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You be careful

This is a set which typifies its time perhaps more than any other. You may disagree, in fact I'd be surprised if you did not. This set was issued at a time when motor cars were being introduced to a wider audience but were still novel enough to not be inbred into people's psyche as they are today.

As an aside a friend of mine came into the shop the other day and was leafing through my collection of car advertisments and told me a charming story from 1938. It centred about the memory of is parents driving from London to the south coast. They would leave at five o'clock in the morning so as to avoid the traffic in the capital (!) Perhaps some things never change, just a matter of degree. Back to the set, it was issued under the concept of a public-information series as was underlined by the special album which could be obtained for it.

Leslie Hore-Belisha, the Minister of Transport, at the time wrote the text for the inside cover. 'I welcome them the more as the cards will be disseminated among the children who are unhappily all too frequently numbered amongst the victims of road accidents.' Wills described the set as being of 'national importance' on the front of the album.

Introduced late in the year it was a sticky-back issue (a pet hate of mine as you probably have realised). The cards are as well drawn as any set and gives a real feel for the age in which they were inspired. Motoring in all locations was included fron country to city.

Motor Vehicles was something of a rareity in the UK during the 1930's. For example in 1933 it was estimated there were two million motor vehicles in the country.
Traffic signals was all about sticking your arm out of the window and waving it. I believe the hand signal for slowing down is still in the highway code, at least it was a few years ago. Says it all really.
Also there was no real national speed limit, it was all based on size and description of vehicle. Drive the wrong type of thing and you could find 5 miles per hour was your lot.
I've driven a few like that.

Card 16 advises not to hinder a constable on point duty. (Traffic lights having taken over that duty in all but the most unusual of circumstances.) Card 17 tells us to be aware of the amateur traffic controller which could well include the policeman on point duty. Perhaps of more relevance today is card 38, 'Do not hang on to a moving vehicle.' Indeed given current speeds perhaps even more advisable, though it does not stop this activity being staple fare for police video's.

Country problems were catered for. Card 30 tells the road user to drive carefully past animals. Something that remains very advisable. I was in the unfortunate position of once having to witness a horse startled by passing traffic. You really only want to witness that sort of situation once.

In a world of 'road rage' incidents perhaps card 1 should be examined more closely, 'Drive as you would wish others to drive.' and card 7 is always advisable, 'Overtake only with safety.' Easily said but sometimes when travelling up the A140 stuck behind a mobile bail of hay travelling at a good 25 mph, easily forgotten.

Cards 27 & 28 no longer really apply in the UK as they deal with trams (see The Story Of London). Card 27 warns the road user about getting caught in tram lines and card 28 warns to be on the lookout for trams swinging around the corners. Card 34 gives the general advice of not throwing things out the window of a moving car. Again this is a bit of advice that still holds good today, maybe more so with increased speeds and number of vehicles on the road. I have seen some strange things hurled out of car windows.

Wills did not limit themselves to wheeled transport but also gave advise to pedestrians.

Although the novelty stage of cars was wearing off they were still unusual. In the early days of motorised transport the drivers were often not in any real control and the public were not car-sharp. This meant people could step out in front of a car hurtling along at five miles an hour, freeze in terror at the puffing, wheezing beast, and be run flat all in the space of ten seconds. It seems incredible today. Card 46 warned of the dangers of reading whilst walking in the street. Whilst there were two warnings about using recognised crossing places, card 16 and 45. Card 43 again stressing the point by telling everyone to look before leaving the pavement. Not something that came as naturally to people then as it does now. Card 44 extolled the virtues of helping the young and the elderly across the road. Again a story springs to mind. The local police officer was chewing the fat the other day and recounted a tale from the previous day. An elderly lady upon seeing him crossed to the opposite side of the road. The officer in question thought nothing of it until the woman crossed the road once more to lecture him on not helping her across the road in the first place.

Other cards go on to explain other features of safety but I will let you find out about those for yourself. If you are interest in the sets which concentrate on Motor cars then jaunt over there now. Look right and left before leaving though <g>.