1949: London Kodachromes

Looking up Shaftesbury Avenue from Piccadilly Circus

The four Kodachrome pictures shown here were taken by a man called Chalmers Butterfield. Although color photography dates back to the end of the nineteenth century, it is rare to see Kodachrome images of London from the 1940s. Black and white photography was very much still the predominant photographic process, and Kodachrome - the leading color process, created in America by Kodak - remained elusive in Britain, particularly in the era of immediate post-war austerity.


Looking up Shaftesbury Avenue from Piccadilly Circus

‘It was the sign advertising Brylcreem that got me. It can be seen in one of Chalmers Butterfield's colour photographs of Piccadilly Circus in 1949. Why did it move me? Brylcreem's range of hair styling products for men is still very much with us. Personally, though, it always means the red plastic pot of the stuff my dad kept ever-ready in the bathroom of our home in the 1970s. It spoke then, and does now, of his youth in austerity Britain, skiffle-board Britain, Teddy Boy Britain.’

- Jonathon Jones, Guardian


Sloane Street

Aldford Street

All images: Chalmers Butterfield