Black and White Photos, 80’s London

Sorting through a big box of old photos, I stumbled across some forgotten black and white photos.

Growing up in the London suburbs and in my early teens I discovered that a short train ride away was a completely different life; the West End of London.  I’d catch a train and spend the day wandering the streets of Covent Garden and Soho, browsing shops, looking at buildings, people watching.

I had a little camera which took proper rolls of film and I brought some black and white film.  I’m not sure why but I took a photos of shops. I’m sharing of some of those photos, over the last few days I’ve been searching these same streets via Google Street view and matching up the places.

These first two are Neal Street, in Covent Garden.  It used to be a collection of old cafes and independent stores, very much a back street.  It’s still a bit ‘different’ but the stores are chains or global concerns. The Coppershop is now the Crocs store.

The Monmouth Coffee house still exists but I can’t imagine you’d leave your bike just propped outside.

I love this one, it’s now the Seven Dials Hotel on Monmouth Street, the shop front is still there, repainted and renamed.

I’m not sure Zwemmer’s exists on this site, but I love the guy in the photo as he is very ‘of the time’.

This is Brewer Street in Soho, it used to be a bit of a dive. Essentially, this is still there in ‘look’ but it’s not longer a delicatessen it’s now a cafe.

This is my favourite, it’s the Bead Shop now, I guess an independent record shop didn’t stand much chance of survival.

A reminder of my youth, I love my collection of black and white photos. Not that long ago, but a world away. Independent stores are almost a novelty now, in battle with huge chains. High Streets are more often a thoroughfare of chain stores, stores in a corporate mould, identical from town to town and I wonder how last week’s events will impact on the look of our shops in the future?


  1. Mum2babyinsomniac

    I love looking at photos of what towns used to look like, I haven’t been there so don’t know how it looks now but they will be great to keep for future generations. I have never thought of taking photos of shops and high streets but it is a good idea, although the place I live now is far from photogenic! 🙂 x

  2. mummymummymum

    Gemma, they are fantastic! I was on Monmouth Street last week and saw Monmouth Coffee House ( Hubby is always going on about how great it is ).

    How amazing that you can match the old photos to what is there now. 🙂

  3. Reluctant Housedad

    Brilliant. I know all of those streets – I’ve spent many a happy hour in Neal’s Yard Dairy. Great to look back at what they were before what they are. Great collection.

  4. chuckalicious

    Really like some of those. If it wasn’t for the no entry sign in the first one it could have been dated any number of years ago. Or the Hovis boy might cycle past 🙂

  5. TheBoyandMe

    What gorgeous photos, I love the way that they look like they were taken many decades ago but they can’t have been, can they? I mean, I remember shops like that and I’m only… ah, right, 34.

    Love seeing bricks in photos, the contrasting shades come out really well.

  6. NinaBnice

    I too used to spend weekends & hols wandering round Covent Garden in my teens. Took my own children there for the first time a couple of weeks ago. And boy did I notice the change! Lovely to see these pictures :o)

  7. fastandluce

    SOO many memories there!! We used to shop a lot at Randell and Aubin (the deli) and in fact it is STILL in the sa,e family – its just that they moved with the times and became a takeaway cafe!! There were so many brilliant quirky shops round there, shame it has become global brands and – last time I was there – looked so tatty! Thank you for posting these – brilliant!! X

  8. Funky Wellies

    Thank you for the trip down memory lane! :o) I love Covent Garden, but never got to see these streets like this. Really enjoyed it, and cannot decide which photo is my favourite.

  9. Jennypaulin @ mummy mishaps

    I like seeing old images of how towns used to be and even though I am not familiar with where they are , they are still so wonderful to look at and remember how shops used to look like x

  10. LauraCYMFT (@LauraCYMFT)

    Those are fab photos! I do love little independent shops. There is this fab little toy shop in the village I grew up in and it’s so much nicer than some of the big chain toy shops out there.

  11. Mcai7td3

    Wow, they really are good pics. I love seeing stuff like this. I even look out for the remains of adverts that used to be painted onto walls, you can still see a lot of them around.

  12. this is us

    Love these photos! They actually look older than I’m guessing they are. Would love the high street to still look like this, so much better than what we have now! Nat

  13. Another Goldfish

    Even before I got to the end of your post I was thinking ‘Those are places I’d like to shop!’ It’s so sad that it’s the independent shops that have suffered from these huge multinational corporations. It takes all the enjoyment out of travelling when all the cities look the same.

    Thanks for taking us back in time!

  14. mumsarcade

    These are such wonderful photos and how clever of you to catch a time and place so effectively. Yours is a thoughtful post that made me think. Nowt wrong with that my dear

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