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Lew Tassell’s Day Trip

February 10, 2021
by the gentle author

Lew Tassell sent me these pictures that he took on a trip to London at fifteen years old in 1966

Old London Bridge

‘These pictures were taken in March 1966 with my first proper camera, albeit only a Zeiss Ikon Ikonette with a 35mm fixed lens viewfinder that cost me £7 secondhand. I loved that camera and wish I still had it, it had no metering or any features so it taught me a lot.

Film and developing were very expensive, so I had to be frugal with my picture-taking and then wait for them to be developed to see if I had judged the exposure correctly.

I was fifteen years old, living with my parents in South London and just about to leave school. I used to catch a train from Elmers End to Charing Cross – returning via London Bridge – and explore, usually taking in a visit to the National Gallery.’

‘My school friend, Paul, on one of Landseer’s Lions in Trafalgar Sq, he was instantly told to ‘get orf’ by a policeman’

‘I always found Piccadilly Circus magical and ever-changing. There was not much neon during the sixties and the buildings were generally dirty and grey, but the West End was a place with lively streets, especially this spot with the cinemas and theatres.’

The classic Coca-Cola sign

‘Carnaby St was a tremendously exciting place for a teenager to wander about. I didn’t have the money to buy anything but just to be there was enough’

John Stephen’s celebrated menswear shop in Carnaby St, clothes worn by The Who, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Small Faces

‘Spot the Rolls Royce coming round the corner’

‘Spot the sandwich man for ‘Champagne Temps”

Looking across Carnaby St to Foubert’s Place

Lord Kitchener’s Valet sold military uniform as fashion, customers included Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Mick Jagger

Crowded pavements in Carnaby St

Old Cannon St Railway Station from Southwark Bridge

Eastcheap corner of Pudding Lane

Guy’s Hospital under construction by London Bridge Station

Tower of London in the mist

Old men sitting by the Tower

Cannons on the waterfront at the Tower

A foggy, soot-stained Tower Bridge

‘In the Pool Of London – one of my earliest memories is standing in this spot with my father, watching the ships being unloaded in the centre of the City’

‘Police launch on the Thames – four years later I joined the City of London Police’

Photographs copyright © Lew Tassell

You may also like to take a look at

On Night Patrol With Lew Tassell

On Top Of Britannic House With Lew Tassell

A Walk Around The Docks With Lew Tassell

Lew Tassell at Charles & Diana’s Wedding

Lew Tassell at the Queen’s Silver Jubilee

31 Responses leave one →
  1. Ann Keil permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Brilliant photos of days gone by and to see the characters and London so alive then.
    Thank you for sharing. ?

  2. Susan Levinson permalink
    February 10, 2021

    It would be great if a book of Lew Tassell’s photos could be published.

  3. February 10, 2021

    Would be interesting to see how many of the buildings are still standing or if demolished what has been built in their place.

  4. February 10, 2021

    Love the Lambrretta Innocenti. As a MOD I had a GT200 (198 really)

  5. Annie Green permalink
    February 10, 2021

    These are absolutely wonderful. Totally personal views. Thanks for elevating the morning.

  6. February 10, 2021

    A shocking awaking when I found I there was no email from the Gentle Author and I discovered that a mischievous fat finger had unsubscribed me. Although it was mitigated by the Superb photos. Carnaby Street seen at its best. Thank you Gentle Author and Lew Tassell!

  7. Boudica Redd permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Oh bravo what great pics of 1960s London it gives us all a snap shot of how people Lyfed back in thous tymes

  8. Sharon permalink
    February 10, 2021

    That’s London exactly as I remember it. I’m 2 years younger than Lew and equally as fascinated and awestruck at Carnaby St. My grandmother used to take me ‘up west’ and we’d spot the famous musicians shopping there. We also used to spend hours standing opposite the door of 10 Downing St. (in those days there was virtually no security, just a copper guarding the door) and she’d point out leading politicians, followed by her forthright opinions of them. She’d been a suffragette in her youth and always impressed upon me to use my vote when I was old enough because she’d fought hard for it!
    The Canadian Pacific building in the background of Trafalgar Sq also brings back memories; my grandfather worked there as a commissionaire and I’d spend hours in the basement chatting to him and his colleagues during their tea breaks. I must have been about ten or eleven years old at the time.
    Great photos.

