This film is part of Free

Barbican Phoenix

The iconic Barbican Estate prepares to rise from the ashes of the City of London.

1961 23 mins Silent


Austere but fascinating, this silent documentary captures the bomb-ravaged City of London prior to the 1965-76 development of the (now Grade II listed) Barbican Estate. In 1961 the 35-acre site was still just a warren of derelict plots, the miraculously surviving medieval church of St. Giles-without-Cripplegate at its heart. We see clearance work getting under way and panoramic views of the site and the streets surrounding it (almost unrecognisable today), with landmarks of the London skyline beyond. We also see one of the architects at work, most likely at the offices of Chamberlain, Powell and Bon.

The film appears to have been made by Reginald Hugo de Burgh Galwey, a prolific photographer of post-war British architecture whose work appeared in publications including the Architects' Journal. The couple seen outside the nearby offices at London Wall may be Reginald and his wife Elizabeth.