Saturday, November 04, 2006

E. W. Pasold

Pasold is a very uncommon name which made me think that it should be fairly easy to find something on E. W. Pasold (sometimes spelled Passolds).

Pasold was the writer of the Scarlet Ladybird strips in the weekly Swift and was credited as an author for Swift Annual 1, 3 and 4 (1954-57) and, as the Scarlet Ladybird was an advertising strip for Ladybird branded children's clothing, it hasn't taken long to discover that E. W. was Eric Walter Pasold, of Pasolds, the knitwear manufacturers.

'The Sign of the Scarlet Ladybird' appeared in Swift from its first issue in March 1954 and continued to appear (with one brief break) until December 1962, shortly before the paper was merged into Eagle. It was drawn by Daphne Rowles and, for some years, by John Canning. The premise echoed that of the Walls advertising in Eagle, where Tommy Walls had his own secret sign. The secret sign was actually the Ladybird label which branded children as members of the Ladybird Adventure Club (the title of the strip changed in 1957 to 'The Secret Sign of the Ladybird Adventure Club').

The Pasold family entered the textile industry around 1700 and the business was passed from father to son through nine generations, first as hand weavers then as framework knitters and then as leading knitwear manufacturers, Adolf Pasold & Sohn, with a large factory in Bohemia employing about 1,000 people. Increased trading tariffs in Western Europe caused Eric and Rolf Pasold (the elder of three brothers) to look to England where they bought an 18 acre freehold site at Langley, Buckinghamshire, in 1932.

By the time the Adventures of the Scarlet Ladybird were appearing in Swift, Pasolds had built up a substantial business, with six wholly-owned subsidiaries (including Ladybird Ltd.) ranging from fabric printers to distributors, and a Canadian branch -- Pasolds (Canda) Ltd. -- founded in 1948, managed by younger brother Ingo Pasold. The company and its various subsidiaries employed around 750 people in Great Britain and were producing approximately one million garments a month, distributed through 4,000 stores and shops in the U.K. and to 65 overseas markets.

As well as the Ladybird brand, they also manufactured the Donbros knitwear and Chilprufe garment ranges. The company was taken over in 1965 by J & P Coats, Paton & Baldwin Ltd. which, after various name-changes, still exists today as Coats plc.

Eric Walter Pasold, was born in Fleissen, Bohemia, in 1906, and joined the family business after attending textile college. Being the eldest son, he assumed control of the business when his father died in 1930. applied to the Home Secretary for naturalization in 1936. He was Chairman and Joint Managing Director of Pasolds Ltd. and, during the Second World War, was chairman of the South of England Knitting Industries Association, a member of the council of the National Hosiery Manufacturers' Federation and served on the War Emergency Committee and the Post-War Reconstruction Committee. He sat on the grand council of the Federation of British Industries and its overseas policy committee. As a member of the Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee, he investigated and reported on the textile industry in Germany in 1946.

Pasold was also vice-chairman of the Hosiery and Knitwear Export Committee and a founder member of the Crawley New Town Corporation. His interest in the history of textiles inspired him to set up the Pasolds Research Fund and he was given an honorary MA by Nottingham University. For his services to business earned him the OBE.

Ill health forced him to retire to Switzerland in 1968 where he worked on a book, Ladybird Ladybird--A Story of Private Enterprise (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1977). The Times described the latter as "An engagingly frank account of a man who sought challenges, who loved to ski, to swim, to pilot his plane on lonely journeys above the clouds; a bachelor who read fairy stories and wrote adventure serials for children's comics."

This last comment seems to confirm that Parold was actively involved in the creation of the comic strip in Swift, although the annual listed 'Pasolds' (the firm) as the author.

Pasold died in Lucerne, Switzerland, on 5 January 1978.

(* 'The Sign of the Scarlet Ladybird' artwork is from Swift Annual 3 (1956) and is © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.)

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