A Day at the Seaside

During part of the 1920s, the Employee Social Club made an annual outing to Brighton by charabanc. Here are members outside the Great Hall on the morning of one of their excursions:

University of Reading Special Collections

I have seen several versions of this image in boxes of photographs in the Special Collections. The labelling on the back is inconsistent, but there is no doubt that the person reclining on the grass at the front is what was known as ‘the letter boy’ (he is variously referred to as Vandenburg, Vandenberg and R. Wallace). 

Maybe ‘boy’ reflected his status rather than his age, but there’s no doubt that before the days of email and the internet, his would have been an indispensable role, delivering the mail, telegrams, memos and parcels across the campus.

The image below, taken on arrival at Brighton sea front, is dated 1927. There’s no explanation as to why a police officer is in attendance.

University of Reading Special Collections

Book early for the next excursion!


University of Reading Special Collections, Photographic Archives.



3 Replies to “A Day at the Seaside”

  1. Given what we know about female representation at the time, I wonder who the women in the photos are — wives? What do we know about the role of secretaries in the early history?

    1. Unfortunately, information about academics and students is much more accessible than details of the many other people without whom the College/University couldn’t have functioned. The information may be there somewhere but I haven’t come across it yet.
      Interestingly, though, there is a chapter from the previous decade about women’s secretarial and clerical roles in Edith Morley’s edited volume, ‘Women Workers in Seven Professions.’ This was published in 1914 for the Fabian Women’s Group. The relevant chapter is by Elspeth Keith Robertson Scott and deals with the profession in general rather than those working in universities, though these are mentioned. The chapter paints a depressing picture of low pay (even for the well qualified), long hours (sometimes with unpaid forced overtime), poor working conditions, lack of sanitation and few opportunities for advancement.

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