  9. Penny Gardner permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Oh yes! I was sixteen and remember it well. The frisson produced by the whine of a scooter . Was it a GS? London girl,me.

  10. Dave Carter permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Two years later, having (at 15) begun my
    apprenticeship as a chef (scary), the overwhelming
    aroma of fresh roasting coffee beans everywhere
    in the City streets is my abiding memory.
    Every place that sold coffee would roast their own.

  11. Cherub permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Ravel shoes – what happened to them? I remember buying big platforms from them and Sacha as a teenager in the 70s (Sacha’s ones were the biggest lol).
    Laughing at the military gear as well. My brother is in his early 70s now and he used to buy stuff like military frock coats from a company called Laurence Corner in the 60s, I think they had a warehouse near Kings Cross station. He used to send for their cheaply produced paper catalogue via the “bargains by post” section that was at the back of national newspapers on a Saturday. I think he thought he was the bees knees in his London clobber (we were from a backwater in Scotland), but we rib him about it today. He was a Mod and used to get his suits hand made by a tailor, now he’s a scruffy old git ?

  12. February 10, 2021

    I took my first photos when I was about 12 years old, initially with a simple AGFA camera. I documented my trips to England from 1978 onwards with an EXAKTA SLR camera (made in GDR/DDR). Later I worked with a MINOLTA SLR camera — still analogue! Recently, I have finally switched to digital photography and am currently working with my CANON IXUS 950 IS .

    My experience is similar to that of Lew Tassell. It was a lengthy process to have to wait for the developed photos. But it was also exciting because of that!

    Love & Peace

  13. Ann V permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Thank you for the memory. What a magical combination – London and the 60s. Ravel shoes were beautiful – I too would like to know what happened to them. I saw Doctor Zhivago at the Empire Leicester Square on my 18th birthday and cried all the way home. More from Lew Tassell please.

  14. Mark permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Important pics from the greatest decade this country has ever known.

  15. Jenny permalink
    February 10, 2021

    These are great!

  16. February 10, 2021

    Since we’re trawling old memories and phrases……….”Lew Tassell, you’re the ginchiest!”.
    Always the movie maven, my mind replayed “Blow Up” this morning; ignited by these
    fantastic descriptive photos. After all — In America we could only IMAGINE what it would be like to stroll those swingin’ LONDON streets, and try on racks of Mary Quant clothing, and vamp about in granny glasses, big dangling plastic earrings, and carnival-striped hip-huggers. Could only dream. And, oh boy, the soundtrack. The Kinks, the Yard Birds, Zombies, etc, etc.

    So many Union Jacks! I lost count.

    Thank you, GA.

  17. Pauline Taylor permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Great photos of London in those exciting days of the 1960s, I remember them well although my regular day trips started in the late 1950s as an impecunious art student. Our shopping was done in C&A and meals were packed lunches eaten out of paper bags in a park or occasionally a cup of tea in Lyons Corner House or, as a treat, maybe a coffee in one of the the new Italian style coffee bars with a Danish pastry.

    The scooters were the means of transport for most boys then, one of my friends had a Lambretta and another (who became my husband) had a Vespa and both thought that theirs was far superior to the others’. After we were married my husband and I ventured through London on the Vespa on our way to a holiday in Cornwall in 1962 and I can still feel the excitement of being the passenger on the back and how close the London buses seemed to be, we had seen, when on holiday, how Italian girls sat side saddle on the back of scooters but I never had enough courage to try that !!

    Thank you GA and to Lew Tassell for bringing back more happy memories.

  18. Geoff Stocker permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Thanks Lew for the wonderful photos and happy memories. I was fifteen in 1966 and had just started as an apprentice in the jewellery trade based in Regent St so would spend my lunch hour in Carnaby St. l remember Galt Toys being there but most oddly among all the trendy clothes shops an old fashioned tobacconist. I would often wonder even at that age what I would be doing when I was seventy well l am off for my Covid jab this afternoon makes you think.

  19. Doris Drewett permalink
    February 10, 2021

    What a blast from the past! Amazing to see construction of Tower Block at Guy’s Hospital where I worked. 1966 was year I married and left for Canada. Last visit to London in 2017 and oh, how the landscape had changed. Thanks for the memories!

