Before Tufty, SPLINK and the Green Cross Man
Never underestimate the importance of road safety, or the voice of the entertainment industry!
Black and white photograph of cowboy Cal McCord with the First and Second prize winners in Weymouth Beauty Contest sitting on his horse Ladybird.
The City of Westminster Archives Centre staff have uncovered the predecessor of the hedgehogs that taught the youth of today to look both ways before crossing the street. Cal McCord was a celebrity cowboy involved in a road safety campaign touring from London to Leicester. He also appeared in classics like BBC Children’s How to Become a Cowboy (1953) and Never Take Sweets From a Stranger (1960).
“On our way at last. We are crossing Parliament Square in the thick of the usual morning traffic (10am). Ladybird took it well as you see. I had only owned her just over a week and did not know how she was going to re-act to all this. She was wonderful, even when going up Gloucester Place where the Cockney Fustment deliberately banged the dustbins and the roadmenders were going full pelt on their neumatic drills. The din was tremendous.”
“is a picture I am very proud of and printed all over the World … Big Ben in the background with Big Ben’s (my father) soon in the background”
“The Film Unit is to the left of the picture. The rope is over 60ft. The children didn’t seem a bit scared of the rope hitting them?!”
“Incidentally the Cinema is The Ritz, Potter’s Bar. here again sees me telling the kids to take care on the roads.”
These black and white photographs show cowboy Cal McCord in a variety of scenes in an album which was compiled and captioned by the man himself – click on the images to enlarge and read his captions. The photographs have been taken around London and next to famous landmarks in Westminster. They feature other local figures like the then-Mayor of Westminster and the First and Second prize winners in the Weymouth Beauty Contest. His constant companion, self-proclaimed to be beloved above the rest, is his horse Ladybird.
“The Mayor of Westminster, Alderman Rice, (looks like he’s brought his corporation with him????) handing me the Road Safety Message which I was to hand to the Lord Mayor of leicester at the end of the journey in Victoria Park there. It is worth nothing that this picture was taken in the Victoria Tower Gardens at the foot of the houses of parliament. Ladybird didn’t like the umbrella, look at her expression.”
The album dates from the 1950s. McCord lived at 21 Fontaine Road and Ladybird was stabled at Hilcote Stables, Wimbledon Common.
We have this gem in our collection, which we’d love for you to come to see, but if you’d like to know more about his life and works, the Cal McCord Collection was bequethed to the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance.
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