What's Your Earliest Memory Of London? Part Two

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 19 months ago
What's Your Earliest Memory Of London? Part Two
Shaftesbury Avenue seen from Piccadilly Circus in 1949. Photo by Chalmers Butterfield

In 2016, we asked you for your earliest memories of London. We've already shared some of them and now we're continuing the trip down memory lane.

If you have any other early memories of London you'd like to share, post them in the comments below — we'd love to read them.

Christmas time

"Going to see Father Christmas in Selfridges. Getting in one side of the train and getting out of the other side after going on the two-minute journey to Santa's grotto. It was magical. 48 years ago now but still remember it like it was yesterday." - Tracy Kilner

"Getting on the underground with my Mum to go to the Xmas sales; I would have been about six years old. I loved the Liberty store in the 80s/90s — haberdashery, lambswool scarves at a reasonable price and the bazaar in the basement (now Men's dept)." - Frances Hawkins

"Walking through the roads with Christmas lights — Regent Street, Bond Street and Oxford Street eating chestnuts in a red coat with fake fur collar! 1968 ish?" - Liz Brooker

Ceremonies and celebrations

VE Day celebrations in London, 8 May 1945. Photo under IWM Non Commercial Licence

"Seeing the troops victory parade after the end of the war — my Dad took us." - Monica Divver

"Being taken to the Lord Mayor's Show when I was about six or seven. We lived in Wendover and never had a car.
(Trains still mentally mean a day out to me, 40 years later)." - Shona Harnett

"Sitting on my dad's shoulders watching the firework display in celebration of the end of WW2. It may have been near Buckingham Palace or maybe Hyde Park. It was very exciting and joyful." - Penny Coulthard

"Watching the Lord Mayor's Parade from a shop doorway. I don't remember the year but around 1975/6 — all I can remember of the parade was giant sized Homepride Flour men! I would have been about four or five I think." - Annie Catherine

Celeb spotting

Rear of Buckingham Palace. Photo: EZTD

"I remember one trip to London when we were walking past Buckingham Palace and my Dad looked up and said 'Look there's Prince Philip cleaning the windows'". - Liz Taylor

(As a side note to this one, we were always scared to walk on the grass in St James's Park — we were convinced the Queen would come out and tell us off for walking on her grass.)

"Patrick Moore showing how to look through a bit of foil at a partial eclipse somewhere near where Kensington Gardens, a day trip back in the mid 80s" - Jilly Champion

"Meeting SuperTed at a teddy bears' picnic at Richmond Park... and crying because he was wearing trainers and not rocket boots." - Miranda Casagran

"I visited as a child and we went to all the sites in the day. Corcorde flew over us as we were climbing back into the car for the journey home and as we drove home we went past Buckingham Palace and remarkably my dad must have been the last car through so passed by a waving Queen in her car."- Matthew Thomas Hurst


Photo: _JamesDavies

"I grew up in the remote hills of west Wales and a highlight of our summer holidays was our annual week in London, staying with my aunt and uncle in east London. As well as the Natural History Museum, Cutty Sark, Harrods toy department, McDonald's Marble Arch really stands out as a memory (sad, I know, but we didn't have one in Wales in the early 1980s!!)" - Holly Perry

"Mine is trying humus for the first time in a restaurant in Islington and loving it, then just sitting there watching the rain." - Alex Delbarre

"Going to the Earls Court Motor Show and eating my first Italian meal. My parents and brother had English food and I had something Italian." - Khairunnisa Simmonds

"Going to London on a school trip and getting food poisoning from red jelly we had in a restaurant!" - Charlotte Boneham

Share your own London memories below.

Last Updated 27 October 2016

John Finn

An early memory of mine is the visit with my dad to the Festival of Britain on the South Bank in 1951. Can just recall the Dome of Discovery, the Skylon (did I read somewhere that it might be re-erected?), the funfair at Battersea Park, but more especially, I discovered the Tube map on the back of the souvenir programme. Loved the diagram, the lines' colours and names of stations. I decided then and there to travel to the ends of all the lines which I began aged 12 in 1956, and which project I am still to complete!

Liz Wil

My earliest memories of London would be about 1950. The whole family always went up to London to see the Christmas lights on Regent Street and Oxford Street. Then on the way home, we went to Lyons Corner House in Trafalgar Square for supper. I always had Spaghetti Bolognaise! All of us kids wanted a Knickerbocker Glory, which was some fancy ice cream concoction. I don't think we were ever allowed to have one. This was the only time during the year that we ate in a restaurant. Then we went to Charing Cross to catch the train home to Purley.

