Beirut, 1960s

1956 to 1975

My parents, along with my brother John, moved to Beirut in 1956, when my father started flying for Kuwait Airways. I was born there in 1958 and Anthony in 1959. In 1970 my father had to relocate to Kuwait, but we made trips back to Beirut once or twice a year until Easter 1975, the year after my father retired and we stopped getting free flights.

1975 was also the year the Lebanese civil war started, and a series of other conflicts including the Israeli invasion of 1982. By 1990 it was mostly over, and in 1993 and 1994 I made a couple of return visits to Beirut.

My father took most of the early photos, of course, but Anthony and I took some after 1967 on our own Kodak Instamatics. There's not much from the 1970s - we were only there 2-3 weeks a year, and by then we had moved on to Super-8 movie films.

The photos are mostly of family events and trips out and not, of course, a documentary of the social conditions and political tensions in Lebanon that helped lead to the civil war. My father preferred mountains to ruins or cities, so there aren't many pictures of Baalbek and Byblos and downtown Beirut. He was an airline pilot but would rather have been a steam engine driver and he took very few pictures of the aircraft he flew. What little of school life is mostly taken by a professional, and at home there no pictures of, for instance, the kitchen or my bedroom and the toys and other junk we must have had.

While not a complete document of our doings and environs, the photos here should be interesting to anyone wondering what Beirut was like for an expatriate family in the 1960s.

Update: 1993 and 1994

In 1993 and 94 I got a chance to revisit Lebanon for the first times since leaving in 1975. I was then Middle East and Africa sales manager for the college publisher Prentice Hall and of course I was mostly supposed to be working, visiting booksellers and university lecturers. I did manage a bit of sightseeing, from the ruins of downtown Beirut to the ruins of Baalbek, and got to see old haunts like the BCS, Hamra, the Sporting Club and our old apartment building.

Update: 2011

In 2011 my brother Anthony visited Beirut, his first time since 1975. He even got into the apartment we had lived in from 1959 to 1969, the first member of our family to get back in there in 42 years. I took some of his photos and matched them against some our old photos taken in the same space: see the resulting Beirut Compared photo gallery.

Photo Galleries


Around Emir Fahd Building


At home: Xmas, parties &c


Beaches and Pools


Around Lebanon


BCS, Bir Hassan & Golf


Kuwait Airways

Going back in 1993

Going back in 2011


Landing in DC-3 1957

British Community School 1965

Skiing In Lebanon 1965

Christmas 1967

Beach Club 1968

Macedonia Sinking 1964

Easter Visit 1973