Saturday, 2 June 2007

6 April 1957

A fascinating view of the Cathedral and its surroundings in 1957. Towards the top of the picture at the left is Buckingham palace, with the Victoria Monument and the Mall stretching across the top, alongside St James' park.

Westminster Cathedral is still hemmed in by buildings - it would be almost twenty years before the Piazza was built - and a roadway runs across the front steps. Victoria Street, extending across the centre of the photograph, is still characterised by large victorian appartment blocks built in 1850, most of which were demolished in the 1970s.

To the centre left, across Victoria Street from the Cathedral, is the huge Stag Brewery. On the site of the medieval brewery of Westminster Abbey, brewing continued after the reformation. In the early 17th century, a small brewhouse set up in property belonging to St James' Palace. This then substantially grew and then was bought and owned by Watney & Co. By the end of the 19th century it was employing a sizable amount of staff. It closed down in 1959 and was demolished. All that now remains of it is a street name Stag Place and a pub called The Stag.

To the left of the Cathedral still stands the small anglican Church of St Anne's, badly damaged by war-time bombs and subsequently demolished. Alongside the Cathedral, before St Vincent's school moved there, was the 'Cardinal's garden', with a large temporary altar for outdoor ceremonies. Clergy House, immediately behind the Cathedral, does not yet have its mansard roof, which now houses our Portuguese sisters.

At bottom left, the Feltham tram (known as 'The Bluebird') is running.


Anonymous said...

The building immediately in front of the Cathedral is the old Burns & Oates bookshop, which I remember as being a wonderful place with rickety wooden floors.

In fact the whole demolition of Victoria Street was a disaster. Dignified Victorian buildings, some of them very beautiful, were replaced by tacky modern buildings, many of which have already been demolished and replaced in their turn. The only advantage (a big one!) was the opening up of the piazza in front of the Cathedral.

Anonymous said...

Was there any bomb damage to the Cathedral during WWII?

Stephen M. Collins said...

A similar arial perspective photo taken today would be a wonderful side-by-side! "A picture is worth a thousand words."

Anonymous said...

For a current Overhead shot: see if this works:,+london&ie=UTF8&cd=1&ll=51.495933,-0.139824&spn=0.001369,0.003578&t=k&z=18&om=0