A baby’s first sip of stout, picnics beside cars and braving cold seas: Nostalgic photos showing family life in Britain between the 40s and 70s collected in mesmerising new book

  • The poignant pictures appear in When We Were Young, which draws on a collection of almost 800,000 slides
  • They have been amassed by filmmaker Lee Shulman, found of The Anonymous Project
  • It’s dedicated to preserving colour slides from the past 70 years from all around the world

Picnics beside cars, rock pool investigations and a baby’s first sip of stout…

New book When We Were Young records memories of growing up in Britain between the 1940s and 1970s, drawing on a collection of almost 800,000 colour slides from members of the public amassed by filmmaker Lee Shulman.

He is the founder of The Anonymous Project, which is dedicated to preserving colour slides from the past 70 years from all around the world.

The pictures in his tome – none of which are accompanied by a location, date or information about who’s in them – are richly emotive, at once unknown and deeply familiar, says publisher Hoxton Mini Press.

It continues: ‘Looking at them is akin to discovering an old relative’s long-lost photo album. What happened to these people after the shots were taken? These intimate moments provide an escape into the lives of others and at this time of uncertainty and darkness some light from the past.’ Lucy Davies, writing in the introduction, adds: ‘They are portraits without beholders, faces without names, stories with a thousand endings.’ 

Scroll down for a window into a Britain without smartphones and SUVs – and when drinking started very early indeed. 

This baby is being given a sip of the strong stuff, a sight that would shock today

When We Were Young draws on a collection of almost 800,000 colour slides from members of the public amassed by filmmaker Lee Shulman

 Poignant: When We Were Young will be a trip down memory lane for many – and an eye-opener for millennials

The great British day out would often involve braving the seas in unsuitable apparel

This young girl shows off her impressive spoils from a rock pool to the camera

Looking at the old photos in When We Were Young is akin to discovering an old relative’s long-lost photo album, says publisher Hoxton Mini Press

Back in the day, happiness was a picnic by the car up on a hill somewhere

And she’s off: A young girl begins the thrilling descent down a wooden slide in a garden

Two young women tentatively paddle in water that doesn’t look terribly inviting


Back then, a swimming costume was all you needed for a bike ride (left). On the right, a young family pose for the camera as the neighbours’ washing dries in the background

This man is all smiles as he poses in an epic hole dug in a beach. Clearly a proud moment

When We Were Young by Lee Shulman/The Anonymous Project is published by Hoxton Mini Press

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