Recognition for Big L Christmas Card designer, Peter Boalch

Peter Boalch got in touch to tell us that his late father, also called Peter, was the talented artist who designed the two famous Radio London Christmas cards for 1965 and 1966.

Peter has very kindly sent us information about his Dad and his career, and has scanned some fascinating photos.

My dad was Peter Neal Arthur Boalch (Neal was his grandmother's maiden name - she is said to have been a formidable woman!). He trained at St. Martin's School of Art with, among others, Jimmy Beck who played the 'spiv' Private Walker in 'Dad's Army'.

Dad did his National Service with the RAF as an instrument mechanic (draughtsman's skills!). He served with 201 Squadron Coastal Command, which flew Sunderland flying boats from Calshot near Southampton and then from Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. In 1948, he was included in the aircrew who flew into Berlin (Lake Havel) during the airlift, carrying... COAL!

After demob, Dad joined the advertising agency Max Ritson & Partners, based in Henrietta Street WC2 (I have fond memories of Covent Garden as a fruit and veg market). In the mid-60s, they were absorbed into another agency Saward Baker, based in New Cavendish St, W1. The building's distinctive grey/green marble panelling still looks the same today, although when I passed it a few weeks ago. (May 2004) it was unoccupied and up for sale or rent. Dad worked there (on accounts such as Marks & Spencer) until he took medical retirement due to rheumatoid arthritis, which badly affected his hands – devastating for an artist.

Peter in his RAF days, atop the engine of a Sunderland Flying boat at RAF Calshot, circa 1947
Below: "Some original artwork of Dad's for (I think) Schooner Inns. I could not find many original pieces, only a few I saved during one of my Mum's 'clearouts'!"

Peter in the late Sixties on an ad assignment which had him climbing up the aerial at the top of what was then the Post Office Tower (with a photographer friend who regrettably is also no longer with us.)

"Dad said he had never been so scared in his life! But it shows him against the backdrop of his beloved West End."

Three pals from St. Martin's School of Art – 25 years on, in June 1970. From L to R : Peter, Ted (?) and Jimmy Beck

Peter's friend Jimmy Beck wears his 'Dad's Army' uniform for his best-remembered role, as Private Walker. He is pictured outside Saward Baker's offices, 79 New Cavendish St. Jimmy (who also died very young, in 1973) supported the NABS (National Advertising Benevolent Society) fundraising sponsored walk in central London.
"These are my scans of the two printed cards which were sent to Dad by Alan Keen. On the '65 one (right) Alan says 'Many thanks Peter' and on the '66 one (the one with the whale) he's inserted '& many thanks' between 'and best wishes' and 'from Big L'. I will look for any sign of the original artwork for the cards, but with Dad gone so long now, I'm not hopeful."

Back to 'Lil's 60s Scrapbook'