The Way We Were
Waterloo Bridge, 1962
‘What truly dates this image is that the 220 Ponton and A50 have their windows left open’
This is a vista that would be unthinkable today. Traffic wardens had been part of the London road scene since 1960 and parking meters since 1958 but in March of 1962, it was still possible to park without hindrance on Waterloo Bridge.
As is so often case, it is the incidental detail that lends such interest to this shot, such as the gentleman in the Tony Hancock hat on the right of the picture who might be humming Wonderful Land, the latest number one hit from The Shadows, although we frankly doubt it. Then there is the stick-on demister panel on the rear screen of the Victor F-type – in the days before heated back windows they often proved effective, if a little fragile.
In a marked contrast to the Victor’s espresso bar exuberance is the Morris Ten in front of it and the sidevalve Hillman Minx behind, which looks as sensible as a pair of army boots. In 1962 it would have been the perfect car for a budgetminded suburbanite who regarded Adam Faith as a communist agent.
Moving along the bridge there is a Morris Minor 1000, the first British car to sell a million examples and the Vanguard Phase II, the first passenger car to be made in the UK with a diesel engine option. If the Standard here was one of the oilburning models, we reckon it would have taken its owner about a week to reach Putney.
After a second pale-coloured Minor is a Ford Consul MkI – one of Dagenham’s staples of the previous decade – and an example of an ‘Audax’ Hillman Minx. Behind it is a dark 100E Ford which is just about distinguishable as a Prefect, then there’s a Trojan 200 representing the twilight of the bubblecar era and a W187-series Mercedes-Benz 220. The latter would have been such an unusual sight on British roads in the early 1960s that we wonder if it was owned by a motor trader or was brought to the UK by a serviceman returning from West Germany.
There is a strong urge to linger on this side of Waterloo Bridge but that would mean ignoring another 220; in 1962 London was possibly the only city in the UK where you might see two Mercedes in the same street. The twin chrome strips below the doors denote the 1954-1956 ‘Ponton’ version while the Dauphine in front would have been a far more familiar sight, marketed under the slogan ‘A Penny Farthing a Mile and You Travel in Style!’ There appears to be a logo on the roof so it is possible that this Renault is a minicab operated by Welbeck Motors – ‘Just call WELbeck 0561 for prompt service at just a shilling a mile.’ These were not popular with FX3driving taximen – Time magazine reported of ‘cabbies shaking fists and shouting unprintable war cries’ – so perhaps it is safer to move on to the A50 Cambridge with the ‘cow hip’ rear wings of the 1954-1957 versions.
Just ahead of the Austin is one of its main rivals in the form of a second Consul MkI and an A60, the latest incarnation of the Cambridge. The lack of chrome or wood decorations on the white 100E-series Ford estate denotes the lower specification Escort, which had only ceased production the previous year. Dagenham would revive the name six years later.
It is parked behind its four-door Prefect stablemate although it will probably forever remain a mystery why that gentleman with the Del Shannon hairstyle in the long overcoat is eyeing it up.
Then there’s the exuberance of the PA Cresta and Anglia 105E, which look like mobile jukeboxes compared with the 100E, while the Phase III Standard would have been associated by many with National Service.
Driving towards the camera are an Anglia 105E Deluxe, a Thames 300E van and another Dauphine. Several of these were assembled at Renault’s plant in Acton between 1957 and 1961 to circumvent import duties. And what truly dates this image is that the 220 Ponton and the A50 Cambridge both appear to have been left with their windows open. March 1962 really was another world…