Their History



The Child Growth Tests were done by J. M. Tanner & R. H. Whitehouse for the Institute of Child Health, and funded by the Ministry of Health.

For main page on this site -  please go to: //

 A number of children from the Harpenden Home were part of medical experiments into child growth.
The idea of the test were that as many of the children at the Harpenden Childrens Home were to be on site for several years, it would be quite easy to study them over growth and other matters.


The data obtained from our tests was used as the bench mark for judging the heights, weights and development of British children for many years. In later years it was thought that possibly the subjects that were chosen as the test data might not fully represent the ordinary British child.
It was felt that there might be some slight delay in our development due to physically been in a Children's Home, made some data slightly out of date.
In the mid 1960s we were living on a diet and experiencing many events that a child in the 1940's or 1950's might have endured.
By the mid 1990s children had physically changed. The diet of a child at the end of the 20th century was totally different to that of the child in a Children's Home in the mid 1960s.
Education and social matters were totally different between these two groups. For children that had been in care for most of their lives puberty might occur at a slightly later age.
Other factors as to racial and social background could easily show marked differences between the two groups.
A new data set has now been devised to replace the original Tanner and Whitehouse charts.

Our Growth Study

Our regular visits for the Growth Study Tests every three months were welcomed by most of us. An entire morning off school was something of a treat.
Part of the old school at Highfield was used for our tests. Since the school had closed down, two thirds of the building was now used as a main hall for various group meetings, the reaming third of the hall had been turned into the specialist area for our medical tests. The medical part of the hall was only use for these tests and was closed off when not in use.
Only about 15% of the children of the 200 children in the Harpenden Branch were involved with the tests, and no other of the 2,000 of the NCH at the time were involved in these tests, which took around two hours.  In any one session there were normally only about 8 to 10 to be seen at any one time, boys were seen separately from girls, so there was no problem in entering the hall and going into a side area to take our clothes off, we were allowed to be in underpants or waterproof pants for some of the tests.
The various tests were on weight, height, puberty development, bone structure. As most were more complicated than ordinary visits to a doctor, and as information was to be gathered over several years, time was spent in measuring and recording the data.
We could be embarrassed when the staff touched certain parts of our body during the tests when we were without our underpants, on occasions a few of us experienced erections. With the others occupied with their own part of the test, it was generally only the staff that witnessed our embarrassment. At our young age, we did not understand why things like this should happen. If this had been in front of the Sisters or a Houseparent we could have expected some form of punishment; the medical staff took little notice of us.
Another part of our tests were photographs done without any clothes on, with only doctors and no NCH staff around, there was not really any embarrassment to be seen like this. We were positioned on a turntable in one area of the hall, with a camera at a distance away. Four photographs were then taken full length of us standing perfectly still with our hands at our sides from front, back and each side. To allow accuracy and that we did not move our body positions between each shot, the turntable moved in a fixed quarter turn for each photograph.
The other test was a series of x-rays, this was done alone in a more enclosed area of the hall, often as our final test.  We would be provided with a pair of plastic pants to put on which had a lead lining inside that was not noticed by us. To children in our Home at the age six or seven, the only reason in our minds why you would be provided with such a garment was that you might wet yourself. At this age we could understand little about the complexes of x-rays, and even if we were older learning that x-rays could be dangerous to certain parts of the body, might have introduced even more fear.
The x-ray session seemed to take the longest part of the tests, positioning the machine to take the x-rays of our hand & wrist, jaw, head, calf, thigh, arm, chest. The boring part of these x-rays, was standing still once positioned over the machine, whilst the doctor went away to another area.
For a young child on their first session, the plastic pants hid any accident that happened during the x-rays, strong elastic in the leg area, kept this matter secret from the doctor, allowing your return to the dressing area to put your clothes back on and  to try and hide the event. If we needed to visit the lavatory we did not ask the medical staff, we were use to the Sisters telling us when we hould visit the lavatory. In future sessions you would know not to be afraid, when it came to putting the plastic pants on ready for your x-ray session, you might find they were already slightly damp.
Having time off school, made up for any discomfort and embarrassment we might go through.
As a reward, once we had dressed back into our school clothes, if there was time available, we could be rewarded with our own photograph, of us standing on the turntable.
On occasions if you were one of the last to be seen, it was thought that if you returned to school late you might miss your lunch; you were allowed to have the remaining afternoon off school. Those of us that had the dislike of afternoon games and PE lessons, made sure we were always the last ones to be seen during our test sessions.



