The Vault

Spooky, Beautiful 1930s Photos of London Streets at Night

With his collaborator John Morrison, Harold Burdekin photographed the streets of the city of London in the dark for his book London Night, published in 1934. In a time before stricter air pollution controls, the pair chose foggy nights to make their images, giving the light in the photos a sense of weighty presence. 

The book was printed a year after the much more famous photographer Brassaï published his influential project Paris de nuit (Paris at Night). Unlike Brassaï and the British photographer Bill Brandt, who published a book of nighttime photos of London in 1938, Burdekin and Morrison chose to record only scenes with no people in them. The resulting images are forebodingly empty. 

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Burdekin was killed, along with his wife, when a flying bomb fell on the town of Reigate, in July 1944. 

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I first saw these photos on the blog Spitalsfield Life, where the blogger has reproduced the images in their original blue tint. 

“St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, City.” 

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

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“Regent Street, Piccadilly.” 

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

“Riverside, East End.” 

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

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“Black Raven Alley.” 

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

“George Street, Strand.” 

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

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“Leicester Square, Piccadilly.” 

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

“Red Lion Passage, Chancery Lane.”

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

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“Riverside, East End.” 

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

“Temple Gardens, City.”

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

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“St. Botoloph’s Church, City.”

Courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute

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