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Ward Lock's City of London 1929

A 95 year old illustrated guide book shows many recognisable views.

Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs

Ward, Lock & Co began publishing a series of illustrated guide books on London and other parts of the British Isles in the late 19th century. Known as Ward Lock Red Guides, updated editions were regularly produced until the later decades of the 20th century.


The firm was founded in 1854 by Ebenezer Ward and George Lock in Fleet Street. Its later locations included the nearby Amen Corner and Salisbury Square. It published a wide range of titles, both fiction and non-fiction, by writers including Mrs Beeton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Wallace. It was eventually taken over by Cassell Publishing in 1989.

 

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The photos in this blog past are from Ward Lock's 48th edition (revised) of its London guide book. Published in 1929, its distinctive burgundy coloured cloth cover displays the City of London coat of arms and the retail price of two shillings and sixpence (around £10 in 2024 values).

Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Ward Lock Red Guide to London 1929

For this post, I have selected the book's photos of locations in the City of London, including one or two that are just outside its borders but have strong City associations.

The pictures are broadly in order from west to east, starting with two views looking towards the City from Westminster. The first looks east along Victoria Embankment from Waterloo Bridge, while the second shows Wren's St Clement Danes in the foreground and the City beyond it.


Most of the locations in these photos - including Middle Temple Hall, Temple Church, the Old Bailey, St Bartholomew the Great, St Paul's Cathedral, the old City wall at St Alphege, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge - are little changed since 1929.



However, 95 years on, some scenes shown in the Red Guide have changed.


In 1929, Wren's Temple Bar was photographed in Theobolds Park near Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, where it had been taken after its 1878 removal from Fleet Street (see here for a post on Temple Bar Memorial). It was moved to its current location in the City between Paternoster Square and St Paul's in 2004 (which explains the order in which I have included it below).


Views of the Thames have changed significantly since 1929, as the river has long ceased to be the artery of commercial shipping that it once was and the docks have disappeared from the vicinity of the City.


Cheapside, the City's high street, no longer hums with people and buses as it did in 1929. It has also lost most of its pre-20th century buildings (Wren's St Mary le Bow church is the notable exception).


Guildhall Yard still has its 15th century Great Hall, with its 18th century porch, but the Yard has gained considerably greater width since World War II.


Today's Bank junction looks similar to the 1929 view, but the Bank of England was rebuilt just after the photo presented below. Moreover, the view behind the Royal Exchange now includes looming skyscrapers of glass and steel in the so-called Eastern Cluster (see here for recent views of Bank junction).


The 1929 photo of London Bridge was the 1931 version, but that bridge was sold in 1968 (and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, Arizona) to be replaced by today's wider version. The view of the City that Ward Lock illustrated to the north east of London Bridge is now dominated by Eastern Cluster skyscrapers.


Two interior views of grand commercial buildings in 1929 are included below.


The old Baltic Exchange depicted in the Ward Lock guide no longer stands, but in its current home hangs a painting of the old trading hall that looks very similar to the photo (see St Mary Axe: what's in a (street) name?).


Lloyds of London also no longer occupies its 1929 premises, but the Lutine Bell shown in the guide book hangs in the underwriting room of today's building, designed by Richard Rogers in 1986.


These 1929 photographs show that there is more continuity today than I might have thought, although many historic buildings have disappeared and many newer ones have arisen. When comparing buildings and views that largely remain, perhaps the most striking difference from 95 years ago is how much cleaner the City looks today.

Victoria Embankment, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
St Clement Danes, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Middle Temple Hall, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Temple Church, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Old Bailey, Central Criminal Court, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
St Bartholomew the Great, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Temple Bar, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
St Paul's Cathedral, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
St Paul's Cathedral, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
St Paul's Cathedral, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
St Paul's Cathedral, Thames, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Cheapside, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Guildhall, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
old City Wall at St Alphege, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
London Bridge, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Baltic Exchange, Lloyd's Lutine bell, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Pool of London, Tower Bridge, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
Tower Bridge, Ward Lock & Co, London Illustrated Guide Book 48th edition revised 1929, City of London photographs
 

Walks available for booking

For a schedule of forthcoming London On The Ground guided walks, please click here.

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