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Treading the 1950s London tourist trail

Treading the 1950s London tourist trail.

Date Sent:    13 May 1955   

Sender: Jean 

Recipient: Mr & Mrs R Turrell, 86, Batley Street, Sheffield 5. 

Transcript: The Kenilworth, Friday 

Dear Molly and Ron, 

It’s lovely to know you are together again.  We’ve had quite a week here sightseeing – my poor feet. Yesterday a.m toured the Tower of London, saw the Crown Jewels, the ravens, armouries etc. tomorrow it’s back to the grind.  Hope we shall see you very soon. Love Jean 


a poastcard with handwritten text and two stamps

 Jean’s 1955 postcard from the Tower is the first we’ve posted written in biro – or more correctly ballpoint pen.  If history were fair, then we would talk of the Loud as our writing instrument of choice, but history isn’t, so instead we celebrate the biro. John Jacob Loud of Weymouth, Mass. patented the first ballpoint pen in 1888, and while it did what he wanted it never really caught on in polite circles.  Thirty years later Laszlo Biro’s ballpoint pen was patented in Paris, and its commercial success cemented when Biro sold the patent to Marcel Bich who developed it into the BIC biro.  

London was buzzing in 1955 – a new monarch crowned in ‘53, and as the postal frank advertises, from 2-13 May the annual British Industries Fair at London and Birmingham showcasing home producers’ wares to the trade.  

Sepia postcard showin the tower of london as part of a city view from the south bank.

A decade had passed since the end of the War, and the postcard shows little evidence of the damage.  The trees in full summer leaf conceal what remains, if any, were left of the Main Guard – bombed out and gutted in 1940 and finally demolished in 1944. Neat cropping of the image combined with leafy canopy disguise Tower Hill’s scars. Only the pillbox towards the east end of the Wharf gives the game away (roughly in the centre of the lower edge of the postcard) and it would be demolished four years later. However, we have seen a postcard postmarked 1970 and still showing it. The apparent lack of flagpole and flag atop the White Tower is concerning – raising questions as to the image being quite as contemporary to the post mark as it first appears.  A temporary flagstaff was used from 1945 as the former one was found to be decayed.  In July 1948 a strapping colonial Douglas Fir courtesy of the Canadian timber magnate Mr Prentice Bloedel took over and remains in service today.   

However, even in black and white, the sun seems to be shining and the future looks bright giving the card an optimistic glow. 

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