Hello Reg, Here are the bulk of my grandfathers papers relating to his HMSO career, as well as those prior to it so as to tell the full story.
He was clearly highly thought of, when he left HMSO Hare Street they presented him with a gold watch and chain given by the employees, when he left Harrow there was a full canteen of cutlery in an oak case and then when he retired aged 50 with heart trouble there was an oak grandfather clock with three chimes and a barometer with the money left over, not to mention a generous financial settlement for the times.
Frank ran Harrow Press through the General Strike, doing essential work and felt that when Labour got in pressure was applied to move him, which he resisted unsuccessfully. As the papers show Harrow was making a substantial loss when he went there, on the condition of full control and he turned it round to become a profitable business.
Thanks for the notes on my father and maternal grandfather, my father served an apprenticeship as a compositor at Harrow before going to Keysign House and then in due course Atlantic House, he was medically unfit for war service, but did fire watching in London, of course the war delayed his becoming established. Yes, he was in procurement and latterly travelled all over the place liaising with contractors and government establishments, late in his career he also took on MOD liaison, I used to go with him in the school holidays and we went to all manner of interesting places! On the names you mention, the only one I recognise is Hyde, possibly Albert Hyde. My dad worked with Jack Payne at Atlantic House and I did speak to him some 5 years ago when my mother died. Dad also worked with Mrs Butler at Atlantic House - Room E03, Tel City 9867 ext 6236(!). Another earlier colleague was Bert Hudson, who went on to run the print unit at New Scotland Yard, his daughter is still a friend of ours.
My mother also worked in HMSO, Ruby Hodgson - but as was the case then left when she married. Some of her office friends were Barbara Widdocks and Jean Wrench, I am still in contact with the latter. On Charles Hodgson, he had worked for Eyre & Spottiswood and joined the office when they were bombed out, in a much lower paid role so I was told.
Back to my father, he wrote this poem when the move to Norwich was current, it was published in the staff magazine but may not have been popular in higher places!
HMSO’S MOVE TO NORWICH by E.R. Bridges
The politicians once decided In their somnambulistic way, That London should be emptied Of Departments one fine day.
So the pliant Stationary Office Of neither size or fame, Agreed to start perambulations Which quite defied its name.
A selection of locations Was provided in due course, For endless hot discussion Until those who cared were hoarse.
At last a choice was settled With a happy compromise, In the North-west periphery (Where the Norfolk wherry plies)
Where the Normans in their glory Once built a house to God, And a rather special castle To wield their iron rod.
A once pleasant ancient city Now like others in the land, Doomed to endless fast expansion At the developers eager hand.
After further long discussion With the ‘Planners’ great and small, A site was next selected Just small enough for all.
The staff of the department After searching questionnaire, Made clear their firm decision To breathe the Norfolk air.
Not all, of course had chosen To leave the London scene, Only those who sought promotion And a council house all clean.
But the ‘elders’ of the Office Proving Parkinson’s law true, Kept creating extra sections To promote their special few.
Of course the ‘crack’ division Unlike those who good use serve, Have to stay in central London As the Technological nerve.
And those who’re bound for Norfolk Must now feel an awful doubt, Or wonder what in honest truth The ‘Planners’ are about.
Add to this lack of knowledge That appears to rule the day. And one ponders why the Office Ever thought to move away.
You mention living on £800 pa in London in the 50's, yes hard to imagine. In my early years at work I gave way to a passion for railways and worked on the footplate (prior to going into management), and in 1975 aged 18 I was, with various allowances and shift work earning the equivalent of my fathers salary at HMSO at that time! In my last few years with the railway as a manager at Hastings, we had a platform supervisor, Mike Trigg, who had worked at Atlantic House in the late 1970's, a very nice and capable chap working well below his capabilities.
Anyway, I hope some of this is of interest and that you will forgive my waffle.
Kind Regards, Jeffrey
Hello Jeffrey, My word! What a wonderful collection. Many thanks for the time and trouble you have taken with this. I have forwarded to several ex HMSO colleagues who will know some of the names you mention. It may take a while for them to come back to me, and I will let you know if anything of interest emerges. They must certainly have thought well of your grandfather judging by the leaving presents he received.
A few names I remember myself: Jean Wrench, Barbara Widdocks were around when I was in Atlantic, Albert Hyde was 'outposted' to Woolwich to deal with MOD work, Mrs Butler was famous. A pedantic correction: I seem to remember the Atlantic House phone number as CITy 9876, I was extension 6277 for a time.
I have some old copies of SO Review and will see if I can find your father's poem. I guess it would have been in the mid-1960s when dispersal was all the talk: should it be Southampton, Basingstoke, Swindon or Norwich? And I can't wait to see what Mike Trigg says . . . All the best for now - and thank you again. Reg.
31 August 2014 – From Jeffrey Bridges
Hello Reg, My grandfather was Frank Bridges, manager of the HMSO Hare Street works during WW1 and then of Harrow press in the 1920's, after which he became Deputy Director P & B for a short time before early retirement with ill health in 1935, he dies aged just 57 in 1941, having it was accepted effectively worked himself to death. My father was also with HMSO, latterly at Atlantic House until 1977, when he retried at 60.
Anyway, I have recently been going through my grandfathers papers and scanning them, they run from his apprenticeship with Hazell Watson & Viney in Aylesbury in 1899 as a comp. through his joining the 'office' in 1906 to his death and include all manner of facts etc including how he turned Harrow from a loss making failure to a substantial profit. Also secondment to Ireland to oversee printing for the setting up of the Northern Ireland Parliament. If the papers may be of interest I would be happy to send the others as attachments.
My father had hoped that I may go into printing, but instead I joined the railways and retired early 2 years ago, however HMSO was always part of life, my mother and maternal grandfather, Charlie Hodgson also worked for the office.
Hello Jeffrey. What a fascinating note - thank you! I have a 1952 Establishment List which carries the following entries:
Charles Richard Hodgson: Printing and Binding Technical Clerk Higher Grade from 1 July 1950 on a payscale £ 55- £ 800, born 27 October 1893, joined HMSO 7 April 1941.
Edward Ralph Bridges: Printing and Binding Technical Officer from 6 February 1951 on a payscale £ 440-£ 800, born 11 August 1916, joined HMSO 13 September 1933.
I didn't know either man, but there are other names in the Technical Officer list who were certainly around when I worked in Atlantic House, and later in Norwich: Messrs Lonon, Deller, Pymm, Vine, Hyde, Horner, Currie, Bean, Beesley, Munns, Macauley, Sandford, Bisset, Mottram, Cletheroe - hard to believe that they all lived well, and mostly in London, on less than £ 800 a year - those were the days! I would be interested in seeing a copy of the note on the Northern Ireland Parliament if it is available. Best wishes, and thank you again for this most interesting view into the past. Reg.
19 August 2014 – Meet the gourmet pork pie maker
Alan Cole passed me this article from Saturday's 'Guardian' so I contacted Sarah:
Very impressive: well done - good to see that at least one ex HMSO officer is doing something useful. Suddenly feeling hungry . . .
To which she replied:
Thanks Reg (and hello there everyone else). We were really pleased with the article, they got practically everything right (although I suspect if I’d always lived in North Norfolk, rather than Norwich until ten years ago, I’d have a much bigger house there now).
Hope you are all well - I saw Gerry Aldus at the start of the month, he sometimes comes and pops by the Norwich Farmers Market at the Forum, which is always a treat. Paul Cunningham, Jo Williams and Ian Boast often do too and I converse almost daily on Twitter with Ian Billings. Ian, in fact, kindly gave me a post-refurb standard brown St Crispins desk for my Pie HQ office. It’s tiny, much the smallest desk in our office, very useful for the laminator & guillotine though. How did we work on them with files and all sorts? Where did our tea mug go?
Ian also gave my friend Linda, who has a small Adana letterpress machine, an old HMSO point ruler (I don’t know if that’s the right technical term), which she treasures and uses. So we did sell useful stuff.
The Norwich market is the second Saturday of the month if you fancy saying hello (Reg is already an occasional popper-by) - no purchase required!
Sarah, Thank you: great to hear that you are doing well, and that The Guardian is acting as unpaid publicist. We will see what HMSOldies can do for trade. Just had a mediocre sausage roll, so have it in the diary to visit your stall soonest. As I mentioned before, I was pleased to see that a pub in Leather Lane EC1 had your produce. America next? All the best. Reg
9 August 2014 – HMSO Golf Society Centenary Celebrations
Hi Reg, We all had a really magnificent time in Thorpeness, two rounds of golf and a celebration dinner after which our Captain Gordon Robbie read out letters of good wishes from Her Majesty the Queen and Carol Tullo the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, now residing in the Public Records Office in Kew.
In the main picture (without Woodforde's banner) the names are: back row - Clive Furness, Ed Crickmore, Geoff Roff, Julian Poole, Gordon Robbie, Keith Williams, Richard Kaye, Pat Tate, Alan Burden, Evelyn Edwards, Adrian Woods, Front Row, John McKain, Mike Taylor, Roger Nash, Tony Parker, Brian Puplett, Derek Newton, Bob White, Don Ray, Ernie Downs, Clive Evans, Val Chapman, Ray Dineen.
The overall best golfer prize was won by Mike Taylor who won his first trophy with the Society 50 years ago, still playing off a single figure handicap, a great achievement. Derek Newton travelled from London, John McKain and his wife travelled down from Scotland just for the event, complete with Kilt, it was lovely to all meet up again and our thoughts are turning to how we can celebrate our 101st.
Best Regards, Brian Puplett
Hello Brian, Thank you for your report of what sounds to have been an excellent weekend and for the pictures, which bring back memories of people not seen - by me at least - for 18 years or more. All the best, Reg.
6 Aug 2014 – From Richard Nelson
An article in February's Progress of 1992 had a picture of my son Simon with Geoff Bedford presenting the Geoff Bedford shield. You may be interested to know that Simon never gave up playing and his Dixieland band "DixieMix" has recently supported Rod Stewart's 5 Stadium UK Tour as the warm-up band for the main event. They were very well received and had a blast! You can see more at www.dixiemixjazz.com
Btw, Simon just had his 35th birthday.
Thanks Richard - excellent! I have passed to Geoff for auld lang syne! All the best. Reg
Ten years: where did they go?
It was ten years ago that HMSOldies was created and it's eight years since we first organised an occasional ad hoc gathering at The Eagle, Newmarket Road, Norwich.
It has been suggested that we repeat the practice - this time on a SATURDAY, for the convenience of those still gainfully employed. So we have made arrangements with the new owners of The Eagle to meet at lunchtime on Saturday 13 September. Plenty of notice. Come along if you can. No special arrangements, or fees: bring enough money to pay for what you might eat and drink, otherwise Gordon Robbie may embarrass you by paying for the lot.
Any questions, comments, criticisms are as ever welcome. Reg
3 August 2014 – 'They Are Not Dead'
Special services of Remembrance have taken place all over the country today on the eve of the centenary of the start of the First World War, including St Augustine’s Church here in Norwich where the names of all the soldiers who died from the St Luke’s, St Augustine’s and St Mary’s Coslany parishes of Norwich were read out.
The service was followed by the launch of 'They Are Not Dead' by Stuart McLaren who has researched the short lives of the 104 men from the parishes who gave their lives.
Everyone remembers Geoff Sinden as the egg salesman in Sovereign House in the late 1960s. Geoff's friend Sue Bull has kindly forwarded these photographs of the man himself at the business end of a steam locomotive in Weybourne, North Norfolk.
22 July 2014 – From John Rumball
Reg, I was just going through some old photo albums for my grandchildren, and I came across these photos from 1981 of HMSO's British Museum Bindery (prior to takeover by The British Library) showing HMSO's Royal Wedding gift to Charles & Diana.
I thought this may invoke some memories - Bob de Cleyn in the top right photo with grey-haired George Macaulay, Works Director, facing him by the window and at the bottom Ken Roullier, Brian Russell and another officer whose name escapes me. That's me on the left standing on a chair in the middle photo and again on the right looking over in the last photo. This was just before Bob de Cleyn had to take it to the Palace. I won't tell you what it cost (enormous), only that Bob was given 24 hrs surprise notice to hand it in, so a quick visit to a lampshade shop on Southampton Row to purchase a pseudo vellum lampshade for about £3-4.
Hello John, Lovely! Thank you. Just what we need for HMSOldies - and you have hardly changed at all! Best wishes, Reg.
22 July 2014 – Anglia Square Again
Philip Jinman has pointed out this paean of praise (click here) for Anglia Square, as printed in the Eastern Daily Press (to whom we are grateful) dated 21 July 2014.
17 July 2014 – From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, I also have this photo taken at Valerie Knowles' retirement in, I think, 1995 (can it really be nearly 20 years ago?). P4, the loss-making "Pretty Books" section, exterminated by privatisation.
Best wishes, Stuart McLaren
Back row l-r Roger Fenton, Rob Langley, Stuart McLaren, Diana Ward, Emily Bates, and Lynda Turner.
Front row l-r Bob Nelson, a startled Jennifer Hannaford, Valerie Knowles and Corinne Barker.
Valerie Knowles adds: Yes, Reg. It's my leaving day in Pubns after 18 years in the Division. Nice photo. I have others.
17 July 2014 – From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg. Any chance of adding to the Picture Gallery this image of the redoubtable 2nd Lieutenant Roland "Bulldog" Harris MC of the Civil Service Rifles? Perhaps add him to the page with the WW1 Roll of Honour, which is now honourably displayed at The National Archives at Kew.
Lt Harris was born in Hull, worked for HMSO before the war and served on the Western Front as well as in Palestine. He was killed in action in the defence of Jerusalem in December 1917.
Best wishes, Stuart McLaren
15 July 2014 – Now We Are Ten
With these words Robert Stutely sparked the ingenious idea of a website for ex HMSO personnel. However, it took time to hunt for an inappropriate Editor. BCE Lee and KJ Coleman were lukewarm ('Information available on computers? It'll never catch on!'). So the search continued, the barrel was duly scraped, picked up and shaken. No luck, until PJ Macdonald casually remarked 'What about that lazy sod Reg Walker - he's doing nothing, and he's got a computer . . . his son might be persuaded to get him to switch it on one day.'
So, (and this will put things in historical context) on the very day in July 2004 that Gordon Brown and John Prescott were having their much-reported 'Loch Fyne Meeting' there came together a similarly disparate group, embracing technology, art, and the ability to find an excuse to get to the pub at all costs. Yes, this was the day upon which The HMSOldies Management Board first met in The Rushcutters pub, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich. Unfortunately no minutes of the meeting exist, as the barman cleared away the beermat on which they were written before it could be filed.
Without Robert's incredible and understated technological skills this project would never have got off the ground. Dave Martin brought with him his old Electronic Publishing skills, and it goes without saying that Philip Marriage's artistic eye is a great loss to the world of culture. Harrison Marks must be looking down in admiration.
So here we are, ten years on, with a back catalogue containing more words that in the combined volumes of SR&GOI, Contracts Manual, Progress and Gordon Robbie's Staff Suggestions submissions combined, more pictures than in the whole of the Grapes Hill Underpass, and not a single writ.
But we live in hope.
10 July 2014 – HMSOldies Public Information Service
Not strictly an HMSOldies item, but I was sent the excellent 'Martin's Money Tips' this week and noticed a reference to the European Health Insurance Card. Who knew that they had an expiry date? You did, probably: I only leave the country under duress (Ireland doesn't count). Mine expired in 2009. You might take a look at yours - then renew if necessary via the MoneySavingExpert.com website:
6 July 2014 – A Very Special Day for Peter Staples
Many of you will know Peter Staples, former SEO (Technical) and IPMS Secretary, but may not be aware that recently he achieved his lifelong ambition and met Pope Francis in Rome.
Peter is a Parishioner at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich, and it was at Mass in the Cathedral that he met and forged a friendship with a young couple from Argentina, Fiorella and Bernardo. They revealed to Peter that they both knew the Pope personally before his election and counted him as a family friend.
Fiorello and Bernardo were surprised at the esteem in which Peter held Pope Francis, due to the unorthodox and radical approach he brought to the role, and his humility in dealing with people.
Given this situation, Fiorello and Bernardo helped to arrange a meeting with Pope Francis for Peter and his daughter Gabriella during a General Audience in St Peter's Square. Peter and Gabriella spoke to Pope Francis, who said that strong communities of faith and friendship were of the utmost importance. He asked to be remembered in their prayers, and then blessed a number of Rosaries, taken by Peter on behalf of parishioners, including his four year old grandson. He also blessed a photograph of his former doctor, who is dying of cancer in Argentina. Pope Francis gave two Rosaries to Peter which Gabriella is keeping for her sons.
Peter described the event as 'the most wonderful experience of my life, which can never be equalled or surpassed.'
The photograph shows Peter and Gabriella in conversation with Pope Francis.
4 July 2014 – From Nodge Carnegie
Dear Reg, I hope you are well. This is not strictly an 'Oldie' matter but thought it might be of interest. When passing St Clement's, Norwich, (corner of Colegate and Fye Bridge Street) the other day I was pleasantly surprised to see the church open to visitors. It's the first time I've had the chance to go in. Wonderful church, with a small garden.
However, what led to the 'quick look' turning into a forty-plus-minute visit was being engaged in conversation by/with a chap named Stephen. He's a young-early-50s retired stone-mason. He did his apprenticeship in London and is London-qualified and is also a member of the European stonemasons' guild. (I have probably not quite remembered the proper name.)
He and several colleagues have set up an apprentice scheme for stone-masons in Norwich. A fascinating story. They have put in their own money and are also financed by the stonemasons' guilds. The plan is to take on eight apprentices each year over a total of five years and then reassess. As you can guess, this appeals to my interest in buildings and history (in none of which I have any expertise - just a life-long interest).
There is much more but I just thought that you might find it worth a look, especially as they plan to keep the church open during the week and, when possible, to have two or three of the apprentices on site. There is the beginning of a display and it all looks really positive.
Finally, I popped into Ellis's bookshop on St Giles's Street and found that Robert has a large number of books about London. If you are that way, it is worth a look.
Best wishes, Nodge
Nodge, I'll take a look myself, twixt Golden Star and Plasterers. All the best. Reg
30 June 2014 – Thirty-seven Years On
It may come as a surprise to some readers, but HMSOldies does not hold copies of every HMSO Office Instruction and Manual of Procedure dating back to 1786 (although a visit to the Editor's cellar might suggest this). So we had to disappoint Denis Moloney in his quest for a copy of GC Stores.
However, in our hunt for said booklet we stumbled upon a volume of Information Circulars covering 1977-78, the first of which contains news that Mrs JS Muir was successful in the 1976 Direct Entry Principal Competition - and commenced duty in the Principal grade - remaining in Industrial Relations Division vice Mr Hinnigan who has retired.
An interview board to select a Welfare Office at HEO level was to be convened, the board composition being RH Chisholm, AR Affolter, JLAG Jones and AA Gummett. Those invited to interview were EJ Sargeant (HTO), Mrs BJ Potter and NJ Hall (EOs - Nat Hall got the job). In London, the Nominated Promotion Procedure saw AA Blakeman, Miss EL Brewer, J Diamond and E Goldstein become EOs.
Among retirements were AEJ Brunwin (Prin, LS) Mrs KE Hirst (EO, Belfast), SR Nairn (EO, PS) and T Whitlock (Warehouse Group III, PD). Appointments included AA Bracken (EO, Rep- he left the same month), JP Raithatha (CO, LS).
PT Messenger successfully interviewed for the OMTS Foreman position in Edinburgh, and the following were successful on the SEO promotion board: GW Bedford, JH Eason, C Randall, GF Rokahr, AA Smith, RJ Sumpter, TP Walls, DG White, Miss VJ Wilson. Miss BA Robbins, Mrs S Russell and Mrs SM Stuart were selected for Personal Secretary positions in Norwich. Successful on the Principal Board were RC Barnard, GFC Clarke, CE Harrold, MD Lynn, FR Payne, RA Youl and DT Cooke (Senior Accountant). L Johnson EO Leeds RB, was promoted to HEO, PS (Norwich).
More famous names invited onto the March 1977 HEO Board: E Jones, LGH Porteous, Mrs BJ Jones, JWB Purchase, Miss CA Watson, TJ Sergeant, H Pegler, Miss FM Fenner, Mrs WB Jenkins, EJ Truscott, PH Wall, Mrs N Henderson, MA Colbran, TJ Cutbill, Miss D Lawrence, H Currie, VC Catherall, Mrs BJ Potter, JH Childs, ME Gigg.
Probably enough names for now - other than to mention that on Tuesday 15 March 1977 'Mr Brian Lee will speak to the Institute of Purchasing and Supply, Post House Hotel Norwich, on the subject 'Trying to Computerise Stock Control' - any late report on the event would be very welcome.
Later: Just to restore your faith in old HMSO staff, I sent Denis Moloney's request for the GC Stores Contract Conditions leaflet to Duncan Dawdry, and he found his old copy within minutes Reg
Ernie Downs adds: Reg, Your latest trawl through the dusty archives stirred the old memory box, and set me wallowing in nostalgia, if it can be wallowed in. I remember Mrs Muir: she could make arguing with the Industrial unions almost enjoyable. Some of the senior managers, one especially, also found her a pleasure to work with.
Another name I remember very well is AA (Andy) Bracken. He was an auditor and he used to come and audit the accounts for the Gateshead canteen. My most vivid memory was getting to the Press when the three day week was in operation to find we had no power. Thinking to myself that I was in for an easy day, a rich Irish voice voice came out of the darkness in the corridor 'Hello Ernie,' and we ended up checking the accounts by candle light.
Publishing old Information Circulars could be dangerous - memories of times past tend to be viewed with a rosy glow. Ernie
28 June 2014 – From Louise Chapman
Dear Friends, Please see below the link for the most unique new business in Norfolk.
Please feel free to give honest feedback to me - all welcome and appreciated, and pass on my details to your friends and associates. I would greatly appreciate your help by telling others about Norfolk's only Lady Mole Catcher, and getting me further Norfolk coverage.
Many thanks, and hope to see you soon. Louise
Hello Louise, Good to hear from you - and to see you in your mole-seduction kit! The least we can do is to publicise your unique activity on HMSOldies: after all, you learnt how to deal with slippery creatures during your time in Supplies Division. All the best - and I'll be sure to call on you should the need arise. Reg.
12 June 2014 – Les Birch: Back from the Front
Earlier we reported that Les Birch was returning to his wartime post at Normandy for the 6 June commemoration. True to form, he has provided a vivid account of proceedings:
Dear Reg, My grandson was monitoring the televised events on 6 June when my short BBC interview started. He created quite a sensation when he shrieked down the phone "That's my grandpa !" I was pleased that he was able to see me 'in performance!'
I will now bore you with my events over there from 5 to 10 June: please edit as you see fit (needless to say we have included every word! Ed.).
On Thursday 5 June the children of Asnelles sur Mer, where I landed and lived for some 3 months, were doing their own re-enactment of the landings and their Headmistress had asked me to be there. They came running up the beach inside bottomless rectangular camouflaged wooden boxes waving their Union Jacks. At the top of the beach they had put wooden shop fronts with other children waving their Tricolours from the windows and these came rushing out to greet the oncoming warriors. They sang a couple of songs, then gave accounts of the children who were their age in 1944, then all came up to me to shake the hand and thank me. Then the adults crowded round in similar vein.
We lunched in Asnelles then went off to the Prefecture in Caen to have the Legiond'Honneur presentation - sadly there were so many Brits, Poles, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders being honoured that there was no room for spectators so my daughter and son in law saw nothing. Their Minister of Defence did the honours with the customary kiss on both cheeks, which did not turn me on at all. We dined well in Bayeux that evening.
6 June. The wreath laying ceremony at the South Wales Borderers memorial in Asnelles was timed for 10.45am which ruled me out of the Bayeux Cathedral service - and in fact I attended none of the big ceremonies, spending all that day in Asnelles. The day started with the Royal Marine Commandoes re-enacting their version of the landing there of 47 RM Commandoes at 8.30 am on 6 June 44 - HMS Bulwark was standing off-shore and they dispatched a landing craft loaded with Commandoes and some of the Bulwark's crew. As happened often enough on the Day, they hit a sandbank, dropped the ramp, and found themselves up to their necks in water. But they came on none the less and stood for the following brief service soaked to the skin. They soon dried off as it was already very hot. Their own 5 surviving veterans had gone off to Bayeux so I did the exhortation. They then set off on their annual re-enactment of their 20 km march through Asnelles, behind Arrromanches, and on to Port en Bessin, which they liberated on 7 June. Meanwhile I did my wreath laying and after a couple more ceremonies there in the afternoon (and a good vin d'honneur) we had a good 80th birthday party for my golfing friend's mother in Bayeux in the evening - I thought she was older than that but she was obviously just 10 when we arrived.
7 June. I had first to dash off to Evrecy to lay a wreath at the Welsh Fusiliers' Memorial (they lost over 120 men there in one night in July and my late President who was there would never go back), and then on to Port en Bessin for the Commandoes big day. They have 3 memorials there, one of them at the top of a cliff, beside a German bunker and alongside another bunker just by the 6th green of one of the Omaha Beach golf courses, and 2 on the quayside - I attended the last one at the quay side alongside an enormous but charming Captain of Gendarmerie. Another evening birthday party, this time in Rots, a small village to the west of Caen, where I am again rather well known.
8 June. Rots was liberated by the Canadians and the Royal Marines, both of whom lost many men there, and following the 7 June party I was invited to take part in the Canadian service there on the 8th. Three of their survivors had come over and we had accordingly another splendid vin d'honneur, followed by a lunch and 40s style entertainment. This evening we dined at my golfing friend's house in little village (Nonant) near Bayeux - modest little 200 year old pad, massive stone fireplace and all the trimmings.
9 June. A day away from beaches, memorials, services etc. at Honfleur, a very picturesque port where the harbour is completely surrounded by restaurants, with very narrow houses some 7 or 8 stories high - with such competition, the food was out of this world. It was their Whit Monday coinciding with a seamen's festival and there was a memorable parade through the streets with typical oompah bands and children, and others, carrying model ships of all types and ages. A final superb dinner at the Lion d'Or in Bayeux.
10 June. Up at 04.15am to be at Ouistreham by 06.30 for the ferry to leave at 07,30 (all British times), only to be told on boarding that following industrial trouble in the engine room we would not be leaving for another 4 hours. So instead of getting home by about 5 pm it was nearer 7.30 pm - the skipper did make some time up, and I managed Portsmouth/Caerphilly, 150 miles, in just 2 hours 20 - not bad.
Enough for now - if there are any reasonable pictures on my camera I will send them on - my daughter must have taken hundreds.
It looks as though I will be invited to the D Day ProAm again this year although I have said I will not be playing - just go for the buggy ride. So no HMSO Old Boys' lunch again and the speed with which time is passing makes it doubtful whether I will get to Norwich before then. But I still hope.
Best wishes, Les
Les was accompanied by his daughter Hilary, who took several evocative pictures which show just how he enjoyed the experience - and how the local population enjoyed seeing him again!
5 June 2014 – Bob and Valerie Go For Gold
Our man on the Society Circuit has vouchsafed the information that there was a significant event in North Norfolk recently. Congratulations are in order to Bob and Valerie Barnard, who celebrated their Golden Wedding on 31 May 2014 with a dinner at The Links Hotel, West Runton, for around 70 family and friends.
Since no photographic evidence has been provided, we have had to fall back on reliable technology. This page from SO Review dated August 1964 takes us back to those black and white days when the sun always shone.
We trust that a reliable photographer will be on hand on 31 May 2024 for the 60th.
3 June 2014 – From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg. You will no doubt have seen the news that Anglia Square has been sold, but the bargain-basement price tag has now been revealed.
Considering that it was last sold in 2006 for around £36 million that's quite a discount!
Best wishes, Stuart McLaren
Thanks Stuart. Well spotted . . . and, as you say, a snip at the price: cheaper than a Chinese Meteorite. All the best. Reg
Hello Brian. What an excellent find - thank you. The caption possibilities are boundless. Do we go with 'Julian Clary declares Nine Elms a Camp Site.' Perhaps not. But I liked the advert further down the page: '1 Flat Belly Tip.' Now, I've heard it called worse . . . and that was from the Crown Suppliers men in the 1970s.
Perhaps we'll go with 'Neanderthal Man was SOGAT Member.' Jack Grace and Joe West can't touch me . . . but Tommy Brightman might still be around. All the best. Reg
1 June 2014 – Roy Plackett's Spanish Poole Party
Cecil and Angela Brandish-Hughes and I met up with Pat and Dave Poole over a spot of lunch and refreshment during a visit to Spain (Javea).
They were in good form, despite overcoming some medical setbacks, and have now put their villa up for sale hoping to return to Worthing in the UK where they have grandchildren. Seemingly out of the blue Terry Morgan recently got in touch with Dave from his home in New Zealand!
Dear Reg, You will know that I am off to Normandy for the 70th anniversary commemorations on Tuesday next. BBC TV interviewed me some weeks ago about my work, if it can be called that, at the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches. I thought that there was going to be a series of "Soldiers' Stories" programmes covering all the interviews they had with veterans but it now looks as though they will be interspersing their live coverage of the events on 6 June with these interviews.
I will miss the service in the morning at Bayeux Cathedral as I have to do my wreath laying at the South Wales Borderers monument at Asnelles, the village near to where I landed and where I lived for about 3 months. I have maintained a strong connection there for the past 20 years or so. I hope to be at the big affair at Ouistreham with the Queen and the Presidents in the afternoon, then dinner with my golfing friend's mother in Bayeux in the evening. She was 16 when the town was liberated and is always proud to show me a Royal Engineers cap badge clearly given to her by a fellow Corps member. I plead not guilty to that one but Caen would be a different story.
All surviving Normandy veterans are being presented with the medal of the Légion d'Honneur and I am being presented with mine at the Prefecture in Caen on the afternoon of the 5th. - something of a first for HMSOldies I would think. Arnold Martyn was taken prisoner over there - he was apparently relieving himself in a hedge after a red wine binge with his officer but was faced with Hande Hoch before he could get back into their armoured car. The officer took a chance and made a run for it and did get back to our lines. I think Paul Buckerfield was over there too with the Norfolks - I recall a wonderful photo of him in the Regimental History going through a Dutch village revolver in hand. A very brave man. There may have been others, almost certainly were, but these are the only two chaps who were in Normandy to the best of my knowledge.
I still read the contributions with interest but so very many names that come up I have absolutely no knowledge of. I continue to be impressed by your seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of all HMSO personnel - I doubt whether anyone can match it.
Best wishes as always, Les
Dear Les, What a wonderful achievement. All most humbling for those of us who were not even born at the time. You must be very proud . . . and thank you for the recollections regarding Arnold Martyn and Paul Buckerfield.
We will be thinking of you on the day, and watching out for any televised activity. Meanwhile this website gives an indication of the proceedings:
With very best wishes, and thanks for keeping us informed. I hope we will see you at the OB lunch in October for a full report! Reg
29 May 2014 – From Christabel Wardle
Hello Reg, My son saw your website and shared it with me. I worked at HMSO Sovereign House in 1970, a mere eighteen years of age, I worked in Data Processing, firstly as a Punch Card Operator my number was P169 I then was promoted to being a Verifier and my number was V201.
My name was then Christabel Smith. I remember how we used to sit in rows like an old typing pool with three supervisors sitting at the front making sure we did our work, I remember being told off because my skirt was deemed to be so short that is was upsetting the men! I remember that we had to ask to leave the room to go to the cloakroom, and were timed doing it! how things changed, not all for the good nor for the bad.
One of the supervisors was Pamela, sadly I cant remember the other two. I used to sit next to a lady who travelled a lot to the Isle of Man TT races. I had two good friends, Jean Utting and Angela Page. I have attached a photo of the three of us outside the main door (the one at the bottom of the spiral staircase). Jean is the one with the black skirt, Angela in the middle and me with the Oliver Goldsmith glasses, (fashionable again now).
Sadly I did not stay too long as with a lot of people in the day, I moved on as jobs were plentiful. I was moved, to say the least, watching your video. What an opportunity to be able to look round the building.
Kind regards, Christabel Wardle
Hello Christabel. What a lovely email! This will certainly bring back happy memories for several HMSOldies readers. I was not involved in the Computer Section in those days, but knew many of those who were . . . Pat Walsh, Howard Wheeldon, Doug Boyd, Dave Martin and others . . . they seemed to have much more sociable company than those of us who just processed orders for photocopiers.
Different days, as you say. Might 'Pamela' have been Pamela Carrington? I remember the statuesque Valerie Smithson, and Mrs Baeljars, who made Theresa May seem soft . . . in a nice way, of course, in case she is reading this. If you look back on the website you will see that we have had contact from Cheryl Holmes, Pearl Mortlock and Jean Samways, who worked in the area in the late 1960s.
We will add to HMSOldies and see who remembers those gentler days. And, it may be wishful thinking, but that photo of you in the attractive glasses rings a bell . . . you were probably one of the dozens of happy girls who walked past the door of Room 1CO3 in the early 1970s . . .
All the best, and many thanks for making contact. Reg
26 May 2014 – From Keith Lowe Good evening Reg, I was compelled to drop you a quick note of contact after reading two or three of your pages which mentioned my Dad, Ken Lowe. I was particularly pleased to see the picture of him presenting the Ferranti VDT, I think I still have an original right here with me.
This evening I've been doing some research into the Oxford University Press, I am due there next week for an interview to perhaps become their IT Operations Manager. I was thinking about my Dad and how he got very involved in early IT innovations within the printing industry and found it quite strange or maybe even surreal that I was now perhaps looking to follow in his footsteps some 10 years after he sadly passed away.
I've spent my career so far sitting in the logistics and warehousing sector, still with an IT focus of course.
Anyway, the point of this mail is just to say thank you for having this site and making me smile reading my Dads name along side other articles. Not sure if I can help contribute anything but I can certainly try if you want to fill any gaps.
Kind Regards, Keith Lowe
Hello Keith, How good of you to write, with happy memories of your father. I have copied to some of Ken's old friends for their interest. Terry Butler - who is in the photo - and John Mathews are both still around Norwich, but we have no email details for them. A quick look at an old Staff List shows that Ken joined HMSO in July 1962, and was in Technical Services Division at the time when the administrative part of the office dispersed to Norwich in 1968. I knew him from his time as Deputy Director of Print, but never on the football field, where I understand he was magic! Good to hear that you are following in the technical footsteps. Not easy these days, as I have no need to remind you. I will, of course, let you know if anything else of interest comes our way. Best wishes - and good luck with the job. Reg
15 May 2014 - From Pauline Weinstein of Wise Archive
Dear Reg, We may have met before, perhaps you remember WiseArchive a local based group dedicated to recording and preserving the working life memories of retired people. Have a look at our website www.wisearchive.co.uk and read some of the stories. If your members are interested perhaps we could arrange to have a chat with them. We are based in Norfolk.
Regards, Pauline Weinstein Director at WISEARCHIVE
11 May 2014 – From Bob Avery: London Oldies Dinner
Hi Reg, I saw that Bob Allder sent details of the London Oldies Dinner, so as I attended, I thought I had better send you my photos, to complement those Mr Rumball took.
Bob Allder, Dave Burchell, Alan Hardman, Alan Crawley, Michael Davies, Fred Howe, Dennis Rose. (Back table) Tony Ford, Ron Reddick, Dave Forbes, John Eveson, John Barker, Geoff Hooper.
(left) Dave Forbes, John Eveson, John Barker, Geoff Hooper. (right) Tony Ford, Ron Reddick, Dave Forbes, John Eveson.
(left) John Davies, Ron Sawyer, Ken Dustan, Eddie Gregory, Trevor Priddle, John Rumball. (right) Dennis Rose, Fred Howe, Michael Davies, Alan Crawley, Bob Allder, Dave Burchell, Alan Hardman.
(left) Trevor Priddle, Ron Reddick, John Rumball. (right) Tony Ford, Dave Forbes. (end of another shift!)
(left) John Barker, Trevor Priddle, Geoff Hooper. (I still say it’s an extra-contractual charge!) (right) Fred Howe, John Davies, Michael Davies. (What do you mean all the white has gone?)
(left) John Eveson, Ron Sawyer. (thank goodness for Welfare, I’ve still got my thumbs!) (right) Alan Crawley, Dave Burchell, Dennis Rose. (Shaking the hand of the still employed!)
Fred Howe, Michael Davies. (He was here a minute ago!)
And here's a selection taken by John Rumball.
In my papers salvaged from TSO I have come across 'NORNIRON NEWS' Number 19, May 1983 and copies of the Parly Press annual dinner documents from 1988 to 1995, would they be of interest to you/the website?
