Snapshots of Southwark’s past

Katherine Johnston (24 April, 2018)

Genealogy site catalogues over 40,000 prints and photos of London life

More than 40,000 prints and photographs cataloguing 300 years of London life have been newly digitalised by genealogy website,, including snapshots of Southwark’s past.

The collection of images from 1704-1989 include landmarks through the ages, like Tower Bridge, and portraits of the people who lived and worked across Bermondsey and beyond, with captions telling the real-life stories behind the pictures.

The collection, amassed by Getty Images, is now available for people tracing their family tree to research online.


The archive includes a rare photograph of Southwark’s Duke Street from 1851, categorised under ‘Misery and Poverty’, Southwark’s London Fire Brigade in 1936, and air raid shelter canteen serving up food for up to 8,000, on February 27, 1941.

Other scenes captured include sunbathers at Holborn Oasis in 1955, Downing Street before stricter security kept the crowds at bay, The Mall on the eve of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, and a rather impressive lunch with a view.

Ancestry spokesperson Russell James said: “These black and white prints and photos are a journey through London’s history and beyond, capturing the daily routines and moments of celebration experienced by millions of the capital’s residents.

“This sizeable collection is a historical reminder of an ever-changing world, as seen through the lens of photographers working for the most famous name in the field. Scenes of royalty, politicians, Beefeaters and Londoners, at work and relaxing, are just as invaluable as written records for understanding our ancestors and London’s transformation.”

Visit for more details.


A print of Southwark, from 1851, categorised under “misery and poverty”


An air-raid canteen during WW2, photographed on February 27, 1941, which fed up to 8,000 people



A gas test by Southwark fire service, May 25, 1936


City workers lunch overlooking Tower Bridge


Sunbathers at Holborn Oasis


Downing Street, before stricter security




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.