Woman’s Own has been going for more than 80 years and, for one girl who grew up in Bognor during the 1930s, the magazine was “tuppence” well-spent.
Two years ago, I wrote a nostalgia piece about the local photographer, Frank L’Alouette, who had a studio at 32 West Street during the 1930s and 1940s. During the summer months, his shop was a hive of activity as holidaymakers came in to have their films developed.
Frank supplemented his income by taking photographs at weddings and, during the Second World War, served as an official war photographer in Bognor under a licence from the Ministry of Information.
But Frank also took photographs for the media and would be sent out on assignments for the Planet News Agency. The agency would ring him up to say that there was an event taking place locally and ask if he could go along. He would arrive with his sturdy VN Press Camera (upgrading later to the Graphic) and, having got the shots that he needed, would send the glass plate negatives up to London on the train.
The images Frank took for newspapers and magazines were often staged and he would sometimes recruit his eldest daughters Jenny and Pamela to pose for the camera.
The photograph on the front of the 1938 edition of Woman’s Own is one such image. It shows Jenny, then aged about 5, in a field of daffodils with a large bunch of flowers under each arm.
Another photograph shows Jenny and Pamela helping out on a farm during the haymaking season. This was used to promote the Women’s Land Army, otherwise known as the “land girls”, although Jenny freely admits that she and her sister would have been a little young to join up themselves.
And there is a lovely picture showing the two girls with their mother Doris on a picnic in the Sussex countryside, trying out their gas masks to demonstrate how life was carrying on as usual despite the threat of air raids.
Jenny, who still lives in the area, also remembers her father taking photographs for local firms in the town, including Hall and Goulding. The company, based in Shripney Road on the site now occupied by Sainsburys, manufactured a range of products under the brand name “Hago” Wirewear - anything from coathangers to magazine racks.
Frank carried out work for the LEC factory in Shripney Road too. In the early days, fridges were delivered to the studio in West Street to be photographed. However, as time went on, Frank would usually go to the factory and photograph their products on-site and Jenny remembers, as a 17-year-old, going along to hold up the second flash.
But, of all the photographs taken by Frank, it’s the delightful pictures of his daughters Jenny and Pamela which really steal the show. They demonstrate how, even in the darkest days of war, children can still have a great time.
n West Sussex Record Office has a number of illustrated talks coming up: Dogs at War – the British use of dogs during the First World War on 26 April, and West Sussex & the Battle of the Somme on 28 June.
Tickets cost £7.50 (advance booking essential).
Talks start at 7pm. Please call 01243 753602 to book and pay, or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/ro for details.
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