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London’s Natural History

June 1, 2021
by the gentle author

Contributing Photographer Lucinda Douglas Menzies kindly gave me a copy of LONDON’S NATURAL HISTORY by R S R Fitter published in 1945, in which I discovered this splendid gallery of colour plates by Eric Hosking and other distinguished photographers of the day.

Feeding the pelicans at St James’s Park (Eric Hosking)

Backyard pig farming (Eric Hosking)

Coldharbour Farm, Mottingham – the last farm in London (Eric Hosking)

Feeding the pigeons in front of St Paul’s Cathedral (Wolfgang Suschitzky)

The New River & North-East Reservoir at Stoke Newington (Eric Hosking)

The nearest rookery to London, at Lee Green SE12 (Eric Hosking)

Allotments on Barking Levels (Eric Hosking)

Sand martin colony in a disused sand pit near Barnet bypass (Eric Hosking)

The Upper Pool at sunset with London Bridge in the background (Eric Hosking)

River wall at the confluence of the Ingrebourne with the Thames at Rainham (Eric Hosking)

Cabbage attacked by caterpillars (P L Emery)

A magnolia in the grounds of Kenwood House (Eric Hosking)

The Thames at Hammersmith with mute swans (Eric Hosking)

Sheep grazing at Kenwood House (Eric Hosking)

Teddington Lock (Eric Hosking)

A plum orchard near Chelsfield, Kent (Eric Hosking)

A black-headed gull feeding in St James’s Park (Eric Hosking)

A bold red deer at Richmond Park (C E Maney)

South-African grey-headed sheld duck, pair of mallard and a coot in St James’s Park (Eric Hosking)

Mute swans nesting on the River Lea, Hertingford, Herts (Eric Hosking)

Crocuses at Hyde Park Corner (Eric Hosking)

Roses in Queen Mary’s Garden, Regent’s Park (Wolfgang Suschitzky)

Anglers on the River Lea near Broxbourne, Herts (Eric Hosking)

Almond blossom in a suburban front garden, Ruislip, Middlesex (Eric Hosking)

Pear Tree in Blossom, Crouch End (Eric Hosking)

Rosebay willow herb and Canadian fleabane in a ruined City church (Eric Hosking)

Coltsfoot on a blitzed site (Eric Hosking)

Berkeley Sq plane trees (L Dudley Stamp)

Cress beds at Fetcham, Surrey (Eric Hosking)

Glasshouses in the Lea Valley (Eric Hosking)

Hainault Forest, Essex, from Dog Kennel Hill. The whole of this area was ploughed up a century ago (Eric Hosking)

You may also like to take a look at

The Last Bomb Site in the City of London

17 Responses leave one →
  1. June 1, 2021

    Thank you for doing this every day … your posts are one of the last things I look at before going to bed, and they geneerally give me great pleasure. I do get mad at tree felling and factory demolition, but even here you were able to rally the troops to divert disaster. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. And thank you.

  2. Greg T permalink
    June 1, 2021

    I still have my father’s original copy. Bought on publication.
    Like all the “New Naturalists” it’s very good & worth a read.

  3. June 1, 2021

    The colour photos of the 40s and 50s already had a very unique charm in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE of that time. These wonderful pictures from London confirm this.

    Love & Peace

  4. June 1, 2021

    lovely…interesting how their time is clear even without the usual clues of dress/traffic/advertising etc

  5. Christa Freestone permalink
    June 1, 2021

    Thank you for the atmospheric photos. I particularly love the painterly images by Eric Hoskins.
    C x

  6. Mary permalink
    June 1, 2021

    How lovely to see these images of post-war London that concentrates on the natural world rather than the the destruction and misery of the preceeding war years.
    Eric Hosking was the “father” of bird photography in the UK and is particularly remembered for his images of owls.
    Thank you GA for a perfect blog on a beautiful summer day.

  7. Kelly Holman permalink
    June 1, 2021

    What a wonderful collection. I particularly appreciated the work of Eric Hosking, loving how his picture of caterpillar ravaged cabbages somehow seemed just as exotic as the pelicans. His Thames pictures put me in mind of Turner. What a talented man. It led me on to read more of his extraordinary life and career. Thank you.

  8. Pauline Taylor permalink
    June 1, 2021

    Lovely photos and much to remind me of my family and the River Lea. One of my earliest memories of London is all the rose bay willow herb on the bomb sites.

  9. June 1, 2021

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, what beautiful, serene photos in LONDON’S NATURAL HISTORY. Such a variety, and they look like paintings.

  10. Georgina Briody permalink
    June 1, 2021

    Great pictures especially as I’m aware of some of these areas. To see Coldharbour Farm which is now a huge housing estate, the trams at Lee Green and my husband’s village where he was born, Chelsfield. Wonderful reminiscences.

  11. Sue Rarus permalink
    June 1, 2021

    These look like paintings! The faded color, fuzzy edges – some of the river scenes reminded me of impressionists! Lovely. thanks for all the interesting things this blog shares!!

  12. paul loften permalink
    June 1, 2021

    What a pleasure to see these photos that also capture a sense of being amongst the surrounding scenes. I look at the road in Ruislip with the drives unspoiled by front car parking and could picture myself happily walking down the street. I am familiar with many of the places shown . One thing I miss are the free summer concerts that they would have at Kenwood on a Saturday evening . It doesn’t get any better than that. Yes it was not that long ago but they were once free . Go tell that to your grandchildren !

  13. June 1, 2021

    What a great find – wonderful images.

  14. Susan Vaughan permalink
    June 2, 2021

    Nostalgia at its best.

  15. marilyn middleton permalink
    June 17, 2021

    after seeing these lovely pics i got a copy on ebay of this book certainly lives up to my expectations i woul d not have known about the book had i not seen your spitalfields life i look every day to see new things and wallow in times now gone but never forgotten thank you all

  16. July 3, 2021

    My father was an engineer at a Rubber factory in Barking back in the 1950s. I wonder whether the factory chimneys shown in the far distance of the Barking allotments picture was where he worked?

  17. Jane permalink
    March 19, 2022

    such glorious photographs, so much beauty

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