must have had a considerable impact on the surrounding streets as there were hundreds of entries (the largest Van Horse Parade has 1,259 animals in the parade in 1914). After the presentation of prizes at the Cart Horse Parade, the procession would leave Regent’s Park and proceed along Albany Street, Portland Place, Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, Euston Road and to King’s Cross.

From 1950 the numbers of entries to the parades started to decline. Rapid growth in the use of cars, vans and lorries meant that the need for horse driven transport was in sharp decline and in 1966 the two parades joined to become the London Harness Horse Parade, continuing to be held on Easter Monday in Regent’s Park.

In 1995 the parade moved to Battersea Park, but in 2006 the costs and health and safety requirements of operating such a parade in central London meant that it was no longer possible to run the parade in Battersea Park and it moved out of London.

The London Harness Horse Parade continues to be held on Easter Monday, but now at the South of England Showground at Ardingly in  West Sussex.

My aim with this blog is to track down the locations of my father’s post war photos. For the photos he took of the parade in Regent’s Park, the nearest I could get was to visit the parade in its current location, so this Easter Monday I traveled out to Ardingly to see if the London Harness Horse Parade resembled the photos taken by my father in 1949.

A showground in West Sussex is very different to Regent’s Park, however the aims of the current parade are still the same as when the parade was first held in 1885. To encourage and demonstrate the welfare of the horses, maintenance of the harness and vehicles and the standards of the driver.

The parade is a window on a way of life that has long since departed from London. Entries now come from the counties surrounding London, but many of the vehicles are originals that would have once worked the city’s streets, carrying all manner of goods and passengers.

The parade lining up to start:

London Harness Horse Parade

This is a five ton open van pulled by two Shire Horses and was used to carry goods to and from the stations of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway across London:

London Harness Horse Parade

The following photo is from the book “The Queen’s London” published in 1896. It shows an identical open van in front of the Bank of England transporting goods for the Midland Railway Company. The historical accuracy of the 2017 vehicle is such that a chain is hanging down underneath the van in both photos (I only realised this after the event when I was comparing photos otherwise I would have asked what the chain was for).

London Harness Horse Parade

The range of entries highlight the specialist vehicles that once transported goods along the streets. This is a 1920 Milk Float:

London Harness Horse Parade

As part of the event, each horse is checked by a vet, continuing the aims set out for the parade in 1885 that the welfare of the horses is to be encouraged. The parade is not competitive, there is no winner, rather all those that achieve the required standard receive a rosette.

London Harness Horse Parade

As well as the condition of the horses, the vehicles are also judged and are immaculately preserved and maintained.

London Harness Horse Parade

A standard design known as a “London Trolley”:

London Harness Horse Parade

Running down to one of the judging areas:London Harness Horse Parade

Many of the vehicles are from the 1920s and 30s highlighting that it was not just in the 19th century that horse-drawn transport was used across London, it was still a means of transport well into the 20th century.

London Harness Horse Parade

Immaculate paint work:

London Harness Horse Parade

All ages participate in the parade:

London Harness Horse Parade

For those who could afford it, this is the type of vehicle that would have carried your luggage to the station:

London Harness Horse Parade

And you would have traveled in the following carriage:

London Harness Horse Parade

A 1920 Ice Cream Cart:

London Harness Horse Parade

Brilliantly restored, including a selection of vintage ice cream scoops:

London Harness Horse Parade

Horse drawn delivery drays transporting barrels of beer would once have been a common sight across London:

London Harness Horse Parade

The Young & Co delivery dray was built-in Chelsea and dates from 1924:London Harness Horse Parade

A Victorian Invalid Carriage from 1890:

London Harness Horse Parade

The London Harness Horse Parade is now much smaller than the parades once held in Regent’s and Battersea Parks. In 1926 there were 864 vehicles entered in the Easter Monday parade, today there were around 100 entries to the 2017 parade.

