1930s Magazines · Blog posts

Summer drink recipes, June, 1937.

Woman’s Own magazine, June the 26th, 1937.

Some refreshing drinks that would be perfect for a warm summer’s day ( if we get any this year that is…). Why not make them for a vintage style picnic or party? Download the recipe page here:

Blog posts · Songs · My Fiction · Old Photographs

Wish you were here? That’s Somerset.

A song written by Tolchard Evans, and recorded on April the 28th, 1931, by the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra, with Al Bowlly on vocals reminds me of a picture postcard from that era. I expect Mr Evans once holidayed in Somerset and he liked it so much that he wrote his song, inspired by what he had seen and experienced there.

A quaint village street, Somerset, 1930s.

1930s Magazines · Blog posts · Old Footage

An English Holiday Time Travel, back to 1937.

It’s June, 1937. Where might one be going on holiday? Air travel was still quite new, so it is very unlikely you would be jetting off to Spain, never mind a tropical resort. For the wealthy who could afford to holiday abroad it was usually by a liner. For the working classes there was always seaside towns like Brighton, Margate, and of course Blackpool.

Woman’s Pictorial magazine, June the 5th, 1937.

The above article evokes images of long summer days spent in quaint, historic little towns and villages. It seems to me that warm summers here in Britain are a thing of the past. The highest temperature I’ve experienced this year so far, is one day at 77°F. The rest of the time it is on average a measly 64°F. Another reason to wish for a Time Machine! I can just picture boating on a river, with a picnic afterwards.

I would be quite happy to be on holiday back here

The article can be downloaded here as a pdf:

1930s Fashion · 1930s Magazines · Blog posts

Summer Frocks and Jumpers, June 1937.

Outfits for the sporty woman on her summer holiday in June, 1937. The children’s romper suits are cute but also practical for a day at the seaside.

Woman’s Pictorial, June the 5th, 1937.

For daytime outings, perhaps for afternoon tea or a visit to an art gallery: a selection of frocks, a two piece and jacket. These were patterns to be sent off for. It must’ve been rather satisfying to have had a friend compliment you on your outfit and to have revealed that you sewed it yourself.

Woman’s Pictorial, June the 5th, 1937.

Woman’s Pictorial, June the 5th, 1937.

A pattern for a summer jumper, for those cooler British summer days!

Woman’s Pictorial, June the 5th, 1937.

This jumper is to be knitted with knitting rayon. I had no idea that rayon came as a fibre to be knitted until I saw this. This is from Woman’s Own magazine, which I acquired recently. It is has a lot of interesting articles in it which I’ll feature in a few future blog posts.

Woman’s Own magazine, June the 26th, 1937.

Woman’s Own magazine, June the 26th, 1937.

The fashion images and knitting patterns can be downloaded here in pdf files. I am useless at knitting, but would be very interested to see jumpers any readers have knitted from these patterns. Please do send me links to photos of them!

1930s Magazines · Blog posts · Radio

“Songs From The Films” with John Watt, 1934.

Some people hoard away the theatre programmes of shows they have seen, and most of us have a niche in our memories for certain songs we have heard in the theatre. It is pleasant to wander down Memory Lane to music. . .

So says the below article from Popular Music And Dancing Weekly magazine from 1934. I don’t suppose many people collect theatre programmes nowadays, and with digital and online media we can hear songs from almost anywhere whenever we want. But back in those days unless the song you liked was played on the radio, or released on a shellac record you were quite likely never to hear it again. Imagine hearing a tune just the once and longing to hear it again . . .

Popular Music And Dancing Weekly, November the 17th, 1934

For the reasons I mentioned above, John Watt’s radio programmes “Song of the Shows” and “Song of the Films” were very popular with listeners. The above article describes how much work went into giving listeners what they wanted. John Watt sounded like a genial fellow, and despite being a well known radio producer in 1934, is virtually forgotten today. He has a very short Wikipedia entry which doesn’t even mention these two shows. I would have been one of his avid listeners, had I been living then.

Below is a video of a shellac record playing on a gramophone a recording from one of John’s Songs Of The Shows. He introduces the tunes in that vintage BBC Radio voice we never hear anyone speak like today. I rather like it though!

This video is a John Watts shellac record of Songs From The Shows; this time on an early record player! Just look at how sturdy the record player’s arm is!

John Watt’s Songs From The Films: Songs of Bing Crosby:

There is something poignant about these radio shellac records: they are momentos of an almost forgotten era, which in terms of history is really quite recent. They were recorded so that people could not forget their favourite songs. I hope that they will gain new listeners so that this era’s music will not be lost in time.

The article about John Watt can be downloaded here in pdf format:

Al Bowlly · Blog posts · My Fiction · Songs

Rosie’s Sister: A Silent Film Clip.

An imagined clip from a previously lost silent film from 1926.

Inspired by the song Say, Mister! (Have You Met Rosie’s Sister).


Roberto, a spiv who fancies himself a bit.

Horace, a mild mannered boy next door type.

Rosie the dance mad flapper.

THE SCENE: a nightclub where all the bright young things go to dance to the latest hot numbers. Rosie is there dancing. Horace watches her longingly.


Another fragment has been found–stay tuned folks to find out what happens next!

Blog posts · Vintage Books

Blackie’s Annual For Girls: 1920s Edition.

From Blackie’s Girls Annual, 1920s.

The above pretty little “articles” are from a 1920s girls’ annual I have in my collection. There is no date put in the book but the fashions in the photographs and illustrations date it to the mid 1920s.

