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Frank Derrett’s West End

September 29, 2020
by the gentle author

Cranbourne St

Fancy a stroll around the West End with Frank Derrett in the seventies?

This invitation is possible thanks to the foresight of Paul Loften who rescued these photographs from destruction in the last century. Recently, Paul contacted me to ask if I was interested and I suggested he donate them to the archive at the Bishopsgate Institute, which is how I am able to show them today.

‘They were given to me over twenty-five years ago when I called at an apartment block in Camden,’ Paul explained. ‘A woman opened the door and, when said I was from Camden Libraries, she told me a solicitor was dealing with effects of a resident who had died and was about to throw these boxes of slides into a skip, and did I want them? I kept them in my loft, occasionally enjoying a look, but actually I had forgotten about them until we had a clear out upstairs.’

Later this week, I will publish what we have learned about the life of Frank Derrett.

Charing Cross Rd

Bear St

Coventry St

Regent St

Earlham St

Long Acre

Dover St

Carnaby St

Carnaby St

Charing Cross Rd

Cranbourne St

Dover St

Perkins Rents

Great Windmill St

Brook St

Conduit St

Frith St

Drury Lane

Dean St

Garrick St

Great Windmill St

Archer St

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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Jeffrey Johnson’s Favourite Spots

35 Responses leave one →
  1. September 29, 2020

    The bust over Flanagans Clarence Pub….wow. He’s seen some stuff, that’s for sure.

  2. September 29, 2020

    Its lovely to see photos of years gone by, but would make it more interesting would be to see photos of the same buildings (if they still exist) or new buildings which have taken the place of the grand old ladies.

  3. Mark permalink
    September 29, 2020

    A Topo Gigio restaurant? Brilliant.
    Fab images of a fab London.
    Plenty of flares.

  4. Brian R Bird permalink
    September 29, 2020

    My they brought back memories, especially Topo Gigio’s, used to go quite regularly.
    Thanks for the memories!

  5. Julian permalink
    September 29, 2020

    Absolutely wonderful to be able to wander down those streets again!

  6. Guy M permalink
    September 29, 2020

    Thanks for that – I enjoyed seeing them. Brings back a few memories. Got any more? Have you got any more of Soho? Old Compton Street in particular? I’m intrigued, as it is such a well-known popular street, but there are hardly ever any photographs of Soho.

  7. lyn permalink
    September 29, 2020

    brought back lots of memories, and didnt london look so lively and full of people. Marquis of Granby was a favourite pub, Topo Gigio cafe, and of course Carnaby Street – the place to shop in the seventies!

  8. September 29, 2020

    Thank you, dear G.A. Wonderful pictures.

  9. September 29, 2020

    In 1978 I have been to London for the first time and got a glimpse of what is shown here so wonderful!

    Love & Peace

  10. September 29, 2020

    Brilliant. It’s like being in a time-machine. Even when you lived through that time you totally forget what it looked like.

  11. paul loften permalink
    September 29, 2020

    Whata pleasure to see them on your blog! Thank you . I look forward to reading about Frank Derrett

  12. Gerald C permalink
    September 29, 2020

    These are great, it’s how I remember the West End from my childhood.

  13. September 29, 2020

    These were particularly enjoyable to see. Especially the memory they triggered.

    My canadian partner RIP was a graphic designer in the seventies, and thru her I think I developed a fair eye for spotting good signage. There’s some gemstones here!

    Soonafter, I had the misfortune (or good fortune depending on the day, the weather and your point of view) to work for a then up-and-coming branding firm (making 1:25 scale shopfronts. they had a terrific studio in a mews next to a dance studio in KX, but I digress…).

    Their designs, ones that looked reasonably good on paper, I wondered, would NOT translate well into the streetscape.

    But, wonderful fotos here, from the pre-branding halcyon days, pre-rawest capitalism.

  14. September 29, 2020

    Wonderful. I went to Topo Gigis. Not sure I could place the one in Charing Cross Road though. But how colourful. Now London is monochrome rich and dead. Or unbearably squalid. Or both. Thanks for posting. Love love the book!

  15. Adele Lester permalink
    September 29, 2020

    Topo Giglio’s! As a tourist now I occasionally wander some of those streets when visiting, still expecting the buzz of the sixties but alas many of my old haunts are gone, replaced by sterile office buildings. And Carnaby Street is now a shadow of its former self. Thanks for the memories.

  16. Sara permalink
    September 29, 2020

    The Steak Bar Cranbourne Street and Topo Gigio both bring back happy memories from the 1970s

  17. Pauline Sharp permalink
    September 29, 2020

    we had our honeymoon in London in 1980 -these photos remind me so much of this happy time -although ,if we are being honest,London was a bit of a mucky old place then ! Still nice see the images

  18. September 29, 2020

    Your first photograph of The Talk of The Town brings back memories of when I went there when I was still a student, aged maybe 19 or 20. I was under age but my aunt told me to “look confident dear” and I got in. Dave Allen, the comedian was appearing.

