The Little Red Hen in Hambledon

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.

Althouth this is quite a well-known bit of Ladybird trivia, 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, walking down the road in Hambledon, Hampshire.