Picturing Forgotten London

A great example of old London - a Georgian Terrace House

You only have to spend a day in the City of London to recognise the incredible transformation that the Capital is currently undergoing. Everywhere you look, skyscrapers dominate the skyline with literally hundreds more in the planning stages. Some of these buildings are good (the Gherkin) and some of them not so good (we’re far too polite to say which ones) but in the midst of all this change it is easy to lose sight of the beauty of old London.

Hoping to address this, a new exhibition at the London Metropolitan Archives will give visitors a glimpse of bygone London. The curators of Picturing Forgotten London use paintings, photographs and film to unearth parts of old London that have long since vanished. Bustling markets, lively theatres and gaudy gin palaces are among the many lost landmarks featured in the new exhibition.

Visitors to the archives will discover old London’s first Chinatown in Limehouse, long lost Caledonian Market, the Great Wheel of Earl’s Court as well as the ominous sounding ‘Devil’s Acre’ in Westminster.

The City of London Corporation’s Head of Digital Services Laurence Ward says: “The capital is evolving constantly but despite the ever-changing landscape and skyline, traces of a forgotten London remain. Some of them have been preserved deliberately and others have been left behind by accident, and they all provide a fascinating insight into the capital’s history.”

A case in point is the much mourned Euston Arch. A feature of the original Victorian station, the arch was demolished in the 1960s, despite strong opposition from preservation societies. Thankfully, the wrecking ball spared the two lodges flanking the monument and these two structures have continued to attract attention and praise. Indeed, the western lodge (now a public house) was recently voted best pub in Euston by the Londonist magazine.

In a modern age where our architectural heritage is much more highly prized, these two buildings are a telling reminder of a forgotten old London and of our lost architectural heritage.

Picturing Forgotten London opens at London Metropolitan Archives on May 21 and runs until October 31. Admission is free.

Picturing Forgotten London is on now at the London Metropolitan Archives. The exhibition will continue until the 31st October 2018. Admission is free.



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