Lost London, 1870-1945 Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 Sep 2009
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This endlessly absorbing book that is at once a record of destruction, a haunting collection of relics and a door into the past. --John Carey - The Sunday Times
An extraordinary and sometimes upsetting record of the capital s architectural richness. Stuffed with beautiful images ... this satisfyingly heavy book depicts a grimy, muddy city with spots of aristocratic grandeur, a city on the verge of transformation. --Edwin Heathcote - Financial Times
An extraordinary and sometimes upsetting record of the capital s architectural richness. --Philippa Stockley - Sunday Telegraph
About the Author
Philip Davies is English Heritage s Planning and Development Director for London and South-East England.
Top customer reviews
Highly recommended for anyone interested in history, photography or London. a great coffee table gift that will be much admired.
Modest though some of the lost buildings clearly were, they represented a link to a historical past that has now entirely disappeared in some areas. Their human scale guaranteed them no protection whatsoever in the days before planning controls, but larger public buildings were also swept away with an insouciance almost unthinkable today.
This is a superb book, filled with beautifully reproduced black and white photographs of a capital city that looks hauntingly familiar, but that most of us have never seen. Endlessly informative and fascinating both visually and textually, it offers a profoundly moving evocation of a lost age. Many of the photographs were taken as a last record of buildings already condemned to die. Others are in traffic-free streets bustling with humanity. While wondering pensively about the fate of these people who stare with curiosity into the camera, Philip Davies also mourns our modern inability to plan cities with the innate sense of order, elegance and farsightedness that our forebears brought to even the humblest corners of our once beautiful capital. This book stands as a testament to their skills.
A few examples that give an idea of the type of image here: Paternoster Row,north of St Paul's churchyard, photographed in 1908, entirely destroyed by bombing on 29 December 1940 ; The Oxford Arms,one of the most famous coaching inns in London ; Pre Great-Fire houses that survived into the 20th century, only to vanish due to bombing, road-widening, or what we call progress ; Ghostly faces of people (and even their pets) that have been dead for a century or more, peer out of windows. All amazing in their variety and their unpretentious recording of what a particular street looked like on a particular day. Some of the places are unrecognisable today, for example the Westminster Hospital (1910) site in Broad Sanctuary is where the modern steel, glass & concrete Queen Elizabeth II conference centre now stands. Some places are almost totally unchanged, like the brick shopfronts and doorways in Wardour street, Soho. Some are still famous landmarks. The Old Curiosity Shop, for example.
My title above refers to Dickensian London, and is not accurate, as Dickens died the year this history begins, but I really pick up an atmosphere here similar to that seen in the David Lean version of Great Expectations. Except this here was all real, no film set. This wonderful book is evocative, and such an important record of the past.
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Most recent customer reviews
Would recommend to anyone interested in social history
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