More Old London In Colour


Here are two more gems of London in colour going further back, specifically Piccadilly Circus in 1918 and Fleet Street in 1924, both taken on what looks like one of those hot days in August when everyone has left the city, and only those of us who like the feel of warm stone are left behind. The Fleet St shot seems little different from drawings made in early Dickensian times.

10 comments on “More Old London In Colour”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    If that was summer 1918 they were celebrating victory just a tad early, even if they were sure it was inevitable.

  2. Terenzio says:

    The Swan and Edgar Department Store (pre-makeup. What a loss. Such history. Since the demise of Virgin Records Megastore/Zawi has anyone taken over the space or is the building still empty?

    I love the photo of Fleet Street (especially since there are no cars) looking towards St. Pauls. Old photos are wonderful. It’s a shame so much was destroyed in WWII.

  3. I.A.M. says:

    One would suppose that “Victory” was a hoped outcome, especially due to the French Flags… which are a tad historically odd to find located in Trafalgar Square.

    It’s entirely possible that both images were taken early enough in the day that what pedestrians there were would have moved at such a linear rate that their image would not have been recorded by the film. Given a complicated estimate based on film technology of the time (the details of which the reader will be spared), it’s possible that anything from one-sixth of a second to one full second would have been used for the length of exposure, during which time the few people present would have moved through a space equal to their complete forms, thereby only leaving the faintest of blurs in the space they had travelled through. Being left with “a blurry bit” on the image, the photographer would then possibly have either tinted the photo or massive glass negative with something to strengthen and sharpen the faded and blurred details. Note that some of the people in the Fleet Street image either haven’t moved (man on left looking at Pub’s Lunch Menu, possibly) or have moved in a direct line away from the camera (blue smudge in road below dome of St. Paul’s) and so have held their form to some extent.

    That’s all for today’s class, but please prepare a 250-word essay for tomorrow explaining how to use this effect in a murder plot. Dismissed…

  4. Terenzio says:

    The photo could’ve been taken on a Sunday, which might help explain the absence of vehicles and people. Those in the photo (especially the blury ones) look like ghosts giving the photo a surreal look.

  5. I.A.M. says:

    Thanks, Terenzio, I forgot to add the “could also be Sunday mid-morning” to the “movement makes people invisible” bit. Chances are it’s a combination of all of the factors, and the photographers used them as a combined force to record the scene with as few distractions as possible. Buildings being more important than people, apparently.

  6. I.A.M. says:

    …and everyone ignore my comment about French Flags because combined Piccadilly Circus with Trafalgar Square somehow… although they’re somewhat close… if you’re not paying attention to what platform the train’s arrived at…

  7. Mike Cane says:

    You are having far too many Olde London Colour Photos here. Why don’t you just admit you have a time machine? And drop me in 1960. kthxbai

  8. southcott says:

    The retronaut site states that the Piccadilly Circus shot was taken on “Peace Day” – 19 July 1919.

  9. Mary Tod says:

    Just stumbled upon an old post of yours which included two pictures of long ago London. I’m writing historical fiction set during WWI and your image of Piccadilly in 1918 was just what I was looking for. Many thanks,

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