London In Colour, 1961: Charles Cushman

In April, May and June 1961, American tourist Charles Weever Cushman (July 30, 1896-June 8, 1972) took these photographs of life in London. On holiday with his first wife, Jean, this extraordinary amateur photographer captured street scenes and buildings no longer commonplace in London.

Shepherd’s Bush Market, West London.

St Pancras Station, Camden. Now renamed St Pancras International, this Gothic revival station was built in 1868.

Christ Church, Greyfriars. Located in King Edward Street, EC1 the ruins in the foreground are unrepaired war damage.

Shepherd Market, Mayfair. Now an expensive and upmarket area, it was formerly known as an area for prostitution.

The Old Curiosity Shop, Portsmouth Street, WC2. It has long been suggested that this shop, one of the oldest remaining Tudor buildings in London, was the inspiration for the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens. However, there is no proof of that. (It is still there today.)

Market Stall in New Goulston Street, London E1.

Bell Lane, E1. I suspect he wanted to photograph the very smart black lady.

Aldgate, E1. A street salesman selling from the back of his van. He is trying to attract a crowd by standing on the roof of it.

Petticoat Lane Market, E1. Charles cleverly found a stall actually selling petticoats!

Another colourful stall in the same market.

Smart soldiers of the Household Division stand guard outside St James’s Palace, SW1.

Smithfield Meat Market, EC1. Porters unload lamb from a delivery van.

Leicester Square, WC2. This area is home to many top-class cinemas, and old-school buskers would get in position to entertain the crowds waiting for films to start.

The Jaeger store on London’s Regent Street, W1. I believe that Charles wanted to photograph the man wearing a bowler hat.

Piccadilly Circus, W1. Much the same today, though the advertising signs have changed.

I am very grateful to Charles for leaving behind this legacy of old London in colour, and for providing some great nostalgic pleasure for me.

49 thoughts on “London In Colour, 1961: Charles Cushman

  1. Part One:
    (1) Shepherd’s Bush Market. When farm girls become lollipop ladies…
    (2) St Pancreas Station. God bless all those organ donors!
    (3) Time in the crosshairs: Blackfriars in youth. Greyfriars in old age.
    (4) So, the lollipop ladies abandoned their profession. What are they marketing now?
    (5) So there’s a lot of curiosity surrounding whether that antique and modern art shop was actually immortalized by Charles Dickens.
    (6) New Goulston Street is now haunted by old ghouls.
    (7) If that black lady is so smart, why is she looking everywhere for the bell?
    (8) The salesman would attract a bigger crowd if he stood on top of that building in the background.

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  2. Part Two:
    (9) It never occurred to Charles to try on a petticoat. These days, many guys would feel an irresistible urge to do so.
    (10) Meanwhile, at the Kempton Park stables, the horses are complaining that they don’t get to have colorful stalls.
    (11) My parents used to own a rural property that featured an outhouse. I never stood guard outside the outhouse, though, because that would have been considered inappropriate.
    (12) Mary had a little lamb. It ended up at the Smithfield Meat Market. I find that really sad!
    (13) Did the buskers take the bus to the cinema?
    (14) Regent Street was subsequently flooded with men wearing bowler hats. The objective was to confuse the coppers while Thomas raided the Jaeger store. (Unfortunately, Thomas slipped, fell to the ground, and broke his crown, causing the plan they had erected to come tumbling down.) #ThomasCrownAffair
    (15) I once ate a dill pickle at a circus. I washed it down with a Coke.

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  3. He was a great photographer. I love the image of the guards. It is such a time warp, looking at these pictures. I remember that time but I can’t get over how well dressed people were, just on the street. I think I would be able to identify those people as British even if I didn’t know (and excluding the bowler hat which is a dead giveaway!). The wall posters are gems too and the electric lights at Picadilly. I can almost hear an echo when I look at these old photos. Always enjoy them. Thanks, Pete.

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  4. The Old Curiosity Shop photo instantly reminded me of a tobacco shop which is about a half hour away, and it is positioned on its street just like the photo’s Shop is, and the front of the two stores almost look identical. I know my local location is not named The Old Curiosity Shop, but it sure is a curiosity mine looks like it took some inspiration from yours!

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