1920s: The Stencil Craze


From the devastating losses of the First World War and the Influenza Epidemic emerged the ‘Roaring’ Twenties - the era of the ‘bright young things’, and the Flapper.

Flappers left behind the restrictions of Victorian and Edwardian convention, cutting their hair into short bobs, and abandoning corsets. Skirt lengths rose and waists dropped.  Young women experimented with make up, not necessarily to make themselves beautiful, but to make an impact - facilitated by advances in cosmetics including lipsticks in tubes, face powder and rouge in compacts. 

And body art was in vogue.  If one had the means, an artist could be called upon to paint a design on your back.  The stage and pantomime star Mona Vivian is shown here having her cat painted on her shoulder.  Those with less money used stencils to achieve a similar result.



"The social butterfly type... the frivolous, scantily-clad, jazzing flapper, irresponsible and undisciplined, to whom a dance, a new hat, or a man with a car, are of more importance than the fate of nations"

- Dr. R. Murray-Leslie, February 1920


 (c)  TopFoto

  May 22, 1921: “Miss Mona Vivian has her pet black cat painted on her shoulder by the well known artist, Mr. Francis Warden  “  (c)  TopFoto

May 22, 1921: “Miss Mona Vivian has her pet black cat painted on her shoulder by the well known artist, Mr. Francis Warden

(c) TopFoto




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1937-1938: The Piggy-Back Plane

1938 - Watched by a large, interested crowd, the Mayo Composite Plane carried out its first official separation tests over Rochester, Kent, where it was built. The tests were carried out successfully, when the smaller craft 'Mercury' was released from the parent plane 'Maia' on which it was carried into the air.

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The Piggy-Back plane (more prosaically known as the Short Mayo Composite) was developed by Short Brothers (Shorts), a firm noted for its production of flying boats.  Shorts’ flying boats could travel long distances if they could refuel en route, but the transatlantic route was rendered impossible unless passenger space was replaced with fuel tanks.

It was known that a plane could actually fly supporting a heavier load than that with which it was possible to take off.  Major Robert H. Mayo of Imperial Airways proposed carrying a smaller, but heavier, plane into the air attached to the back of a larger, lighter plane.  The thrust of both planes’ engines would lift them to the required height, after which they would separate, the larger one returning to base and the smaller one continuing on its journey. 

In development, a launch plane named Maia carried the transport plane Mercury to its operational height.  The first in-flight separation was on February 6 1938 and the first trans-Atlantic flight was on July 21 1938.  The planes were prevented from colliding after separation by the design of the wings and the special three part locking system that held them together.  A lock for each pilot released first and a final automatic lock that operated at the right moment.

Only one composite plane was built.  Technological advances and the onset of WWII rendered it obsolete, and Maia was destroyed by German bombs in May 1941.  Mercury was scrapped for its aluminium in August of that year.

Yet the idea didn’t entirely die.  In 1976, NASA used it to transport the Space Shuttle between air bases, bolted onto a Boeing 747.


July 5th, 1937 - “The Mayo composite aircraft nears completion at Rochester. The aircraft consists of two units. One is a four engined seaplane to be heavily loaded with freight mail and fuel, the other is a lightly loaded flying boat similar, except in details, to the Empire flying boat.”

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 1937 - The two parts of the aircraft. The plane is expected to bring India and New York within a day’s non-stop flight.  (c)  TopFoto

1937 - The two parts of the aircraft. The plane is expected to bring India and New York within a day’s non-stop flight.

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 1938 -  ‘The Mayo composite plane, flies over the ancient city of Rochester, its birthplace in the garden of England, Kent. On left of the picture is Rochester Castle, rebuilt by Gundulf, early Norman Bishop, and the spire on right is that of Rochester Cathedral, which was already for centuries old when the Normans invaded Britain. The cathedral was founded by King Ethelbert in 604 AD. In background is the River Medway, which has seen these centuries of progress and yet floes placidly on its way to the sea. The Mayo plane took off from the River on her official separation trials and this picture was made just before small aeroplane 'Mercury' was automatically released from the wing of the parent flying boat 'Maia'.’   (c)  TopFoto

1938 - ‘The Mayo composite plane, flies over the ancient city of Rochester, its birthplace in the garden of England, Kent. On left of the picture is Rochester Castle, rebuilt by Gundulf, early Norman Bishop, and the spire on right is that of Rochester Cathedral, which was already for centuries old when the Normans invaded Britain. The cathedral was founded by King Ethelbert in 604 AD. In background is the River Medway, which has seen these centuries of progress and yet floes placidly on its way to the sea. The Mayo plane took off from the River on her official separation trials and this picture was made just before small aeroplane 'Mercury' was automatically released from the wing of the parent flying boat 'Maia'.’