Tanner & Whitehouse Harpenden X-Rays
Image 1

The gonads are protected throughout by special leaded material made into plastic pants for boys and aprons for girls. The dose of X-rays reaching the gonads is too small to be measurable under these condition.

It should be noted that these photographs of clothed children are taken for demonstration of body positions.
The child would normally be without clothes except for plastic pants.

Arm and wrist X-Ray


Image 1 Calf  X-Ray

Image 1 Arm and Calf  X-Ray

Image 1 Position for thigh X-Ray

Image 1 Position for Calf X-Ray

Image 1 Position for thigh X-Ray

X-rays Set of 6 or 8 every three months.

Left hand and wrist for skeletal age.
Jaws to show tooth eruption and root development.
Skull for orthodontic purposes.
Calf, thigh and upper arm for the distinction of bone, muscle and fat growth.
For these last three the anode is placed 2-5 m away from the film to minimize magnification and the less easily correctable error which occurs if the maximum diameter of the limb is not at exact right angles to the central beam.
The central plane of the limb is placed a fixed distance away from the film (10 cm for calf and thigh; 5 cm for arm) so that the magnification stays constant instead of increasing as the child grows larger, as it would if the limb were every time in contact with the casette. 
The way this is done and the positions used for calf (antero-posterior), thigh (lateral) and upper arm (lateral), with the resulting X-ray.
The best tissue differentiation is obtained by keeping the kV low, about fifty in a 6-year-old rising to sixty in a 16-year-old, with a mAs of twenty for arm and calf and thirty for thigh, using par-speed screens. The accuracy of these techniques, as used routinely by the usual radiographers.
The cone of the dental X-ray machine is directed vertically downwards with the tip in contact with the angle of the right mandible. The details of nearly all the teeth can be seen on these films if they are properly positioned. The hand X-ray for skeletal age is taken with the child sitting, with the left forearm placed horizontally in front of and across the body upon a table top.
The palm faces downwards, in contact with a no-screen film, the axis of the middle finger in direct line with the axis of the forearm. The fingers are just not touching, and the thumb is placed in natural degree of rotation, with its axis making an angle of approximately 30° with the index finger. The tube is centred 30 in. about the head of the 3rd metacarpal.
Chest films are taken routinely for clinical purposes.

Image 1

Hand Boy Age 15
Skeletal age 12.6

Image 1

Hand Boy Age 15
Skeletal age 15.6

Image 1

It was only due to a leg X-ray at the age of 9, that it was detected that I had a gun pellet in my knee. Removal of the pellet was nine months later.


At Harpenden each child is examined every 3 months during adolescence. By attending once every month at the center where the children live, the research team makes sure of measuring each child within 15 days of his birthday, half-birthday or quarter- birthday.
About twenty children are seen on each of two consecutive days, and are examined at the rate of three or four per hour.
This organization permits a team of experts from various institutions to attend without making too great demands on their time, as the system of having some children to examine every single day may do.

The skinfold thicknesses are measured with the Harpenden skinfold caliper specially devised for this purpose.

Standing height is measured at full stretch, one observer holding the child's heels down on the ground, and the other applying gentle traction under the mastoid processes and telling the child to stretch up as much as possible. This procedure eliminates, or at least minimizes, the diurnal variation, which may otherwise be considerable. Weight is taken in the nude.

Photogrammetric Pictures
The child stands on a turn-table whose centre is 10 m distant from the lens node; in the plane of the centre of the turn-table are placed two markers exactly 1m apart vertically, and two exactly 0.5m apart horizontally. The marks are the centre points of white crossed lines on a black background.
The child's heels are placed 8 cm behind the centre of the turntable if he is less than 10 years old, and 10 cm if he is over 10, so that the body measurement fall as nearly as possible in the plane 10 m from the camera.
The background is illuminated to prevent shadow, and a grid is fixed behind the child to give horizontals and verticals for help in posing the child and in measuring the picture, and to give a visual impression paper to a maximum permissible inaccuracy of 1% in the 1m and 0.5 m marking lines.
The limit of accuracy of this procedure lies in the posing of the subject; great attention has to be paid to this to get it as near as possible identical on each occasion.