  20. paul loften permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Cherub mentions Laurence Corner .Now I have to say that was a place that I knew and loved . It was situated on the corner of Drummond Street and Hampstead Road. Personally I was not one to wear the military tunics and 60’s hippy gear. I loved the shop because it was an emporium of offbeat stuff that you could not get anywhere else in London. The owner had the idea of opening a scientific instrument shop just a bit further along Drummond Street, and they sold the most amazing stuff that you would find impossible to get anywhere else. Stainless steel surgical instruments, test tubes, ex army surplus equipment, electronic parts . It was full the brim with strange things . You could browse through it all Saturday afternoon I still have some weird tools that I use that came from Laurence Corner. It is the one shop in London that I really do miss.

  21. February 10, 2021

    I am an American who has never been to Great Britain-yet- and I absolutely love this!!

  22. Bernie permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Yes, London as I recall it around the time I moved away. But sadly, I now find that beneath the glitter it looks mostly rather seedy and dishevelled. Is it any better today? I doubt it!

  23. Barbara Rose permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Such lovely photographs bringing back many happy memories. I was 14 in 1966 and can still remember the vibrant atmosphere that Carnaby Street had. When I tell people that there was traffic in Carnaby Street, they look at me perhaps with some disbelief! Well done Lew Tassell!

  24. Johnny Campbell permalink
    February 10, 2021

    Important pics- particularly the Carnaby st shops. Great stuff!

  25. February 10, 2021

    Fab photos and my era, so took me straight back; even the sentiments about the cost of film.
    I went on an Easter school trip to Paris in 1964 when I was a 5th former. My father lent me his Brownie 127 camera, but as I could only afford one film, I had to make every one of those 8 frames count; one of the Eiffel Tower, one of Sacre Coeur etc… My dad was so impressed with my results, that he let me keep the camera. I now have an all singing, all dancing digital wide-angle zoom lens, but my little Brownie 127 is still with me, kept safe in a drawer!

  26. February 10, 2021

    These photos give a great sense of swinging London from the perspective of a 15 year old lad.

    The photo of the hospital under construction is amazing. On a phone, it looked at first like a cloud behind the other buildings but as I enlarged it, with my finger and thumb, the iron girders were revealed.

    I hadn’t realised Canadian Pacific had a London office – or is it just an ad! Either way, I am now humming this delightfully kitsh 60s tune:

  27. Ros permalink
    February 10, 2021

    These are wonderful and interesting for several different reasons, both the quality in the use of black and white – I think the top photo is beautiful and dramatic and the use of the angle it’s taken from is terrific. The two men sitting on a bench near the Tower of London taken through railings is also beautifully graded, as is the one above it. Then there are all the details that form such a lively historical record, like the ones of Carnaby and surrounding streets. You can enter them and re-live that life! You’ve featured Lew several times before and I hope he has more to reveal and you’ll do so again.

  28. Robert Murdoch permalink
    February 11, 2021

    Great, and very atmospheric, pictures that capture the time so well!! I remember Carnaby Street that way – I used to spend the Easter holidays between 1967 and 1970 with my Aunt (she lived in Willesden) and spent a lot of time exploring. Carnaby Street was a favourite as was the Apple shop on Baker Street. Well done.

  29. Chris Butler permalink
    February 11, 2021

    Fabulous thanks for sharing

  30. Sandra Johnstone permalink
    May 27, 2021

    Great pics. I was a Mod in swinging 60s. Saw all the great bands of the day from Beatles, Blues, Tamla to Stones. Worked at music publishers, met many stars. Carnaby Street has been stripped to just another boring collection of shops now, all atmosphere of the sixties is gone, plus the Kings Road full of mini skirts!
    In 1983 I got my dream job, working for HandMade Films, George Harrison’s film company, a lovely man who died too young… in fact I was living in New York when John Lennon was assassinated…another sad time. Youngsters today will never realise how great our music and fashion was all over the world. Great times. Today just boring in comparison.

  31. October 2, 2021

    Relishing the memories brought back and loving your photographs. I lost all my pictures in a move from Maida Vale to Chalk Farm which at the time didn’t seem to be the tragedy it does today, so yours are doubly welcome. I have recollections of a Lawrence Corner somewhere around Leicester Square. Correct? I remember spending hours in there. Leicester Square was a favourite place of mine in the 50’s (before the swinging sixties) when it was all about trad. jazz, Denmark Street and Foyles, lunch at the Greek Cafe off Charing Cross Road run by Uncle Sol and then a Matinee at the cinema before jazz-clubbing that night (no alcohol allowed then).

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