(c) TopFoto


1938 - The Mayo Composite Plane taken at the moment of separation in midair over Rochester.

(c) TopFoto



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1916-1928: Woking Mosque

1916 - Worshippers at the Festival of Eid marking the end of Ramadhan

(c) TopFoto


The Shah Jahan Mosque - aka Woking Mosque - was the first purpose built mosque in Britain. It was built in 1889 in Woking, 30 miles south west of London.

The mosque was the founded by Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner a Jewish Hungarian student appointed Professor in Arabic and Muslim Law at King’s College London.

Wanting to found a centre for the study of Oriental languages, culture and history, Leitner found a suitable building in Woking and, for the benefit of Muslim students, had the mosque built in the grounds.  Its design incorporated elements of Middle Eastern architecture including a dome, minarets and a courtyard. 

The building was partly funded by Sultan Shah Jahan, Begum of Bhopal, from whom it takes its name.  Shah Jahan was one of four successive women rulers - Begums - of Bhopal between 1819 and 1926.

The mosque was used as a place of worship by Muslim members of Queen Victoria’s household, including Abdul Karim, the subject of the 2017 film Victoria & Abdul.  

When Leitner died in 1899 the mosque became disused, but was repaired and reopened in 1913.  During WWI the Imam petitioned the government to grant land near the mosque as a burial ground, and in 1917 nineteen British Indian soldiers were buried there. 

After the 1960s as more mosques were built in Britain, the Woking mosque made the transition from being the centre of Muslim worship to being a focus for the local Muslim community.


Arranging the prayer mats for the worshippers afor the Mohammedan Festival of Eid marking the end of of Ramadhan.

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 Worshippers and guests at the table at the Feast of Sacrifice.  (c)  TopFoto

Worshippers and guests at the table at the Feast of Sacrifice.

(c) TopFoto


Children at the Mosque during the Festival of Eid marking the end of Ramadhan

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 Greeting a British soldier during the Festival of Eid  (c)  TopFoto

Greeting a British soldier during the Festival of Eid

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 July 1917 - Indian women at the Muslim Festival of Eid  (c)  TopFoto

July 1917 - Indian women at the Muslim Festival of Eid

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Two boys in turbans at the Festival of Eid

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October 1925 - The Begum of Bhopal at Woking mosque, with her Princess granddaughters.

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1929

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May 1928 - A garden party at the Mosque - Field Marshal Viscount Allenby and Viscountess Allenby being received on arrival.

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February 1932 - “The veteran Lord Headley , the most celebrated English convert to Islam and other Mohammedans in England celebrated the end of the month fasting for Ramadan with prayers and fraternal embraces of thanks giving at Woking Mosque, Surrey.”

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December 1935 - Saudi Arabian Minister in London Sheikh Hafiz Wahabn, himself an Iman, conducts a ceremony .

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December 1935 - Mrs Mohammed (left) and Lady Cudir embracing after the ceremony.

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August 1936 - Emperor Haile Selassie is welcomed with bagpipes at Woking Mosque. The Emperor with Sir Abdulah Archibald Buchanan Hamilton (highland dress).

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1960s

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1920: Selfridge's School

Physical culture

(c) TopFoto


Before the Education Act of 1918 the school leaving age for most children was 12.  But, even before the War there were concerns about education in the UK with poorer children leaving school only to take up low skilled, low paid, insecure jobs, to supplement the family income.

The 1918 St, known as the Fisher Act after the president of the Board of Education Herbert Fisher, introduced many important changes.  It raised the school leaving age to 14 and made part time education from  the age of 14 until 18 compulsory. To enable this 'continuation schools' were founded, running day classes for those in work.  No fees were payable at these schools.

American Harry Selfridge founded Selfridge's department store in Oxford Street, London in 1909.  Selfridge founded a continuation school, to cater for his  eligible employees.   The curriculum was a broad one including practical and academic subjects.


