Photos of London in the 1970s

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Yes, I know this is a website and blog about magic lantern slides and that my tag line is ‘projected images from the 1640s to the 1940s’ ….. but I’m allowed to go off-piste occasionally.

Magic lantern slides were a Victorian phenomenon but survived as a photographic format until the mid twentieth century, by which time smaller, lighter, cheaper alternatives were available. However, by the 1960s, only one projection slide format had mass-appeal, the 35mm transparency. Interestingly, the earliest films, in the 1890s, were also 35mm wide.

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Through the 60s, 70s and 80s, countless millions of photographs were made into slides, so that photographers could bore their friends and family rigid with an evening slide show of ‘what we did on our holiday’ which, usually, wasn’t much. So, what has this got to do with my blog? Well, while collecting magic lantern slides over the last forty years, I met many talented, amateur photographers and sometimes bought their lifetime’s work. Often, in addition to magic lantern slides, these collections included 35mm transparencies of interesting, though for me, rather modern, social history subjects.

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The slides shown here are such a ‘find’. They are images of London in the 1970s, millions of which still exist in wardrobes and attics today, so they’re not rare. However, Charles Jackson, who took these photos in his latter years, was a remarkable photographer. He captured images of real people going about their everyday lives from the 1920s onwards, initially on magic lantern slides and later on transparencies. His wife, Dorothy, asked me to look after his collection when he died and she passed on just a year later. They had no children, so the collection would probably have been binned when the house was cleared, had I not accepted it. In future posts, I’ll show some of Charles’ earlier work. Today though, we wander back in time a mere forty years. Unlike most 1970s photos, these are pin sharp and have retained their original colour. Thank you Charles and Dorothy.

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