FIRST PICTURE: A COLLECTION OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS FROM THE 1950’S. THIS IS TO BE FOUND IN THE MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD IN BETHNAL GREEN.
SECOND PICTURE: TYPICAL 1960’S MODERN SUNBURST WALL CLOCK.
Were you a member of the I-Spy Club from the daily paper the News Chronical? I was and I was dead keen on filling in all sorts of I-Spy Books but I only got one feather for my war bonnet because I soon realised that if I sent off my completed book to Big Chief I-Spy to get my coloured feather, only the feather and an Order of Merit came back and not the book. So after the first book that I sent off I satisfied myself with the single feather and kept the hard won filled up books at home.
The I-SPY books were and still are spotters' guides written for British children, and were particularly successful in the 1950s and 1960s being based on things that the children could see in and around Great Britain.
The I-SPY Tribe was based on the I-SPY Books, of which there were forty four different titles, of small spotters books that sold in hundreds of thousands. Each book covered a subject such as I-SPY Cars, I-SPY on the Pavement, I-SPY Churches, I-SPY on a Train Journey, etc, etc. As children spotted objects such as coalhole covers, oak trees, semaphore signals, police boxes, stations, plants, fire engines, whelks, and so on, they recorded the event in the relevant book, and gained points. Once the book was complete, it could be sent to Big Chief I-SPY for a feather and an Order of Merit, a child could also belong to the I-Spy Club and could proudly wear a News Chronical I-Spy Club members badge. (a subtile way of advertising)
The club was supposedly run by a Red Indian chief called Big Chief I-Spy. The original Big Chief I-Spy was Charles Warrell, who was a former headmaster and who created I-Spy towards the end of his working life. He retired in 1956, but lived on until 1995 when he died at the age of 106. After Charles Warrell's retirement his assistant Arnold Cawthrow became the second Big Chief, and served in this role until 1978. For part of this time he also worked as an antiques dealer in Islington. He died in 1993, and is commemorated by a stone plaque placed on the outside of the Boatmen's Rooms, the house where he spent some of his last years in Deal, Kent.
Members of the I-Spy Tribe were called Redskins, and the head office was variously known as the Wigwam by the Water or the Wigwam by the Green. The former was located for some years next to the Mermaid Theatre at Blackfriars, while the latter was in London's Edgware Road.
The books were originally self-published by Charles Warrell but, after a brief period when they were published by the Daily Mail, they were taken over by the now long departed News Chronicle and based in the paper's building in Bouverie Street. The regular I-SPY column, which appeared in the News Chronicle, reverted to the Daily Mail when the News Chronicle ceased publication, and continued to appear until the late 1980s. The books have had various publishers over the years including the Dickens Press, a company set up to continue the book publishing interests of the 'News Chronicle', and Polystyle Publications, a publisher of children's comics.
The books became very popular, with most print runs going well into six figures. Big Chief I-Spy had a succession of assistants, usually known as "Hawkeye". In the early 1970s, this position was held by Ralph Mills. Earlier assistants included Max Heinz and John Tagholm. In the 1980s, following a short-lived third Big Chief, Robin Tucek, Professor David Bellamy of TV fame replaced Big Chief I-Spy as the person to whom completed books were sent, and the earlier Red Indian connections were quietly dropped, I suppose by this time the ethnic connections were politically incorrect!
I-Spy books were still being sold, until recently, by Michelin Travel Publications and there has been talk of Michelin licensing the I-SPY brand to another publisher in the future.
I really do hope that another publisher can be found as the books were a really good grounding for children and nurtured an inquistive mind. However one thing does occur to me and that is with over 40 different titles covering 40 different subjects it really must have been a nightmare keeping these books up to date! Still they were great fun and I spent hours going round recording things in my books. Maybe I should try to introduce my grandson to the wonder of I-Spy!
Stay in touch and Take Care
My father started working in Baker & Sons Ltd; in 1946, after he qualified as a Pharmacist, which was owned then by Mr Baker. He took the business over circa 1953 when Mr Baker retired and he renamed the business "Bakers of Cosham". Incidentally, Mr Baker lived at and owned Lumley Mill at Emsworth. In those days, it was just one residence. After he retired, my mother made him a Christmas Cake every year until he died. Either me or one of my brothers had to catch the No 31 bus ( Southdown ) and take it to him.
Seems I have digressed a bit from your Manor Court theme but soon I will send you some more school memories, although I was at Court Lane immediately before it changed to Manor Court.
NEWS AND VIEWS:
Max Robertson, writer, broadcaster and sports commentator, has died aged 94. He was the first presenter of Panorama, of Going for a Song, and was a commentator at the Queen's Coronation in 1953; but he was best known as the "other voice of Wimbledon", alongside Dan Maskell.
He covered every Wimbledon final for the BBC from 1946 to 1986. He was chosen to do the commentary for the first postwar Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1948 and covered summer and winter Olympiads. He also covered the royal tour of Canada in 1951 when the young Princess Elizabeth deputised for her father who was too ill to travel.
ON THIS DAY 29TH NOVEMBER 1960-1965
On 29/11/1960 the number one single was It's Now Or Never - Elvis Presley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 29/11/1961 the number one single was Little Sister/His Latest Flame - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Ipswich Town. The top rated TV show was "Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £ 13.25.The big news story of the day was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV)".
On 29/11/1962 the number one single was Lovesick Blues - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Out of the Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 29/11/1963 the number one single was She Loves You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was 119 killed in Montreal jet crash.
On 29/11/1964 the number one single was Baby Love - Supremes and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 29/11/1965 the number one single was The Carnival is Over - Seekers and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music.A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.