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Some People Of Wonderful London

April 21, 2024
by the gentle author

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It is my pleasure to publish these dignified and characterful portraits of Londoners, believed to be by photographer Donald McLeish (1879-1950), selected from the three volumes of Wonderful London edited by St John Adcock and produced by The Fleetway House in the nineteen-twenties.

Telescope Man on Westminster Bridge

Old woman who inhabited the alleys off Fleet St

Breton Onion Seller

Costermonger and child

Cats’ Meat Man

Knife Grinder


Islington Window Cleaner

Flower Seller

Concertina Player

Hurdy-Gurdy Man

Gramophone Man


Wandering Harpist

Street Sweeper


District Messenger

Telephone Messenger

Railway Fireman

Railway Engine Driver


Railway Porter

Gold Beaters

Gas Fitters

Chimney Sweep

Telephone Cable Man

Photographs courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You might also like to take a look at

John Thomson’s Street Life in London

London Characters

William Nicholson’s London Types

Julius Mendes Price’s London Types

Geoffrey Fetcher’s Pavement Pounders

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Andy permalink
    April 21, 2024

    I think these photos emphasise the contrast between the rich and the poor . Still present today and sadly like in Dickens times the rate of children going into care especially up North (one child in 42. Source The Guardian about a week ago ) .

  2. April 21, 2024

    Great portraits.

  3. Mark permalink
    April 21, 2024

    Yes, they’re lovely, some tinged with a hint of sadness, everything you want from a tip-top photographer.

  4. April 21, 2024

    Dare I say, I think I have encountered ALL of these “types” in vintage Hollywood films. It is almost as if the Casting Director had this sheaf of photos in a drawer, and would command “Bring me a Chimney Sweep who looks like THIS!”. And the flower seller with her voluminous challis
    scarf, and indomitable grin. (Wardrobe department take note………) And the telescope man, etc. Messengers, looking hard-working but mischievous.

    We see all of these archetypes in late-night movies, forgetting that these real-life citizens of London performed difficult, challenging work; weaving the fabric of a great City.
    “Wonderful” people, wonderful photos. Impossible to have a favorite.

    Thank you, GA.

  5. Mark B permalink
    April 22, 2024

    Fantastic! amazing photographs.

    So nice to be able to step back in time through the eyes of a master photographer.

    Thanks so much for posting them.

    Mark B.

    Ps…. the Telephone wire man was a brave man!

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