KEEP CALM AND KEEP GOING seems to sum up the order of the day globally, as it has done for around 4 weeks now. I hope that all of our customers, all stakeholders and anyone else who is interested in our organisation, did manage to enjoy a happy time over the Easter period as the official school Easter holidays come to an end, such as they were. Just 2 specially-identified weeks in a string of 17 weeks off school that our grandkids are currently undertaking; although they did point out that the lessons at home had been relaxed a little bit over the period.
As a supporter of South Shields Local History Group, I have just received my copy of their monthly newsletter, which I always enjoy reading because of my interest in my home town and its fascinating history. We have a Roman Fort, numerous significant maritime achievements and as the finishing line for the world renown Great North Run is located on South Shields beautiful coastline near its fantastic beach, we have been playing host to tens of thousands of runners and their supporters every year since 1981 (38 years so far) that usually ends with a flying display by the Red Arrows Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team. If you are interested in Solar Solve’s home town, you can access the Local History Group website from here, The South Shields Library website from here or South Shields Museum and Art Gallery from here.
I mention the SSLHG newsletter, not to promote my excellent home town but because, coincidently (or I rather suspect more by design), it carries a very interesting and appropriate opening article that highlights perfectly the situation in our country and indeed just about every other country in the world, today.
The piece was submitted by James Mullholland, the Editor and a dedicated member of the Group’s very hard working and similarly dedicated committee. So my thanks go to Jim for this.
Keep Calm and Carry On
In the spring of 1939 during the build up to war, the British Government commissioned a series of posters intended to offer the public reassurance in the dark days that lay ahead. They were required to be uniform in style and featured a unique typeface so they could not easily be copied by the enemy. The only image used was the crown of King George VI and the posters had just two colours.
Of the three designs that went into production the first poster carried the slogan, ‘YOUR COURAGE, YOUR CHEERFULNESS, YOUR RESOLUTION WILL BRING US VICTORY’.
The second poster had the words ‘FREEDOM IS IN PERIL, DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT’.
The third design, of which 2.5 million were printed, simply read ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’.
The first two designs were distributed in September 1939 and appeared in public places throughout the country but the ‘KEEP CALM’ posters were held in reserve, for use only in times of crisis or invasion. In the end the poster was never officially issued and it remained unseen by the public for almost 50 years, until a copy turned up. It was found in a second hand book store in Alnwick called Barter Books, which is only about 30 miles (50 Km) from South Shields.
Barter Books begun in 1991 by a couple Stewart and Mary Manley. The building used to be a Victorian railway station and huge rows of book shelves now stand where the railway lines used to be, but the original waiting rooms and tea rooms are still there.
It was in 2000 that Stewart found the poster in a box of used books bought at auction. Mary liked it so much she had it framed and put it up next to the shop’s till. A year later it proved so popular with the customers, they began to sell copies. Since that time the poster has been reproduced throughout the country and has become a truly iconic image of the 21st century.
It’s hard to say exactly, why such a phrase from a bygone era would have so much appeal to a generation far removed from the harrowing times of WW2. Its design is considered simple and timeless and is now commonly recognisable. However, it’s perhaps the words on the poster that people find enchanting. Like a voice out of history, it offers a very simple, heart-warming message to inspire confidence in others in difficult times and it’s something that should never fade from our memories.
For more on the heart-warming story of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster, please click on the link here.
In the meantime, just remember to stay healthy, keep calm and carry on.
Submitted by James Mullholland, Editor, SSLHG Newsletter.
JHL MBE SSL Co. Chairman