Story Of London

A London Chronology: 1930 to 1959

This series of articles presents a basic chronology of London but will also contain references to national events where these are important in the development of the London area. Wherever possible, the precise dates and days of the week on which the events here recorded took place are noted. The series is an organic one and will change frequently as new events or dates are extracted from our sources.

You can either jump to the chronology for a specific century using the following table of links or scroll through the centuries sequentially by following the links at the bottom of the page.

Visit Specific Centuries
[43-500 AD][501-800]

The Twentieth Century
The Thirties: 1930-1939

Monday morning “rush-hour” on London Bridge in the 1930s

1930The first mobile police patrol in Britain consisted of a 12hp Bean car driven by Sgt White of the Hounslow police.
1930The Metropolitan Police inaugurated motor-cycle patrols.
1930The Astoria cinema in Seven Sisters Road, Holloway was opened with great fanfare.
1930Bellmoor House, the monstrous block of flats on the high point of Hampstead was erected this year. The original Bellmoor House belonged to the local historian and manager of Pear’s Soap, J Barratt.
1930Vestry House museum in Walthamstow was opened this year.
1930Marks & Spencer opened their first Oxford Street store, next door to selfridges, this year.
1930The English Folk Dance and Song Society opened their new Headquarters in Regent’s Park Road, Camden this year
1930The YWCA Hostel on Great Russell Street opened.
1930January 6thThe BBC first broadcast of prices from the London Stock Exchange.
1930March 31John Logie Baird installed the first television (a Baird Televisor) in 10 Downing Street.
1930AprilThe Prince Edward Theatre in Soho opened.
1930April 11thThe first newspaper television programmes listing was published in theDaily Express.
1930April 29thThe first London to Sydney telephone service was inaugurated.
1930MayThe first commercially produced television set to be marketed in Britain (the Baird Televisor) went on sale at a price of 25 guineas.
1930July 17thThe first Green-Line bus ran from Guildford to Charing Cross.
1930SeptemberGamage’s of Holborn opened a new store on Oxford Street. It was a financial disaster and closed within eight months.
1930SeptemberThe Whitehall Theatre opened.
1930September 4thThe Cambridge Theatre in Earlham Street opened with a revue starring Beatrice Lillie.
1930September 24thThe Phoenix Theatre in Charing Cross Road opened with the premiere of Noel Coward’sPrivate Lives.
1930October 22ndThe first BBC Symphony Orchestra broadcast was made from the Queen’s Hall with Sir Adrian Boult conducting.
1930December 3rdThe fourth Adelphi Theatre on the Strand opened with a musical show.
1930DecemberThe Leicester Square Theatre opened. It was converted to a cinema within a year.
1931The population of Greater London reached 8,203,000
1931Hay’s Wharf, on the site of St Olave’s church Tooley Street, was opened this year.
1931The New Liberty’s Department Store on Regent Street and Great Marlborough Street was completed this year.
1931The Courtauld Institute of Art was established by Samuel Courtauld at his house in Portman Square.
1931Unilever House a the junction of Victoria Embankment and New Bridge Street was completed this year.
1931The Daily Express building and factory in Fleet Street was completed this year.
1931The first two Tesco shops were opened in Burnt Oak and Becontree this year.
1931The Queen’s Hall of the People’s Palace in Mile End road was destroyed by fire.
1931The long abandoned Princess’s Theatre in Oxford Street was demolished to allow the construction of a Woolworth’s store.
1931January 1stThird party motor insurance became compulsory
1931January 6thThe fourth Sadlers wells Theatre opened with a production ofTwelfth Night.
1931FebruaryThe first London Telephone Directory was issued. It was in two volumes.
1931March 6thThe first film to be transmitted as part of the regular programme service in Britain was televised by the Baird company.
1931March 9thThe first television screening in the UK of a film featuring Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Cops.
1931April 14thThe Ministry of Transport issued the first Highway Code.
1931April 18thThe Dorchester Hotel opened.
1931MayThe first brand of cigarettes known to have been sold in cellophane-wrapped packets, Craven A, made their appearance.
1931May 1stThe first Unit Trusts went on sale.
1931May 8thThe first scheduled television outside broadcast was made by the Baird company when scenes of Long Acre were transmitted from a van parked outside the television studio.
1931June 3The first British sporting event to be televised was the Epsom Derby, transmitted by the Baird Company.
1931July 29The Baird company transmitted the first wrestling match on television from their Long Acre studio.
1931October 7thThe Westminster Theatre in Palace Street, a conversion of the St James’ Picture Theatre, opened with a play directed by Tyrone Guthrie.
1931October 8thThe Saville Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue opened with “a play with tunes”.