It is though really good to see that the parade is still running every year and true to its original purpose of improving the conditions and treatment of London’s cart horses. Also, a place to see a historically accurate display of the vehicles that were once essential in nearly all aspects of the life of the city.

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The London Cart Horse Parade

A rather short post this week, work and trying to find the time to get to some East London locations has delayed my planned post for today, however I hope these photos of an annual parade that was once held in London will be of interest.

During the past week, pollution levels in London have been very high. The thousands of cars, taxis, buses, lorries etc. that keep the city supplied and moving but congest the city’s streets, contributing to the smog that hangs across the city when there is no wind to blow it to the east. In previous centuries, it was the horse that was essential to the functioning of the city. Transporting goods and people from one end of the city to the other.

I have seen a range of different figures for how many horses were on the streets of the London, with numbers of around 300,000 in the year 1900.

Treatment of horses was very variable and dependent on the owner. Horses needed to earn their keep and when they could not, through age or illness they were of little use to their owner.

There were a number of initiatives in the 19th Century to try to improve the conditions of the city’s horses, one of which was the Cart Horse Parade, established in 1885 with the aim of encouraging the owners of horses to take pride in their animals and to show to their peers and the public in a formal annual parade.

The first Cart Horse Parades took place on Whit Monday in Battersea Park. A second annual parade, the Van Horse Parade started in 1904 and took place on Easter Monday.

The Cart Horse Parade moved to Regent’s Park in 1888.

The two parades continued to run as separate parades, however with the declining numbers of working horses across the city, the two parades merged into a single Easter Monday parade in 1966.

My father must have known the parade well as he lived a short distance from Regent’s Park and one year took a series of photos of the event. These specific photos were not dated, however from the photos on the same strips of negative I am sure the year was 1949. Judging by the crowds, this was a popular event.

London Harness Horse Parade 1

London Harness Horse Parade 2

London Harness Horse Parade 3

London Harness Horse Parade 5

London Harness Horse Parade 6

London Harness Horse Parade 7

As a final photo, the following shows one of the problems with film cameras. When I scanned the following photo I thought there were two negatives stuck together, however it is an example of where the film did not wind on correctly between taking two photos leaving them both on the same individual negative. There are a number in the collection where this has happened – very frustrating.

London Harness Horse Parade 4

The combined parades have now moved out of London, but are still held on Easter Monday as the London Harness Horse Parade with the next parade being on the 17th April 2017 at the South of England Centre at Ardingly in West Sussex.

Details of the next parade can be found on the website of the London Harness Horse Parade.

alondoninheritance.com

London Christmas Lights – 1978 and 2016

Before I start this week’s post, which also falls on Christmas Day, can I wish you a very Happy Christmas, and thank you for reading and subscribing to my blog. I am almost at the end of Year 3 and have lots more to write about which I hope you will find of interest.

For a Christmas Day post, a comparison of London Christmas Lights from the rather gloomy late 1970s with those in 2016.

In 1954 Regent Street was the first of the central London shopping streets to have Christmas lights, Oxford Street followed five years later in 1959. There were a number of years in the 1970s when Oxford Street did not have any Christmas lights due to the recession of the middle years of the decade and the general financial climate, however they restarted again in 1978 with the unusual option of having laser lights shining up and down the street. I assume it was thought that these would be a rather novel form of lighting and much cheaper than large light decorations run across the street.

To mark the return of Christmas lights to Oxford Street and to record what was hopefully an impressive display, I took my first decent camera up to Oxford Street (a Canon AE1 recently purchased on HP – Hire Purchase before the days of Credit Cards) and without a tripod I attempted some photos using Kodak Kodacolor 400 film, faster than my normal film in the hope that I would not suffer too much with camera shake.

Arriving at Oxford Street as it got dark, the lasers did not really meet with expectations. A number of laser systems were mounted a various places along Oxford Street with a beam of light from each running the length of the street. There were not enough lights and a thin beam of blue, red or green light did not seem to have any relevance to Christmas. It was all rather strange and I can understand why it has not been repeated since.