Image 1

Image 1

Head 1
Age 11, 12.6, 13.3, 14.6

Image 1

Head 2
Age 12.0, 13.9, 14.9, 15.6

Image 1

Stand 1
Distance marker Floor 0.5m apart
Distace marker Vert. 1.0m apart
Guide height lines 1 foot vertical

Image 1
Stand 2

Image 1 Stand 3

Harpenden NCH Diet
Image 1

The loss of fat between the ages of 13 and 15.
Harpenden NCH Diet.
Age 13

Image 1

Harpenden NCH Diet
Age 15

5ft 0ins.

Image 1

Three subjects
Age 13

Image 1

Three Subjects
Age 14

Our Reward
Image 1

Philip Age 10
Height 4''8",   Weight 5st  5lb 8oz May 1967

Height 4''10", Weight 5st 10lb      Nov 1967
At the end of the tests, if you had done everything the people in white coats had asked, you might have a photo as a souvenir.

Professor James Mourilyan Tanner: 1920-2010

Part of a tribute based on a eulogy written and read by Professor Noel Cameron from Loughborough University at his funeral at Exeter Crematorium on August 23rd, 2010, with some extracts from the funeral service conducted by Alison Orchard from the British Humanist Association:

He was born in Camberley Surry to a military family on 1st August 1920, educated at Wellington School, and by the early years of the War he was studying medicine at St Mary’s in London. There was a scheme to send senior medical students abroad to finish their medical training away from the rigours of wartime London, and Jim was sent to the University of Pennsylvania in.

By 1948 he was a lecturer in Physiology at the Sherrington School and following a presentation on his travels to the Royal Society, and a fortuitous meeting with a Dr. Bransby who was in the audience and had spent the war years using a National Children’s home in Harpenden to develop appropriate rationing levels for children, Jim’s Harpenden Longitudinal Growth Study started in 1949 and was to continue for the next 25 years.

The Harpenden study became the core research project of Jim’s career, it formed the dataset on which many of his most significant contributions were based and continues to be a model for those wishing to develop a longitudinal study of human growth and development.

During an academic and research career covering 7 decades and over 300 publications Jim became recognised as the world’s foremost authority on human growth and development or “auxology” as he coined the term for the study of human growth.

What could show up on our medical photographs
The high quailty images that were taken during our tests could show the slightest mark.
The medical test photographs were taken a few days after my leg had been caned by our class teacher.
The photograph was eventually sent to the headmaster.

Testing of NCH Children by Millicent Lucy Coleman

A study based on the work by Millicent Lucy Coleman on Enuresis (bedwetting) on children in the National Children's Home during March from NCH records over five years.

The children that are bedwetting repeatedly, number roughly 14 of every 100 boys, and 7 of every 100 girls in the Children’s Home Branches (age 4-14).
In the NCH  Approved Schools, the proportion is 17 boys of every 100, and 3 of every 100 girls (age 9-14).

Bedwetting during March over five consecutive years.

Boys NCH Children's Home Branches
Year 1. 1355 Boys. Number affected 152 = 13.7% Wet beds in month 1170.
Year 2. 1095 Boys. Number affected 153 = 13.8% Wet beds in month  992.
Year 3. 1222 Boys. Number affected 162 = 13.3% Wet beds in month 1024.
Year 4. 1235 Boys. Number affected 184 = 14.9% Wet beds in month  942.
Year 5. 1168 Boys. Number affected 157 = 13.4% Wet beds in month  921.

Boys NCH Approved Schools
Year 1. 507 Boys = Number affected 107 = 21.1% Wet beds in month 842. 
Year 2. 432 Boys = Number affected   66 = 15.1% Wet beds in month 488.
Year 3. 392 Boys = Number affected   59 = 15.1% Wet beds in month 408.
Year 4. 357 Boys = Number affected   64 = 17.9% Wet beds in month 439.
Year 5. 336 Boys = Number affected   50 = 14.9% Wet beds in month 402.

 In the Branches and Approved Schools it was taken
"Regular" as more than two or three times a week (Average 4).
"Frequent" as more than three times a month (Average 6), 
"Occasionally" as less than this (Average 2).
Scrutiny of these figures shows that almost half of all bedwetting can be regarded as occasional, leaving the other half as the more serious problems.