Laundry class

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 Literature class  (c)  TopFoto

Literature class

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Cookery class

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 Sketching and needlework class  (c)  TopFoto

Sketching and needlework class

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 Cookery class  (c)  TopFoto

Cookery class

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Drama Class (‘Vanity Fair’)

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 Physical culture  (c)  TopFoto

Physical culture

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Boys’ literature class

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Sewing class

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Physical culture

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Drama class - the trial scene from 'Merchant of Venice'.

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1930s/1960s: Maintaining justice

1963

(c) TopFoto


The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales stands on a London street named Old Bailey - from which it gets its more easily remembered nickname.

The present building was opened in 1907 by King Edward VII on the site of the previous courthouse and Newgate gaol, some bricks of which were used in the new facade. 

The statue of Lady Justice sits on top of the domed roof.  The 22-ton, 12ft high bronze statue, covered in gold leaf, was modelled after the Roman goddess of justice Iustitia.  Introduced by the Roman emperor Augustus, she is depicted holding a set of scales in her left hand, symbolising the weighing of the prosecution and defence.  A sword, symbolising authority and the swiftness and finality of justice, is held in her right hand.  Her toga represents civilisation.

The depiction of Justice as blindfold, to represent impartiality was introduced from the 16th century.  The Old Bailey statue is not blindfold in accordance with the original Roman statues.

In 1937 the statue was re-gilded in preparation for the Coronation of King George V.  Normally re-gilding takes place every five years estimated at at a cost of over £500 in 1971 (over £7,000 today).  Cleaning takes place every year in August when the courts are not sitting.


1963

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 1963  (c)  TopFoto

1963

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 1963  (c)  TopFoto

1963

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“We trust that this building, whilst well adapted for the transaction of legal business, also possesses architectural features at once dignified and beautiful, which will make it an ornament to the metropolis of your Empire and a fitting home for the first Criminal Court of Justice in your Majesty's dominions.”

- The Recorder of London at the opening ceremony.


 1937  (c)  TopFoto

1937

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1937

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 1937  (c)  TopFoto

1937

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1923: Autumn of Herrings


This set of pictures was taken on Wednesday October 10th, 1923. That year, as every autumn, vast shoals of herring came to feed about 30 miles off the coast of Britain, at Great Yarmouth.  These shoals sustained a thriving fishing industry of boats, processors and packers.  

The herring were processed by ‘Herring Girls’, many of whom originated from the Highlands of Scotland and the Hebridean islands.  With little employment, the women sought the chance to earn money and to travel.  The Herring Girls worked in teams of ‘gutters’ and ‘packers’, packing the gutted herring into barrels with salt to preserve the fish.

The women often lived in huts or lodgings, typically overcrowded.  A working day started early and it could be a dangerous occupation.  The women had to bind their fingers to prevent them being cut by the very sharp knives they used.  Salt could get in a cut and make it very painful.  Friendships and Saturday dances provided some compensation.

The industry struggled after WWI with the loss of European markets. A decline in the popularity of herring for food, together with over-fishing, meant that by the 1950s the Great Yarmouth herring industry had all but disappeared.



 (c)  TopFoto

 (c)  TopFoto

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 (c)  TopFoto

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1932: The Piccadilly Pool

 (c)  TopFoto

In August 1932, London's Piccadilly Hotel (now Le Méridien Hotel) installed a swimming pool for their guests on the terrace.  

The captions for these photographs state that they were taken on August 3rd, shortly after the opening of the pool.  if so this was a prescient move, as on August 19th 1932 temperatures reached 35.6C (96.08F).  The last day hotter than this was in 1911.

Drinking water for the hotel came from an artesian well sunk 400 feet down, so that guests did not have to drink the city’s water.  Whether this also filled the pool is unknown.




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1920s: London Ivory Merchants

21 October 1924 - At the Port of London Authority's ivory store, London Docks Mammoth tusks and ivory from Siberia.

(c) TopFoto


The arrival point into London for elephant ivory was, together with other high-value cargoes, St Katharine's Dock. From St Katharine's it was transported to Ivory House, and from Ivory House, the ivory was sold onto to both overseas traders and across Britain.  Finally, it was formed into billiard balls, piano keys, cutlery handles and other items.

This trade and the underlying hunting of elephants for ivory had a devastating effect on the African elephant population in Africa.  From an estimated 26 million in 1800, it has dropped to under one million today.  The danger remains  - from illegal poaching.

The docklands area was heavily bombed in WWII.  Ivory House, however, survived and is now high-end apartments, shops, cafes and restaurants.