Oxford Street in the mid 1970s was generally much darker than it is now. Shops did not have the same level of Christmas displays and window lights that they have today.

The following photos are a sample I took in 1978 and then for comparison I went for walk one evening in December 2016 to look at the lights across the main shopping streets of central London today. The 1978 photos also show some of the retail brands that have since disappeared.

One of the Oxford Street lasers. The Christmas tree is on the construction site for the new Bond Street station and the Jubilee Line. The large sign on the left reads “Work in progress for the Jubilee Line – Reconstruction of Bond Street Station”.

London Christmas Lights

Looking up Oxford Street towards Marble Arch. Selfridges has a row of lights just above street level. A Take 6 store is on the right.

London Christmas Lights

Blue and red lasers. The sign of the 100 Club is on the right – fortunately still there today.

London Christmas Lights

Blue laser running down the street. Debenhams on the right, Dolcis shoe shop on the left.

London Christmas Lights

A rather faint laser shines down a gloomy 1970s Oxford Street. The vertical lights are advertising the now defunct shoe shop Saxone.

London Christmas Lights

Christmas trees along D.H. Evans, with a fan of blue and green lasers from just above the main entrance to the store. The D.H. Evans store disappeared in 2001 when it was re-branded as the House of Fraser.

London Christmas Lights

Woolworth’s on the left, D.H,. Evans on the right. Just beneath the Berlitz sign (language school) is a sign for the Lady at Lord John fashion chain (click on the photo to enlarge) – one of the many high street brands that have disappeared in the last 40 years.

London Christmas Lights

The best place to see the lasers seemed to be from directly underneath when they were at their brightest.

London Christmas Lights

Regent Street kept to their more traditional Christmas lighting with displays running across the street and were more impressive than those at Oxford Street. Looking down Regent Street with a Take 6 store on the right.

London Christmas Lights

Dickens and Jones.

London Christmas Lights

So how does 1970s London compare with the Christmas lights of 2016? In the week before Christmas, I took a walk one evening starting at Monmouth Street, through Seven Dials and up to Oxford Street, then down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus.

Starting in Monmouth Street with lights across the street and in the trees.

London Christmas Lights

Seven Dials looking very festive.

London Christmas Lights

Neal’s Yard just off the northern leg of Monmouth Street.

London Christmas Lights

View down Monmouth Street.

London Christmas Lights

Penguins decorating the front of Arthur Beale, London’s Yacht Chandler on Shaftesbury Avenue.

London Christmas Lights

From Shaftesbury Avenue, it was along St. Giles High Street and into Denmark Street. Not known for Christmas lights, although the music shops look good after dark.

London Christmas Lights

London Christmas Lights

Regent Sound Studios with their take on Christmas window decorations.

London Christmas Lights

Up now into Oxford Street and the lights of John Lewis.

London Christmas Lights

Oxford Street’s 2016 Christmas lights.

London Christmas Lights

House of Fraser.

London Christmas Lights

Looking down New Bond Street from Oxford Street.

London Christmas Lights

Oxford Street at Christmas. Pavements crowded with people and the street at times seems more like a car park for buses……

London Christmas Lights

…..and taxis.

London Christmas Lights

Back down into Regent Street who in most of the years I can remember since 1978 have more ambitious street lights than Oxford Street.

London Christmas Lights

The length of Regent Street looking down towards Piccadilly Circus.

London Christmas Lights

Carnaby Street from Regent Street with their own interpretation of Christmas lights.

London Christmas Lights

Lights continue down the southern end of Regent Street towards Waterloo Place.

London Christmas Lights

London Christmas Lights

An elevated platform had been built around the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain – or Eros as it is more commonly known. A choir huddled together against the cold and breeze of a December evening but sounding beautiful above the noise of traffic.

London Christmas Lights

View from Piccadilly Circus towards Leicester Square.

