This film is part of Free

London from the Air 1 (Fun Palace outtakes)

London in 1963 was a city in flux, as this spectacular aerial footage shows.

1963 3 mins Silent


With memories of the Blitz receding, London in 1963 was rapidly rebuilding itself, and the capital of the future was beginning to take shape. This helicopter-shot footage shows the remnants of the major port London once was alongside the new high-rise buildings already transforming the skyline. The Post Office Tower, opened in 1964, can be seen under construction, while Battersea Park funfair, built for the 1951 Festival of Britain, was still going strong (a tragic rollercoaster accident led to it closing forever in 1974).

This footage was shot for a film to support theatre director and filmmaker Joan Littlewood's idea for a 'Fun Palace' - a huge movable construction that would house education and entertainment attractions. In 1963 Littlewood shot 60 reels of 16mm rushes around London to show what people currently did for leisure and to demonstrate that something else was needed. The film was finished but is now lost, and sadly Joan's Fun Palace never got built. However, the rushes paint a fantastic picture of the period, with many expertly filmed by cameraman Walter Lassally, who also shot We are the Lambeth Boys and A Taste of Honey. Digitisation supported by the London Topographical Society.