Ken Howard and the Bournemouth Beauties

Ken Howard was based in Bournemouth on the south coast in the county of Dorset. From 1967 until the end of the ToCo dynasty some ten years later, with the final editions of all the magazines in October/November 1976, he was by far the most prolific photographer for the series of titles; virtually every issue in the 1970s contained something by him.

Marie Graham

Models he photographed, and may well have discovered, include Nicola Taylor, Marilyn Ward, Liz Harvey, Laura St John, Marie Graham, Pauline Gorvin, and several others. As is the case with Fullarton before him (see J.B. Fullarton), quite how and where he found his girls is tantalisingly elusive. Many of them were beauty queens – Marilyn Ward became Miss UK – so perhaps he was a beauty contest groupie, turning up with his camera at every event in the hope of discovering a star. Or, and perhaps more likely, it was just networking.

Nicola Taylor

The content of his shoots are quintessential Spick and Span – up-skirt, stocking tops and knickers, though brought up to date to reflect the new age of fashion, with many of his girls wearing tights; and he managed to make them just as alluring and sexy, even with no suspenders to drool over (the outdoor sets with Marie Graham and together with Nicola Taylor are mouthwatering).  But his style was different – somehow more wholesome and less furtive – and yet more intentional revelations of such delicious items rather than surreptitious flashes: more “cop a load of this” than “oh you naughty boy! You’re looking!” And, like Fullarton, he also put his models into directoire knickers – though I suspect this was at the request of the ToCo masters. I doubt very much that any girls of their age were wearing them to excite their boyfriends (my grandma used to wear them!), but they were the subject of many readers’ letters in Fullarton’s days and ToCo, mortified to see circulation falling, may have been desperate enough to try all the old tricks in an effort to survive. Another indication that times had changed was that some of Ken’s models had no qualms about getting their bra off for us, though not Nicola Taylor, who was never seen topless. Fullarton managed it with some of his girls, but they were never published. And Ken worked in the Swinging Sixties!

Another similarity with his Scottish counterpart is that every reader was very familiar with the inside of his house, even though they had never been there. Perhaps sequences of girls draped over G-Plan furniture were another ingredient that ToCo staff thought was indispensable. No photographer seems able to resist the temptation to get a pretty girl to lounge across the bonnet of a motor car. But more permissive times or not, Ken Howard went to as much trouble not to reveal his entire number plate as Fullarton did.

After the demise of ToCo, Ken turned to religion and hung up his camera. By all accounts, he would rather forget about that side of his life.

We, however, will never forget it.