500 years of Londoners’ lives displayed on site of Roman Amphitheatre

Images of working Londoners from the capital’s past – from the 15th century to Thatcherite Britain - will feature in an open air exhibition in Guildhall Yard later this month.

The Londoners: Portraits of a Working City, 1447 to 1980 will bring together a wide range of photographs, prints and drawings – many of them displayed for the first time - from London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), which is owned and managed by the City of London Corporation.

Jack Black of Battersea, Queen Victoria’s rat catcher, and Charles Rouse, believed to be the last night-watchman in 19th-century London, feature alongside page boys at the Savoy Hotel, a brick dust seller, labourers on the Barbican Estate, a farrier in 1980s Deptford, and a 15th-century Lord Mayor.

This outdoor display on the site of London’s 5,000-seat Roman Amphitheatre complements The Londoners exhibition at the Clerkenwell-based London Metropolitan Archives, which runs until Wednesday 5 July, and includes 50 portraits which are not shown at the LMA. The identities of most of those featured are unknown, but were recorded because of the work that they carried out and the service that they gave to the capital and their fellow Londoners.

Laurence Ward, the City of London Corporation’s Head of Digital Services at LMA, said:

“Our extensive archives are a treasure trove and this exhibition offers an ideal opportunity to display some fascinating and very rare images of Londoners as they went about their daily work. Some of the individuals are very well known and their professions will be familiar to us, and others will seem like a mystery now. 

"Either way, my colleagues and I have relished the chance to feature a wide range of Londoners and bring them out into the open, many of them for the first time, on the historic site of London’s Roman Amphitheatre.”

The Londoners: Portraits of a Working City, 1447 to 1980 runs from 29 April to 23 May in Guildhall Yard, EC2. The exhibition forms part of the ‘950 Years of London’s Archives’ celebrations at London Metropolitan Archives and other City locations during 2017 to celebrate the anniversary of the William Charter (1067), the oldest document in the collections. More details from

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages LMA and Guildhall Art Gallery, adjacent to Guildhall Yard, invests £80m every year in heritage and cultural activities of all kinds. It is the UK’s largest funder of culture after the government, the BBC, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Notes for Editors:

The Londoners: Portraits of a Working City, 1447 to 1980 is a free outdoor exhibition in Guildhall Yard, Guildhall, Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7HH. Runs from 29 April to 23 May.

Laurence Ward, Head of Digital Services at London Metropolitan Archives, is available for media interviews. Please call Andrew Buckingham (see below) for further details. Selected images from the exhibition are available on request.

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer, City of London Corporation

Tel: 020 7332 1452 / Mobile: 07795 333060 / Email

About the London Metropolitan Archives:

London Metropolitan Archives is a public research centre which specialises in the history of London. The majority of items in an archive are unique, handwritten documents which cannot be seen anywhere else. LMA cares for, and provide, access to, the historical archives of businesses, schools, hospitals charities and all manner of other organisations from the London area. With over 100 km of books, maps, photographs, films and documents dating back to 1067 in our strong rooms, it is proud to provide access to one of the finest city archives in the world. Its users have a wide range of research interests, including family, community and local history, and we work with students, artists, producers and architects.

London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HB

Admission: Free, check websites for opening times.

The nearest underground stations are Farringdon and Angel.

About the City of London Corporation:

The City of London Corporation provides local government and policing services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain, the 'Square Mile'. In addition, the City Corporation has three roles:

  • We support London’s communities by working in partnership with neighbouring boroughs on economic regeneration, education and skills projects. In addition, the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust makes grants of around £20 million annually to charitable projects across London and we also support education with three independent schools, three City Academies, a primary school and the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
  • We also help look after key London’s heritage and green spaces including Tower Bridge, Museum of London, Barbican Arts Centre, City gardens, Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches, and important ‘commons’ in south London.
  • We also support and promote the ‘City’ as a world-leading financial and business hub, with outward and inward business delegations, high-profile civic events and research-driven policies all reflecting a long-term approach.

See for more details.