Everyday Life in England During the 1950s-60s: The Photos Of John Gay

John Gay, born Hans Göhler (1909-1999), came to England in 1935. He was one of the generation of German emigres who made a contribution to British culture and academia. After a period of war service, he established himself as a leading photographer in the late 1940s and 1950s, illustrating magazines such as The Strand and Country Fair, publishing several photographic books and working with authors such as John Betjeman. His preferred themes included light and shade, animals and children, informal shots of ordinary people at work and leisure, landscapes and rural subjects, modern architecture, and London.

Morris Dancers performing in a rural town. (Probably for St. George’s Day)

Traditional fencing methods in the countryside.

A family skating on a frozen pond.

The Snowman resting on a bench.

This man is homeless, and living rough in the countryside during Winter.

A Buckinghamshire town in Winter.

A cake shop in Padstow, Cornwall. The girl is trying to decide which cake she wants.

A West Indian immigrant in a London Street Market. You can see from the face of the man that she attracted attention at that time.

Feeding the geese in a countryside village.

Urban living in North London.

A Poodle chauffeur.

Old lady walking through a rural town.

Christmas decorations in a Central London shopping street.

A Christmas street market in London.

Traffic at a standstill in North London.

Enjoying the rides at a Summer Fair in North London.

Diane Arbus: A Controversial Life

Diane Arbus is one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century. Born in New York City, she was working as a fashion photographer before she began to pursue an artistic career. Arbus made portraits of people from across society, but is best known for her powerful images of people whose situation or choices in life kept them on the margins of society – such as circus and freak show performers, transsexuals, nudists or the mentally handicapped. It is easy to see how she was inspired by her mentor, Lisette Model.

She committed suicide in 1971, at the age of 48.
All photos are © Diane Arbus/The Estate of Diane Arbus LLC

Diane Arbus with her camera.

Boy with a toy hand grenade.

Identical twin sisters.

A transvestitie in curlers.

The ‘Jewish Giant’ with his parents.


Circus performer.

Taxi, New York City.

Girl waiting to cross the street.

Circus performer.

A lady in a hat.

Identical twin brothers.

A Down’s Syndrome girl at the swimming pool.

August Sander: German People 1910-1934

August Sander (1876-1964) was the most significant of German photographers in the first half of this century. From 1910 until 1934, he vigorously pursued a visual documentation project: “Citizen of the 20th Century.” His ambitious portrait series was intended to make viewers aware of the social and cultural dimensions as well as the stratifications of real life.

During military service, August Sander was an assistant in a photographic studio in Trier; he then spent the following two years working in various studios elsewhere. By 1904 he had opened his own studio in Linz, Austria, where he met with success. He moved to a suburb of Cologne in 1909 and soon began to photograph the rural farmers nearby. Around three years later Sander abandoned his urban studio in favor of photographing in the field, finding subjects along the roads he travelled by bicycle.

The performers of a travelling circus.

A small brother and sister, in their best clothes to be photographed.

A smartly-dressed young Jewish man.

A young woman modestly dressed, her hair tightly braided.

Child, dog, and bicycle. Taken in a rural district.

A modern artist, posing in front of her work in progress.

A faming family with their oxen.

This is a bricklayer’s labourer, carrying bricks in a frame.

The passing nun was happy to pose for him.

A stern looking man on a deserted city street.

This father brought his sons to be photographed with him. They look undernourished.

Children in the countryside with a prize sheep.

Serious young boys, immaculately dressed.

A working-class woman with her baby.

The farmer sowing seed in his field.

A young woman captured at her window.

Two sisters, possibly twins.

This man is living on the city streets, but is still quite smartly-dressed.

Three sisters on a city corner.

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.

Kids Playing In The 1960s: Photos By Shirley Baker

I found these photos online, taken by Shirley Baker. They show children playing on the streets of Manchester and surrounding areas in the 1960s. No Internet, no video games or mobile phones, just making the best of simple things.

