Bermondsey In Photos: 1930-2017

The part of London I grew up in has changed since 1930, but most of it is still recognisable.

Girls playing in a back garden in Marden Road, 1930

Shoppers at the busy street market. Blue Anchor Lane, around 1932.

A VE Day street party, 1945.

Market traders and a passing Tram. Bermondsey Street, 1945.

Tommy Steele was a local boy who became a famous pop singer in 1956. He went on to a career in pop musicals and hit records that lasted until today. (He is 85) This is a modern photo, superimposed over one of excited fans greeting him outside St James’s church Bermondsey, early 1960s. The same church where my parents were married.

Tommy again, in 1966. He is visiting a school in Bermondsey.

Paragon Secondary School, early 1970s. The Victorian school in Searles Road Bermondsey was later converted into apartments, in 2000.

A grandmother watching her granddaughter, 1976.

High-rise flats built in the late 1960s, photographed in 2017.

19th Century Whitby: The Photos of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe

I found an article online about this Victorian portrait photographer. He took hundreds of photos of the English fishing port and tourist town of Whitby, in the 1880s. Whitby is in Yorkshire, and is still incredibly popular with tourists to this day. The town also inspired Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, and is the setting for Dracula arriving after a Russian ship is wrecked nearby. It was also the home of the famous explorer, Captain James Cook.

I have visited the town a couple of times, and enjoyed the delicious fish and chips sold there. Whitby is also known for the sale of Jet jewellery. Jet is a gemstone made from decaying wood under extreme pressure. It’s a type of coal-substance that washes up on the beaches of Whitby that’s approximately 182 million years old.

Here are some of Frank’s wonderful sepia photographs.
(They can be fully enlarged by clicking on them, and the detail is superb.)

Fish sellers at the harbour.

A member of the Lifeboat crew wearing a cork life-jacket.

A ‘smoke-break’.

Steam-tug towing a larger vessel into harbour.

Ships at anchor in the harbour. The abbey ruins can be seen on the hill behind.

Farming outside the town.

Local women preparing shellfish on the cobbled street.

More fish-sellers.

The view across the harbour.

A similar view in modern day Whitby. (Uncredited.)

Images Of London In 1875

I found a nice group of photos taken in London during 1875. The photographers were not credited.

The Oxford Arms, in East London. There was a group trying to save this old coaching inn from demolition, and they employed a photographer to publicise their campaign. Sadly, they did not succeed.

Wych Street, WC2.

Old Palace Yard, Lambeth.

Old Aldgate. Rooms to let.

Fleet Street. This was once the home of every newspaper.

The Old Bell, Holborn.


High Holborn.

The White Hart Inn.

Borough High Street, South London.

Drury Lane.

A milkman delivering, Lambeth.

London From The Air: 1913

The year before WW1 broke out, a photographer climbed into an early aircraft to photograph London from the air. Given the limitations of cameras and unreliable aircraft at the time, I think the results are outstanding.

(Unfortunately, the photos cannot be enlarged.)

St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Tower of London, and Tower Bridge.

Trafalgar Square.

The Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge.

The Tower of London and St Katherine’s Dock.

Bank Junction, City of London.

Buckingham Palace and The Mall.

The pool of London. The docks, and Tower Bridge.

Covent Garden Market.

Victorian London In Photos: London’s Poor

Between 1860 and 1900, many photographers tried to capture the plight of the poor living in big cities. Despite the boom of the industrial revolution and the expansion of the empire, most ordinary people lived in awful conditions, facing financial poverty every day of their lives. They did what they could to make a living, and get through each day.

A street locksmith. People would bring old locks to be repaired, as they could not afford to replace them with new ones.

The second-hand clothes shop. The sale of dirty and unhygienic clothing contributed to the spread of disease, as well as passing on lice and fleas to the new owners.

An illiterate gypsy family living on marshland at Battersea. When they could no longer earn money in one area, they moved on in their horse-drawn caravan.

Unofficial dustmen. (Garbage collectors) They would travel around with their cart trying to get paid for taking away rubbish. Then they would dump that at the nearest available spot, instead of taking it to a refuse depot.

A Hansom Cab driver (in the bowler hat) talking to a horse-drawn bus driver. These men were self-employed, and had to stay out to all hours to cover their expenses before earning anything for their families.

Bargemen on the River Thames. They would be paid a daily rate to work for the barge owner.

Spitalfields was not only the haunt of Jack The Ripper, it was also one of the poorest districts in London. Known for crime and prostitution, the residents there lived in the worst possible conditions.

