A couple of weeks ago I published the photos my father took of people waiting for the Coronation in 1953. That post can be found here.
Just under 30 years later there was another royal event in central London, and on the evening before people were finding the best position along the route to watch the events of the following day.
This was the wedding of Charles and Diana that took place on the 29th July 1981 and on the evening of the 28th July I took a walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral and along Fleet Street and the Strand to take some photos.
Starting at St. Paul’s Cathedral, this is where the best positions were and large crowds had already found their place ready for an overnight stay.
I must have had a couple of photos left on some Black and White film before moving to colour.
Outside St. Paul’s Cathedral:
Crowds at this perfect position looking across at the steps leading into the Cathedral: I must have then switched to a colour film:
Looking back up Ludgate Hill. Although this was the evening before, the road had been closed and a large number of people were just walking the route, taking in the atmosphere and watching the people who were settling in for the night along the edge of the route. It was a warm evening and I remember there being a real sense of a big event taking place the following day.
The same view today looking back up Ludgate Hill towards the cathedral. St. Martin Ludgate on the left is still there, along with many of the buildings on the right.
Just to the right in the above photo in 1981:
Now in Ludgate Circus. This was when the railway bridge still ran across the start of Ludgate Hill.
Just to the left of the railway bridge is the Old King Lud pub, decorated for the event. This was a lovely Victorian pub, built-in 1870,
After going through some changes in the 1990s, the pub finally closed in 2005 and became yet another of London’s lost Victorian pubs. The site is now occupied by a fast food store with offices above:
Moving up into Fleet Street. This road was still open and the pavements were busy with those walking and those waiting:
This was when Fleet Street was still occupied by newspaper publishers. The Express offices on the left and those of the Star on the right. I remember walking along Fleet Street and the side roads leading down to the Thames on a late Saturday afternoon / early evening and listening to the sound of the newspapers being printed and the amount of activity to get the next day’s edition distributed. All very exciting when you are young and exploring London.
Prepared for a night’s wait:
Along the side of the Royal Court’s of Justice:
The George pub in the Strand which fortunately is still there:
Most of the decorations were put up by the owners of the buildings along the route. “Official” street decoration was very limited, mainly these pennants hanging from lamp posts. Union Jacks along with red, white and blue bunting was out in abundance.
One of many events that have taken this route to St. Paul’s Cathedral, but a special event for me as this was my first opportunity to get out and photograph the streets and people preparing for the following day.