Boys Regularity of events NCH Children's Home Branches
Year 1. Regular 36.1 %, Frequent 19.5%, Occasional 44.4%
Year 2. Regular 24.6 %, Frequent 27.5%, Occasional 47.8%
Year 3. Regular 24.3 %, Frequent 29.1%, Occasional 46.6%
Year 4. Regular 23.7 %, Frequent 30.0%, Occasional 46.8%
Year 5. Regular 21.7 %, Frequent 35.0%, Occasional 43.3%

Boys NCH Approved Schools
Year 1. Regular 35.5 %, Frequent 29.0%, Occasional 35.5%
Year 2. Regular 26.9 %, Frequent 26.9%, Occasional 46.2%
Year 3. Regular 26.0 %, Frequent 20.0%, Occasional 54.0%
Year 4. Regular 28.4 %, Frequent 28.4%, Occasional 43.2%
Year 5. Regular 27.1 %, Frequent 28.8%, Occasional 45.1%

In both the Branches and the Approved Schools. The most serious cases therefore appear to be diminishing in number, although the frequent cases are increasing. The magnitude of the problem is not so great as it sometimes appear. Socially it is a matter of importance, particularly as a child gets older.
It is therefore imperative that assistance both medical and psychological be given where bedwetting is either regular or frequent. In the occasional cases, it is thought that no immediate attention need be given unless causing distress in the child.
In the Children's Homes, the age group supplying the highest percentage compared with the numbers in the Homes are the age of four at 20%, at five there is a decrease to 18% at six 15%, at seven 14%. In the junior group at eight 18%, at nine 12.5%, and a rise at ten to 13.5%.
The age make up in the Children's Homes is 30% in the age group of 8 - 10 years, thus a Sister may have more junior boys wetting the bed than that of a younger age group. It appears that there are more children of junior school age affected than any other age group. We do not know why so many boys of eight to ten years are now bedwetting, as many of them did not so when younger.
One theory is that for the younger boy under the age of eight it was a more tolerated event, and on reaching eight and above more sanctions are now apparently given out over the matter. There is a drop after the age of ten years, and then a gradual descent until fourteen years and above.
Unfortunately more than a quarter of our bedwetting boys are of secondary school ages. The social implication of this is very serious, since bedwetting limits opportunities for holidays and visits; and so indirectly hinders the individual development of the child.
In the NCH Approved Schools, the age range is 10-14 years, except for year 1 when the ages were 9-14 years the peak for bedwetting in these schools is up to 13 years of age.


The study was based on one full month over five years. It should be noted that from full years records the percentages could be increased as to the numbers of individuals who experienced bedwetting during one full year, but many of these were isolated incidents or occurred very infrequently.
In the case of boys, including those under junior school age that wet the bed once or twice in a single year was 92%, whilst in the case of boys of junior school age including those that would experience very occasional bedwetting was around 74%.
In the NCH Approved Schools with an age range of 9–14 years the percentage was 76%. With girls of all ages affected at lower rates. Thus it would give rather incorrect representation to show that 74% of Junior School boys in the NCH Homes and 76% of  NCH Approved School boys were bedwetting, as these very occasional events should be discounted.

Every effort should be made to prevent the formation of a habit, since the greatest promise of a cure seems to lie in the first year. Some branches are more successful than others in creating a tradition that helps children to avoid bedwetting. Some of the largest and some of the smallest seem most equally successful.
A great Influx of new children at one time into the same branch may temporarily raise the ratio. Its fall seems to depend on the speed with which the children settle to their new life. There is a consensus of opinion both in the Home and outside that it is a symptom of general nervous disturbance.

It was also noted that on a daily average in the Children's Homes during the five years 2.6% of boys of school age were wet during the day. There was little difference between the six year old and eight year old age groups in this matter, and that 1%  suffered from soiling during the day.
In the NCH Approved Schools there were 2% who wet during the day.

 Since the start of the survey, practically nothing has been added to the lists of method of prevention, one branch advocated salty suppers, without giving a reason for this course or showing any evidence of its success.
It seems that the only conclusion that can safely be drawn from the mass of material accumulated is that no conclusion on effective treat
ment can be reached.

Source of Data Reference 1960s Period.
Image 1

Enuresis File 
Date DDMMYY,   
Age in Years - Months. ,   
''S'' Sanction (punishment)  if applied,
Staff Initials.

Image 1

Date DDMMYY,   
Age in Years - Months. ,   
''S'' Sanction (punishment)  if applied,
Staff Initials.