1931DecemberThe Palais de Luxe cinema in Windmill Street opened as the Windmill Theatre.
1932Sydney Carroll presented four matinees of Twelfth Night in the Botanic Gardens at Regent’s Park, thus inaugurating the annual open-air performances of Shakespeare at this venue.
1932The Piccadilly Line was extended northwards from Finsbury Park to Arnos Grove
1932The Jewish Museum in Upper-Woburn Place was opened this year.
1932The London Philharmonic Orchestra was founded by Sir Thomas Beecham.
1932Jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong made his first (and less than successful) appearance at the Palladium.
1932The large electric clock on the Shell-Mex building off the Strand was fitted this year.
1932The first vehicle actuated traffic lights were installed at the junction of Gracechurch Street and Cornhill in the City.
1932march 17thThe first newspaper colour photographs in Britain appeared inThe Times Weekly Edition
1932AprilThe first electric milk-floats were introduced by Express Dairies at their Kenton and Highgate depots.
1932April 18thThe GPO introduced the first business reply-paid envelopes.
1932April 27thThe London to Cape Town airline service was inaugurated by Imperial Airways. The journey took 11 days.
1932April 30thThe new Botanic Gardens, including the Queen Mary Rose Garden, in Regent’s Park were opened to the public.
1932MayThe first air charter holiday was organised by the Polytechnic Touring Association of London. The first 24 passengers flew from Croydon to Basle (5 hours) in an Imperial Airways Heracles airliner.
1932May 2ndThe BBC moved into its new headquarters, Broadcasting House, in Portland Place.
1932June 2ndThe London, Midland and Scottish Railway introduced Britain’s first railway buffet car on its London to Nottingham route.
1932August 1stThe first Mars bars went on sale.
1932AugustThe GPO introduced Directory enquiries on its telephone service
1932August 1stThe GPO introduced the first telex service.
1933The London Passenger Transport Board was established this year to co-ordinate all forms of public transport in the London area.
1933The last of the 17th century arcaded houses in Covent Garden Piazza was demolished this year.
1933Hornsey Council moved into its award-winning new Town Hall in Crouch End Broadway this year.
1933The Everyman theatre in Hampstead was converted into a cinema.
1933The Freemason’s Hall in Great Queen Street was opened this year.
1933The London County Council opened the first remand Homes at Stamford House (Boys) and Cumberlow Lodge (girls).
1933January 1stThe London to Brighton and Worthing Line operated by Southern Railway, became the first electrified British mainline to open to passenger traffic.
1933April 3rdThe first automatic traffic lights in London came into operation in Trafalgar Square.
1933May 7thThere was rioting in the West End when Jewish and Fascists groups clashed.
1933May 22ndAutomatic traffic lights were installed at Piccadilly Circus.
1933December 9thImperial Airways and Indian Trans-Continental Airways began the first London to to Singapore airline service.
1934The first cheap rate telephone calls were introduced. They were available on Sunday after 6 pm.
1934The National Maritime Museum was founded at Greenwich.
1934The Empire Pool at Wembley was opened this year.
1934Battersea Power station was completed this year.
1934The Royal Institute of British Architects moved into their new headquarters in Portland Place.
1934The Hoover Building on the newly constructed Western Avenue opened this year.
1934The Penguin Pool and Pet’s Corner it London Zoo were opened this year.
1934Norman Hartnell’s Bruton Street Salon, designed by Gerald Lacoste, was completed this year
1934march 8thThe Labour Party took control of the London County Council for the first time.
1934March 26thThe Driving Test became mandatory.
1934May 10thThe Metropolitan Police College at Hendon was established this year.
1934May 16thTennis officials at Wimbledon decided to allow women players to wear shorts during the Tournament.
1934June 20th, WednesdayJohn Rennie’s Waterloo Bridge was demolished this year.
1934July 6thThe first television opera, Carmen, was broadcast by the BBC.
1934December 14thWestern Avenue was formally opened.
1935The Midland Grand Hotel, fronting St Pancras Station, ceased operations this year. It was subsequently used as offices by the railway company.
1935The Elizabethan manor of Eastbury House was purchased by Barking Council this year. It is now in the hands of the National Trust and is used as a cultural and local history centre.
1935South Africa House in Trafalgar Square was completed.
1935In Highgate the Highpoint One block of flats by the socialist architect Berthold Lubetkin was completed this year.
1935January 4thPerspex first made its appearance at an exhibition at Burlington House.
1935March 12thThe traffic speed limit was set at 35 miles per hour.
1935March 15thThe first GB driving tests were introduced (on a voluntary basis).
1935April 13thImperial Airways and Qantas inaugurated the first London to Australia airline service. It took twelve and a half days to fly to Brisbane.
1935June 1stThe driving test became compulsory.
