Visiting London in the 1950s

London

This film clip of a drive round London in the 1950s is a little gem. The film has been enhanced and stabilised and has a lovely piano accompaniment.

Apparently the route is:

Kensington High Street

Allen Street

Abingdon Street

Phillimore Gardens

Upper Phillimore Gardens

Kensington High Street

Argyll Road

Phillimore Gardens again.

In the 1950s my family went on a visit to London. We stayed for three nights in a B&B in South Kensington.

We did all the sights and had a day at London Zoo where we saw the famous Chimps Tea Party. Four chimpanzees were taken by their keepers to sit at a picnic table and drink tea and eat sandwiches, cakes and lollipops. The highlight, of course, was when one of the chimps drank straight out of the teapot. The chimps didn’t seem to mind being the source of so much public amusement and at least they weren’t wearing dresses which was what happened when you saw chimps at the circus.

We went to look at Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament which we recognised from the H.P. Sauce bottle.

HP sauce
image credit: By ChrisDC62 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
We went to see the Tower of London and threw pennies to the mudlarks at the foot of Tower Bridge; admired lots of paintings in the National Gallery; fed the ducks in St. James’ Park and the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. We also paid our respects to the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey.

In the summer of 1965 we visited London again. This time to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. The excitement of London now that it was Swinging was even greater than before. We had a day ticket and caught the train from Peterborough railway station and were in the capital a couple of hours later.

Our dad decided that our education would benefit from an immersion in art and we spent much of the day in the National Gallery. The highlight of the visit was seeing the Leonardo Cartoon which had been purchased a couple of years earlier by the gallery after a well-publicised appeal for donations.

Leonardo cartoon
image credit: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Then after a brisk walk round St James’ Park and a Lyons Corner House for something to eat and we headed to South Kensington for the concert.

The programme for the concert was:

Neville Marriner directing the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in a Handel concerto. The premiere of Michael Tippett’s piano concerto conducted by the composer with John Ogden as soloist. After the interval Malcolm Sargent conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers in a performance of Gustav Holst’s The Planets.

At the time we loved The Planets and didn’t mind the Handel. However we hated the Tippett and couldn’t wait for it to finish. Listening to it again over fifty years later, I’ve enjoyed it!

Thanks for reading my blog today.

You can read more of my memories from the 1950s and 60s in Cabbage and Semolina and Jam for Tea available in ebook for Kindle and paperback.

C&S pink
Only 99p http://amzn.eu/8fIEGfe