Seeing that item from Dave Mears back in February reminds me that a while ago I promised some reminiscences of F/CEPA in the '80s. Well when this 'retirement' gives me some time, I’ll get on to it.
Hope everything is well in sunny Narridge.
Regards, Bob Avery
Hello Bob, What a fine set of photos of a fine body of inky-fingered brethren! Thank you. The 7 May lunch at The Freemason's Arms, a sprinter's stone's throw away from Fleet Street, looks to have been a fine event. I might make it one day, if allowed. I did get the Houses of Parliament to sign a Supply and Service Agreement for HMSO Print once, so I might just be let in - don't vote on it. All well here, thanks: the sun is shining between the showers. Best wishes, Reg
8 May 2014 – Current Bunhill
An old HMSO clerk reminisces to the Chief Training Officer, one JS Nash, following a rare outing to the City of Dreams . . .
I thought of you - and a few others - on Wednesday when I was due to meet a friend at Liverpool Street station. I was an hour early so I took a walk that you have taken a few times - through Barbican and up and down the length of Bunhill Row.
Of course, the place has changed somewhat - gymnasia, blocks of flats, unrecognisable office names - but The Artillery Arms is still there, and John Wesley is still resident in Bunhill Fields!
Did I see the ghosts of Smith, Radford, Martyn, Owen, South, Robbins, Lloyd-Thomas, Mabel Denton and a few more hovering around the pub door? All the very best - and happy memories. Reg.
Hi Reg, Many thanks for this nostalgic shot - I can almost see dear old Stan loitering in the doorway of The Artillery Arms with the inevitable pint in his hand. Sadly there ain't too many of our happy band left. Thanks as well for the detective work regarding Peter Wright's funeral arrangements and attempts to contact Ivor Annetts; the photo you were able to adapt clearly shows Peter just as we remember him.
Talking of photos the one you sent of John Morgan also brought back memories.
We enjoyed some success with amateur theatricals and we used to cause some amusement to fellow passengers when exchanging our lines on the mid-Kent line to Blackheath. John was a first rate actor and it was a pleasure to both work for and with him.
Have also been entertained by the latest correspondence about Plain Words and now await the response (riposte?) from Tim (Sir Walter) Riley. On checking my own copies was intrigued to see that the 1986 edition was originally priced at £5.50 but on offer at £3.95 if purchased before 31 December of that year. This must have been an early example of discounting Government publications but I believe the NBA was still in existence so wonder how this was arranged. Perhaps one of the Pubns chums remembers how we 'bent the rules'?
Young Philip and his wife Karen have been spending a few days with us, enjoying some lovely Island weather and relaxed lifestyle - hence the slight delay in responding to you.
All good wishes, John.
8 May 2014 – Letter from Jack Keating in Florida
Reg, Felicitations from the other side of the pond to you and all at HMSOldies.
I was watching the 2013 film “The Great Train Robbery” two nights ago starring Jim Broadbent. When I turned my head away from the screen and listened to Jim Broadbent I would swear it was you! I hasten to add, Reg, that you are far more handsome than him.
Almost every morning a friend and I go for a walk of just under three miles. Last week, while on our walk, I came across a sign outside the local library which stated “Beware Nesting Birds Use Umbrella” and was intrigued by it. My first thought was that birds had become smart and were using an umbrella to keep rain out of their nests. Not so; a pair of red-shouldered hawks had built a nest and laid three eggs.
If anyone walked near their nest the hawks would dive bomb them. Altogether the hawks have attacked eight people, injuring six of them. Their threat should diminish now that their babies have flown out of the nest.
I am still driving cars, trucks and vans for the Ford, Lincoln, Mazda and Mercedes dealers in the Daytona Beach area. Normally it consists of delivering or picking up cars from all over Florida and even into Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. But two weeks ago I had two different drives. The first one was to take a $104,000 Mercedes, a Lincoln and a Mazda to the Hilton Hotel on Daytona Beach. They all had to be taken up to the third floor in a lift. The width of the lift left about three inches either side of the wing mirrors on both the Mercedes and the Lincoln so there was not a lot of room to play with. After much manoeuvring we managed to get them up. We then had to drive them down the hotel hallway, into a dining room and park them. As my son said, even pop stars don’t get to drive their cars down hotel hallways; only into swimming pools.
Last weekend we drove three cars to an exhibition at the Daytona International Speedway; a Lincoln, a Roush Mustang and a Mercedes SLS AMG Gull Wing car. The Mercedes has a 6.3 litre V-8 that can take you to 62 miles an hour from a standing start in 3.5 seconds and on to an electronically controlled 199 miles an hour. What a shame that I could only drive it on roads with a maximum speed limit of 50 miles an hour! Something else I found out is that the price STARTS at $201,000 - must be the cheap model! The Mustang and the Mercedes created quite a stir when we went to pick them up. I opened up both doors on the Mercedes and let some young kids sit in it while I took their photograph. The Mustang only had a 5-litre, V-8 engine!
A neighbour of mine, well he lived a couple of streets away, was away in Kentucky a week ago. Let’s face it, everyone is a neighbour in South Daytona as it only has a population of 12,000 or so. His next-door neighbour knew he was away so when he heard a banging on the fence separating their houses he looked over. To his amazement he was confronted by two seven-foot alligators.
His neighbour, Larry Miller, had kept them in his garden since they were babies. Strangely enough it is not against the law to keep alligators on your property; you just have to have room for them. State law only allows 4-foot alligators in backyard enclosures. For anything bigger you need two and a half acres. Miller named them Big Boy and Big Girl; but when the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came they found that Big Boy was a girl and Big Girl was a boy. “They’re like my children,” Miller was reported as saying. “They’re not vicious at all. I’m more scared of pit bulls than I am these gators.” The alligators have been taken to Gatorland theme park and Miller can have them back when he finds a bigger piece of property.
The weather, at last, seems to be settling down to very warm (hot) and sunny days. I can only remember one frost this winter but we had a number of cool (40, 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit) days. Okay, so it was not really cold but when you are used to 80 to 90 degrees it is cold! The last week or two has seen temperatures rising into the low nineties. Elsewhere the weather has been awful.
A rare and extreme weather pattern has produced obscene and devastating amounts of rainfall from Mobile, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida. One newspaper said it was rain of Biblical proportions. Up to 2 feet of rain fell in 24 hours in isolated parts of north-west Florida. This was the third highest daily total dating back over 130 years, according to one source. The Escambia Sheriff’s Office in Pensacola logged over 26 inches according to the web site WeatherBug. Remarkably, these rainfall totals beat scores of moisture-laden tropical storms and hurricanes that have come through this region over the last century. The impacts of the flash flooding have been devastating, as the flood waters have taken out bridges and formed destructive sink holes.
That’s about all the news I have right now.
All the best, Jack Keating
Hello Jack, Good to hear from you, and thank you for the flattery! I have certainly been compared to worse people than Jim Broadbent, a fine actor with 'a proper voice' as this clip proves:
My word, you have travelled a long way from Scotty Road. When you were puzzling over a page of print technology in St Crispins I bet you didn't think that one day you would be driving cars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars down hotel corridors, and talking to people who have had up-close encounters with alligators. Makes Pubns Management look soft! But I don't envy you the weather conditions. Still got the heating on over here, and yesterday was more or less continuous rain. Just the way we stick-in-the-muds like it. All the best to you and yours, Jack, and keep the news coming. Reg.
30 April 2014 – From Susan Curran
Dear friends, The Lasse Press launches its fourth book, Geoffrey R. Searle's Miles Edmund Cotman (an illustrated discussion of the work of John Sell Cotman's son), on 22 May, at Country and Eastern, Bethel Street. Drinks will be served, the author will speak briefly, and our other books will also be on display. There's an invitation below; I hope you will be able to come. Please note that to meet our hosts' requirements, we need to provide a list of invitees, so I'd be grateful if you could rsvp if you intend to come. Hope to see you there.
29 April 2014 – Gluepots: The Story of CW Blundell OBE
Charles Blundell was born on 13 April 1920. He joined HMSO London in August 1937, and retired from HMSO Norwich - where he had filled the Director posts in Personnel and Supplies - in 1980.
Following retirement he filled his early leisure years in the compilation of a memoir, published in 1991 by Loboy Publishing, Pakefield. The volume ran to 419 pages, and went by the title Gluepots. This is explained in the Preface as a way for the Blundells' then two small sons to stop their parents repeating themselves, should it become necessary. 'Old people tend to repeat favourite anecdotes, but we know they get a little tedious. We hope we never get like that, but if we do, and if one day we start to tell you a tale you have heard before, just say 'GLUEPOTS' and we shall understand what it means, and shall stop.'
The book's index is a treat in itself.' Alice, Fat, of Northchurch . . . Bakewell tarts a la siege . . . Belching, thunderous . . . Biggest Bag in the Bayswater Road . . . Buttock, wounded in the . . . Chimney, asking up the.
Anyway, I was going through the shelves of my favourite Norwich bookshop (Oxfam, Magdalen Street) when what should I find on the Biography shelves but a copy of the very Gluepots (mine is safely at home). Signed by the author, no less. And dedicated: 'To Pat, in happy memory.'
So, who is Pat and under what circumstances did Oxfam end up with Pat's copy? Any clues would be received with thanks - and might even earn the gift of this copy of the book. HMSOldies does not do expenses, but my pension can stretch to the £1.99.
William Byrd Choir in Norfolk: 26 July 2014
Gavin Turner, director of the William Byrd Choir, has brought this forthcoming event to our attention. All are welcome to attend!
WILLIAM BYRD CHOIR The William Byrd Choir flourished in the 1970s and 1980s as London-based professional recital choir, giving Southbank concerts, many BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, some television programmes, and several tours to Italy and Portugal. It made a number of commercial LPs and CDs, and sample CD tracks can be played online via the Hyperion website. Now with a new generation of young professional singers, the Choir gives occasional concerts and liturgical performances in North Norfolk. This concert will be given by a choir of 15 singers who specialise in Renaissance polyphony. They all sing, variously, with some of the leading London-based professional vocal ensembles and choirs, and the sound that they will make in the lofty interior of Salle Church will be impressive.
SALLE CHURCH The Church of St Peter and St Paul at Salle near Reepham is one of Norfolk’s most celebrated and beautiful churches, its vast interior offering an excellent acoustic for unaccompanied polyphony, and a perfect concert venue on a Summer’s evening, with interval drinks and probably with cricket playing on the adjacent green.
THE MUSIC The music for the concert includes the wonderful soaring Easter respond Dum transsiset Sabbatum by John Taverner, Cardinal Wolsey’s choirmaster at Cardinal College Oxford (now Christchurch College). The three pieces by Tallis form a stylistic bridge between Taverner’s grand pre-Reformation music and the more intimate and expressive language of Byrd. One of the Tallis pieces, Libera nos, has only very recently been rediscovered amongst a collection of instrumental manuscripts. Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices is an imposing setting for five-part choir, and a much-loved and deeply expressive work. Byrd’s motet Tribulationes civitatum (which the William Byrd Choir was the first group ever to record, thirty-five years ago) is one of a series of heartfelt works in which the Babylonian exile of the Jews and the fall of Jerusalem provide a powerful metaphor for the sufferings of Catholics in Elizabethan England. The concert ends with music by two of Byrd’s greatest Continental contemporaries, who both flourished in Rome in the late 16th century. Palestrina is celebrated for having made over a hundred settings of the Mass, and these extracts from his Corpus Christi Mass O sacrum convivium show the great master of the polyphony of the High Renaissance at his most lively and expressive, in music which exudes a wonderful golden glow.
23 April 2014 – John Barker's Norwich Visit
Angela and I are now home from our few days in Norwich. We had a very enjoyable time and were pleased to meet up with old friends at the John Jarrold Printing Museum. This time I actually got round to setting a line of type. As originally a compositor before I joined HMSO in the early 60s, it is only the second time that I have done any setting in all those years since I left the trade. The last time strangely enough was also in Norfolk, when I visited a firm who were printing exam papers for us under classified conditions. That was at a firm at Thetford. Happy memories.
It was nice to see that so many HMSO friends are helping to keep the Printing Museum going in Norwich. If I lived in Norwich I could easily spend Wednesday mornings there. On the morning we met up with Fred Stubbs, Tony Durier, John Rumball, Duncan McEwen, Gerry Aldus and Anne Eason joined us at the Wig and Pen for a little 'light refreshment' afterwards. A very enjoyable day. On the Thursday we spent the evening with Judy and Trevor Priddle and had a good time being entertained by their two dogs. There were plenty of things to see in Norwich, the Cathedral, the Castle and some very good shops. The only down side was seeing the old HMSO buildings. The sooner they demolish them the better. As most of us know Atlantic House has been rebuilt and the American Embassy have taken over the site at Nine Elms. Perhaps one day someone will redevelop St Crispins? Thanks again for all you did to make our visit enjoyable. Next time you come to London let me know and perhaps we can meet up?
Hello John, Good to see that you made it to Norwich - John Rumball has kindly forwarded some fine pictures (above)! Sorry I couldn't make it (as I said, I was in London with Brian Ekers, John Eveson and Bob Rice, who all send their regards). All the best. Reg
24 April 2014 – From Rebecca Gowers Dear Mr Walker, I was recently pointed towards your website, where I was intrigued to read the posts on Plain Words. I see that tucked in with some cheering remarks on the 2014 edition, your correspondent comments, ‘It is not obvious for whom Rebecca Gowers is writing’. If I didn’t know the answer to that before reading his review, I think can now confidently state that I was writing for Mr Riley himself!
His analysis of the size of the new book, and the weight of its paper, goes into realms far beyond me, and certainly beyond my control. However, these concerns led me to wonder whether you might like to see some original jackets. I have been collecting them for a while, and think that you might be among those few souls who would be almost as amused by them as I am.
I include pictures of the original hardback jackets for Plain Words (1948) and the ABC of (1951). The version with cartoons on it was created for copies shipped off to America, where Plain Words was first published in February of 1949. (The copy I have with this jacket on it is, if you look inside, a British, July 1948 reprint.) The cartoons are by the artist Abe Ajay, and were lifted from a review of Plain Words that appeared in the New York Sunday Times Magazine. Finally, Plain Words: Their ABC is (bear with me) the 1954 American edition, published by Knopf, of the book known on this side of the water as The Complete Plain Words. I assume that because there had been no American edition of the 1951 ABC, and because my great-grandfather anyway considered adding ‘The Complete’ to be ridiculous, this variant title was settled on, making it a kind of sport in the complex history of the book. Knopf completely reset the text, though I believe without changing it at all, and their edition comes in at a mere 7.5 x 5 inches. (If Mr Riley wanted to hunt down a copy, it could keep the 2014 company on his shelf for size, at least, though its paper, with rough-cut edges, is heavy enough that you could more or less make sandwiches from it.)
I might finally mention what perhaps escaped Mr Riley in his analysis of the 2014, that the Penguin designer meant the new jacket to follow in the tradition of the HMSO originals, which is why you still get the black, white and tomato colour scheme, along with the bold use of text.
Wishing you all well, Rebecca Gowers.
Dear Rebecca Gowers, How wonderful to hear from you! I have copied to HMSO's own Tim Riley, our reviewer (more expensive than Stephen Fry, but well worth it) who will, I am sure, be delighted.
Lovely old covers, as you say. I have the 4/6d edition, published 1951, on the shelf above my computer.
I always like the comments from newspaper reviews - and it was good to be reminded that BIS New York, on Rockefeller Plaza, acted as the HMSO agent for USA. Two (late) old friends - George Furn and Ken Rhodes - were the lucky men chosen to man the post for a few years, and doubtless had copies of the book pass through their hands.
There is a television programme on BBC at the moment - W1A - which is based on the very opposite of Plain Words- and I have no need to tell you that every politician, government spokesperson and especially management consultant is in dire need of this fine publication. When did everyone start their answer to a question with the word 'so'? Sorry, mustn't get started.
With best wishes, and thank you again. Reg Walker, Editor, HMSOldies
17 April 2014 – Renato Bernardin (ex Pubns) makes contact via HMSOldies Facebook page
Hello Reg. I still live in Norwich, and love it here. I often come across many past associates. If you are in a car and you see me on the Dereham Road - just hoot. I wave to anyone who hoots even if it is not intended for me! I bumped into Ron Atkins (and he is looking well) yesterday while I was eating a sirloin steak meal outside The Bell. Came across Jo and Ian Dobson in Tesco Harford Bridge last year or so. I now and again think of Denis and Morag Moloney and I hope one day to see Denis again and return the set of chest expanders he lent me 30 plus years ago!
I officially retired on my 60th (28/10/12) when my Civil Service and Royal Mail pensions kicked in and now just waste most of my time night clubbing in London to the early hours (no change there), motorbiking (no change there either) on my current bike ZX10R - soon to be replaced with a Z1000. Seeing my brother and sisters in the London area and mum before she passed away 18 months ago. Pottering about in the garden, carrying out essential home maintenance and DIY and travelling about.
I always go to San Francisco at least once a year, have discovered cruises and, as an end of working life treat, went round South America on the Star Princess stopping off at the Falklands early last year (was touch and go whether we would be let off the ship at Ushuaia, Argentina: we were, 3 hours later than planned) and cruised to Iberia and Morocco just before Christmas on the Queen Victoria. Am off on another cruise this time to the Baltic in June with P&O Azura.... looking forward to St Petersburg and hope the Russians behave themselves. I will visit New Zealand next year to see my ex partner (again)! Used to see Alan Low a lot at the Royal Mail sorting office while I worked there as a part-timer.
Anyway, had great memories of my time at HMSO, met some wonderful people. Although I do not keep in touch with anyone because I am so busy doing this that and the other, I like to let people know that I am well and having fun!
Regards. Have a good Easter, Renato
11 April 2014 – More PlainWords from Tim Riley
At Reg’s request (this opening is by way of shifting the blame) here is a review of the fourth edition of Plain Words. I’m being careful to blame someone else because as a bumptious youth I wrote a cheeky review of Sir Bruce Fraser’s 1973 edition in the SO Review and was elegantly skewered in an article by Sir Bruce in the following issue. (He also wrote me a magnanimous and charming personal letter which I have to this day, tucked into my copy of the 1973 volume.)
A brief recap. In the beginning, or to be precise in 1948, the Treasury asked the distinguished retired civil servant Sir Ernest Gowers, who was known to have Views on the matter, to write a short booklet encouraging officials to write clear English. It became a best-seller among the general public, to everyone’s surprise, and the Treasury asked for a follow-up, which His Majesty’s Stationery Office published in 1951 as The ABC of Plain Words. Gowers rolled the two texts together and revised them as The Complete Plain Words, which HMSO published in 1954, and which has never been out of print since. Gowers died in 1966, and by the early 1970s his original text, correcting abuses and clichés of a bygone decade, was thought inadequate to wean a later generation of bureaucrats off the fads and follies of the Seventies. Sir Bruce Fraser produced a shrewd and entertaining new version, broadly faithful to Gowers, but with examples and vocabulary for the readership of the day. He acknowledged in his introduction that his version would become outdated in its turn and would need replacing at some time.
To mark its bicentenary in 1986, HMSO commissioned two academics, Sidney Greenbaum and Janet Whitcut, to overhaul the book again. This they did, sedulously removing all Gowers’s wit and Fraser’s robust humour, and regularly ignoring in their own prose Gowers’s key precepts ‘be short; be simple; be human’, particularly the last one. What I did not spot at the time was that rather than going back to Gowers’s original and beginning afresh, Greenbaum and his accomplice revised the Fraser revision: a very odd thing to do, surely? In this new edition, published in March (by Penguin, not the Stationery Office – O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!) the novelist Rebecca Gowers has begun with her great-grandfather’s original and produced a version of it for modern times, as little tampered with as is consistent with its being useful as a style guide for the present decade.
The problem with the new edition is, curiously, the one that afflicted Gowers’s own revision of Fowler’s Modern English Usage, viz that by remaining respectful to the original, and retaining most of its particular delights, it has an old-fashioned flavour. One has the feeling it would be more useful for its own era if it were less reverential to the past. In Plain Words Ernest Gowers was writing to help his fellow civil servants improve their official writing. It is not obvious for whom Rebecca Gowers is writing, or how much practical help the delectably mandarin text of the present edition will be to today’s successors of the officials addressed by her great-grandfather. I can’t remember when a book gave me as much satisfaction, page after page, as this, but Sir Ernest’s opening words, faithfully retained, are ‘The purpose of this book is to help officials in their use of written English as a tool of their trade’, and knowing today’s officials, I really wonder if it is likely to succeed in its stated purpose. Still, if it prompts one civil servant to write ‘stated purpose’ rather than ‘mission statement’ it will have justified its existence. In any case, reading it is such a pleasure that anyone even slightly interested in the craft of writing English is hereby recommended to put the new Plain Words on his shopping list. His shopping list? Sir Ernest would certainly have phrased it thus, but society has moved on, non-sexist writing is nowde rigueur , and if you want to see how his great-granddaughter deals with the matter, see page 212 of the new book.
Postscript: The new edition looks a little forlorn on my shelves alongside the three earlier editions, because Penguin have not kept the old format. The new book is 5 inches wide and 8 inches tall, compared with 5¼ x 8½ – a small difference, but not to the advantage of the newcomer. But can any reader of HMSOldies tell me why the original 5¼ x 8½ format was used? It doesn’t, as far as I can discover, match any standard size in the old imperial measures.
The fourth edition of Plain Words is published by Particular Books, an imprint of Penguin, ISBN 0141975539. Price £14.99.
Tim. What can I say? You have lifted the pages of HMSOldies to unimagined heights. Must look out those old SO Reviews.
I thought I would open my 1951 copy at random, to see if anything appropriate jumped out. And there it is, on page 71:
'Inverted Commas . . . (I give) a warning against over-indulgence in the trick of encasing words or phrases in inverted commas to indicate that they are being used in a slang or technical or facetious or some other unusual sense . . . a dangerous habit . . . it may develop into a craving for inverted commas, leading to the use of them in the same promiscuous way as Victorian letter-writers used under-linings . . . . '
The next sound you hear will be the excision of multiple-inversions from HMSOldies. Thank you. May we hope that this is the first of many unpaid commissions. Reg.
10 Apr 2014 – From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, Has anyone noticed this review of Sovereign House on the 20th Century Society's website yet?
Thanks Stuart. Interesting! I had not seen it before. We'll have to keep an eye open for updates. By the way, St Augustines is much improved these days - well done to you and the organising committee. All the best. Reg.
9 April 2014 – From Bob Allder
Please see the above - the Annual Lunch 2014. Out of the blue, I had Roy Pereira (ex PP London) phone me yesterday. I had lost touch with Roy since he retired from Commercial Colour Press about four years ago. This morning I received an email from Trevor Priddle (also ex PP London) who had heard about the Lunch from John Barker (yet another ex PP London man). So it looks like we may have a few more attending this year.
With kind regards, Bob Allder
Thanks Bob. A good menu - bound to attract a good turnout! We look forward to your report and any pictures. Best wishes. Reg
6 April 2014 –Plain Words from Tim Riley
New edition out last month from Particular Books, a hardback imprint of Penguin. I'm only a third of the way through it at the moment (pros and cons pretty balanced so far) but I want to say here and now, and very loudly, that the paper and binding are pretty shabby by comparison with the three handsome editions produced by HMSO. Please pass this on to anyone from Pubns, GD or P&B who might have had a hand in those fine productions.
And I tell you what, Reg, - the 1954 edition was priced at five bob, which on the RPI = approx £5.60 today. The 1973 edition cost a quid, and the 1986 one was £3.95. This new edition, from the ever-competitive private sector costs £14.99. Not extortionate, admittedly, but no match for HMSO's top-notch productions at bargain prices.
Ever thine, Tim Riley (Pubns 1971-73 and intermittently thereafter till 1984)
Hello Tim, How completely excellent to hear from our Literary Correspondent after all these years. I must have brought it on: thumbing through a copy of Memories of a Savoyard and lighting on a picture of JW Wells on the £ 1 rack outside the Tombland bookshop brought it on. I have copied your note to others who I know have an interest and your full review is, of course, awaited with baited whatsits. Just to muscle in on the credibility stakes, my copy dates from 1951 and was priced at four and a tanner: a pint of beer was one and three at the time. I'll leave it there for now as I fear that the nostalgia bones are creaking into action. Best wishes, Reg (only ever in Pubns for the Main Distribution Centre lark with Messrs Balls, Turner, Tunbridge, de Brunner, Joyce).
Tim adds: Now, you've taught me something I didn't know. Your copy of the ABC of Plain Words must be a reissue (which I didn't know there was). My copy of the book looks like this:
I see you had to fork out 4/6! Shocking. My copy is priced at three bob. I'm busy writing up the Plain Words saga on Wikipedia. Enjoyable, but there's a helluva lot of reading still to do before I can finish the job. If you really think your readers would like a book review when I've finished reading the new edition I'll most willingly contribute one. Tim.
Hello Tim. I will treasure your first sentence. My 146pp edition was printed by Fosh and Cross with a decidedly post-war look about it (a look much as I maintain myself). You are doing a fine job, and if you can spare the time to produce a short review for HMSOldies our admittedly small but perfectly formed audience would be delighted. But we will understand should you decide to go for the Big Bucks offered by TLS, Spectator, NS or Nuts (sorry, nuts has folded - if you can fold nuts - better stop now). Thank you - and press on! Reg.
2 April 2014 – Dave Crank visits Norwich
Dave Crank worked at HMSO Gateshead, as evidenced by the interesting 1975-vintage photos he supplied to HMSOldies. Anyway, hard as it is to believe from his youthful countenance, he achieved a significant birthday recently, and was bought a short break in Norwich - hence his visit to the John Jarrold Printing Museum, where he was surprised to see some old friends who had been forewarned of his visit, and surprised him there. These photographs show some famous names from the world of print and design - plus an interloper at the end.
John Rumball, Dave Crank, Gerry Morris, Fred Stubbs, Alan McGillewie, Dave Troop, Brian Coussell, Duncan McEwen, Tony Durier and Reg Walker
Ernie Downs with Dave Crank
1 April 2014 – BDM at HMSOldies
No, not BDSM: we tried that once and spilled the tea - had to have a whip-round for a new carpet. BDM: Births, Deaths and Marriages.
We don't get too many marriages to report on HMSOldies. There is a happy event due in November for one of our readers, and we are in negotiations with Goodbye! magazine for the rights. Eric Bone is in charge of the contract, and we are up to eighty pages of conditions, which we are sure will be enhanced once Mike Salt has approved it on its way to Chris Southgate.
There have been, sadly, too many obituaries so far this year.
Which leaves us with births. Fecund as many of our readers may be, their abilities in the field of paediatric pleasures are somewhat limited - the clue is in the name: Oldies. But they don't stop having birthdays, even if they no longer buy a round in the Golden Star (as if they ever did). So to kick off the celebrations, we can announce that 1 April (and this isn't a 'fool') marks the birth date of three splendid examples of HMSOldie excellence.
First out of the box are twins, separated at birth - both born on 1 April nineteen hundred and frozen to death - EH Downs and GG Robbie. And, as if that were not enough, several years later who should come along but our own, our very own, Robert Stutely!
A quick scan through the whole of the 1995 Non-Industrial Staff List indicates that there were only two other 1 April babies: Paul Watson (IT) and Dishad Kichloo (PC). This strongly suggests that many mothers held off birth of their progeny until the next day (stand up George Lawn and Jeannie Eastwood) for fear that the little darlings would be teased. Or taxed.
Anyway, trebles all round to the HMSO 1 April babies!
26 February 2014 – From Alan Pawsey down under
Reg, It was good to catch up with David Silver on a relatively cool day in Melbourne today. He said it was over 30 years since he moved to Australia. (Is it really that long ago that we worked together in PMA?) He had no regrets and given that he told me he was 84 (he certainly doesn't look it) the Australian climate is obviously suiting him!
Hello Alan, Thank you for the message and photo of David Silver (fine figure of an accountant) which I have forwarded to friends so that they can see that eternal youth can be achieved by going down under . . . All the best. Reg.
25 February 2014 – Glorious Devon Cuts Up Rough . . .
. . . but Brian Blackmore knows how to cope, as evidenced by his latest email:
Reg, The gales largely passed us by but some damage was done around the Bay. Fortunately it missed our boat, which was just as well because our damage was self- inflicted. Just before Christmas a crew member did something stupid which resulted in a ruined gearbox and even worse caused the vessel to go over on her side as the tide dropped. It was lovely being phoned at midnight with the news that she was on her side. At 4.00am I and a number of others went down to begin salvage operations but the old girl had righted herself. Unfortunately damage to the estimated cost of £20.000 resulted, which insurance will cover.
Repairs will take around eight weeks so it is a busy period. I thought when I retired life would be a lot easier but it is now a five or six day working week. Somewhat amusingly in October I had the main mast removed for a check over and found rot, so a new one was ordered. That has taken about six weeks to shape, cut, treat and replace fittings. If nothing else it provides endless interest and entertainment for locals and visitors alike. Mind you there are times when it it is difficult to be courteous when replying to the same or similar question time and time again.
Apart from the above Beryl and I are enjoying ourselves one way and another. Unfortunately she is not so mobile nowadays but I am soldiering on without recourse to the doctor and tablets!
How about you, are you keeping fit and mobile? Brian
Hello Brian, All generally well with Diane and family, thanks. Daughter's family (granddaughters 10 and 7) and son are in Norwich - we are all currently well and mobile. I see Isobel Williamson, Rod Durkin, Chris Penn, the Easons regularly - John Butler, Alan Crabtree, Jim Wilson (just trying to remember your contemporaries!) occasionally. The nearest I get to anything physical is allotment-digging, but then you always were the man who could leap high walls one-handed after a night on the OBs! All the best to you and to Beryl. Reg
24 February 2014 – Out of the Arc Hives
I never thought that I would be able to speak to every employee of HMSO Norwich in a single morning, let alone find them charming, personable, attentive and - it just occurs to me, was I being humoured? No! the current crop of HMSO employees are indeed star quality - all four of them.
Yes, I counted. Four. Jim Wretham and Karen Sullivan are 'old' HMSO (no disrespect, Karen) and Jo Ellis and Judy Nokes are post-privatisation recruits. They work in Dragonfly House, just by the Jarrold Bridge on the Wensum, back of Barrack Street. Charming spot: handy for the Adam and Eve , theWig and Pen , and cosmopolitan Magdalen Street.
Lovely office. Quite took me back. They made me tea, and proudly showed me their set of clocks showing International Time Zones: Norwich, Kew (in respect of their HQ) and Manningtree, the Slough of Despond on the railway line from Norwich to London.
I'm keeping my eyes open for any Paperkeeper posts going at Dragonfly House - but I fear that the applicants will be queued over the Jarrold Bridge all the way to Sovereign. And George Rokahr will probably beat me at Interview.
So thank you, Karen, Jo, Judy and Jim. I look forward to that promised lunch at the Adam and Eve .
23 February 2014 – From John McKain
Reg, Hello. "I remember you-o-o" sang somebody in tight pants. (I think I met you drinking a half shandy with Gordon Robbie in the Sovereign bar). (Aye right). I worked (in IT) at Norwich HQ 1990-95 and then Edinburgh base 1995-96 before being sold as a white slave. But enough of that.
I was mentioning to my wife that this year (2014) was the centenary of the HMSO Golf Society and that I was wondering: (a) did it still exist and (b) would there be a centenary occasion? Being a wife she found the HMSOldies site and told me to do the rest myself. (Ah, how babies are made.) As a former Society Secretary (press ganged into post by Gordon Robbie), and Society Captain, then if there is to be an event then I would certainly wish to be present. My wife even found a picture on the HMSOldies site of the Society's 80th Anniversary - a comment added to (should that be addended to?) which suggested there would be an event to celebrate the centenary. Could you please - if you know - point me in the direction of the person to contact: Mr Robbie if need be - or whomsoever may be the current contact. Or please ask Gordon, or whoever, to contact me.
My wife has also just alerted me to the fact (she's now engrossed in the site - we started at Sovereign House on the same day) that HMSO Edinburgh is having a reunion in April. Could you ask the organiser of that event to also contact me please?
Never knew this site existed My wife has just asked me to look at a picture and identify an individual. Please, Reg, as well as asking Gordon Robbie to contact me, tell him that stripy jacket and stripy tie dinnae go the gither.
Thanks, John McKain (HMSO 1990-1996, white slave thereafter until 2000)
Hello John, What a pleasant surprise on a Monday morning. I have just been listening to James Naughtie tripping over his political correctness in Aberdeen, and there you are, the genuine voice of the Highlands. But then, to people living in Norfolk, everything except Holland is the Highlands. If I were to wish you an early Happy Birthday for 21 October, and the same for Diane on 7 June, you might either be concerned that your data has been mined or you might remember that some of us have old Staff Lists. Can't be too careful regarding those to whom we might spill HMSO secrets: once the Official Secrets Act is signed, it stays signed. Water-boarding wouldn't get out of me the number of paper-clips we issued each year.
However, I digress. We are very pleased that you, or rather the perceptive Diane, found us. I have also copied to Gordon (and I will not comment on the matter of his attire, being in enough trouble with him regarding the spelling of the word 'teuchter') and to organiser Brian Puplett regarding the golf reunion, which is indeed this year: 3-4 August at Thorpeness, on the Suffolk Coast. Lovely and unusual spot, as you will see when you Google it. I would have been there in a non-playing capacity, but it clashes with something ungettoutable. And the Edinburgh reunion is on 10 April: I have copied to Jim Cairns, who is organising and will doubtless contact you, efficient officer that he is.
Now, IT: is there any dirt you can spill about any of them, under plain brown email? Promise I'll keep the source confidential. Were Doug Kerry's eyes naturally that blue? Was Pam Janacek a musical genius? Did Mick Hardy ever...? You know the sort of thing.
All the best - and if nobody contacts you, let me know and I'll release a few facts on them that they think I have forgotten. And all the best to Diane.
Reg HMSO 1963-1996, when I wasn't even worth White Slavery.
18 February 2014 – Cromer at War: Sunday 5 May 2-4 pm
We are indebted to the eagle-eyed Alan Cole, who spotted this item in a recent leaflet advertising Coming Events at Cromer Museum. The text reads:
'Del Styan reveals the town's wartime past. Visit the sites of bomb damage in the town and find out how Cromer was affected by World War II.'
The chance to meet Del Styan again, and learn something at the same time - irresistible!
17 February 2014 – From Norman Armstrong
Hello Reg, Here is a photo from times gone by: a shot of John Straghan demonstrating the mystery of Computer Print Ordering to Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1989-1992), when he paid an official visit to HMSO, Belfast. This was high-tech then, and all the Printing Officers had to learn many new skills, including touch-typing. Now it looks as if it's from the stone-age!
So sad hear that Ken Pink and Joe Bishop are now deceased. When I joined HMSO Norwich as a Printing Officer, like many others, they made me feel very welcome. It is good to see you are still at the helm of HMSOldies. David Mears has managed to track me down and we have exchanged many memories - thanks for your email.
Hello Norman, Good to hear from you, obviously in fine reminiscent form. As you say, what was 'the white heat of new technology' in those days is fit for the tip now - the huge monitors etc. But Mr Brooke seems suitably absorbed, and you and JS are decently attired, ties and all. Wouldn't happen these days: there was a doctor on television this morning: jeans, sweatshirt, scruffy haircut. Wouldn't pay him to cut my corns. But I digress (what's new?). Hard to believe that it's nine years since I was in Belfast, with Terry McCrum and Rod Durkin. We met, among others, the very John Straghan -see this photo of him in reflective mood. If you see him around, please pass on my regards.
All the very best, and please keep in touch if you come across any more gems. I occasionally hear from Brian Watt, Billy Stevenson and Danny Lavery, plus a Christmas card from Vi Wilson Paula Ronald. Must get over again. Reg
13 February 2014 – Sue Holden has sent us a few words regarding her late father
Yes, it was time to go: little quality of life or dignity; he knew and was ready for it. Nevertheless when you've had both your parents around for the best part of your 66 years, you begin to think they're indestructible!
I have seen the photos of the Northern Area Branch Amateur Dramatics Society, as collected by Patricia - known to all as Paddy - Cochrane, late Rep Manager, Chadderton: in this manifestation there is no-one I recognise as Dad. I do however attach a photo of him in Cardiff - probably where he enjoyed himself most in his career - taken walking alongside Cardiff Castle [see Obituaries]. I remember the spot well, because it was where the No 24 bus went from the centre of Cardiff to the top of our road in Penylan. If I didn't get the 10 minutes past 11 after a night out, I was doomed!
He did plenty of AmDram in Cardiff too and I found a photo last week of him in Reluctant Heroes - priceless!! He also always played a part in our Church's annual pantomime - usually a good villain.
