Extraordinary colour photos show London life in the 1960s and 70s

Gareth Richman, Francesca Gillett
Piccadilly Circus in June 1966: Richard Friedman

An amateur photographer from the US has released a series of fascinating photographs capturing life in London during the 1960s and 70s.

The extraordinary photos show iconic landmarks such as Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace as well as scenes from everyday life in the capital.

The roads seem almost empty compared to today’s heavy traffic and the advertisements include Wrigley’s chewing gum and Embassy cigarettes long before tobacco billboards were banned.

Soho’s busy Berwick Street can be seen filled with market stalls selling fruit and vegetables while another photo shows Camden’s Good Mixer pub which later counted Amy Winehouse and Britpop’s Oasis and Blur among its drinkers.

Piccadilly Circus in June 1966. (Richard Friedman)

California-based Richard Friedman, 73, took the photos during three visits to London as a young man in 1966, 1973 and 1977.

He said the last time he visited London was 2002 – more than two decades after his previous visit – and said “a lot had changed, so many new buildings and so much more expensive.”

He added: “These pictures weren't intended as ‘art’, but more to document where I was and when.

“Interest in them started after I put some of them up on my website and later on Flickr. Perhaps it's nostalgia for times past.

Berwick Street Market in Soho in June 1966. (Richard Friedman)

“The same thing happened when I started taking pictures of Berkeley, where I moved in 1968 from New York City.

“I think what's going on is that even though many people had cameras in the 60s and 70s, and took lots of pictures, very few knew what to do with them and even fewer put them up on websites.

“Today, however, everyone is a photographer with a digital camera in their phone, and are documenting their lives - however trivial - on sites like Instagram.

“When I was taking pictures, one had to be frugal and choose what to photograph in a meaningful way.

“Coming home from a trip with 50 rolls of 36 exposure film meant a great expense in processing all those images. Very different from today where you can shoot a few thousand images in just a few minutes. Not sure that's really an advantage.”

He said if he had a message for young photographers today it would be: “Take the time to record the world immediately around you, the places you go to every day, your neighbourhood, where you work. And save them.

“Because in 25 years or so it will all be different. And you'll regret not being able to see all that you've missed and can't remember.”

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