Fascinating Photos Show London's Pigeons Through The Years

Fascinating Photos Show London's Pigeons Through The Years
Women in uniform in Trafalgar Square, c.1961. © Estate of Lutz Dille/Museum of London

Love 'em or hate 'em, pigeons are part of living in London. To mark National Pigeon Day (which is an actual thing, and definitely not something we've invented), the Museum of London has released some historical photos of the winged critters delights around the capital from its archives.

© Russell Wilfred/courtesy Museum of London

The pictures were mainly taken by London photographer Henry Grant (who also captured these lovely shots of festive London). The freelance photojournalist shot entirely in black and white, and specialised in photos of London from the end of the second world war to the 1970s. Museum of London purchased his archive of 80,000 photographs in 1986.

Feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square; 1954. © Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London

Unsurprisingly, Trafalgar Square features heavily in the photo series — don't forget, these were the days before Ken Livingstone banned feeding the flying rats in 2003. Pigeons and people jostle for space. In another shot, taken in 1957, a snowy Trafalgar Square is abandoned, save for a flock of pigeons, overseen by one of the quartet of Landseer lions.

Lion statue and Pigeons in Trafalgar Square, December 1957. © Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London
Feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, date unknown. © Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London
Feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, 1979. The family of one seller, Bernie Rayner, sold birdseed in the square for 50 years. © Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London
The International Show of Racing Pigeons 1960 at the Royal Horticultural Hall. Pigeon fanciers gathered with their prize racers in Lawrence Hall to compete for trophies. © Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London
Woman with Pigeons in Trafalgar Square, 1979 © Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London
The front of Victoria Station. c.1955 © Russell Wilfred/courtesy Museum of London
Family feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square in 1962 © Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London
Crowds and pigeons in Trafalgar Square; 1960 © Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London

London's pigeons, and its other animal residents, both past and present, are the subject of the current Beasts of London exhibition at Museum of London. The show includes a giant pigeon made from parts of London black cabs. Find out more and book tickets.

Last Updated 12 June 2019

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