See the brilliant archive pictures of Piccadilly Circus through the years as the lights return

From shining through foggy mornings to being dimmed for the death of Winston Churchill, there's a lot of history in the lights.

The neon extravaganza of Piccadilly Circus has returned after a 10-month hiatus for redevelopment work.

The world-famous advertising lights were turned off in January to allow for a new-style screen to be installed.

Here we look back at some moments in the lights’ history:


Weather – London Fog – Piccadilly

The lights cut through a dense fog at 9.30am one January morning. The fog was one of the worst of the winter and made the morning look “like midnight”.

Adverts for Bovril, Coca-Cola and Wrigley’s chewing gum were illuminated.


Lights of London's Piccadilly Circus switched off in tribute to Sir Winston Churchill (PA)

The advertising signs are switched off in tribute to wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill after his death on January 24 1965. Among the ads going dark were those for Players, BP, Gordon’s Gin and Skol.


Labour advertises on the Piccadilly Circus billboards (Neil Munns/PA)
(Neil Munns/PA)

After Conservative Chancellor Kenneth Clarke delivers a Budget statement in the Commons, Labour switches on its own advert above Piccadilly Circus in what was seen as a cheeky publicity coup.

The slogan read: “Whatever he does today, you’re still worse off”.


Lights Out London
(Rebecca Harley/PA)

As part of environmental campaign Lights Out London, the signs are turned off but not before they display a new selection of adverts from Sanyo, TDK, McDonald’s and Samsung.

Coca-Cola’s prime advertising slot was also accompanied by the Stoke City logo because the drinks giant was the sponsor of the Football League. The same year, people could pay for personal messages to scroll through the adverts.


Earth Hour at Piccadilly Circus in 2009
(Yui Mok/PA)

The screens are switched off for Earth Hour in 2009, a worldwide scheme to promote awareness of climate change and sustainability backed by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Lights were also turned off across famous landmarks and buildings around the world including, in London, the Palace of Westminster, Wembley Stadium and Canary Wharf.


Poetry lights up London landmark Piccadilly Circus (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Piccadilly Circus joins in with National Poetry Day in 2012. A video featuring lines from the poem I Am The Song by Charles Causley was displayed on the electronic advertising boards.

The poetry sat alongside adverts for Diet Coke, Hyundai, Samsung and McDonald’s.

December 2016

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The BBC uses the Piccadilly Circus screens to display an advert for the new series of Sherlock. The phrase “Miss me?” was used in the programme by Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis, Moriarty.

January 2017

Piccadilly Lights were switched off in January 2017 ahead of redevelopment (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The lights are switched off ahead of redevelopment.

October 2017

The advertising screens at Piccadilly Circus in central London are switched on for the first time in nine months after the electronic hoardings were replaced with a state-of-the-art screen measuring 790 square metres.
(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A state-of-the art screen measuring 790 square metres is switched on. The new 4K screen is the largest of its type in Europe.

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