London 1926 – Film Footage in Colour!

Big Ben Westminster
Big Ben with setting sun.
Several weeks ago I was musing about the ‘then and now’ photographs of busy city centres. And, this morning a friend of my father’s sent him this link. It is a six minute film shot in 1926 by Claude Friese-Greene and recently released by the BFI, filming various famous places in London in colour. The film shows a busy working River Thames, City of London workers on London Bridge, promenading ladies in Hyde Park, and a heaving Petticoat Lane Sunday Market.

http//vimeo.com/7638752

(Sorry if you’ve already seen snippets of this via Kevin Spacey or Stephen Fry from Twitter – apparently some fragments of this footage have gone viral!!)

I have walked over London Bridge into the City many times and it is fascinating to see how busy it was in 1926 full of traffic, half of which is horse-drawn. And, rather poignantly I know that during the 1920s my late Grandmother was living in Crystal Palace and caught the train to London Bridge Station and walked this way to work, but over the previous nineteenth-century London Bridge (now in Arizona).

It is fascinating to see panoramic views of London along the river with trees and steeples and not a modern glass and steel office block in sight.

River Thames at dusk
Westminster Bridge at dusk with Houses of Parliament on right.

Towards the end of the film the Palace of Westminster is shown from across the Thames with an amiable looking Bobby strolling up and past the camera. And, just last week we saw these two ladies policing the streets in a rather quiet empty City of London on a hot Sunday afternoon.

Police ladies
21st century City of London policewomen.