A rare photographic collection of Hanoi during the post-war period between 1980 and 1983 is in the first public showcase in London on May 3-4.

Sixty photographs, which were taken by John Ramsden, a British diplomat cum photographer, bring to life the spirit of the capital city during a remarkable past, for which there are few comparable records.

In the early 1980s, Vietnam was at the beginning of a difficult period following the war end.

John Ramsden, arriving in Hanoi as part of the British Diplomatic Service’s mission, found himself in the middle of the poverty-stricken society. Amidst the post-war living environment, however, one could feel a sense of hope and a relentless fighting spirit of the Vietnamese people.

"It was a very difficult time, so I rather admire people," John Ramsden said. "Despite all the difficulties, people had great dignity and courage and managed to still uphold traditional values in a remarkable way."

He went for long walks around the city of Hanoi , bicycled out to the surrounding villages and made trips during the weekends, always bringing along his camera. More than 1,800 photographs of Hanoi had been taken as a result between 1980 and 1983.

John Ramsden used an English expression to name the title of the exhibition: Hanoi, the Spirit of Place, saying: “I hope these photographs convey something of the excitement I felt as I explored the city and its surroundings: the wistful, rather sad beauty, the grace and resilience of the people, the strength of an ancient culture amid all the changes and challenges of the time.”

Now these photographs are presented for the first time to the public.

At the opening of the exhibition on May 3, Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK Vu Quang Minh said the pictures show that even during one of the most difficult periods of time, Hanoi is still so beautiful, with simple, peaceful and charming everyday life.

Minh also thanked Sir John Ramsden for being a faithful guardian of these fond memories of Hanoi.

The event is co-organised by VietPro (Vietnamese Professional group in the UK ) and KREU, a talented group of young Vietnamese designers and architects who study and work in the UK .

The exhibition tour started at Vietnam Cultural Day in Copenhagen and will commence in Hanoi and HCM City later this year.-VNA