Three young girls on the pavement – Manchester, 1965
Three very characterful young girls on a Manchester street. The girl on the left is wearing a pair of very over-sized high heels and is clutching a huge white handbag. The middle girl is wearing an expression of pure contentment as she leans jauntily with legs crossed against a window sill and the girl on the right (also wearing some far-too-large stilletto heels) has a mucky face and a flat expression.
Photograph by Shirley Baker, images supplied by Mary Evans picture library

A little girl with her doll’s pram. Looks like she is wearing her dad’s shoes!

Happiness is a skipping rope, and someone to hold the other end of it.

Chalk, and a dry pavement. No electronic toys required.

If there is no park nearby, just hang an old well-used swing on the door frame.

Children laugh out loud at a Punch & Judy Show at Wilmslow, Cheshire. One young lad has come dressed as the Policeman in a plastic policeman’s helmet while the girl in the foreground wearing a headscarf, enjoys her rocket-shaped ice lolly
Photograph by Shirley Baker, images supplied by Mary Evans picture library

A boy on his bike racing past smaller kids playing on the street.

These kids had almost nothing, but their happiness shines through. Simpler times, healthier lives.

Poverty In Britain 1968-1972: Photos By Nick Hedges

At the peak of the ‘Swinging Sixties’, Britain was just not all about Mary Quant, mini-skirts, pop music, fashion models, and fast cars. Much of the working class still lived in conditions of abject poverty, all over the UK. Photographer Nick Hedges went on a tour of the country, and he captured these images in London, Scotland, and the industrial cities in Yorkshire and Lancashire. You could be forgiven for thinking thay were taken during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

A depressed-looking woman holding her baby. There seems to be no joy in her life.

A young child in poor living conditions. It makes me wonder what happened to her later in life.

A mixed-race little girl clings to a woman who could be her mother or grandmother.

A woman using what passes for a kitchen in her house. It is situated on the landing between flights of stairs. Hard to believe this was taken in 1972.

All the children of one family sharing a bed with a single blanket.

A young woman with her baby, entering her slum dwelling in a run down area. Looks more like 1930, than 1970, and hard to believe anyone lives there.

This child holds a baby that she has been left to look after in awful conditions.

A young family living in one small room.

A run down area in a northern city in 1972.

At least this little girl looks happy. But the photo feels more like it was taken in 1940, instead of 1971.

London Life 1957-1962: Photos by Frederick Wilfred

I happened across the work of a photographer previously unknown to me. For five years, Frederick Wilfred took photos of everyday life as lived by Londoners. At the same time, I was aged between 5 and 10, and I grew up looking at the same sights he captured on his interesting black and white photos. A trip down Memory Lane for me.

What was then a ‘modern’ and ‘trendy’ coffee bar. Not much like Starbucks, as you can see.

The famous London Dog Rescue centre at Battersea, with the marvellous Art Deco power station behind. Both are still there. The Dog’s Home is housed in a new building now, and the power station has become a retail and apartment complex, housing a visitor centre and exhibitions too.

Children playing around in an old car. At the time, it was rare for a working person to even own a car. Notice that there are no others on the street behind.

A gang of cheeky boys posing for Frederick. They would likely have been ‘playing out’ on the street at the time.

Two boys playing a ‘war game’. Using sticks, and a lot of imagination.

A well-dressed man having his shoes polished by a ‘shoe black’ on a street corner. Shiny shoes mattered back then.

A road sweeper with his cart containing two dustbins. They were seen on every street at that time. The container in the background was for the sweepers to empty their dustbins into, and it would be collected by a lorry at the end of the working day.

This newspaper vendor has a good spot opposite a busy Tube Station. There would be numerous daily papers to sell, as well as two popular evening newspapers too.

This schoolboy is likely helping the local milkman on his round before going to school. Such part-time jobs were prized then.

A butcher proudly standing behind his display of meat. Note the pre-decimal prices in ‘old money’.

A photographic recommendation

A very good friend has just returned from Paris, and has added a short portfolio of photographs to his website. On this trip, they were all taken on a full-frame Sony compact camera, with a fixed lens. For those of you interested in photography, here is a link to that article, and his website, which is still under development.
Have a look at it when you get the chance, you will find some very good images there.