As a regular at flea markets, I wade my way through lots and lots of old photographs and bits of paper. As I’ve mentioned before in other blog posts, it is always such a shame to see so many life memories, mementoes and souvenirs thrown into a cardboard box and slung on a market stall. All these little bits of paper and these old photographs had to have meant something to someone… maybe to more than one person. Of course the reason they find themselves estranged from their owners is usually because the person to whom they belonged has passed away. Most of these bits and pieces are pretty old… But in particular there is a deluge of 1950s snaps on second-hand market stalls. Perhaps this is because cameras and film processing had become widely affordable and available during the 1950s and also because – sadly – those 30-something-year-olds who were snapping away and preserving memories at that time are now becoming only memories themselves. So there sit their lifetime’s ‘scrapbook’, thrown in a box stocked up from a house clearance, where clearly no one was interested in these random bits of paper… Until those of us with a passion for real stories – however small – pick them up, hand over a few pence or pounds and take them home.
So, what made me pick up this little collection – a piece of paper entitled ‘Flight Bulletin’, two picture postcards of an aeroplane and a couple of photos of some smart, glamorous ladies?
The seller had a tin full of photographs, which had apparently all belonged to the same gentleman. He had found these bits separated from the rest in an envelope – the seller himself had found them quite interesting,
I had never heard of a flight bulletin. With the BEA (British European Airlines – now defunct) logo on the top and a selection of information to be filled in by the pilot, this was obviously a way of communicating with the passengers on an aeroplane, pre intercom system. It says at the top, “Please pass on quickly”.
The flight bulletin tells us that the plane, a Viking aircraft captained by F Foster, was flying at that point over the channel from London to Geneva, at 7,500ft and the weather was noted to be ‘smooth’.
Here is where the postcards came in. They were both sent in 1950 from Geneva to London, and they both show the Viking aircraft. They are from grandparents to their grandson. I just love the excitement the grandmother felt from taking this flight, and how she wanted to share it with her grandson:
As promised we are sending you a photo of the plane we travelled in. We sat up in front and just outside the window the propeller was whizzing round. It was a lovely ride and as we looked down we could see all the lights of the Harrow Road and London. It looked like a fairy toy town it was so very pretty.
Love from Nan and Grandad”
The other postcard – this time penned by Grandad – is apparently a picture of the exact aircraft that Richard’s grandparents were going to be flying home in. Grandad notes, “I thought you would like it as it was taken at the aiport. There is another one beside it which has just come from England!”
The market seller believed the photos of the smartly dressed ladies to be the air hostesses on the flight as they were in the envelope with the other bits, but there is no writing on these photos. The ladies certainly look as smart and glamorous as you would expect a 1950s air hostess to look.
I can’t imagine that many people got to take passenger flights like this in 1950. The Viking plane was a British-made, twin-engine, propeller driven aircraft derived from the Vickers bomber aircraft used during WWII. It took its first passenger flight in 1946, just four years before ‘Nan and Grandad’ took their flight to Geneva. This was the start of air travel as we know it today. Of course we now take it for granted – there are thousands of flights and the cost of air travel has dramatically decreased in price – but I think in 1950 it must have felt like a pretty magical thing to fly in an aeroplane. And Richard’s Nan and Grandad wanted to share that with him.
And that is why I pick up these little bits of paper on market stalls. Here were two grandparents wanting to share that magic and excitement of their (first?) flight with their grandson. He must have been so excited when the postcard arrived from Geneva, and clearly his grandparents kept the flight bulletin sheet for him too as a souvenir. These things were sent in kindness and kept with love for 65 years – to me, that makes them important memories and ones that I would like to keep alive now.
Thank you for reading x