Tuesday, 12 August 2014

From Southampton to the four Corners of the World in 1963

Southampton Docks in May 1963. Liners still cover the globe with regular Transatlantic cossings by Cunard, Union Castle liners sailing to South Africa and the Orient Steam Navigation Company to Australia. The latter two lines are seen here. The huge bulk of the 1959 built SS Oriana looms in the foreground with an unidentified Union Castle ship with its lilac coloured hull sits ahead. The funnels of what may be the Queen Elizabeth can be seen in the distance.

Union Castle Line would soldier on until 1977 on the South African run, the Australian route of the Orient Steam Navigation Co. having ceased in 1974. Cunard had stopped regular Transatlantic crossings in the late 1960s with the withdrawal in 1967 of the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth in 1968. The QE2 would still make the crossing, but the regular weekly sailings would be a thing of the past. Air travel making the travel across the globe quicker, although not nearly as comfortable.

All this was a few years away but with the demise of long distance travel by ship purely for travel needs, the ships were converted for cruising as the shipping lines still had to make their ships pay their way (and ships are very expensive things to run). Cruising is now the main reason for travel by sea now, although for those that cannot travel by air, Cunard still does run a liner from Southampton to New York on a semi-regular basis, the Queen Mary 2 is the last liner built for North Atlantic conditions - and I can testify it is really the ONLY way to cross the Atlantic.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Vintage London The Capital in Colour 1910-1960

The past is almost always seen in black and white. It is not always appreciated that colour photography has existed for more than a century. Various factors have conspired together to ensure that the public perception of colour photography is that it is a relatively recent invention, certainly within the last half century or so. 

Over the past twenty years I have been collecting original colour transparencies and my latest book, Vintage London: The Capital in Colour1910-60, draws on that source to illustrate, in mostly unpublished images, London from before World War One through to the end of the 1950s. A London that has vanished into that country where they did things differently – the past.

The most recent images in the book were taken almost 55 years ago and the oldest way beyond living memory.

The 1920s and earlier have been an era that has almost never been captured in colour. A few images are known but a large collection of Autochromes came to the market last year and I was fortunate enough to obtain them. Amongst which were a number of colour images of London taken in 1928, a few of which are included in the book. These show a city that the Victorians would have known.

As far as I am aware this is the first book to illustrate London in the half century from 1910 to 1960 in colour, a city seen through the eyes of photographers who put colour film into their cameras when it was tremendously expensive to do so and who had the foresight to allow us a glimpse into the past that our fathers, grandfathers and in some very rare cases great grandfathers knew.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

New York - The Wonder City!

New York on the verge of World War 2. 5th Avenue positively heaves with traffic in this view from 1940.  Taken from the steps of the New York Public Library, the third largest public library in the World behind the Library of Congress  and largest, the British Library.

The bus in the foreground from the Fifth Avenue Coach Company extolls visitors to "See New York - The Wonder City". Three of the companies' vehicles are in view with the next vehicle (possibly a 1931 model, as the company built their own coaches as well as running the routes) on route 2 from Washington Heights to Madison Square. The company went through various sales of parts of the business from 1954 and following a labour and financial troubles the company itself was absorbed into the cities transport system in 1962.

The three banks mentioned on the poster, The Union Dime, the Emigrant Industrial and the Bowery savings banks had various chequered historys. The Union Dime being taken over in the late 1970s, the Bowery is now part of Capital One and the Emigrant Industrial is now the pargest privately owned bank in the USA.

If you look closely at the building in the middle of the picture you can see a branch of the  Gypsy Tea Kettle resturant chain (air-cooled, definitely required in the heat of a New York summer), where you could get your fortune told. This branch opened in 1931. After you had drunk your tea the tea leaves would be read. The chain finally closed around the turn of the millenium.

New York in the Summer of 1940. With just over a year to go before World War 2 this would be the penultimate summer of peace.