Ginger Pop Shop, Poole, about Eileen Soper.

5 May

I finally located, and visited, the Ginger Pop Shop, the other day. I noticed it by chance, as I walked-by on Old Orchard street, in Old Town, in Poole, heading for Poole Quay.

It is very fine indeed, but the outside, whilst conveying excellently the atmosphere and nostalgia of what is on offer to tourist and resident alike, did not specify, or convey to my understanding, that it is more than a shop. It is a magnificent exhibition as well.

Eileen Soper illustrated Enid Blyton books, as well as books by other writers for children.

Go to for the whole picture.

As a pensioner, I paid my concessionary £4 (full price for Adults is £5) and LOVED the whole thing. The world of Enid Blyton and Eileen Soper was a smash-hit phenomenon in the 1940s and 1950s.

I was born a month after the Battle of Britain (and 10 days before John Lennon) so I read every word of the texts in the exhibit. Some of the beech-frame kitchen chairs in the recreated 1940s parlour were 1960s (I used to sell them) but all the rest of the items were correctly in period.

Obviously, I did not feel it appropriate to feel around for the trigger to open the Secret Passage! I also declined to enter the Cheshire Cat Mirror Maze. But non-adults, aka children, must be entranced by these features. What a surprise the whole thing is! What a treat!

A nice lady at the desk had given me the spiel on the whole deal before I paid. Another nice lady, happening to be inside the exhibition area, explained stuff and we discussed the role of illustrators in fiction books. (I could not resist praising Frank Hampson of Eagle comic.)

The flyer calls the exhibition an “attraction”. So it is. But it is also a very useful shop:

“Finally, don’t miss out on the extensive range of books, toys, music and ginger beer dedicated to the world of Enid Blyton.”

And the flyer mentions a mystery for children to solve, as they find clues throughout the Ginger Pop Shop and exhibition. And you can “dream of adventure in a gypsy caravan”. As a grown-up, and a single man, I hurried past this aspect, glad there were no other visitors at that moment.

I am reminded of the books about ‘Nomad’ on BBC Children’s Hour. He followed ‘Romany’ who died before I began to listen. I loved ‘Out With Nomad’, and the related series of books’ because I thought Mother Nature was lovable. Now I understand about savage teeth and claws and would happily cleanse Earth of wild critters.

The sneering, politically extreme, success-hating professional educators of Enid Blyton’s day, stopped her stories getting on radio, and kept her books from being stocked in public libraries. (Yet ‘Just William’ was there, and so was ‘Biggles’.)

We have learned that Enid Blyton, implacably dedicated to earning a living, treated her own two daughters callously. She excluded them from promotional sessions of reading to children. How bizarre and horrible! Not a nice lady!

But we are all human. We may feel forced to set her faults aside as we evaluate her usefulness in promoting principles of fairness, via her stories, for the benefit of society back then.

Come to Dorset. Spend time in this Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch conurbation. Visit Poole Quay and the Ginger Pop Shop. It is worth every cent of your train fare, bus fare, petrol, and ticket on the door.


One Response to “Ginger Pop Shop, Poole, about Eileen Soper.”

  1. Vincent September 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    Gosh! Lashings of ginger pop, eh?

    I’ll bet Enid Blyton’s “Noddy” books didn’t include the one where Noddy gets mugged by the Gollywogs, who strip him naked and steal his little red and yellow car – leaving Nodders stumbling around in the woods, starkers!

    VERY not P.C.

    Talking of P.C., check THIS out…

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