A large family is left behind: he had 5 Children; 9 Grandchildren; 7 Great Grandchildren; and 1 Great-Great Grandchild. And it is lovely that some of his Great Grandchildren (my Grandchildren) knew him and will remember him.
I attach these photos depicting happy times at Manchester Distribution section, and a payslip from days when money was money!
All best wishes, Sue
Les Birch adds: Sue's mention of Paddy reminds me that Jim was in the inaugural 1947 NABADs production of Priestley's "When we are Married", where he played one of the three husbands (Harvey and Bob Norris played the other two) gathered together with their wives to celebrate their Silver Weddings only to discover that in fact they had not been legally married at all. I played the part of the drunken photographer which was rather embarrassing in that, despite my drinking excesses in Normandy, Belgium and Germany, the latter victor's spoils of war, I was in the eyes of my very strict Methodist family still a teetotaller, having signed the pledge at the age of 11.
Sue confirms my belief that some of Jim's happiest days were spent in Cardiff where I think he really entered into the Welsh spirit, something which despite having spent 38 years here I have really failed to do. I still keep my lips firmly sealed whenever the Welsh national hymn is played and sung.
Sadly another great character gone.
Yours aye, Les
Dear Les, Perfect recall, as ever. Thank you. And I am sure that being forced to Sign the Pledge at the age of 11 is some sort of child abuse! I think the opportunity for us to look back to the days when HMSO was a 'different country' is well taken -we can all still learn lessons from the past, not least regarding lasting friendships. By the way, I passed on your comments to Bob Rice and he writes that he is pleased, but not surprised, to hear that you are thriving. He has fond memories of Scottish Adventures. Best wishes. Reg.
11 February 2014 – Cornwall House and The Floor That Never Was
Fascinating article about the old building, published in the King's College House Magazine dated March 2004. Our eye was drawn to the following passage:
'After the hospital closed, the building reverted to HMSO use . . . but according to one of the writers of the book, 'there are rumours that some outposts of the Security Service may have been based there, and that 'The Man Who Never Was,' the exhumed corpse that was used to mislead the Germans over the invasion of Sicily, began his journey to the sea from a fridge in Cornwall House.'
All I will say is that when I worked there it was not possible to get out of the lift on the third floor, where resided 'The Foreign Office Library.' Couldn't get there by the stairs either, unless you were invited by one of the exotic young Oxbridge graduates who inhabited the place, purportedly dealing in a variety of foreign language publications. If I said any more I would have to shoot myself . . .
Dave Martin adds: Reg – Yes, Foreign Office Library (allegedly) on 3rd Floor Cornwall House back in the '60s had a fascinating air of mystery, thanks mainly to it being 'out of bounds' to us as you describe. I think we both knew the FO Library's Frank Strange, who was our contact point in the F.O. and often a visitor to P5 area. I used to enjoy phoning him just to hear his telephone answering response ' Strange, Publications'.
And how we enjoyed that seemingly endless succession of 'Oh-Kay, Yah' girls from the F.O. Library! They dispersed the gloom of P5 and ITW areas when they came to us on queries clutching those bits of paper imperiously titled 'Demands' ! I don't think anyone from the P5/ITW areas managed to overcome the 3rd Floor security, got past the swing doors to the Library and actually got to see the interior. Perhaps that interior and its 'Strange Publications' are secretly preserved somewhere, a dusty relic of WW2 and Cold War days!
Thanks Dave for jogging the memory nicely – yes, Frank Strange. But we lowly ITW souls generally had no legitimate reason to deal with the Third Floor Exotica, seeing them only when they wafted down to see the likes of you, Deirdre McVeigh, Mrs Fairservice, Capper, Quilter and Sailor the Translator. I had never seen people who spoke or acted as they did outside a production by PG Woodhouse or N Coward.
But, as fate would have it, several years later when in Norwich, Supplies Office Machinery, our main F&CO contact was a decent soul who worked from that very third floor. He was retiring, and I was invited to his seeing-off event. I even said a few words and presented him with a pound of coffee beans purchased from the nearby Drury Coffee Company.
Seems like another world - but then, it was.
10 February 2014 – Next Edinburgh Reunion on Thurs 10 April 2014
Hi Reg, I hope that, as usual, you will help to trumpet out the news of the next Edinburgh reunion. It will be on Thursday 10 April, kick-off 7pm at the Alexander Graham Bell , George Street. Hoping for a fine turnout. Thanks again Reg. Best wishes, Jim Cairns
Hello Jim, It will be a pleasure to promote such a fine event. I have also alerted a few exiled Scots in case they are lucky enough to be in the area at the appointed time. Which begs the question of what we do if and when your fine country is severed from us by Mr Salmond and his boys. Will we be allowed back, or will it be a case of Visa application? We await developments (although not holding the breath). All the best, especially for 10 April (which my diary shows is not only the 156th anniversary of the casting of Big Ben's Bell at Whitechapel Foundry – and the **th anniversary of the birth of Judith (Cotton) Tassell. If you think I'm brave enough to put a date to that you can't see my yellow streak from up there. Reg.
8 February 2014 – From Tom McNeill
Dear Reg, I have just seen the post by Les Birch [6 Feb] about the order for 10,000 copies that became 100,000. When working in Edinburgh on Air Publication I made a similar “cock up”. A returned proof had “materiels” spelled with an E and I instructed the printer to change this to “materials” with an A without consulting the customer. The entire print run was rejected as materiels of war are spelled with an E. A hard learned lesson not to be so cocky.
Incidentally Les also mentions the superiority of clericals who went to grammar school. I too went to grammar school but would admit my Latin and Greek are pretty ropey. I was however always impressed, not to say taken aback by the number of ordinary printing journeymen who were highly educated. It was not unknown for them to be reading Ovid during tea breaks. How times change, what were traditional, hard learned skills are now automated.
Best Wishes, Tom.
Dear Tom, I would certainly have been with you on your 'materiel' cock-up there. Taught me something I didn't know (it won't be for the first time). Wikipedia also has a piece on it:
As you rightly say, hard-learned skills are now automated. Yesterday my daughter was forced to use the self-checkout in B&Q as they claimed that 'no served tills were available.' I couldn't get away with printing her thoughts on it here – don't know where she learned such language! All the best from a wet Norwich (but not as wet as The South West). Reg.
7 February 2014 – From David Mears
Hi Reg. I was leafing through the site tonight and stumbled on my photo and a summary of where I had ended up! Just in the interest of keeping in touch with people who featured prominently in what was a happy time in my life, I would like to bring you up to date. I did indeed move to Swansea and spend three and a half years as a social worker in an adult assessment team. I retired in March 2013 and now spend my time pursuing my interests in painting (acrylic and watercolour), photography, and amateur radio. Had a bit of a health scare last year but happily it was a false alarm. June and I are both fine and wish all my former colleagues well.
Hello David, Very good to hear from you: those five years since you last wrote seem to have gone in a flash! And always good to hear of people enjoying their (eventual) retirement. You will be unsurprised to learn that Sovereign House is now an unloved blot on the landscape. St Crispins (do I remember you having worked on the second floor there?) is still occupied by a miscellany of organisations including TSO and o2o (Banner Supplies). The Golden Star pub is still there, Boots is still in Anglia Square, just about everything else has changed. All the very best – and looking forward to hearing from you again in 2019, if not before! Reg
6 February 2014 – From Les Birch
Dear Reg, Sorry to read about the passing of Arnold Mackenzie and Andy Baptie [see Obituaries ] with neither of whom can I recall having ever worked but both of whom I regarded as very pleasant chaps to be with. Arnold I always remember as being immaculately turned out and looking very smart. It was particularly sad that Andy should go so soon after his last message to you. His mention of Rob Sloane reminded me that it was Rob who had the task of teaching me my first job when I arrived in P. and B. Manchester early in June 1939. Rob's daily mantra to me was "Always see you are covered", which seemed to be the motto of the service in those days. I learned shortly afterwards that Rob had, just before my arrival, had 'his file marked' which I gathered was a punishment just one step short of being shot at dawn. He had involved the Department in 'nugatory expenditure' by ordering 100,000 copies of an Inland Revenue form when the demand had been for 10,000 copies only. His later career showed that he quickly lived that error down.
We Clerical Officers were dreadful intellectual snobs in those days so far as the Printing Clerks (always pronounced 'clurks') were concerned. They did not become Printing Officers until after the war I believe. We had of course all been at grammar schools whilst they had for the most part left elementary school at the age of 14 and then gone on either to 'technical schools' or into industry, which was almost a dirty word for us at that time. It all seems so unbelievable nowadays but I think that in our immaturity we were very much influenced by the attitudes of our so-called elders and betters. We may not always think that the world has changed for the better over the past 75 years or so but in respect of social attitudes at least I think it is fair to say that it has - for which praises be. I sometimes find it hard to recognise myself when I reminisce like this.
Looking back over the recent obits. we have certainly lost some good people during last year - John Owen, Bill Ford, Margaret Crawley and dear Ron George to mention just a few. So many of the Norwich people I of course never knew but from what is always said of them it is clear that they and their countless new colleagues were very much in the best traditions of the dear old department. Just dabbing my eyes now - keep up the good work. The site remains a great tribute to you and the team.
Best wishes as always, Les (Sent from my iPad)
Hello Les, Excellent to hear from you - your sentiments are very much appreciated. I know what you mean about the passage of time - never thought that I would be one of 'the old school' but when I recall that every one of the people I worked with when I started had been through at least one World War, all typewriters were manual, and there were no 'real' photocopiers, it brings it home to you.
We will have to sort out a meeting when the weather improves. In the unlikely event that you can be in London on Tuesday 10 June, I am meeting Bob Nuttall, Allan Quinnell, Don Bankier, Bob Rice and others in The Cittie of York (was Henekey's) in High Holborn, 1230 pm. It would be great to see you there, but if not, we will raise a glass or seven. Best wishes. Reg
3 February 2014 – Some Of Our Yesterdays
The East Anglian Film Archive does a marvellous job of preserving historic celluloid, as evidenced by this compilation of amateur footage, recorded by Charles Scott, featuring the extensive demolition and redevelopment of parts of Norwich during the 1970s - particularly Grapes Hill, Chapel Field, Magdalen Street and Anglia Square.
At around six minutes in, you might see yourself making an early escape down the Sovereign House spiral staircase. Unfortunately the cameraman didn't get a shot of Stuart Mitchell's brazen flyover cycle dash just minutes before the inaugural tape was cut (around 16 minutes in).
Nodge Carnegie adds: Dear Reg, Many thanks for pointing me in the direction of this gem of a film. It is wonderful, even if quite saddening to see how much was lost in the early 1970s, all in the name of "innovation" and "progress". I saw the same thing happen to my district (and neighbouring ones) in Manchester between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s. The key difference is that Miles Platting (I can see it now in the mind's eye) didn't boast anything built much before 1800.
For me, this fills in the gap between my first period in Norwich (1966-1970 - with a few visits between 1970 and 1973) and dispersal in July 1978. Fascinating - and interesting how the building of the Magdalen Street flyover attracted so much attention.
The bonus is to see footage of streets long-gone or drastically different from how they were in the 1960s: West Pottergate, William Street, Derby Street, Northumberland Street, Middlesex Street and, closer to HMSO, Golden Dog Lane. The "Restore - don't demolish" written on a very attractive late-medieval building in that area shows that the programme of change wasn't universally popular. It seems from another set of 'notices' that (Councillor) Patricia Hollis (since ennobled) was also not everyone's favourite in the early 1970s.
I shall have another look later in the week.
Pre-PS I took a lot of photographs of West Pottergate in spring 1968 on one of the Art College's Yashica-Mats and, for a non-photographer, achieved some unexpectedly good results. I'll leave the negatives to Peter Salt and his wife.
Best wishes, Nodge
Hello Nodge, Thank you: good to see I am not alone in being thrown into the well of nostalgia when I see films like this! I am sure there is a lot more we could say about 'planning' but I don't want to see HMSOldies shut down 6 months before our 10th birthday . . . All the best. Reg
John Flynn adds: Reg. Thanks for your email. Lots of good stuff on the EAFA site. Could not recognise any of the idlers looking out of the Sovereign House windows but did notice Alan Milburn (with the long hair) watching men at work – just before the bit on Derby St [20 mins in]. Regards, John.
Hello John, Well spotted! I won't say a word about Audit staff being well-practised at watching people at work. All the best. Reg.
2 February 2014 – From Andy Baptie
Dear Reg, The HMSO RPA Print Section Dinner [see 1 Feb] brought back considerable memories. You mentioned Mrs Butler, and I remember her perfectly well as she was in the RPA Section when I joined it in November 1949. If she was born in 1899 she must have been aged 50 when I first met her. Incidentally, there was at that time another much younger female Printing Officer whose name I cannot recall but with whom my wife and I were quite friendly at that time. Looking at the names both on the menu and listed below I can recall quite a number of them and have set out some detail below which might be of interest.
Charlie Neale, if I remember, left the office to continue his career in industry.
Ernie Bolt was one of the most delightful people I have ever met – he served in the British Army in the 1914-18 war and was awarded the Military Medal. He lived with his brother nearby to Atlantic House, in Lloyd Baker Street and my last recollection of him was when I was able to invite him to dinner somewhere near Russell Square in London. He was also friendly with Norman Frost and to my knowledge Ernie eventually retired to Portsmouth from where he came originally. He was very helpful on a personal level to my wife and I when we were in London in the early fifties.
Bob Sloane was not the CEPA when I was in the RPA section but I remember him and he also had a strong connection with the Civil Service Motoring Association (CSMA) which is still going strong.
There was an Irene in the office when I was there but her surname was Lowe and the one I knew married a clerical officer who unfortunately died quite young. The Irene I knew eventually moved to Norwich but not with the office move.
Arthur Baker had been an officer in the Royal Navy. He was a very helpful individual and explained to me in simple terms the complexities of RPA accounting. I was told he had the reputation of being the only officer in the Royal Navy who did not need to use a loud-hailer - his own voice was loud enough. Sam Ferguson was the officer in charge of the section when I joined it.
George Macaulay of course became an Assistant Controller who unfortunately died on the very first day of his retirement while out walking
I do recall some of the other names but do not have much detail about them worth repeating.
With best wishes, Andy Baptie
Hello Andy, Many thanks for your lovely recollections - proves once more what a wonderful thing the memory is: just needs a trigger to be pulled. I am sure that there are people out there who will have known the personalities you mention and who will, with luck, be able to add to them. Incidentally, the 1961 Staff List shows you as a Technical Officer in Works on a pay scale with a maximumof £ 1,154 p.a. Other Works TOs were Messrs Cannon, Belsham, Beesley (who was very helpful to me when I was on a Management Services job in Manchester), Munns, Gossington, Hudson, Thorpe, Brown, Scott, Almond, Hughes, Goddard, (Alex) Smith and Frost. The only female Printing Officers in the list were Mrs Amy Hislop and Mrs Olive Butler. All the very best to you- and to your memories! Reg
1 February 2014 – Papering Over The Cracks: 2014
No cracks to be seen in the gleaming visages of these stalwarts of the HMSO Supplies paper procurement section, out for their annual post-Christmas lunch. Those of you with good memories, or access to the picture published on HMSOldies in April 2007, will see that they look not a day older. A substantial addition to the group was apparent in the form of Geoff Sinden. Rod Durkin, Linda Blake, Ian Dougall, Brian Cockram and Maurice Curtis also look models of contentment - possibly the result of Geoff Mickleburgh's generous gesture whereby he paid for the whole meal himself, drink and all . . . or did I mishear?
1 February 2014 – HMSO RPA Print Section Celebrates In Style . . . Fifty-four Years Ago
We were pleased to receive this fascinating little piece of history from Sinclair Simpson, who himself joined HMSO Print in 1958:
'Hi Reg, Enclosed is the menu card for the RPA (Representation of the Peoples Act) evening out in 1960. The meal was in the Atlantic House Canteen - the show as detailed.
The guest was Robert Hans (Bob) Sloane, who was Chief Examiner of Printers' Accounts at the time. If I remember right, his wife didn't attend. Full names, as far as I remember them, are as follows: Rosemary Bealing, Jim Curnow, Bob Smith, Bob Bennett, Charlie Neale, 'Bill' Williams, Irene Allen, Andy Baptie, Ernie Bolt, Frank Butler, Ken Coffin, Jim Evans, Alice Hayden, Frank Massey, Arthur Baker, Ray Bean, Percy Bond, Olive Butler, Ruth Crossley (who became Ruth Vivian), Sam Ferguson, George Macaulay, Eddie Sargeant, Sinclair Simpson. Regards, Sinclair.'
Hello Sinclair, What a lovely slice of history! And what a good memory you have for names. I have been able, with the aid of a 1961 Staff List, to complete the set, adding Miss Hayden's name - Alice -and Miss Allen's -Irene. In fact, when I joined S6b in 1965 Irene (originally from Manchester) was the section EO reporting to Charlie Lloyd. Good to see all those famous names, not least that of Mrs Butler, who was pointed out to me as that rarest of flowers, a female Printing Officer. I'm sure that she wouldn't mind my saying that she was born in 1899, so we are dealing in real history here. And I like the grandiloquent use of restaurant French throughout!
31 January 2014 – From Jim Cairns
Dear Reg, I came across another picture of the Edinburgh office. This time it shows the studio with (l to r) Tom Murray, Jim Cairns, Ron Burnett and Dot Adams. Hardly looks posed at all! Ron is working on the first full colour guide to Stirling Castle – a real step forward for Historic Scotland in these far off days. Note the boxes of Letraset at Tom's shoulder. High-tech stuff! Good memories though. Regards, Jim
Hello Jim. A lovely action shot, thank you. I have scrutinised the picture for clues as to the year, but no luck. I am sure someone out there will be able to give an approximation based on the design of the label on the Cow Gum tin! I used to buy Letraset when I was in S4c – around 1967. Norman Parker was the HEO and used to scrutinise every demand (and demands for Dymotape) with a view to telling 'amateur' users to just make do with hand-written labels. Days of true austerity . . . . All the best. Reg
Philip Marriage adds: This photo appeared in 'From Layout to Graphic Design' and was reckoned to be around 1981. The new design for the guide 'Stirling Castle' was first class setting new standards for HMSO's Scottish publications. It is sobering to think I am old enough to remember 'wet' letraset, when each letter was slid, delicately and skilfully, off a backing sheet – its rub-down successor was a doddle. Aah . . . the intoxicating aroma of Cow-gum – goodness knows what its solvent-based formula did to our lungs!
30 January 2014 - From Dave Burchell
Morning Reg, Hope all is well. One of our colleagues in the Printed Paper Office, House of Lords, found these sealing wax strips in an old stationery cupboard. He asked how old they were and I said I knew a man who might know. Have you any idea how old they may be? They are clearly marked code 55-16 and 55-11 and the darker one is from Waterlows. Any information gratefully received. Kind regards, Dave
Hello Dave. Thank you - I can feel the frisson of excitement flowing between ex-Clerks of Stationery as we publish this on HMSOldies. Stationery porn at its finest! I can remember these little beauties sitting neglected and unloved in Doris Dry's stationery cupboard, Room 226 Cornwall House, when I joined in 1963. They were still available in the 1960s as part of the revered 55 Code. Just as well KJ Coleman has turned his back on all things computer (and, it is rumoured, electricity) or we would have to bring him round with a wet HMSO towel and RNIB soap bar. All the best, and thank you for the excitement! Reg
21 January 2014 – Fine Dining in Belfast
Gone are the days when the HMSO Belfast Print section in IDB House would cross Chichester Street to The Garrick for a Pint and Paddy's Pizza for their post-Christmas celebration.
This photo, kindly supplied by Brian Watt, shows old friends in celebratory mood.. Jim Martin, Jonathan Belshaw, Michael Hughes, Jaclie Purdy, George Taggart, Brian Watt and Larry Gould look as though they enjoyed themselves. And for those of you that remember The Garrick (sit down Danny) this link may bring a tear to the eye - or thirst to the throat: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/8913856
19 January 2014 – In on the Acts
Not sure if you ever got to visit the firm that manufactured the vellum we used for printing the record copies of Acts of Parliament but in one of his episodes of 'Great Railway Journeys' last week Michael Portillo visited them. If you haven't seen it then a fascinating short piece starts 22 minutes in.
Some of the 'Readers' Comments' are interesting. As far as I'm concerned the 'gems' were the people working there: diamond geezers and gals, price above rubies.
17 January 2014 - Post-Christmas Dinner
Hi Reg, I know you've been salivating at the opportunity to cast your acerbic eye over the photos of the Annual ex HMSO Electronic Publishing Team's Post-Christmas Dinner which once again took place at Don Pepe's Restaurant, in St Benedicts Street, Norwich.
As always it was organised so efficiently by Lynda Marshall and involved the regular suspects: Gordon Robbie, Dave Martin, Jayne Wilkinson, Alan Pawsey and myself, but regretfully missing John Saville this year as he had to cry off at the last minute with some kind of lirgi. On arrival Gordon checked that the customary menu was available and was reassured by Señora Pepe that it hadn't changed in twenty-four years which satisfied everyone and despite John's absence there was no noticeable decline in the quantity of wine consumed. We are already looking forward to a repeat performance next year. Be kind to us Reg. Philip Marriage
Hello Philip, A fine set of photos, and don't they all look well-preserved? No-one would believe that their combined ages add up to 322 (small prize to any non-Staff List holder who comes up with the correct combination. Clue: Wilkinson 21 and Robbie 105 may sound about right but isn't). Speaking of The Laird, if he isn't saying the words 'The man in the pink shirt is paying' in the picture where he is pointing at Philip, then I'm a choochter. Beaming faces from Lynda, Alan, Philip, Dave – looking as if he has just remembered that he left his lights on. Or off. Jayne looking, as ever, as if she knows something that we don't know. And that the something she knows is something we would very much interested in knowing. Pity about John's absence. I know that he is a renowned world traveller, but dabbling in Luminous Infra-Red Galaxy Inventory (Lirgi: see http://lirgi.iaa.es/ ) is one step beyond. Was that kind enough? Reg
Gordon Robbie adds: Reg, If I was to be charitable (how likely is that!?), I might allow that your attempt to use the Doric was laudable - but "choocter" should be spelt "teuchter". I would be happy to advise next time you dare to venture into the dialect of north-east Scotland. Slainte mhar, The Laird.
Hello Gordon, I readily defer to The Master – should have known better! I will definitely be back to you in the event of HMSOldies having to report any incidences of Hough Magandie. All the best. Reg
30 December 2013 – Selfie from Paul Radbourne
Sorry Reg, you did ask for it!
Paul, Excellent! I had almost given up hope. You win the prize as the first – the only – Selfie received this side of 2014. You are looking remarkably clear-skinned, as befits a denizen of the Jewel of the Norfolk Coast. Take care up there – and hope to see you when next we wander the Cromer streets. Reg.
28 December 2013 – HMSO Edinburgh 1986
Jim Cairns has sent us a photo depicting bicentenary celebrations at HMSO Bankhead Avenue in 1986.
Senga Brawley/Hamilton, John Crosbie, Norrie Veitch, Jim Blair, Kathy Finnie (sticking out of Jim's shoulder), a lass from the Repro section, Karen Burnett, Gavin Turner, Gordon Walker, John Mills, Sandy Cameron, Dougie Williamson (barely visible), Derek Jackson, Jim Cairns, Ian Hare, and George Wales. In front are Lindsay McCallum/Wilson, and Caroline Croyle.
24 December 2013 – The Irish Question: Philip Jinman remembers KP – and offers some Tourist Tips
Hi Reg, I used to work with Kelvin in room D70 Atlantic House with Adrian Lambley, Mike Buckingham and Alex McLeod as Technical Officer in the 1970s, and for a very short time with Arthur Baker as HTO and then Frank Glynn. I believe the section was PP7, and there was rivalry between Frank Glynn and Eddie Sargent.
On another tack, I was in Beccles yesterday with my nephew, who owns Ellough Parkway Go Kart Track - Richard Lock - and with David Lock, who owns the Wine Vaults. I took my Grandson Joshua, (son of my eldest daughter Jenny) and youngest daughter Nicola, and we had a thoroughly enjoyable day despite the weather.
Nicola Lee, Joshua Pankhurst, Philip Jinman
The photo below, which though not a 'Selfie', is a normal family picture.
David Lock, Joshua Pankhurst, Nicola Lee, Philip Jinman and Roddy Lock
I highly recommend both Ellough Park Race Way and Wine Vaults but I would wouldn't I!
Hope everybody has a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Philip.
Hello Philip, Good to hear from you, and thank you for the shameless plugs, which we will be happy to add to HMSOldies, with your note in response to our item which mentioned Kelvin P Irish. Must try the Vaults when the weather improves – my granddaughters are a little young for the Brooklands Experience as yet. Your note brings back some memories. I also worked with Frank Glynn when he was in Norwich, and had many dealings with Alex McLeod when he worked in PP London during the early 1990s. You also remind me of the IP days: I seem to recall you were there in the mid-1980s, with Graham Boulter – possibly Malcolm McNeill. My main dealings- during the building of the PC at Nine Elms – were with Dave Ware, Graham Boulter, Reg Myers, Glyn Jones, Terry Quinlan – and Dr Farrington. Seems an age ago – but then, I suppose it was. Best wishes to you for the coming festivities, and thank you for making contact. Reg.
21 December 2013 – From English Jack
Reg, I was just perusing HMSOldies when I came across an article and a picture from 12 November 2013 by Bob Allder. In the picture, seated at the front, was a Kelvin Irish. When I worked in C. Tinling and Co’s printing works in Prescot, just outside Liverpool in the early 1960s, we had a compositor by the name of Ponsford Kelvin Irish join the firm. Because of his initials he was known affectionately as “PK” Irish, no doubt because of the Wrigley’s chewing gum of the same name. We had a dart board set up in the comp room and played during meal breaks. I wonder if this is the same gentleman?
All the best, Jack [Keating]
Hello Jack, It's a small world – got to be the same man. Staff List shows Kelvin Ponsford Irish born September 1930 – joined HMSO 1966 – established Printing Officer 1972, working in SSPP. I don't know when he left/retired from HMSO, but someone out there must! All the very best to you for the forthcoming hostilities. Reg.
21 December 2013 – Debbie Alden remembers Althea Wells
Hi Reg, Hope you are well, Pauline White and I were chatting about our time at HMSO only the other evening, so I felt the urge to look at the site today. I had to contact you to say how sad I was to read about Althea's passing [see Obituaries ]. She was a lovely lady, friendly, kind, always happy even when life was difficult. A pleasure to see and speak to at Reception every time you walked in the building.
Regards, Debbie Alden (1989 to 2007)
Hello Debbie, Good to hear from you, and many thanks for your kind words regarding Althea. I am sure that Althea's daughter Lyn, to whom I have copied your note, will be pleased to know that her mother was so well appreciated. All the best to you for the festivities – and hoping to see you at the next HMSOldies reunion. Reg.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Things have been a little slow in the HMSOldies office of late, but you may find something of interest should you care to read below.
Ever willing to keep up with the times (as long as the times are the 1960s) it occurred to us that it is a trend among bright young things and International Politicians these days to take a 'Selfie' - for details see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selfie
In this spirit of innovation, and to enable HMSOldies to kick off 2014 ahead of the game, you are invited to send your own Selfie to the Editor. Don't be shy: it's not much different to posing for your HMSO pass.
And, by the way, Season's Greetings from all at HMSOldies, with the special gift of an iffy apostrophe for the pedants among you.
Reg Walker Editor, HMSOldies
17 December 2013 – John McGarry at the bar . . . and Shirley Betts at tea
Mike Betts has forwarded these photos depicting happier times in Sovereign House, specifically Supplies Division S11 (Reprographic equipment):
Reg, I saw my sister Shirley last week and she had found this photo of John McGarry when she worked with him in S11C in Sovereign House in the early 1970s. Shirley and John had a similar sense of humour, and Shirley would often twang John’s braces when he was not expecting it! Shirley started to call John ‘Rocky’, and John gave her this signed picture with the caption “To Shirley - Who loves you baby? Rocky”. The man with John at the bar was a representative from Gestetner Ltd, who made cutting edge reprographic equipment - stencil duplicators and scanners.
Shirley has also found this photo of herself when she worked in S11.
Mud in yer eye, Mike
16 December 2013 – The Shard and Atlantic House
Hi Reg, The images taken at The Ship Inn looked good on the HMSOldies website. I didn't appreciate that you would also be featuring The Shard in your report and you might be interested in the two attached images of The Shard that I took in close-up when I was walking back to London Bridge station after the HMSOldies reunion on 10 December. I am also attaching a view of the modern-day Atlantic House facade on Holborn Viaduct, that I took on 13 November 2013 that may be of some interest? Pat Kennedy.
Hello Pat, Excellent photos: I think HMSOldies would like to see what can be seen from the backyard of Britannia House and many other ex-HMSO buildings. And the Atlantic House frontage is also very interesting. Every time I go past I wish I had a camera with me, and now you have done the job! All the best. Reg.
13 December 2013 – Anyone out there remember Harrow Press in the 1940s and 1950s?
A long shot, I know, but at a lunch today I was introduced to David Jacob, who told me that his father Percy Jacob had worked for a time in the Print Department at Harrow Press. He has put his trust in the magic that is HMSOldies to see if anyone remembers him.
10 December 2003 – Second Tuesday in December Society
Another good turnout for our Annual Lunch at The Ship, Borough Road (the nearest decent pub to Britannia House, home of OMTS in the 1990s, in the backyard of which they seem to have built The Shard - see below). By the way, the fish and chips or burger and chips for a fiver was especially good value, washed down with Fullers ESB for those so inclined.
Pat Kennedy made it down by train - not bike- from Saint Albans, and there were contingents from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Surrey and Kent, as evidenced by the photos kindly taken by Pat. In the frame are Messrs Bindloss, Rust, Allman, Wilce, Peers-Jones, Stoten, deBruin, Coveney, Bradbury, Ekers, Kennedy, Plackett, Walker, Mr and Mrs Clift-Jones, and Sue Whitaker. Among those who avoided Snappy Pat were Messrs Pudner, Holmes, Perry, Vallance and Ekers W.
At the time of writing all participants managed to return home unscathed, with a warm glow of nostalgia leavened by the sadness of memories of absent friends.
7 November 2013 – Ivor Hosgood bows out in style
Ivor Hosgood (late of HMSO Print Procurement) long ago put his interest in all things musical to practical use by putting his weight behind the Norfolk Youth Music Trust. Time flies when you are enjoying yourself, and on 17 November 2013 Ivor finally retired as Chairman/Secretary of the Trust after helping to organise a staggering 266 concerts. He writes as follows:
As requested, I attach one of the 20 photos taken by Terry Burchell during last Sun's event.
The Anteros Arts Foundation Exhibition Gallery, 7 Fye Bridge Street, Norwich
(Left to right): Jonathan Wortley (trustee); Mrs Jennifer Hosgood (trustee); Ivor R.Hosgood MBE (trustee); Matthew Frost (trumpet); Finlay McEwen (saxophone); the Lord Mayor of Norwich (see prog cover); the Lady Mayoress of Norwich (see prog cover); the Sheriff of Norwich (see prog cover); Leona Pang (piano); John Hemmant (Artistic Director/AAF); and George Rolls (Baritone).
(The Sheriff's Lady is confined to a wheelchair and had already been taken upstairs to the music room, which explains her non-appearance in the photo.)
Yours sincerely, Ivor
17 November 2013 – Norma Groom writes from Cape Town
Hi Reg, This morning I went onto HMSOldies and was very sad and shocked to read about the death of David Reeve, who worked for me when I was in charge of the Supplies Tender section until I retired in 1991. He was always a hard worker but the love of his life were his cigarettes. He was a person who always seemed to enjoy his own company rather than that of his colleagues, but at times he would show a wicked sense of humour. It is very sad that he died so young, I sincerely hope that he enjoyed his two years of retirement, please send my condolences to his family.
It was lovely to see Duncan Dawdry’s memories of David, I was only thinking of Duncan, Madeleine and Kim the other day, I was very fortunate to have a section of such hard working people, please convey my best wishes to them if you are in touch with them.
It does not seem possible that Chris and I have been in South Africa for 14 years now, we love our life in the Cape and have made so many friends, My son and all the family are coming here next March so we are busy planning where to take them. Ralph has been several times but his daughter’s boyfriend has never been and is making quite a wish list of things he wants to see and do. Top of the list is Addo Elephant Park in Port Elizabeth. I always enjoy Addo so much: the elephants (there are more than 350) are such awesome animals, and they just roam freely in the park, as do all the other animals. The whales are back in the ocean – we see them from Fish Hoek beach and they come every year from late August until late November. They calf here every year – the female whale always has another female with her when she gives birth, the other female whale acts as a midwife and tosses the new born baby into the air as soon as it is born. We were very lucky one day when we were on the beach with some South African friends and witnessed the whole thing take place.
Well Reg I am going to close now. I go onto HMSO oldies nearly every week and do enjoy it. Please pass onto Alan and Terry (how did Alan manage to get a picture with Del Steyne), Isobel, Peter, John Eason and Sue Whitaker my best regards. I expect that you know that Dick Moore has been poorly and is waiting for a pacemaker to be fitted.
Kind regards, Norma Groom
14 November 2013 – Eighty Years in the Bunker: HMSO Golf Society in 1994
Brian Broughton has unearthed this piece of history, which he has posted onto HMSOldies Facebook. There was considerable memory-loss as to the reason for the event, and indeed some of the names (two contributors even suggesting that the late Ronnie Barker had sneaked into the frame) but sterling memory-rattling from Messrs Tate, Moore, Downs and especially Mike Taylor (a three-pipe problem) has, we hope, come up with the goods.
The event was a special meeting at Eaton Golf Club, Norwich, to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of HMSO Golf Society.
In attendance, starting at the top left, were Derek Moore, Colin Reeson (not HMSO employee), Ernie Downs, Brian Broughton, Ed Crickmore, Dick Moore, Derek Newton, Keith Williams, Mike Lovelady, Clive Furness (ex HMSO: moved to NCR pre-dispersal), Ian Quarterman, Bob Laws (IT Consultant), Jim Mowat, Tom Robinson, Ian Hatfield.
Front row: Roger Nash, Don Ray, Archie Foote, Mike Taylor, Brian Puplett (Team Captain), Ernie Thorp, John McKain (HMSO Edinburgh), Pat Tate, Bill Gamble, Pat Gormley.
We trust that there will be a similar line-up taken at the celebration for the 100th anniversary, at Thorpeness, next year.
Clive Furness adds: Hi Reg, Thanks for the memories: can't believe 20 years have passed since the photo was taken. I remember it as though it was yesterday - in fact my wife Lyn took the picture. Looking closely at the photo I had to ask her if she was taking a free kick: a pose along the front row is only normally seen on a football pitch! I for one look forward to celebrating our 100 years in 2014. Thanks again Reg. Clive
Gordon Robbie adds: Reg, Research in the Golf Society archives confirms that this group photograph was, as surmised, taken at our 80th Anniversary meeting at Eaton in 1984, and I agree with the identifications already made of those present. I am having some difficulty accounting for my own absence on that special occasion, but 1984 was the first year of HMSO's sponsorship of Nigel Smith in the British Touring Car Championship, and, as Head of Publications Publicity Section and the main protagonist of the sponsorship deal, it fell to me and some others of the Publicity and Sales staff to sacrifice our weekends and probably the occasional Friday to attend various race circuits nation-wide to actively promote HMSO's motoring titles alongside our sponsored driver and car. Ah, the things I had to do to meet the exigencies of the Service – and not even an OBE for my troubles! Cheers, Gordon.
Thanks Gordon, Yes, as you say, some of us put work first, no matter how gruelling - I'll have a word with the Palace to see if we can get you a People's OBE, but I had better be quick before the devolution referendum takes place. All the best. Reg
12 November 2013 – From Bob Allder
Bob Allder has added this 1979 photo of the SSPP Costing Office Technical Staff to his Facebook page. The clerical staff at that time included Pat Ayres, sister of the West Ham footballer Johnny Ayres.
Back row: Trevor Bentley, Cliff Mills, Dave Charlton Front row, Bob Allder, Kelvin Irish, John Tucker
4 November 2013 – A small world
Moira and I went to Stresa in Italy in late September. During the flight from Norwich Moira struck up conversation with a young woman sitting to her right. They exchanged names and Moira learnt the woman’s name was Lucy and that she was accompanying her father, Henry, on the trip to Italy as her mother avoids travelling by air. I was not involved in any of the conversation until Moira told me that Lucy knew someone who had worked at HMSO and Moira realised that person was also known to me.
