A look back at archive photographic images of Soho in the 20th century

The The Photographers Gallery has very recently exhibited a collection of photographs of the colourful characters of Soho in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon, by photographer John Deakin.

Soho has, of course, radically changed since then. Its bohemian reputation as a district for artists, writers and poets has long gone. Numerous clean-up operations by Westminster Council over the past two decades (BBC News 2002, BBC News 2009) have seen its role as the centre of London’s sex industry diminish significantly and has largely given way to mid-market restaurants and boutique hotels.

Prompted by the John Deakin exhibition, here’s part one of three collections of images of Soho from the 20th century.

Film drying at Kinemacolor House, 80-82 Wardour Street in 1915.

76-88 Wardour Street, pictured in 1923. This building was designed by William Woodward in 1906-8. Its ground floor housed several cinema-related firms, such as The Ideal Film Renting Co.

Old Compton Street, pictured in 1926.

Berwick Street, pictured circa 1930.

Berwick Street, pictured November 1933.

Dean Street, pictured in 1935.

Old Compton Street, pictured in 1936.

Old Compton Street, pictured in 1939.

Bartenders serving coffee and sandwiches in the Eagle Club on Old Compton Street, 25 March 1939.

Soho Square, pictured March 1939.

The Windmill Theatre, pictured in 1940.

Actress Evelyn Oatley (also known as Nita Ward), circa 1940. On 10 February 1942, Evelyn Oatley was found strangled and mutilated in her flat in Wardour Street. She was the second victim of English serial killer Gordon Cummins, also known as the Blackout Killer and the Blackout Ripper.

Berwick Street, pictured circa 1945.

Dean Street, pictured in 1947.

The Casino Theatre on the corner of Greek Street and Old Compton Street in Soho, London, April 1950. This is now the Prince Edward Theatre.

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