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Lew Tassell’s Day Trip

February 21, 2024
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

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Claire D permalink
    February 21, 2024

    Some great photographs there, but that first one of Old London Bridge is truly a work of art – tremendous for a boy of fifteen. I’d buy a print of that if I could.

  2. Amanda permalink
    February 21, 2024

    Fabulous pictures. I couldn’t afford anything in Carnaby Street either, but it was great to be there!

  3. John Venes permalink
    February 21, 2024

    Great photos by Lew. I can appreciate them as I worked in Old Compton street as an office dogsbody in 1968 to 1969 after leaving school and before getting a proper job.
    The tube journey from Bethnal Green to Tottenham Court road took just a few minutes but it was a different world. Lively and exciting with lots of characters.
    I worked for a publisher and used to deliver and collect items from film companies and others. Quite an eye opener wandering around those streets!

    Ps I also remember going with my dad to the Tower on Sunday afternoons and playing on the cannons.

  4. Mark permalink
    February 21, 2024

    Good work putting up G.A.
    Excellent pics from Lew with the swinging sixties underway, everybody listening to The Who, Beatles and Stones. What a time to be a young ‘un.
    I stood on that same Lion in Winter 1990. Still got the photo Visited a very quiet and unfashionable Carnaby street in Aug 1979 on my way to see The Who, Stranglers, etc at Wembley Stadium.
    Got me Mini nicked at the multi storey. What larks!
    Great pics again. Ta.

  5. Gilbert O’Brien permalink
    February 21, 2024

    Lew Tassell’s photos always capture something essential of London. They are always evocative, and there is something very honest in them. They never fail to move me. I look forward to the 16 year old’s photos. I hope.

  6. Pauline Taylor permalink
    February 21, 2024

    Thank you, these are so good and it is London as I remember it. I liked it better then and vividly remember going through the centre on the back of a scooter !

  7. Cherub permalink
    February 21, 2024

    I wonder if the Champagne Temps were paid lemonade money 🙂

  8. February 21, 2024

    The City of London, as you get to know it enthusiastically as a tourist on your first visit. It was no different for me. And you never forget it!

    Not only a Rolls Royce, but also another rarity can be seen in the photos: a VW Transporter T1, which was first built when I was born! Very expensive these days and especially popular with the English! (But WE love the Landrover Defender more than anything!)

    Love & Peace

  9. February 21, 2024

    Wonderful! So many flashes of recognition here, even for someone on “this” side of the pond.
    I totally resonated to the memory of waiting eagerly for film to be developed. Somehow that seems like a lifetime ago. (guess it was………) And as a 60s-era art/fashion student, the mention of Carnaby Street set off a series of color-soaked psychedelic memories. (I really need to screen
    “Blow up” again!? ) Nope, fashionable boutiques were not in my budget — but that did not stop me from buying some yellow/red/black paisley print fabric and making my own bell bottoms. Poor boy sweaters. Black pseudo-alligator vinyl raincoat with a hood. (one of our gang found these for five bucks at a discount store and we ALL wore them) Plastic earrings, all a-dangle.

    Loved seeing the Union Jack ablaze everywhere — even in black and white it
    is such a beautiful iconic image. Long may it wave.

    Many thanks, GA. “Talkin’ ’bout my gen-er-a-tion………..”.

  10. February 21, 2024

    I loved these photographs – thank you Lew and the GA. My earliest memories are of being taken “up West” to the January sales with Mum. Later on, I ventured on my own as a teenager in the 1970s, also via Charing Cross, once my family had moved to Kent. Sadly, I didn’t take any photographs.
    I remember Carnaby Street as the place for flowing, Indian cotton dresses in floral, wood-block prints. A visit to Oxford Street was incomplete without spending at least an hour in TopShop. The opening of the an early central London branch of McDonald’s was an exciting event but culminated in a burnt mouth from an unexpectedly white-hot apple pie!
    I was told to avoid Piccadilly Circus as a bad place to hang about – especially around the Eros statue. I never pursued why but wondered why Lilywhites was located in such a reportedly dreadful area!
    Happy, carefree days!

  11. Lorraine Whebell permalink
    February 23, 2024

    Wonderful evocative photos 📸

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