a visual history

- also a look at Plymouth Air Day at Plymouth Airport, Roborough, Christmas Cheer magazine in 1960`s, and also a glance at the amazing artwork on wartime editions of the boy's comic "Champion."

Steve drew this as a little boy after a visit to a submarine. I was at Ford Primary School Plymouth at this time.

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another Steve Johnson Cyberheritage "content over style web page"

bringing heritage to your front room. Steve Johnson is a winner of the Devon Heritage Award for excellence in outreach education.

The high quality images on hyperlinks are almost all taken from various editions of the Plymouth Navy Days Programmes. We start in 1960 and see a Navy Days full of ships and amazing river and basin displays. Navy vessels are everywhere, all the wharves are jam packed full of open ships loaded with visitors. We then see the 1977 Navy Days of the Queen`s Silver Jubilee and the year later 1978 is the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of the Navy Days event itself. Perhaps by now the navy was beginning to feel the pinch of spending cuts with less ambitious river displays and less ships open as the R.N. struggled to juggle providing attractions for the paying public and raising funds for naval charities and managing crew leave and duty drafts.

1981 was the year before it was "all change"....the Falklands War the next year projected the role of the navy via the media and the events that unfolded as never before. That year of 1982 saw no Navy Days but "Plmouth Open days" which had fewer ships and less organised displays as many ships crews and the vessels themselves were still on duty in the South Atlantic, the war over. However there was the most different sight of captured Argentine materiel on display.

1989 saw a drastic reduction in what was open, only a fraction of the wharfage was open to visitors. The navy was now truly a commercial business where everything put on had to be costed, including a rather drab programme. 1993, where our trip through history stops we see a programme more resembling a holiday brochure.

However to this day Plymouth Navy Days continues to be a major draw to local and visitor alike, albeit now running every other year, rather than yearly, Plymouth Navy Days continues a proud tradition of showing the "Fleet to the World" and that never to be missed opportunity to:

see the ships and meet the men!


cover art of 1960 and 1961 programme

cover art of 1964 and 1965 programme

cover art of 1966 programme

cover art of 1967 programme

moving on now to the Queen`s Silver Jubilee of 1977 and the Golden Jubilee of Navy Days itself in 1978.

1981 sees us with the storm of the Falklands War to come. 1982 sees no Navy Days as such but "Plymouth Open Days" in the aftermath of the Falklands.

1989 sees the drabbest of dull cover art, and a smaller event in all ways, 1993 ends our look back with a bi-annual event (alternating with Portsmouth) and a small compact colourful programme, rather like the event itself.

Every Navy Days programme carries a map of where the ships are, names them, and tells the visitor whether they are open or not. Perhaps this is a good way to see the fortunes of this unique event.

1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1977, 1981, 1982, "open days, fill-in yourself programme" and finally the much shrunken 1989 event.

What ships, what names, I hope this stirs your memories.

This fine artwork from 1977 shows the voyage of the submarine HMS Valiant from 1974 to 1977.

In the early sixties the basin displays were quite something. I well recall the bangs in the water and feeling the concussion shock wave hit the ship I was using as a viewing platform...and do you remember all the stunned fish floating up!? Even heavy naval guns would fire blank charges, while these days a thunderflash is the most you will get. Remember the submarine surfacing in No.5 basin, well here it is. I think it is HMS/M Seascout, while others tell me it is HMS/M Sentinel. Either way it is a great photo. Enjoy!

I like submarines and have a web page on them, see page bottom for link, but to whet your appetite for things submersible, take a look at these photos of HMS/M United in 1944,off Jennycliffe Bay, Plymouth(note aerial barrage balloons) and HMS/M P415 in Cawsand Bay at the other side of Plymouth Sound, at around the same time.

Adverts featured in navy day programmes and here are some of them.

You could easily think that the only thing that interests sailors was beer and fags, but of course I`d be wrong, I forgot ice cream.

Walls ice cream in 1960 , 1961 and 1967

Nelson cigarettes 1960, Players Please in 1960, and Senior Service 1966

Guinness in 1960 and 1961.....and a rail advert to get you home in 1964.

Local shops and businesses would sometimes place adverts too.In 1960 Woolworths placed this ad, how different from the multi million pound TV and press campaigns of today. In 1961 so did British Home Stores. In Plymouth today we have the Theatre Royal, a theatre capable of hosting the most complex shows in the world. However in times past it was all happening at the Hoe Theatre...on the Hoe, a sort of large wooden hut. Times change! This ad is for the Hoe Theatre in 1961 and this for 1964.

We cannot look at navy days and the idea of raising money for naval charities without looking at Aggie Weston`s. See my web page with rare photos of Aggies in the late 1890`s.....superb...Click on photo directly above to go there.

Another person who did a lot for the sailor and seafarer in general was William Schermuly and his life saving rockets.

In those days of the early and mid sixties we also used to have "proper" air days at what was then Plymouth`s grass runwayed airfield at Roborough. Much has changed at Plymouth Airport these days, it si now tarmaced and runs a regular British Airway S.T.O.L. service to London and other destinations.

THEN, however it was a posh programme in 1966, having gone upmarket from the previous year in 1965.This publication had adverts too, such as this one for Smiths crisps...when the salt was in a proper little blue bag and this one for the local "Embankment" bus company.Both 1965. Sadly Plymouth air days as such are long gone.

Christmas Cheer was an annual magazine type publication that was published as a fund raiser and public awareness organ at Christmas time in and around Plymouth.Here are the cover arts of 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966.

This little publication again had many adverts for local shops and firms, all these will bring back memories to local Plymouthians of "a certain age."


Click HERE to go to my Plymouth shop heritage web site.

FINALLY in this "content over style" web page we can look at the amazing and oh just a bit jingoistic...if that is how you spell it, artwork of that comic from the 1940`s and World War II... "CHAMPION."

Just look at this little lot.

take that.....

splish, splash, splosh

up and away

rat tat tat tat rat.....

hole in one


two`s company

these are my captions for this truly amazing artwork that is so well executed and so well represents the common view of many a young boy in wartime Britain.