  1927: Ivory Merchants at the London Dock   (c)  TopFoto

1927: Ivory Merchants at the London Dock

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18th January 1927: Ivory Merchants at the London Docks awaiting sale .

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1922: Messrs Myers and Company

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1922: Messrs Myers and Company

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1922: At Messrs Myers and Company, Ivory Merchants, Tower Hill Measuring a giant tusk .

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  1922 - Weighing the Ivory   (c)  TopFoto

1922 - Weighing the Ivory

(c) TopFoto

 1922 - At the Port of London Authority's ivory store, London docks. 

(c) TopFoto



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1954-1962: Children of Windrush


It wasn't just adults who arrived in Britain from the Caribbean after the Windrush during the 1950s - it was children too.  Some arrived with one or both parents, others arrived alone to join parents already in Britain.  Part of what subsequently became known as the “Windrush Generation”, the children made their lives in Britain, some working for over 40 years and paying taxes.

In 2010 the Home Office introduced its hostile environment policy, with "the aim to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants".  These chidlren, although here legally, were caught up in this new 'environment'.

The onus of proving people’s status was placed on employers and landlords, with large fines if they employed or housed someone deemed illegal.  This was a seismic shift in policy and culture in the Home Office.  People were required to provide evidence of their right to stay - records of National Insurance payments were deemed insufficient in at least one instance.

Immigration officials were not allowed to use their discretion in these cases, but had to follow strict rules and the introduction of 'targets' for deportations. Some people lost their homes and jobs and were denied healthcare on the NHS.  Some were deported.

Since the predicament of the Windrush Generation has been brought to public notice, one Home Secretary has resigned and a Windrush Taskforce has been set up to assist those who want to obtain documents giving a right to stay.  

The quotes shown here describe graphically the result of the 'hostile environment' for the children  of Windrush.


Sep 22 1958 - 'A party of 583 emigrants from Jamaica arrived at Newhaven today'

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 Sep 22 1958  (c)  TopFoto

Sep 22 1958

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'...arrived with his mother in the UK aged three from Jamaica and who has never lived anywhere else. Because he had insufficient paperwork proving he had a right to be in the UK, he was told he was an illegal immigrant with no right to live here. He lost his job...'

- Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association


Oct 21 1954 - 'Veronica Rose Rawle, from Kingston, Jamaica, in Britain to join her father, who is working in Birmingham, seen on arrival here aboard the Sibjaki. Hundred of Jamaicans, hoping to find jobs in Britain, arrived on the ship.'

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Mar 6 1962 - 'In her Sunday best hat, this spruce and tiny Jamaican girl waits patiently to disembark from the Begona when she arrived at Southampton with a party of more that 400 West Indian immigrants.'

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'...moved to Britain from Jamaica 51 years ago when she was six, and has lived here ever since...she was challenged by the benefits agency to prove she was here legally after losing her job. She was devastated when her immigration status was questioned.'

- Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association


 Nov 30 1961 - 'A first glimpse of England for this wide-eyed litle girl who arrived with another 216 Jamaicans from the West Indies at Southampton docks. They arrived in the Spanish liner Montserrat.'

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 Jan 3, 1962 - ' This little girl - one of 650 immigrants - wearing a floral blanket over her shoulders, laid down a huge travelling basket and posed for her picture aboard the Liner Ascania when it arrived here last night. The six hundred and fifty are the first large party of West Indians immigrant to reach Britain this year. they should have arrived on Christmas eve, but one of the liners propellers was damaged by tug in Barbados and he had to steam to Martinque for repairs.'   (c)  TopFoto

Jan 3, 1962 - 'This little girl - one of 650 immigrants - wearing a floral blanket over her shoulders, laid down a huge travelling basket and posed for her picture aboard the Liner Ascania when it arrived here last night. The six hundred and fifty are the first large party of West Indians immigrant to reach Britain this year. they should have arrived on Christmas eve, but one of the liners propellers was damaged by tug in Barbados and he had to steam to Martinque for repairs.'

(c) TopFoto


Oct 24 1961 - 'A West Indian mother and child catch a first glimpse of the land which is to become home, as they arrive in Southampton docks from the Spanish passenger vessel Montseraat. Nearly 300 west Indians arrived on board the Spanish ship. The immigrants are believed to be hurrying to Britain before any rumoured restrictions are made on their entry.'

