Photographs from the Getty archive show what life looked like 90 years ago
It’s no surprise that the world has moved on over the last 90 years, but when you see these pictures from the new Getty exhibition, 1926: Britain through the lens, it hits home quite how different life was, when our grandparents and great grandparents were young. In 1926, our current Queen’s grandfather, King George, was on the throne. There had only been one world war, and many houses were without electricity or even running water.
Women had been able to vote for less than a decade, and a single woman couldn’t have her own bank account, let alone buy a house. Reproductive rights were minimal, most women had returned to the home when the first world war was over, and even the act of cutting your hair short was considered a transgression.
Of course it’s a blessing that the world has moved on, but these photos are an opportunity to look back. In the period of one life time, Britain has become almost unrecognisable. From milking a cow in an actual train station (can you imagine?) to our Queen being a tiny baby, even smaller than Prince George and Charlotte are now; it’s amazing to stop and reflect how nine decades can make the world almost unrecognisable.
The photos work like a view finder into the past, showing us snapshots of what life once looked like. They pose the question: what will it look like years from now?
In this preview of an exhibition from the Getty archives, we see just how much things have changed over the last 90 years.
A group of men in a workshop creating violins and cellos. (c) Fox Photos / Getty Images
A child poses with a pet bulldog. (c) Kirby / Getty Images
A policeman stands on a rubber mat to keep his feet dry whilst directing traffic. (c) Fox Photos / Getty Images
A man delivers groceries from his bike during a flood. (c) Fox Photos / Getty Images
Two women advertise a type of ladder-resistant stocking. (c) E.Bacon / Getty Images
A group of women enjoy a day out for Ladies Day at the races. (c) E.Bacon / Getty Images
A policeman chases off a group of children who have been caught skinny dipping. (c) Fox Photos / Getty Images
Two men milk a cow at Kings Cross station. (c) Fox Photos / Getty Images
Princess Elizabeth, as she was then, held in her mother’s arms as a new born baby. She would go on to become the longest reigning British monarch of all time. (c) Speaight / Getty Images
1926: Britain through the lens runs from 18th May until Saturday 2nd July and admission is free. Getty Images Gallery is situated in central London, just a stone’s throw away from Oxford Circus. Opening hours are from 10.00am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, 12.00 to 5.30pm Saturday.