In Pictures: London's West End In The 1950s

By Londonist Staff Last edited 9 months ago
In Pictures: London's West End In The 1950s

London in the 1950s was going through some massive social and economic changes.

The heyday for the baby boomers, this decade saw the emergence of coffee houses and rock n roll music; all perfectly suited to life in London's ever-exciting West End.

Familiar features that have stood the test of time, and can still be seen in the West End today include shops like Foyles (albeit having moved down the road) and Hamleys, and London's long-running theatre show, The Mousetrap.

Goodge Street deep-level shelter and dormitory
Source Londonist
Regent Street looking east towards Piccadilly Circus, 9 November 1956.
Source Rob Baker
Piccadilly Circus, 1956.
Source Vikinga
Dancing in a Soho car park, 1956.
Source Old London
Inside a Soho pub, 1955.
Source Aucharbon
Pea Shellers at Covent Garden
Source Rob Baker
Corner of Dean Street and Old Compton Street, 1950s
Source Nika Garrett
The Mall, 1953
Source Flashbak
That famous Coke ad at Piccadilly Circus, 2 April 1956.
Source Allhails
Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, 5 November 1955.
Source Allhails
Piccadilly Circus, 1950s.
Source Old London
1951, and a City of Westminster employee relaxes in the sun during his lunch break on the Embankment.
Source Old London
Corner of Old Compton Street and Greek Street, 1955
Source Cristina
Rupert Street Market, 1950.
Source Discovering London
Kettner's Wine Shop, 13 Old Compton Street, c.1950.
Source Discovering London
Shop window in Soho, 1956.
Source Rob Baker
Rush hour, 1956.
Source Buzzfeed
A newsagent on Frith Street, 1956
Source Ibtimes
The Waiters' Race in Soho, 1959.
Source Nika Garrett
Charing Cross Road in 1951.
Source Old London
Sunbathing on a Piccadilly rooftop, circa 1953.
Source Historyphotographed
Moka Bar was the first coffee house in London to install a Gaggia espresso machine. It was a hugely popular place, serving more than 1,000 cups of coffee a day.
Source Nika Garrett
Berwick Street Market, 1955.
Source Nika Garrett
Have fun on a bike at the Soho fair, 1950s.
Source Old London
The Cinerama Casino, Soho, 1950s.
Source Old London
The Houses of Parliament, 1953.
Source Flashbak
Flamingo Jazz Club, Wardour Street, Soho, 1950s. The nightclub ran between 1952 and 1967; it played an important role in the development of British rhythm and blues and jazz.
Source Jazz Izzin
88 Regent Street had been a showroom for Ford cars since the 1920s. Here it is at Christmas, 1951.
Source Ford Uk
Escalators at Piccadilly Circus Underground station, 1956.
Source Buzzfeed
Buckingham Palace, 1953.
Source Flashbak
Whitehall, 1950s
Source Flashbak
A rainy night in Soho, 1955.
Source Nika Garrett
American troops and their girlfriends wait at Piccadilly Circus station, November 1955.
Source Buzzfeed
Dancers in Soho, 1950s.
Source Aucharbon
Hamleys in the run-up to Christmas 1951, looking rather different to today.
Source A London Inheritance
Looking in the shop window of Hamleys, 1957
Source Old Pics Archive
A Pied Piper plays in Covent Garden, 1952.
Source London Life
Piccadilly bus stop, 1956.
Source Stockholmtransportmuseum Commons
Tube stop, 1956.
Source Buzzfeed
Leicester Square, 2 April 1956.
Source Bowshrine
A policeman at a police telephone box, 1953.
Source Old London
The making of the Coca-Cola neon sign for Piccadilly Circus, 1954.
Source Adbranch
2i's Coffee Bar, 1959. Cliff Richard and The Drifters was its resident group for a while in 1958.
Source Londonhistorian
A welcome pop of colour at Rupert Street Market, 1956.
Source Flashbak.com
The opening of Agatha Christie's long-running play The Mousetrap at the Ambassadors Theatre, West End, 1952.
Source Londonhistorian
Trafalgar Square, 1953
Source Flashbak
Piccadilly Circus, 1952
Source Buzzfeed
Hustle and bustle of Covent Garden Market, 1950s.
Source Covent Garden

Last Updated 14 March 2017