The Public Services Electricity originally appeared on Ladybird Tuesday back in 2012, which shows you just how long I’ve been collecting Ladybird books. It still remains a bit of a favourite though, mainly as it’s just such a geeky read for children!
Just the title of this book has a vintage feel about it: “The Public Services” Electricity. It’s been a fair while since electricity generation was a public service here in the UK, but when series 606E was published about the public services in the late 1960s it was a very different situation. This particular book was published in 1966 with ones about Gas and Water Supply following it.
The map inside the front and rear covers (yep – same in both – why?) shows how things were at the time – very different to the commercial companies all fighting for our custom today.
Whilst this book is described on the cover as being a Ladybird Easy Reader there is no doubt that books of the day went into a fair bit of technical detail for their young readers with history of electricity as well as details as to how atomic, hydroelectric and coal-fired power stations work.
Some things haven’t changed since the 1960s though and one of those is the iconic sight of pylons across the country. It’s something I always fine comforting familiar when returning to the UK after time abroad. Somehow other country’s pylons just aren’t as good looking as ours are.
It’s still the case that in times of a power surge (like at the end of a particularly gripping edition of a soap opera or half time in an international football match) we do “borrow” electricity from France much as we used to do. From what I remember from a documentary I watched a few years back I get the impression we’d be completely stuck if we couldn’t borrow electricity in this way as there is no way to meet the peak demand in the UK when it happens so quickly – like at the start of an advert break. Obviously how things are generated has changed a bit since then as the book has no mention of wind power and if it were to be rewritten today it would surely include pictures of wind turbines that you now see dotted all over the country.
Despite coming with a safety warning of “you must never touch any of these” at the top the book didn’t skimp on the detail of how writing in the house works. The wire colours may have changed since the 1960s but the basics are still the same and I’m sure there must have been a few fathers of the time (because back then those jobs were nearly always left to the men!) who used this book as a bit of reference if they ever needed to change plugs or similar – especially when they were not used to electrical wiring in the homes.
I’m always amazed at just how many technical books Ladybird had in their series and in addition to this one I somewhere have a second book all about the history of nuclear power. And they say children were more educated in years gone by – certainly if you go by Ladybird books alone I can see where they got much of that education from!
Ladybird Tuesday is a regular feature here on Penny Reads where I delve into my Ladybird book collection and choose a title to share with my readers. The weekly series originally started on my old blog, Being Mrs C, and I’m now in the process of moving all those posts over to Penny Reads and also adding titles that I have acquired since then. A list is currently being compiled here of all the titles I have in my collection.