1950s England: Manchester

The Guardian Newspaper began its life in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian, and was based in that northern city until moving to London in 1976. Over the decades, it has acquired a vast library of photos, taken by staff photographers and also freelancers selling to the newspaper. These are some of the photos of Manchester from that archive, taken between 1954 and 1959.

(All photos copyright of The Guardian Newspaper)

The busy shopping district of Market Street.

Excited children rush into the newly-opened playground of Philips Park.

Young couples enjoying a Summer day out in Parsonage Gardens.

Children playing in an abandoned car, Moss Side.

Rush hour traffic jam, Chester Road.

A child offering an ice lolly to a goose. Pets Corner, Platt Fields.

Manchester Grammar School boys attempting to view a total eclipse of the Sun.

Preparing for Summer season at the boating lake, Platts Fields.

Children playing in an area being demolished.

This workman is enjoying a beer after the completion of The Samuel Grating Building, Quay Street.

How We Lived In England: 1970s

Photographer John Myers’ work is relatively unknown but is considered superb among his contemporaries. Myers would typically photograph men, women, and children on their own, but also occasionally in groups. This selection is from a project showing ordinary people in their own homes or workplaces during the early 1970s.

I was interested to see quite a few large indoor plants, as I remember having those in my house at the time. Some of the subjects are also smoking, which would be less common today.
(All photos are copyright of John Myers)

A teenage girl in her bedroom. Obviously a Donny Osmond fan.

This elderly man is proud of his display unit.

A fashionable lady with a good supply of cigarettes to hand.

The young girl is dwarfed by a houseplant.

The car dealer is showing his patriotism.

A young girl wrapped up well against the cold.

A teenage boy next to his large cactus plants.

This housewife is photographed in her rather bleak back yard.

In many homes, the fireplace was still the main feature of living rooms. This lady is next to hers, but her chair is too big and her feet cannot touch the floor.

The boy is playing football alone in the small back yard of his house.

More Art Deco Finds

As I have mentioned many times, I cannot get enough of this architectural loveliness!

The Addis toothbrush factory, Hertfordshire.

Another view of the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill, Sussex.

Two views of Marine Court, St Leonard’s-on-Sea. It was designed to look like a cruise liner.

The Midland Hotel in Morecambe, Lancashire. Featured in many TV shows, including ‘Poirot’.

An outdoor swimming pool (Lido) in Plymouth, Devon.

Surbiton Railway Station, Surrey.

A former cinema in London, now used as a religious meeting centre.

Historical Photos With No Theme

I found a selection of photos online that interested me. They have no particular theme, I just liked them.
(Some of them can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Freed slave children in the 1860s.

An official measuring bathing suits in the 1920s to enforce ‘modesty regulations’.

Fashionable ladies in 1930s London.

An Edwardian picnic. 1902.

Holding on to your hat on a windy day in Philadelphia. 1947.

An American biker on his Harley-Davidson, 1950s.

A beauty contest, 1920s.

Smartly-dressed ice-skating, 1940s.

The Mexico-US border, early 1960s.

New York City. Date unknown.

Models showing off the latest fashions. London, 1960s.

Fashion in Harlem, New York City. 1975.

No disputing they are mother and daughter. 1980.

The Art Deco Cinemas Of England

When I was young, I was captivated by the Modernist and Art Deco styling of the cinemas I went to in London. I thought they were like palaces, inside and out. Once I was old enough to drive around England, I was delighted to discover that they were everywhere. A golden age of architecture, alongside the golden age of cinema.

Here are some examples. They need no captions, they are all fabulous.

Odeon, Liverpool Gardens, Worthing, Sussex

Picturesque English Villages

The idea of the perfect English village has been promoted in books, films, and television series. Tourists from all over the world come to this country in search of them, and many still exist. Ironically, that fame has changed them in character, if not in architecture. Some can be crammed with tourists during the season, and property prices for the charming cottages in them have exploded.

Wealthy second-home owners snap up most houses that come onto the market, and local people find themselves unable to afford to live where they were brought up. Many of the villages are in the large area known as The Cotswolds, designated as an ‘Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. Because so many houses were built using the light-coloured Cotswold Stone, some of the villages are very similar in appearance.

These are considered to be the ‘Ten Best’.
(The photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Bilbury, Gloucestershire.

Abbotsbury, close to the coast in Devon.

Bourton-On-The-Water, Gloucestershire.

Clovelly, Devon.

Polperro, Cornwall.

Naunton, Gloucestershire.

