Children’s week has been taking place every Summer in Paignton since 1946. The replay team are a group of local young people who have spent two years researching the history of Children’s Week, making this living archive website, creating a film about Children’s Week, interviewing people, broadcasting live radio shows, organising heritage sharing days, running heritage activities at Children’s Week and lots more. Across the two years the Replay team have looked through a HUGE resource of old photographs and have chosen some of their favourite ones from the past seventy years to share on this archive web site for you to enjoy. The team also spent time in Torquay library and with support from staff there were able to explore the substantial newspaper archiver that is housed there. They were able to find newspaper reports back into the 1940’s and were amazed at the difference between newspapers then and now. If you would like a closer look at any of the articles below, just click on them and they will appear bigger for you.
If you scroll further down, past the newspaper cuttings you will see an old film of Children’s Week from 1992 made by Torbay Picture Company.
in this article you can see Conway Hoare who currently works for Torbay Council as an event officer. In the newspaper article he is 13 years old and he came 1st in the go kart racing. He won a £1 gift voucher! Conway is still involved with children’s week today, but instead of being in charge of the go-kart he is now in charge of all the health and safety elements of Children’s Week. In September 1947 the Paignton News reports that the numbers attending all of the events was ‘Proof that Chidren’s Week was needed’ It reports of unexpected numbers of entries for the fancy dress and that Cllr George Speare, one of the organisers was very surprised. The sandcastle competition proved to be so popular that organisers were planning the competition to take place in all three town’s beaches. The photo is of the ‘Visiting Princess’, Daphne Willams (aged 13) who was visiting from Pontypool and she is pictured with the Paignton Princess, Shirley Simpson aged 12. There is also a footnote that says that Daphne’s parents had already booked accomodation to come back the following year! In an article from September 1st 1951 titled ‘Pets? snails, a snake & caterpillar’ the reporter talks about Cllr N Hicks the organiser having a headache about the unexpected popularity of this first-time activity at Childrens Week – Pets Corner. Pets Corner was originally just an experiment and it was the most popular event of the whole week with over 80 entries of peoples pets. Dogs, cats, tortoises were joined by entrants from Paignton Zoo of Llamas, ponies and goats all of which were judged by Chief Inspector Butterworth who, it is said, had a hard job. One entrant did not count as it was a caterpillar reportedly found by a young boy outside his hotel chalet on the morning of the competition and so deemed not to be a proper pet!! Michael Hall’s bulldog from Birmingham won ‘the ugliest pet’ and ‘the most beautiful’ was won by a dog owned by Vivian Hole from Torquay. The ‘most useful pet’ prize went to Patricia White from Paignton for her egg-laying hen. In 1953 a feature on September 5th describes the huge popularity of the sand castle competitions at Children’s Week, so much so that they had to run several different competitions to cope with demand. The first sand castle competition had 74 entries and the second competition had 175 entries. The 3rd competition, held in Goodrington, had 137 entries and the article notes that there was not enough squares available as pitches for the 200 hopeful competitors. “Even before the announcer Mr N Jenkins gave the starting signal the ‘BEACH FULL’ sign had to be put up” says the paper. The feature also describes the motor boat race where 96 children competed for the first prize slot, including two boys from Spain. It also describes the regular Sunday Children’s Week service that was attended by 1000 people most of which were children. An article from the Paignton Observer and Echo on August 29th 1957 features a photo of the winner of the Paignton Princess – Jennifer Waldron aged 13 along with her attendants Jennifer Devenish aged 10 and Janet Gouland aged 9. We wonder where they are nowadays and if they might see this picture of themselves on this website!
In the Paignton News from September 5th 1958 an article describes the 7th Children’s Week festival calling it ‘easily the best yet (something that we noticed a lot of the papers saying each year during our research in Torquay Library!) The organisers of 1958 said that there were record numbers of children entering into the competitions and also an audience of 1300 for the firework display in Queens Park. It describes how there were over 100 entries for the Fancy Dress Competition and how one entrant – Pamela Wills aged 3 from Paignton – was awarded the South Devon Holiday Camp Cup. The cup was 2 feet tall and the winner was only 3 feet tall and so the journalist commented that she could have sat inside the cup!
Here are some examples of more modern newspaper articles. But still the message is the same…. unforgettable activities for children and parents across Paignton Green and Beach, involving all ages and with everybody having a brilliant time ! Dont forget, click on each picture and you can read the article.
Here is an old video about Children’s Week from 1992
Peggy Parnell from Paignton Heritage Society has lent the Rep!ay team some old programmes. It is really interesting to see what sort of activities have been happening over the years. There is not much difference to what we organise today 🙂
This is when Peggy came to talk to the Rep!ay team. She brought lots of old photos, newspaper articles and programmes from Children’s Week in the past. She used to work with her husband to help run it in the 1960’s. We also went to her house to interview her and to scan in some of her old documents, photos and the old programmes.
One of our favourite photos that we found was of the amazing mechanical elephant. We all wish that there could be one of those now.
Peggy also told us about the old day and when the Milk Marketing Board and St Ivel used to sponsor Children’s Week – look at this photo. It is really interesting to look at the funny haircuts and clothes. The Milk Marketing Board had a character called Maurice the Moo who was very popular.
Look at how many children are taking part in the pavement art competition! It goes along the whole length of Paignton Promenade
Another part of Children’s Week that Peggy from Paignton Heritage Society told us about was when the Majorettes used to perform on Paignton Green.
Here are some children with a banner declaring that it was the 50th Anniversary of Children’s Week. That is a milestone.