That 'someone who had worked at HMSO' turned out to be Jack Keating, who worked in the former Technical Development area and latterly in Pubns Electronic Publishing. Since retirement Jack has been resident in the USA and has contributed several articles to HMSOldies from there. Lucy knew Jack through his son John, with whom Lucy went out for a while before they eventually went their separate ways.
I emailed Jack the news of how we met with Lucy. Jack responded: 'A small world when you get on a plane and meet someone who knows someone you know. As Lucy told you, she came over when John was with me and stayed with us for two weeks.'
We enjoyed Lucy and Henry’s company, usually at the breakfast table, during our stay in Stresa. The long arm of coincidence aided by memories of Jack worked well!
12 October 2013 – They would, wouldn't they? Billy Stevenson gets excited . .
Dear Reg, The Profumo saga is in the news again, with Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s forthcoming musical 'Stephen Ward' opening in the Aldwych Theatre in December. Our famous best sellerLord Denning’s Report Cmnd 2152 will no doubt be in demand again. We thought the Post Office shares were a bargain, well the above Cmnd paper was going for three Half Crowns at the Holborn Bookshop in 1963. It’s now fetching £25 on Amazon. Just coincidentally Christine Keeler’s new autobiographySecrets and Lies has just been published and is worth the £17.99 for the first paragraph of the Foreword alone. Copyright forbids me including it here. Tickets for the musical are starting at £80, a snip. I’m saving up already.
Yours reminiscently. Billy
Hello Billy, Well observed as ever: thank you! I'm off to Waterstone's to buy a book -where's that £ 17.99. Reg.
11 October 2013 – Alan Cole in South Africa
Alan goes to South Africa every January – the mean-spirited among his friends think that it is to avoid buying a drink on his birthday – and this photograph, taken in 2013, shows him with the South African Test Cricketer Dale Steyn, who at the time was rated the best bowler in the world. Cricket fans should see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Steyn
That's Dale Steyn, not Del Styan, one-time HMSO employee and Cromer Museum curator. According to Press reports, 'he is quick, accurate and can swing his balls both ways.' Steyn, that is. Unless Del can advise otherwise.
8 October 2013 – Sue Whitaker Tells 'em . . .
Sue Whitaker made most of the local (Norfolk) media outlets today giving her forthright views on the care of the elderly. Good to see that the practice she had working in S10, Office Machinery, has been of use. No disrespect, Mr Townell, or any others in the 'Is the tea-trolley due yet?' club.
Roy Plackett has recently returned from missionary work in Spain, spreading the word regarding Arsenal FC, and took in a visit to some old Colonials:
'We met up with Dave and Pat Poole for lunch and enjoyed a good gossip about friends and ex-colleagues while on hols in Spain. After some 12 years they are still very much enjoying life in Benitachell but are considering a move back to the UK in the near future. The photo above shows Pat and Dave in the company of Stanley Kelly, retired teacher based in Wymondham.'
Jim and Ross Richardson with the Golden Girls (and Boys): September 2013
A welcome note from Jim Richardson, resident of Bury, with a couple of photographs showing some familiar smiling faces. Jim writes:
'Thought you would like news from the Golden Oldies up North. Ross and I travelled up to Edinburgh to see the tattoo, and on the way we stopped in Newcastle to visit Jimmy Johnson and Terry Edwards.
Terry Edwards, Jenny Edwards, Jim Richardson, Ross Richardson, Jim Johnson, June Johnson
We also had a great birthday celebration this year with the girls from Manchester Reprographic.
Shirley Stopford - 40 for the second time; Frances Holland, Ross Richardson, Marjorie Christopher - 40 for the second time; Sandra Lomax - 35 for the second time).
Hope all is well with you and the rest of the gang: hope to see you sometime in 2014.
Cheers, Jim and Ross Richardson.'
Susan Curran's Norwich Book Launch – 17 October 2013
Everyone is welcome to the Lasse Press’s launch of Susan Curran’s The Marriage of Margery Paston (nonfiction about the 15th century Paston family, illustrated in colour with photos of East Anglian stained glass), and Stephen J Dudley’s The Road to Golgotha (a mathematician’s analysis of the chronology of Christ’s life) at St Edmund’s church, Fishergate, Norwich on Thursday 17 October from 5-7 pm. Wine will be available, the books will be at special launch prices, and £2 from each copy sold will go to the Friends of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust. Please pass the word on to anyone who might be interested.
If you can’t make it, you’re welcome to call in at Susan’s (2 St Giles Terrace, Norwich, off Bethel Street almost opposite the Coach and Horses) to see and buy the books at the same prices: we’re usually in during the day, but call first if you’re making at detour (Norwich 665843).
All best, Susan Curran
Good luck with your launch. Reg
Back to the Front
The Sunday Times Appointments Section dated 22 September 2013 contains news of a post that could well interested many an HMSOldie …PSAOldie …CCTAOldie … . HM Government requires, among other posts, a new Commercial Delivery Director to work within the Crown Commercial Service 'to bring together Government's central commercial capability into a single organisation … these roles require outstanding individuals who have carved out reputations for being the best in their field and who are ready to operate on a uniquely complex platform. You will be engaging with blue chip boards, FTSE leaders and respected innovators, not to mention some of the most influential leaders at the heart of Government. Engaging with senior stakeholders will be crucial … you will have outstanding negotiating and influencing skills, state of the art professional expertise, and be in a position to use your track record and experience to date to make a fundamental difference.'
Those interested are encouraged to access the following website for further details:
Should you be successful, please remember who told you about this. My personal expertise (taking Customers to lunch) is somewhat rusty but I am prepared to revitalise it in a good cause …
Good News Day for one HMSO Pensioner
On 20 September 2013 11:01, Jeremy Lane, lately of Parliamentary Press, contacted us as a follow-up to his earlier note requesting assistance regarding his HMSO pension:
Just to let you know I have finally succeeded in tracking my pension down, although it took one very helpful person in the Cabinet Office to finally nail it after 7 months trying. They now handle ex HMSO staff.
So, if you get any more poor souls like me asking you for help, point them in my direction and I will:
a) pour them a large scotch b) give them some valium c) point them in the right direction(s)
Once again, thanks all.
Hello Jeremy What excellent news – quite cheered me up. Just shows what can be done with determination, and a helpful and receptive contact ... they are out there if we can only find them. Rest assured that your kind offer will be top of the pile if we get any more such requests. All the best. Reg
Young Musician's Concert Sunday 17 November 2013 at 1430 hours
Ivor Hosgood has asked us to let you know that there has been a change of venue for this event.
Regrettably, due to building work at the URC, Princes Street, Norwich (involving, I understand, the installation of a new central-heating system) it will not be possible to use this venue.
However, the trustees have been have been offered the Music Room of The Anteros Arts Foundation (formerly known as 'The King of Hearts') 7 Fye Bridge Street, Norwich NR3 1LJ for this event.
Those taking part include the the winners of the Norfolk Young Musician Competition (promoted by the Michael Badminton Young Musician Trust) – trumpeter, Matthew Frost, the saxophonist, Finlay McEwen, and the baritone, George Rolls – and the winner of the trust's UEA Scholarship awarded to the most promising student at its School of Music, pianist, Leona Pang.
Again, there will be no increase in admission prices (£6.00; under 18s, £3.00) including a copy of the programme. It is hoped to serve post-concert Light Refreshments.
14 September 2013 – From Luz Rodriguez
Dear Mr Walker, I just saw your amazing YouTube video about the HMSO on Norwich. I would be most grateful if you send me the address of HMSO between 1951 and 1952. I am writing a proposal on Persian paintings and I am reading an article written by B.W. Robinson for the Magazine Le Connosiseur in 1951, which it was printed at the HMSO, but does not have the address.
I am sorry to trouble you. With my warmest thanks for your kindness, Luz
Dear Luz Rodriguez, Thank you for your kind words. The answer to your question is that the Headquarters of HMSO moved from Keysign House, Oxford Street, London to Atlantic House, Holborn Viaduct, London EC1 in 1951, where it remained until 1968, when it moved to Sovereign House, Norwich. HMSO managed various printing presses, warehouses and bookshops around the UK until the organisation was sold to private enterprise in 1996. I hope this helps. Good luck with your publishing venture. Reg Walker, Editor, HMSOldies
3 September 2013 – From Dave Burchell
On Monday 19th August, Steve Linehan, Bob Allder and myself (all ex-compositors) visited the Type Archive at Stockwell. We were invited by Barry Felstead (ex-SSPP) who volunteers there one day each week. We met with Sue Shaw who runs the Archive and who gave us a tour of the main archive which was fascinating. It was literally like going into Aladdin’s Cave and everything to do with the history of typefounding was there.
The Type Archive has been in existence since 1992 and with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, has been able to acquire complete collections covering the principal chapters of typefounding in Britain. These include:
• traditional typefounding, from Stephenson Blake and Co., Sheffield
• woodletter type, from Robert DeLittle, York
• mechanical typecasting from the Monotype Corporation
These collections date from the sixteenth century to the end of the twentieth century and the archive includes substantial quantities of historical material, including highly important collections of eighteenth and nineteenth century type specimen books and in the case of Monotype, the complete business records of a global institution.
Messrs Felstead, Burchell, Linehan and Allder standing next to a Lion Hand Press
We were fortunate to meet with three ex-Monotype stalwarts: Duncan Avery, Parminder Kumar Rajput and Doug Ellis. Duncan has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Monotype and he was able to show us the ledgers containing the purchase and supply of equipment for all the HMSO Presses from the 1930s and 40s. One interesting entry was for an HMSO Press at Chislehurst in Kent. Casters were installed there in 1943 and removed in 1947. We could find no mention of this in the HMSO Bi-Centenary history book and wondered if anybody could throw any light on this?
It was a memorable visit and a thoroughly enjoyable day out. As a token of our gratitude, we gave the Archive a copy of the HMSO Bi-Centenary history for their records.
Kind regards, Dave
Hello Dave, Lovely stuff! Thank you. And an intriguing question regarding Chislehurst. Somebody out there must know something. I'll let you know if we get a knock at the door from the boys in Millbank. All the best. Reg
Philip Marriage adds: Dave, I visited it back in September 2004, together with a number of other ex HMSO graphic designers and a photo subsequently appeared in the HMSOldies Picture Gallery. It was clear to me that the museum was being run on a shoe-string by a small group of enthusiasts. The main stalwart was the curator Justin Howes who showed us around and demonstrated casting type by hand. I remember Duncan Avery and Parminder Kumar Rajput telling us about cutting new dies for the introduction of the Euro sign for Monotype castors. Tragically Justin died just a few months later of a heart attack at the tender age of 41. I then wondered whether the whole thing would fold without his practical as well as academic drive. Occasional glances at their web-site only led to more unease with regular appeals for money and my last look displayed the message 'We regret that there is currently no public access to the Museum'. So your snippet was the first positive indication since that time. The fact that the place is still going, even accepting the occasional visitor is welcome news. Tell me were you able to gain access as friends of Barry Felstead or can anyone visit these days? I know somebody who has a special interest in Caslon. It is interesting that you refer to it as The Type Archive whereas I know it as The Type Museum – I presume we are talking about the same place at 100 Hackford Road?
Dave replied: Yes, it is now known as The Type Archive rather than The Type Museum and is still being run by volunteers at 100 Hackford Road. They make their income (apart from donations) by producing the dies for any Monotype typefaces and exotic characters that they are asked for. They have a steady stream of enthusiasts and clients from all over the world. We were invited by Barry Felstead who we knew from SSPP. If you wish to visit, it would be best to write to them in the first instance, as they do not not admit visitors who just 'turn up'. They have a number of old Adana machines of various shapes and sizes and Sue said they would like to run a workshop on using these. Bob Allder is an old hand on Adana's having a number himself and I think he will be giving them advice and a helping hand. The volunteers at the Archive have now opened up all the crates they had in store, so they know exactly what they have got in the archive, which is absolutely everything! The wooden boxes holding the dies and punches are works of art in themselves. Sue Shaw runs the place and is very proud of the collection they have there. It will be interesting to see if anyone has any recollections of HMSO being at Chislehurst during the war.
Judy Pritchard adds: Perhaps we could ask the planners to save the spiral staircase as a mark of respect to those who served HM in Sovereign House. Maybe rename it the Circumlocution Office, as in Dickens' "Little Dorrit". Kind regards, Judy P
Judy, What a good idea. Doubtless Tesco would insist on sponsorship. Perhaps a BOGOF on every floor? Reg
28 August 2013 – John Barker visits HQ
John joined HMSO in 1962, moving through various Print, Works and Technical jobs, finally working on the COI desk at London Print. He was also a significant player in IPCS activities. Following privatisation he continued his print activities with Colibri Ltd. and even past retirement his interest is unabated, as he and his wife Angela visited the Jarrold Printing Museum during a few days' break in Norwich.
Some old friends and colleagues joined John and Angela for lunch in the Wig and Pen: Marilyn Nesbit, Anne Eason, Gerry Aldus, Roy Plackett, Peter Bradbury, Alan Cole, Rod Durkin, Philip Marriage and Reg Walker, many of whom are pictured here, in mid-reminisce.
27 August 2013 – From Les Birch Dear Reg, Sorry to have been so uncharacteristically quiet recently but I had been awaiting a decision whether the DDay ProAm was going to be played again this year as Omaha Beach Golf Club had not escaped the financial problems that many golf clubs have been experiencing recently – they even had to get rid of their Director of Golf, a charming chap. The decision has now been taken and the competition will take place as usual on 11/12 October, so once again my apologies for absence from the OB's lunch – maybe next year. My buggy chauffeur insists that without me the tournament has no meaning so what can I do?
Sad to see the passing of Sid Brooks and Margaret Crawley and dear old Walter from Olivetti – wonder what he got the DSM for, a pretty rare award. He used to come down to Cardiff with Peter Atkins who loved to play Cardiff Golf Club and he would just wander around making his comments on our play in his inimitable way. Peter introduced me to yellow ferrets (chipping in from a bunker) and green ferrets (chipping in from off the green) and the award for that was 25p – Peter would never play without money on the game.
The 91st birthday celebrations went off very well, much muted from last year's event of course. My daughter and son in law were off chasing polar bears north of Spitzbergen whilst my son and daughter in law were hovering between their apartments in Vienna and Budapest. I had told the locals that they would have to await the 95th. before the next party but they persuaded me that this was really too much of a gamble. The bar bill was just under £200 for 18 of us, and some drank Coke, so all in all not a bad afternoon.
We had what was billed as the last Normandy Veterans Parade in Whitehall on 18 August – less than 100 of us were there, mostly in wheel chairs, only to be told that the really last parade will be next year, the 70th anniversary. It is said that there are now less than 600 left alive of the more than 180,000 Brits who were there in 1944 so we really are becoming something of a rarity.
Enough ramblings for now – you are still doing a fantastic job with the site and I hope you will continue in this way for many years to come.
Best wishes as always, Les
Hello Les, Very pleased to hear from you and that you appear to be on top form. As you say, there is no play without Hamlet, so the golf day it must be. You will be missed at the October lunch, of course. Mention of the DD Parade always puts things into perspective. This link may also be of interest:
Excellent to hear that you are still celebrating the birthday in good style. Perhaps one year we will bring down a coach-load from London and Norwich. That'll make a hole in your Bar Kitty! All the very best, and please continue to stay in touch. Reg
25 August 2013 – Bob's Big Birthday Bash
We doubt whether, when a young Bob Barnard made his way nervously through the streets of North London on a cold 19 March 1951 to his new job in HMSO's Duplicating Division (four days after Ernie Uren and 34 days before Mabel Denton for the historians among you), he thought that a mere 62 years later he would be celebrating his eightieth (yes, counting them, eightieth) birthday in the ultra-salubrious Barnard Towers in the Newmarket Road area of Norwich.
And in what company! Photos, courtesy of Alan Pawsey, show that (nearly) everyone who is anyone in Publications Society was there. Those who had been to Royal Garden Parties of old subsequently vouchsafed the opinion that the Barnard catering was distinctly superior, and that the drink flowed to the obvious satisfaction of Scotsmen and Directors of Publications alike. So this leaves the question: exactly what was the reason for the obvious emotion being expressed by Phill Brooks? Was he offering a passionate vote of thanks, or was he proposing all-out war on Sweet and Maxwell?
Happy birthday, Bob - there's a space reserved on HMSOldies for your 90th.
25 August 2013 – Farringdon Road Bookstall
One of the delights of working in Atlantic House was the opportunity to spend a lunchtime rummaging through the bookstalls parked in the road near the top of Farringdon Road, a short stroll away.
A few seconds can be seen as part of a film 'Market Place', one of the 'Look at Life' series made by the Rank Organisation in 1959, now on YouTube, at about 1min 30sec in.
I well remember 'The Barrows.' Bernard O'Brien introduced me to them in the mid 1960s. Books from the shilling barrows were reduced to sixpence on Thursdays and Fridays. I still have several, including two early 1900s Kelly's Directories from a barrow-full that would fetch hundreds of pounds these days. And the proprietor's old mum used to run a barrow alongside selling bits and pieces for cigarette lighters etc. I think they lasted well into the 1970s. Reg
Philip Marriage adds: Your reference Reg to finding hidden gems on the barrows reminded me that I bought a book from them in the mid 1970s which I intended to rebind – I was then attending bookbinding Evening Classes in Bolt Court, off Fleet Street. It's A New and Complete History of England, From the Earliest Period of Authentic Intelligence to the Present Time, By Temple Sydney, Esq. 1773, London, printed for J. Cooke at Shakespear's Head, huge 16 by 10 inches.
However it has lain untouched in my loft these past 35 years since we moved to Norwich. I've just found it and idly googling the title discovered that a copy is available from Rooke Books for a mere £199.99, or from Live Actioneers.com with an estimate of $362 - $543. I can see me heading for Keys the Auctioneers at Aylsham . . .
23 August 2013 – From Billy Stevenson (The Rock of Gibraltar)
Dear Reg, Further to my earlier mention of the Gibraltar situation, diplomacy doesn’t seem to be working. I have therefore decided to launch a Submarine offensive. We must remember that the Empire is declining. If Gibraltar goes, what next, the Isle of Wight?
Yours Empirically, Billy
Hello Billy (or should I call you Admiral?) You look a rare broth of a boy there, and were I a Spanish Privateer I'd turn tail or even turtle at one look of you! All the best. Reg
21 Aug 2013 – From Gordon Johnson
Dear Reg, I was following some links via Google, when I was directed to your website, and I came across a circular with an entry in it from Mike on 15th July 2010, when he said, amongst other things, he was looking for Gordon Johnson. Can you please tell Mike I've been looking for him too, ever since he went off to Oz in the late 80s I think, and then just seemed to disappear off the planet.
I'm in Egypt at the moment, enduring the unrest, but hope to be back in Blighty in November.
Kind regards, Gordon.
Hello Gordon. The wonders of modern communication! I picked this up while away for a few days in Dorset – considerably more peaceful than Egypt, I imagine. Unfortunately the address I have for Mike 'bounced back' so I am hoping that he reads your note on HMSOldies – or that someone lets me know how he can be contacted these days. If you intend to get up to Norwich upon your return let me know and we'll see if we can rustle up a few friends in The Golden Star or somewhere like it. All the best, and keep your head down. Reg
17 August 2013 – From Jack Keating
Actions speak louder than words; or a picture paints a thousand words! The deed has been done! The wedding went off fine and without any hitches. It was a simple but nice ceremony witnessed by my eldest daughter and son, and took place at the Registrar's Office in Great Yarmouth on the morning of Monday 12 August 2013 (the Glorious Twelfth). We then held a reception the same evening at the Oaklands Hotel in Norwich for 29 relatives and friends.
Thank you all for your good wishes.
Best wishes, Jack and Kate
Congratulations Jack, could this be the first wedding for publication by HMSOldies? Should we get into partnership with OK magazine? All the best. Reg
13 August 2013 – From Dave Pelham
Hi Reg, I've just been catching up on the news and photos and pleased to see so many of my old friends doing so well. I still see John Rose regularly when I go for my saxophone lesson although I have not been for a while. I hoped to come to the gathering at The Eagle but unfortunately at the same time you were enjoying yourself I was having an operation to remove a tumour from my right kidney. I am glad to say it all went very well and the tumour was benign so I am just getting over the op.
I do want to say thanks to the N&N and all the staff who did a great job and treated me with great care and compassion. There is a lot of moaning about the hospital but I have nothing but praise. From finding the tumour to having the op was less then 3 weeks and I don't think you would get much better with private treatment.
Anyway all the best, Dave Pelham
Hello Dave, Good to hear that you are on the mend, and especially to read your positive comments about NNUH. I'm sure that HMSOldies will be pleased to read something other than bad news! Your mention of saxophone lessons brings on an old regret of mine. I have always wanted to play like Coleman Hawkins but without the need to do something about my complete lack of musical ability. Let me know when you release your first record. A saxophone version of 'Round Midnight' would be great. All the best, Reg.
12 August 2013 – My Biggles experience!
I was treated for my 70th birthday by son Ian and family to a trial lesson at a gliding club ("We teach, we don't do joyrides") based near Long Stratton at Tibenham Airfield. This location was a former World War 2 bomber base occupied then by many US Air Force pilots and aircrew commanded by Hollywood legend James Stewart.
Formalities were few. I simply turned up about 20 minutes before flight time of 3pm, gave height and weight details and was logged as Temporary Member of the Gliding Club. With that satisfying various insurance and regulatory requirements I met Steve, my pilot/instructor who promptly strapped a parachute on me and, of course, told me "Don't worry, you won't need it." I'm glad to say he was right, on this occasion at least! Steve then went over with me the locations and functions of the various controls and instruments, after which I got into the front cockpit seat of the glider which had earlier been parked nearby, He also told me that for safety reasons, loose items such as cameras are not permitted in the cockpit area when in flight so my plan to get some aerial shots had to be abandoned.
A trained acrobat or gymnast of 16 to 30 years would probably manage to get into the cockpit seat with ease. Those of 70 or more years, 6ft and a bit (1•83 metres for younger readers) in height and c.15 stones (95 Kg) or any combination of these handicaps are more likely to find themselves reconsidering the wisdom of accepting a glider flight! I expected to find occupying the cockpit seat claustrophobic but that did not happen. With very little delay the towing line was attached to the single-engined tow-plane and we were pulled along the runway. The glider was airborne first then the tow-plane rose off the ground. We were towed to around 2,100 ft and before casting off the tow line. The tow-plane immediately turned away and descended, leaving us floating effortlessly at around 2,000ft. We found one or two areas of lift but in the main, thermal activity was not widespread.
I was offered the opportunity to take control of the aircraft, which I did, though rather inexpertly as might be expected of anyone who has not previously flown an aircraft. However, I was heartened to find that some little familiarity with the controls is fairly quickly gained and the flying process very soon begins to become enjoyable. Forward movement was mostly smooth with only an occasional wobble when the nose dropped or rose and speed increased or decreased accordingly. Turning was a slightly alarming sensation at first but that was soon overcome and my enjoyment rose higher with every passing moment. All too soon the usual 20-25 minutes for a first try training flight was over and Steve very gently set us down on the tarmac on the single wheel positioned on the underside of the fuselage. As momentum slowed Steve turned the glider on to the grass where the aircraft stopped, gently tilting then to rest on one wing. I found getting out was more difficult than getting in had been as gravity does not work in one's favour when levering oneself upwards!
Finally there was a Training Card for Steve to fill in and give to me together with the information that my non-transferable Temporary Membership lasts for 90 days.
A wonderfully comprehensive report, which I am sure will be of interest to HMSOldies who can read it without submitting to claustrophobia or nose-bleeds. Sounds like a great experience. I was surprised to see just how small these gadgets are – doesn't do to dwell on what keeps them up there! Did you, perchance, notice whether my gutters need cleaning? Reg
10 August 2013 – From Billy Stevenson
Dear HMSOldies. While chilling out here in the Costa Calida the word came over the Cyber Wireless that HMSOldies is nine years old. A lot of water has passed through the Stairs of Gibraltar in that time. I hope our Diplomatic Correspondent is on the case. We don't want any of our oldies stranded at the border. May I add my thanks and very best wishes to you all on the Management Team for all the hard work. Billy.
Hello Billy, How very kind – thank you. All the best to you, too, and may the (Gibraltar) monkeys never use you for target practice. Reg
8 August 2013 – Times Past
So there I was minding my own business when what should pop through the e-letterbox but some photographs of various ex HMSO personnel in a London pub (there's a novelty) joining Bob Nuttall in a celebration of his retirement from useful employment (well, Government Sales Manager) with Addressograph-Multigraph.
The eagle-eyed will be able to spot Helen George, who found the photos at the bottom of her sock drawer – Mistresses Whitaker and Burgis – Betts, Burroughs, Durkin, Cole – several others hiding under tables, barmen, barrels etc.
Helen reports that Nigel is well, as is his father Arthur George – she has recently been in contact with Anne Batley, Kevin White, Brian Wilson, Rita Tuttle, Janet Grimes – also seen on the Mean Streets (and Meaner Bars) of Norwich have been Karen Sullivan (brother Kevin is thriving), Jim Wretham, Peter Macdonald, Alan Pawsey, Phill Brooks, Dave Martin, Arthur and Kath Holland, Alison Womack, Brian Ekers, Larry Lewendon, Michael Salt, Howard Wheeldon, Roy Plackett, Cecil Hughes, Angela Brandish-Hughes, Peter Bradbury, Roy and Hazel Marchant, Eric Davy, Peter Bradbury, Steve Denmark, Robin Kelly, Alan Low, John Gardiner, Phil Leach, Peter Staples, Nodge Carnegie, Doug Boyd, Roy Keavney, Jim and Lynda Marshall, Christine Hawthorn, Steve Walmsley, Gavin Turner, Harry Currie, Jo Rokahr, Graham Churchard – and several others who have paid for anonymity.
6 August 2013 – It was twenty years ago today . . .
Twenty years ago today HMSO Books Publicity and Graphic Design departments held a joint lunchtime picnic in the grounds of the redundant St Augustine's Church just across the road from St Crispins, Norwich. Amongst those spotted here are Sheridan Smith, Judy Phillips, Lisa Hallett, Paeony Lewis, Janice Mather, Heather Coker, Jennifer Hannaford, Margery Kraszewski, Gerry Watt, Fred Stubbs, Dee Smallridge, Richard Nelson, Adrian Bickers, Alison Beaumont, David Deadman and Diane Cowley. All contributed a little something (including entertainment by a juggling Alison) and it was such a pleasant way to spend a lunch hour in the sunshine that further picnics were repeated in later years.
29 July 2013 – Sovereign Verse
Who would have thought that HMSO was a spawning ground for poets? This heartfelt verse from Chris Gould, lately of Supplies Division, published in the Norwich Evening News dated 29 July 2013, shows a talent missed on his last E5!
28 July 2013 – From Malcolm Dunsdon
Hi Reg, Trust you are well. I am currently leading H&S for Aviva - with a global role. Regrettable I was not one of the 2000 who are being made redundant so continue to work. Anyway I thought you may be interested in the following article/link:
Sounds like a merger of the old PSA and HMSO and is it the Phoenix arising from the ashes?
Regards, Malcolm Dunsdon
Hello Malcolm, Good to hear that you are doing well, despite the implication that you would rather be doing nothing, like so many of us these days. It's not all it's cracked up to be, you know: many of your old colleagues are forced to play golf, watch cricket, go to the pub, take holidays etc just to pass the time. It's hell out here, I tell you. Anyway, you are first with the news of the Crown Commercial Service. Not for the first time, printable words fail me. I shall follow its progress with interest. Wonder if some names from our past will feature? All the best, Reg.
25 July 2013 – Ladies Who Yoga
Valerie Knowles has sent us this photo of four smiling ex HMSO ladies enjoying a post-yoga lunch:
'We are from L to R : Valerie Knowles, Margaret Perry, Annette Conn and Joyce Parsons (widow of Ron Parsons). The location is Caleys cafe in Norwich Guildhall. The yoga group was started decades ago (1970's or 80's) and HMSO let us use an empty room in Sovereign House every Monday lunchtime for an hour. Eventually this arrangement ended as space became unavailable and we moved to other premises We still have the same yoga teacher and six ex HMSO staff in the group. The class remains at one hour so that people still at work can attend in their lunch break (with a little flexitime or understanding from supervisors). Wasn't flexitime great! I think we were lucky to have the best time at HMSO. Valerie'
18 July 2013 – From Alison Womack
Hallo Reg, I do like the idea of a NAP – particularly for those of us who DO NOT enjoy heatwaves (and who struggle to put one foot in front of the other when the temperature is in the high twenties). How did we ever have time to go to work? I have recently become a Galaxy Tab owner, and find that there is just so much to learn and to play with. Sudoku without paper and pencil is brilliantly addictive.
Otherwise during the last umpteen years my main thrust, apart from family, has been voluntary work. Mostly with the local Blind Association – especially Braille transcription (huge variety of items: reports, correspondence, church services, poems, newsletters, menus, exhibition captions, Christmas cards and so on), plus counting flag day money, some befriending, sorting and selling donated obsolete or foreign coins, and occasional proof reading. I also have a city delivery round twice a year for Norwich Cathedral magazines (it's frustrating that so many modern blocks of flats have no communal letter box, while their entryphone systems are useless for postal access if no one is at home!)
Keep your editorial flag flying, you and the team are doing a great job.
Hello Alison, Thank you for your kind words, which I have copied to 'the lads' who do the difficult stuff. Good to hear that you are keeping active. We will add your note to the communal round-up of responses. You never know: you might get some foreign coins donated (if you still want them). All the best. Reg
Thanks also to the following correspondents who have responded in most cases with kind words, and in some cases mild abuse (still nothing from Gordon . . .). Dave Burchell was first off the blocks: still a working man (TSO London) so he is up before most of us for the daily commute, lucky man – then Sue Prutton, Ian Billings, Mike Betts, Dan Lavery ('engaged in promoting World Peace and trying to educate the world to the hidden genius that resides within me . . .' I'm sold, Dan). Phill Brooks, Terry McCrum, Alan Crabtree, Christine Hawthorn, John Rumball (who emailed from Portugal), Gerry Aldus (all the way from just outside Waitrose), Paul Cunningham, Phil Selby, Sharon Lock, Amanda Bergeron (USA), Adele Cook, Charles Lucas, Malcolm Horton – and still they come.
16 July 2013 – From Ivor Hosgood
Hello Ivor, What a wonderful card: thank you. I have passed it on to 'the lads' (including Dave Martin, of course, who came on board shortly after the launch and does sterling work on more of the bits I don't understand). All the best to you and yours. Reg
5 July 2013 – From Valerie Knowles Hi Reg, Congratulations on the 9th birthday of HMSOldies. What a feat of organisation for an ex-civil servant! You have inspired me to send these photos to show what I'm doing with some of my time (volunteer at Strangers' Hall museum). I've been a volunteer there for about 8 years and mostly do gardening but there are often other interesting jobs that pop up to make life interesting! Strangers' Hall is open 4 days a week for this summer 10-4 on Weds, Thurs, Friday and Sat. I hope some 'Oldies' may be enticed to visit.
By the way my Dad was 91 last month and still living on his own with some help from family and a pop-in cleaner and gardener. His mother reached 100 so it's in the genes.
Hope you and Diane are well. Look forward to bumping into you again one day.
Best wishes, Valerie
Hello Valerie, You don't look a day different from the old HMSO days! I didn't know that the Strangers' Hall gardens were so good – must be your influence. Good to hear that your father is in good form. I will pass on the good word to his old friends – Rod Durkin and others. Best wishes. Reg
15 July 2013 – Happy Birthday To Us
No need to tell you that time flies – nine years ago today the on-line HMSOldies site was born, an idea hatched between Philip Marriage and Robert Stutely. Still going, and no slander or libel writs (yet).
I frequently get stopped in the streets (for all sorts of reasons, but we won't go into that) and ask how old so-and-so is doing. Perhaps a solution to such questions might lie in the use of the 'Search This Site' facility- last entry at the left-hand side of the Main HMSOldies Index:
And, when no-one is looking, you could always put in your own name to see how many times you are mentioned. Can you beat Gordon Robbie's 39 entries ('not enough' I hear a cry from Ashwellthorpe)?
Of course, it is also 17 years since the dissolution of HMSO as we knew it. It would be interesting, to me at least, to know what you have been doing for the past 17 years, and how you have coped without free stationery and regular tea-trolleys. Personally, I have spent the time trying to raise interest in a Norwich Apathy Party (NAP). Working slogan: 'What do we want? Not very much. When do we want it? Whenever it's convenient.'
Membership forms will be available once I get around to it.
5 July 2013 – Len Allen and the challenge of the Camino de Santiago
We reported on La Marina resident Len Allen undertaking a 900 km walk along the Camino de Santiago [see 21 March 2013].
The good news is he has completed it and has returned safely home. Len managed a 915 km walk in just 20 days, averaging 45 kms a day. Typically his day would start at 06.00 and he would walk for 4 hours (with his 8 kilo ruck sack) covering about 22 kms before stopping for breakfast. Len would then push on for 2 to 3 hours before lunch then conclude his day's walking by 14.00-15.00 where he would spend the night in an Alberque or Hostal. On a few occasions Len had overnight stays in a Monastery and in a Church. One of the targets set by Len was to see how far he could reasonably push himself and made part of the walk as a personal physical challenge and he is pleased and proud of his achievement. “I could have sat watching football or walking around a snooker table but I wanted something special to celebrate my birthday (60)” he said.
Len started at Pamplona at 05.30 and immediately hit the trail with his walking partner John (who unfortunately had to throw in the towel after 4 days). The first day had just about everything, hills, sharp declines, sun and rain and plenty of mud! After 3 days the blisters began to appear but despite this he was able to carry on. Although he was unable to take any photos (John took the camera with him!) Len recalls the stunning scenery, the rolling mountains and lush green fields for most of the walk. The stark contrast to this was the heavy commercial and industrial areas around Burgos and Leon. Most days would start off bright but would eventually give way to rain, at times torrential rain which made climbing or descending the mountains particularly tough and Len recalls one range after Rabinal that almost beat him, having to stop 8 times to catch his breath he believed he would never get to the top where he hoped he would encounter some flat ground but what goes up must come down!
Carrying his “You'll Never Walk Alone” LFC scarf he soon realised how true it all was to be. Along The Way he met many people of different nationalities including a 69 year old Spanish lady from Las Palmas who was walking the Camino for the 9th time. Amongst those who Len would often walk or meet up with included a Greek couple, an American mother and daughter, a pair of Swedish ladies, an 84 year old Canadian, and an Italian who started the walk last year! He was never short of good company and fascinating stories.
The architecture along the Camino and in the larger towns and villages were of particular interest and time was always made to visit the sites. On reaching Santiago Len received his Compestela at the Cathedral and then turned his attention on the walk to Finesterre (End of the Earth). One night was spent there before returning to Santiago and the journey home. Despite enjoying his time on the Camino Len would not undertake it again, “been there, got the T-Shirt etc, never return, it's not the same the second time around!” but is considering other options for something just as challenging for next year.
Len is now busy collecting all the sponsorship money pledged for The Easy Horse Care Rescue Foundation in Rojales and would like to send his personal thanks for all the support and sponsorship for EHCRF, as he says “that's what kept me motivated when the going got tough”. He added “the most important thing to come out of the walk was the 2,000 euros raised for charity”.
G’day Reg, Funny how you say how clear the memory can be. When I read my email again I thought 'was it Harry Poole, or Charlie?' I guess I’ll never know. Another senior moment. But trying to solve it in my mind made other names pop up: Patricia Goodwin, Priscilla Pickup, Jimmy Gates, Fred Fearnley, Miss Carlton, Roy Stonehouse, Roy Pysden, BASmith, Don Brown, Ian, Geoff, Mr Desborough, Jim MacCallum, Kev Carney, Grahame ...? I hadn’t thought about it since leaving however I could actually picture the old office layout and building quite clearly. Even Jimmy Gates cooking his breakfast in his room at the back. I could almost smell the bacon. And the tea trolley.
After 50 years and about 40 jobs in several countries they all must have made an impression on me somehow to stay in my memory. I think we must have started work at 8:15 and you had to sign in the book by 8:18 or you got the red pen. I remember running up those stairs so often just as the pens were switched! I remember Mr Pysden because I happened to win a table tennis tournament and he presented the prize of an alarm clock with the comment that he hoped I would use it to get to work on time in the future!
Other strange terms like M1C, Hollerith, Telex, Civil Defence Exercise - it’s amazing what comes back when your mind starts thinking about that time. I most liked the memory of a telex coming back from 'Supply?' in London to something I’d asked, somewhat on the lines of: 'Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs'. As probably a 17 years old kid I had no idea what it meant so had to ask someone to tell me!