A young barefoot girl in Spitalfields, 1900. It is highly likely she was already working as a prostitute.

Homeless children living on the street in Spitalfields in 1900.

This small boy is already working full-time, pushing his cart around to carry goods for his employer in 1900.

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.

Early Transport In Photos

A man and his son both riding Penny Farthing cycles, 1890.

A young lady proudly photographed with her bicycle, 1890.

The first electrically-powered taxi in London, 1897.

Businessmen on a horse-drawn bus in Westminster, 1900

Three forms of transport crossing a bridge in London, 1905.
(My guess is that whoever was previously driving the motorcycle was also the photographer.)

A famous London Suffragette on her electric folding scooter, 1907.

A happy lady on a very early type of moped, 1909.

1960s London: More History In Photos

In the 1960s, London buses still had conductors. They would walk around the bus issuing tickets, manage the amount of people allowed to stand on the bus, and also eject any unruly bus passengers. Many of them were women.

This fierce-looking lady looks like someone who would stand no nonsense.

Many immigrants from the West Indies worked for London Transport as drivers or conductors. This young woman was typical of the times.

A mini-skirted model poses on a London street. She is also not wearing a bra. These new fashions were something very different in the 1960s, and caught the eye of the man walking past.

Two fashionable young girls ask a bowler-hatted city gent for the time. This was likely a set-up, to illustrate the old and new.

The Beatles touring a street market in Soho. Many emerging pop groups of the 1960s took ‘photo-opportunities’ in London.

This solid traffic jam on a wet Regent Street shows that little has changed since the 1960s.

A ‘Pearly King’ photographed in Central London. They still exist today.
Here is their history.

This young model is displaying a real fur coat with a matching cover on her portable radio. Fur was still considered to be acceptable then.

The very latest public telephones at Oxford Street Station. Now everyone has a mobile phone.

The model known as Twiggy. (Real name Lesley Hornby) She epitomised the Swinging Sixties fashion. Painfully thin, short hair, and a Union Jack dress. She is still working today, at the age of 73.

Iconic Historical Photographs (1)

Over the years, some photos have stayed with me. Whether I saw them in a book, or on the front page of a newspaper, the images never left my mind.

The aftermath of the Charge of The Light Brigade. Crimean War, 1854. Russian cannonballs lying on the ground.

A dead Confederate soldier at Gettysburg. American Civil War, 1863. The body was likely ‘posed by’ the photographer.

British troops waiting to go into action at The Somme. France, 1916. Look at their faces, most would probably be dead within two hours.

The moment a Republican militiaman is struck by a bullet and killed.
Spanish Civil War, 1938.

American troops heading into Omaha Beach on D-Day. France, 1944.

Young survivors of the Holocaust. Auschwitz, 1945.

The mushroom cloud of the first Atomic Bomb as it explodes over Hiroshima. Japan, 1945.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy. Dallas, 1963.

The last helicopter preparing to leave the US Embassy in Saigon. Vietnam, 1975.

At last, some photos

After the various posts about photos, both recently, and previously, I have finally managed to get some more onto the blog media library. They are not intended to be great examples of photography, far from it. This is not a photography blog, after all. They are in response to numerous requests to see Ollie out and about, and to give some idea of the area of Beetley Meadows, a place that features so regularly in my posts.

The photos were all taken with the new camera, trying it out on the first chance I got. For those of you interested in the technical details, they were shot on Aperture Priority, with f5.6 set on the lens itself. The film simulation mode was set before shooting, using Classic Chrome, a representation of Kodachrome 64, which was an old-style film, discontinued a few years ago.
Various exposure compensation was used, mostly +1 stop. There has been no post-processing software applied in any form, and they are all out-of-camera jpegs. The full-size files are available to view by clicking the pictures, and they can be enlarged from there too.

Ollie marking his territory.
Fjui X30 006

The bend in the river. The closest thing we have to a beach in Beetley.
Fjui X30 047

Endless clumps of stinging nettles. The nettle should be the official plant of Beetley.
Fjui X30 014

Beetley Meadows, looking south-east towards the bend in the river. The woods are to the left.
Fjui X30 021

The river, choked by water plants, looking west. Hoe Rough is across the water, to the left. (Taken facing into the sun)
Fjui X30 033

Ollie in the water. He is searching for ducks, or anything of interest.
Fjui X30 039

There you have six shots to be getting on with. Now I have managed to succeed in transferring photos to the computer, (see previous post) I will endeavour to post some on a regular basis.
And they will hopefully be better photos too.