England In Photos: George Rodger

George Rodger captured English life from 1946 until the late 1960s. Many of these photos seem to be from some years earlier than that, showing how little changed during that time.

Shops reopening after the war, 1946. This shop seems to offer almost everything, and also carries advertising postcards for people selling items.

Well-to-do friends enjoy a picnic at an event, 1950s

A West Indian immigrant family arrives at a mainline station in London, 1964.

The interior of a Central London pub, 1969. Note the absence of any female customers.

The sleepy village of Smarden in Kent, 1964.

Morris dancers performing their traditional dance in Smarden, 1964.

An elderly resident of Smarden fixes a bicycle wheel, 1964.

The funeral of Winston Churchill. Central London, 1965.

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.

London In Photos, 1960: Bob Collins

I was 8 years old in 1960, so many of these images are familiar to me from my youth.

Bob Collins left his trade as a watchmaker to become a photojournalist. From 1947 until the end of the 1960s, many of his photos became famous. I have chosen a selection of his photos that were all taken in the year 1960.

Here is Bob photographed with his camera, 1960.

People wait to hand their tickets to the ticket collector, Victoria Mainline Station, London.

Before it became a familiar photographic ‘trick’, Bob experimented with blurring, using slow shutter speeds. Victoria Station again.

A patient bus queue on a rainy night in Central London.(I have waited for an 88 bus more times than I care to remember.)

A lady buying fish at Billingsgate Fish Market, City of London.

A Facist Party rally, Trafalgar Square. The far-right supporters had clashed with left-wing opponents.

Female tennis fans at Wimbledon, very smartly dressed.

Bob ventured outside London to catch Londoners enjoying leisure time. Here are some people resting on Brighton Beach, in Sussex.

This man is checking the form at the Epsom Derby horse race, Surrey.

Anniversary Memories

During our recent holiday, Julie and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary. Although we have been together longer than that, we actually married on the 10th of September, 2009. The wedding was in a very nice location, Rowhill Grange Spa Hotel, Wilmington, Kent. https://www.alexanderhotels.co.uk/rowhill-grange/

The weather was kind, and everything went smoothly. A real wedding to remember.

It occured to me that I have never posted any of our wedding photos on this blog, so I am now rectifying that.

Signing the register.

The First Dance.

My mum enjoying being ‘mother of the groom’. (She was 85 years old at the time.)

With my great friend Billy O’Neill, who was one of the witnesses. You can see he stood over a foot taller than me! We sadly lost him to cancer over five years ago.

A B&W alternative of the happy couple.

London Life In Photos: 1959-1967

Another random selection of old photos to take me down Memory Lane.

Fish Porters outside the Old Billingsgate Fish Market in 1959. This was not far from The Tower of London, and traded in fish from the 16th Century until 1982, when it was relocated. The porters wore special hats called ‘Bobbin Hats’, and they could carry many boxes of fish on their heads.

Street musician, 1965. It was not unusual to see such accordion players wandering around playing for the public in the hope of receiving a few pennies. If they found a lucrative spot, they might stay there all day.

A road repair gang posing in front of their lorry, 1964.

This studious small boy was an orphan, photographed in ‘halfway house’ accommodation in the mid-1960s.

A street trader in fruit and vegetables. He operated in Barking, East London during the 1960s. he would have had a regular ’round’ and customers would know when he would show up.

This immigrant family had been targeted by neo-Nazi racists of the National Front, in 1967. The house had been fire-bombed, and the sign ‘WOGS’ put on their door. That was a racist insult derived from the toy dolls called Golliwogs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golliwog

An East London pub owner who famously adopted a rescue donkey. The donkey would stay in the bar during opening hours, and liked to drink beer.

Gypsy families living on Beckton Marshes, 1966. That area later became a huge new housing development.

This well-known East London street trader was photographed in 1967. He looks like it could have been 100 years earlier.

Pop Culture And Music: 1960s Britain

In a few years between 1960 and 1964, everything changed for young people in Britain. Teenagers were recognised as an emerging social class with some spending power and influence, and pop music replaced traditional band music as the choice for most people under 25. With the music came new dances, rebellious attitudes, and fashion statements. Sides were chosen, and young people dressed to show their affiliations to one kind of music or another.

The once-famous Chris Barber band and their singer posing for a publicity photo at the Marquee Club in London, 1960. It would not be too long before they would have trouble getting work performing to young people.

Young people ‘Jiving’ at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, 1960. This building is once again a theatre, and hosts the long-running musical, The Lion King.

Teddy Boys posing on a London Street. They preferred Rock and Roll music, and later allied with ‘Rockers’, who rode powerful motorcycles and liked the same style of music.

Then the ‘Mods’ arrived. Smart dressers who rode Italian scooters and liked Soul music and Ska.

One young model showing off Mod clothes here (light couloured suit) is Marc Bolan, later famous as the singer in T-Rex.

It wasn’t long before The Mods and The Rockers were clashing. They used to congregate at seaside resorts close to London, and had many famous ‘battles’ on the beaches.

These young middle-class people are showing off what they believe to be the Mod style. They didn’t get it quite right, unfortunately.

A small gathering outside the famous Flamingo Club in London. Originally a Jazz club, it adapted to the new music favoured by Mods, as did The Marquee Club. One of them is Zoot Money, a popular musician, and another is Andy Summers, who later found fame in The Police with Sting and Stewart Copeland.

Zoot Money is on the right. Andy Summers is 2nd from right (Photo by Jeremy Fletcher/Redferns)

Two Mod girls dancing in The Marquee Club, 1964.

