Here's What London Looked Like In The 1940s

Here's What London Looked Like In The 1940s

London in the 1940s was dominated by the second world war. Suffering horrific bombing during The Blitz, large parts of the city were destroyed, especially the industrial areas in east London. Looking through some of these photos you'll notice the statue of Anteros in Piccadilly Circus is missing. It was removed for safekeeping, and returned in 1948.

The 1940s was also the decade that saw London host the Olympics, the Queen married Prince Philip, and the Empire Windrush brought excited and hopeful young people from the West Indies to London.

VE Day street party, Argyle Road, Edmonton
Source 1900s
10 May 1941 saw the last major raid during the London Blitz, dubbed 'the longest night'. There was damage to many important buildings including the Houses of Parliament, seen here
Source Londonhistorian
The ruins of the City of London from Southwark Bridge to Blackfriars - photo taken from St Paul's Cathedral in 1942
Source Sir William Davenant
Westminster Abbey
Source Historyphotographed
A new musical play, Jenny Jones, was running at the Hippodrome Theatre.
Source Old London
Bomb damage at St Pancras railway station, May 1941
Source Sir William Davenant
An American soldier and his English girlfriend on the lawn in Hyde Park.
Source History in Pictures
Police road safety, 1949
Source Old London
Shaftesbury Avenue, 1949
Source Retro Mark
Winston Churchill with General Eisenhower on VE Day
Source Michael Beschloss
Mothers protest to demand day nurseries for their children so that they could engage in war work, Hampstead
Source Home Front Museum
Boys will be boys
Source Old London
St Paul's during the Blitz
Source Londoninsight
The Blitz - unexploded bomb, London, 1943
Source Old Pics Archive
Don't worry, I'll fix it.
Source Old London
Piccadilly Circus, July 1941
Source Londonhistorian
Aldwych, used as an air raid shelter, October 1940
Source Pinterest
London, 1941
Source Old Pics Archive
The wreckage of a bus, which was blasted against a house during the Blitz, 9 September 1940
Source Old Pics Archive
King's Cross railway station.
Source Old London
A waiter in wartime Soho, 1942
Source Discovering London
Elephant and Castle underground station shelter with train
Source Flashbak
Miss Hannah Casson operates the ticket machine in her booth at a London Underground station, 1942
Source Iwm
Tram on Westminster Bridge
Source Londonhistorian
West End book business basement shelter, Bloomsbury.
Source Flashbak
Children in London celebrate Christmas in an underground bomb shelter, December 25.
Source History in Pictures
A royal wedding
Source Karolina
Women of the Women's Voluntary Service run a mobile canteen
Source Classic Movies
A boy points out his bedroom to his friends, after his home had been wrecked during a bombing raid in an eastern suburb of London, 1940
Source Historyphotographed
A familiar face in uniform
Source Londonhistorian
22 June1948: The Empire Windrush brings first group of 492 Jamaican immigrants to the UK
Source Daily Radical History
According to the original caption, Rose worked as a booking clerk during the first world war and returned to this job when war broke out "with the same smiling efficiency", 1942
Source Iwm
Lewisham High Street, 1940s
Source Old London
St Paul's Cathedral, 1940
Source Wikia
Elizabeth Taylor in Trafalgar Square, 1948
Source History in Pictures
West Ham's, Boleyn Ground, 1940
Source Old London
Winston Churchill and his daughter, Mary Spencer Churchill, in London, c 1943
Source Old Pics Archive
Abandoned boy holding a soft toy
Source Classic Pics
St Paul's in 1947
Source Sir William Davenant
People outside the Ritz in Leicester Square which was showing Gone With The Wind, 1941
Source Old London
Readers browsing through the bomb-damaged library of Holland House.
Source History in Pictures
Diners in a busy restaurant at Aldwych
Source Rob Baker
Elizabeth Taylor, 1948
Source Flashbak.com
The 1944 Summer Games - due to be held in London - were cancelled
Source Ww2 Tweets From 1939
Women protest for a raise, 1949
Source Dr Bernie Borgstein
Southbank, 1949
Source Rob Baker
Defiant signs at Wally's barber shop on St Martin Street, after losing its windows during the Blitz
Source On This Day & Facts
Ingrid Bergman and Alfred Hitchcock at the George Inn on Borough High Street, 1948
Source Flashbak.com
Streets of London, 1949
Source Historyphotographed
1940
Source Iliketowastemytime
Big Ben floodlit on 8 May
Source Old London
A teenage Princess Elizabeth in her ATS uniform, 1942
Source Lost in History
1940
Source Bbc World Service
Two small girls wave flags in the rubble of Battersea, VE Day
Source Iwm
Four young women enjoy a stroll in the spring sunshine along a shopping street in the West End, 1941
Source Iwm
Mrs L Philpotts and Mrs E Firth carry out essential maintenance work to the escalators at a London underground station, 1942
Source Iwm
A market brings colour to the Blitz.
Source Iliketowastemytime
King's Cross and St Pancras, 1945
Source Buzzfeed
Firefighters dealt with blazes caused by bombing on Queen Victoria Street
Source London Fire Brigade
1940s
Source Old London
The Blitz reached Buckingham Palace in 1940
Source Londonhistorian
VJ Day street party
Source Old London
Piccadilly Circus
Source Old London
Elephant and Castle Underground station shelter
Source Flashbak
Waterloo station women welders, 1940s
Source Old London
The Bedford Theatre, 1949
Source Old London