I'll always be grateful for the time I spent with HMSO. It was an extremely supportive environment and taught me so much. Ken
Hello Ken, Phew, you have certainly stirred the memory reservoir now. First of all, I think that I can put your mind at rest: one Henry Poole, born 1896, joined HMSO Manchester as Clerical Officer in 1956 (presumably from another Department), so I think that must be your man. You will be pleased to know that Jim MacCallum is still around, and that I have copied your note to him. Roy Stonehouse made it to a good age (see HMSOldies Obituaries). Roy Pysden died some years ago: he ended up as Director of Contracts at CCTA, the computer procurement agency that grew out of HMSO's Hollerith section. And if Jimmy Gates is still around he has just celebrated his 115th birthday!
I worked in 'Supply' Atlantic House in the mid-1960s and can well believe that some of the old curmudgeons might have adopted a superior attitude to you young 'uns: especially from 'The Provinces.' But lots of them were more than happy to move out of London when dispersal to Norwich came along in 1968. Keep the memory, flowing, Ken, and best wishes. Reg
12 June 2013 – From Ken Whitehead
G’day Reg, Thanks for your reply [see 27 May 2013]. Even though I was only with HMSO for a few years they were very important to me as I was just a kid on his first job after leaving school. I’d just turned 16 so Chadderton was a special experience for me and I was fortunate to work with many lovely people.
I remember Aggie Smith and Eileen Partington who both mothered me a bit I guess, but especially Harry Poole who taught me my first job. He was a great influence on me, a very polite gentleman. I was shocked by his death only a few months after his retirement and I remembered him when I took early retirement 14 years ago. I still remember many people from those days, Horace Slater, Jack Strange, Harold Lloyd, Arthur Burnell, Eileen Delahunty and many others.
Stocktakes at King St bookshop and then a beer at the Shambles, the drama society, bowls comps, table tennis comps, putting comps, snooker comps, even netball against the girls who we always let win of course, soccer on Sunday, cricket in summer, CSCA dances - it all made cycling 12 miles to 'work' worthwhile!
Thank you, Ken. Amazing how clear the memory can be. HMSOldies has various references to NABADS, the theatrical group you mention, and the long-term leading light, Paddy Cochrane. She was replaced as i/c Duplicating Unit by Arthur Burnell, who you mention and who I dealt with in the late 1960s when I was ordering litho consumables. I am sure that your reflections will jog other memories. Best wishes. Reg
12 June 2013 - Spreadeagled
It is always good to deal with a professional. When I arrived at The Eagle, just before 1230 today, I was relieved to see that Jayne Wilkinson, Dave Martin and Glyn Cooksey were there already. Having received some last-minute apologies I mentioned to Nigel, Manager of The Eagle for all HMSOldies reunions, that we might be low on numbers. 'I estimate 30' said he: I had my doubts.
Over the next hour the doors opened to Alan Cole, Ian Hatfield, Danny Greenwood, Brian Ekers, Helen Speechley, Judy Pritchard, Ernie Downs, George James, Jim McGregor, Mal Loveridge, Charles Lucas, Ann Clancy, Pat Tate, Mike Eastwood, Gerry Lucioli, Alan and Janice Pawsey, Mike Woodhouse, Steve Johnson, Viv Jones, Brian and Jean Whitefield, Anne Eason, Phill Brooks, Brian and Barbara Cockram, Jitu Raithatha, and Philip Marriage. Which makes 31.
7 June 2013 – Sid Brooks 1922-2013
Bob Barnard offers a personal reflection on his friendship with Sid Brooks, who died on 25 May 2013 (see 'Obituaries ')
Sid joined HMSO in November 1946 after serving in North Africa and Italy during WWII. In March 1957, I was transferred to Supplies Division and met him for the first time. He was one of the four EOs working there in S4. Valerie was another and we have been friends with Sid ever since. Sid was a great supporter of the newly formed ladies’ netball team and played in the men’s team against them on several occasions. After his time in Supplies Division at Atlantic House, he was sent to Wembley on promotion to HEO to take charge of the Accounts Section there but he stayed in touch and managed to meet us at Baker Street for regular lunches in Regents Park.
In the 1960, he returned to Atlantic House becoming a member of the Survey Unit. Then he was promoted to SEO becoming ADP4 in charge of Post and Trade at Cornwall House. While ADP4, Sid was seconded to undertake a confidential study into the possibility of relocating Post and Trade to new premises within 1½ miles of Parliament. This study expanded and ran for a number of years culminating in new purpose built offices and a warehouse at Nine Elms now the site of the new US Embassy. HMSO vacated Cornwall House in 1984. Mike Lynn succeeded Sid in charge of the new Distribution Centre and Sid became the Director of London Region from where he retired in 1982. He lived to see the beginning and the end of the premises he helped to create at Nine Elms.
Sid had many interests outside the Office. He enjoyed meeting friends for lunch at the Civil Service Club and I last saw him there in January when a group of us celebrated his 91st birthday. We shall miss these events. He was very actively involved with the British Film Institute attending the Cannes Film Festival on several occasions where he particularly enjoyed discussing the films with their directors. He played bridge, was a member of Probus, enjoyed going to the cinema and the theatre and travelling with his second wife, a former professional skater, whom he married in 2000. He also loved Brighton buying a second home in the city in the 1960s and spent every weekend there. About 20 years ago he sold that flat and bought another one at the Rottingdean end of Brighton. This was on the 8th floor of a substantial building facing the sea. Subsequently the Marina was developed but this did little to spoil his view.
Several months ago he developed an inoperable aneurysm. He died in the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton on Friday 24 May. The nurses offered to move him to a private room but he refused. From his bed by the window, he could see over the Downs towards Kemp Town and Marine Gate and his last view was over the Brighton countryside he loved.
His passing is very sad and Valerie and I will miss his positive approach to life, his friendly emails and telephone calls and our visits to see him both in London and Brighton. His funeral will be on 14 June.
31 May 2013 – From Arnold Mackenzie
Hello Reg, I thought you might like to see one of the 'See you next Tuesday' group celebrations at the Sovereign Club when Bill Nairn decided he'd had enough. The photo turned up when I was trying to find a picture of Ken Kemp in response to a recent article from you regarding a letter from his son – sorry I couldn't find it.
All the best, Arnold.
Hello Arnold, Good to hear from you, and thank you for the photo. I guess it was taken around 1982, when Bill would have been 60. Memories flood back, especially at the sight of Joe Delaney, pint in hand. I can name them all: yourself, Sue Whitaker on Bill Nairn's knee, Joe Delaney, George Perryman, Dave Robertson, and Jack Palmer – the 'see you next Tuesday' club who met in The Sovereign Club on – Tuesdays. And now I know how Sue got the Norwich County Council cabinet post dealing with Adult Services! All the best. Reg
27 May 2013 – Ken Whitehead's memories of destroying passports!
G’day Reg, I recently applied to renew my UK passport and I remembered some trips I did when I was a CO at HMSO Chadderton when I was about 19. I was employed there from leaving school in 1960 to 1964 when I started travelling overseas, later on ending up living in Australia. It made me think of how things have changed since then, security wise! My memory isn’t clear on some details maybe but I thought I’d share my memories of what may be a forgotten service HMSO did in those days.
I think the passports used to be delivered from the Passport Office in Liverpool to HMSO Chadderton. I was responsible for the receipt of the locked sacks of passports which were loaded into HMSO’s van with Fred Ramsbottom being the driver. We, Fred and myself, with no escort or police, drove to a paper mill near York, where I was responsible to see each bag emptied into the vat for pulping. I remember a paper mill employee on my first trip reminding me to ensure each bag was turned inside out! Funny if it wasn’t true! My best memories were of the trip home. Fred was a bit of an angler so we’d stop somewhere on the Ouse, he’d have a fish for a couple of hours and I’d have a snooze in the sun! No wonder I still like 'Heartbeat' on TV, it was a simpler world then!
Regards, Ken Whitehead
Later: I’ve just remembered that the bags weren’t put into our van at Chadderton but went direct in a large van from the Passport Office in Liverpool to the paper mill near York. We met up with the passport office van and supervised the disposal. It seems very odd now that I think about it. So it was more secure than I had earlier remembered. Maybe times weren’t quite as simple then.
Hello Ken, Good to hear from you, and I trust all is well. As you say, things seemed much simpler in those days, but then I suppose there were different priorities then – and, as you say in your further recollection, the security arrangements were in fact suitably watertight. Jim McDonald used to coordinate Passport procurement in Print alongside Alex Mackie, Jim Richardson and many others in Manchester Press. I see from an old staff list that you joined HMSO on 29 August 1960 – when the Goon Show, Hancock, Ted Ray and Take It From Here were on the radio – those 53 years have passed in a flash! The list shows you on the same page as other Manchester recruits: Miss Delahunty, Mrs Taylor, Miss Wilkinson, AP Macdonald, HJ Lloyd, Mrs Buckley, JW Little, Miss Upton – where are they now, I wonder? Perhaps they might see your reminiscence on HMSOldies and make contact. All the best. Reg
Unorganised Reunion: Wednesday 12 June 2013
As mentioned earlier, an informal event will take place at The Eagle, Newmarket Road, Norwich, from 1230 onwards. Absolutely nothing will be provided by the organisers other than uncorroborated scandal. All welcome. Reg
27 May 2013 – E Sidney Brooks
Gavin Turner offers a personal reflection on his friendship with Sid Brooks, who died on 25 May 2013 (see 'Obituaries '):
Sid was naturally gregarious and I suspect a bit of a flirt as a younger man. His first wife, Gladys, died at a relatively early age, and some time later he married Joyce, I think Sid was transformed. Joyce had been a professional ice-dancer, and mingling with arty types clearly suited Sid. He himself was a film society buff and eventually became a director of the British Film Institute (and a BAFTA voter). When our Project (PDPT) ran into its fallow periods, Sid spent quite a bit of office time on BFI business (the NFT being conveniently just across the road from our office in Cornwall House), and I occupied myself with running choirs and things!
I don't really remember about Sid's career before the Pubns Project Team, although I have a vague notion that he was in charge of Cornwall House and was one of those managers who had endless, always unsuccessful battles with Jack Grace, Joe West and SOGAT. The brains behind our Project Team was Conrad Festing, a PA consultant, who was endlessly fizzing with new ideas. Conrad was not a young graduate but unusually for a consultant was well into his forties, and was never one of those consultants with pat pre-packaged solutions, but a deeply thoughtful, stimulating and funny man. Sid's role was partly to constrain Conrad and to point out why a particular idea wouldn't work, because things were different at HMSO (and boy were they different!). It was an interesting parallel with the negative Yes Minister ideas of Whitehall mandarins: "No minister, you cannot do that, because . . . ." That was the culture. Perhaps with the loss of Conrad once his work was done some of the sparkle went out of the team. One of the reasons why I became a bit of a bull in a china shop later in my career was the influence of consultants like Conrad Festing, Dr David Homes, and Raul Garcia, who always wanted to start with a clean slate. They were not interested in what happened in the past but were just excited by the possibilities of the future. It was very exhilarating. However, I think senior management was unfair to Sid in assuming that it was he that had let the Project run out of steam. Changing and uncertain government dispersal policy, undue deference (before Wapping) to the print unions, and all sorts of other issues beyond Sid's control made it difficult to move forward. Yes Sid was well-schooled in the precedent-bound bureaucratic ways of the past (as were most of senior managers above him too), but he had a foot in both camps and was also excited by the new possibilities. In retirement he always felt a pride in the Publications Centre which he had helped to create. Sid was fun to work with and led a bubbly and good-humoured team.
Here are a couple of pics of Sid with the Publications Distribution Project Team taken in the early 1970s. This first, in the team room at the back of Cornwall House (which looked out over the construction site of the National Theatre), shows Sid on the left, Bob Courtney (Warehouse Manager), Isobel Sabey our clerk, me looking very odd (perhaps I always did look a bit odd in those days!), Leon de Brunner, and Conrad Festing the consultant.
This shows me, Leon, Bob, Conrad, and Sid at Nine Elms, holding copies of our final four volume report, on an old gasworks site which was being cleared and decontaminated for HMS0; it is now being cleared (and no doubt metaphorically decontaminated of SOGAT, bureaucracy and all that as well!) for the new American Embassy – our Distribution Centre which opened in 1982 having already been swept away.
In some ways it was a surprise that Sid lived to such a great age, since in later life he had heart problems which were no doubt smoking-related, and he also developed Parkinsons (although compared with some elderly people I know, it seemed fairly well under control). Sid and Joyce did a lot of travelling in their retirement and particularly enjoyed river cruises. Even when he could no longer get anyone to give him travel insurance, they were still planning future trips. At our twice yearly lunches, Sid was still a lively conversationalist on politics, social affairs and things artistic. He took pleasure in the fact that his son (I don't remember how many children there were) was a senior manager with one of the southern rail companies. Sid also had fun going, sometimes abroad, to Joyce's reunions with old skating colleagues. As they say, Sid did seem to enjoy life to the end.
In short, I have fond memories of working with Sid and meeting up with him in retirement, and Leon de Brunner and I will certainly miss our regular encounters with him.
16 May 2013 – Joe West's Grandson Retires
The grandson of the onetime HMSO Cornwall House SOGAT Imperial Father of the Chapel has announced his retirement.
Hi Reg, Another good turn-out at the Alexander Graham Bell. Thanks to all who came along and added to an excellent evening of reminiscences and fun. An especial thanks to Bob Nelson who came all the way from Norwich! Thanks for your help in advertising this, Reg. Next date to be advised.
Best wishes, Jim Cairns
Top: Gordon Walker, Jim Cairns, Ian Fruish and Jim Blair making sure that the bar doesn't fall over. Middle left: Sam McMaster, Ron Burnett, Allan Forbes, John Crosby and Gordon Walker had a fine seance. Middle right: Bob Nelson in unfamiliar serious mode Jim Blair and Malcolm Steven in the background. Bottom left: Norrie Veitch looks sceptical, while Ron Burnett looks on Bottom right: 'Look into my eyes, you are getting sleepy.' Jim Cairns shows his hypnotist skills to Al Forbes.
Hello Jim, Good to see that you hosted the creme de la creme (if I remember my Jean Brodie). Some fine fellows photographed, and I'm pleased to give them full exposure. And especially impressive to see that Bob emulated his Norfolk namesake and navigated his way back to home base. All the very best. Reg
28 April 2013 – HMSO Golf Society Centenary
Reg, HMSOldies groupies will no doubt remember my February plug for HMSO Golf Society's celebration next year of our 100th birthday, but in case anyone has forgotten the main celebration is on 3–4 August 2014 at the Thorpeness Hotel & Golf Club and comprises 18 holes of golf and the Centenary Dinner on the 3rd, overnight bed and breakfast in the Hotel, with another 18 holes on the 4th followed by an informal lunch and departure.
The time is now approaching where we will have to firm up some of the details with Thorpeness, particularly the numbers requiring overnight accommodation. With this in mind, I would be very grateful if any former members of the Society who would like to be included in the celebrations could confirm their intention to attend, preferably by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, so that I can include them in the numbers and on my email circulation list so that I can inform them directly of further details as they become available. The 2014 charges have not yet been confirmed by Thorpeness but, by way of rough guidance, a similar package (not including lunch on the day of departure) was on offer for £109 last year.
It would be very useful if anyone who has already expressed interest informally to me or any other current Society members could also email me now so that I have definite confirmation of their continuing interest, and their current email address to add to my contact list. Thanks
Gordon Robbie Honorary Secretary, HMSO Golf Society
Hello Gordon, We will certainly be pleased to add your reminder to HMSOldies – the temptation to entitle it 'Play A Round With Robbie' is almost too great. Thorpeness is a fascinating place, set in the 1950s. Last time I was there I didn't see a soul under 60 – no children, no youths – like something out of 'The Prisoner.' Enough of my ramblings: we look forward to your photos of the event. All the best. Reg
27 April 2013 – HMSO Times Past: 1941-42
This fascinating photograph was provided by Bob Allder. The subject is Albert James Burn, who worked for HMSO briefly during WW2. Albert's grandson Raymond is a friend of Bob Allder. Raymond takes up the story:
'This photo is of my grandfather Albert James Burn. It was taken during the war on HMSO premises – about 1941/2. Previously he had his own printing business in Plaistow, in the Barking Road/Ingal Road area, employing some 30 people, but he was force to close due to nearby bombing rendering the premises unsafe. He worked at HMSO until the end of the war. During that period he and my grandmother lived with their daughter in Letchworth, and travelled daily to London. At the end of the war he decided not to reopen the business as was intended, due to the death of his youngest son Laurence, who was a POW and died in Prague on 4th April 1945. Laurence apparently was highly rated in what I think was at a printing college in London and was due to take a fellowship or a high level examination when he was called-up for military service.
Grandfather was a brilliant engineer in having made a special machine which he patented which caused a lot of interest within Heidelberg. My Grandfather is on the left in the picture. He retired to Letchworth and died in 1953 as a result of a motoring accident on his way to holiday in Wales aged 74yrs.'
A wonderful snapshot of a moment in time, reflecting the formal dress effected by office workers, and the desk furniture – stapler, glue-pots, Imperial Manual Typewriter, files and papers – that will be familiar to those of us whose office memories only go back to the 1960s. Does anyone know where this office could have been?
27 April 2013 – Sweepings from Don Warman's Floor
When Don Warman moved from London to Norwich in 1968 the Council gave him a decent flat to rent in Churchman Road, but it was completely unfurnished. Therefore Don, as a minor official of the (then) Civil Service Clerical Association, had to find somewhere to file his papers temporarily. The floor was convenient, and a good size, so he used it. Temporarily, you understand.
Last week he told me that he had been having his first clear-up since 1968 and came across an item of such historical interest that HMSOldies was the only Journal of record in which it could be entrusted. So, for the first time in over 44 years, the proceedings of the 106th Departmental Whitley Council held on 21 November 1968 can be revealed.
Chairman of the Official Side was H Pitchforth. His team comprised Messrs Donaldson, Cherns, Blundell, Dashfield, Macaulay, Norris with WJ Nairn, as Secretary. Staff Side was led by HJ Teedon, supported by Messrs Dwyer (Staff Side President), Birch and Coombs from SCS, Hunter, Hughes, McFarlane and Topham from IPCS, Raywood, Geeves, Woolford, Block and Miss RM Ryan from CSCA; Alexander and Miss Allman from CSU, with P Vivian as Secretary.
Matters discussed were:
New Press at Gateshead. Post-dispersal Whitley Council ('a local Staff Side had been set up in London under the Chairmanship of J Pearson . . . D Milford was the Accommodation Officer. Fulton Committee Report (the minutes gave a reflection of the Management-speak of the time: 'Meanwhile there was nothing to be done departmentally except for both official and staff sides to maintain a watching brief and prepare for the interesting and challenging tasks which would emerge as the various lines of action were agreed at the centre and passed to Departments for implementation. In reply to a question by the Staff Side the Chairman agreed that implementation would require suitable staff at various levels.'
There was also a Progress Report on the Joint Sub-Committee on the Computer. '. . . because of the increasing demand for Bureau facilities and the non-availability of the ICL 1907F until March 1969, the Sub-Committee was informed that an additional ICL 1904E was to be installed at Norvic House on 1 July 1968. When the ICL 1907F is commissioned at Sovereign House in March 1969, work will begin to be transferred to it from the Bunhill Row ICL 1904, which is scheduled to close down May 1969 . . . the ICL 1202 computer and its operators at Atlantic House are due for release in mid-1969 . . . the addition of a further 60 MAs, 6 SMOs and 1 HCO served as witness to the continued expansion of the Wensum/Charles House DPU. The result of CCB 'trawl' and subsequent promotion boards was an intake of 17 HEOs and 27 EOs. Approval was given for a further CEO and 3 SEO posts . . . on 16 September 1968 the Bureau was given divisional status under a director of SCEO grade. Staff Side expressed concern about the position of the 6 SMOs promoted on the basis of their suitability for Nicol writing duties. The Chairman agreed that Staff Side would be consulted when a new type of machine not already in use was introduced. Agreement was subsequently reached with Staff Side on a suitable grading (MO) for a Xerox 2400-IV copier.'
Watch this space for the next Warman clean-up – note to self to b/u April 2057.
Dear Reg, If I could prevail upon you to post the details of the Annual Lunch for HMSOldies London I would be most grateful. I nearly forgot to send you this! It is very useful being posted here, as if someone has changed their email address without letting me know, at least they can find details of the lunch on HMSOldies. Bob Allder
Hello Bob, It will be a pleasure – a good menu: I wish I could make it myself! We look forward to the photos/report. All the best, and have a good lunch. Reg
25 April 2013 – Memories of Pocock Street
John Rumball has recently uncovered this intriguing picture, taken in 1987, as he explains:
The photo depicts ingots, all standing type in 'forme' together with any case type matter just prior to being sold, thereby recovering a considerable sum – thousands of pounds – for HMSO. A number of formes were sent for display purposes, for example in reception rooms. The one in Mandela Way entrance was unfortunately pie'd and reconfigured by Bob Allder who could tell you more about it. A 'proclamation' forme is on display in John Jarrold Printing Museum, Whitefriars, Norwich.
Another story: three pallets of various wooden letter poster type were discovered in a locked room that had not been opened for years. When listed in the auction catalogue numerous graphic art colleges and individuals came to view, guessing that they could not afford them when they came on sale as it was estimated that each pallet would go for many hundreds of pounds. Ron Bent, Frank Grigson and I went down to see the three lots auctioned and were flabbergasted to see that the bidding lasted for about eight minutes with no competition, each lot going for roughly £100. We all said afterwards we wished we had put our hands up to make a bid. Presumably this historical document – ie the auction catalogue – could be viewed at the British Library, and it would probably bring back a lot of memories for anybody who worked at Pocock Street. It would be good to hear from any old Pocockians with memories of the good old days.
21 April 2013 – Pocock Street Memories
Greetings Reg from (earthquake damaged) Christchurch, New Zealand. Browsing the internet recently I came across your website, HMSOldies, and was most interested to read about Pocock Street Memories.
I had just arrived from Christchurch in 1961 on my OE when St Stephen’s Parliamentary Press had just opened and I obtained a job there as a hand compositor. I worked in the Vote Ship for two years doing Parliamentary Questions and Order Papers and as I remember it when Parliament was not sitting we did work for the War Office and Foreign Office Press. On my return to Christchurch I worked for a time for my previous employer and then started my own printing business 'Christchurch Printing Company'. I had the business for 25 years then with having some health issues sold it and went to work at a larger printing business – although hand compositors were long gone – I ran the art department until retirement in 2003.
I very much enjoyed my time at Pocock Street (learned the difference between rugby and football) and was able to travel around the UK and see much of the country.
Here is a photo of the 1962 Vote Ship (I am the one in the blue shirt front right).
Best regards, Bruce Galbraith
Hello Bruce, What a pleasure to read your email – thank you for making contact. We will see if someone remembers you, and others in your excellent photo. I have also copied to a few people who were around at the time. Although I joined HMSO in 1963 I didn't get to visit St Stephens until the 1970s when Dave Forbes, Eric Hendry, Andy Fisher, Cecil Pendergast worked there. Old friends McGarry and Willmott had their turns in the Cashiers – and our 1968 staff list gives the names of some Overseers that might just jog the memory: Calvert, Shurmer, Coy, Empleton, Carter, Spearing, Lucking, Jagelman, Jenkins. I'm afraid that the Press is now remodelled as a County Court building, but you will be well aware of the demise of the old HMSO due to privatisation.
A friend of mine has just returned from an extended stay New Zealand, and one of the HMSOldies team, Dave Martin, has a son working there – a lovely place by all accounts, and all the very best to you all in overcoming the ravages of nature, as we are sure you will!
I will let you know if we get any responses. Best wishes, Reg
Philip Marriage adds: What an excellent photo. I was at St Stephens at the time, though upstairs in the 'S' Department but I do remember the chappie on the left holding the parcel as Roy Hughes and next to him is Dennis Hodds (with his arms folded). Would that be a young Barry Palmer behind Bruce on the right?
Dave Burchell adds: Hi Reg. I have just been looking at the photo sent in by Bruce Galbraith. The smart figure behind Bruce is Albert 'Bert' Calvert who was production manager at Foreign Office Press in the late 70s/early 80s when I was there. I believe he is over 90 years old now and is living somewhere near Yarmouth. In my two spells at SSPP, I also remember the other names you mention – Dave Forbes, Eric Hendry, Andy Fisher, Cyril Pendergast and from the overseers, I can remember Randy Shurmer, Tim Coy, John Carter and Alf Spearing. Ken Jagelman I knew from Harrow Press. Happy days! Best wishes, Dave.
Bob Avery adds: Hello Reg, This made me look back on the piece I had written for HMSOldies in August 2009 re my early recollections of Pocock Street. As I didn’t join HMSO until December 1965 I obviously missed Bruce, however I can throw some light on the photo provided. On the far right at the back is Bert Calvert, he had moved to be the Overseer in the 'S' Department by the time I got there. Next to Bruce in the loud striped shirt is Len Hobbs, he made it to 'Clicker' on the Vote Ship when I arrived. The only other face that looks vaguely familiar is the older chap second on the left, but I can’t put a name to him now. I hope this helps and may trigger some more memories. Best wishes, Bob
Barry Palmer adds: Hi Reg, thanks for that wonderful piece of nostalgia, I often wonder what has happened to all of my old workmates. They are, from left to right irrespective of front and back: Roy Hughes, Percy Gardner (foreman on days), Derek New, next to - my brain just can't remember - Michael Lynch, Dennis Hodds (his brother worked in the pressroom and left a shooting stick on a forme on the hand-fed Miehle . . . the bang could be heard around the plant), myself Barry Palmer, Bruce Galbraith and Bert (Albert) Calvert. Bruce told me that I could get a job in New Zealand at the Stationery Office but stupidly I got married and moved to Norwich to work for Page Brothers, which is still on the North part of the Ring Road. If you are in contact with him, and if he remembers me, give him my e-mail address because it would be fantastic to hear from him.
16 April 2013 – From David Silver in Australia
Dear Reg, Thanks for the reminder. As you can guess I will not be able to attend (too far to drive!) and there is a lot of water to cross, but I will raise a glass of single malt at 1pm UK time on 12 June, and drink to the continued health of all my friends at HMSOldies.
All best wishes, David Silver
Hello David, Many thanks for your response to our invitation to The Eagle lunchtime. Good to hear that you are in good form down there, and we will certainly reciprocate in the raising of the glass. I will pass on the good word to Peter Macdonald, who possibly already has his glass ready . . . . Best wishes. Reg
Unorganised Lunchtime at The Eagle, Norwich: Wednesday 12 June 2013
If you happen to be in the area (Newmarket Road, Norwich) on 12 June you are welcome to join other ex HMSO people who might look as though they could buy you a drink – bring a friend – and an umbrella: it's Summer after all. If you want to know who might be there please contact the Editor. No minutes will be taken.
12 April 2013 – From Steve Denmark
Hello Reg, Just had a look at the video of Sovereign House. I worked at HMSO from 1985 to 1997 when privatised, mainly in St Crispins, but did spend some time in Sovereign House. I still live near the area and I am interested in the archive stuff, as I work from home, buying and selling old Football memorabilia, programmes etc. Sometimes I do look at the HMSO oldies site, to see what's been going on.
Hello Steve, Good to see you last Friday, and good luck with your memorabilia business. We may find you some customers, as many of us prefer the past to the present! Chris Richmond, who produced the Sovereign House video, has also made a master copy of a video from which we may produce hard copies for posterity – if that's the word. There is likely to be another Unorganised Reunion at The Eagle in June and I will be sure to let you know. All the best. Reg
HMSO Edinburgh Reunion: 25 April 2013
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HMSO Edinburgh Reunion
25 April 2013
Alexander Graham Bell
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Hoping that folk from all departments will come along and enjoy seeing old friends.
Major RA 'Bobbie' Warren was not an employee of HMSO but as Government Manager of Rank Xerox in the 1960s and thereafter he knew more HMSO – and other Departmental – staff than most. He died peacefully at home a few days short of his 93rd birthday, and is remembered in this characteristically thoughtful note from Les Birch:
Dear Reg, I was of course much saddened by the news of the passing of Bobby Warren and as usual I was hit by a flood of memories concerning him.
I think that I can rightly claim to be the oldest surviving HMSOldy to have known Bobby from the beginning of his long relationship with the Department. Some time in the early '60s Arnold Martyn and I were sent to the School of Signals at Catterick to examine a case they had submitted for their own small-offset unit.
Questions had been raised why they could not make use of our Regional Unit at Newcastle (RB9). In the late afternoon we were met at, I believe, Darlington railway station by the then Major Warren in full regalia. His military career had been blighted when his driver had taken him over a cliff in Aden, breaking either his back or neck in the process, which accounted for the characteristic stiffness which he always displayed in that area. We were whisked straight to the Commandant's quarters where we were regaled with copious draughts of gin and tonics.
We were then instructed to attend the full mess dinner that evening, despite my protests that we did not have evening suits with us. It was a splendid evening with the cadets and officers in full dress uniforms, the Corps silver fully displayed on the tables and the Royal Artillery orchestra playing in the background. After the port had circulated many times we were drawn into a roulette table operated by two cadets being returned to their units the following day as unsuitable officer material and we finally reached our quarters at about 2.30 am. Discussion about the case was necessarily brief in the morning and, surprisingly, it was approved by Arnold and myself.
It was some months later that we were invited to lunch by the then Add-Multi Government Manager (double-barrelled name which as always escapes me) where we were introduced to the newly-appointed Government Manager for Rank-Xerox, Bobby Warren. Shortly after that they launched the 914 and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. This was of course the first dry copier and as such swept the market. I think that in the first month of its life we approved all the 914s that Ranks had allocated for Government for the entire year and some frantic re-scheduling had to take place.
Bobby was of course just the perfect man for the job and his relationship not only with HMSO but with all Government departments could not have been bettered. He had his tragedies of course – the loss of his daughter by drowning in Holland was one and he once told me of an occasion in the Western Desert when he had had to shoot one of his already mortally wounded soldiers whose cries were drawing enemy fire.
I am sure that many other colleagues will be able to add their own memories of this remarkable man. One final memory is of a visit to the factory in Mitcheldene and on walking into the bar seeing an entire shelf of malt whiskies which Bobby swore had been installed just for my visit. I did not doubt him but I am sure many other visitors there enjoyed that shelf long after my visit.
We shall not see his like again.
Best wishes to you as always.
Hello Les, As ever, a perfect reminiscence. Thank you. I first met Bobby when I moved from ITW to Supplies –S6b, with Tommy Taylor and many others, working to Charlie Lloyd. Bobbie got me into the intricacies of plain-paper copying and always proved to be honest, efficient, approachable and, best of all, very good company. Christopher Bindloss (his successor as Rank Xerox Government Manager) arranged for a convivial lunch for Bobbie upon his 90th birthday in 2010, and I last saw him in good form last Autumn. Of course, many of his stories included you – and John Nash, Arnold Martyn, George York and, inevitably, Stan Smith – the CRS crew.
This photo shows Bobbie, on the extreme left, at the retirement of Tug Wilson on 15 December 1982, in the company of Jack Bocquillon, Christopher Bindloss, Sid Heppell, Eric Bone, Vi Wilson, Bob Howes and George Furn. Happy days. All the very best to you Les. Reg
8 April 2013 – From Judy Pritchard Hi Reg, Mr Kemp – there's a name I've been trying to recall for a while. He was Chairman of the panel which interviewed me for my first Civil Service job. At the end of the interview he asked whether I would be interested in accepting a job if it were offered, and I politely said "No thank you." The rest, as they say is history, because I started work at HMSO about two weeks later. A curious turn of events.
I had a smile about Mike Betts' observations about life in Sovereign House in the '70s. Strange how people see things differently whilst treading the same corridors. For me, visits to the Rep unit were nothing but a chore – and I wasn't aware that skirts were that short! When I worked as a CO in Finance, I remember being advised that if I had matters of importance to discuss with certain colleagues in Supply, it was best done before lunch, and not to go in the afternoon without a chaperone. It has taken a long while to work out why. My visits to the Sovereign Club were confined to donating blood, visiting Horticultural Club shows, and attending the occasional retirement presentation. Ignorance is bliss.
Kind regards, Judy Pritchard
Hello Judy, Thank you for your fine, well-considered reminiscences. Perhaps that was Ken's secret: he only passed for employment those interviewees who turned down the job. When I was in Accommodation I mentioned to Vera Rankin that she could cut down the number of people queuing for photocopies by (how can I word this delicately?) staffing the Xerox with more mature ladies, possibly modelled on Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha. The queue was down to a third within a week. The names of those dirty dogs in Supplies are eagerly sought – please send under plain brown email and I will forward the usual fee. Double if any of the names are a surprise. Treble if one of the names is mine (as if). All the very best, and I will let you know when we sort out another 'Eagle' event: Eric Bone, who I saw today, is keen to see how we all have aged . . . . Reg
5 April 2013 – Ken Kemp: Establishments Man
Alan Pawsey has reported that he recently encountered one Malcolm Kemp, who turned out to be the son of Kenneth Stewart Kemp, a self-proclaimed member of 'the old school' of Civil Servants: three-piece suit, fresh flower in the buttonhole, a decent lunch-hour or two and a wisecrack (kept clean – ladies present) for every occasion.
Ken was born in Norwich in 1917 and joined the Civil Service in 1949, moving to the HEO (Recruitment) post in Establishments, Sovereign House, in 1967. He retired in 1977.
We have looked in vain for any photos of Ken among the HMSOldies archive, so we are asking if anyone out there has an appropriate picture they can scan so that we can pass on to Malcolm. It's a pity we can't ask JLAG (John) Jones, lately CWO, or Stan Thompson – or the landlord of the Cat and Fiddle where many of us met in the days before the Sovereign Club.
2 April 2013 – Boxing Clever
The Chancellor's Budget Box is routinely featured on the front pages of newspapers every March but the Ministers' Red Boxes are less obtrusive, apart perhaps from when they are seen inYes Minister and the like.
For centuries those boxes were made to order for HMSO - in my time the ordering sections were in S4, S7 and S8 - Dave Jones had the job for some time, along with briefcases and various other cartons etc.
Different times now, of course, but not forgotten, as this article in the i newspaper demonstrates:
1 April 2013 – Designers who Dine
XHMSOEPPCD may sound like a Greek Island, but in fact these photos have just reached us of the Ex HMSO Electronic Publishing Post-Christmas Dinner held in Norwich at Don Pepe, a Spanish restaurant (hence the paella being shovelled onto the Saville plate once John had opened his eyes: Dave Martin can grow a full beard telling a tale at the best of times, but when he is on his third glass of Rioja . . .). Gordon Robbie resorted to the old trick of Supergluing his hands together when the bill came round - Lynda Marshall has seen it all before – Jayne Wilkinson, as ever the feline face of innocence – Philip Marriage rehearsing his Bill Nighy impersonation – and Alan Pawsey trying to get the Chelsea result on his camera. Looks like a good night. Perhaps we could do the same for old ITWians. XHMSOITWPCD anyone? Reg
31 March 2013 – Tom McNeill to Les Birch Dear Les, Have just seen your postings on the HMSOldies website. You will not remember me, I was a lowly Printing Officer in Edinburgh when you were Director. I subsequently went on promotion to Manchester and finished my HMSO career there in 1997. After a couple of years of boredom I became a teacher in a residential college for young people with learning and behavioural problems.
I really loved my work at HMSO and felt that we contributed to the general good. Times change and I suppose we must also. I have the greatest affection for HMSO and the people who worked there. Did we make a difference? I think so. All my colleagues were focussed on best value for money for the taxpayer. Are things better now? I think not. Maybe that is a sign of being a boring old f**t.
Best Wishes, Tom McNeill
Hello Tom, Fine sentiments, which I have copied to Les. I certainly remember you in Manchester in the days of Messrs Gaskell, Tennant, Hartley, Bintley, Richardson, Horne, Blackmore, Jones, Mrs Bannister, Mrs Farr, Mrs Evans . . . Stan Robinson . . . Harry Pye . . . Arthur Burnell – too much! All the best. Reg
30 March 2013 – Tom McNeill says thanks to Fred Stubbs Fred, You probably don't remember me (Tom McNeill), but I do remember you tutoring me in Graphic Design in Edinburgh. This served me well as I went on to get a number of promotions. I retired in 1997 (well I suppose I was actually thrown out). I subsequently became a teacher and loved it. I should have done this from the start but hey ho what do we know when we are young! I hope you and your family are well.
Very best wishes, Tom.
