Quantity not quality

I’ve just received a copy of the 1937 edition of Ward Lock’s London, a quirky little 7 x 5 inch tourist guide.

Ward, Lock & Co. was a publishing house that started as a partnership and developed until it was eventually absorbed into the publishing combine of Orion Publishing Group. Ebenezer Ward and George Lock starting a publishing concern in 1854 which became known as “Ward and Lock”. Based originally in Fleet Street it outgrew its offices and in 1878 moved to the nearby Salisbury Square.

They produced a range of travel guides from 1879 onwards but their most famous were the “Red Guides” which started in 1891 and were still being published in the 1970s. They are very of their time both in tone and content and I chose the 1937 edition to see what was listed that failed to make it through the Second World War.

I’ve only had a chance to skim through it, but one thing that immediately caught my eye was their “London in a Day”.

  • Morning
  • National Gallery
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Whitehall (passing Government Offices, Royal United Service Museum and the Cenotaph).
  • Houses of Parliament. (Open on Saturdays and Easter and Whitsun Mondays and Tuesdays).
  • Westminster Abbey.
  • Westminster (R.C.) Cathedral.
  • Buckingham Palace (exterior).
  • St James’s Park.
  • London Museum, Lancaster House
  • St James’s Palace (exterior)
  • Luncheon in the the neighbourhood of Piccadilly or Leicester Square
  • Afternoon
  • Regent Street
  • Oxford Street
  • Wallace Collection, Manchester Square
  • Drive through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
  • Piccadilly
  • Royal Academy
  • British Museum
  • Lincoln’s Inn
  • Law Courts
  • Fleet Street
  • Ludgate Hill
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
Austin 7

This seems to be some type of Speed Tourism for Masochists! The total distance covered if taken on foot is around 7.6 miles, but as there’s a mandatory drive through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens I would think you’d be trundling around in your little Austin 7, which says a lot about traffic and parking in London at the time. If you discount entering the Houses of Parliament which had limited open days there are nine venues to enter. An hour in each sound a bit sparse to me and I wonder if the “Gift Shop” was a thing back then to delay you longer? Also bear in mind Luncheon is not going to be a burger (vegan or otherwise) and large fries, my guess would be a bowl of Brown Windsor and a plate of Snoek and boiled cabbage at a Lyons corner house, a much more leisurely eating experience.

Lyons Corner House on Coventry Street. Now home to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

1930s tourists must have been made of sterner stuff than some lightweights who visit London today. Jump onto the open top bus, point your phone at various buildings, buy the obligatory Beefeater Teddy Bear and don’t forget the London dungeon, job done. Hang your heads in shame.

Published by endean0

Hi, I'm Steve, a London tour guide and owner of A London Miscellany Tours, a guided walking tour company who specialise in small number tours of the greatest city in the world!

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