During 1940, with The Second World War just a few months old, the British War Office published a leaflet explaining to the thousands of amateur photographers what they could, or could not, take pictures of.
The cream coloured card measuring 24.5 cm square is our latest find amongst family papers recently discovered in a box stored in the attic.
Printed by John Swain & Son Ltd. of London the guide sets out in very easy to understand language how the amateur photographer can carry on with his hobby despite wartime restrictions.
Buried in a box and with decades passing since publication, the card is in very good condition and can clearly be read.
The middle of the card is printed across the centre fold and features a list subjects which can be photographed without risk of fine or imprisonment. These include streams and waterfalls, sailing craft at regattas and all games played in the open.
The list of approved photographic topics also includes seascapes, rocks and waves and animals at home.
According to Hansard, the official journal of the British Parliament, one of the consequences of the Control of Photography Order (No. 1), 1939, dated 10th September, 1939, was the impossible trade of commercial photographers.
Sir George Jones asked the Secretary of State for War, Mr. Hore-Belisha if the rules could be relaxed to allow permits for the many businesses to remain trading. Mr. Hore-Belisha, of the famous traffic beacon fame, said he would consider the matter and consult with colleagues.
For the domestic photographer the rules were fairly simple.
‘ It will be noted that it [the list of prohibited items] contains nothing which the amateur will want to photograph in wartime or at any other time’, explains the card.
The back page contains the list of prohibited items given in the Control of Photography Order (No. 1) 1939 dated September 10th 1939.
- Fortifications, battery, searchlight, listening post, or other work of defence;
- Aerodrome or seaplane station ;
- Assembly of forces ;
- Barracks, or encampment
- Arsenal, factory, magazine or store for munitions of war, arms, equipment, or supplies for the forces.
- Wireless, telegraph, telephone, signal or cable station ;
- Dock, caisson, dockyard, harbour, shipbuilding works or loading pier ;
- Vessel of war either complete or under construction, or any vessel or vehicle engaged in the transport of supplies or personnel;
- Aircraft or the wreckage of any aircraft;
- Building structure, vessel or other object damaged by enemy action or as a result of steps taken to repel enemy action ;
- Hospital, or station at which casualties, whether civil or otherwise are treated.;
- Any ambulance or convoy of injured persons, or any injured ;
- Electricity, gas or water works, or any gasometer or reservoir, or any oil store ;
- Assembly of persons for the purpose of transport or evacuation, or temporary camp or other accommodation or transport vehicles, used for the purpose of evacuation ;
- Riotous or disorderly assembly, or premises, or other objects damaged in the course of such an assembly ;
- Roads or railways exclusively connected with works of defence.
More information please
Research on the web has so far failed to indicate when this rule was lifted or what the penalties were for breaking them. Do you know any more about this card? Let us know in the comments area below.
Sources of further information