Hello Tom. Good to hear from you. I have copied to Fred, and we'll see if anyone else out there makes contact. All the best. Reg
28 March 2013 – Some HMSO help requested Reg, I hope you are well and thanks for keeping the HMSOldies website updated. Although I was one of the young whippersnappers that saw out the end of the old HMSO and its transition as one of the last throes of the privatisation regime, there are many old faces and names that even I remember from my days in Edinburgh, Manchester and Norwich.
I was wondering if you can point me in the right direction please. As I am now living and working abroad I am pulling together the various pension schemes into an a manageable pot however the one that is proving elusive is the PCSPS. Having been in touch with various government depts, MyCSP etc they agree that I have a frozen PCSPS pension – they just don't know where it is or who's administering it!
I am hoping that you or some of the HMSOldies may be able to provide any guidance as to who or where the old PSCPS is being administered?
Many thanks for your help.
James H Cruickshanks Head of Strategic Sourcing, EMEA
MWV International Sàrl, Route de Pré-Bois 20, Case Postale 1904, Tower D, Floor 2, 1215 Geneva, Switzerland www.mwv.com
Hello James, Good to hear that you are doing well – I remember you from the Edinburgh office, which the staff list tells me that you joined a mere 22 years ago! To the point: we are by no means experts on the mysteries of CS (or any other) pension schemes, but we have been able to put people on the right road on occasions – eg the HMSOldies item dated 21 November 2011 at:
More recently a response from Alan Pawsey to a similar enquiry bore fruit, and I have sent you the reference separately. I hope you get your just desserts and that they pay you enough for at least one nostalgic visit back to Rose Street! All the best. Reg
27 March 2013 – John Elderton, 85 not out
Yesterday I celebrated my 85th birthday – well, celebrated is not quite the proper adjective, because of my Parkinson's I have much loss of mobility, which can be very frustrating, but all in all I am thankful for what I have. My daughter Theresa came to visit from Australia and, apart from having to have a blood transfusion while she was visiting, had a very nice time. Margery is looking after me very well, and I could not wish for a better nurse. Hopefully with the weather getting better we can once again enjoy our garden. Having seen on television the weather in large parts of the UK I'm thankful that our weather is that little bit more enjoyable. We send our best wishes to all those people who knew us.
Regards, John Elderton and Margery Kraszewski.
Hello John, And a very happy 85th to you. Seems like only yesterday (well, only a few years) since you were S13c in St Crispins. I see that you joined HMSO in 1957, and that in 1961 you were working in Establishments Division. The staff list shows that your contemporaries included Viv Knowles, Dave Ruffles and Alan Marrs, all of whom are around the Norwich area.
A pleasure to read your optimistic note, and all the very best to you and to Margery. This picture from our archives of you both sharing a joke also includes that most elusive of elements: sunshine. Reg
27 March 2013 – Bill Ford and The Eagle
Hi Reg, Just a brief note to record my personal thanks to Viv and the Ford family for the (to me at any rate) quite unexpected and really delightful meal we were given at The Eagle. It was very good to remember Bill, who was a really good bloke, and to meet up with many folks who I haven’t seen for years. I think Michael Salt said it best a few years ago in one of those serendipity post-retirement path-crossings I’ve had from time to time. The most enduring thing about HMSO was, and still is, the value of the comradeship. Personally, I received some very happy reminders of that at The Eagle.
Very best wishes, see you soon, Eric Bone
Thank you Eric. I have copied your kind note to Vivienne Ford. Your sentiments are heartily endorsed. All the best – and, as you say, see you soon. Reg
26 March 2013 – From Harry Wheeldon Reg, Pam Flynn’s photo of the Window Poles/Roman Legionary Standards reminded me that during the 1970s the Central Computer Bureau located in the nether regions of Sovereign House was constantly having to replace missing Window Poles – subsequent investigations revealed that one of our more enterprising managers, aided and abetted by one of the 'willing to try anything once' young ladies in the Data Preparation Unit (DPU), were removing the said poles via the windows of the DPU and selling them in Wroxham as Boat Hooks.
Howard, Lovely! I bet that young lady is running a chain of shops somewhere by now – possibly selling antique typewriters and Hollerith equipment. All the best. Reg
26 March 2013 – From Paul Barnett
Went to the West Wing for drinks. Very odd but also cool. I visited Sitrep 1 - that's the room where that photo was taken of the great and the good watching the attack on the compound, seen in Zero Dark Thirty. I sat in Hilary Clinton's chair and did my best impression.
Earlier I had been in California and took up a chance for a tour on George Lucas's Skywalker ranch - great if you are a Star Wars/Indiana Jones fan like me!
I continue to earn air miles in dog years: Virgin just rewarded me for my tenth year of stupid travel. Next week I meet up with a great friend of mine in LA, we will be having drinks in a double decker bus that my tailor owns.
I guess it's a Rum Bus, some type of alcoholic mathematical shape no doubt. Somehow I am now GM of my studio, lord protect us all.
General Manager, EA Mythic. Follow me on twitter @thatbarnettbloke
Hello Paul, Good to hear that you are still mixing with the Beautiful People. Don't you ever yearn for the excitement of the old days, placing orders for Toshiba Laptops and Memorex Discs? Tumpty tumpty temps perdu, as Bertie Wooster nearly said. All the best, and try to adjust to the hard life. Reg
24 March 2013 – From Pam Flynn
Hello Reg, I was interested to read Mike Betts memories, brought back a few of my own! Here is a photo of those very window poles, I am sure you will be able to name all the folk on the steps! Kind regards, Pam.
Hello Pam. What a good picture – thank you. We will test the memory of our readers. I think I have them all named – some have changed more than others. Typically they got Caroline to do the work – pole-carrying – along with 'new boy' Mike. Unusual to see them all together outdoors: the Sovereign Club must have been taken over by blood donors that day! All the best, Reg.
On further thought – why did I think that it was M Hawtrey-Eastwood holding the pole when it was obviously D Higenbottam in the days when he had curly locks instead of manly skin on the top of his head? Apologies to both – and to their wives. Should have gone to Specsavers. Reg
24 March 2013 – Paul Radbourne writes from Sunny Cromer . . .
Hello Reg; In case people were wondering where I had got to (although I doubt any were!) I am now approaching my fiftieth birthday in a few weeks. After many years I have left the world of magazine publishing & am now "putting something back" as the Americans say, working raising money for charity all day!
Regards, Paul Radbourne
Hello Paul, Good to hear that you have moved from The Fourth Estate to be on the side of the angels – I am sure that your persuasive abilities will reap rewards from the charity concerned. I usually make it to Cromer at least once a month, and take in all five charity shops (you don't think dressing like this is achieved by accident do you?) so I'll keep an eye out for a gimlet-eyed enforcer with a collecting box in one hand and a Smith and Wesson in the other . . . All the best, Reg.
22 March 2013 – From Clive Furness
Hi Reg, Thanks for passing on my details. It was great to get a response from Mo Wickham - I hope we can exchange emails in future. Looking through some of the information circulars it was good to see the name of Denise Dukes. She looked after me in the office during my time in Atlantic House Publications Registry. I was just a teenager then, so please pass on my regards to Denise. Any of the old SO football team out there? Please get in touch. Thanks again, Clive.
Hello Clive, Good to hear that the system works! I have copied your good wishes to Denise to her grandson, Harvey, and will see if any of the old footballers make contact. In fact one – Chris Penn – has asked me to pass on his regards. I think after 40+ years some of them may have laced up their boots for good. All the best. Reg
22 March 2013 – From Mike Betts Reg, Your film of Sovereign House has prompted me into much reminiscing over a pint or two: I started at Norvic House with the advance party, working for Andy Baptie in CEPA when I was 21, and transferred to the South wing of Sovereign House when it first opened. Bill Burberry head-hunted me and I was transferred to Internal Audit in the East wing when I was 22.
I was the first person to grow rhubarb - in a large flowerpot on the window-ledge, whe everyone else was growing tomatoes. I used to have lunch in the canteen every day, and recall that mini-skirts were amazingly short! You introduced me to real ale, Alan Cole introduced me to CAMRA, Don Warman introduced me to Ballooning and the Bystanders, and I met my first girlfriends, all while in Sovereign House!
I have fond memories of the Sovereign Club, drinking ale, playing table tennis, organising the first real ale beer festival one Christmas using polypins, and giving blood! John McGarry introduced me to ‘fish supper’, a scotch with each pint of Heavy, a bottle of wine EACH with the evening meal, and Deacon Brodies Tavern!
I was a member of the DBT cricket team that regularly took on and thrashed all the other divisions. I assembled a much adored collection of pump-clips on my window pole, and thanks to you, I became a great fan of The Liberator!
We all used to enjoy going to the Rep unit and queuing up to get our photocopying done by the attractive young ladies! In one amazing year - 1975 - while working in Sovereign House, I obtained my Balloon Pilot’s Licence, was promoted to HEO, sold a house and bought a house, and got married!
And there is more, and more, and more – for this is just a quick flash into my memory bank! And then after many years working in St Crispins, I was destined to end my working days with HMSO in Sovereign House, working with you during those last few months in 1996!
Mud in yer eye for awakening so many happy memories, and I bet this note has re-kindled some for you too! Mike
Hello Mike, A fine set of memories: you bring back the good old days in an instant. And I am proud to have been instrument in putting you on the path of righteousness: beer and laptop computers – two essential ingredients for a happy retirement. I had similar experiences with JJ McGarry, and was personally schooled by those masters of etiquette JP Delaney and SR Smith. Thank you for the most welcome reminisce – many more to come, I hope. All the best. Reg
21 March 2013 – To the Ends of the Earth and Back
Well to the end of the ancient world anyway. Starting on 31 May, La Marina resident Len Allen is taking on the challenge of the Camino de Santiago. The famous pilgrimage known as “The Way” starting in Pamplona and travels all the way to Santiago a distance of approx 800km. Not satisfied with this Len is then going to continue on to Finisterre, which until Columbus discovered America was widely believed to be the end of the Earth. This will take the total distance to 900km, Len is doing this walk in aid of the Easy Horse Care Rescue Centre Foundation based in Rojales.
Len who will turn 60 later in the year wanted to do something extra special for this milestone and when in Santiago last year he saw people finishing the walk and thought “this is something I could do”. His wife Ann who has been a great supporter of Easy Horse Care for many years thinks he is mad but will be on hand to give him encouragement “however I’m not doing it with him”.
Len who moved to Spain in 2000 was a seasoned marathon runner in the UK and one of his old running partners John Cripps is coming over to join in this ambitious challenge.
“I have been training since Christmas and hopefully I will be ready by mid May” Len will then have a week or so of rest ready for the off. This involves taking an overnight coach from Alicante to Pamplona and then the walk begins. Len added “I will be staying in the pilgrim hostels along the way each night and I am really looking forward to hearing the tales of the other walkers and their reasons for taking on the challenge” He is planning to walk some 40 km a day and with a few rest days to make sure he gets to the other end and expects the walk to take 23 days in total.
David from Easy Horse Care said “when we were approached by Ann about Len doing this walk I just had to meet him, I have to agree with Ann in thinking her husband is mad” he added “however I take my hat off to him and ask everyone to support him. Like Len I used to run marathons but the idea of walking 900 km in less than a month is truly a remarkable challenge and a fantastic achievement”.
Len can be sponsored by either contacting him direct on 620 180 002 or by going in to any of the Easy Horse Care charity shops in Guardamar, La Siesta, La Zenia, Montesinos or Quesada. Alternatively you can sponsor him at the rescue centre on Sundays during the open day or contact Easy Horse Care by email: email@example.com
There will also be sponsorship forms in several locations around La Marina including News 4U, Sera fins & Cuts R Us.
Hello Len, Very impressive - and good to see that you haven't gone to seed in your Paradise in the Sun. We will certainly publicise your endeavours on HMSOldies, especially targeted at some of your less energetic ex-colleagues. All the best –and good luck carrying Cripps for the last few miles! Reg.
13 March 2013 – From Maureen Wickham
Hello Reg, Thanks for the email regarding 'young Clive Furness' (as I remember him!). I have emailed him and had a reply, and was surprised to read that he lives not very far from here. Amazing who the Oldies website throws up!
Incidentally, did you know that Eric Brett passed away a few weeks ago? I heard the news at my church in Aylsham, of which he was a member. There was also an obit in the EDP. I did not know him in HMSO but Bill knew him, as I think Eric was on the computer side. Amazingly, we happened to see him walking down the street in Padstow a few years ago!
I saw on the website a mention or two of Jack Payne. I wonder if he is the Jack Payne I knew in Chadderton? He was in Binding Section (P&B) with Mr Parker (we were very formal in those days and I don't think I knew his first name). I used to work in there a couple of afternoons a week when I was in 'Printing' Section there. The year would be 1962 if I remember correctly.
Best wishes, Maureen
Hello Maureen, I am pleased to hear that you have caught up with 'young Clive.' As you say, it is a constant surprise as to who we will encounter next! Sad to hear about Eric Brett. As you say, there was an obituary in the Eastern Daily Press in February:
The Staff List shows that he was born in 1925 and joined HMSO Computer Services, Norwich, as EO in 1968.
The Staff List also reveals that Jack Payne (indeed it was he) worked with FAE (Frank) Parker as TO in Manchester. Frank was born in 1912 and joined HMSO in 1934. All this is making me feel even older than my grandchildren think I am – and I am reminded of days with Alec Gravatt, Sheila Bunn, Sheila Caston, Harry Whittingham, Len Gray, Ted Combie – enough!
All the best to you and to Bill: you never know, I might see you on one of our visits to Blickling one day. By coincidence I saw another lively Aylsham resident, Eric Bone, last week.
Keep in touch. Reg
13 March 2013 - From Trevor Dearden
Thanks, Reg, for your reply. Jack Pearson I knew well: when I was promoted Supervisor in 1975 Jack was the training officer for our two-week course which was held in the basement at Cornwall House. I think Jack had been the manager at Cornwall House before then and was moved over to training. Through the years he would visit us from time to time at Alperton and Wembley Warehouses. Ken Brixey, a very likeable man: glad he was able to retire and follow his dream by moving to the south coast. Charlie Culley and Marge Todd, I worked with at Gee St. I can remember Marge celebrating her 40 years with HMSO and came round to us all offering us a sweet each. Bill Lewington was the Manager at Alperton, with Roland Ward as a supervisor. Dave Smith, Stan Scott and myself promoted to supervisors in 1975, Dave and Stan returned to Alperton, I went to Gee Street. In 1976 I moved to Wembley, Tom Kingsley was the Manager, Jack Fifield was the WS (who sadly died while on holiday in Cyprus in 1980) Vic Shimes, Les Goss, Bob Heydon and others until 1986, when Park Royal became ready, that's when the staff and management was reduced.
Thanks again Reg for giving me the chance to go down memory lane. I will check from time to time just in case anyone out there staff/management can remember those happy times.
Regards, Trevor Dearden
Hello Trevor, Thank you for your prompt and thorough response, which I am sure will stir the memories of those HMSOldies who have 'history' with the London warehouses. I keep remembering odd names: Don Treasurer, Noel Warr who worked in Gee Street, the Maybanks Waste crew at Charlton, George Warren, one of the drivers, always very helpful. And, by the way, Marge Todd joined HMSO on 26 July 1937 - suddenly I feel even older!
We will certainly let you know of any responses we receive. All the best. Reg
12 March 2013 – Trevor Dearden remembers London Warehouse Days
Hi Reg, I'm Trevor Dearden. I joined HMSO March 1973 at Alperton, Middlesex at the age of 25, then passed a panel in 1975 for Assistant Warehouse Supervisor. I moved to Gee Street in 1976, then onto Wembley 1976-82, back to Alperton until1986, then on to Park Royal until 1989, when all the London warehouses closed down, sadly. I would like to look back on staff/management on those depots if possible? Would be grateful for any help you can give me.
Many thanks and regards, Trevor Dearden
Hello Trevor, Good to hear from you. As perhaps you can tell from reading HMSOldies, we don't hear much from anyone connected with London warehouses, although Tony Gummett and Keith Batchelor are occasional correspondents.
When I was in Supplies in the 1960s, at one time working with Charlie Lloyd and later Jack Pearson, I used to deal with Alf Swann at Orsman Road. He moved to Gee Street, where Marge Todd, Noel Warr and others worked over the years. I also worked with Bill Lewington, who managed Alperton. and had several dealings with Tom Kingsley (Wembley and Park Royal), Ernie Pickering (Park Royal), Les Goss and Ken Brixey, who became CSU Secretary and retired to the South Coast. I also had dealings with Bob Courtney, John Hosford and many more at Cornwall House/Nine Elms.
I don't have anything on the current whereabouts of your old colleagues. Just to jog your memory I can give you some names of other Stores Officers based in HMSO London Warehouses in the 1980s: VG Shimes, CD Culley, JS Croy, DM Mayne, RC Ward, WC Godden, DA Smith, SC (Bert) Scott, RJ Heydon.
Let's hope that your note provokes some memories from HMSOldies readers. I don't suppose you have any photographs relevant to those days that you could scan for us? Best wishes. Reg
12 March 2013 – Brian Whitefield remembers Denise Dukes
I don't often browse the oldies site and when I do it is less to do with who has died but who is still alive. This time it was Denise Dukes who caused the surprise. Denise was one of those willing souls that HMSO cynically exploited. Apart from translating incoming mail for all and sundry when HMSO was hosting Government Printers Conferences Denise was taken along to provide interpretation services. There she rubbed shoulders with professionals who were horrified at what was expected of her as a Clerical Officer. They thought that for translation she should have been an EO and for conference work a professional grade. Management differed on that as those aspects were only minor ones additional to her normal duties.
At the second phase of dispersal she was transferred to Cornwall House possibly in some abstruse section of Publications. When Manny Goldstein in Returned Books was approaching retirement, thoroughly disillusioned and intending to slink away without ceremony Denise joined those including Len Gray and Alec Gravatt trying to persuade him that his many friends would be disappointed to see him do that. Eventually it was she who organised a very enjoyable leaving do for him in the London Unit rest room.
While in Cornwall house she ran informal language courses after hours for staff. At one time she was persuaded to do a Spanish one although knowing little of the language. I joined it for practice but, having found that Denise was keeping only one lesson in the series ahead of the class, was dragooned into taking it on.
What finally happened to her I don't know but from her present age it seems likely that she retired at the time of closure of Cornwall House.
See also 21 and 24 January and 20 February 2013
12 March 2013 – We'll always have Anglia Square . . .
Remember Rick's Place? Albert During certainly does – and he's still partying.
Please note: The URL above does not break naturally and to prevent it forcing the page too wide, a space has been added at the end of each line. When you copy and paste or type the URL to your browser, please remove or omit the space from the end of each line.
11 March 2013 – From Clive Furness
Hi Reg, I've just discovered the website – my how the years fly. I joined HMSO in 1960 and was stationed in Atlantic House where I was placed in the Publications Registry. I remember working with Sally Dyke and Daisy Draper – names to be feared as a 16 year-old in my first job, but they were lovely really. I was interested to see listed on the web site the names of the two Mo's, known as 'Big Mo' and 'Little Mo' in those days in the Registry. I wonder if they remember me? Being very into sport I was soon introduced to Eddie Truscott and Alec Gravatt, so it was football and cricket for the rest of my HMSO career. I still have my medals. Does anyone remember me from those heady days? I'd like to hear from anyone from the past. Clive
Hello Clive. One of the pleasures of HMSOldies is hearing from 'names' from the good old days. I certainly remember you, and those you mention – Peter Taylor and John Gardiner also 'enjoyed' the administrations of Ms Dyke. Peter, Eddie and Alec are no longer with us, but 'Big Mo' is still around Norwich, married to Bill Wickham (ex A4d, then CCTA). I have copied your note to some people I think may remember you, but have removed your email details (we don't want to get you unwanted attention from Viagra salesmen and Nigerian Bankers). Interested parties can make contact via the Editor.
You may have seen that you got a mention on HMSOldies in our 'Review of Retirements 1970-71' taken from old SO Reviews:
How did things go at NCR – one of our Contractors in the days of Margaret Crawley, John Butler, John Childs, John White and many more, and are you still in the London area? We will let you know if any skeletons come out of the HMSO woodwork – meanwhile, all the best. Reg
9 March 2013 – E.S.A. from Dave Pelham
Hi Reg, just a quick note to say thanks to all who offered help and support during my recent skirmish with D.W.P. I heard yesterday that they have changed their decision and put me in the support group until Jan 2015. Apparently that is the longest they can do it before it has to be reviewed again, but at least next time I will know how to approach the situation. Thanks again for your support. Dave
Hello Dave, How refreshing to receive some good news! So pleased to hear that you have obtained justice. I have copied to Alan Pawsey, who gave advice. By the way, I saw an old friend yesterday: Eric Bone was at the well-attended remembrance for Bill Ford at The Eagle. All the best. Reg
25 February 2013 – HMSO Reunion: 25 April 2013
Hi all, The next Reunion is planned for 25 April 2013, in the Alexander Graham Bell, George Street, Edinburgh, at 7pm. Please pass this on to any HMSO folks you are in touch with! Hoping for an even better turn out than last time. We had people from PP, GD, Bookshop and Supplies – it would be good to see folk from the Warehouse, Repro, the Press etc at the next one.
Cheers, Jim Cairns
Hello Jim. It is a pleasure to promote this worthy event – almost worth getting a cheap day return from Norwich to attend (if you call £ 125 cheap). All the best – and any pictures of the event will be welcome. Reg
20 February 2013 – From Geoff Lockwood
Hi Reg, A friend of mine (not ex HMSO) directed me to the video of Sovereign House as it now is, in which you appeared in a fine supporting role! I found it immensely interesting and it brought back many memories of my early days in Norwich. I noted that you lingered for a while in the room on the 3rd Floor which used to be occupied by Vote Accounting. This is where I was posted when I first came to Norwich in 1973, to work alongside Chris Randall, and all the others you mentioned in the video, plus Alan Cole, Glenys Dole, Dave Hutchings, and later, Adrienne May, Audrey Durrant and Sue Whitaker, all watched over benevolently by Edwin Woods. Looking back, what a team!
I was prompted by all this nostalgia to make an all-too-rare visit to HMSOldies, and particularly noticed the contributions from Harvey Dukes about his grandmother, Denise. I knew Denise quite well in my Pubns days at Atlantic House, both from her translating work (I was the International Exchange section for a while), and from social activities.
Harvey and other Oldies may be interested in this photo of a group from Pubns which was taken at a Shepherdess Walk Halloween Dance in (I think) 1961. Denise is the second from right in the picture, unfortunately with her back to the camera, but I can vouch that it is her. Others visible in the shot are (from right) George Macmillan, Mollie Drayton, Les Milton (almost hidden by Mollie), Margaret Wallace, Margaret's brother and his wife (not HMSO staff), Bob and Valerie Barnard (before they were married, possibly), and Josie and me, newly-wed then, but still together after 51 years. The young man with his back to us I can't identify.
If Harvey gets to see this, I hope he will pass on to Denise my warmest wishes.
Kind regards, Geoff Lockwood
Hello Geoff, Good to hear from you, and thank you for your kind words regarding the video. Regarding the excellent photo, I should have remembered myself –we had already received a copy some time ago from Bob Barnard, but we published it as having been a record of an Atlantic House event. As you can see, I have copied to Harvey, who I am sure will be pleased to see it –albeit not the best 'profile' –and pass on the good word to Denise. Thanks again, and all the best. Reg
Harvey Dukes adds: Good Morning Reg, Just walked into the office and found your email: please thank Geoff Lockwood for the picture. Its a real shame my grandmother doesn't have her face turned to the camera, although it is fascinating to see that she has colour in her hair. I'm sure this picture is one of many so its just when they pop out of the closet really so I am sure there will be more. Once again thank you for all your help Reg and I do pass all the information on to my grandmother.
Hello Harvey, Thank you for your message, which I have passed to Geoff. Good to hear that the picture was appreciated. As you say, if only we had one taken from the other side - if such exists, I hope that a reader of HMSOldies still has it, and passes it on to us.
19 February 2013 – The 1984 ‘Wake’ of Post & Trade Cornwall House
Bill Turley has unearthed a fine set of photos from The Last Days of Pompeii – sorry, Cornwall House, which will jog the memory of some HMSOldies. Before we reveal names and lists of indiscretions readers may wish to test their memories. Prize for the most correct entries is a big part in Frankie Day's next film production.
Bill Turley adds: This ‘Wake’ was devised and provided by the people in images 12 & 13: Tug Wilson, Fred Smith, Mick Ball, John Humphreys, Fred Webster, David Lintern, Ron Barbet, Brian Day, Bill Turley, Derek Reynolds and Don Martin who opted out of moving to the new Publications Centre at Nine Elms and stayed in Cornwall House to process the remaining data left behind and when this was completed, to clear the warehouse of unwanted publications. All except Don Martin were quite content to be made compulsorily redundant on satisfactory completion of these tasks.
A very welcome visitor was John Phillips (see pics 9 & 11) and you will note the Head of Sid Brooks at pic 10.
Pics 7 and 14 show Bill Turley & his wife after Max Hosford had presented them with a card bearing 70 signatures and good wishes together with a barometer inscribed HMSO 1942 – 1984.
Scattered around you will see Jim Shedden, Derek Croft, Kevin O’Connor, John Connelly, John Tassel, Bert Luke, Denis Snitter and Eddie Beagley and probably more that you know in the last two pictures.
The surplus food remaining after this celebration was distributed among those sleeping rough in Waterloo by John Humphreys.
All the pictures were scanned from very poor prints which had faded over the 29 year lapse and required digital manipulation to provide these images and consequently have suffered distortion to colours brightness and contrast – hope they bring back memories to enjoy.
15 February 2013 – Bill Ford: Edinburgh funeral and Norwich remembrance
Dear Reg, I am so very touched by people's personal responses to my letters as Dad requested me to send, clearly he was so well liked and respected.
I have sent to some people, those of course whom I have addresses for details of service/celebration but will also do this here too. I have personally written to Alan and Cecil and I intend to visit Alan very soon (in fact this is something I must organise as I am heading off to the Borders on Sunday night).
The personal service is taking place on Wednesday 27th February 2013 at 14:30 at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh.
I have proposed to those that I have written to, to hold a friendship gathering and have planned for this to take place on Friday 8th March 2013 at 1pm at the Eagle Public House.
If anyone wishes to provide a floral tribute – the local florist that is dealing with the flowers are Border Blooms, Kelso – 01573 223304
If anyone wishes to make a donation – I have selected the following two charities: The British Red Cross – there is a family connection – grandma volunteered and Dad regularly made financial contributions – he was very much a traditionalist. The other charity is Alzheimer's Society – Dad received such compassionate care with his own journey of Dementia that I thought it appropriate to offer the option of donating to help with further research and care for people with Dementia.
The local funeral directors are able to answer any questions that you have: Peter Taylor Funeral Directors, Unthank Road, 01603 760787.
Thank you. Viv Ford
Dear Viv. I am glad that you are getting through this difficult time. I hope to see you, and old friends, on 8 March. With best wishes. Reg
14 February 2013 – From Judy Pritchard Hi Reg, I've just been flicking through the HMSOldies pages and I'm very sad to learn of Peter Taylor's death. They were happy days on the 5th floor of Sovereign House, working with George Furn, Tug Wilson and Frank Payne - Accommodation was just across the corridor, and once I'd circumnavigated Harry Barrie there was always a warm welcome there from Peter and Robin (or was it just because I worked for the boss?). Mrs Rust was at the other end of the corridor. To my shame I recall taking a call from someone who said "Mrs Rust here" to which I replied "and I'm the Queen of Sheba", little thinking that I was speaking to the lady herself. But she repaid me at one of her legendary Christmas pre-prandial sherry parties. Somewhere in the archives is a Register of Classified Documents which records evidence of my sorry state for the rest of that day.
I enjoyed the virtual trip around Sovereign House. Strange to think of it being of historic interest, but glad that it's not been declared a listed building.
Kind regards, Judy
Hello Judy, Thank you for your happy memories. I have a similar memory of (the late) Mrs DNG Rust MBE, but mine was with gin. I saw Robin, in good form, earlier this week. I wonder where the ghosts will go when (if) Sovereign House ever falls. There's plenty of space in St. Crispins. All the best. Reg
10 February 2013 – 1950s photo featuring Bob McRobbie
Good afternoon Reg, I have only just found about this website after watching the video on Youtube about Sovereign House. It was interesting to see where both my father and my father in law worked. My dad Clive Youngs worked there for about a year after retiring from the Met Police, he worked as a messenger. I believe you knew my Father in Law Robert (Bob) McRobbie a formidable character I'm sure you'll agree!
My husband is interested in the photo that you had featuring the 1950s conference in the Isle of Man and was wondering if you have any copies of it? Look forward to hearing from you.
Hello Sam. Excellent to hear from you! I'm sure that I would have known your father – don't suppose you have a photo you could scan to jog my memory? I certainly knew your father-in-law – firstly when he worked in Reprographic Supplies in the late 1960s with Vi Wilson, David Roberts and others, then when he worked in Britannia House, Borough – not forgetting his period as arch-scrutineer of travel and subsistence claims: if he had been in charge of the Parliamentary expenses they wouldn't have got away with a penny more than they deserved!
I have looked at the source of the Isle of Man picture to which you refer - a photo sent in by Tony Gummett (who was in charge of the Britannia House operation) of a group on the roof of Cornwall House. He refers to this further group including Bob. Unfortunately I don't have a copy, but have copied this note to Tony to see if he can locate it. Meanwhile we will see if any of our readers we can trace any further photos of Bob. Best wishes, and please keep in touch (are you in the Norwich area?). Reg
9 February 2013 – From Gordon Robbie
Dear Reg, I've just been catching up on HMSOldies/What's New and was, as ever, astonished to see how many names from the past appear there. I went back through months of information looking for my own name. Fortunately I found no mention, so I must have covered my tracks pretty well!
But to the point. It seems possible, however unlikely, that there may be some ex HMSO golfers out there who are unaware that the HMSO Golf Society is still alive and kicking and still organising four meetings a year at various courses around East Anglia. In the 2013 season we will be visiting Bungay on 3 May, Eaton on 7 June, Richmond Park on 5 July and Weston Park on 30 August. Given the steadily advancing average age of our members, we will be playing 27 holes this season instead of the 36 we have been playing in past years, with a light lunch and dinner in the evening. There will be Medal and Stableford prizes to be won on each day, and opportunities to compete for some of our various trophies, so anyone who can still swing a club will be welcome to join us. Just contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let me have an email address and a phone number and I will email details of all meetings as they come up.
An added attraction is that in 2014 we will be celebrating the Society's Centenary. Our oldest trophy, the Gorin Cup, was first played for in 1914 and won by T Brimelow - you surely remember him, Reg? - but a bit of a rammy on the Continent led to the suspension of Society activity until 1919. Shortly thereafter, members subscribed to buy a trophy in memory of our first Secretary, Captain Henry Franklin of the Royal Fusiliers, who was killed in action in 1916, and the first winner of the Franklin Shield was F S S LeFevre (did HMSO employ ex-pat Frenchmen in the '20s?). Since those early formative years the Society has continued to meet regularly, interrupted only by another brouhaha among our Continental neighbours and others and, of course, dispersal. So in 2014, as well as our usual four meetings we will be holding a special Centenary meeting at Thorpeness. This will comprise 36 holes of golf over two days with a Centenary Dinner and bed and breakfast in between at the Thorpeness Hotel. The dates are 3/4 August 2014 and again we would be delighted to welcome any ex-HMSO golfers. Anyone who may have decided their swinging days are over(!) will be very welcome as a dinner guest. Obviously the Ryder Cup fades into insignificance beside this once-in-a-lifetime event.
I hope HMSOldies' editorial policy will permit publication of this blatant commercial.
Hello Gordon, Twice in one day - be still my beating heart! By the way, Jack Keating was the man unavoidably detained in Florida, thus missing your ET dinner. To business: I love it when I don't have to edit - and to prove how seriously I take it all, I went through the list of Superannuated Officers in the back of an old staff list to find - FSS Lefevre, d.o.b. 19 April 1890, commencement of pension 3 July 1953, 38 years of pensionable service. Stout fellow! All the best. Reg
Robert Stutely adds: Hi Reg, I do not want to dissuade Gordon Robbie from trawling through months of information. However, if he is looking for his own name he can enter it into the box below the navigation items on the left and will instantly be presented with 39 snippets where his name is mentioned. Clicking the heading to a snippet would take him to the full item in the same window or clicking the plus sign at the bottom opens the item in a new window.
7 February 2013 – From Dave Pelham
Hi Reg, Thanks for all the help offered, it is much appreciated. It is good to know that the friendship and camaraderie of HMSO still exists. There is an appeals procedure which I have started but the first step is to request a copy of the judgement so you can see what you are appealing against. You then ask them to look at it again, and if that doesn't work go to full appeal. I asked for a copy of the judgement on 24 January but have still received nothing. The time limit is officially 21 February so I am chasing DWP. I will let you know how I get on. Dave
Thanks Dave. Good to know that you are making progress. Our thoughts are with you as you tackle bureaucracy! Best wishes, and good luck. Reg
31 January 2013 – From Fred Stubbs
Hi Reg, Thanks for sending the Sovereign House video. It was a very sad thing to see. I didn't know SH very well but did go across from time to time. I remember Jack Palmer telling me that when it rained, the rain came into his office and he put up his umbrella! I wonder how Chris Richmond got permission to go inside?
When I first came to Norwich in 1978 I got involved with the Lord Mayor's Procession and worked with Bill Barker and others in a room which George Rokhar set aside for us. We met over a number of lunch times to prepare the float, which won first prize! The rosette and some other things were framed and placed in the St Crispins canteen - I wonder what happened to it?
Best wishes, Fred
Hello Fred, Thank you for your note. You asked how Chris got permission to take the video –well, he went through the 'proper channels' and was let in by Anglia Square Security. He is an established local film-maker, and I don't think they would agree to anyone wandering around in what to the unprepared could be a somewhat hazardous building. You mention the HMSO Float, which has of course featured on HMSOldies. I think that is you in the background:
Not sure what happened to the memorabilia –I'll keep an eye on eBay. All the best. Reg
28 January 2013 – From Billy Stevenson
Dear Reg, After watchingThe Daily Politics show with its doom and gloom and threats of a triple dip I logged in to HMSOldies and was cheered up by John Galley’s pictures of all those happy people. A tonic for any of us feeling down.
John always had the ability to cheer people up. I can remember his frequent trips to Belfast to oversee repair work in the aftermath of damage caused by bombs and other devices. One such occasion was the total overhaul and refit of the Arthur Street Bookshop, after it had been destroyed by an incendiary device. The work took quite a while and the Contractor employed seemed anxious to finish and go. Mr Galley, on the other hand, made sure every door hinge and dovetail was perfect before the workmen departed. But as well as his cheerful presence he always arrived with this lovely tanned leather travel case (Mulberry maybe?). He was, and still appears to be, a very happy man.
One amusing thing I remember happened while this work was in progress. The painters had to fix blue veneer panels above the bookshelves. I arrived one morning to find this chap stirring a fairly large pot of glue-potent stuff. He was taking deep breaths as he stirred. An hour or so later he was as high as a kite and those of us in close proximity weren’t far behind. Among the wares of HMSO at that time was an Environmental Health publication on the dangers of inhaling Trichloroethylene. Happy Days!
All the very best, Billy.
Hello Billy, thank you for your fine story of the days when John Galley was involved in something useful, rather than swanning around the world in search of sun. Any pictures of him looking happy over a Paddy's Pizza and Pint of Plain served by Pat Catney in 'The Kitchen' would be most welcome! All the best. Reg
25 January 2013 – From Brian Cockram
Hola, Picture from Mill Paper Group’s annual lunch at the White Horse. Adios, Brian
Hello Brian, Thank you: a very good picture of some happy diners! I note that, judging by hair colour, you must be having the most peaceful life – what do you old paper-buyers call that shade of grey?
Messrs Dougall, Sinden, Curtis, Cockram, Durkin and Mickleburgh being kept in order, as ever, by Mrs Blake.
All the best, Reg
24 January 2013 – 'Bobbie's Cottage'
David Challis' warm appreciation of David Napthine (see below: 23 Jan – The chief typographer) mentions the occasional decorations he made to the studio to mark special events like retirements or Christmas.
This was one of the most memorable, which he undertook overnight pre Christmas 1967 with the assistance of another designer Clive MacDonald, when they converted one end of the studio into 'Bobbie's Cottage', a pantomime set around the desk of Bobbie Westaway (clerical officer). It made use of HMSO Stock Cover papers – coloured paper used to brighten up publications before the widespread use of colour printing. Poor Bobbie had to sit at her desk inside the 'cottage' with the messengers delivering mail through one of the open 'windows'. The large green door led to the Studio Manager, Reg Vine's, office. Not surprisingly it caused quite a stir and attracted sightseers from all over Atlantic House, not just from HMSO. Although a number of photographs were taken this is the only one that appears to have survived.
