This blog dips into London’s guidebooks from the twentieth century, extracting the most surprising, amusing or revealing entries that tell us just how much the capital has changed in less than a lifetime.

Did the Londoners of last century really go there, drink here, eat that, do this, watch them and wear THOSE? It appears they did.

Most of the selections are from a 1954 copy of ‘London Night And Day’, although I have a 1972 ‘Time Out Book of London’ waiting to be studied for snippets of well-I-neverness. 

What got me interested in all this then-and-now stuff was coming across a copy of ‘Len Deighton’s London Dossier’, a guidebook compiled by the famous spywriter in 1966. My homage/review/critique of the book is hosted by The Londonist, and you can read it here. You must promise to come back, though.


Short cuts:

City Chop Houses

Lunchtime Eating

Night-Club Time



All photos are mine unless stated otherwise. (I might have used a couple of Google Street View screengrabs, but that’s only because I realised when I got home that I’d taken a picture of the wrong building.) Illustrations are by Osbert Lancaster, the then Daily Express cartoonist.