London, 1914: The Great War Is Looming

In the summer of 1914, life continued as normal in England, with few people aware that the world was about to be plunged into the carnage of WW1 on the 4th of August.

A policeman stands guard outside the National Gallery in London. It had been closed after a suffragette damaged a famous work of art, during the campaign for Votes For Women.

A modern operating theatre at King’s College Hospital, London.

Female Tennis fans at Wimbledon.

A parade by the Holborn Regiment in Red Lion Square, London.

Boys fishing in St James’s Park, Central London.

Men seeking a vantage point to watch the Football Association Cup Final at Crystal Palace.

The morning rush hour outside Liverpool Street Staion in London.

The arrest of a Suffragette who was protesting outside Buckingham Palace.

The opening of a branch of Marks and Spencer in Holloway, North London.

Crowds attend the Henley Regatta, held on the River Thames outside London in Oxfordshire.

A steam-powered wagon has crashed in Chelsea, London.

Not long after these photos were taken, many of the men pictured would die or be terribly injured on battlefields across Europe, and in Turkey.
For everyone in these photographs, life would never be the same again.

43 thoughts on “London, 1914: The Great War Is Looming

  1. Hi Pete, not long ago I read Testament of Youth by Vera Britain. She was from a wealthy family but the war still impacted her life hugely. She lost her brother and all her male friends and her fiancé during WW1. I think because it is one of the few books told from a woman’s POV about WW1, I found it very poignant and sad. Life was never the same again for that generation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is incredible to think how much change WWI brought to everybody’s lives. Thanks for sharing such wonderful and evocative images, Pete. So many places and locations I am familiar with but I wouldn’t have recognised.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I went for my flu shot this morning one of the waiting room chairs was twice as wide as a normal one. I encountered the same huge seat at the blood draw lab. I second the observation that those beds would not accommodate many of today’s patients.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. (1) The suffragette damaged a famous German work of art, thereby triggering World War I.
    (2) At the modern operating theatre: “We proudly operate on you in front of a live audience!”
    (3) Did you hear about the female Tennessee fans who cheered on the Titans?
    (4) Is Red Lion Square the mane square in Holborn? Do the folks there take pride in their district? Is the official song “Holborn Free”?
    (5) Overheard:
    Fish #1: “That one’s a good looker.””
    Fish #2: “Forget her. She’s a hooker.”
    (6) I figured you’d post a photo of football fans perched on posts.
    (7) The women who frequented Coods Station cooed salaciously.
    (8) The suffragette in front of the bars will soon be behind bars.
    (9) Did Marks & Spencer have a magazine rack for Harper’s Bazaar?
    (10) Overheard:
    Regatta official: “Boats for men and women!”
    Suffragette: “Votes for men and women!”
    (11) The push for steam-powered wagons lost steam after the crash in Chelsea.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The operating theater is so bare, this emphasises the advances in medicine (and equipment). Can only imagine developments on the horizon within the next 100 years
    Probably a lot of us wouldn’t be around if we lived back then

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How swiftly life can change. You would think the human race could learn but we seem to keep going through the same hopeless cycles. I like the picture of those men standing on pots to watch the football. They must have had good balance! And that operating theatre looks so basic!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good balancing act by the football fans:) Some years ago we were in London. We enjoyed travelling in London Underground. In one of the stations, I was fascinated to see the crowd in the rush hour. Wars change lives of so many but they are still happening. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As HG Wells would state “the war to end all wars”.
    The impact on the world up till recent times was phenomenal. Here they all are, so innocent & currently alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine standing on those poles for a whole football match. I could never keep my balance for that long. Hat wearing was still common up to the mid 1960s. My dad usually wore a trilby, and all my older male relatives wore hats when they had suits on. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m with you there, Pete: I could probably manage about 10 minutes standing on a post, even as large as that! My father also wore a trilby regularly, and he blamed his hair loss on this habit: nonsense, of course! Cheers, Jon.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When I went to football matches as a child, (the last time I ever went to one, I was only 11) the older men used to lift us up and sit us on the railings so we could get a good view. But there didn’t seem to be many youngsters watching the 1914 cup final. 🙂
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

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