24 January 2013 – From Geoff Sentinella
Hello Reg, Have just watched the Sovereign House video. Very mixed feelings for me because although it was uncomfortable to work in because of the high temperatures due to solar gain (on the 6th Floor) I have so many memories as I know you do as well. No mention of the Laboratory in the video apart from a fleeting glimpse of the fume cabinets on the first room on the RHS of the South wing on the sixth floor during the introductory sequence and also a mention that the First Aider Debbie Todd worked in the Laboratory. I will be so very sorry to see the old girl go because as the video said it has been part of the Norwich skyline for 50+ years or more.
You lucky person Reg, I would give my eye teeth to be able to get back inside Sovereign House again. I did manage to get back into the ground floor areas now occupied by QD when I was working as an asbestos surveyor back in 2005, but it was so frustrating as there was this impenetrable boarded up corridor with the rest of Sovereign House lying waiting beyond it. If only it were possible to do conducted tours of the interior (H&S permitting) for Sov. House alumni I feel it could be a winner.
Best wishes as ever, Geoff
Hello Geoff, Thank you for your note: I can't argue with what you say about the old place. The trouble was that I remembered the building as it was when we moved in - October 1968. Supplies on the 5th Floor, Computery on the 1st; PS on the 6th etc. Then came St Crispins, and everything turned upside down. Added to this, the systematic destruction of walls, corridors etc. made it difficult to remember what, eventually, was where. However, there was a separate item on the Xenotest Room, which you may find of interest:
If I get word that future 'organised' visits are planned I will make sure that you are informed. All the best. Reg
24 January 2013 – From Harvey Dukes Dear Oldies & Reg, You have helped me immensely. I was with my grandmother last night sorting out her dinner, and I told her what I had been doing and that she started as a trainee typist. Her eyes lit up and it all came back to her. She couldn't remember anyone apart from her boss – well, she is nearly 95. In doing so, I have information personal to her to go on, so thank you all very much.
Yours truly, Harvey Dukes Get old Gracefully : )
Dear Harvey, It has been a great pleasure to be of assistance, and speaking personally it has quite cheered me up on another freezing day in Norwich. I especially enjoyed your final words! All the very best – to you and of course to your grandmother. Reg Walker
23 January 2013 – The chief typographer
In November 1966 on my first day at HMSO Atlantic House (after the initial induction) I was escorted to the Layout section at the rear end of H floor were I was handed over to the care of the deputy head Reg Vine, he then introduced me to a Mr Napthine [see Obituaries] the chief typographer (as they shared a cramped office). David was semi buried in books and papers – I simply wondered how one achieved such an elevated status.
My next 12 years with HMSO are only remembered for occasional elaborate decoration of the studio to mark some event, which was in sharp contrast to the letter-spaced career of Mr Napthine. During much of the time I only had occasion to speak to David rarely, our paths simply did not cross, and he did not involve himself in the day to day work of the studio, being far too busy with his own design commitments. It was only later that one realised that things you had recently 'redesigned' had previously been styled by DN – and I began to wonder what he thought of us upstarts. One need hardly have worried, David was a very generous person. Much later when we did ‘chat’ he confided that he approved of some radical piece of work I had done, adding that he had once tackled the same job, but could not achieve what I had now been able to, there was much less scope in the early days of Layout.
David retired in 1975 and decisions had to be made about who would handle his rather sensitive portfolio of clients; at the same time HMSO had started the process of moving to Norwich. Some of his work could only sensibly be handled in London, and as one of a core group who had opted to remain in the metropolis I was put in charge of David's Palace of Westminster work. Subsequently I was ensconced with David while he handed over the 'work in hand' and his files (OHMS brown envelopes to be precise) all neatly annotated.
I continued to see David as he was retained on a freelance basis for specific commissions, or at Liverpool Street station, as he also lived in the wilds of Essex. In 1978 I found another job in London, and as a short-term measure David was re-engaged to handle his old portfolio and I duly handed everything back to him still in the brown envelopes! Albeit, that in the meantime, I had completely restyled the House of Commons stationery and Peter Branfield had redrawn the various coats of arms and insignia; David was the first to appreciate the magnitude of what we had achieved, given all the individual fiefdoms at Westminster!
Although little lauded in public, as that was hardly his style, David represented the bedrock of sound considered typographic design of government publications in the post-war period, those of us who were fortunate enough to follow in his foot steps owe him an immense debt of gratitude. He was one of the true pioneers of that late golden age of good typographic design. Throughout one's career there are those few people you come into contact with who make an impression, I still remember with affection the time I spent with Mr Napthine.
And how would I describe the man? Remember the classic post-war black and white filmThe Third Man and its leading role Holly Martins, played by Joseph Cotten – the shadowy American in the mackintosh and trilby hat. Well exchange Vienna for grey post-war London and give the man a black official briefcase, and you have my impression of David Napthine. He appeared and disappeared from his office or secluded desk without any noise and you never knew what he was working on. His religious beliefs also added to his privacy, although on a one-to-one basis he was ever helpful to anyone who enquired.
David was an accomplished typographer of a pioneering generation and was one of a small team put together after the Second World War to bring some order and style into the presentation of government publishing. David was not lauded in the same way as some of his more illustrious companions, such as Harry Carter, but quietly he was for well over thirty years the cornerstone of HMSO's Typographic and Layout Department and its successor.
He shunned publicity, being firmly of that typographic tradition that's rule of thumb meant that if the reader was overtly aware of the typographer's hand on the page they had done a bad job. Underneath this grey suited veneer was a designer in the modern sense of the word, his touch was usually light but one sensed a man of real graphic talent. He could he humorous, and although he chose to stay above the day-to-day banter of the main studio, he was always well aware of events and alive to those designers at the cutting edge.
In his lifetime the whole era of 'considered' book and print design evolved, flourished and has faded. I don't doubt David would have addressed and coped with the current 'instant' 'on screen' approach, but he would I'm sure be rightly appalled at the way that the standards he fought hard to achieve and sustain now gather dust on library bookshelves and waste paper bins!
David Challis HMSO Layout and Graphic Design 1965 to 1978
23 January 2013 – From Alastair Petrie
Dear Mr Walker, Thank you so much for your observations and the wonderful vignettes painted by your colleagues of life at Shep Walk at the end of my wife's great aunt's time there as a Supervisor. These have all made that part of her working life a much more meaningful and interesting part of our family history. I am copying both Bob Barnard and Les Birch and thank them most sincerely for their fascinating descriptions of those times.
I am prompted by your statement that Shep Walk had a thriving Amateur Dramatic group to ask one final favour please. Millie Turner had a younger sister Elsie Doris Turner born on 4 September 1893. She too apparently worked in the civil service but we have no idea where. She was, however, extensively involved in what appear, from about 60 professional photographs in our possession, to have been very lavish amateur dramatic productions, and I now wonder therefore whether she too was employed at Shep Walk. I attach copies of two of those photographs which, if you have records of Shep Walk's amateur dramatics, you might even recognise.
The photographs which I have are in some cases signed by the actor/actresses and some are dated, typically during the 1920s. The one I have enclosed of what might perhaps be a production of The Mikado is dated 13.10.1924. Do you have a record of an October 1924 production or is there any chance you can readily spot a Miss Elsie Doris Turner in your employment registers?
With kind regards, Alastair
Dear Mr Petrie, What wonderful photographs of Miss Elsie Doris Turner and friends! I only wish we had some information among our sparse records which might be of help. I have looked through our 'Superannuated Officers' list dated 1952 and thought I might have found her, but no: it was a Miss E Turner born 5 July 1892. I'm afraid that the chances of finding any ex HMSO person who might have known either of the Misses Turner are remote. I have looked through copies of our old Staff Magazines to see if their names are mentioned, but to no avail. However, there are a couple of famous HMSO people who are mentioned, so I have copied the relevant pages to you in the hope that something positive emerges. I am currently pinning my hopes on one Mr J MacCallum! It has been a pleasure to facilitate this most interesting foray into a corner of HMSO's past. Best wishes. Reg Walker
23 January 2013 – From Dave Pelham
Hi Reg, I don't know if anyone can help or offer advice, but here goes. Eighteen years ago I was medically retired from HMSO and have been on first Invalidity Allowance and then Incapacity Allowance. In June 2012 I was sent a form to fill in to be changed to Employment Support Allowance which finally came back today. Surprise surprise, they have decided I can now return to work, even though I am much worse now than when I left HMSO. I wonder if any other ex-HMSO staff have had this problem, and if they can offer any help or advice. Thanks for your time.
Dave Pelham (HMSO Norwich, Finance Division, from 1980)
Hello Dave, Sorry to hear of your predicament. I'm afraid that I can be of no help on this one, but we will add your note to HMSOldies to see if anyone has any ideas. Generally I have found that people get good advice from the Norwich Citizens Advice Bureau if nothing else is forthcoming. Good luck. Reg
22 January 2013 – From John Nash
Hi Reg, Good to hear from Les and all those names brought back memories of many years gone by. The chap from the Treasury was Rex Verry, who was seconded for a while to CRS and was understudy to 'Uncle' Jock Eyres. Still no news about Margaret Baylis I suppose?
Kind regards, John
Hello John, The Verry man! We knew that you would come up with the goods. Still no word as to current disposition of Mrs Baylis. Perhaps an HMSOldies reader can help? All the best. Reg
22 January 2013 – From Les Birch
Dear Reg, My first rather fleeting connection with Shep Walk came in June 1948 when I was sent there on my first promotion to train as the Officer in Charge of the Nottingham Regional Branch to be opened in September 1948. I must have met Miss Turner – the Supervisors were all 'Miss', nobody dared use first names and of course the marriage bar was still in place. The Reading Room was always a place of complete quiet and if one had occasion to speak to the Supervisor it was always in a hushed whisper. Each job had a Work Docket attached and the typist, reader and machine operator would each initial the docket as the work progressed. Each day a folder would be prepared containing a specimen of every job completed on that day and this would be circulated to the executive hierarchy in the Division. If one of their eagle eyes spotted a 'typo' it would be referred back to the Reading Room and if the reader had indeed missed the error the fact would be recorded by the Supervisor on to a card index record. There was some sort of disciplinary procedure based on X number of errors = a warning and Y number of warnings = further action, which could be loss of an increment or for persistent offenders reversion to machine operation. The readers were always considered to be a cut above the other operators but I am not sure whether this was recognised by any form of allowance.
C.A.J. Argent I knew well – he was always known as Joe but nobody ever called him that. His deputy was a Williams whose first name eludes me. He was a well-meaning bumbler – he suggested that the new Regional Branches should each be equipped with the newly-marketed Hoover single tub washing machines so that the staff temporarily loaned to the Branches from HQ for training purposes could wash their smalls on the premises rather than having to do them in their 'digs'. Argent crushed that one pretty quickly. Other characters at Shep Walk in those days included Frank Hillman and Harold Dodge who between them were already building up a centre of expertise in the technical side of duplicating and photocopying which eventually blossomed into the original CRS – I think a young Arnold Martyn may already have been with them or if not he joined them soon afterwards. There was great rivalry between them and a bloke at the Treasury, whose name also eludes me, who was also becoming an expert in the field and who finished up publishing a book on the subject which he graced with the name of 'reprographics' – I think he claimed to be the inventor of the word. Young John Nash will probably remember his name well. Another HEO there was Theodore Hann – always immaculately turned out in a Hector Powe suit but whom I caught one day in his office trimming his fraying shirt cuffs with a pair of issue scissors. When I cheekily remarked that times must be bad, he willingly admitted that this was indeed the case.
One of Shep Walk's proudest boasts was that they had produced in their Security Section all the maps for the D-Day landings in 1944 and that none of the information contained therein had ever been leaked – a fact for which I remain eternally grateful.
I said that my first connection with Shep Walk was fleeting – my training also covered Establishment matters, wages salaries, National Insurance PAYE etc – all carried out a Keysign House just behind Oxford Street – whilst my Dup training was done at Cavendish Square (I think nos 22/23) where D & D had an outstation. So I saw little of Shep Walk at that time. My closer acquaintance came later but that is another story.
We had our second dose of snow during the night – yesterday was my first trip out since last Thursday and I think I may again be confined to barracks now until the weekend as even more snow is forecast for today and tomorrow. But Saturday is forecast to have temperatures of between 6 and 9 degrees, a positive heatwave which should clear the snow quite quickly. Fortunately I am adequately supplied with life's essentials – Bishop's Finger, Bordeaux, Burgundy, a range of malts and of course Calvados so I think I will survive.
I still miss the Old Boys lunches very much and really must try to get over to see Harvey and others some time this year. Omaha Beach will clash again this year with the lunch so I must try to fit the visit to Norwich in during the summer. Time, sadly, still flies by.
Best wishes as always to you and yours, Les
Hello Les, A perfect response, as ever, for which many thanks. I have copied to Alastair Petrie, who I am sure will find the detail of life in 1940s HMSO as interesting as I do. Wonderful picture, expertly painted. The Book tells me that your man was Richard A Williams. Assistants in 1952 were Messrs Hillman and ACA Taylor – to be replaced by Jameson and Wilkinson. I had been wondering how you were, as I had heard nothing from you since last October, when you were off to France. Relieved to hear that you are surrounded by the essentials of life. Have you thought of replacing Michael Winner as Sunday Times Restaurant Critic? You would fit in perfectly. Let me know when you intend to visit Norwich and I will alert a few people who can hold their own! All the very best. Reg
21 January 2013 – Mary Lowe of Manchester
Hi Reg, Whilst browsing through the winter edition of Avanti I came across, on page 48, the inspiring story from Mary Lowe of Manchester. It may interest those many readers of HMSOldies who may remember her. Cecil H. Hughes
Hello Cecil, Thank you for passing on this heart-warming item. I see from the 1990 Staff List that Mary was an Administrative Assistant in PP Manchester, and joined HMSO in 1972. All the best. Reg
21 January 2013 – From Philip Jinman Hi Reg, Just been watching the video of Sovereign House. Very interesting and it brings back some memories of IP and Work Study. I tried to watch it earlier but my wife wanted to watch 'Miranda'.
Fancy not clearing out all the documents before HMSO went! And I wonder why they did not convert Sovereign House into a hotel instead of letting it go to rack and ruin? I'm still enjoying retirement, decorating inside of house and snow clearing, as the fishing lakes are frozen – pleased not to be travelling to London during this weather with Greater Anglia. Regards, Philip
Hello Philip, Thank you for your response to the Sovereign House video, which I am sure echoes the comments of many of we who spent time in the place. I am sure that we all endorse your sentiments re travel in this weather. Good to hear that retirement is agreeing with you. Your mention of IP reminds me that I heard from Bill Greenaway before Christmas – and we are still in contact with Dave Forbes, Derek Wintle, John Eveson and many other 'names.' All the best. Reg
21 January 2013 – From Bob Barnard
Hi Reg, Thanks for the email re Miss NN Turner. As you may know I joined HM Stationery Office, as it was then known, on 19 March 1951 and after the various induction procedures I was sent to Shep Walk that day. It was a cold, wet day and I felt very depressed going to that part of London especially as I thought I would be working at Keysign house in Oxford Street. I spent the first few months in the Editing Section and would have had fairly close contact with the Reading Section but I'm afraid I can't recall Miss Young working there. I thought I knew all the supervisory staff well but Miss Turner's name eludes me.
As you rightly say in your earlier email, the Reading Section were important in the duplicating process. In those days Shep Walk was responsible for producing all the duplicating requirements for all the government Departments. All the requests duplicating came in on a yellow demand, a D14, to the Editing Section who prepared workroom instructions about producing the finished work. Five copies of these instructions were produced on a Lamson Paragon machine one copy for each of the following: Typing Section, Reading Section, the Rolling Room, the Warehouse and the fifth copy was retained in the Editing Section. In those days the Typing Section typed nearly all the text onto stencils for flat bed, rotary and lithographic reproduction. When the the typists typed the text a carbon copy was made and this was sent to the Reading Section who the 'proof' read the the carbon copy. When they finished proofing the copy it was sent back to the typist via her supervisor to make the corrections.
From memory Eve Howells was an Assistant Supervisor, there was another lady whose I can't remember now But I shall try to remember her and I think the Supervisor was Margery Fell. I'm just wondering whether Miss Turner was in charge of the Reading Section at Bainbridge Street. This was part of D & D Division. I shall be interested to see a photo of this lady. Regards Bob
Hello Bob, Many thanks for your prompt response, which I have copied to Mr Petrie for information. As you will by now have seen, Miss Turner had already retired before you joined HMSO. I am sure that Mr Petrie – and other readers – will be interested to read the details of the work of HMSO Shepherdess Walk (whisper it) over sixty years ago! All the very best. Reg
21 January 2013 – From Alastair Petrie
Dear Mr Walker, Many thanks for your speedy and informative response which has already considerably extended my understanding of the situation and for which I am most grateful. I imagine that the picture post cards I have (all addressed to Miss Turner at Shepherdess Walk), were all sent by HMSO employees away on holiday, and, as such, I will be pleased to let you have them though I shall keep just one representative sample for our family archive in respect of Miss Turner's career with HMSO.
The latest of the cards sent to Miss Turner at Shepherdess Walk is dated September 1949 and the extract you sent from the 1952 Staff List shows that her pension commenced on 10th November 1949, ie, the day after her 50th birthday. Would that have been, to your knowledge, a mandatory age for the retirement of a female supervisor? The Staff List also shows that she had accrued 15 years pensionable service. Can one infer from that that her total service was just 15 years, or were there other factors which perhaps conceal service before 1934? For example, periods of probation, junior or "Operator" status, or perhaps non-contribution into the pension scheme?
As a matter of interest I am attaching a photo of Miss Turner, though, depending on when she commenced with HMSO, it might pre-date her employment at Shepherdess Walk.
With many thanks for your help. About 8 inches of snow here in Derbyshire at the moment and still snowing. Alastair Petrie
Dear Mr Petrie, What a fine lady! We will see if the photo sparks any memories. Shepherdess Walk ran a thriving Amateur Dramatic group, and it may well have been that Miss Turner was a member.
The answers to your questions will, of course, be speculative on my part. The 1952 list shows the Senior Supervisor as having been born in 1896 – ie 56 years of age – and there were others of around the same vintage. So I can only surmise either that Miss Turner wanted to retire for reasons of sickness or the need to care for a relative, or that she was offered 'voluntary early retirement.' This is quite possible, as staff numbers in the area of Duplicating were being reduced at the time. I also imagine that Miss Turner spent the earlier part of her career in an Unestablished – ie unpensionable – junior capacity, hence the short period of pensionable employment.
If you care to send any postcards to me I promise to preserve them. You never know, they may be from one of our Senior readers! All best wishes, snow underfoot but no new flurries today. And granddaughters at school . . . Reg Walker
21 January 2013 – From Harvey Dukes Hello, I was wondering if one of your staff or somebody who worked at your company remembered my grandmother. She is 95 this year and I was wondering, as I am trying to locate my grandfather, if she had any records or you guys could help. She was a translator for HMSO. Her name was Denise Dukes or Denise Burtchy from Switzerland. Thanks. Kind regards, Harvey Dukes
Hello Harvey Dukes, Well, there's a name from the past! I started working in HMSO Cornwall House (Stamford Street London SE1) in 1963, on a Books Invoice section. If we needed anything to be translated we used to go to an ex-RN Clerical Officer named Turner. When he retired we were sent to –Denise Dukes, and a very helpful lady she was too.
From the sparse information I have it seems that Denise (born 7 April 1919) joined HMSO as a Trainee Typist on 7 July 1947. She was promoted to Clerical Officer on 1 June 1959 but did not move to Norwich when the office dispersed in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Presumably she retired at 60 – ie 1979 – possibly from another Government Department. Unfortunately I have no further details, but we'll see if one of our readers knows more. Good luck in your quest. Reg Walker
20 January 2013 – Norfolk Uncovered: HMSO Sovereign House
I have finally put together the video on Sovereign House. Thanks to everyone for your help and input.
Dear Mr Walker, I have been going through old family papers and unearthed a bundle of post cards addressed to a Miss Millicent Nora Turner, Supervisor, Reading Room, D&D Division, HMSO Shepherdess Walk. Millicent Turner was a great aunt of my wife. The post cards are all dated 1949 and appear to be from HMSO staff away on holiday.
Having come across your web site in the course of research, I wonder: (a) whether these post cards might be of any interest to you for your archives, and (b) whether you can direct me to anybody who might be able to tell us something more of Millicent Turner's service with HMSO, what the function of the Reader's Room in the D&D Division was at that time, and what the role of Supervisor might have entailed?
Yours sincerely, Alastair Petrie
Dear Mr Petrie, Many thanks for contacting us about your wife's great aunt, Millicent Turner. HMSOldies records comprise boxes and folders of 'rescued items' stacked up behind me, as I type, so it's very hit-and-miss as to whether I can ever find what I am looking for. However, I am pleased to say that Miss Turner's name appears in a 1952 Staff List under 'Superannuated Officers' which of course means that she had retired by then. Here is a scan of the entry along with a picture of 'Shep Walk' operators taken around 1919.
In 1952 a Supervisor would have earned £ 350-£ 400 per year, at a time when the mighty 'Director of Duplicating and Distribution' one Charles Argent OBE was earning £ 1325 pa. To give you an idea, in 1952 there were some 800 people working in HMSO Shepherdess Walk in North London. Of these, some 600 were 'operators' – typists, addressing and duplicating machine operators, that is. The structure above them was 9 Chief Supervisors, 30 Supervisors and 61 Assistant Supervisors. So as you can see, the grade 'Supervisor' was not to be sneezed at. Each Supervisor would have had 2-3 'teams' of operators each under an Assistant Supervisor. Allocation of work, timekeeping, discipline, promotions, demotions and annual reports would all have come under the Supervisors' wing – and they would have been responsible to 'The Chief' – thence the Executives and finally the Director, who was responsible to the Assistant Controller and finally the Controller. 'Yes Minister' had nothing on the Civil Service of the 1950s!
'Readers' would have checked copy before and after typing/duplicating etc. I have copied this note to two people who actually worked in Shepherdess Walk (which was, incidentally, closed in the early 1960s and the staff transferred to purpose-built premises in Basildon). With luck, they may be able to add some information. And we will add your note to HMSOldies to see if anyone else rises to the bait.
Best wishes – and I can tell you that at 1530 hours this Sunday 20 January it has just started snowing again in Norwich – fingers crossed for an early finish. Reg Walker, Editor, HMSOldies
18 January 2013 – From John Galley
Hi Reg, Haven't you got any pictures of Happy people working at HMSO? There must have been some - probably in the pub at lunchtimes. Hope you had a good Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year. We were down under in NZ for the festive season and of course had the BBQ out for Christmas Dinner - fortunately not as hot as Australia but pleasantly warm. A little unhappy to come back to this white stuff everywhere. Cheers, John
Hello John, Good to hear from you, and that you survived NZ. Dave Martin's son is down there, and when Dave was visiting and was showing his son a few photos taken in Norwich a bloke in the company casually said 'Isn't that George Rokahr?' It was indeed a bekilted George – this man knew him in a musical context.
You are asking for a miracle – happy HMSO? Had to go back to the 80s – you may recognise a few faces, not all of whom might be described as deserving joy – but others certainly do. Thank you for your good wishes, and all the best to you and yours for 2013. Reg
6 January 2013 – From John Nash
Hi Reg, Firstly just to wish you all the best for the New Year, and to thank you and the team for continuing to provide such excellent coverage to us 'oldies'.
Trawling through the IC's over the Christmas hols I was pleased to see and be reminded about the LIBERATOR including the photo of our good friend Bernard Terry from CCTA. What might have been if it had survived to be the fore-runner to all the Macs and other devices?
All good wishes, John
Hello John, Thank you for your good wishes, which I have passed on to Philip, Robert and Dave (Directors of Design, IT and Production respectively). Yes, good to clear up the state of the Johns. And I am pleased that you caught on to the Liberator piece, which was thoroughly researched by the IT Website editor, Tony Smith (no, not that one) who vouchsafed Bernard Terry's address (Orpington I think) for me to send him a Christmas Card on behalf of all the appreciative Liberator users in HMSO and beyond. All the very best to you and yours. Reg
31 December 2012 – Sovereign Insecurity
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Chris Richmond, who runs the Norfolk Uncovered website http://norfolkuncovered.webs.com/ regarding his intention to make a record of Sovereign House before the building's inevitable demolition.
This correspondence culminated in his most welcome invitation to join him and colleagues in a legal visit to the building, on Saturday 29 December 2012. Needless to say, this visit was fascinating for someone like me who first saw the place in October 1968 and was employed there until moving into St Crispins.
I could bore anyone who wants to listen for some time on the place as it is now – the small selection of the photos (see below) taken give an idea – but I will just say that the best moment for me was to show Nick Stone (you should see his fascinating website of 'ghost pictures') where his father, Charles Stone, once worked. Charles joined HMSO (F1C) from the RAF in 1967 and would have been 100 years old on 4 December 2012.
Facebook and Flikr aficionados can access considerable numbers of photographs of this visit, and other most interesting work in a similar vein.
Coming next to HMSOldies: The Pile of Transit Envelopes I found, and where they had been – followed by 'Paint: Will it Ever Dry?'
31 December 2012 – From Jo Williams
Dear friends near and far. I don't know if you'll agree but for me it's been a strange year, full of contrast, decisions, stresses and unknown pleasures. I started my year feeling a bit melancholy and can admit that I fled somewhat hastily from Norwich to, by now what feels my home from home, Mae Sot on north west Thailand. I tried to teach some English and had successes and failures, complicated relationships and testing times, laughter and tears, friendships gained and lost.
I arrived back from Thailand and Cambodia after five months and was all fired up to buy at property at auction back in Norwich but my plans weren’t amounting to anything. Then after too much deliberation, in August I bought what has now turned into my latest home. This home should be one to keep and although it’s only half finished (literally, I have finished the ground floor flat but have a bigger project to convert the cellar into another flat) I am really enjoying having my own space again and being able to use my creativity.
So after some protracted renovation I moved in last week to my city centre which is so central I can hear the chimes of the city hall clock and the bells of the Norwich’s biggest church. I have unpacked my life that’s been in storage for the past 3 and a half years and am ok working part time, for the moment at least.
The year has in some ways stood still and in other ways flown by. But all in all, for me, it’s been a year to move my life along, to admit to myself what I need and to try to attain acceptance of myself and the decisions that have shaped my life so far. After all, the hazy, crazy days of summer will return!
All my very best wishes for a peaceful, happy and healthy 2013.
With love from your friend, Jo
Hello Jo, Good to hear that the new premises are being knocked into shape and that you are looking to 2013 with optimism. All the very best to you! Reg
24 December 2012 – Sovereign House: From Chris Richmond
Dear Reg, I am emailing you regarding the former HMSO building, Sovereign House in Norwich. As you may be aware, Sovereign House is to be demolished (as soon as 2013) as part of the Anglia Square Redevelopment project. With permission from Centenary Ashcroft and Anglia Square, a small group of us were allowed access to film and take photographs of the interior of the building and I intend to put together a short video documentary of the building as part of my "Norfolk Uncovered" project before it's gone for good.
I was wondering if you knew of anyone who has any photos of Sovereign House while it was still in use, which I can use in my video, which will outline the building's history followed by the remains of the interior. If you or your contacts could help me, I would be most grateful. One of the photographers who attended our visit was Nick J Stone, who recommended your site. Look forward to your reply,
Dear Chris, It will be a pleasure to assist your worthy project, and I will certainly look out any photos once the current hostilities are passed and my grandchildren have stopped asking me for Leslie Sarony impersonations (best not to ask). We will put your request to HMSOldies readers – naturally we would need the permission of any living and contactable people before adding their photos to the offering – you can use any with me in: yes, I'm that vain. I have some old MPBW photos of the construction of the site, and if you wish to use any photos you see on the HMSOldies site then let us know and we will clear them for you. All the best to you and to Nick – and we will be in contact again. Reg
23 December 2012 – From Ivor Hosgood Dear Music-lover: The trustees have great pleasure in sending their thanks for your help and support to the trust and their work with the county's young musicians in the year now drawing to a close and their very best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2013.
The Young Musicians' Concert held on Sun 18 Nov was not only a great success musically, but also attracting an appreciative larger audience than usual.
22 December 2012 – From Keith Batchelor Seasons Greetings from the Batchelor Family (Carol and Keith). As 'old' hands but young heart we have been carrying out a weeding exercise of our 'Central Registry'. I have copies of Reprographic Services – what Basildon had to offer at the time of Jim Wretham (described as Micro Manager – he was certainly bigger than me!). Review of the Year 1984-85 with a picture of the great Vi Wilson. Review of the Year 1987-88 with you have guessed it – Vi Wilson. It also shows the youthful Chris Penn amongst others. This is HMSO printed July 1985. Would you like them as a Christmas present for the archives?
Hello Keith. Thank you for your good wishes – heartily reciprocated. Good to hear that you have accumulated the best of HMSO Marketing literature. A kind offer, but I have the Reviews and 'This Is HMSO' among my unruly heaps of papers (must put Mrs Rust's Notes for Registrars into action). However, the Rep item sounds fascinating, and I would certainly appreciate it if you feel inclined to post it to me. You mentioned Vi Wilson. By coincidence, I received a letter from her this very day. She has moved to smaller premises in Belfast and, despite some health set-backs over the year, is on good form. All the very best to you and yours. Reg
21 December 2012 – What do you call Postman Pat now he has lost his job?
Pat. But you knew that if you have pulled a Tom Smith's Cracker this year.
The following correspondents, who have all forwarded Seasonal Greetings, deserve better than that, so DVDs of Roy 'Chubby' Brown Reads Out-takes From Viz will be winging their way to them any day now. Meanwhile, festive thanks to:
Gerry Aldus, Paula Ronald, Christine Hawthorn, Dan Lavery, Gordon Parfitt, Stuart McLaren, John Eveson, Phillip Brooks, Jayne Wilkinson, Isobel Williamson, Steve Linehan, Barry Palmer, Sue Prutton, John Rumball, Brian Ekers, Sue Whitaker. Annette Conn, Roy Keavney, Charles Lucas, David Howes . . . and Bill Greenaway, who included a casual remark that led to our discovering that my old Uncle Frank knew his relatives around the Cregagh Estate in Belfast – where he was all too familiar with the inside of The Rosetta pub. Small world.
21 December 2012 – From Fred Stubbs
Hi Reg, It was nice to be invited – just sorry I was too late – the story of my life! Do you know when that lunch took place? I wish you a very happy Christmas and a healthy and peaceful New Year and to all the HMSOldies. Fred
Hello Fred, Maybe next year . . . ! The photo seems to be from the late 1920s. Thank you for the good wishes – heartily reciprocated. All the best. Reg
19 December 2012 – From Billy Stevenson
Dear Reg, May I wish you and the team a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year (George Osborne permitting). And a big thank you for all your hard work informing and entertaining us throughout the year. Oh and do be careful, if you are cycling around Downing Street, please use the side gate. Regards, Billy
Nice one Billy! Many thanks for your kind words, which I have copied to Philip, Robert and Dave, who make HMSOldies possible. All the very best to you and yours for 2013. Reg
17 December 2012 – HMSOldies roasting on an open fire . . . Jack Frost nipping at their nose
We would have invited you to the HMSOldies Christmas Jollity but we've already had it, and a lively event it was, as you can see.
Which reminds me: the HMSOldies Hollerith has been playing up a bit lately and I keep getting a punched card telling me that messages have not made their way into the in-tray. If you have sent a message which seems to have been ignored, I can only apologise (and blame the Office Keeper). Please re-send it, or any other general abuse, to my email address below.
25 November 2012 – Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Wallet . . .
They tell me it's December next month, but I don't have to believe it if I don't want to.
As readers of the HMSOldies Facebook page may know, Mike Trigg is organising a lunchtime event at The Fire Station, 150 Waterloo Road (it's a pub now – no need for the asbestos underwear) at 1200 hours on Friday 7 December . . . likely attendees are Peter and Evelyn Fudge, Jill Speed, Julie Robinson, and Messrs Baggs, Smith, Gutteridge, Smith again, Croft, Wightman, Chatterton – and Trigg.
The 'Second Tuesday in December' mob are shaping up at lunchtime on Tuesday 11 December at The Ship, Borough Road. Mainly Office Machinery and Print people – customers, suppliers and the likes of Whitaker, Eveson, Ekers, Plackett, Brunwin, Eason and Bradbury from HMSO.
Paparazzi are guaranteed the usual rates for scanned photos of both events.
20 November 2012 – Not My Type
Those many readers who were brought up to the scent of a well-used Imperial Ribbon will shed a tear for times past:
16 November 2012 – The Liberator: the first laptop computer designed for the Public Service
We were flattered to be asked by Tony Smith (not one of the HMSO Tony Smiths but the Editor of the online Reghardware site) to contribute to his excellent and exhaustive article on this wonderful machine, of blessed memory to those lucky enough to have used one.
12 November 2012 – HMSO war memorial plaque relocated to Kew
We were pleased to receive, via Jim Wretham, the news that as a result of intra-departmental co-operation (and here I consider HMSOldies to be an honorary Government Department) the HMSO War Memorial has been installed at National Archives, Kew.
Stuart McLaren adds: I am pleased that the HMSO Great War Roll of Honour plaque has finally (after only six years!) been put on public display at the National Archives, Kew.
Below is a link to research I undertook on the HMSO Roll in 2005. The introductory text is now out of date but unfortunately this website in no longer regularly updated and it has proved impossible to get the webmaster to replace the text.
At some point I would like to update the online Roll and post it online elsewhere, on the HMSOldies website, for example.
12 November 2012 – HMSO Ireland? From Billy Stevenson
Dear Reg, A few years ago I was doing a wee course on Irish History and had occasion to look for a government report on 'Parnell v The Times Newspaper.' When I found it I discovered it was a Command Paper published by HMSO and printed by Hodge Figgis in Dublin. This made me wonder if HMSO had a presence in Ireland at that time (1890). So when I saw the mention that the Molesworth Street Bookshop was once part of HMSO it filled in part of the jigsaw. The question now is did HMSO have a bookshop in Dublin before 1921? Maybe our International Correspondent could shed some light on it.
Another significant entry in the ICs was Nodge Carnegie’s about The Controllers Library and particularly 'The Uncovered Editions' – fascinating stuff. So thanks, Nodge, for uncovering these facts that many of us didn’t know about until now.
Best Wishes and thanks Reg to you and the team. Billy
PS I’ll be hoping to download HMSOldies App on my Kindle Fire when the family buy me it for Christmas.
Hello Billy, Good to hear from you – and on a subject that I know a little about, for a change. In fact, in the 1990s I used to drink in various Dublin Pubs with a man who gloried in the title Controller of the Irish Stationery Office – a Principal post in those days.
Anyway, I turn to Hugh Barty-King's work on HMSO for the definitive answer:
'In 1830 the office of the King's Stationer in Ireland had been abolished . . . and in 1832 a branch of the Stationery Office had been opened in Dublin.' Later in the book we read that 'Reorganisation in Britain coincided with revolution in Ireland. With the passing of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, a Stationery Office branch was opened in Belfast. Up to 1921 the Stationery Office had served the Six Counties through its Dublin Branch, and the Belfast Office was created as a matter of convenience during the transfer of power to the North. Although the Government of Northern Ireland had the option to run the Belfast Office itself, it chose to perpetuate the interim arrangement whereby the Stationery Office provided the necessary printing and stationery services, including production of the Belfast Gazette.'
Thank you for your kind words, which I have copied to Nodge. And I like the crafty way you have started your Christmas Wish List! All the best. Reg
11 November 2012 – Young Musicians (Norwich): Ivor Hosgood writes
Don't miss the opportunity of enjoying the prize-winning talents of Annabella Ellis, soprano; Rose Herbert, oboe; and Finlay McEwen, saxophone, who were all winners of the 2012 Norfolk Young Musician Competition. They are joined by David Neil Jones, piano, (UEA and Wymondham College) and Duncan Barlow, piano, (Norwich School). This event also features the winner of the Norfolk Youth Music Trust's Scholarship to the most promising third-year student at the UEA Music School, Robert Peck, piano.
Music by a wide range of composers, including J.S.Bach, Barber, Beethoven, Binge, Bozza, Britten, Chopin, Dring, Grovlez, Handel, Howells, Mahler, Marcello, Mascagni, Poulenc, Purcell, Ravel, Rossini, Schubert and Woods.
Admission £6.00 (Under 18s, £3.00) including copy of programme and post-concert light refreshments available at the door. The Lord Mayor and Mayoress of Norwich, Councillor Ralph Gayton & Mrs Brenda Gayton, and the Sheriff of Norwich, John Jennings, and His Lady, Jane Waters, will also attend this event.
