Water Life Magazine: Part 14. Incorporated in Zoo and Animal Magazine 1940-41

AZM March 1940From March 1940, Water Life was incorporated into the monthly Zoo and Animal Magazine. The publishers of the latter had a deal with the Zoological Society such that the magazine was ‘the official magazine of the Zoological Society of London’. I have a few copies from 1940 and 1941. Initially, the Water Life section had a few pages but this dwindled to two and finally to one, as paper restrictions became more stringent. Articles in March 1940 were written by Louis C. Mandeville, ‘Amphibius’ and Margery Elwin but it looks as if Margery Elwin pulled a few topics together for the later issues as space became tighter.


AZM March 1940 2


This is the first page of the Water Life Section

AZM March 1940 3


Marshall Press, the original publishers were reminding readers that they could still get their copies of Water Life bound, or buy a volume ready bound:

AZM March 1940 4


AZM June 1941 aThen, in the June 1941 issue came the news that because of paper shortages, Zoo and Animal Magazine was to be discontinued with immediate effect. That was the last issue.

AZM June 1941 b
























This is the last page of the Water Life section before it reappeared in 1946. In Britain, herpetology, both amateur and professional, was on hold while the physical sciences and technology were about to be the big thing for all schoolboys and for the hope of progress. I do not have copies from the early post-war years but when I do or can fit in a visit to the Zoo Library, this is the end of the present series of posts on Water Life magazine.


AZM June 1941 c


Water Life Magazine: Part 13. 1939: War

Water Life magazine in 1939 makes sad reading. War loomed and then came on 3 September. The magazine carried on as normal until September. For example, W.Christian* described how to make a tropical aquarium heater (paraffin flame under an asbestos sheet beneath the aquarium) in the issue of 29 August. Then the issue of 12 September contained an Editorial beginning:

     It has been our belief in the trying times through which we have been passing, when newspapers and magazines oozed with rumours of war, when everyone spoke of war, and when it was impossible to walk down the street without seeing evidence of warlike preparations, that when the aquarist turned to his peaceful hobby he wanted to forget for a while the troubles of the outside world. We have therefore carefully avoided all mention of current world affairs. We still believe in this policy, but events have unfortunately made it necessary for us to break this rule for once.

The Editorial continued to say that wild stories had circulated in the first few days of the war of fish being sold off for a fraction of their value, of aquariums being thrown in the dustbin and dealers’ shops being closed. It continued on a ‘change is opportunity’ note: no fish food from Germany would mean a greater opportunity for British manufacturers. It finished ‘…it is foolish to pretend that things are worse than they really are. Our hobby has been built up by hard work, by courage, and by perseverance; we are not going to give it up without a struggle.

But things did get worse, much worse as rationing came in and within months, Water Life itself was a casualty. But before the first German air attack on 16 October 1939 in the Firth of Forth (during which my neighbour and former colleague was with his mother in a railway carriage on the Forth Bridge) there were a number of false alarms in the south of England. A Mr H. Robertson of Twickenham wrote to the Editor:

     …I am writing to say that on the morning of Monday, September 4, at the grim hour of 4 a.m., a hearty vote of thanks was proposed to WATER LIFE, and passed unanimously! By a lucky chance the room in which we—self, wife, two children, nurse, cook-general, and two neighbours—were sitting waiting for bombs contained an aquarium. A pair of Panchax blockii, the male in his vivid breeding colours, decided to begin spawning. This magnificent gesture—a fishy coacking a snook to Hitler—engaged the attention of all to such an extent that the outside world was almost forgotten (completely forgotten by the children), and the “All Clear” signal quite ignored for a bit.  As it was a chance copy of WATER LIFE which led to the buying of the aquarium, the vote of thanks was then suggested and passed.

Advertising fell away rapidly and on 21 November the publishers had to announce that instead of weekly, the magazine would appear monthly. The 28 November issue was the final appearance of the weekly. The issue for the whole of December 1939 was larger than the weekly version but although it was not known at the time, it was the final appearance of Water Life in its pre-war format.


The final issue of 1939 contained the following advertisement:

gas mask

The hope of monthly issues in 1940 was not realised. From March, Water Life was incorporated into Zoo and Animal Magazine. That part of the story has to wait for another day.


* This, as judged from other articles in the magazine be the W. Christian who, in the 1950s , had a shop on Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham. Later he moved, I think to newly-built shops on Maid Marian’s Way.

Water Life Magazine: Part 12. Editors from August 1938

The 20 August 1938 issue contained the news that the Editor, Margery Elwin, ‘has recently been relieved of much of her routine work by the appointment of a new General Editor, Miss N. French. Although she has now retired from the General Editorship we are glad to be able to announce that Miss Elwin will continue to give Water Life the benefit of her knowledge and experience in the capacity of Technical Editor’.

What this meant in practice to the Magazine I do not know but the tone of the editorials continued in the same vein. Was Miss French doing the editing of the articles for the press, dealing with the printers and other routine matters? Was the announcement of a birth of a son to Margery Elwin (Mrs Louis C. Mandeville) on 5 April 1939 connected with the change to dual editorship? And, who was Miss N. French?

Water Life Magazine: Part 11. Herpetology Articles in Volumes 2-7, 1937-1939 . Downloads Available

Thanks to a reader, I now have volumes 2-7 of Water Life. The herpetology articles from these volumes have all been extracted and can be found on the DOWNLOADS page above.

For the pre-war Water Life I now lack only volume 1.

I have tidied the downloads by removing the single issues from the volumes I did not have since the full versions have now been scanned.