Packing out Piccadilly Circus and dancing in the fountains at Trafalgar Square: Evocative pictures show how London used to bring in the New Year in decades gone by
- Central London on New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest places in the country as many go out to celebrate
- Party goers in years gone by didn’t let the lack of space get to them and stayed out until all hours in the city
- Vintage photos show revellers dressed up and enjoying each others company as the clock strikes 12
As the decade comes to a close and many people across the UK begin their preparations for a fun-filled night this New Year’s Eve evocative pictures from years gone by show how Londoners used to bring in the New Year.
If you’ve celebrated New Year in London before you know just how busy the areas around the River Thames and Trafalgar Square can become, but these photos show that revellers didn’t let the lack of space get in their way and partied well into the early hours.
Many take the opportunity to dress up for the celebrations and in 1947 those celebrating were treated to a performance from the Royal College of Art at the New Year’s Ball at the Royal Albert Hall, with the performers in decorative masks and costumes.
In 1953 actor Ben Lyon took the party to a whole new level at the Savoy hotel when he was pictured filling Edana Romney’s slipper with champagne.
Party goers went shoulder to shoulder while watching the infamous countdown on the Piccadilly Circus billboards in 1955 and 1956.
Also in 1955 stunning photos showed the dome of St Paul’s shining down on the ground below, with powerful floodlights beaming onto the surrounding streets.
It’s party time! 1st January 1921: Revellers celebrate the New Year during a party at the Hotel Victoria in London. Men can be seen dressed in full tuxedos while the women wear glamorous dresses. The party seems to be in full swing and people are seen wearing festive hats and streamers
1st January 1929: Nurses with newborn babies at the City of London Maternity Home in City Road, London, on New Year’s Day. The two women stand proud with the children that would have been delivered through the night. They are wrapped up in blankets
31st December 1931: New Year’s Eve revellers at the Piccadilly Hotel in London. Champagne bottles can be seen littering the table while men smoked cigars
31st December 1934: Cupid, 4-year-old British film star Deidre Gale, introduces the ‘Birth of 1935’ at midnight on New Year’s Eve at the Piccadilly Hotel, London. The women were pictured wearing bralettes and skirts and also a chef’s hat. The women all point towards the clock
2nd January 1937: Lilian Baylis (1874 – 1937) founder of the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells theatre companies, playing the piano at her annual New Year’s party. Ballet dancers gather around the piano for a sing-song
1947: The Royal College of Art performs their tableau, ‘Dante’s Inferno’ at the Chelsea Arts Club annual New Year’s Ball at the Royal Albert Hall, London. People can be seen in the background watching on and the group embarked on their performance
1953: Singer Barbara Lyons who originated from the US but lived in London and her mother, actress Bebe Daniels, watch Bebe’s husband – actor Ben Lyon – filling Edana Romney’s slipper with champagne at the Limelight Ball at the Savoy Hotel
Revellers paddle in the fountain at Trafalgar Square. New Years Eve in Trafalgar Square, London, Britain – 31 Dec 1954. Many made sure they rolled up their sleeves and trousers as they took a dip, while one woman can be seen being carried as to not get her feet wet
1st January 1955: Revellers cram into London’s Piccadilly Circus to count in the New Year. Adverts in brights lights lit up the area and included signs from brands such as Bovril, Schwepps and Coca Cola. People were seen shoulder to shoulder as the clock hit 12
1st January 1955: The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, illuminated by powerful floodlights to celebrate the New Year. While the light shines down you are able to make out a transport sign for the London Underground on the right
New Years Eve in Piccadilly Circus New Years Eve in Piccadilly Circus, London, Britain – 1956. Taxi cabs can be seen queued up in the street as many stand around and celebrate
While many gathered in London over the years, New York has also had its fair share of party goers and in 1938 many can be seen lining the streets