REX Appeal | Supreme Photography

From royalty to wildlife and freak weather to freakier celebrities, Rex Features has reigned supreme over photography for decades. Launched in a front room in north London in 1954, the company has been based in Vine Hill – in a former Ragged school for destitute children – since 1979.

To celebrate Rex’s diamond jubilee, we’ve compiled a range of iconic shots from the EC1 firm’s archive – look out for several photos snapped on the streets of Clerkenwell…


(Above far left) Royal couple: Here’s a shot of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in happier times on their honeymoon at Balmoral. The 1981 royal wedding put Rex on the map as it beat rival agencies thanks to its rapid film processing and comprehensive photography. The coverage was masterminded by Rick Colls, director of operations, who had recently joined the agency. “The explosion of celebrity and colour newspapers” was then embraced by Rex in the Eighties, says Colls.

(Above top right) Suffragette city: Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Mulligan were caught on camera during filming for period drama Suffragette in Clerkenwell’s Myddelton Square in March. In her role as one of the first feminists, Bonham Carter had to tussle with an extra dressed as a policeman.

(Above bottom) Out of jail: Sometimes the snappers get in the shot too. It was hard to avoid during this media scrum in EC1’s St Johns Garden, where former government minister Chris Huhne was photographed returning home to Clerkenwell after serving two months in prison.


(Above) Act of god: Rex has more than 10 million images on its website, with 7,000 now added each day thanks to the digital revolution in photography – but they’re not all celebrities. During the winter storms this year, one of their photographers got this stunning shot of huge waves engulfing the church at Porthleven in Cornwall.


(Above) Rear view: Can you recognise this supermodel from behind? Kate Moss was caught by a Rex snapper in Clerkenwell in this shot – one of almost 12,000 Moss-related photos in the Rex digital library. “She’s been one of the most bankable [celebrities] over a long period,” says Colls. “She’s often very happy to be photographed.”


Papa-paparazzi: Her album sales may be on the slide but photos of Lady Gaga are still in demand. This is a spooky shot of the singer at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York last year. A photo of Gaga “rarely ever fails to publish when she’s out in one of her wacky outfits,” says Colls.


Literary lunch: Prolific Clerkenwell author Peter Ackroyd was photographed taking a deserved break at La Rocchetta in Clerkenwell Green. There have been many more books since this photo in the Nineties – Ackroyd’s latest is a biography of Charlie Chaplin.


Family row: Andy Rouse, famed as king of the wildlife photographers, caught this dispute between mother and daughter. This rare shot of Bengal tigers in India’s Ranthambore National Park captures the moment when an 18-month-old cub asserts its claim for hunting territory over Machali, the mother.


Rodeo royal: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was photographed getting into the spirit of the Calgary Stampede on the first overseas tour with her husband in 2011. Rex has full accreditation to photograph royal occasions at home and abroad, including the recent tour of Australia and New Zealand – the first foreign trip for Prince George.


Meeow!: Almost as unusual as Gaga, odd-eyed Gina is a prize-winning Sphynx cat – an entirely hairless breed.


Iron man: A Norwegian film fan donned body armour made out of fibreglass, plastic and metal and decided to go on a tour of London, including a stroll through Clerkenwell where he pushed a baby’s pram past surprised onlookers.