(c) TopFoto


'...joined her parents in the UK from Barbados in 1963. After 52 years, a job centre employee told her that she was an “illegal immigrant” and, because her passport with evidence of leave to remain had been stolen, she was unable to work or travel.'

- Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association


Nov 30 1961 - 'Wearing a towel to keep his shoulders dry from the rain, and holding tight his wide-brimmed hat, a bewildered youngster steps ashore from a tender at Southampton docks for a first look at the land which will be his home. He was one of 217 Jamaicans who arrived from the West Indies in the Spanish liner Montserrat. When questioned most of the Jamaicans said they were planning to stay with relatives while looking for work.'

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Oct 24 1961 - 'This Jamaican women carries her suitcase and son down the gangway of the Tender "Balmoral" followed by other passengers today. The "Balmoral" had brought the immigrants from their liner moored in Cowes Roads because of bad weather. The immigrant had left the West Indies in the "Montserrat" in good weather but on arrival here it was raining very heavily and many had only light summer clothing.'

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Jun 24 1962 - 'First glimpse of Britain makes a big impression on this tiny West Indian pictured at Southampton on arrival in the Italian liner Ascania. the ship had on board about 1,100 immigrants - the largest number to reach Britain from Trinidad, barbados and St Kitts. They arrived only a week before the introduction of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, under which the British Governement has power to limit the number of Commonwealth citizens coming to Britain to work or to settle.'

(c) TopFoto


Jan 3 1962 - 'West Indian boy just arrived at Southampton. He was one of about 650 West Indian immigrants who arrived in the Italian liner Ascania before settling down to a new life in Britain.'

(c) TopFoto



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1952: Behind the scenes at Lyons

'Waitresses in a staff meeting in the art deco dining room, before the restaurant is open'

(c) TopFoto


Before Starbucks, there was Lyons.

In 1952, when these behind-the-scenes photographs were taken, Lyons was the world's largest restaurant company and, seating more than 2,000 people, the Lyons Corner House at Coventry Street was the largest restaurant in the world.

Opening in London's West End in 1909, Lyons Corner Houses were a prominent part of the Lyons empire.  Each one occupied several floors of a building, with a shop on the ground floor selling a variety of cakes, sweets, fruit and items from a delicatessen counter.  The Corner Houses also had hairdressing salons and telephone booths.  A differently themed restaurant existed on each of the four or five floors, each with its own musicians.  

Both the Lyons Corner Houses and the Lyons Tea shops had a signature Art Deco style and the waitresses, known as 'Nippies', had a distinctive uniform and cap.  At its peak, each Lyons Corner House employed 400 staff.

To keep the restaurants supplied, a food production factory in Hammersmith produced pies, bread, and cakes and other items. And to control the logistics of dealing with perishable food items within such a large company, Lyons became the first such company to develop and use computerised systems.

By the 1960s, however, the teashops were being eclipsed by fashionable coffee houses, and were losing money. The last Corner House was closed in 1977.


  'A   waiter ties his bow-tie'   (c)  TopFoto

'A waiter ties his bow-tie'

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'Men preparing food'

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'Kitchen staff making up plates of food ready for ordering.'

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 'A male waiter adjusts his shirt-front'

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  'Kitchen staff plating up various salads ready for ordering'   (c)  TopFoto

'Kitchen staff plating up various salads ready for ordering'

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'A woman adds cress to salads'

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'A pastry chef topping the eclairs with chocolate'

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'Waitresses in the staff wash room , getting ready for their shift'

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'A waitress struggles to fit all the order on her tray watched by her supervisor'

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'A Nippy waitress in the store room of trays and jugs'

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'Waitresses stacking serving dishes on trays' 

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'The line up for the staff canteen'

(c) TopFoto



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1948: Docklands before 'Docklands'

  'A view down Wapping High Street, East London, lined with wharves and warehouses for the London Docks.'   (c)  TopFoto

'A view down Wapping High Street, East London, lined with wharves and warehouses for the London Docks.'

(c) TopFoto


On the north bank of the Thames, at the heart of London's Docklands, sits the ancient area of Wapping. The construction of docks at Wapping was completed in 1815, replacing many of the area's houses and wharves.  

The Blitz of WWII devastated Wapping including extensive damage to the church of St Peter. Father Fox, the parish priest, campaigned vigorously to have the church restored, and the work was completed within four years. Wapping's children celebrated St Peter’s Day on June 29th, 1948, with a parade through the specially decorated streets.

