This film is part of Free

Sunshine in Soho

1950s Soho beats with far more energy than its 21st century counterpart in this vivid time capsule.

Documentary 1956 32 mins


This gloriously colourful day-in-the-life portrait of mid-50s Soho and its annual Summer Fair is a nostalgia trip for anyone familiar with central London's beloved bohemian sanctuary - or what's left of it. This was a thriving and truly multicultural community: Italian delis, French patisseries and Greek-Cypriot cafes jostled for space alongside jazz bars like the Granada, while market traders hawked exotic foods yet to be discovered by most British people (aubergine, anyone?).

We see models from the 'Visual Arts Club' strut their stuff in the parade, as waiters from local restaurants compete in a race through streets where the remnants of wartime bomb damage can still be glimpsed. Many of the locations (Old Compton Street's Algerian coffee store; the Berwick Street market) still exist (for now) but the increasingly dull commercialism of the area today and the accelerating rate of gentrification make this a film to cherish - and for 21st century activists, a call to action perhaps...