King George VI and the Queen Consort meeting air raid victims, 1941
Source Old London
Blitz ghosts, 1940.
Source Nick Stone
A wide view of the bomb-damaged shell of the John Lewis department store on London's Oxford Street.
Source Old Pics Archive
A boy reading in a ruined bookshop after a night of heavy bombing. October 1940
Source Lost in History
Soho, 1940
Source Rob Baker
The Docklands ablaze after the first mass air raid on London.
Source Yesteryear
Londoners seek shelter in Aldwych tube station, 1941
Source History in Pictures
Soho, 1947
Source Flashbak.com
A woman drinking tea in the aftermath of a German bombing raid during the Blitz
Source History in Pictures
Clapham Tram Depot following an air raid
Source Old London
Three Kings pub, Cromwell Road
Source Old London
Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs
Source Buzzfeed
Poster recruiting female bus and tram workers, 1941
Source Retrographik
St George's Cathedral, Southwark, 1942
Source History London
Metropolitan Police Box, 1948
Source Old London
Rita Hayworth arriving at Croydon Airport, 1948
Source Old London
Waterloo Station approach, 1947
Source Rob Baker
September 1940
Source Imperial War Museums
Spotter, watching out for German air raids, during a Charlton Athletic vs Arsenal match at The Valley, 1940
Source History Pics
Mrs Hilda Slater cleans a window of an Underground tube train at a station, 1942
Source Iwm
A boy sits amid the ruins of a London bookshop after an air raid, 1940
Source Old Pics Archive
Police officer on the Strand
Source Old London
Bomb damage to terraced houses in Sandmere Road, Brixton, 1 July 1944
Source Old London
Police officer during the Blitz, 1940
Source Old London
Mrs Edith Hill manoeuvres a forklift trolley in a depot where railway seats are overhauled and repaired, London, 1942
Source Iwm
A colourisation of The North stand, Stamford Bridge (1948), by George Chilvers.
Source Old London
Mrs Vera Hibberd at work in the signal box at Wembley Park station to check up on trains which vary a minute or two from the set timetable, 1942
Source Iwm
Source Ronnierocket
Station garden competition, Hammersmith, 1943
Source Old London
A bomb penetrated the road and exploded in Balham Underground station, killing 68 people
Source Londonhistorian
Balham Underground station
Source Londonhistorian
Cow Lane Bridge, Peckham was hit by a V2 missile, and repaired within two days.
Source Old London
Miss Feely operates one of the large lifts which carry passengers from street level down to the platforms and back up to the street again, 1942
Source Iwm
Prefabs around Galbraith Street on the Isle of Dogs, built quickly to create further housing following bombings, 1946
Source The Ripper
Second world war bomb damage around St Paul's Cathedral in 1946
Source Lost in History
The Empire Windrush brings 492 Jamaican immigrants to Tilbury Docks - the start of modern UK immigration
Source Histi Pics
The Mallard at King's Cross, 1948
Source Old London
Tubby Isaacs Jellied Eels, Aldgate East, 1940
Source Spitalfieldslife
St Paul's during heavy attacks by the German Luftwaffe on 29 December 1940
Source Theatlantic
The City of London in 1948, taken from the roof of St Paul's cathedral
Source Old London
A man holds all that is left of his possessions after his house was bombed
Source Prof.frank Mc Donough
A WH Smith bookstore
Source Bibliophilia
A Heinkel He111 bomber flies over central London, 7 September 1940
Source Avax
The East End bombed in the Blitz - note the Tower of London in the background
Source The Ripper
A Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London, 1947
Source Historicroyalpalaces
Shelterers sleep on the benches which line the wall of this London trench shelter
Source Flashbak
Brooklands Grand Prix circuit, 1945
Source Buzzfeed
Maths lesson in the Elephant & Castle Underground station during an air raid alert
Source Yesteryear
London fashion shoot, 1949
Source Old London
Kids didn't get Easter eggs in 1941. Here they munch on their carrot treats instead
Source Old London
Bomb damage in Balham results in tube tunnels collapsing, over 60 people killed
Source Imperial War Museums
Brixton Station Road, 1940s
Source Old London
Highbury, 1940s
Source Old London
Ealing c.1940 with pedestrian lanes to speed people up and avoid bumps in the blackout
Source Sir William Davenant
A Journey Unknown - short comic looking at the Empire Windrush in 1948
Source Orlando
Trafalgar Square, 1947
Source Nika Garrett
Camberwell Green, late 1940s
Source Lambeth Walker
Frith Street in 1943
Source Nika Garrett
1948 London Summer Olympics - opening ceremony
Source Bbc
Traffic moving slowly on an icy Queen Victoria Street. A light dusting of snow softens the bomb damage.
Source Sir William Davenant
Clapton FC return to the Old Spotted Dog ground, 1943
Source Old London
Camden children collecting penny for the Guy, 1948
Source The London Sound Survey

Last Updated 10 July 2017

Juno

When you have a moment you'll notice that you've got a few of those photos twice. Rushing out the door to get to Christmas drinkies, were we?

Clunking Fist

in 2300, will our descendants view 2016 London via Google Street view? Using some kind of VR?
EDIT: Stupid me: in 2017, I'll be looking via Street View in VR.

John Powell

The caption of the photo of Princess Elizabeth describes her as wearing her ATS uniform. I think that it's a civilian suit as the material has a sort of boucle look to it, and the blouse is fancy cloth. If anything, judging by her buttons, it's the uniform of the Scots Guards.