old London photographs

Weird & Wonderful London 8

Wey-hey, music, laughter, booze and a glitter-covered boy in a big frock – it must be another party in London! Yes, except this one was in 1936, at the Chelsea Arts Club Ball. It could have been taken last weekend. There used to be four pillars on Chelsea Bridge prior to its rebuilding in 1934, […]

Weird & Wonderful London 7

I reshoot these images from bound collections, not from online versions, and in a great many of the old photography books I search there are unimaginably crowded scenes of protest or celebration. Of course we still do that now, but what impresses is the size of the gatherings then. Similar events today garner a fraction […]

Weird & Wonderful London 6

  This grim-looking shot is not a corpse but something that used to be such a common sight around Hyde Park that a friend and I once made a short film about them – the escape artists of London would be put in sacks, hung from poles in chains and set fire to, then wriggle […]

Weird & Wonderful London 5

This was taken in 1933 but feels a century older. The villagers are receiving their Maundy peas – 20 bushels of peas and 2 bushels of wheat were given to the poor of the parish every Maundy Thursday, in a ritual dating back to 1572. Maundy money is still handed out today at a service, […]

Weird & Wonderful London 4

Ploughing through far too many books on London and trying to work out which ones to take with me to Barcelona, where I’ll be working in seclusion next week, I can’t help but stare at photographs that touch me in some way. A lot of people complain that we have an idealised view of London […]