Working on the docks was insecure and poorly paid for many.  Although new modern housing was constructed to replace buildings lost in the War, poverty returned in the 1960s with the inexorable closure of the docks.  The arrival of the global containerisation system relied on ships too large to navigate the Thames as far as Wapping.

A small number of physical features have survived both the 1815 redevelopment and the Blitz - the old steps down to the edge of the Thames, and the pub, 'The Prospect of Whitby', which backs onto the edge of the river.  Today, the warehouses have become apartments. 


'A family of three generations of East Londoners - a grandmother, her daughter and her small children, peer cheerfully through their window. Wapping, East London.'

(c) TopFoto


'Living with the old and the new in post-war Wapping, East London. A mother with her children in the old passageways between the old back-to-back houses of the London docks. A new block of flats emerges at the end of the street.'

(c) TopFoto


  'A mother with her little girl in Wapping, Docklands'   (c)  TopFoto

'A mother with her little girl in Wapping, Docklands'

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 'Meeting in a church graveyard this band of young boys are armed to the teeth teeth with toy bows and arrows and are off to play ' Robin Hood and his Merry Men '. Wapping,  East London.'

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'The children of St Peter' s London Docks School, Wapping, East London, enjoying playing in their playground. Masts and funnels of ships in the docks peep over the rooftops overshadowing the playground.'

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'Father Fox of St Peter's Church, London Dock, Wapping, with two of his parishioners putting up bunting for the St Peter's Day celebrations'

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'Mothers with their children gather outside St Peter's Church, London Dock, Wapping, as they wait for the procession to be organised for the St Peter's day celebrations.'

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'Children processing down Wapping High Street, East London, during the St Peter's Day celebrations'

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'Children looking after the flowers in the garden at St Peter's Church'

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'The construction of new buildings in Wapping , the London dock area which had been heavily bombed during the London blitz in World War II.'

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'A street view of the historic public house, ' The Prospect of Whitby ' which is on the banks of the River Thames at Wapping Wall'

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'Stylish headgear being worn by two East End young ladies waiting outside St Peter's Church'

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'Two dock workers pause for a chat and a smoke in the dock area of Wapping, East London, with a backdrop of funnels and masts and wartime bomb damage'

(c) TopFoto



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1948: Minister of Tobacco

Sep 8 1948 - 'The Reverend Hugh Cuthbertson examines one of the large leaves of a tobacco plant in his garden.'

(c) TopFoto


In 1941, Hugh Sainsbury Cuthbertson had taken up his post as Vicar of Tilty Abbey church, near Great Dunmow, in Essex.  After WWII, tobacco was in short supply and the Rev. Cuthbertson, needing funds for the repair of the church tower, began to offer information on how to grow the crop in return for a 5 shilling donation. 

The enterprise was so successful that not only was the church tower repaired, the Rev. was also able to replace three windows in the church building. 

Rev. Cuthbertson then cultivated tobacco on the land surrounding the vicarage, and founded the Tilty Tobacco Centre and Co-operative.  The curing process takes only two months and it is not affected by climate changes.

Cuthbertson was not alone.  Many British people took up the home growing of tobacco after tthe war.  The minister became president of the National Amateur Tobacco Growers' Association, published a magazine called The Smoker, and co-authored a book on the subject.


  ''It's good too' - The Rev Hugh Cuthbertson samples a pipe of his own tobacco in a curious African native pipe - one of his prize collections.'   (c)  TopFoto

''It's good too' - The Rev Hugh Cuthbertson samples a pipe of his own tobacco in a curious African native pipe - one of his prize collections.'

(c) TopFoto


'The vicar has himself laid down 35 types of tobacco and his association has wrestled from the Chancellor of the Exchequer permission to process leaf for members up to 25 pounds an annum free of excise duty.'

- original caption


'The Vicar inspects his tobacco plants, cutting of which will commence next week. In the background is the vicar's church'

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'Mr Cuthbertson is working hard to promote tobacco growing in this country, and with this end in view he has started the Amateur Tobacco Growers' Association of which organisation he is honourable secretary. '

- original caption




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 Text and curation: Amanda Uren



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1930s: Open-Air Schools

Dec 4, 1933 - Pupils dressed for warmth at St James' Park Open-Air School

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England's first open-air school opened in 1907.  The schools gained popularity in the 1930s as a means to combat tuberculosis, a disease then rife. 