London Christmas Lights

My photos from 1978 probably do the lasers a slight injustice due to my lack of photographic experience at the time and the equipment in use, however London after dark at Christmas is now much brighter than it was in the 1970s. The crowds and traffic do seem much the same in the weeks running up to Christmas, but as ever I will take any excuse for a walk around London.

Thanks again for reading, and a very Happy Christmas.

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The Space Shuttle At Stansted Airport

I have recently been scanning some of my old negatives from the early 1980s. The Lord Mayor’s Show post from a couple of weeks ago included some of these photos, and this week’s post covers a rather more unusual event when in 1983 the Space Shuttle Enterprise landed at Stansted Airport – or London Stansted Airport to use the current full name and provide the hopefully not too tenuous link to the theme of the blog.

The first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle took place in April 1981 and in 1983 the Space Shuttle fleet was increasing the number of flights with four taking place that year. There was considerable interest in this new method of reaching space and in 1983 the Space Shuttle Enterprise made a visit to the Paris Airshow, also landing in the UK and Germany.

The Enterprise did not launch to space. It was the first of the Space Shuttles (named after the space ship from the Star Trek TV series), completed in 1977 and used to test the piggy back method of transport on a Boeing 747 and also for drop tests to evaluate how the design would fly and land.

The Enterprise arrived at Stansted Airport on Sunday 5th June 1983. Stansted was then a small airport with relatively few flights. Approval was granted the following year for the first phase of the significant developments that have seen the airport reach the capacity it has today, so back in 1983 it was still quiet and an ideal location to host the Space Shuttle’s visit.

The arrival was a major event with significant numbers of people turning up to try and see this unusual combination of aircraft land. There was major congestion on the majority of roads in the Stansted area. For some reason I cannot remember now, I could not get to Stansted for the Sunday, but did manage to visit on one of the evenings the following week.

I was working in Lambeth at the time so it was a dash up to Stansted after work on a lovely sunny evening which I do remember very well. It seemed a very casual event. Compared to today, hardly any security of any sort.

Drive up to the airfield, park on the grass and take a walk around – I doubt this would happen today.

I cannot remember which day it was, or the time but it must have been late evening judging by the length of the shadows (which is rather depressing to write on a dark December evening).

There is a BBC report on the Space Shuttle visit and the 25th anniversary which can be found here. The report contains some excellent film of the landing of the Shuttle / 747 combination at Stansted.

A sample of my photos from that June evening in 1983:

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I did not get to see the Space Shuttle leave Stansted, but did catch a glimpse of the flight over London, although unfortunately I did not have my camera with me.

After the visit to the UK, France and Germany the Space Shuttle Enterprise returned to the US where it was used for test purposes, then a period in storage and then on display with the Smithsonian Institute.

Space Shuttle Enterprise is now on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York along with a British Airways Concorde – another form of flight which seemed technologically very advanced at the time, having started the first supersonic passenger flights just a few years earlier in 1976 and in some respects would go on to have a parallel history to the Space Shuttle.

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The Lord Mayor’s Show In The Early 1980s

The annual Lord Mayor’s Show took to the streets of the City yesterday. I did not visit this year’s event, but have been many times over the years, and I first started taking photos of the Lord Mayor’s Show in 1981.

For this week’s post, I have scanned a sample of photos from the Lord Mayor’s Show between 1981 and 1983. Rather than the main route of the procession, I always went to the streets where the procession assembled in the couple of hours before the start. It was here that you could talk to, and get some more interesting photos of those involved.

As well as the participants in the Lord Mayor’s Show during the early 1980s, these photos also show the area around London Wall as it was before the major rebuilding of the last couple of decades that has resulted in a significant change to the streets.

So, to start with, here are some uniformed Unigate milkmen:lord-mayors-show-1

Only at the Lord Mayor’s Show could you spend your day in (I think) a chicken costume:

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I remember this character from the 1970s and 80s, but cannot recall his name:

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The military have always played a significant role in the Lord Mayor’s Show:

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I had forgotten all about this pub until I scanned this photo. In the background is the Plough pub on St Alphage High Walk. It was demolished in 2006 as part of the reconstruction of the area.  In the foreground is the Debenhams float, which I think is a bike they will all be cycling along the procession.

