In the heart of Southampton lies East Street, a bustling hub that has evolved significantly over time.

Captured through old photographs, the street unveils a nostalgic glimpse of a bygone era and demonstrates the sheer doggedness of Southampton's people throughout the town's darkest days.

Believed to be among the oldest thoroughfares in the nation, East Street has a rich history dating back to the Saxon era. In the past, the section leading towards St Mary’s Church was referred to as Bagge Row.

Daily Echo: East Street in the 1930sEast Street in the 1930s (Image: Echo)

In the early part of the last century up to the late 1930s, the East Street crowds were so big it was said you could walk all the way “from All Saints church to St Mary’s on the tops of people’s heads.”

There were boot repairers, ice cream parlours, grocers, rope manufacturers, the colourful Horse and Groom pub, a horse meat butchers, Mrs Harman's stewed eel and pie shop and the discreet business of Stanley and Co described as "purveyors of surgical appliances, gentlemen's requisites and rubber goods".

Daily Echo: East Street in the 1940s.East Street in the 1940s. (Image: Echo)

Amidst the flickering light of the naphtha lamps, bustling crowds gathered outside the butcher's shop, eager to purchase the Sunday joint for just a few pence.

Lining the stretch of the street were vendors' carts, each manned by enthusiastic sellers competing to attract customers with their loud pitches and enticing offers.

Daily Echo: East Street in the 1950s.East Street in the 1950s. (Image: Echo)

At one time there were seven pubs, two cinemas, an early Woolworths and even a Marks and Spencer bazaar with nothing over a penny.

Established in the late 1850s, Edwin Jones quickly emerged as one of the most popular stores in the area, solidifying its status as a beloved establishment and a local institution.

Daily Echo: East Street in the 1960s.East Street in the 1960s. (Image: Echo)

Diverging from East Street, a network of smaller roads, such as Canal Walk lined with its unique array of small enterprises, contributed to the distinctive charm of the area.

During its peak, Canal Walk stood as a distinctive enclave within an otherwise typically English harbour. Although it may have appeared a bit gloomy, locals often spoke of the remarkable ambience that enveloped the area.

Daily Echo: East Street in the o11990s.East Street in the o11990s. (Image: Echo)

The locals affectionately referred to Canal Walk as "The Ditches" due to it being built atop ancient medieval moats.

Following the devastation of enemy bombing during the Second World War, large parts of the area were lost. In the aftermath, nature reclaimed the land with grass, wildflowers, and small trees sprouting amidst the rubble for years to come.

Daily Echo: East Street in the 2020s.East Street in the 2020s. (Image: Echo)

Slowly but surely, it began its journey towards revival, emerging as a key player in the development of post-war Southampton, as is vividly depicted in these images from East Street through the years.