Rare Photos Of London. 1900-1910

Before the outbreak of the First World War, uncredited photographers were recording daily life in Central London. I found some rare photos of places that no longer exist. The streets are still there, but the buildings have changed completely. Some were destroyed by bombing in WW2, others demolished later for the building of modern office blocks.

Women working at spinning wheels in the City of London, 1908.

A nursery for working mothers. Deptford, South London. 1909.

A chimney sweep photographed with his family. City of London, 1900.

Cloth Fair. A street in the City of London, 1908.

A shop with the owners living above. Central London, 1910.

A stationery company. Smithfield, London, 1908. They also sold tobacco products, and a shop in the alleyway sold meats.

An upholstery business. Smithfield, London, 1909.

47 thoughts on “Rare Photos Of London. 1900-1910

  1. Interesting photos. Some of those buildings looked older than the 19th century. Whenever I see such photos I wish I could go in and look inside the buildings! I often zoom in and look to see if I can see anything in the windows, but alas, I never can!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What fabulous photos! I was particularly taken with the photo of the nursery. I somehow imagined that working women would leave their children with grandparents or aunts and uncles, but there were obviously many who did not have access to an extended family. Or perhaps had enough surplus cash to pay for professional childcare.
    How demoralizing that well over 100 years later, very little has changed. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them. It is unlikely that the working mothers would have had to pay for the nursery in such a poor district. It was probably supplied by their employer, usually a factory. By organising a workplace nursery, they could guarantee a steady supply of working women at lower wages than they had to pay the men.
      The grandparents would stil have been working of course, so unlikely to be able to look after the children. People worked until they were too ill to carry on, or died. There was no social security, only the Parish Workhouse. And life expectancy was also much shorter than it is now, with no organised state healthcare, and most unable to afford doctor’s charges or the cost of medicine.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting pictures and comments. Working class women have always worked, no matter what Betty Friedan and the Feminine Mystique (a very interesting book, for sure, and right in many aspects, but a bit limited in its scope) might have thought. And farmer’s wives would definitely work also, and not only at home, although there was plenty of that. I would love to have visited that stationer/bookshop. There would be some treasures there! Thanks, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right about that, Olga. My mum worked full-time from the age of 14, until her last job at the age of 75! Being a ‘housewife’ was never an option for her.
      Best wishes, Pete.


    1. I suspect it was still oil lamps and candles for most people before WW1, Ed. As for telephones, they were still considered to be a luxury when I was a child in the 1950s.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  4. Fascinating pictures, the nursery for working mothers particularly. Imagine trying to get away with those child-to-staff ratios now! I didn’t realise formalised childcare had been in existence for so long, I wonder if it was a happy place for children?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Helen. I suspect it was provided by an employer or a factory. Working-class women would have had to work to contribute to the household bills. The children do at least look clean and well cared-for.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  5. (1) Overheard:
    Spinner #1: “I can’t get any gold out of this!”
    Spinner #2: “If you ask me, the straw is no good.”
    (2) I’m having a devil of a time trying to figure out which one is Rosemary’s baby.
    (3) Carpet beetles are terrified by carpet beaters.
    (4) The girl on Cloth Fair will one day start a business. She’ll name it Pretty Little Thing.
    (5) Three men do not window dressing make.
    (6) “I just bought two packs of Benson & Hedges and a deluxe edition of Fahrenheit 451.”
    (7) Here in the West, we buy up holsters.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It might have been provided by an employer or a factory. Most women in Deptford would have needed to work back then. Pickled cow’s tongues and sweetbreads were cheap food for ordinary people at the time.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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