UK

Historic Christmas Pictures Show 100 Years Of Yuletide In London

There have ALWAYS been crowds of Christmas shoppers.

23/12/2016 08:40 GMT

Fighting through the outer circle of hell that is Oxford Street to do your Christmas shopping. Pretending you’re good at ice-skating at Somerset House. Paying some exorbitant amount for a mulled wine at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

There’s no time quite like Christmas in the capital.

Look back at pictures from the past century and you’ll see some things are drastically different, while others still look rather familiar.

Fox Photos via Getty Images
Father Christmas handing out presents to evacuees from Peckham in 1940.

The Regent’s Street lights have been around for decades, the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is a regular fixture and Father Christmas always seems to pop up somewhere. 

But while Londoners have always flooded the shops at Christmas, you’ll notice the wares they are purchasing and the fashions they are sporting are rather different.

We’ve gone digging in the archives to find some intriguing images of the capital and its residents at Yuletide since 1900...

  • 1900
    Hulton Deutsch via Getty Images
    The 57 foot Christmas tree, annually donated to London by the people of Oslo is erected in Trafalgar square in 1900.
  • 1902
    Print Collector via Getty Images
    A Christmas dance at the German Gymnasium, London, circa 1902.
  • 1907
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    Street hawkers selling Christmas gifts on Ludgate Hill in 1907.
  • 1911
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    Piles of parcels at Euston Station, during the Christmas rush, ready to be loaded onto a train in 1911.
  • 1915
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    Children carrying holly and mistletoe on the streets of London in 1915.
  • 1917
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    Christmas preparations at the Eagle Hut, a YMCA centre for American servicemen in London, in 1917.
  • 1918
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    A party singing old English, French and German Carols, to collect money for charity, in the hall at the residence of Sir Edgar Speyer, Grosvenor Square, London, in 1918.
  • 1918
    J. J. Lambe via Getty Images
    The Eagle Hut begins to look more festive, thanks to the hard work of those putting up decorations, 1918.
  • 1918
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    Children watch a Punch and Judy puppet show at a children's Christmas party at the Savoy Hotel in 1918.
  • 1919
    Hulton Archive via Getty Images
    Turkeys hanging in butchers shop ready for sale at Christmas in 1919.
  • 1919
    Hulton Archive via Getty Images
    Christmas shopping crowds in Oxford Street in 1919.
  • 1922
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    A coster driving a donkey cart loaded with holly, Nine Elms, London, in 1922.
  • 1922
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    Christmas shoppers outside Gamage's department store in London in 1922. Signs in the window advertise the store's 'Christmas Bazaar', which offers 'Toys & Games', 'Xmas Cheer' and 'Parlour Fireworks'.
  • 1925
    Topical Press Agency via Getty Images
    A Christmas party at Queens Hospital, Bethnal Green, circa 1925.
  • 1926
    Adams via Getty Images
    The overflow of Christmas mails is dealt with at the Great Western Railway siding at Alfred Road, in 1926.
  • 1927
    General Photographic Agency via Getty Images
    An array of Christmas lights brightening department stores Bon Marche and Quin and Axtens on Brixton Road, in 1927.
  • 1928
    Planet News Archive via Getty Images
    Miss Agnes Nicks, the young London endurance swimmer, swam from Tottenham Bridge to London Bridge in the river on Boxing Day, 1928. Six other girls refused to enter the water because of the wintery conditions.
  • 1928
    Heritage Images via Getty Images
    The Christmas display at Swifts butchers, Smithfield Market, is well stocked in 1928. A nativity scene sculpted from lard stands in front of a Christmas greeting spelled out in offal.
  • 1929
    Planet News Archive via Getty Images
    The largest consignment of Christmas trees ever received before in London is unloaded at Fennings Wharf, London Bridge in 1929.
  • 1935
    Keystone via Getty Images
    American soldiers handing out presents to London children at a Christmas party in Paddington Town Hall in 1935.
  • 1936
    Fox Photos via Getty Images
    In London's West India Docks, boots are distributed at Christmas to poor children by the wife of the manager of the Docks in 1936.
  • 1938
    Gerry Cranham via Getty Images
    Children from the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society Home at Leytonstone, London, hauling in their Christmas tree in 1938.
  • 1938
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    Father Christmas gives presents to children at Selfridge's department store in 1938.
  • 1939
    Parker via Getty Images
    A child visiting Santa in Hoxton in 1939 is unhappy despite her new teddy bear.
  • 1940
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    War-time Londoners pose under the mistletoe for a joke in 1940.
  • 1940
    William Vanderson via Getty Images
    The occupants of a beautifully decorated London bomb shelter enjoying refreshments, after working day and night to give their refuge a Christmas atmosphere in 1940.
  • 1940
    Planet News Archive via Getty Images
    Air raid wardens play the part of Father Christmas for sick children in the wards of two local hospitals in 1940. Nearly 200 toys, including dolls made by Czech refugees, were distributed.
  • 1940
    Planet News Archive via Getty Images
    One of the Father Christmases brings gifts in to the children circa 1940.