1935June 1stL-plates became compulsory for learner drivers.
1935July 3rdThe geological Museum in South Kensington was opened. (It has recently been subsumed into the Science Museum).
1935July 9thThe National Film archive was founded.
1935July 24thThefirst Greetings Telegramwas launched.
1935July 30thThe first ten Penguin books titles were published by Allen Lane.
1935OctoberA performance ofRomeo and Julietat the New Theatre began a record-breaking run of 186 performances. John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier alternated as Romeo and Mercutio and Peggy Ashcroft played Juliet.
1936The Imperial War Museum moved into its new premises in the former Bethelem Royal Hospital for the mentally ill (Bedlam) in Lambeth.
1936The South East Essex Technical College was established in Barking this year.
1936The new Civic Centre in Dagenham, designed by E. Berry Webber, was opened this year.
1936The Monseigneur cinema in Charing Cross Road, the first in London to specialise in newsreels, opened this year.
1936The Odeon cinema chain of Oscar Deutsch opened new cinemas in Muswell Hill and Tottenham Court Road.
1936The Alhambra, Leicester Square, was demolished to make way for another new Odeon cinema.
1936The BBC launched the first high-definition public television service from Alexandra Palace.
1936The first Dillon’s Bookshop, in Store Street, opened this year.
1936Simpson’s store in Piccadilly and the Peter Jones store in King’s Road, Chelsea were both built this year.
1936January 20thDeath of George V and accession of Edward VIII
1936August 21stThe Senate House of the University of London, in Bloomsbury, was officially opened. It was the tallest building in the country.
1936October 4th, SundayThe Battle of Cable Street saw Oswald Mosely and 3,000 Blackshirts prevented from entering the East End by communist barricades.
1936February 23rdThe communist Unity Theatre officially opened its new auditorium in Britannia Street, King’s Cross.
1936March 14thImperial Airways inaugurated the first London to Hong Kong airline service.
1936July 24thThe GPO introduced the first speaking clock “TIM”.
1936NovemberThe “Jarrow Crusade”, 200 unemployed men who marched from Jarrow arrived in London in pouring rain. The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, refused to receive them at 10 Downing Street.
1936November 30thThe Crystal Palace, moved to Sydenham after the Great Exhibition of 1851, was completely destroyed by fire.
1936December 10thAbdication of Edward VIII and accession of George VI.
1937The Headquarters of the London Fire Brigade on Albert Embankment was opened this year.
1937Dolphin Court, Grosvenor Road, one of the largest developments of apartments in Europe, was completed this year. The name derives from a “Dolphin” pump nearby which was used to draw water from the Thames.
1937The Earls Court Exhibition Hall, then the largest reinforced concrete building in Europe, was completed this year.
1937The new building for Bow Street Police Court was completed.
1937All Hallows church, Lombard Street was sold and the site became the Headquarters of Barclay’s Bank.
1937Chesterfield House in Great Stanhope Street, built in 1749 and once the leading house in London, was demolished this year.
1937The surviving half of the George Inn, Southwark, dating from 1676, became a national Trust property.
1937May 12thThe Coronation of George VI at Westminster Abbey.
1937June 21stThe first television broadcast of the Wimbledon tennis tournament by the BBC.
1937JulyMudie’s Circulating Library in New Oxford Street stopped trading. Its business had been undermined by the Public Libraries.
1937Septemebr 25thDaly’s Theatre Leicester Square closed. The Warner cinema was built on the site.
1937September 30thThe last edition of theMorning Postwas published. The paper was merged with theDaily Telegraph.
1937OctoberWhat was to become, in the following year, the Euston Road School of Painting, was founded at 12 Fitzroy Street.
1938The Hospital for Sick Children moved into its new premises in Great Ormond Street this year.
1938London Zoo took delivery of its first Giant Panda.
1938The London County Council introduced its “Green Belt” policy to prevent the Greater London Area from being overwhelmed by construction projects.
1938FebruaryWestminster City Council completed the first purpose-built air-raid shelter beneath Caxton Hall
1938August 22ndThe first televised Promenade concert was broadcast from the Queen’s Hall.
1938September 26thGas masks were issued to civilians.
1938September 30thNeville Chamberlain landed at Heston Airport with the Munich Agreement proclaiming “Peace in our Time”.
1939February 25thThe first Anderson shelters were erected by the residents of Tober Street and Carlsbad Street, in Islington.
1939September 3rdWar was declared with Germany and within 20 minutes the air raid sirens were sounding. Londoners made their first trip to the shelters.
1939The Imperial Airways Terminal in Buckingham Palace Road was opened this year.
1939St Martin’s School of Art moved to Charing Cross Road where it shared a new building with the Technical Institute for the Distributive Trades.
1939The population of Greater London reached 8,700,000