Photo Gallery: Cleaning the ‘Big Smoke’

I recently came across these old photographs of famous London landmarks being cleaned and/or repaired – take a look at how much the city has (or hasn’t in some photos) changed in the last 84 years!

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March 4th 1930, A man called Mr. Larkin lowers himself down St. Stephen’s Tower to clean the face of the famous clock.

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Feb. 25th 1933, A man cleans the equestrian statue of Richard I outside Westminster Palace.

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July 12th 1933, A cleaner works on the hoof of one of the horses surmounting Wellington Arch at Constitution Hill.

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Feb. 16th 1937, A crew of men renovate and clean the glass roof of Whiteley’s in West London

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Oct. 25th 1938, Two men scale the face of St. Stephen’s by the Houses of Parliament.

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Jan. 21st 1939, A workman cleans a lamp in the early morning fog of Westminster. The tower of Big Ben can be seen looming through the fog in the background.

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March 9th 1939, The roof of Cannon Street station getting a clean.

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April 21st 1939, Workmen cleaning the globe and galleon on the roof of Cook’s building in Ludgate. Saint Paul’s Cathedral can be seen in the background.

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Aug. 21st 1943, Women war workers entering and leaving an underground aircraft parts factory. The factory was based in a section of an incomplete area of the London underground that was 60 feet below street level.

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July 4th 1953, A cleaner called Mrs. Thurtell scrubs the pavement in front of Boot’s pharmacy in Piccadilly Circus.

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Feb. 18th 1963, Brian Williams cleans the face of Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace.

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Feb. 24th 1968, A scaffolder and friend sit atop Nelson’s statue in Trafalgar Square.

These images have all been sourced from the Telegraph newspaper (

3 thoughts on “Photo Gallery: Cleaning the ‘Big Smoke’

    • Thanks! There was an article in the Telegraph a couple of years ago that had all of these photos and more – I think it was called ‘Dirty, Old London’ – it was really interesting!

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