London Siesta - A young couple hugging , sitting in front of the River Thames. 1950. Mediadrumimages / TopFoto

By Mark McConville


STUNNING retro pictures have proven that siestas are more than just a Spanish tradition as people lazily napped outdoors in London in 1950.

London Siesta – Looking down on a young couple sitting on a park bench feeding the pigeons. 1950. London Siesta – A young couple hugging , sitting in front of the River Thames. 1950.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto


The incredible images show Londoners enjoying a quiet afternoon snooze under shady trees in St James’ Park, two labourers sleeping peacefully in their wheelbarrows among the ruins of bombed out London and a carefree Londoner sleeping on a deck chair that cost three pence for a session.

London Siesta – However loud the water splashes at the bottom of these steps leading down to the Thames , the weary Londoner dozes peacefully in the sunshine — and dreams of waves breaking on a sandy beach. 1950.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto


Other striking shots show two workmen asleep on the statue of the bronze sphinx next to the River Thames, a young women sitting on the grass in St James’ Park reading in the sun and a young couple standing on the Tower Bridge with the Tower of London looming in the background.

London Siesta – A man asleep on the ground surrounded by damaged buildings. 1950.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto


A siesta is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in some countries, particularly those where the weather is warm. The siesta is historically common throughout the Mediterranean and Southern Europe.

London Siesta – If the parks are too far to walk the column at least is softer with a raincoat underneath . This gentleman has found a perch at St Martin-in-the-fields , the church in Trafalgar Square , London , England. 1950.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto


While a siesta is most commonly associated with Spain, these images prove that an afternoon nap was a favourite pastime of many British workers in the 1950s.

London Siesta – There comes a time in every man’s working day , usually after lunch , when forty winks are indicated . For the Londoner who is lucky enough to be near St . James’s Park , a quiet snooze beneath the shady trees is the solution. 1950.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto


While this is no longer commonplace in the UK, the same can be said of modern Spain where the midday nap during the working week has largely been abandoned by the adult working population.

– London Siesta – It’s been raining – the chairs are tipped together to let the water run off , and the deck chairs are still wet . But as the sun breaks through , another Londoner stretches full length on a park seat for his siesta. 1950.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto


English language media often conflate the siesta with the two to three hour lunch break which is characteristic of Spanish working hours, even though the working population is less likely to have time for a siesta and the two events are not necessarily connected.

London Siesta – The sun shines on London , and the carefree Londoner sleeps happily under its warmth . Deck chairs cost three pence for a ” session ” , in the morning or afternoon , but it’s well worth it. 1950.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto