London Life 1957-1962: Photos by Frederick Wilfred

I happened across the work of a photographer previously unknown to me. For five years, Frederick Wilfred took photos of everyday life as lived by Londoners. At the same time, I was aged between 5 and 10, and I grew up looking at the same sights he captured on his interesting black and white photos. A trip down Memory Lane for me.

What was then a ‘modern’ and ‘trendy’ coffee bar. Not much like Starbucks, as you can see.

The famous London Dog Rescue centre at Battersea, with the marvellous Art Deco power station behind. Both are still there. The Dog’s Home is housed in a new building now, and the power station has become a retail and apartment complex, housing a visitor centre and exhibitions too.

Children playing around in an old car. At the time, it was rare for a working person to even own a car. Notice that there are no others on the street behind.

A gang of cheeky boys posing for Frederick. They would likely have been ‘playing out’ on the street at the time.

Two boys playing a ‘war game’. Using sticks, and a lot of imagination.

A well-dressed man having his shoes polished by a ‘shoe black’ on a street corner. Shiny shoes mattered back then.

A road sweeper with his cart containing two dustbins. They were seen on every street at that time. The container in the background was for the sweepers to empty their dustbins into, and it would be collected by a lorry at the end of the working day.

This newspaper vendor has a good spot opposite a busy Tube Station. There would be numerous daily papers to sell, as well as two popular evening newspapers too.

This schoolboy is likely helping the local milkman on his round before going to school. Such part-time jobs were prized then.

A butcher proudly standing behind his display of meat. Note the pre-decimal prices in ‘old money’.

52 thoughts on “London Life 1957-1962: Photos by Frederick Wilfred

  1. Pete, this is absolutely wonderful. I have looked at these photos over and over again. Some feel ancient, like the children playing in the car; in the 50’s that car was obsolete in America. Other photos feel like a few years ago; there were shoe shine stations in most American airports in the 70’s and 80’s. I do hope you find and post more of these.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The car was obsolete in Britain too, but I am guessing they were trying to keep it running, unable to afford to change it. I think they are marvellous photos, and I am always on the lookout for similar pictures from my youth.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Same for me. I have very few photos of me and my family from the time I started primary school, and none at all of the London that we lived in.
          Best wishes, Pete. x


  2. How lovely! I was 5 in 1962. I remember the road sweepers, although don’t recall ‘shoe-blacks’. My grandmother used to sell newspapers from a kiosk just like that one along the Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green. I used to help her sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most shoe blacks were in the central area, though some worked near stations to catch the commuter trade. I think Frederick took some excellent photos, and they have captured the period perfectly.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. All great pictures, but I can’t help wondering how tall that guy is getting his shoes shined. He looks like the type I wouldn’t want to get mad at me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cool photos. Thank heaven for photography. What a great way to document a time and a place. We have pictures of life on the farm in Canada from that time. Precious memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And most of those captured are probably still alive. It was an era of ‘My Fair Lady’ taking the urine out of some who substituted an F for a TH and dropped the H. Rex Harrison did many voice overs and a youtube one of life in London in the 50s. Photos would have been influenced by the coronation, vacant bomb sites and unrepaired houses with the first housing estate at Roehampton. More allotments and the West Indian influence. From there London was the music and fashion capital. Those kids playing nicely with sticks reminds me that knives were for peeling oranges at the market.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did know one older boy who had a flick-knife. He used to show it to us and let us flick out the blade. But he never stabbed anyone with it.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  6. Hard to shine the ubiquitous tennis shoes! Those photos seem like they were taken in ancient times. So far removed from today’s life. Analogous to looking at 19th Century photos back when we were children.

    Liked by 1 person

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