The above two pages of my records were compiled by the Sister or Houseparent, in total the figures might be inaccurate, simply down to the failure of making the note early on in the day. The busy schedule of the staff working in the day, meant that most paper records were often completed at the end of the day when the children had gone off to bed and there was a quiet time for paperwork to be completed. Remembering exactly what had happened first thing in the morning as to which child had suffered from bedwetting, was only one of many records to complete when the log of daily events and food consumption of that day together with planning the meals for the following day, might seem more important.

I think a few of my recorded events from Jan to July 1966  might be missing from the accounts.




Individual Dietary Survey

BY E. R. BRANSBY, Ministry of Health, Whitehall, Landon, S. W. I



Collection of data National Children’s Home.
The children live in ‘families’ in separate ‘houses’, each ‘family’ consisting of about twenty children, ranging from infants to adolescents of both sexes, in the care of a sister and deputy sister. The study was limited to five children aged 10-15 years in ten ‘houses’, that is, fifty children in all, the diet of each
child being recorded for 3 days. The work was planned so that the results from the four methods could be compared on exactly the same diets. The following is an example of the procedure. .

For breakfast a child might have porridge, bread and butter and a cup of cocoa. The porridge bowl was put on the scales and set to zero. The porridge was measured into the bowl in tablespoons and these were recorded.

The porridge was then weighed. An equal weight of porridge was then taken and put into the Kilner jar for chemical analysis. The number of slices of bread a child ate was recorded, and each slice weighed, and then duplicates were put into the Kilner jar  for chemical analysis. The amount of butter used by each child was weighed each day and a duplicate weight put into the Kilner jar for each day. For the cocoa, the cup was put on the scale, the pointer set to zero, the cocoa poured in and the amount recorded in cupfuls, and weighed. The scale pointer was set back to zero, the sugar was put in the cocoa in teaspoons and weighed. Duplicate amounts of sugar and cocoa were then put into the Kilner jar for chemical analysis.

Each evening the children were asked to describe the food they had eaten during the previous 24hr., that is, the food already recorded by weighing and measures and duplicated for chemical analysis.

It is believed that the survey in the National Children’s Home gave a satisfactory comparison of weighing, homely measures and chemical analysis as methods of survey. It was not a satisfactory test of the questioning method as this would usually operate, since the children took a lively interest in the proceedings and familiarized themselves with their food more than is usual. The results are, however, presented, as they show that, under the conditions of the test, close agreement can be attained between the results of weighing and questioning.


National Children's Home Diet


Average daily intake of foods found in the National Children''s Home, Harpenden

Meat, bacon and fish 2.7 oz
Meat, fish pies and puddings 3.6 oz
Cheese dishes 0.6 oz
Puddings 7.2 oz
Potatoes 4.6 oz
Vegetables 2.5 oz
Fruit 1.7 oz
Bread and other cereals 15.1 oz
Cheese 0.12 oz
Eggs number 0.26
Sugar 0.88 oz
Preserves 1.09 oz
Fats 0.09 oz
Milk (pt.) 0.65


Protein 83g
Fat 96g
Carbohydrate 366g
Calcium 1.3g
Iron 15mg



Tanner/Whitehouse Skinfold Caliper
This instrument, which has been specifically designed for the accurate measurement of sub-cutaneous tissue, was developed in close collaboration with the London University Institute of Child Health, and it incorporates the recommended principles for standard usage in such measurements.
Measuring range: 0 mm to 48 mm.
Pressure between Anvils (constant): 10 gms/sq. mm.
Nett weight: 0 4 kg
Dial Graduation: 0 2 mm. £250.

Harpenden Stadiometer
The "Harpenden" Stadiometer is a counter recording instrument, with an effortless counter balanced movement. It will give an accurate and direct reading, to the nearest millimetre over a range of 600 mm to 2100 mm. Specification.
The main frame ot this instrument is rigidly made ot light alloy angle and provided with adjustable wall brackets for mounting purposes. The Stadiometer head-block operates via miniature ball-bearing rollers in order to ensure a movement which is free yet without cross-play. The Stadiometer is available with either a standard counter or a high speed Veeder-Root counter (see price list for relevant order codes).
All metal parts have a silver/grey hammer finish . Weight: 12.7 kg approx. £725 / £850

