The Way We Were
This bay-windowed bit of London is awash with all manner of classics, including cars, vans – and several buses. No prizes for guessing who chose this image, then…
Hanover Square, London
Swinging London doesn’t seem to have even started to wobble, never mind take over this part of Mayfair, London in the summer of 1964.
Hanover Square had remained highly fashionable since its construction began in 1817. No chirpy cockneys spilling pie, mash and brown beer down their fronts while doing the Lambeth Walk around here, thanks very much.
It’s all the more surprising, then, that, with a couple of exceptions, most of the vehicles in this wonderfully colourful image aren’t actually all that upmarket.
On the sunny side of the street, we even dare begin with a pre-Aeroflow Ford Cortina MkI, a Deluxe at most, which could have got a bit stuffy with its vinyl seats – they won’t have been great to sit on in hot weather!
There won’t be any of those problems with arguably what is the highlight of this line-up; the bright red ‘Big’ Austin-Healey, complete with wire wheels, an extra spotlight and the hood firmly down. Maybe it belongs to a monosyllabic playboy fashion photographer who spends his days snapping his way through reels of Ilford black and white film as he cajoles a string of miserablelooking waifs in floral dresses to smile or look sultry.
The Humber Hawk behind is a four-cylinder brother to the sixcylinder Super Snipe. We reckon that the Surrey CPF 8 registration number was an early personalised plate – I once had a 1953 Wolseley 6/80, registered SPF 426.
We haven’t been able to trace NIG, owner of the rather mysterious turquoise van in the picture. There is an insurer by that name – but it’s unlikely it used this machine as a sort of mobile shop.
We thought the Minivan behind that was D-registered, but it’s obviously not! The lady in very 1950s apparel is obviously completely outshone by the grey Austin A55 Cambridge Farina, behind which we can just see a Ford Zephyr MkIII. To the left of that are the rears of a Bedford CA and Austin A30/35 vans plus a Ford Consul MkII.
Across the street by the parking meters are a Triumph Herald with a Yorkshire registration number, a Mini Traveller, an Austin A40 Farina MkII and a Hillman Husky.
The magnificent omnibus action stars six AEC RTs, which were in service around London from 1939-1979, ganging up on a solitary Routemaster, proclaiming that ‘Senior Service Cigarettes Satisfy’.
Routemasters ran on the 13 route (at the time going from Aldwych to Golders Green) until October 2005, and as such was one of the last routes to lose these legendary buses.
Note the pre-Euro-ised road signs. Surveying the scene from his lofty perch (at least in statue form) is Britain’s youngest ever Prime Minister, William Pitt The Younger, a mere 24 when he took over. He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer and became Prime Minister for a second time in 1804.
He was as well qualified as his dad; William Pitt the Elder had previously assumed the position. Junior enjoyed a good scrap – particularly with the French – and was not a big fan of radicals.
We bet that Mr Pitt would be turning on his plinth in furious anger over something that we can confidently say would unite all the disparate motorists here in mutual loathing – parking meters, which made their London debut in 1960.
‘The magnificent omnibus action stars six AEC RTs, which were in service around London from 1939-1979, ganging up on a solitary Routemaster’ LONDON BUS PARADISE IN 1964
Nick Larkin is a legend in his own bus timetable. He’s written for Popular Classics, PracticalClassics, and the first issue of CCW, May 1990. NICK LARKIN