A short film about the changing London landscape is a delightful 20 minutes slipping back in time to when men wore top hats and builders didn’t wear hard hats. Opening  with quiet empty lanes in London, only the pigeons are around as the bells ring out over the cityscape. It’s the rebuilding of London – and the birth of the Barbican.

Taking the unexpected opportunity given by the devastation of WW2, the City sought to bring people back into the centre, with a modern city within a city – the Barbican.

Footage of old cars and people, of building sites and concrete plain simple and as yet unrefined into the Barbican’s distinctive brutal style. Top hats and bowler hats. Cloth caps and carts among the Rolls Royce of the Lord Mayor arriving at Guildhall.

For all its modern appearance, the Barbican took inspiration from Georgian houses and garden squares. And there’s footage inside the flats, with such modern delights as built in ventilation and ovens, even a waste disposal unit. All the fashions of the 1960s clashing with each other in one room.

As the narrator intones in his slightly world weary voice, the old rubs along with the new quite happily. It’s a world where the 1860s are being pulled into the 1960s, so settle down with a nice cuppa and sink into this delightful observation of a changing time.


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  1. Towse Harrison says:

    Thank you so much for this link. I have shared it with others including an academic friend, now relocated to the US, who has a passion for brutalism. What his students will make of it I can only guess at. This is the London I was introduced to by my Dad who worked for the GPO (telephones) in the City. Even I can remember the days when nothing opened in the City at the weekends.

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    Cracking film, not seen this one before. Thanks. An elegantly written and filmed (note the reflections of the future estate in the windows of the school whilst pupils study) explanation and illustration of the Barb philosophy. One of the drives for bringing a residential population back to the City was to ensure it didn’t lose the right to an MP. The flats are all-electric, a curiosity when compared to the fact that 99% of food back then was bought fresh or delivered that way, hence the double-access cupboards next to the front door. No natural light in any of the bathrooms though… BUT HOLD ON: Is that John Hutton glass on show at 21:15?? He of what was formerly at Bucklersbury House and now at Bank tube??

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