It’s 50 years this month – it was last Thursday, 8th August, in fact – when an iconic photograph featuring the Fab Four on a zebra crossing was taken for cover of the Abbey Road album.

The photograph – which featured (in order) George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon striding across the pedestrian walk in St John’s Wood – was taken by the late Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan.

He apparently climbed onto a ladder in the middle of the street while a policeman held back traffic briefly (there are vehicles driving down the road in the distance in the image).

The entire shoot – which was apparently McCartney’s idea – reportedly took just 10 minutes and saw the band walk across the road six times (the chosen image – said to have been taken at 11:38am – was number five; the only one in which all their legs were in a perfect V shape).

The image carries a particular poignancy for Beatles fans because of the fact that they “officially” broke up less than a year later (the album it featured on, Abbey Road, was released on 26th September, 1969, and was the last recorded by the group even though it was released prior to Let It Be).

As well as being recreated by tourists at the site itself, the image has been reproduced and adapted countless times – including its reproduction on a 64p Royal Mail stamp in 2007 and an adaption involving the Simpsons for a Rolling Stone cover in 2002.

Abbey Road Studios – where the Abbey Road album was recorded – is located just a hop, skip and jump away and has operated a live webcam of the crossing since 2002. (For more on Abbey Road and the origins of its name, see our previous post here).

PICTURE: Via Wikipedia.

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• A new exhibition of the works of renowned music photographer Harry Hammond opens at the V&A this Saturday. Halfway to Paradise: The Birth of British Rock features more than 60 portraits, behind the scenes and performance shots showing stars including Roy Orbison, Ella Fitzgerald, Cliff Richard and Shirley Bassey. Hammond’s pictures, which are all drawn from the V&A collection, chronicle the jazz and big band musicians of the 1950s like Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday, visits from American rock ‘n roll stars such as Little Richard and Gene Vincent and early British rock groups – such as the Animals and the Beatles (pictured with Dougie Millings) – of the 1960s. There will also be behind the scenes shots of some of the early days of music television in the 1950s and the exhibition will be accompanied by a soundtrack by the artists depicted. Born in the East End, Hammond was a society portrait photographer before serving as a reconnaissance photographer with the RAF in World War II. It was on his return to London after the war that he started photographing people working in the music business, later becoming one of the primary photographers for the New Musical Express (NME) magazine. Runs until 3rd March next year. Admission is free. For more, see www.vam.ac.uk. PICTURE: V&A Images.

• Still on a musical theme and 1930s cabaret star Leslie Hutchinson (1900 – 1969) has been honored with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at his former home in Chalk Farm. The singer and pianist, better known to many as simply ‘Hutch’, lived at 31 Steele’s Road between 1929 and 1967. The Grenada-born performer lived in New York and Paris before coming to London where he became one of the most popular cabaret performers of the 1930s – one of his signatures was apparently to arrive at nightclubs dressed like an aristocrat with a white piano strapped to his chauffeur-driven car (this was despite the racial prejudice he faced which saw him being asked to enter by the servant’s quarters when performing at some of Mayfair’s grandest homes). Hutch lived at the Steele’s Road property for almost all the years he lived in London, only leaving two years before his death in 1969. The plaque was unveiled by his daughter, Gabrielle Markes, who only discovered her parentage in middle age and who subsequently proposed that the plaque be placed on the house. For more, see www.english-heritage.org.uk.

On Now: On the Road: Jack Kerouac’s Manuscript Scroll. This new exhibition at the British Library centres on Kerouac’s 120-foot-long manuscript scroll of On the Road and explores the development of the novel which, written over a period of three weeks in April 1951 using rolls of taped together architect’s paper, came to define the Beat Generation. The exhibition, which relaunches the Library’s Folio Society Gallery, will show the first 50 feet of the scroll in a specially-designed case. Other exhibits include first editions of other Beat classics such as The Naked Lunch and sound recordings featuring the likes of Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Runs until 27th December. Admission is free. For more, see www.bl.uk.

This well-to-do area in London’s north-west, just outside Regent’s Park, takes its name from the historic ownership of land here by the Order of St John of Jerusalem (also known as the Knights Hospitaller).

The land had previously been part of the Great Forest of Middlesex. The Order of St John of Jerusalem, which since 1140s had its English headquarters in a Clerkenwell priory where St John’s Gate stands (this now houses the Museum of the Order of St John – see our previous entry here), took over ownership of land in the early 1300s after the previous owners, the Knights Templar, fell into disgrace.

Following the Dissolution, it became Crown land and remained so until 1688 after which it passed into the hands of private families, notably the Eyre family who owned much of the area.

It remained relatively undeveloped until the early 19th century when, following the introduction of semi-detached villas on planned estates, it was marketed as a residential alternative for London’s middle classes, away from the smog and congestion of central London.

It became favored by the bohemian set and residents included creative types like artists and authors as well as scientists and traditional craftsmen (apparently in the late 19th century it was also known for its upmarket brothels).

Rebuilt with swanky apartment complexes in the early twentieth century, these days it remains a leafy enclave for the wealthy. Many of the houses which have survived are heritage listed.

Landmarks include St John’s Church (pictured above, this was consecrated in 1814) and the St John’s Wood Barracks and a Riding School (this was completed in 1825 and is the oldest building still on the site) which is now home to the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery which carries out mounted ceremonial artillery duties such as firing royal salutes for the State Opening of Parliament, royal birthdays and state visits.

St John’s Wood is also home to Abbey Road Studios (home of the Beatles and that famous zebra crossing), Lord’s Cricket Ground (officially the home of the Marylebone Cricket Club which was moved here in 1814, the same year the church was consecrated) and the Central London Mosque located on the edge of Regent’s Park.

For more on St John’s Wood, take a look at the website of The St John’s Wood Society.

Trafalgar Square has been transformed with a temporary hedge maze which takes visitors through a potted history of some of the streets of London’s West End. The maze, created by the West End Marketing Alliance, is full of fascinating facts – did you know, for example, that the area we now know as Covent Garden was originally known, during Saxon times, as Convent Garden? Or that the Beatles last ever gig was performed on a rooftop in Savile Row? The maze is only in Trafalgar Square for this week, so get in quick if you want to visit (and pick up a free badge for your effort in conquering the maze). When Exploring London visited, waiting time was only about 10 minutes. For more, see www.WestEndLondon.com.