Stunning black and white Christmas photographs in 20th century Britain are restored by a colourist

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Christmas nostalgia in colour: Footage from festive celebrations in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s in Britain show young people kissing under mistletoe, a little boy sitting on Santa’s lap and a girl delighted with her harvest holly

  • Images of festive celebrations in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s in Britain show a nostalgic side to Christmas cheer
  • Snaps include Santa Claus and his lion cub in 1937 London, while children perch around a tree in 1947
  • Other images show Santa Claus giving a boy a stuffed horse and a young couple sharing a kiss under the mistletoe
  • Black and white photographs were taken by colourist Royston Leonard, 56, from Cardiff, Wales

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A set of mesmerizing festive photographs that have been newly colourised show the sparkle in children’s eyes shone brighter than ever during Christmas celebrations in 20th century Britain.

The original black and white images are now bursting with color and show how families celebrated the end of December across the UK in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Footage shows children in pressed pajamas patiently curled up waiting to receive the paper crackers tucked into their Christmas tree in 1947.

Another shows a young couple puckering up as they share a kiss under the mistletoe, proving the tradition was still alive and well in the 1950s.

And in other images, a shocked crowd gathers around Santa Claus and his unusual helper, a lion cub, in 1937 London.

A group of children in hurried pajamas huddle around the Christmas tree as they are handed paper decorations in London 1947

A young couple share a kiss under the mistletoe as they are surrounded by balloons, toys and streamers on Christmas

A young couple share a kiss under the mistletoe as they are surrounded by balloons, toys and streamers on Christmas

Santa Claus surprises a stunned crowd with his Christmas present in London in 1937. Children watch as he holds a lion cub aloft

Santa Claus surprises a stunned crowd with his Christmas present in London in 1937. Children watch as he holds a lion cub aloft

Santa Claus sits on a gold-plated throne and tries to make a young boy smile who seems more interested in his beard than the decorative white horse he is holding in 1952

Santa Claus sits on a gold-plated throne and tries to make a young boy smile who seems more interested in his beard than the decorative white horse he is holding in 1952

In one of the restored photographs, a toddler dressed in his striking red seasonal outfit does not look filled with Christmas cheer as he is pictured in floods of tears.

A photo from 1952 shows an amazed toddler clutching Santa’s beard as the man in red tries to show off a decorative white horse.

In another, a crowd of giggling children can’t believe their luck when Santa Claus nonchalantly joins their queue for their No 6 bus as he does his last minute Christmas shopping on the iconic Oxford Street in London in 1981.

And a little girl wearing a shiny white bean hat looks delighted with her transport as she is pictured carrying a miniature Christmas tree and holly home with her.

A crowd of giggling children can't believe their luck when Santa Claus nonchalantly joins their queue for their No. 6 bus as he does his last minute Christmas shopping on London's iconic Oxford Street London in 1981

A crowd of giggling children can’t believe their luck when Santa Claus nonchalantly joins their queue for their No. 6 bus as he does his last minute Christmas shopping on London’s iconic Oxford Street London in 1981

In one of the restored photographs, a toddler dressed in his striking red seasonal outfit does not appear filled with Christmas cheer as he is pictured in floods of tears amid neatly wrapped presents.

In one of the restored photographs, a toddler dressed in his striking red seasonal outfit does not appear filled with Christmas cheer as he is pictured in floods of tears amid neatly wrapped presents.

A little girl wearing a shiny white bean hat looks delighted with her transport as she is pictured carrying a miniature Christmas tree and holly home with her

A little girl wearing a shiny white bean hat looks delighted with her transport as she is pictured carrying a miniature Christmas tree and holly home with her

A young girl shakes hands with Santa Claus as he asks a group of children what they want to open December 25, 1951

A young girl shakes hands with Santa Claus as he asks a group of children what they want to open December 25, 1951

A young visitor to Santa's Grotto clasps her hands in prayer as she speaks with the Man in Red in 1958

A young visitor to Santa’s Grotto clasps her hands in prayer as she speaks with the Man in Red in 1958

Little Margaret Hemmingfield of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, poses for a photo with Santa Claus during a visit to London in 1948

Little Margaret Hemmingfield of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, poses for a photo with Santa Claus during a visit to London in 1948

The festive photographs of yesteryear have been brought back to life by colourist Royston Leonard, 56, from Cardiff, who painstakingly brought the shots into the 21st century.  Pictured: London's festive celebrations in the 1950s

The festive photographs of yesteryear have been brought back to life by colourist Royston Leonard, 56, from Cardiff, who painstakingly brought the shots into the 21st century. Pictured: London’s festive celebrations in the 1950s

Young children patiently wait to share their Christmas wish list with Santa Claus as he and a girl marvel at a ball together in 1957

Young children patiently wait to share their Christmas wish list with Santa Claus as he and a girl marvel at a ball together in 1957

The festive photographs of yesteryear have been brought back to life by colourist Royston Leonard, 56, from Cardiff, who painstakingly brought the shots into the 21st century.

The NHS worker explained: ‘Seeing Christmas of years gone by in color is a magical experience.

“In these pictures you can see the love within the family and how people got by on very little back then.

“The highlight for me is the delight and joy in the eyes of the children as they enjoy the season and see Santa Claus.”

Colorization projects are often a laborious exercise.

Using photo editing software, an artist identifies the grayscale range in each image, then frame by frame, each layer of the black and white photograph comes to life with an explosion of color.

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