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Chelsea pensioners from above:

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The British Airways float:

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I took this photo of the man in the centre, however look at the man to his right. he is carrying a cine camera. These photos are only around 35 years old, but this was the technology of the time – there is not a mobile phone in sight.

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Cannot remember who “JLW” were:

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“Why move to the middle of nowhere, when you can move to the middle of London?”

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The brewer Samuel Smith with the Harrods float on the left:

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British Telecom float. Very early computer terminals, but not a mobile phone in sight. How technology would change over the coming 35 years.

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Post Office float – advertising down the side to “Use the postcode – you’re not properly addressed without it”.

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The following few photos were taken from the footbridge that ran across London Wall from the southern to the northern sides of Wood Street. The church tower is that of St. Alban. This area has been completely rebuilt. Whilst the church tower remains, the exit of the southern part of Wood Street into London Wall is now a single lane. The surrounding buildings, the foot bridge and the elevated walkways have all disappeared and the 18 floor office block, 125 London Wall now sits across this junction.

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LBC radio van:

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Vintage army uniforms and equipment:

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The Underground, advertising the capital investment that had recently resulted in the Heathrow extension of the Piccadilly line:

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SAGA – “world-wide holidays for people who matter”:

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This bus appears to be an entry by, or sponsored by Disney:

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“Give me Bournemouth anytime” – the rather exotic entry that must be by the Bournemouth Tourist Board:

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Float entry by the construction company Mansell advertising 75 years of the company’s existence. This would not last for too much longer as Mansell was purchased by Balfour Beatty in 2003 and the name was phased out in 2014.

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British Telecom, when a large handset attached to a landline was the latest in technology:

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Not sure what this float was:

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A better view looking from the north edge of London Wall down Wood Street showing the stairs that ran up to the foot bridge and the pedestrianised walkways:

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Floats from Selfridges and Harrods:

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British Gas:

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The military wait the start of the procession:

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Military equipment:

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The Lord Mayor’s Coach:

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Passing The Plough pub on London Wall:

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British Airways, City & Guilds College and Cubitts the builders:

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In perhaps a reverse of the many other changes in the last 35 years, the Lord Mayor’s Show appeared to be much more commercial than it is today. Companies such as Selfridges, Harrods, British Airways, British Telecom and as shown below, BP, along with many others all had floats in the procession. An interesting change in focus.

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The Lord Mayor’s Coach:

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British Rail and the InterCity 125 train that had been introduced during the previous few years:

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The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers of the Honourable Artillery Company have long been a feature of the Lord Mayor’s Show. Here marching down the northern part of Wood Street from Fore Street towards London Wall:

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Milk and cheese deliveries to the door. Tesco float in the background:

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Lord Mayor’s coach again:

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The latest gas appliances from Unigas:

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British Aerospace and the Jetstream 31 which first flew in 1980:

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View along London Wall:

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Harrods float:

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London Docklands Development Corporation float. Created in 1981 at around the same time as these photos. The work of the L.D.D.C. would have a significant impact on the area of London east of Tower Bridge and down to the Isle of Dogs:

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Wimpey, from the days when mock Tudor architecture was the aspiration for a new home owner:

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Thames Water:

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The Lord Mayor’s Coach in Wood Street by the tower of the church of St. Alban:

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The Household Cavalry:

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“Doorstep delivery service, British and best”:

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It is a number of years since I last saw the above photos, and looking at them now the things that strike me most are the changes along London Wall, and the large number of private companies that once participated in the Lord Mayor’s Show. The procession seems rather different today.

London Wall at the time was the post war development of a heavily damaged area and consisted of plenty of rather unattractive office tower blocks, but looking at the photos now, including the junction of Wood Street and London Wall I feel strangely nostalgic for this area as it was. London Wall does not feel as much an open space as it did, with the building of 125 London Wall blocking the view along the length of the street.

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