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Vanishing London

February 22, 2021
by the gentle author

Four Swans, Bishopsgate, photographed by William Strudwick & demolished 1873

In 1906, F G Hilton Price, Vice President of the London Topographical Society opened his speech to the members at the annual meeting with these words – ‘We are all familiar with the hackneyed expression ‘Vanishing London’ but it is nevertheless an appropriate one for – as a matter of fact – there is very little remaining in the City which might be called old London … During the last sixty years or more there have been enormous changes, the topography has been altered to a considerable extent, and London has been practically rebuilt.’

These photographs are selected from volumes of the Society’s ‘London Topographic Record,’ published between 1900 and 1939, which adopted the melancholy duty of recording notable old buildings as they were demolished in the capital. Yet even this lamentable catalogue of loss exists in blithe innocence of the London Blitz that was to come.

Bell Yard, Fleet St, photographed by William Strudwick

Pope’s House, Plough Court, Lombard St, photographed by William Strudwick

Lambeth High St photographed by William Strudwick

Peter’s Lane, Smithfield, photographed by William Strudwick

Millbank Suspension Bridge & Wharves, August 1906, photographed by Walter L Spiers

54 & 55 Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the archway leading into Sardinia St, demolished 1912, photographed by Walter L Spiers

Sardinian Chapel, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, August 1906, demolished 1908, photographed by Walter L Spiers

Archway leading into Great Scotland Yard and 1 Whitehall, September 1903, photographed by Walter L Spiers

New Inn, Strand,  June 1889, photographed by Ernest G Spiers

Nevill’s Court’s, Fetter Lane, March 1910, demolished 1911, photographed by Walter L Spiers

14 & 15 Nevill’s Court, Fetter Lane, demolished 1911

The Old Dick Whittington, Cloth Fair, April 1898, photographed by Walter L Spiers

Bartholomew Close, August 1904, photographed by Walter L Spiers

Williamson’s Hotel, New Court, City of London

Raquet Court, Fleet St

Collingwood St, Blackfriars Rd

Old Houses, North side of the Strand

Courtyard of 32 Botolph Lane, April 1905, demolished 1906, photographed by Walter L Spiers

32 Botolph Lane, April 1905, demolished 1906, photographed by Walter L Spiers

Bird in Hand, Long Acre

Houses in Millbank St, September 1903, photographed by Walter L Spiers

Door to Cardinal Wolsey’s Wine Cellar, Board of Trade Offices, 7 Whitehall Gardens

Old Smithy, Bell St, Edgware Rd, demolished by Baker St & Edgware Railway

Architectural Museum, Cannon Row, Westminster

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Insitute

You may also like to look at

London’s Ancient Topography

Long Forgotten London

The Ghosts of Old London

A Room To Let in Old Aldgate

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Teresa Chatterton permalink
    February 22, 2021

    Thank you for your ever-fascinating posts and your wonderful writing which I look forward to every day. I wonder if you know – or anyone else knows – the date that Howard Buildings in Deal Street was demolished? I can find much interesting information about its construction and use, also pictures and see that it was ‘Listed’ in 1973 but can find nothing about its removal. My husband has an ancestor (a tailor) who lived there in the 1890s and visited the street to find the area partly redeveloped although old cottages remain. We would be glad to hear if anyone knows about what happened to Howard Buildings.

  2. Cherub permalink
    February 22, 2021

    Such a shame these buildings are gone. Collingwood Street looks like part of a pretty rural village.

  3. DAVID WHITTAKER permalink
    February 22, 2021

    WONDERFUL. Thank You.

  4. Bernie permalink
    February 22, 2021

    Interesting, as ever, to see what went before and to realise how, as a youngster, one gave little or no thought to it.

    As a student, in 1952, I used to walk down Fetter Lane on my way to Birkbeck College. While one could not avoid acknowledging bomb damage I do not recall ever thinking about the long history of former constructions there, and the same is true more generally: we live in the times we inhabit.

  5. Boudica Redd permalink
    February 22, 2021

    Great pics and story even thou these great buildings have sadly gone from ye streets of older lunden you will always have a record of once was and you’re wonderful story’s capitulate a by gone tyme

  6. paul loften permalink
    February 22, 2021

    A veritable treasure chest that you have unlocked for us. Thank you and the Bishopsgate Institute and not forgetting all the past members of the LT I for the work in preserving this other London which we would never know of otherwise.

  7. Ros permalink
    February 22, 2021

    These always repay looking at in depth and give an intense and wonderful flavour of what was lost in such a range of buildings, from grand to humble. I love the smithy portrayed in the penultimate picture, and would like to know whether it can definitely be identified as Bell Street NW1. The northward extension of the original Bakerloo Line (Baker Street to Waterloo) did go to Paddington via Marylebone and Edgware Road, and soon after to Queens Park where it linked up with the main line to Watford. But I don’t think the line ever went to Edgware or that there was ever a Baker St to Edgware line.

  8. Derek Bailey permalink
    February 22, 2021

    We lived at 41 Umberston St. in Stepney in the mid-late 1940’s and I well remember the shock when I visited there in summer 1966. The south half of the street, where we lived, had just vanished. So much for childhood memories…..

    (Colorado, USA now)

  9. February 22, 2021

    Thank you GA for sharing another fascinating peep at a London lost to us and without these great photos, some sights we wouldn’t have seen at all.

  10. March 16, 2021

    An amazing collection of so many beautiful and very interesting buildings. Saddened to see such history disappear.

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