These rich illustrations by Linda Birch and Monique Partridge come from one of the Museum’s most recent acquisitions. In May we were given seventy-five editions of Child Education Magazines from 1950 to 1975. Added to an existing collection, we now have over 50 years of editions from 1920 to 1975, published by Evans Brothers Ltd. of Russell Square, London.
These magazines were produced for teachers of nursery to primary-age children, and are bursting with creative ideas. Each one features a pull-out of richly coloured poster or a nature scene, which was intended to inspire creative story-telling; there is so much music on these pages, with lyrics for traditional songs and new compositions, alongside arrangements for voice and piano. Sections on ‘Happenings’ and ‘Things’ share ideas for fundraising, offer reviews of books, toys and equipment, and generally offer a network of support and encouragement for those looking to develop new and interesting methods of teaching very young children.
The magazines will be kept in the library at the Museum of Childhood, and will be available – like all our books and journals – to view by appointment.
The covers of the magazines are an interesting case study in the representation of children; there is relatively little sentimentality. The black and white pictures on the covers of the 1950s magazines instead show children absorbed in their own activities. As time goes on, there are increased instances of idyllic pastorals of children in ‘nature’, with animals or in the countryside. In the 1960s and 70s, some of the illustrated covers become almost psychedelic, combining strange objects, plants and people in colourful line drawings.
The adverts too are revealing – new toys such as the Abbatt’s train set appear in a magazine dedicated to the railways. The Museum archive contains extensive material on Paul and Marjorie Abbatt, so it is fascinating to see the contexts within which their toys were advertised. For its topicality, look at this advert for Punch’s Toothpaste, in a mouth-watering array of flavours.
The readership of Child Education must have been lively, interesting teachers, passionate about trying new things and doing the best for the children in their tutelage. Articles on emerging psychological theory, educational spaces, and pedagogy give an academic underpinning to the crafts and poems printed to be cut and copied.
This particular set of magazines was collected (and kept very carefully) by Lois DeLyle-Turner, a teacher of many years who taught in London, Malaya and Marlborough. Lois (1924 – 2011) did her initial teacher training in Elephant & Castle, but after a few years set off to Malaya to take up a headship. In her later career as a deputy head in primary schools and then Mayor in Marlborough, Lois dedicated herself to the profession. She pursued a psychology degree, became a trade union representative, and devoted much time and energy to the wellbeing of children more widely.
A woman who went to Malaya alone shortly after the War must have had an intrepid curiosity about the world, and a certain fearlessness. In her later years, Lois wrote about her experience in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRENS) from 1943 to 1946. After training, she was posted to a base in Scotland where she met up with her brother who was in the air force. He took her for a ride in his Swordfish biplane:
“We flew over the Isle of Arran. Going into a steep dive, I slipped under as I was half standing, half perching on the seat. As I disappeared, the Swordfish being ‘open plan’ as it were, Malcolm just leaned over and pulled me up by my parachute straps! Ah those were the days.”
When I read about this thrilling experience, I thought how Lois’s retelling must have delighted the children who got to hear that story. I can understand why Lois would have placed value on a set of magazines that offered both realism and inspiration. In Child Education, youngsters are taught about the oil industry, food production and road building, as well as singing songs about conkers and cutting out pictures of castles and submarines.
Although the magazines can now go on to be read and enjoyed by generations in the future, I am pleased we can remember where they came from the woman who collected them, and lived, with such enthusiasm and dedication.
 Extracts from Lois’s memoirs are courtesy of her daughter, Belinda.