Monday, 2 May 2016

Ladybird Travel Adventure - your help needed


A couple of weeks ago a journalist called Steve Clark got in touch.  He was thinking about writing an article about the real scenes captured in Ladybird Books.  Previously he had written a Ladybird-themed blog-post,  which I had shared on Twitter.

In Steve's blog post he had put side by side two pictures - one a photo of a village local to him which had been used as a basis to the front cover of the 1960s book 'The Little Red Hen'  and the other the picture from the book itself - a book beautifully illustrated by Robert Lumley.

The post attracted quite a lot of attention, as things often do that remind people of this much-loved series of children's books.  He wanted to turn it into an article for a Sunday paper - possibly the Mail on Sunday.  Now this is a topic that has interested me for a while.  I've been planning to write something on the topic and have been collecting pictures for this purpose for a while so I told him this.  However, in the spirit of Ladybird Land I agreed to help him with it and shared some of my information.

The story, due out 2 weeks ago, never appeared, he didn't contact me again and I assume that Steve changed his mind or, more likely perhaps, an editor was less enamored with the idea than either of us.

So now I shall share some of the scenes I have accumulated so far - mainly thanks to research and heavy use of Google Street view - but also thanks to contributions from some kind folk out there.

But I'd love to collect some more.  If you can place any well-known Ladybird scenes, I'd really appreciate your help.

1)  John Berry's Police Station from the 1962 version of 'People at Work - The Policeman' and Brixton Police Station today

 via @lovesBrixton

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel - adorned with cuddly Morris Traveller - from Robert Ayton's 1964 illustrations in 'Churches and Cathedrals' 

and today - now Bridport Arts Centre.

(Thanks to Gary Grant @ecoschemes)

3)Now on to London (John Berry again, 1961)

First we have The Royal Exchange in 1961:

(Apparently the flashy car in the foreground was John Berry's own - he squeezed a cameo of it into a few of his pictures)

And from Google: (very grateful to the bus for lining up so precisely).

The Science Museum, 1961 - hushed and tranquil

And today ... (ish)

Tower Bridge hasn't changed much of course, but the view behind it has.

(No, don't let the lean unsettle you; I don't think it's falling down in reality).

Some scenes have barely changed, of course:

The British Museum may have been completely revamped in some areas but others look much the same ...

I can't get quite the right picture of Piccadilly Circus - and not by night - but you get the idea.

London Zoo no longer seems to keep sea lions so the nearest I can get is the Penguin Pool

Though in my research I found the newspaper image that Berry seems to have based his painting on:
As for Heathrow,  ... (back in 1961 in was 'London Airport')

And today ...

4) But my favourite finds are still from fiction - there's an added buzz when a photograph hints that perhaps your five-year-old self wasn't wrong: perhaps after all it's all really really real and the ungrateful little gingerbread boy one day just might run past you ...

 And of course, let's not forget The Little Red Hen


Margaret said...

I so enjoyed reading this, Helen. Keep up the good work!

Natalie said...

Great article. How about Bentalls, Kingston- In a big store?

Helen said...

Of course! Great suggestion - thanks

Liz said...

Brilliant post. Very interesting. I hope you find more locations used in fiction.

Helen said...

Thanks Liz - so do I. I've been working on a few this morning - with mixed results

Mike W said...

Extremely interesting. If only a definitive Ladybird book could be produced with articles such as this.