The incredible pictures that show London in lockdown was quieter than a century ago – My London



London was possibly one of the strangest places to be during lockdown because it saw such a drastic change in the number of people walking around its streets.

Central London is pretty much always busy. You could honestly walk down Oxford Street at 3am on a random week night and see plenty of other people.

So when businesses and entertainment venues closed down, everyone stopped travelling and people only left their homes for essential reasons, London looked unrecognisable.

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And no wonder, since it’s now been proven that London in lockdown was quieter than it was a century ago.

Recordings of London streets during the lockdown have been placed alongside recordings of exactly the same streets back in 1928.

And the 2020 recordings are far quieter than they were nearly 100 years ago.

The lockdown left Tube traffic down by more than 90 per cent
(Image: Justin Setterfield/Getty)
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It probably wasn’t quite as quiet in some of the Zone Two areas where lots of people live, such as Clapham and Hackney, as people would have been working from home and spending a lot more time there.

But when it comes to Zone One, usually packed with tourists and workers alike, many famously busy places were eerily deserted.

Now you can hear this for yourself via the Museum of London online.

Many Londoners were working from home so public transport was unusually quiet during lockdown
(Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

Soundscapes of London 2020 during Covid-19 have been placed alongside recordings of London in 1928 in the midst of public anger about too much traffic noise

The 2020 recordings were gathered in May 2020, capturing places like Brompton Road in Kensington and Piccadilly in the West End which were very quiet and empty.

Tourist hotspots were left virtually empty, with only the odd person around
(Image: Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
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You can hear a few cars, but the vehicle noises are quite spaced out rather than sounding like a queue of traffic like there usually is in London.

A Museum of London curator, Foteini Aravani, told the BBC that the 1928 recordings were made just at the time that the “effects of sound pollution in central London were only starting to be understood”.

The residential areas of London were probably busier than elsewhere for once as this shot of Richmond park shows
(Image: Grahame Larter)

Aravani then said that this time around, it was about working out how to record an absence of sound.

She said: “We felt it was our responsibility to capture this rare and significant moment to not only contrast the 1928 recordings, but to also provide a record of London’s rarely ‘silent streets’ for future generations.”

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