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London in 1933

22nd July 2013

On the 26th June 1933, King George V laid the very first stone of Senate House – London’s amazing art-deco building and the city’s first ever skyscraper.

A lot has change in the capital in the 80 years since Senate House’s inception, but it still remains one of the world’s most fascinating and captivating places. Here a short piece looking at what London was like in 1933 – and what a building such as Senate House will have experienced in its lifetime

The Formation of the London Passenger Transport Board

Set up by the London Passenger Transport Act, the board was responsible for public transport in London from 1933 through the war years until 1948.

The ‘London Underground’ Diagram was shown to the public for the first time

Think of what your life would be like without this now. You’d have to relearn everything

Image Credit: Michaelmoonbookshop, Tumblr, H.C Beck, 1945.

‘Point Duty’ was still the norm on London’s road

Photo from The Evening Standard
























Image Credit: Paul Townsend, City of London Police - 'Point Duty', UK Police Archives.

London Trams

These were still a regular sight on London’s transportation network. The London County Council Tramways were in operation until 1933 when it was subsumed into the London Passenger Transport Board. See footage of London’s last ever tram journey below:


Shift to the Suburbs

Pre-war development saw a new influx of semi-detached properties being built outside the city in the countryside. Car ownership spread too, and people began moving out the city to Surrey, Essex, Middlesex, Kent and Hertfordshire

Poster from The London Transport Museum

























Image Credit: Jodi, Kent, London Transport Museum.

Covent Garden Still Looked Like this…

Before the tourists moved in, Covent Garden was of course a thriving fruit and vegetable market.
























Image Credit: LSE Library, 'Covent Garden Labourers'. 

London’s Population Was Growing

The East End of London was home to thousands of people living in relatively poor conditions. Along with the influx of German immigrants fleeing Jewish persecution from the Nazis, this swelled London’s population. In 1939 it reached an all-time high of 8.9 million. As London’s diversity increased, so did racial and political tension. Here is a picture from the culmination of all this - the Battle of Cable Street in 1936.

Image Credit: Spiral Sheep, Blanche Edwards arrested at the anti-fascist battle of Cable Street 1936.


The West India Docks Looked Like This…

Before the days of Skyscrapers – the West India docks were still one of the busiest ports in the UK, shipping in goods from the Caribbean. The advent of the shipping container put a stop to its profitability, and the docks on the Isle of Dogs were closed in 1980 to allow for the building on Canary Wharf

Image Credit: Isle of Dogs History, 1930 aerial-08 


London’s taxis still looked like this…

It wasn’t until the 1950s, when Austin developed their famous FX4, that we had a black London taxi we all recognise as being a symbol of the city.

Image Credit: Robert Lordan, 1930s Taxi 


Battersea Power Station First Produced Power

The first segment of Battersea Power Station was constructed in the 1930s, with an extension (and another two chimneys) being added in the ‘50s. It shares some of the art-deco features as seen in Senate House, and was also a location for filming The Dark Knight.

Below: Battersea Power Station soon after opening.
Bottom: The station in its partially demolished state















Image Credit: all hails (Allan), Battersea Power Station, London, 26 July1954.




Image Credit: Peter H, Battersea Power Station - Interior 1.


Winston Churchill First Warns the British People of German Rearmament

In his ‘wilderness’ years, Winston Churchill took to warning about the dangers of Nazi Germany and their policy of rearmament. He was proved right – six years later when war broke out he was reappointed First Lord of the Admiralty.

Image Credit: Brendan Neeson, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, circa 1915.

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