Their “Operation Utopia”

Reprinted from The Reading Standard, May 4, 1956

operationutopia

Artist’s Family Trek in Search of New Home
Artist, author, sociologist and inventor Mr. Harold Walsby and his wife and three children are about to start trekking across the world by caravan and boat, with Australia as their final destination. Mr. Walsby plans to pay for the trip by earning money as he goes along, chiefly by doing portrait sketches.

He came to this adventurous decision when, after a nervous breakdown through overwork, which entailed the winding-up of his educational publishing business, he felt that that time had come for fresh initiative. “I am,” says Mr. Walsby, “a strong individualist.”

For the past three or four years he has been living and working at Ipsden with the Brazier’s Park School of Social Research.

Book on Ideologies
A man of many talents, he became a professional artist in his home town of Tunbridge Wells, chiefly as a portrait painter, and settled in London some years before the war. But he was interested also in social and political studies, one result of which was the publication, in 1948, of his book, “The Domain of Ideologies,” sub-titled “A study of the origin, development and structure of ideologies.” Some time later he accepted an invitation from the Brazier’s Park School of Social Research to lecture there and undertake research work. He has edited monthly the “Brazier’s Park Social Research Papers and Bulletin,” and is one of the founders of the Social Science Association.

Meanwhile, besides writing and illustrating a humorous column for a political paper (he used the pseudonym “Taz”), he has turned his creative impulses into another channel – invention. He showed a representative of the “Reading Standard” a safety razor called “3 in 1,” which ingeniously incorporates blade, brush and soap in one piece. The brush fits into a slot at the end, and the handle contains liquid soap (in capsule form), the supply of which is regulated by a kind of stop-cock. A patent has been applied for.

Now, at the age of 43, Mr. Walsby has planned an entirely new kind of life, and a new home at the end of the journey. A large poster on a tree outside his home, “Wichelo,” Brazier’s Lane, announces a “Ruination Sale” of all the household goods and chattels this week-end (the sale started yesterday). He wrote the poster himself and made copies for display in all the surrounding villages.

And the next step? “Well,” says Mr. Walsby, “we have full camping equipment – and we all love camping.” The photographs printed below shows his wife, Dorothy, with the three children, Josephine (12), David (8) and Linda Penelope (4) already enjoying their outdoor life.

Mrs. Walsby is talented, too. She plays the guitar, does pewter work, and makes articles of jewellery.

“Before starting our long trek we propose to take a holiday camping by the sea, and then we shall go by boat or caravan along the south coast, starting from Southampton. As we go from place to place I shall do portrait sketches and, in fact, anything at all for a living.

“Then we plan to work our way down to the Mediterranean before the winter, making our way eventually to Australia, where I have friends and we shall settle.”

Why Australia? “One answer to that,” Mr. Walsby replies, “is that we do like a warmer climate.”

During the long journey he will run his own publicity service, duplicating a bulletin “Operation Utopia,” sub-titled “The Expedition of an Ordinary English Family around the World in Search of a New Home.” Sold largely on a subscription basis, this will record adventures and experiences en route.