Children considered to be at risk of developing the disease - identified by stunted growth and mental 'dullness' - were sent to the schools. By 1937, 96 open-air day schools and 53 residential schools had been established across the country.

A 1912 publication, 'The Open Air School', had set out the blueprint for how such schools should be run.  The regime included vigorous exercise, rest periods during the day and a wholesome diet with plenty of meat, dairy products and vegetables.

Outdoor subjects included horticulture, bee keeping, natural history, woodwork and meteorology (schools had their own weather stations).  Academic lessons were based around these activities on desks and chairs in the open - assuming it was not raining.  

But by the 1950s, the schools had begin decline.  The BCG vaccine was introduced in 1953 and antibiotics became widely available after WWII.  Together with slum clearances, the Clean Air Act and the NHS, the threat of tuberculocis was radically reduced, and the schools had lost their imperative to exist.


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"On an occasion some of us will not easily forget, the ink became solid in the ink-wells, snow blown into the classroom in the morning was swept out in the afternoon, dinner was served with snow sauce, for there was no means of keeping snow out of the dining shed.”


Jun 11 1936 -  'Astonishing results have followed the introduction of a 'roof-top' schoolroom at Popham Road Boys' School, Islington. The schoolroom was installed last year to accommodate 30 backward and ailing boys. Records show that the pupils have gained in height, weight, and general fitness. The classroom is furnished with folding desks, blackboards, a master's table and a weighing machine. It has even been fitted by the boys with electric light. Mr A.W. Dean, the headmaster, is so satisfied with the results of the experiment, that other classes are to use the roof - top room.'

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“Vigorous physical exercise should precede sitting-down lessons, overcoats and rugs will serve to retain the natural heat of the body.”

 

May 26 1937 - 'The minimum of dress and maximum of fresh air and sun is the rule at the Bow Road Open-Air Day School in London's East End, where the pupils are revelling in the heatwave.'

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 May 26 1937 -  'Lunchtime at Bow Road open-air school. Fresh air has an effect on the appetite.'   (c)  TopFoto

May 26 1937 - 'Lunchtime at Bow Road open-air school. Fresh air has an effect on the appetite.'

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 May 26 1937 -  ' Physical exercise for the lightly-clad pupils at Bow Road open-air school. '   (c)  TopFoto

May 26 1937 - 'Physical exercise for the lightly-clad pupils at Bow Road open-air school.'

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 May 26 1937 -  'The lightly clad pupils at lesson in the Bow Road open-air school.'   (c)  TopFoto

May 26 1937 - 'The lightly clad pupils at lesson in the Bow Road open-air school.'

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'May 26 1937 - Pupils gardening at Bow Road open-air school.'

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1938 - 'An 'official' sign that summer is now here is the fact that the children at the open-air school in St James's Park are now wearing their sun helmets for the first time this year.'

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Sep 21 1937 - 'St James's Park school children take to blankets. Autumn has brought chill winds to London, and pupils in the open air school at St James's Park have sought refuge in blankets to keep themselves warm at the lessons.'

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1947: The first male district nurse


At the end of World War II, men returning home from the services with medical training were demobbed and recruited to fill peacetime positions in the health service.   

In 1947 an experiment was conducted. Four men, dubbed the 'early pioneers', were selected to be trained as District Nurses.  They nursed only male patients and did not wear a uniform, changing into a white jacket when in the patient’s home.  At first, the lack of uniform led them to being seen as insurance agents, meter readers, or even intruders.

The scheme proved to be successful and male district nurses became an established part of the profession, taking on a full range of duties and having an official uniform.


  'Doing his rounds on a bicycle'   (c)  TopFoto

'Doing his rounds on a bicycle'

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'Setting out on home visits'

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'Helping new mothers with their childcare and powdering a baby's bottom is all part of the service'

- Original caption, 1947


'Greeted at the door by one of his patients'

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  'Giving an injection to an elderly patient'   (c)  TopFoto

'Giving an injection to an elderly patient'

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  'Giving an injection to an elderly female patient'   (c)  TopFoto

'Giving an injection to an elderly female patient'

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  'Giving a male patient a bed bath'   (c)  TopFoto

'Giving a male patient a bed bath'

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'Before setting off on their home visits these district nurses are briefed by the senior nurses and for the first time they are joined by a male colleague'

