The 1950s Weren’t All Horrible

London, The Arts

I hate nicking shots from other sites but I noticed this on Matt’s excellent Londonist site, and it’s simply too good to pass up, so thank you Matt for the original posting. It’s a trip from Hammersmith to Kensington (we think) that’s had the shakes and colour smudges electronically removed from it to leave a clearer impression of streets in 1950s London.

And it may be the first footage of the 1950s to inspire a real sense of nostalgia; clean pavements, no cars, no tourists, no ruinous street furniture, no mobile-unlocking shops, no tacky bars, no McDonalds or KFCs or Starbucks, no trackkie-bottoms or hoods, no crass commercialisation.

But there’s something else here you don’t usually associate with the 1950s; a sense of light and space and calm that one finds in US films of the period but not English ones. Most of our films from then were shot in black and white because it was too expensive to film in colour, and anything of this length is a rare find.

I suppose you could point out what London didn’t have in the 1950s as well; no internet, no global cuisine, no emancipation – and now I’m struggling to think of things. Because most of the things we imagine are products of today were also available, but on a more limited scale, and often only available as one moved up the social ladder.

5 comments on “The 1950s Weren’t All Horrible”

  1. stonemuse says:

    good find … enjoyed that

  2. keith page says:

    Wonderful! I’d have been in [very] low single figures, judging by the motors

  3. Vickie Farrar says:

    …and you can rest your indignant case: I did not spot one bowler hat on any of the gents dressed in business attire!

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Right, nice film. One thing you had until into the fifties was rationing. There were a lot of cars, some really classic ones, too, but all of them parked. The sidewalks weren’t crowded and everyone certainly looked relaxed, but what did you mean about street furniture? Bus shelters? benches? garbage containers? We had garbage containers even in the 40’s, cream coloured with a fine red line around the edges and lettering: Keep Vancouver Clean.

  5. Anne Fernie says:

    What I would give to be able to spend a day in 1950s London – love it, love it, love it……..great footage.

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