  • 1940
    Planet News Archive via Getty Images
    Two hundred women who are training to be munitions workers at the Westminster and Beaufoy Technical Institutes had a good time as the guests of the Ministry of Labour which gave them a Christmas party in 1940.
  • 1941
    Planet News Archive via Getty Images
    Children pose with Father Christmas in 1941.
  • 1942
    AP
    American soldiers, with the assistance of US nurses, celebrate Christmas in the traditional manner by decorating a Christmas tree, with ping pong balls forming part of the ornament plan, in 1942. On the right is a giant Christmas card to the folks back home.
  • 1942
    Keystone via Getty Images
    Young winter sports enthusiasts tobogganing on Hampstead Heath in 1942.
  • 1944
    AP
    More than 200 children are guests of Canadian soldiers at a Christmas party in Acton in 1944. Above the youngsters are waited on by the soldiers. All the children either had been bombed out or had fathers who were prisoners of war.
  • 1949
    William Vanderson via Getty Images
    Two-year-old Jennifer Martin in tears during a visit to Santa at Harrods in 1949.
  • 1950
    Fox Photos via Getty Images
    Pupils of Argyle School, St Pancras, London, during a rehearsal of their Christmas operetta, 'The Pirouette Princess' in 1950.
  • 1953
    Kurt Hutton via Getty Images
    Children enjoying themselves at a Christmas lunch in Selfridges department store in 1953.
  • 1953
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is seen on a foggy London day in 1953.
  • 1955
    Fred Morley via Getty Images
    Children dancing round a Christmas tree in Kennington Park in 1955.
  • 1955
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    Christmas decorations in Regent Street, consisting mainly of snow crystal stars made of aluminium, give the effect of a snowstorm in 1955.
  • 1959
    Mirrorpix via Getty Images
    Regent Street packed with traffic as new Christmas chandeliers hanging from the middle of the street are turned on in 1959.
  • 1960
    Heritage Images via Getty Images
    Passengers at Waterloo Station in 1960.
  • 1960
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    The Regent Street lights in 1960.
  • 1960
    Mirrorpix via Getty Images
    Crowds milling around the market stalls in Petticoat Lane in the run up to Christmas 1960, trying to pick up a bargain.
  • 1961
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    Regent Street decorations in 1961.
  • 1962
    AP
    The scene in Farringdon Street in 1962, as light snow fell on the capital on Boxing Day, a day late for a white Christmas. 
  • 1966
    Mirrorpix via Getty Images
    Christmas shopping scenes in London's West End in 1966.
  • 1967
    PA Archive/PA Archive
    Fairy castles in the clouds is the theme of the year in 1967 for the Regent Street lights.
  • 1970
    Mirrorpix via Getty Images
    Father Christmas takes a quick cigarette break in 1970.
  • 1970
    Bettmann via Getty Images
    The city's West End shopping center begins to take on signs of the Christmas spirit with these festive lights just switched on in Oxford Street in 1970.
  • 1971
    Keystone-France via Getty Images
    And again in 1971.
  • 1973
    Fox Photos via Getty Images
    Customers at a London store do their Christmas shopping in semi-darkness during an electricity strike in 1973. Hurricane lamps provide a scant amount of illumination.
  • 1974
    Mirrorpix via Getty Images
    The moment of decision for 8-year-old Deborah Brown from Averley, Essex, as she shops for a Christmas present for her mum. With her money she stops at a trinket stall in London's Petticoat Lane in 1974.
  • 1976
    Barry Lewis via Getty Images
    A classic Christmas traffic jam on Oxford Street in 1976.
  • 1978
    Mirrorpix via Getty Images
    Police keep an eye on Harrods as the last minute shoppers buy their Christmas presents in 1978.
  • 1983
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Soup and bread is the fare on the menu in Vauxhall for the homeless going into a warehouse where they will be given food and shelter for five days over the Christmas holiday in 1983. Their hosts are 400 young volunteers of the Crisis at Christmas Campaign. Also on the menu, traditional turkey dinners on Christmas evening.
  • 1984
    Larry Ellis via Getty Images
    Bob Geldof and Midge Ure pictured outside SARM Studios in Notting Hill, London, during the recording of the Band Aid single 'Do They Know It's Christmas?', in 1984.
  • 1985
    Manchester Daily Express via Getty Images
    A Christmas party on board a train in 1985.
  • 1986
    Reuters Photographer / Reuters
    British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stands in front of number 10 Downing Street, with two reindeer who arrived on motorcycles, in 1986. The two riders represent the Christmas tree association who present the prime minister with the traditional tree.
  • 1989
    Jeff Overs via Getty Images
    Christmas holiday ice skaters at Hampton Court Palace in 1989.
  • 1994
    Richard Baker via Getty Images
    A shortened perspective view northwards up Bond Street in 1994.
  • 1995
    Steve Eason via Getty Images
    A man standing by a ticket barrier at Piccadilly Circus underground station in 1995. Crowds of Christmas shoppers fill the station in the background.
  • 2000
    ODD ANDERSEN via Getty Images
    Christmas shoppers and commuters crosses Brompton road in front off an illuminated Harrods department store in Knightsbridge in 2000.
  • 2000
    Dan Callister via Getty Images
    Christmas shoppers appear stressed as congestion outside Harrods causes problems as shoppers try to avoid the weather and the stress of Christmas in 2000.
  • 2000
    Dan Callister via Getty Images
    Christmas shoopers crowd outside the world famous Hamleys toy store in 2000.