    But I most enjoyed going to the Ladies Powder Room and witnessing the first underfloor lighting and watching glamorous women preening themselves in the mirrors.

    Finally, I also recall going to Carnaby Street when it was original and not as it is now with chain stores.

    Lovely photos GA.

  19. September 29, 2020

    A wonderful example of social history.

  20. Gerald C permalink
    September 29, 2020

    Are there more photos in the collection?

  21. John Campbell permalink
    September 29, 2020

    1977 i assume, the Jubilee bunting on the shop fronts.

  22. Linda Granfield permalink
    September 29, 2020

    My first visit to London was in 1971–and wow, those are the colours I remember!

    All glass-and-grey for the 2014, most recent, visit.

    Bell-bottomed pants, guys with longer hair, the super fonts on the store signage–lots of fun to see again.
    Thank you, Paul Loften and the late Frank D. Can’t wait to learn more.

  23. David Wootton permalink
    September 30, 2020

    The book shop at 70 Charing Cross Road now sells cards but the exterior is exactly the same including the roller blind. Rare to find an old frontage preserved like that . Wonderful !

  24. September 30, 2020

    Judging by the bunting it is June/July 77, when all was bedecked for the Silver Jubilee and I left home to live in London. Most exciting. I used to spend all my free time wandering about and exploring the City which wasn’t as glossy and glassy as it is now. On the other hand, it is much cleaner now than it ever was, especially on the Tube.

  25. Georgina Briody permalink
    September 30, 2020

    Thank you for bringing back the memories of areas were I worked and socialised.

  26. Lizebeth permalink
    September 30, 2020

    I live in Covent Garden, and remember many of these shops. The Theatrical makeup place is still on Longacre, although no longer as picturesque. There was also a fine art supplier on Drury Lane, and a butcher on Dover Street. Long gone, alas! It’s also great to see the photos of Soho, although I would also love to see how the same streets look now?

  27. Ian Silverton permalink
    September 30, 2020

    Charlie Chester’s Casino, now that was the place to go, or so we all thought at the time, remember also a nice salt beef bar opposite, always open after visiting The Scene!! In Tilt yard around the corner, a nice Hotel now, what about the Windmill Theater , now would so tame in 2020 Happy Days GA.

  28. Ian Silverton permalink
    October 1, 2020

    Just had to add, Talk of the Town, missed that picture first time around, never missed any of the Top Stars of the 60s appearing there, my friend was the General Manager then Mike C, he always got me and any friends the best seats in the house, never ever missed, thanks Mike, where ever you are now.

  29. John Campbell permalink
    October 1, 2020

    Hi Paul,
    The photos were discussed on Robert Elms’ radio show on BBC London today if you are interested.

  30. paul loften permalink
    October 2, 2020

    Thanks for letting me know John !
    I am a fan of Robert Elms ! Although I havent listened to his program for a while.! I once saw him give a brilliant talk at Swiss Cottage Library many years ago about London. It was where I worked . He was givinga talk about the old music venues like the Marquee in Wardour street . It was one of my old haunts and we would see the Who and Kinks play live before they were really famous

  31. Dave Howes permalink
    October 3, 2020

    Good to see the photo of Captain Watts chandlery. My grandfather was his London delivery driver at that time, and that’s his white car parked outside! It must have been taken whilst the funny little turquoise delivery van was going through one of it’s frequent periods of ill health.
    My granddad started his driving career at 13 as ‘second driver’ on a Foden steam lorry, worked until her retired at 65, had a heart attack 3 months later, decided that retirement wasn’t for him, and got a job driving for the captain for another 14 years.

  32. paul loften permalink
    October 3, 2020

    Dave Howes, now that is something really special ! To have a picture of your grandads car amongst Mr Derretts Photos What chances are there of ever coming across that ? What a pleasure and surprise it must have been to see it ! Those days you could work ,drive and park in the West End , although even then that was coming to an end. I think parking meters were intoduced in the 60’s . The Gentle Author thrills us daily with wonderful tales and photos of the unexpected.

  33. joan permalink
    January 1, 2021

    Met my husband 1963 I worked in the Haymarket we meet at the Amafi in Old Compton Street ,
    our children must have ate in every Italian Restaurant, Our New Year Day would be At Topo Gigio in Windmill Street with all our friends, miss the old days,

  34. David Ellison permalink
    June 19, 2021

    Working in Lexington St., lunching in Berwick St. during the 60’s early 70’s, these photo’s jolted pleasant memories of a much kinder world, a far cry from where I now live in Australia!
    Thankyou so much!

  35. Donatella Parlanti permalink
    March 13, 2022

    I am eternally grateful to you for this incredible page. I have been looking for years for an external photo of my late father’s restaurant, La Dolce Vita in Frith Street in the 1960’s and this is the only one I have ever seen.
    I have quite a few of the interior and of the celebrities that used to dine there, but not one of the exterior.

    Thank you so much for this, I literally have tears in my eyes!
    You have made my day.

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