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Lost London

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London is famous for its pomp and ceremony

London is famous for its pomp and ceremony

 

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Lost London

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All of the images and written content on this site are protected by copyright. On many occasions people have taken and used my photos without my authorisation. Either they don't realise it is illegal, or they don't think I will find out.

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Lost London

I have lived in Thailand since 2003. In 2017 my mother died and I returned to England for the first time sine leaving. While there I managed to get hold of some of my old film negatives, which I duly scanned in. This page simply contains some of those old photos and some of my own recollections.

I was born in East London and spent the first 13 years of my life growing up in East Ham, close to Upton Park where West Ham United used to play, before a family move took me out to Essex. Many East Londoners moved out to Essex.

In 1983 I moved to a new job and started working in the City of London and the South Bank area. This was a good time in my life and I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement, vibrancy and history of working in London.

In 1992 a change of job within the company meant that I spent very little time working in London, but I would still go into the capital at weekends purely for fun. London was a big draw. My normal route after arriving at Liverpool Street station was to take the Central Line to Holborn and from there to walk to the Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Soho areas.

I've called this page Lost London because England's capital city has changed beyond recognition during my lifetime and so much has now been lost.

On my earliest trips in to London in one of my father's old cars I remember always seeing huge numbers of cranes near to the River Thames because London still had a busy port. Soon afterwards, ports elsewhere took over from London and the Docklands area of London was developed into commercial properties and expensive residential housing.

I have no personal records of how I remember London as a small boy in the early to mid 1960's, but the opening credits from the movie 'To Sir With Love', made in 1967, are very close. There is even a number 15 bus going to East Ham, where I spent my early childhood.

 

After I passed my driving test in 1978 I sometimes drove into London. There was no congestion charge, no security and you could park anywhere. The German Luftwaffe attempted to level London during WW2, but after that there was no threat from anywhere.

In later years the IRA targeted London, followed by Islamic extremists. As a result, security levels heightened and there is now a so-called 'Ring of Steel' around the city. Many policemen in London nowadays are heavily armed, whereas this never used to be the case.

While working in the City I had many customers located in Plantation House, which harked back to the days when London was the centre of the world and there was a huge British Empire. That building has now gone, as have so many others. I find this very sad.

On my weekend excursions in the West End I had my favourite eating holes. This area has always been very expensive, but there used to be a few good restaurants that were very reasonably priced. However, from what I can work out, most of these have now gone.

A few have managed to survive, and even prosper. Patisserie Valerie, in one of the photos below, opened in 1926 and looked like it was the type of place that would be forced to close. However, it was taken over and extended into a large chain of restaurants.

The area around the Charing Cross Road was famous for specialised book shops. Small shops just sold books on one subject and for each subject there was a vast amount of information. However, the introduction of the Internet and sites like Amazon put these shops under pressure and huge rent hikes were the final nail in the coffin. I also understand that a lot of these old shops have now gone. Some had been around for a very long time and it is something else that I find very sad.

The UK is famous for its pubs and in my youth there were many independent pubs that oozed character. Unfortunately, a lot have been taken over by large chains and now all look the same. Their character has gone. Brits are also drinking less, which is another problem for the pubs. You can still find old pubs, some hundreds of years old, but many have gone.

I believe that London is still one of the greatest capital cities in the world, however it continues to get more expensive and every year a little more the city's history is lost.

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Photos

Not only have digital cameras given us great image quality, they also give us EXIF information. We can look back and know exactly when we took a photo, what camera and lens it was taken with, and with some cameras we can even get the GPS coordinates.

Unfortunately, I have none of that data for these photos. All of these photos were taken with a Canon A1 film camera and a variry of Canon FD lenses, including an FD 50mm f/1.8, FD 28mm f/2.8, FD 70-200 F/4.

The negatives were scanned in using an Epson Perfection V600 Photo scanner.

 

For many years British bobbies carried no more than a truncheon, but that has now changed

For many years British bobbies carried no more than a truncheon, but that has now changed

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One of London's lost bookshops

One of London's lost bookshops

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Frith Street, Soho with the original Patisserie Valerie

Frith Street, Soho with the original Patisserie Valerie

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Another place in Soho for cheap food that I believe has now closed

Another place in Soho for cheap food that I believe has now closed

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This old umbrella shop is still in business

This old umbrella shop is still in business

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With everyone having a mobile phone now, many of Britain's iconic phone boxes have also disappeared

With everyone having a mobile phone now, many of Britain's iconic phone boxes have also disappeared

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Churchill and Roosevelt - representing the 'special relationship' between the US and UK

Churchill and Roosevelt - representing the 'special relationship' between the US and UK

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Design Museum London - I used the same Quad valve amp when I lived in the UK

Design Museum London - I used the same Quad valve amp when I lived in the UK

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Statue by Enzo Plazzotta near London's Royal Opera House

Statue by Enzo Plazzotta near London's Royal Opera House

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Neal's Yard, Covent Garden

Neal's Yard, Covent Garden

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London Millennium Footbridge shortly after it opened

London Millennium Footbridge shortly after it opened

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One of London's colourful characters

One of London's colourful characters

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One of London's famous watering holes, located near Liverpool St Station

One of London's famous watering holes, located near Liverpool St Station

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Sundial with Tower Bridge and Butler's Wharf in the background

Sundial with Tower Bridge and Butler's Wharf in the background

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This area of East London now has a thriving Bangladeshi community

This area of East London now has a thriving Bangladeshi community

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Brits love curry and the Brick Lane area is a great place for curries

Brits love curry and the Brick Lane area is a great place for curries

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Brick Lane in East London

Brick Lane in East London

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A very popular venue with London workers for after-work curries

A very popular venue with London workers for after-work curries

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Students reenacting an operation at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

Students reenacting an operation at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

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Freedom of speech is gradually being eroded, but Brits still have the right to protest

Freedom of speech is gradually being eroded, but Brits still have the right to protest

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Wannabe London taxi driver doing 'The Knowledge' and learning the streets of London

Wannabe London taxi driver doing 'The Knowledge' and learning the streets of London

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London's famous Claridge's Hotel

London's famous Claridge's Hotel

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Westminster Cathedral, just one of London's many magnificent buildings

Westminster Cathedral, just one of London's many magnificent buildings

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Little Ben, the lesser known clocktower, near Victoria Palace theatre

Little Ben, the lesser known clocktower, near Victoria Palace theatre

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