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'Stocking up on his medical dressings and other equipment, before setting off on his home visits'

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'Greeted at the door by one of his patients'

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'Washing and dressing leg ulcers on an elderly male patient'

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  'Relaxing with a cup of tea and a piece of cake this lone male district nurse gets to know his female nursing colleagues in the newly implemented National Health Service'    ( c)  TopFoto

'Relaxing with a cup of tea and a piece of cake this lone male district nurse gets to know his female nursing colleagues in the newly implemented National Health Service'

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1928: On London's Skyscraper


In images rivalling those of skyscraper construction in New York,  these men are building 55 Broadway - the headquarters of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, a main forerunner of the London Underground.

Intended to be a bold exciting building to reflect the company's modern, progressive values, 55 Broadway was to be the tallest construction in London at that time.  There were problems to be overcome though - the ground had an irregular footprint and St James’s Park station was just 7.3 metres (24 ft) below the surface.

Architect Charles Holden designed the building and construction began in 1927, and it was completed in 1929. It was faced with Portland stone and several noted artists of the time were commissioned to provide decorative sculptures for the external walls.  Two of these, by Jacob Epstein, were considered scandalous owing to the nudity in one of the sculptures.  Epstein chipped about an inch from the penis of one of the figures and the matter was resolved.

The building is now Grade 1 listed.


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'These apparently nerveless human flies who crawl about unsteady beams and girders at giddy heights call themselves 'Ironfighters''

- Original caption, 1928


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March 1938: London's Lost Property

   'Lost birds which come into the lost property office in large numbers around Christmas time and baskets of provisions.'    ( c)  TopFoto

 'Lost birds which come into the lost property office in large numbers around Christmas time and baskets of provisions.'

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Until the middle of the nineteenth century, property lost on London's transportation was not taken to a centralised location. Owners in search of a lost time/item were reliant on placing advertisements in newspapers.  

However, in 1869 the Metropolitan railway established the “Central Repository for Lost Things”. The Central Repository eventually relocated to a purpose built site in Baker Street station, in 1934, and was renamed the London Transport Lost Property Office.  Umbrellas required their own room.

Today the Lost Property office is run by Transport for London and now includes items left on London buses, in Victoria coach station, on black cabs and the Underground. In 2016, almost 140,000 items were picked up on the Tube alone.  Items are kept for three months and if unclaimed, donated to charity of sold at auction to contribute to running costs.

Unlike 1938, the Office no longer stores edible objects.


  'Umbrellas stacked up in the Lost Property office.'   (c)  TopFoto

'Umbrellas stacked up in the Lost Property office.'

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'Forgetfulness by tons and thousands: how London, the absent minded, keeps lost property offices busy'

- Original caption, March 1938


Loading lost suitcases.

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 Hats  (c)  TopFoto

Hats

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'Personal garments'

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'A tasteful group of vegetables, marrows, antlers and motorcycles and a barometer.'

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'The bewildering complexity of forgetfulness, an array in the oddments department which suggests losers of all ages classes and walks of life'

- Original caption

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1950s: Foolin' at the Foundry


Despite being known primarily as the seaside resort made fashionable by the Georgian Prince Regent, Brighton also had a thriving industrial heart.  In the 1950s, some of the extra-curricula activities enjoyed by the staff at this unidentified foundry and engineering shop were documented by one employee, an amateur photographer.


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1967: Twiggy Gets a Haircut

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1967 saw Twiggy, British supermodel, beginning a tour of the USA.  She had her hairdresser, Leonard of Mayfair, flown over at a cost of £254 (c. £3000 today) to have her hair cut.  The cut itself cost 3 guineas (c. £40 today).

Twiggy, aka Lesley Hornby, had been discovered the previous year after answering a call for models by hair stylist Leonard of Mayfair, who was experimenting with a new cropped hairstyle.  Leonard styled Twiggy's hair into its iconic style, and a professional photographer took head shots.  These shots were seen by the fashion editor of a national newspaper, who had more photos taken and published them with the byline ‘The Face of 1966’.  Twiggy was only 16 and her boyish face and her slim androgynous body shape took the fashion world by storm. 

Leonard of Mayfair (aka Leonard Lewis) had trained at Vidal Sassoon’s salon before starting his own business. He built up a client list that included The Beatles and Mick Jagger, and later worked in cinema, most notably with Stanley Kubrick.






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