Children's Clubs of Yesteryear

July 30, 2018

Want to find out how children enjoyed themselves by being in clubs from the 1920s to the 1970s? Read this article to find out more and enjoy a trip down memory lane.

The Tingha and Tucker Club with Auntie Jean.

Joyful childhood reminiscences are indeed prized because we can revisit them no matter where we are.  A much enjoyed memory of mine is the day I received my membership pack for the Tingha and Tucker Club which was a children’s television show from 1962 until 1970. 


My membership pack contained a badge for me to show the world my importance and even more thrilling it held a letter from Auntie Jean who was on the television.  I really believed that Auntie Jean had written to me personally.  As I enjoyed reliving reading my letter, it made me wonder about other children’s clubs from the past and I became delighted once more as I discovered some nostalgic nuggets.

Children’s Newspaper Clubs.

In the 1920s and 1930s, regional newspaper children’s clubs were popular.  Payment was required to become a member of most of them, except the Tom Thumb Club which was free.  All over Britain, children would wait behind the letter box hoping that this was the day that postie would pop that all important membership envelope down on the mat.


Most clubs would include the membership rules which parents heartily agreed with.  For instance, the Ucan Club rules were that members had to: be kind to animals; be helpful at home, be cheerful and good tempered; try to do an extra kindness every Friday; believe that they could do something worthwhile if they tried.

Most children’s newspaper clubs would publish the member’s birthday in the newspaper at the appropriate time which no doubt brought a flush of pleasure on many an already rosy cheek.  Members were invited to send in their own drawings, letters and often got challenged to have a go at complicated tongue twisters.  However, the most exciting aspect of being a member of a children’s newspaper club had to be the ownership of the club’s badge.  Mostly round and enamel, these badges are eagerly sought after these days by collectors.

Children’s Clubs Connected to Commercial Products.

In the 1930s, companies soon caught onto the idea that they could promote their products by starting a children’s club.  Again these clubs buttered parents up by having rules which meant the children would become veritable angels. 


Probably the most inventive club was that of Ovaltine, a night time drink which broadcast a radio show for the children to listen to.  All the family would gather around the Bakelite technology while father navigated the station.  The compelling aspect of this was that secret messages were often broadcast.  Of course, only members of the club would understand what was going on.  Becoming a member was not difficult as the paper discs which you needed to send to headquarters to become a member was hidden inside the tins of the night time drink.  All you had to do was drink the tin empty and hope that your tin was one of those which had a paper disc at the bottom of it. 

A Royal Guest at a Children’s Cinema Club.

By 1946, it was estimated that over 400,000 children attended cinema clubs each week.  It had become so popular that on December 21st, the 1,500 children which attended Arthur J. Rank’s Children Cinema Club at Kilburn had a royal guest join them. 

Queen Mary and her daughter, Princess Alice thrilled the children when they joined in with their community singing.  Queen Mary had been intrigued by these clubs for some time and so put in a request to Mr Rank that she should be able to experience one for herself; that is how Queen Mary came to be joining in such a jolly sing song. 


The Queen and Princess Alice enjoyed a full programme which included: ‘Beau Champ’ – a Laurel and Hardy comedy; the Victory Parade in technicolour; an issue of the club’s own special magazine and a children’s film made especially for the club named ‘The Adventures of Peter Joe.’

Being the member of a children’s cinema club opened doors even for their pets.  In August 1952, 18,000 cats were carried by club members in specially provided boxes to compete in the Crystal Palace Cat Show at Olympia.  A special section had been introduced just for cats whose owners were members of a children’s cinema club.  You really can’t ask for more than that.

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