Glimpse history through old images of Marylebone, in the City of Westminster, London, England.
New Marylebone Flats (1931)
In the 1930s, Britain saw a large building boom, including many slum clearance projects rehousing tenants in council owned houses and flats.
The Duchess of York officially opened a new block of flats at Marylebone in 1931.
The event was well attended by dignitaries, including the Lord Mayor in full regalia, as well as crowds of local people.
Unfortunately we don’t see much of the flats, but there is a nice shot at the end when she drives away, and the camera films the street.
Five years later the Duchess of York, mother to Elizabeth and Margaret, was to become Queen Elizabeth, when her husband was crowned King George VI.
UK / ROYALTY: The Duchess of York opens flats at Marylebone (1931) – British Pathé on YouTube
Great Portland Street (1933)
London’s permanent Motor Show was launched in 1933, opened by Mayor of Marylebone, Mrs. Amy Mollison (the famous pilot better known by her maiden name, Amy Johnson), Lady Malcolm Campbell and other dignitaries.
The silent, black and white newsreel opens with a nice view of the street as the crowds assemble for the speeches. Cars continue to drive through the crowds, just expecting people to get out of the way. It ends with a superb view of Great Portland Street in Gala bunting.
To quote a YouTube comment: “The car that the Mayor of Marylebone and Amy Johnson are riding in is a 1931 “Blower” Bentley 4½-Litre Vanden Plas Tourer (owned at that time by T.G. Moore, proprietor of Motor Sport magazine). It is currently in the Simeone Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. It is very rare – one of only 50 original Birkin Supercharged Bentleys – and unusual in that it still retains its original Vanden Plas body.” (Thanks to Roy Cousins).
London’s Permanent Motor Show! Aka London’s Paermanent (1933) – British Pathé on YouTube
Swedish Christmas Fair (1938)
In 1938, Marylebone’s Swedish Christmas Fair at the Swedish Hall was opened by Crown Princess Louise of Sweden.
ROYAL: Princess Louise of Sweden opens Swedish Christmas Fair in Marylebone (1938) – British Pathé on YouTube
Air Raid Precautions (1937)
World War II started in 1939, but even by 1937 the authorities were gearing up for another possible European war.
The newsreel opens with the Lord Mayor arriving in top hat and full regalia. In front of him is a group of nurses and a group of Air Raid Wardens, all wearing gas masks.
This was the first muster of the Air Raid Warden volunteers in England.
Mayor inspects air raid precaution services at Marylebone (1937) – British Pathé on YouTube
Malaya Hall (1949)
In 1949, the Duchess of Kent opened the Malaya Hall on Bryanston Square. It was a hostel for Malayan students.
Other people seen in the footage include Mr Ward, agent for Malaya; a number of students; Mayor of Marylebone; Mr Creech Jones, Secretary for the Colonies; Mrs Creech.
Duchess Of Kent Opens Malaya Hall (1949) – British Pathé on YouTube
During World War II, bombs and incendiary devices dropped by the Lufftewaffe wiped out entire streets and communities across London, leaving many homeless.
The end of the war brought home child evacuuees from the country, and servicemen were returning from their overseas postings, so the acute shortage of suitable accommodation became even more pressing.
To highlight the issue, the British Communist Party organised a squatters invasion. Adults and children moved into empty properties across Marylebone and Kensington.
Post war squatters move in to London properties (1946) – British Pathé on YouTube
Food for the Elderly (1949)
In 1949, New Zealand Red Cross Society sent a free shipment of food for the borough’s old folk. It was distributed at Marylebone Town Hall by the Mayor and Mayoress, Sir Donald Cameron (Scottish Chieftan), and Lady Cameron.
Food from New Zealand is distributed (1949) – British Pathé on YouTube
St Marylebone Registry Office (1952)
At the local Registry Office in 1952, 22-year-old film star Barbara Murray (27 September 1929 – 20 May 2014) married actor John Justin (24 November 1917 – 29 November 2002).
It was Barbara’s first marriage and his second. In this newsreel, there’s a quick glance at the street on which the registry office is located. At the time, it was normal for churches to refuse marrying a divorcee to a new partner, and the only choice available was between a church and a registry office.
After having three daughters together, the pair divorced twelve years after they married, with both later remarrying other partners.
Barbara Murray marries John Justin (1952) – British Pathé on YouTube
Lisson Grove (1960)
Lisson Grove was home to the new Labour Exchange, a drab square building, opening in 1960.
Edward Heath (9 July 1916 – 17 July 2005), then Minister of Labour, later a Conservative Prime Minister, came to see the new system, which was very different to the original Labour Exchange system founded in 1910.
Lord William Beveridge (5 March 1879 – 16 March 1963), now an elderly man in his 80s, also gave a speech.
50 Years Progress (1960) – British Pathé on YouTube
Wig Maker (1962)
A quirky item about wig maker Eric Fordyce shows a bit of the road that the shop is located on.
By the age of 51, Eric Fordyce seems to have been running Topper Pty Ltd, in Pitt Street, Sydney, Australia.
False Beards (1962) – British Pathé on YouTube