Vincent St George shining the shoes of a city worker; 1963
© Henry Grant Collection/Museum of London
Full image caption
Vincent St George shining the shoes of a city worker in 1963. Shoe polish was not a widely available product until the 20th century and so having their shoes polished became a traditional practice for London's city workers. Gentlemen (and by the 1960s Ladies) could stop and in 5 minutes have their shoe's waxed and polished to a high shine. Often workers were young boys because pay was low and the work was outside in all weather, however as can be seen in this photograph shoe shine work was readily available and so there were many older men working as shoe shiners. Known as Shoe-blacks the shiners favoured particular locations and there was often competition to claim a prime shoe shine position. This Shoeblack with the distinctive St George's shield on his box worked on the same corner in Piccadilly everyday.
1963 AD - 1963 AD