Below is the annual’s front cover. It is made from very thick cardboard and is quite worn, but retains its charm.

Most girls learned to sew back then, and it was not only a very useful skill to have in terms of making items for the home and clothing, but also was great for gift giving. I am not a good seamstress but for those who are, here is a pdf download from the annual with instructions how to make the items in the illustrations:

The inside front pages of the annual are not only very attractive visually, but they illustrate the focus on healthy outdoorsy pursuits.

I find 1920s annuals to be a kind of social history source because of the contents. The types of stories and articles are indicative of the times. These books aimed to provide girls with educational articles, entertainment (fiction) and encouraged self development. Role models were creative and professional women, or sportswomen such as golfer Eleanor E. Helme.

How women and girls dressed to play golf in the 1920s:

1930s Magazines · Songs

Do the College Rhythm! Dance Craze from 1934-5.

Popular Music And Dancing Weekly, March the 2nd, 1935.

From the American musical comedy film College Rhythm, released in 1934 and the following year in Britain came a dance routine, seen above in Popular Music And Dancing Weekly magazine. There is a clip from the film which has a number of dancers doing the dance. I wonder if it caught on in London’s dance halls in 1935!

The film starred starring Jack Oakie, Mary Brian and Joe Penner, and was set in a department store, where a college football player gets a job.


The film must’ve quite popular at the time because London band leader Ambrose recorded the theme song with The Rhythm Sisters.

Here’s a pdf download of the dance steps for anyone who’d like to try it!

1930s Magazines · Blog posts · Dance Bands

Sydney Lipton, British Dance Band Leader.

Popular Music And Dancing Weekly, January the 26th, 1935.

Above is a sweet little interview/article with British dance dance band leader Sydney Lipton and his wife, May Lipton (maiden name Johnston Parker). In those days a married woman’s name wasn’t always given, so I found out her name on Wikipedia. May seemed to be very supportive of Sydney’s work, which meant that she didn’t see a lot of him due to the late hours he kept with his band. Their daughter Celia became one of Sydney’s vocalists in the 1940s.

Sydney (who was born in 1905) had an interesting and long career, starting off playing violin as a boy, and in the 1920s, began playing professionally with cinema orchestras for silent films. He joined Billy Cotton’s band in 1925 and recorded with him and also with Ambrose. In 1931 he formed his own band, and became the resident bandleader at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair, London, and played on BBC Radio.

Below is a picture showing how the hotel looked in the 1920s, not long after it was built. I expect it didn’t look that much different when Sydney began playing there in 1932. The hotel is still going strong, but of course much “refurbishment” has been done inside in recent times so it looks quite different to how Sydney remembered it.

Drawing of the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London, 1920s, Source: Wikipedia.

In this radio broadcast on Melbourne Community Radio from 1980, Sydney reminisced on his days as a dance band leader. It features many fine recordings of Sydney’s band, including my favourites Sadie The Shaker and It’s A Long Long Way To Your Heart. There is also a classical music recording he made, which shows his versatility. Sydney was a very pleasant gentleman; most agreeable in his interviews, and talked fondly of many of the other dance band musicians he worked with in the 1930s.

Another radio broadcast from BBC Radio in 1993, presented by Alan Dell is another interesting listen, with more great music and memories recounted by Sydney.

Below is the magazine article in pdf format to download:

The one Sydney Lipton number you just can’t NOT listen to is Sadie The Shaker. It is a real hot number with fantastic trumpet playing and snappy lyrics.

I don’t know who recorded it first because I haven’t been able to find any recordings of it online besides this one by Sydney Lipton’s band. It was written in 1932 by American song writer, Bob Miller.

Bob Miller in the 1920s (picture credit Wikipedia)


The lyrics:


1930s Magazines · Blog posts

Supper Recipes From 1937

Tomatoes were as popular in 1937 as they are today. This page from Woman’s Pictorial magazine has some recipes using tomatoes that I’ve never come across today, and are quite unusual. Tomato Jellies, Tomato Custards and Tomato Cheese are all rather peculiar sounding!

The first one isn’t appetising to me at all but the second one I might try, substituting the milk with an oat milk (I’m lactose intolerant) and gluten free breadcrumbs. The Tomato Cheese recipe is the most unusual to me- I can’t quite figure out what it is supposed to be and what you would do with it when it’s made!

Woman’s Pictorial, June the 5th, 1937.

Perhaps I’ll have a go at making Tomato Cheese sometime and after tasting it, it might become clear to me what I am supposed eat it with!

Woman’s Pictorial, June the 5th, 1937.

Thank goodness John’s wife decided to use Spry instead of butter (or was it horror of horrors lard?) in her fruit pies. Poor John probably had to go to the kitchen to swig Milk Of Magnesia or he’d be awake half the night.

You won’t find Spry today, but you could still make the short crust pastry recipe in the advertisement using Trex vegetable fat which is the nearest to Spry you can find today.


Your pie will be even more authentic if you use fresh fruit and Birds custard!

I had to look up on Google what kind of fish skippers are- young herring. I am a vegetarian so that explains why I had no idea. You can still buy them in tins. For those who like fish the below recipe would be a quick vintage supper.

Woman’s Pictorial, June the 5th, 1937.

I couldn’t resist including this ad for a Canon cooker. I think the 1930s cookers were so much more attractive looking than today’s. I’m bored with stainless steel.

Woman’s Pictorial, June the 5th, 1937.

I have created a little pdf booklet of the recipes to download. If you try any of them I’d be interested to know how you liked them ( or not!).