Ken Russell’s Post-War London

Before he became a controversial and world-renowned film director, Ken Russell struggled to earn a living as a photographer in London during the mid-to-late 1950s.
(The images can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

A street entertainer in west London. You can see Ken’s director’s eye in this photo.

Little girls playing in the street with a pram and a tricycle. Once again, we see how they were completely unsupervised by adults or parents.

‘Teddy Girls’. These were the girlfriends of the Teddy Boys, followers of Rock and Roll music who dressed in an Edwardian style. Hence their popular name.

Children playing on a bomb site. They have constructed their own version of an adventure playground with whatever debris they could find.

This lady had tried to sell her novels for over 30 years. She eventually gave up, and pasted her numerous rejection letters onto a wall near her house.

Sandwich Board men. They would walk the streets wearing those signs advertising all kinds of different things. The pay was low, but cash in hand. Russell called this photo ‘Old Soldiers’, indicating that many men had left the army with no jobs to go to, and had to resort to such lowly employment.

Two children playing in the rain in west London. They only have some wire milk crates to amuse themselves with.

The First Of The Month

I just noticed it is the 1st of September today. As you can tell, I don’t pay much attention to the calendar since I retired.

That made me think of going into school as a child on the first day of any month. I would be alert and ready, determined to get in first before the scramble began. As soon as we were inside the playground waiting to assemble to go into school, the pinching and punching of arms would commence.

Everyone would be shouting, “Pinch, punch, first day of the month. And no returns!”

Adding “No returns” was important, as that meant you could not do the same to the person who had just pinched and punched your arm.

Do you remember this tradition? Or do you have to be as old as me to recall it?

‘A pinch and a punch for the first of the month. (Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) Said on the first day of a new month, while pinching and punching someone as a prank (especially by children).’

Changing London In Photos: 1955-1962

Keen photographer Allan Hailstone took over 120 photos of London for his book London: Portrait of a City 1950-1962. I have selected some taken between 1955 and 1962, when I was aged 3-10. Some scenes remain unchanged today, others have completely disappeared.

Allan took most of his photos on Sundays and Public Holidays. That meant much less traffic can be seen, and he was able to photograph what he wanted without too many distractions appearing in the photos. All the images are credited and copyrighted to Mr Hailstone.

(Images can be enlarged slightly by clicking on them.)

An open air concert at Crystal Palace, South London. The orchestra is The London Philharmonic.

A typical Sunday crowd in Petticoat Lane Market, East London. Going to that market was a ritual for many Londoners.

The Art Deco building of Victoria Coach Station. Coaches and buses left there for locations all over Britain, and also connected Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

The original Foyle’s book shop. The world-famous book superstore later moved location to a little further along Charing Cross Road.

The eastern side of Park Lane in central London. People are sunbathing on a Sunday, opposite Hyde Park. If they did that today, they would be sitting in the centre of a very busy road!

Cinemas on both sides of Leicester Square. You can see one is showing the Judy Garland version of ‘A Star Is Born’. The other is a ‘News Cinema’. They would show newsreels, documentaries, and cartoons.

Russell Square, in Bloomsbury. A family out for a Sunday stroll. This square looks exactly the same today.

At the time, The Monument was the tallest building in London. Built as a monument to the Great Fire of London in 1666, it involved a long walk up 311 steps to enjoy the view. It is still open to visitors today.
Allan took this photo of the view to the east, and it has changed a great deal since 1955.

St Giles High Street, central London. This is a photo of a ‘lost’ part of London. The area was mostly demolished for the building of the huge office block, Centre Point.

A quiet Sunday in Soho. The snack bar shown in the centre later became the Wimpy Bar I featured in colour photos recently. It is now a branch of ‘Ed’s Diner’.

Oxford Street. London’s main shopping street was being redeveloped in 1955. It looks very different today.

The Strand. One of London’s busiest streets containing shops, theatres, and Charing Cross mainline station. It was captured on a Bank Holday, almost deserted.

Marylebone Road, perhaps the busiest west-east thoroughfare in London. Again, it appears to be almost deserted. This was taken opposite Baker Street Station.

Non-Tourist London: Ed Sijmons, 1978

In 1978, Dutch tourist and photographer Ed Sijmons walked around central London with his camera. He avoided the usual tourist sights, and instead took photos of everyday life around the capital. Most of these colour photos are quite grainy, and make 1978 seem a lot further back in the past than it is. Nonetheless, much has changed in those 44 years.

The Wimpy Bar in Soho.

Run down shops in Tachbrook Street, Pimlico. (All since demolished.)

Cars in a Soho car park. Even then, the cars shown were quite old.

An Express Dairy electric milk float. At one time, milk deliveries were all done using such vehicles.

The Ladies’ public toilet in Rochester Row, Victoria. The lady posing is Ed’s girlfriend.

Ed seemed to like English ice cream vans. Here are two he photographed in Victoria.

An Evening Standard newspaper delivery van. They would be rushing around London all day, delivering newpapers to street vendors.

A single decker ‘Red Arrow’ bus. Those buses went some distance across London from A-to B, without stopping in between. Long gone now.

The classic London licenced taxi. This one is painted to advertise a coffee company.

The Art Noveau Michelin Tyre building in Chelsea. Now renamed The Bibendum, it is an expensive eatery.

Hamley’s famous toy shop in Regent Street. Still as popular today.

Ed made the journey across to East London, to Cheshire Street near Brick Lane. At the time, it was a rather shabby street market.