A Competition


Although the wind lessened somewhat first thing this morning, it soon picked up again and was not conducive to repair work in the garden. Our sole venture in that direction was to buy some more canes from Everton Nursery. Aaron and Robin began building a log shelter in the garden, after I had travelled to Mole Country Supplies with Aaron to buy materials.

Jackie and I watched the final stages of the Olympic men’s marathon.

It was sometime in 1984 that I entered my one and only photographic competition. This was held by Westminster City Council on the subject of London Transport. I can’t now remember which images I submitted, but this afternoon I scanned a batch of the colour negatives from which I made my selection.

Outside the cafe 1 1984

I began with a scene outside a back door to Victoria Station, alongside a sandwich bar. One gentleman sits on a food crate while another studies the menu.

Outside the cafe 2 1984

The seated man smokes a cigarette,

Outside the cafe 3 1984

then engages in conversation. Is the debate about the plated sandwich, I wonder?

Victoria Sandwich Bar couple 2 1984

A middle-aged couple wait outside the Victoria Sandwich Bar for a bus. In those days the gentleman could have boarded with the cigarette, but would have had to ride upstairs.

Bus to Cricklewood 1984

(Barrie Haynes has provided the following information about this bus: ‘The ‘L’ in RML 891 stood for Long as these buses had an extra bit inserted in the middle, a bit like a stretched 747! She was already around 20 years old and about half way through her life although probably not much remained of the original 891 after a visit to Aldenham.’)

This bus sets off for Cricklewood Garage; the young man in the foreground rides a bike,

Taxi 1984

whilst the passenger in this taxi reads one of the still published broadsheet newspapers, unperturbed by the cabbie’s expression suggesting he knows it will be some time before he manages to clear the environs of Victoria.

Victoria Station 1984

Across the road, beyond the bus station, a younger group lounge outside one of the entrances to the Underground.

Asphalt wheelbarrow 1984

In the terminal station itself platform surfacing was being undertaken. This young man wheeled steaming asphalt across the railway line by means of a temporary bridge.

Street scene 1 1984

Venturing into Tooting High Street, thinking to depict traffic on the congested A24,

Street scene 4Street scene 5

I diverted myself with a street scene involving gleeful children and the multi-ethnic nature of the area in which we lived during that decade.

Street scene 3

In those days, I was unaware of what a difficult manoeuvre it would have been for the elderly gent negotiating his way between such boisterous little people, even though they respectfully stepped aside.

Lambeth Salt

Further along the A24 the box containing Lambeth Salt is in readiness for snow and ice that may cover the streets in winter. This is to thaw the precipitation and give tyres a grip.

Women at Bus stop 1

These two women at a bus-stop are classics of a type, complete with hats, handbags and ladylike gloves. The price of a weekly bus pass in those days would take you just one stop on a single journey today.

Outside dress shop

I certainly didn’t include this shot in my competition entries, but the shop and its prospective customers – a different generation from those above – were there, so they appear on my strip of film.

I didn’t actually win anything. Perhaps my take on transport was considered a little off-piste. There are more images to follow, when I get around to scanning them.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious sausage casserole; mashed and new potatoes; crisp carrots and cauliflower; and green greens. Jackie drank fruit juice and I finished the Alentejano.


  1. I wonder if some of the people in your pictures actually recognise themselves by chancing upon your blog. I think it is a brilliant way to approach the subject of transport which obviously includes transport on foot 😀 . I was looking at the young man wheeling the smoking asphalt and thinking that they probably don’t do that anymore or perhaps with a lot of protection masks. Is it normal that there aren’t that many people walking around?

    1. Many thanks, Geetha. I have often wondered that about people recognising themselves. It was 32 years ago – now you can hardly move in those areas for other pedestrians.

      1. Perhaps you should tweet such posts using hashtags of location, year and month if you have them. You never know how word gets around.

          1. I know you are on twitter but the thing is if one is just sharing without the hashtag, it does not get picked up by people looking for something in particular

  2. Excellent post, Derrick — 1984 I was in my last years of college – I found the two women with the hats and gloves amazing – They look to be from the 50’s or 60’s to me. We haven’t been that proper over here in a very long time!

    Glad to see no pigeons at risk with this batch of little scamps. : )

  3. Some random thoughts:
    I wonder at the sanitary conditions of that sandwich bar. It looks dodgy to me.
    Like Geetha B, I am curious about the people in these photos and where they are now. Unlike today, when you give folks your card and ask if you can post their pics in your blog, we didn’t care so much in the pre-digital age about visual identity theft.
    The two prim and proper ladies remind me of Mrs. Brown in “Mrs. Brown’s Boys”.
    I couldn’t help but notice the spectacles on the lady in the middle aged couple photo. If you hadn’t told us the photos were from the ’80’s I’d have guessed simply because of her glasses.
    Such a nostalgic post!

  4. we span so close to each other; Linda and I had a flat in Sellincourt Road then SE24 as above, near Church Road and Amen Corner from 82 to 85… those pictures could have had me in them!

  5. That was like being catapaulted back through time to the familiar. At the time we lived in Clapham … happy memories stirred, wonderful images shared. Thank you Derrick.

  6. I liked the thoughts of diversity and modern transportation for themes. The double decker bus always is a treat to see. The sandwich place would remind me of some of my favorite “diners” and bars where delicious food was served. 🙂
    In 1984, I lived in a town called Lancaster, Ohio. I was a single mom with a daughter who was 4 and son who was almost 3. It was a very different period of my life, Derrick. Uncertain world as I worked as a social worker and child advocate. I did meet the next husband this year but didn’t marry until the next. Totally acceptable to my parents, thinking I had a “head on my shoulders.” Ha!

      1. Yes, this is true. There is more in common than we noticed before, Derrick.
        Although I taught Language Arts (6th grade) straight out of college, my husband and I moved for his new job to where 60 teachers were all laid off. We settled into the new town fairly well, but he always liked to stop at local bars before coming home. He preferred the little ones to be in bed by time he arrived home.
        So, teachers transform~ chameleons, into other fields. I worked at social services and at a battered women’s shelter as the child advocate.
        I wrote a 60 page grant and a senator (if you were from here, I would tell you his name) presented it to an Ohio subcommittee for funds to help children in many ways while staying at shelters. This was one of the good outcomes of my job, but there were two dangerous instances.
        My ex went back to live in his parents’ house after he chose to divorce. We have remained friends, while his third wife and he have been together for 25 years.
        They attended Hendrix’s first birthday party, are in other photos but wasn’t sure they would like to be included on my blog. 🙂 Thanks for opening this subject, hope you didn’t nod off while I told you a little of personal background. 🙂

  7. Great selection, Derrick. also thought the two ladies in the hats and gloves looked to be from a previous era, maybe the 50’s and 60’s. One of them looks quite like my grandmother. 🙂

  8. I like the irony of the two men, thinking that one was homeless but then he may be too well dressed for that. I like the contrast between the two old ladies, the one erect and properly corseted no doubt and the other all floppy, with a glove off and standing on the side on one foot. 🙂

  9. I found these photographs fascinating. For one thing, I love looking at street scenes of ordinary people doing ordinary things in a completely natural, unposed and unselfconscious way. On top of that, I visited London on a vacation with my family not so many years before the year shown in your photographs (1979), so it brought back some happy memories. If I remember correctly, Victoria is the big station near Buckingham Palace, so we were in that area several times.

  10. Love those two ladies in the hats and coats! They look as though they were transported from a different time.

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