You wouldn’t read about it

Would you?

Croydon Airport booking hall, summer 1935

It's the summer of 1935.1 You're at Croydon Airport, waiting to board an Imperial Airways flight to Paris. But you were in a rush this morning, and you forgot to bring something to read. According to your Bradshaw's it's a flight of 2 hours and 15 minutes, and you don't particularly want to spend it looking out the window at the ground, so far beneath your feet. No matter, Croydon is fully up to date and has a news kiosk in the booking hall. You wander over to peruse the selection on offer, and this is what you see:

Croydon Airport booking hall, summer 1935 - Daily Herald hoarding

The Daily Herald

Croydon Airport booking hall, summer 1935 - Morning Post hoarding

... and the Morning Post. The news is always bad these days, isn't it? There must be something a bit more relaxing to read, something diverting for the nervous flyer, perhaps. Let's look at the magazines, then:

Croydon Airport booking hall, summer 1935 - Popular Flying hoarding
There's Popular Flying... the 'Air Transport Number'? Sounds frightfully dull; anyway, there's not even a Biggles in this one. What else is there?
Croydon Airport booking hall, summer 1935 - Aeroplane sign
The Aeroplane (every Thursday)...
Croydon Airport booking hall, summer 1935 - aviation booklets
... more aviation propaganda, by the looks of it...
Croydon Airport booking hall, summer 1935 - aviation magazines
... Aeropilot, Flight, Razzle, Popular Flying, Flight, Aer– wait, what was that? Razzle? What is that, even? Never mind, it's the only magazine which isn't obviously about aeroplanes, grab it and go!

OK, so that's not how I would have thought, had I existed in 1935 and been privileged enough to be taking an international flight, and probably not how the average reader of this blog would have thought, either. But my point is that the average airline passenger in 1935 would not have been as airminded as you or I, and would rather read anything other than Aeroplane, Flight, Popular Flying, or Aeropilot (which was a new one on me, actually; seems to have been edited by Francis Bradbrooke). Razzle is the only periodical on display, newspapers aside, which is not obviously devoted to aviation. (And it was somewhat risque for 1935, so not for everyone either!)

To flip the question around, even if the average passenger was in fact quite interested in catching up on the latest aviation developments since their last flight, wouldn't the concession holder also want to cater for those were less invested? (Railway platform bookstalls certainly did not sell only periodicals about railways, or even many at all, as far as I can tell.) But maybe the aeroplane spotters who came to watch rather than fly were the main customers. Maybe the photo was staged to perform airmindedness. Or maybe I (of all people!) am underestimating the degree to which people in 1935 wanted to learn immerse themselves in airmindedness.

What am I missing?

Image source:

  1. Late July or early August 1935, judging from the August Popular Flying on display. I can't quite make out the newspaper headlines but the themes (British troops? American naval policy?) could fit late July.

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