Painswick, Gloucestershire.

Port Isaac, Cornwall.

Castle Combe, Wiltshire.

Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire.

Historical Photos From Around The World:1907-1963

I dicovered some more random historical photos online. I hope that you find them interesting.
(Most of the photos can be enlarged for detail by clicking on them.)

England, 1907. A Health Ministry official measures the width of a back alley, to ensure the street is fit for human habitation.

England, 1942. Two female war-workers take a smoke break during WW2.

London, 1909. A boy selling cigarettes and tobacco on a mainline station.

Paris, 1889. The official opening of The Eiffel Tower.

Paris, 1899. Painting the Notre Dame cathedral.

California, 1924., The original Hollywood sign.

America, 1930. The carving of the Mount Rushmore monument.

San Francisco, 1936. The Golden Gate Bridge under construction.

London, 1937. A mobile refreshment stand at Paddington Station.

Rome, 1940. An ice-cream seller outside The Colosseum.

New York, 1949. An almost traffic-free Times Square.

Chicago, 1953. A busy night on State Street.

Berlin, 1963. A couple living in West Berlin talking over the wall to relatives in the East.

Birmingham In Colour: 1961-1968

These colour photographs were taken by Phyllis Nicklin (1913-1969), a University of Birmingham geography teacher. The photos were used in her lectures on the geography of Birmingham.

Birmingham is England’s second largest city, after London. The current population is 1.5 million, and it is at the heart of the West Midlands Urban Conurbation. It has a variety of different districts, and a wide assortment of ethnic groups making up its residents. Like most cities and large towns in this country, it attracted a lot of immigration from the West Indies, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh during the 1960s.

A typical corner shop.

An indoor market.

Slum living conditions before major redevelopment.

A bicycle shop.

A small boy in an area being cleared of old houses. The new tower block flats under construction can be seen behind him.

A typical tobacconist shop.

A 1930s cinema in the city centre.

A funfair ride at the annual Mop Fair. Those fairs date from the 16th century, originally used to find employment and offer trade services.

A wholesale groocer unloading a delivery into his shop.

The Bull Ring Market in the city centre. There is still a market there operating six days a week.

Boys playing on a demolition site.

Children heading for the local sweet shop.

The premises of a wholesale butcher.

The main fish market in the city.

A popular cafe, selling very cheap meals.

Children playing in abandoned buildings.

The Grim North In Photos: 1960-1965

John Bulmer’s photographs were taken at a time when the North was undergoing a vast transformation. The collapse of traditional industries that had been the wealth creators of the Industrial Revolution was deeply affecting communities throughout the region; from the Black Country and Potteries, through Greater Manchester up to the coalfields and shipyards of the North East and Glasgow.

In 1960, I was 8 years old. We lived in South London, and rarely ventured north across the River Thames, let alone to the North of England. The industrial north of Britain was unknown territory for a young Londoner, and believed to be grim indeed, offering hard lives to those who lived there. Looking at John Bulmer’s photographs, I think he reflected that well.

It was just ignorance on our part at the time, many places in London and the South were just as bleak.

Leaving for work before dawn.

Hanging out washing in the shadow of factory chimneys.

A night out at the social club.

Collecting coal washed up on the beach.

An old lady washing down the wall outside her house.

Bringing home bags of coal during a harsh winter.

The pub is still standing after slum housing has been demolished.

Miners with their pit ponies.

Hanging out washing across the street.

Women cleaning the front steps of their houses.

Hair in curlers, ready for a night out after work. Eating chips for lunch.

An industrial area in Manchester.

England In Colour: 1924-1926

Taken over two years, this uncredited photographer captured London life and other (unmentioned) parts of England using early colour film.

You will notice the same large car in some of the photos, with a distinctive mascot at the front. It was the occupants of this car that took all of the photos.

Hiking In The countryside.

A seaside holiday town and its funfair.

Barges were still used extensively on a network of canals. Goods were transported on them all around the country, and the Bargees and their families lived on them.

Filling up at a petrol station in rural England.

The centre of a small county town.

Old and new transport passing on a country road.

Small boys and a pet cat.


A busy street market in the capital.

A policeman directing traffic consisting mostly of taxis and buses.

A view of Trafalgar Square.

The southern approach to Tower Bridge. (Near where I lived as a child.)

London Bridge. (Much more traffic there these days.)

Women and children outside a small shop, somewhere in London.

The busy Port of London, just west of Tower Bridge. The barges used to line up from one side of the Thames to the other.