Stefanie Ring

I visited London for a day with a friend who was studying in Oxford ..... when I climbed down the back stairs from an old routemaster one of my pumps slipped from my foot .... rolled down the stairs ... and fell out of the rolling bus........ I exited the next stop - and a knight (probably in blue jeans...) brought me my shoe...... and no. We didn't marry..... ;-))

chris merry

As a child in the 1960's I went to the Ideal Home Exhibition Earls Court. I remember the Doctor Who stand had a life size dalek on display which made all the kids stare in awe. I also remember the latest fad was plastic 45 records with psychedelic colored dyes set into the disc. Everybody was also saying "fab" and "groovy" all the time.

pat ligon

I grew up in E.C.1. in the 1950's and 60's. My earliest memories:- rainy school holidays when I would walk through the Leather Lane market to Gamages department store in Holborn to see the gigantic working display of toy trains; or up Theobalds Road to the Egyptian Gallery at the British Museum. Have you heard of the disappearing mummy? ...or the mummy's curse? Ask the commissionaires. On sunny days we would walk or roller skate down Gray's Inn Road or Lamb's Conduit Street past Charles Dickens House to The Foundling at Coram's Fields. They had a paddling pool.

With my Dad I went to Petticoat Lane market to shop on most Sundays and occasionally to the Collins Music Hall in Islington (nude tableaus and all). On special days our whole family went on the bus to Epping Forest for a picnic and some fresh air or maybe to Hampstead Heath or Regent's Park.

I rode on the tube from Chancery Lane to White City, to Burlington Grammar School five days a week, and afterwards, with a friend, I sometimes went to The Marquee Club on Wardour Street to see Manfred Mann, The Mark Lehman Five, The Moody Blues, The Who, Long John Baldry or Spencer Davis (We would change out of our school uniforms in the toilet..) With the same friend I went to stand in line for the "Ready Steady Go" TV show and we both have great memories of seeing The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, The Supremes, Petula Clark and many others on the days we made the cut. We spent one night sleeping on the pavement to buy tickets for the Beatles first Christmas Show at the Finsbury Park Empire and we got front row seats two nights in a row. On Sunday nights I would listen to the radio to hear a program of American Blues. The stranger the name of the blues artist and the scratchier the record, the more we loved it. I am sure Eric Clapton listened too! I was one of the "Mods" walking up and down Carnaby Street, (and occasionally) Kings Road) and getting my haircut at Vidal Sassoon.

I loved walking through "The City" especially in the evening when the business people had gone home, and I would end up at the Embankment and watch the lights and the boats going by. I once went by myself to the very top of St. Pauls and climbed a ladder at the top to stick my head out of the golden cross. I don't think that is possible nowadays. I followed the tour guides around all the most famous landmarks and learned a lot of "interesting facts".

I took the number 38 bus to Victoria Station and always sat upstairs on the left side because you could see over the wall to the Buckingham Palace garden. Once saw Prince Charles and Princess Anne playing tennis there. My Mum and Dad would take me by train from Victoria Station to Brighton for a day out and my favourite part was crossing Vauxhall Bridge. You could see a large swathe of the Thames from the train.

Now I live in Houston, Texas, with my Texan husband and two grown children and four grandchildren. When we have taken an occasional trip back "home" My kids marvel how much I know about the city, the tourist sights, and especially the British Museum. All thanks to my excursions following tour guides. When I first arrived in Houston, I couldn't sleep because it was so QUIET. I couldn't hear sirens or footsteps or the conversations of passers by and drunks on their way home, plus Houston has zero hills. London is my FAVOURITE city. She is in my heart and that's why I subscribe to The Londonist. THANK YOU!

Daniel Austin

My earliest memory of London was visiting the millennium dome in 2000, i just remember it being this massively imposing imposing building (for a 4 year old anyway) it had an indoor beach.


I remember when I was in London for the first time, I was in high school and we were just exploring the city, heading for the National Gallery, suddenly my friend noticed that she had some pink scarf around her shoulder so she thought that it must had been brought by the wind, but then some guy walked over and said "can you please give me back my wife's scarf?" After that we realised it was just a hoax. Later he said he had been doing an experiment to check people's reactions. It was about 2004.

Alan O'Kelly

Getting the train from Watford to Euston with my mates. We were fourteen and were desperate to see a fabled 'x-certificate' movie. So we timidly joined the queue to see 'Never on Sunday' which we hoped would be full of sex and debauchery. The woman in the kiosk didn't give us a second look and we settled in with our popcorn and wild anticipation. Inevitably it was about as raunchy as Mary Poppins but at least we had seen our first 'X'.


About 1961, in Wembley High Road, standing on the corner opposite heavyweight boxing champion Henry Coopers greengrocer's shop, waiting for the Queen to drive past down Ealing Road after she'd been to something at the stadium. I was disappointed because it was not Henry serving in the shop but his brother.