Harpenden Anthropometer
The "Harpenden" Anthropometer is a counter recording instrument which can be effortlessly operated from the tips of its branches. Its user can, therefore, by means of his free finger-tips actually feel his way to his desired measuring points in order to obtain a degree of accuracy not possible with conventional anthropometers.
Specification This instrument gives a direct and accurate reading, to the nearest millimetre, over a range of 50 mm to 570 mm. It is constructed mainly of light alloy anodised to its natural colour.
Its sliding member operates via miniature ball-bearing rollers in order to ensure a movement which is free yet without cross-play. Each instrument is supplied in a well made carrying case, complete with straight and recurved branches, a spare counter and beam extensions for the measuring of heights of up to two metres (When using these a constant should be added to the counter reading). Weight in case: 2.8 kg approx. £850

Harpenden Neonatometer
The Harpenden Neonatometer is a high accuracy, counter recording instrument, specifically designed for growth studies. The ball-bearing mounted carriage has an extremely free movement and is operated via a constant pressure lever, which automatically locks the carriage at the correct measuring point. This mechanism ensures reproducibility of measurement and effectively eliminates variation due to differing operator techniques.
The Harpenden Neonatometer can be supplied in one of two standard lengths: long, for normal neonates and short.
Measuring range: Long, 188 mm to 750 mm. Short, 180 mm to 600 mm.
Nett weight: 2kg
Packed weight: 4kg

Child Attention Equipment

For the easy alignment of children into neat rows.
Crook-handled School Cane.
Junior model.
32" length.
£7 (3 Doz).

Worldwide Variation in Human Growth
Worldwide Variation in Human Growth Phyllis B. Eveleth, James M. Tanner Published January 1991 409 pages Hardback | ISBN: 0521350247
The health of a population is most accurately reflected in the rate of growth of its children. It is this theme which underlies the analysis and presentation of what is by far the largest compilation of growth data ever assembled. The first edition, published in 1976, included all known reliable recent results on height, weight, skinfolds and other body measurements from all parts of the globe.
In this edition, the very numerous measurements taken between 1976 and 1988 have been included as well as the results of the large number of new studies made on rate of maturation as evinced by bone age and pubertal development stages.
Many sections of the book dwell on disentangling the effects of the environment and heredity on growth, and thus answer the question of whether one universal standard suffices for all peoples of the world, or whether different populations (such as races or nations) should each have their own optimal growth standards.
Written by practical people with experience of the problems in developing countries, this book explains in simple terms the different sorts of growth surveys, how to set about making them, and which sort to choose.

Reference Works

Tanner, J, Whitehouse, R and Takaishi, M (1966a). Standards from birth to maturity for height weight height velocity and weight velocity: British children 1965 Part I.
Tanner, J, Whitehouse, R and Takaishi, M (1966b). Standards from birth to maturity for height weight height velocity and weight velocity:
British children 1965 Part II. Tanner, J and Whitehouse, R (1975). Revised standards for triceps and subscapular skin folds in British children.
Tanner, J and Whitehouse, R (1976). Clinical longitudinal standards for height, weight , height velocity and weight velocity and stages of puberty.

New Data Needed
Growth specialists are fairly sure the Tanner charts don't reflect the development of today's adolescents, but until new work is done, no one knows to what extent. "We know from small studies that ethnicity, nutrition and even the altitude of where you live affects age at puberty,"  We also need to establish the best way of obtaining the information. Do we ask children themselves, or ask them to answer a survey? Will they tell the truth, or what they think their friends are saying?
Boys become worried about puberty and body changes. We need to establish for certain if boys' sexual maturity is happening earlier, taking longer, or is merely more apparent now. Studies so far show boys probably have less access to information than girls; wet dreams and erections seem even less likely than periods to appear as frank discussion topics in primary school and early secondary years.

Widths of bone muscle and fat in the upper arm and calf from age 3-18 years.

Tanner JM, Hughes PC, Whitehouse RH.

In the Harpenden Growth Study arm and calf radiographs were taken on boys and girls  over varying periods. Widths of bone, muscle and fat halfway down the arm and at maximum calf diameter were measured, with widths of bone cortex and medulla where possible.
Mean distance and velocity curves are given for chronological age 3-18 years together with curves based on time from peak-height velocity (PHV) and time from peak muscle velocity over the pubertal period. Muscle widths have their peak velocity more nearly coincident with the sitting height peak than with PHV; in the average child the whole muscle spurt lasts two years from start to finish.
Calf muscle is much more pronounced in girls in comparison with boys than is arm muscle; this is true at all ages, with sex differences at maturity amounting to 10% for calf and 20% for arm. Humerus cortex has a marked spurt in both sexes, with the peak contemporaneous with the muscle peak.
Both humerus and tibia medulla widths have a spurt in boys, but none in girls, where the means do not change from age 11 onwards. The average girl actually loses fat in the arm for a year at puberty, a result which contrasts with the velocity curve derived from mass cross-sectional data. Correlations between widths of bone in arm and calf average 0.5 during the pre-adolescent years and 0.4 at maturity; those between muscle widths in arm and calf 0.4 in pre-adolescence and 0.4 again at maturity. Between-tissue correlations are very low at all ages.

The adolescent growth spurt
Boys and girls in the Harpenden growth study.

Tanner JM, Whitehouse RH, Marubini E, Resele LF.

Logistic curves have been fitted to the growth during puberty of the 55 boys and 35 girls of the Harpenden Growth Study who were measured every three months during puberty and thereafter until growth ceased. Very good fits were obtained for stature, sitting height, subischial leg length, biacromial and bi-iliac diameters from approximately six months after the beginning of the adolescent spurt.
This beginning, called "take-off", was determined graphically as the point of minimum velocity. The total height gained from take-off point to cessation of growth averaged 28 cm in boys and 25 cm in girls with standard deviations of about 4 cm.
The adult sex difference in height was due much more to the later take-off in boys than to a greater male adolescent spurt. A sex difference in the spurt occurred in sitting height but not in leg length.
Mean-constant curves for the four measurements are presented. In each measurement size at take-off and total adolescent gain were nearly independent, the average correlation coefficient being --0-2. The correlations between adolescent gains in different measurements averaged only 0-47, and between peak velocities of different measurements only 0-27.
This implies considerable shape change at adolescence. In contrast the average correlation between ages at which the peak velocities were reached was 0-87. Ages at take-off, at peak velocity, and at menarche were independent of mature size, though correlated with percentage of adult size reached at the ages in question, a measure of somatic maturity. Relationships with the development of breasts, pubic hair and genitalia were examined; ages at take-off and at peak velocity correlated to the extent of 0-6 to 0-8 with ages of B2 and PH2 but both these parameters and also peak velocities were uncorrelated with the rapidity with which sex characters developed.

His work has included directing the Harpenden Growth Study, which ran from 1948 to 1971, and puublishing an Atlas of Children's Growth: Normal Variation and Growth Disorders.
The Atlas provides an excellent example of modern somatotyping in which the old quarrels are transcended. Here we can see how the various difficulties in somatotyping have been dealt with in practice. He provides photos that illustrate: both the difficulty and feasibility of somatotyping children, how well the somatotypes of children match their adult somatotypes (following Walker and Tanner, 1980), the issue of the relative constancy of size and shape during childhood, longitudinal series of monozygotic twins that tracks their development from childhood to maturity.

Destruction of Children
It appears that all  the photographs that were taken during our many tests were destroyed - unless anyone knows better?
All the photographs will show fine height guide lines in the background.

"Professor Tanner retired some years ago, but one of his colleagues remembers his work and the studies which were carried out.
When Professor Tanner retired, all the photographs and negatives remained at the Institute, and were stored in a fire-proof steel-lined room.
In 1998, this room was converted into a laboratory, and it was decided that all the contents should be destroyed.
The photographs and negatives were carefully removed and destroyed by a professional company which specialises in the incineration of highly confidential material."

Image 1


A friend with Lenton Valero age 11 Height 4''4".

Attending Batford Junior School at this time.

Image 1

Lenton Valero  Age 13
Ernest Walton  Age 12
Chris French ?

Image 1

Lenton Valero 13
Chris French?

Image 1

Lenton in 2008

40 years on, and 40 feet from where the original photos were taken.

Lenton in 2009
Image 1

Lenton with his new friend.

Still 40 feet from the original 1966 photo.

Lenton in 2010, Dave gets his ear pulled.

100 feet from the test centre

For main page please go to:


The Turntable October 1964
Image 1

An image showing the rotating table, we stood on. With info as to date, age and subject number at the top of the photo.

Website Builder - Freestart Premier Websites