These are among the best young musicians that Norfolk has to offer – and our future in music! If you find yourself unable to attend, please consider making a donation to the work of the trust with the talented young musicians of Norfolk.
Thank you in anticipation of your support of our highly-talented young people.
Ivor Hosgood MBE Chairman-Secretary, The Norfolk Youth Music Trust
5 November 2012 – Irish Government plans closure of Stationery Office Bookshop in Dublin
Our International Correspondent in Dublin has reported the following distressing news. As readers will know, the Dublin Bookshop was once part of HMSO. If only they had told us, we would have had a whip-round . . .
5 November 2012 – Jack Keating: the Liverpudlian Alastair Cooke
As I write this (5 November 2012) there is just one day to go before the United States Presidential Election. If you live in Great Britain then you may think that there are only two candidates for President, the incumbent Barack Obama and the Republican candidate Mitt Romney, but you would be wrong. It depends on the state and county you live in as to how many names are on the ballot paper. The ballot paper I got for Volusia County in Florida has not only the two front runners on it but also TEN other names plus their running mates.
These are the other ten candidates with the party they stand for: America's Party and America's Independent Party of California, Tom Hoefling; Peace and Freedom Party of California, Rosanne Barr; Constitution Party of The United States, Virgil H. Goode Jr.; Libertarian Party, Gary Johnson; Green Party, Dr. Jill Stein; Reform Party, Andre Barnett; Justice Party, Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson; Objectivist Party, Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens; Socialist Party USA, Stewart Alexis Alexander; Party for Socialism and Liberation, Peta Lindsay.
On some of the other ballot papers throughout the country were other smaller parties, for example, The Socialist Party USA; The Socialist Equality Party; and The Socialist Workers Party. At the bottom of the list on the ballot paper there is a space for you to write in a name! Yes, if you like none of the above you can write in someone else’s name.
Not only is it a presidential election but there are lots of other political nominations (Clerk of Circuit Court, Sheriff, Property Appraiser, Supervisor of Elections, County Chair, County Council Member in five districts, County Judge in four districts, School Board Members, Soil and Water Conservation, West Volusia Hospital Authority, Indigo Community Development District Seats), eleven state constitutional amendments and a vote as to whether we should change the property taxes to give more money to local schools that you are asked to vote on. On page nine of the ballot we in the city of South Daytona also have to vote on whether we should allow the city council to buy the electricity distribution service from Florida Light and Power.
Before I go on I should point out that the ballot paper I got consisted of NINE pages in both English and Spanish and measured 8½ inches by 18 inches. Even with the use of the Internet it took me almost half an hour to fill in my ballot and I was at home. Imagine how long it would take if you were presented with these nine pages at the ballot station. I think this may have something to do with the fact that there are low turnouts in American elections. Between 1960 and 2008 the average turnout was just 55 per cent of the electorate. The biggest turnout was 61 per cent in 1960. The lowest turnout was just 49 per cent in 1996.
There are no boxes to tick on the ballot paper just a small oval next to each candidate’s name. You have to completely fill in this oval with either a black or dark blue ballpoint pen or felt-tipped pen. The completed papers are then scanned electronically. A lot of states have early voting whereby you can cast your vote between certain dates weeks before election proper. In Florida a quarter of the electorate has already voted. In some states, including Florida, there have been so many votes cast already for say Sheriff or Circuit Judge that they have already won.
I must admit that I will be glad when it is all over. Your phone never stops ringing with political party activists asking you to vote for candidate “A” or candidate “B”. You can get live people, or more often than not, a recorded voice. I have been asked three times to stay on the line because they were having a telephone discussion in which you could listen and even take part. The amount of political junk you get in your mail box would sink a battleship. So much for saving the planet!
Oh, and who did I vote for? Mitt Romney.
All the very best from, Jack
Hello Jack. Fascinating stuff, arriving at the same time as a single-page letter from Simon Wright, our local MP, who generally confines himself to one personal communication per year. I was in the company of a fully-grown adult yesterday who took a little time to remember the name of the Prime Minister – puts me in mind of Churchill's 'If you want to question the benefits of democracy then spend five minutes with the average voter.' I like the idea that you can fill in the name of the person you would like to see elected –on the other hand, I don't want the country run by the winner of Strictly Come Dancing. But then . . .
All the best – and enjoy the relative peace until the next time. Reg
31 October 2012 – From Jim Cairns
Hi Reg, The Edinburgh reunion was held last Thursday, and everyone seems to have enjoyed it. Around a dozen people turned up, and others sent apologies, hoping to come along to the next one. It was great to catch up with so many of the old crowd. Print Procurement, Supplies, Graphic Design and the Bookshop were all represented. Hope that Warehouse, Rep and Press people may come along next time!
Below are some pictures of the event showing Graham Galloway, Norrie Veitch, Dot Adams, Jim Cairns, Ron Burnett, Malcolm Steven, Sandy Cameron, Ian Fruish, Gus McKinnon, Jimmy Jamieson, John Crosby, Dougie Williamson, Derek Jackson and Anne McHattie.
Thanks for your help in promoting the event.
Best wishes, Jim Cairns
Hello Jim, Many thanks for the feedback, and good to see that you had a healthy turnout. It was especially pleasing to see some old faces looking in good form. I won't even ask why Sandy has two drinks while Ian has none: doubtless he lost the bet as to whether Les Birch might turn up!
Best wishes – and next year's event will be with us before you know it! Reg
28 October 2012 – EDP list of top 100 local businesses for 2012
24 October 2012 – Helen George writes
Hello Reg, Good to hear from HMSOldies – as far as contact with colleagues is concerned, I recently saw Marilyn Nisbet, Jill Ward, Brian Wilson, Pat Tate and Ernie Downs on a CSSC visit to Duxford and Cambridge. At other times see Lucin Jackson, Annette Conn, Arthur and Gina MacColl – also at other CSSC events. As Geoff Sinden, Alan Crabtree and Kevin White are on the CSSC committee I see them at meetings. I will send a copy of the next newsletter once published – Pauline White puts the newsletter together for us. I also lunch regularly with Anne Stolady. Others I see – ex members of (CCTA) Buying Solutions – are Patsy Carver and Valerie Marsham, both of whom used to work in the punch room. We all remember how much fun it was working in HMSO and of the good friends we made there.
Thanks Helen. A good line-up of old friends, and the good side of living in Norwich. Many of my London friends never see anyone from one year to the next – which suits some of them very well! Best wishes. Reg
23 October 2012 – office2office news: Gavin Turner keeps an eye on the papers
Hi Reg, I don't know how many of your HMSOldies readers will know who Richard Costin was. I recruited him in the early 1990s to be our first office furniture salesman. He was a young man who had worked in the rough and tumble of small office furniture dealers, and I remember the very cautious HR lady on the board which selected him questioning whether we wanted such an obviously red in tooth and claw commercial operator. I said that, absolutely, he was precisely the sort of commercially-minded person that we needed in the business.
I used to get slightly alarmed, when attending pitches to potential major customers with Richard, at his brass neck and at the things he offered to close the deal which I was not always sure that we could perform (particularly on delivery – office furniture having notoriously long lead times). Always full of confidence, Richard would say, don't worry, it will be fine – which fortunately it usually was! A year or so later as we expanded quite quickly we advertised for a sales manager, and we should have appointed Richard; but I was told (HR again) that he didn't have the seniority and that we had to recruit an established sales manager type from outside (not easy when we were not offering commercial-style commission and bonuses). When the successful applicant eventually took himself off to work for a bank, we appointed Richard as sales manager anyway. At the privatisation he took over the whole furniture business. Later I lost touch and was not sure if the new company was still in office furniture and whether Richard was still with them. Lo and behold, fifteen years later, he is MD of the whole shooting match, Stationery and all, but which still includes quite a large furniture catalogue.
Best wishes, Gavin
(This note was prompted by the article in the Sunday Independent dated 21 October 2012).
21 October 2012 – Ted Ashton writes from Gateshead
Hello Reg, I do not know if you have heard, but John Harvey ex Gateshead Press died in March this year. I went to his funeral at Whitley Bay, along with Tony Pollard, Dave Crank, Jim Shiel, Neville Longstaff and Terry Edwards. John worked in the phototypesetting department under Alan McGilliwie. He was a good bloke, and we were all sorry to lose him.
I still see Jean Fox on occasion when she organises a reunion at a pub in Gateshead. Among the people often there are, Leo Docherty, Bert Lewis, Peter Davy and Lovain Kelly. I see Dave Crank sometimes when I am in the village – also Jim Johnson. I would like to hear from any ex colleagues who want to get in touch.
Regards, Ted Ashton (ex WO2) Gateshead Press.
Hello Ted, Thank you for letting us know the sad news. We will include your request for ex-colleagues to get in touch (if they contact me I will pass on your email address). As you know, Dave Crank passed on some excellent photographs and reminiscences of Gateshead. Ernie Downs (still in Norwich) was very interested, and I have copied your note to him. All the best, and I hope we get some responses! Reg
21 October 2012 – Young Musicians' Concert (Norwich)
The trustees will be delighted to see you on Sunday 18 November 2012, at 2.30 pm at the United Reformed Church, Princes Street, to witness and enjoy the excellent talents of the winners of the 2012 Norfolk Young Musician Competition – Annabella Ellis (Soprano) Rose Herbert (Oboe) and Finlay McEwen (Saxophone). They are joined by David Neil Jones and Duncan Barlow (Piano) (Head of Academic Music at Norwich School).
This event also features the winner of the Norfolk Youth Music Trust's scholarship to the most promising second-year student at the University of East Anglia's Music School, Robert Peck (Piano).
Music by a wide range of composers, including J.S.Bach, Barber, Beethoven, Binge, Bozza, Britten, Chopin, Dring, Grovlez, Handel, Howells, Mahler, Marcello, Mascagni, Poulenc, Purcell, Ravel, Rossini, Schubert and Woods.
Admission £6.00 (Under 18s, £3.00) including copy of programme and post-concert light refreshments. If you find yourself unable to attend, please consider making a donation to the work of the trust with the talented young musicians of Norfolk.
Early for Christmas: Jeanne Southgate is on the cards again
I’m emailing to ask if you will remind all Oldies about the Original Charity Card shop which is again open for business until 15 December. Still in the Assembly House and in the Edmund Bacon Room on the first floor. Turn right from the foyer and up the stairs (no lift access!). We donate 100% of our takings to the charities we support as opposed to the shop in the Forum which donates just 75%. We are worth a visit. Our unique selling point is that we split packs of cards enabling folk to buy individual ones – something that many seem to appreciate.
Best wishes to you. Jeanne
18 October 2012 – Adele Cook Says Hello
The following extract from a most welcome email from Adele goes to show what a good grounding in HMSO Supplies Machinery can achieve! Not to mention drive, determination and hard work, of course . . .
'I started at HMSO in April 1986, working on S6B with Gill Gent, Renate Bloomfield. Phil Nash and Eileen Johnson. I was a temporary AA but was made permanent later that year. I was Adele Watson back then. I stayed at HMSO until March 1994 when I left and went to UEA and graduated from Law in 1997. Qualified as a barrister in 1999, and now back in the civil service as a Senior Crown Prosecutor, currently managing a team of lawyers across Norfolk,Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. I am still in touch with Eileen, having met up via Facebook a couple of years back. I still see Mary Jones - we both ended up in Ipswich and remain very good friends. I occasionally see Sue Whitaker and Kim Ives is my sister in law – small world.
All the best, Adele Cook (was Watson, then Louis).
18 October 2012 – From Nodge Carnegie (2)
Dear Reg, I have just re-read the section of the HMSOldies Information Circular about The Controller's Library. It is all fascinating stuff and – to this dedicated but undeclared hoarder of paper – a bit dismaying. Fortunately, Dave Burchell's update lightens the gloom.
I don't know if anyone has given you the following information. Around the turn of this century – perhaps ten or twelve years ago – TSO was approached by an "outside" person (one of the founders of Waterstones) with a proposal to publish, in saleable form, several documents from The Controller's Library. Many of these had not been published before or, if they had, had been produced on a strictly limited scale. There was a positive reaction and the upshot was that several sets of small-format paperback books were published over the next few years. The overall title was "Uncovered Editions" and the early sets included words along the lines of "From The Library of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office".
My fellow-designer on "Uncovered Editions" was Sally Downes (who joined GD a year or so before the new company came into being). Sally designed a very striking style for the covers, while my task was to formulate a design style and identity for the text pages. Bearing in mind that some documents were very short while others were very long, this turned into a very interesting project. My counterpart on the Editorial side was Michele Staple (still head of the Editorial unit in TSO, I believe) who often said how much she had enjoyed working on each set of the series. We all had tremendous encouragement for our efforts from the various higher-level TSO managers who were involved at various stages and my memories are akin to those of Michele.
Topics covered included the sinking of the Titanic, Battles of World War I, Younghusband in Tibet, the Gallipoli Campaign, The Bethnal Green Disaster (WWII bomb tragedy), Rillington Place, and The Amritsar Massacre. All good material.
Best wishes, Nodge
Hello Nodge, Thank you: an excellent addition to the subject. The term 'Uncovered Editions' is familiar but I did not know the story. Seems there were 37 titles in all, as evidenced by the following link:
I'll see what I can find in the bookshops of Norwich – Oxfam here I come . . . Best wishes. Reg
18 October 2012 – From Nodge Carnegie (1) Dear Reg, I am in the process of catching up with the HMSOldies Information Circular. Wonderful stuff – even from folks such as Billy Stevenson (whom I never met but wish I had) and his fascinating tales from his long and busy life. Your comments always enhance original contributions, especially those referring to Belfast in times past, and give context for those of us who read these things 'cold'.
Seeing references to Kath Daviss and Barbara Bovington brought back many memories of Atlantic House in the 1970s. I always liked doing GD work for Kath and her section (which, at one wonderful period, included Barbara, Del Styan, and Keith Batchelor) and their names are a reminder of a different kind of efficiency at work – achieving results for clients in a quiet, professional, no-fuss way. Good to see a contribution from John Hopping as well as those from Stuart McLaren – good friends and colleagues here in Norwich after the GD move from London. The Scottish photographs remind me of the time in 1974 when Jim Cairns and Ronnie Burnett spent a period in the London GD studio. Several social occasions punctuated their stay, not least regular visits toThe Rumbo in Old Bailey for the lunchtime jazz sessions which usual featured the fine Scottish clarinet player Forrie Cairns. I never got round to asking either Jim or Ronnie if they were related. Other considerations always arose – the next pint, the next request for a tune, the always welcome steak and chips . . . The Rumbo had the most straightforward lunchtime menu I have ever encountered: steak and chips.
Enough, except to thank you again for all your hard work in keeping people such as me up to date with people and events.
Best wishes, Nodge
Hello Nodge, How very kind: the fiver's in the post! Interesting that you mention Billy Stevenson. He enjoyed a 'significant' birthday recently and I'm sure he would not mind my relating that his young granddaughter sent her good wishes via Facebook with the words 'to the best granddad in the world – the most generous and the most intolerant.' About the best compliment a grandfather can get. And The Rumbo. You'll get me started on the Magpie and Stump, Ye Olde Mitre, Queen Victoria, Booley, Blackfriar, Ring . . . enough! Thanks for the memories – and please keep them coming. All the best. Reg
18 October 2012 – John Jarrold Printing Museum, Norwich
Hello Reg, John Rumball has forwarded your email to me concerning the publicising of the JJPM on the HMSOldies website. We are open to the public on Wednesdays from 0930 to 1230, but private or group tours can also be arranged at other times. Needless to say, as we have a number of former HMSO folk staffing the museum, ex HMSO employees are especially welcome! Visitors to the museum are now around 800-900 annually, including a fair number of students from the NUCA and the UEA. I can't comment on recent acquisitions at this time (purely because I am not up to scratch with them!), but you are free to use any other info from our website that may be of interest.
Kind Regards, John Hutchinson (Secretary, John Jarrold Printing Museum)
Hello John, Thank you for the update. I was prompted by an ex HMSO Director, who suggested that people might appreciate a reminder about the existence of this most interesting facility. We will add the information to HMSOldies, and remind our readers of your website:
Hi Reg, While stewarding St Augustine's church on Saturday (Magdalen-Augustine's Celebration Day) at which David Berwick was playing the organ, I got into conversation with an elderly gentleman, Philip Bunn, who said he worked in PP and retired 22 years ago (1990) when he was 60. He is still in touch with at least one former colleague, Bill Robinson. Best wishes, Stuart McLaren
Hello Stuart, Thank you for your note (and I see from the NEN that the event went well — I couldn't make it as I was in London). I do indeed remember Philip Bunn, as will many others. He was top of the list of Administrative Assistants, having entered into Public Service in 1958 and joining HMSO Finance Division in 1974. Good to hear that he is still around. All the best. Reg
Stuart McLaren adds: I wondered if you might like this snap? David Berwick sharing his profound knowledge of the organ with the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Norwich in St Augustine's church, 13 October 2012.
Thanks Stuart. Wonderful! The temptation to launch a Caption Contest is almost irresistible. All the best. Reg
8 October 2012 – From Stuart McLaren
For those with a taste for the esoteric, our old chum David Berwick will be performing on a 140 year-old-organ at St Augustine's church this Saturday (13th Oct). Concert (free!) starts with Bach (J. S. that is) at one p.m. All part of the Magdalen-Augustine streets celebration day.
2 October 2012 – David Roberts Lecture
The Norwich branch of the United Nations Association has honoured David's memory by organising an annual lecture, the first of which will take place in The Forum on 20 October. Details are given in their newsletter:
Hi Reg, Sorry to have taken so long to reply to your ‘photograph of me’. When I read it I thought to myself that you must have taken to the bottle. I knew I had never been in London when I was 12 years old! It took me all my time to go into Edinburgh at that age!
Life is just jogging along as usual – I am just waiting for the result of a chest X-ray I had last week but I think it will be OK. Haven’t heard anything from the ‘oldies’ in Edinburgh but I imagine they are just jogging along the same as myself. I have said it before but I will say it again that we oldies owe you a great deal for keeping the ‘old boys’ in touch – it brings me in mind of the people I may well have forgotten about in my old age – especially when it brings me in mind of the very happy days I spent in Manchester. Keep up the good work and can I say 'Hello to all your customers who remember me'. Jim.
Hello Jim. No need for apologies Jim – indeed, all apologies are from me (HMSOldies readers should be aware that I found an old photo of HMSO Accounts Christmas dinner at 'The Chanticleer' in Soho featuring Charlie Lloyd sitting opposite one 'J Macallum.' I did not notice the different spelling – nor the date, 1938).
Great to hear that you are in good form, and thank you for your kind words. You will have seen from HMSOldies that a reunion is organised in Edinburgh later this month. If it wasn't so far from Norwich I would be there: happy memories of the office, and of my month at the College on Atholl Crescent – especially 'The Quaich' pub. Regarding Edinburgh exiles in Norwich, I still see Allan Reid and Cecil Hughes fairly frequently. As for old Manchester hands, I occasionally hear from Brian Blackmore, who is in Devon - also John Childs, Ian Smith, Tom McGill. Enough for now – and all the very best to you. Reg
28 September 2012 – From John Hopping
Dear Reg, Interesting to see Jim Simmons has contacted HMSOldies. I also worked in Cornwall House in the early 1970's in Commercial Books on the second floor. Laurie Andrew was the EO I think. If Jim is the person I am thinking of he was a diehard Watford supporter and went every week. I was (am) a lifelong Spurs fan and we used to swop programmes every Monday. I too was a fresh faced youth just having left school ready to embark on the great Civil Service adventure. My main memory in Commercial Books was that a girl there used to wear hotpants every day and I believe Laurie Andrews had to ask her to dress more 'appropriately'.
Laurie I seem to remember had a secret list locked in his draw of addresses that we had to post issues of Pravda to. The subscriptions taken out for Pravda were sent to us so that the Soviets would not know the addresses they were going to. We had all signed the Official Secrets Act of course so the nations secrets were safe with us! John Hopping
Hello John, Good memories – thank you. Cornwall House always seemed quite unlike other HMSO buildings. Were you there when the 'Payroll heist' took place? People could wander in and out unchecked – presumably wearing face-masks and carrying baseball bats! And the days of hotpants – I can quite understand how they might give Laurie The Vapours: bare arms (elbows to wrists only – we're not at The Windmill) were enough of a distraction. All the best. Reg
John adds: Yes I was there. I seem to remember that the gang just walked into Cornwall House and said they were there to paint the reception area. They set up their ladders etc and when the pay arrived that produced sawn off shotguns from their overalls. Shortly after that passes were issued for the first time. At the time there was an on-going series of bomb threats from the IRA but it took a payroll heist to get them to issue passes. Cornwall House was unique and would provide good material for a sitcom.
Thanks John You have already got me thinking of casting – Arthur Lowe as Laurie Andrew – Peggy Mount as Judy Tassell . . . All the best. Reg
26 September 2012 – From Invoice Matcher to Mole Catcher
Louise Chapman was not actually an invoice matcher when she was employed by HMSO – she worked in Supplies Machinery – but we were trained at The Sunday Sport and the headline does not necessarily reflect the story.
Anyway, there we were enjoying lunch at the Eaton Red Lion – Roy Keavney and Dave Perry will confirm this if you doubt it - and who should shimmy over but the ever-youthful Louise. To cut a very long story short, she has undergone a vigorous bout of re-training since leaving HMSO, and among her many skills now counts Garden Design – and the Catching of Moles.
What she does with the creatures when caught was not explained, but I imagine that's up to the landowner. Anyway, many a retired HMSO employee, now regraded as fair-weather gardener, has muttered darkly about what they would do to Moles if they could only catch 'em - and now they can. A telephone call or email to Louise and all your moles could be holed in one.
14 September 2012 – From Adrienne May
Hi Reg, Doesn't it all seem a long time ago. Why did we worry about it so much, when the Government could just trash an asset like that. They'll never learn.
Anyway, here I am at 73, living with Milly, my 18 month old cat, who is probably more crazy than me. I walk about 16 miles a week and still ski in France. Over the past 12 years I fought for transsexual pension rights, against a Government that had failed to ratify and bring into National law, EU Directive 7/79 of 1979. In the end, and after various Upper Tribunal cases, 2 visits to ECHR and a decision in the UK Court of Appeal, DWP had to give in.
Now I devote my time to haranguing my very good MP, Norman Lamb, reporting the mismanagement and failures of Norfolk County Council and writing novels. [See below, on Kindle]. You can click the icon and read the beginning for free! I have one more being edited and another a third finished.
Regards to all, especially your 'gang'.
Adrienne May. Supplies Paper.
Hello Adrienne. Good to hear from you, and that you are doing well. I am impressed by your literary activities. It takes some dedication, as I know: never got past the Short Story myself. Keep at the politicians: they love the attention. All the best –off to give your latest a read. Reg
12 September 2012 – HMSO People Get Everywhere
Hi Reg, Presently Chris and I are touring the Eastern Seabord with a Toronto Probus Club. Having dinner Sunday night in the Saint Johns Reversing Falls restaurant, discussing photoshop and imaging with Charles and Marilyn Cummins who are on our trip, I happened to say I was in the printing industry, Marilyn said oh our neighbour is a printer – I said it wouldn't be Barry would it? She said how do you know that? I said well if it is Barry Palmer (which it was) a couple of years ago Reg Walker asked me if I would take a Barry Palmer and his daughter round the John Jarrold Printing Museum on leaving Norwich to go to London. What are the chances of sitting next to a person whom you have only just met the previous day when the tour started and they live next door to Barry Palmer?
Trusting you are having the weather we having which is good.
Regards John [John Rumball ]
Hello John, Well I'm damned – that's some coincidence! Certainly on a par with Dave Martin's meeting someone who knew George Rokahr in New Zealand. And to think I can spend a day in Cromer and not see a souI I know. Weather definitely on the change here: it has been raining on and off for the past five hours. All the best – and enjoy your visit. Reg
'I read the article on NABADS and some one has got their facts wrong! I didn't act in 'Moonshine'. I may have been stage manager then, but my main acting part was Uncle Stanley in 'Queen Elizabeth Slept Here'. It was a small part but a difficult one. I played an man of about 70 who went round to his relations pretending he had plenty of money, and had some very dull reminiscences. My nerve-wracking time was at the end of an act, when I had to start a speech just as the curtains closed. My dread was that they wouldn't! My only other appearance was as a ghost in Gramacy Ghost. All the best. Jack Payne.'
10 September 2012 – Sue Prutton at Seventy
Sue Prutton (HMSO Supply / IT / Pubns, 1980 - 97) celebrated her 70th birthday in the Orangery at Blickling Hall. On one of the sunnier August days family and friends from the Forties through to the Noughties shared music, laughter, one thousand and forty nine years of friendship and a buffet lunch. The Eighties and Nineties contained some HMSO friends (Pam Janacek, Jill Ward, Sue Mickleburgh and Keith Staff), though for some reason Anne Stolady preferred to be riding round California on the back of a Harley Davidson. “No presents” was the request but donations to Help for Heroes realised some £400.
Ten years since Don died, he was remembered by everyone there and the flower arrangement in his memory was later placed in the Entrance Hall at Blickling, a place Don loved dearly and where, as an RAF Officer at the end of WWII, he had lived for some months.
8 September 2012 – From Jim Simmons
Hi Reg, Just found your site for ex-employees. I am now 58, but my first job from school was at Cornwall House between 1970 and 1973 and I had some really good times and met some really nice people with whom I kept in touch by visiting the office on a few occasions. As it was my first job I was very much the baby in the office, being a month away from my 16th birthday when I started.
It would be great if anyone remembers the shy Jim Simmons from those days. I have read that Keith Batchelor keeps in touch with Esther Mackay who I worked alongside throughout my stay, and it would be great to get in touch with her and any one else who remembers me. Thanks for a great site.
Hello Jim. Thank you for getting in touch. Like you, my first job was in Cornwall House (ITW1c, Room 204a, EO was Mrs Wilhelmina Robbie) 1963-1965, when I moved to Atlantic House and then Norwich. Not sure whether you get down that way these days, but Waterloo has been somewhat 'gentrified' and Cornwall House is now part of the University of London. The picture below was taken recently, from a room in the Union Jack Club.
We will add your note to HMSOldies to see if any of our readers remembers you, and I will see if I can make contact with Keith and Esther. All the best. Reg
7 September 2012 – From Sandy Cameron
Hi Reg, Just discovered the HMSOldies website thanks to Jim Cairns.
Re Jim's photo of Tom Watson's leaving do back in the '70s posted on 13 July, the missing names are Grace Kennedy and Hugh Brunton. Also in the photo were Tom Morrissey and Susan Page. There are two others whose names totally escape me. Hope this helps jog a few memories.
Regards, Sandy Cameron (formerly Business Supplies, Edinburgh, left in 1997)
Hello Sandy. Glad you found us, and that you are able to add the names. Our collective memory needs all the jogging available!. All the best. Reg
5 September 2012 – From David Silver Down Under
Dear Reg, We are just about to come out of the worst winter we can remember in Oz. We went straight from summer to winter no Autumn. On the plus side I was able to catch up with all the HMSO news, which certainly brightened up the days so a big thank you to you and all contributors. Susan has been struck down with flu’ but needs to get better before next Friday when she and her friend Sue head off for Iran.
Again thanks, David Silver
Hello David. Great to hear that you have survived the ravages down there ― the old British Spirit comes up trumps. Hope to see you in UK when next you make it. Best wishes. Reg
4 September 2012 – From Dan Lavery
Message from the colonies ― excellent stuff Mr W, hope you are keeping well. I notice some great names in the groups but one missing, any word on Brain Minett? A nice man I always liked and admired.
As to the pictures, some things need addressing:
1. Appropriate background music to bring life to the images! 2. Air brushing a must for some of the ageing males! 3. And a Government health warning in advance of viewing for people of a delicate disposition on the Walker jackets and the Pawsey shirts!
Pass on my very best wishes to anyone who remembers the upstart Irish! Dan L
Hello Dan, Good ― but by no means surprising ― that you are in thrusting form over there in the Six Counties. We rely on you to calm them down a bit. Thank you for the good words ― and I am pleased to report that when Brian Minett wrote to me last year he was also in fine form, doing the grandparent duties and happily retired in Swanley, Kent.
We take your points regarding the pictures. I'll dig out my 78 of 'Boys (and Girls) of the Old Brigade' and Billy Bennett's 'Where Did I Leave My Teeth?' for mood music. And I will inform my tailor (Man at Oxfam) to find me a quieter jacket for next year ― and Mr Pawsey's shirt-maker (Man at Colourblind) to tone it down a bit. We'll also organise a mass hair-spraying for those who can't afford the Wayne Rooney or Terry Wogan treatment. All the very best. Reg
4 September 2012 – From Norma Groom
Hi Reg, Thanks for email, unfortunately I could not get the side show.
I have tried on several occasions to get something down about Basildon Reprographic Unit. Having worked there from 1958 until 1978, when I transferred to Norwich, I would hate to think that any memories of it have it completely disappeared. My memories were of some very happy times there. They printed the original Supply Catalogue for Norwich. Dick Moore was Rep Manager, John Brunton, Eddie McKendrick, and many more.
My first days in Basildon as a Grade 2 typist, when I think it about it now, were a comedy: overhead gas heating which if you sat directly underneath them boiled your brains and if you sat three places away you sat and shivered all day. When it snowed the snow fell upon you, etc etc. The move to The Gore did improve working conditions ― In those days I was Norma Ellis and was Secretary of the Social Club and Len Ellis was the Chairman, so we were always being mistaken for husband and wife, which did sometimes cause embarrassment to our respective partners. When I moved to Norwich, Len was already there and I thought that that would be the end of our “marriage” but no, my first greeting when arriving in St Crispins was “I bet Len is glad to have you here now.” The most embarrassing was at a dance at Basildon when one of the messengers came up to my late husband and I and said he was so pleased to hear our news about the new baby and when was it due, we sat there opened mouthed until I woke up and realized that Len’s wife was expecting!
Best regards, Norma Groom
Hello Norma, Pity about the slideshow. If you click on the link from the HMSOldies page as usual, and not from my email link, it may work ― but I will leave other advice to the experts!
Many thanks for the Basildon Memories. I remember you there from my days in S13, visiting the OMTS section, and afterwards in 1975 when I was in Management Services and went on a joint project with Ray Fox of Work Study. George Furn was D Rep then, with John Brunton, Pam Brotherton, the Littlewood Sisters, Arthur Aldersley, Frank Meads ― so many names. I still see Len Ellis every month (I'll mention your reference to him) and John Eason and Jim Wretham ― other ex-Basildon inmates. In the early sixties I worked with Dolly Moore, of Adrema fame, when she moved to ITW. Basil Radford, Stan Smith and others long gone all had their Dup. and Rep. stories, some of them actually printable. All the best to you, and keep out of mischief down there in South Africa! Reg
3 September 2012 – From Jack Payne
Dear Reg, I would just like to add my condolences for Charlie Bradshaw and Roy Stonehouse. I knew them both very well when I was at Chadderton. Charlie and I both lived in Marple and shared cars to the office. The journey was never boring!
I meet Roy at NABADS when I was stage manager there. He came in as scenic artist and very good he was. He produced some excellent sets for the Pantos we put on. I was pleased to hear he was still going strong last year when he sent a message.
All the best, Jack Payne
29 August 2012 – Les Birch pays tribute to Charles Bradshaw
Dear Reg, Once again very saddened by the passing of a very old friend [see Obituaries] but as we know he had already been lost to the world for quite some time.
We were at grammar school in Manchester together for just about a year ― when I went there in September 1933 he was in his 4th or 5th year and I remembered him principally because he played soccer in the school's First XI. When we met up again in June 1939 when I joined the Manchester Office he had of course no recollection of me and our re-acquaintance lasted a bare two months.
He was the first man from Manchester to be called up to HM Forces in August 1939 following the belatedly-passed 1939 Conscription Act and initially he joined the Lancashire Fusiliers. Being ex-grammar school he quickly transferred to the RAF for aircrew training and became a bomber pilot. He flew Wellingtons in North Africa and became a flying instructor back home when he had completed his tour there. He was one of the last ex-servicemen to receive a pension for deafness caused by the very noisy Wellingtons before the Government stopped such payments when it became increasingly difficult to distinguish between war-related and age-related deafness.
I think he was very proud and happy when he became Director Manchester and he and Muriel were very fortunate to survive the horrendous car crash during his journey back from Holland for Gillian's wedding in 1971(?). I do not think he was ever the same man after that but even so he still livened up many of our numerous courses and conferences when HMSO was trying to sell the latest management fad ― Peter Drucker, MBO etc etc.
All in all a tremendous character. So, Reg, not a good year so far for the Oldies but be assured that I will do my best to keep off your obit. pages for some time to come.
Best wishes as always, Les
Dear Les, Excellent memories, as ever, and many thanks. I am sure that Gillian will especially appreciate words from an old friend. Very best wishes. Reg
28 August 2012 – Norfolk Youth Music Trust: Ivor Hosgood writes
The trustees are seeking your nomination of the The Norfolk Youth Music Trust for the 'The EDP People's Choice Award'.
Since October 1977, when Music at Saint George's was founded, no fewer than 265 public-performing opportunities have been offered to both young and mature amateur and professional musicians. Musicians from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Japan, South Africa, the Ukraine and the United States have been helped to find a public platform for their talents. Since 1977, the trust has donated over £20,000 to young musicians mainly to help them in meeting the costs of living, training fees and travelling during their studies to become professional musicians.
During these last 35 years, the trust has succeeded in attracting funding from Xerox (UK) Ltd (continuously over 20 years) the John Lewis Partnership plc (continuously over 18 years) and many other commercial companies and charitable trusts, including the The Paul Bassham Charitable Trust, the John Jarrold Trust Ltd, The Paul Morgan Charitable Trust, the Music Sales Charitable Trust, and Smith and Pinching Ltd, as well as the two local government authorities.
Hi Reg, By way of another call for the Reunion, here is another picture of HMSO Scotland staff, taken after completing the Evening News Walk sometime in the '70s. Come along on the 25th of October to the Alexander Graham Bell in George Street at 7.30!
Back row: Jim Cairns, Charlie Thomson, ?, Angus McKinnon Front: Alison ?, Anne Whyte, Senga Brawlie
Apologies for memory gaps and/or spelling errors! Hope to see them all at the Reunion.
Thanks Reg, Jim Cairns
Hello Jim, Thank you: good picture! We will certainly add an urgent recommendation that anyone in the area on 25 October should make a date with Alexander Graham Bell . . . All the best. Reg
21 August 2012 – How far do you have to go to avoid HMSO?
Hello Reg, Re: your latest piece regarding weird sightings, we were in a supermarket in Yugoslavia in the '80s when there was a power cut, all the lights went out and the tills went dead, I looked out of the window and who should be standing outside but Sally Webb, I had no idea she was even in Yugoslavia at that time. Spookily I was with the family recently climbing up a lookout tower in Sheringham Park and when I reached the top who should be up there, but Sally, her fiance and two friends, I said "We have got to stop meeting like this!" Great to see her again, we both said we haven't changed at all!
I still have regular lunches and outings with Hilary Goreham, Di Ward, Anne Battley, Pat Brent, Ann Claydon and also the exclusive Copyright gang! including Audrey Hardstaff. I recall Hilary telling us she bumped into Valerie and Bob Barnard in a car hire outlet in Australia, now that is a coincidence. I am sure you will get lots of other strange sightings.
All best wishes, Pam Flynn
Hello Pam, Good to hear from you. Speaking of which, I was pleased to see the list of your occasional lunch companions. This lead me to wonder why I haven't seen any of you on the streets of Norwich for years now. Personally, I am on the streets more than the average Big Issue seller, so you must be avoiding me. I'm the one with the trilby, tie, waistcoat and Oxfam bag. Perhaps I should try a different disguise and you won't have time to hide. All the best. Reg
18 August 2012 – Two Degrees of HMSO Separation
Just to let you know that I recently went on a coach trip organised by Newmarket Travel, they sub-contracted it to Chenery of Dickleborough, Norfolk. This was to see Edinburgh Tattoo, Loch Katrine, Trossachs, Moffat, Bo'ness steam railway, Gretna Green. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, Glasgow Airport, the coach driver was Victor who is the brother-in-law of ex HMSO employee Barry Harper. Small world!
Thoroughly enjoyed trip and Edinburgh Military Tattoo was excellent. Philip Jinman
Hello Philip, Thank you for your message: small world indeed. I will let Barry know if and when I next see him on the streets of Norwich. This fits nicely with the reports that Glyn and Ann Jones happened upon a cousin of John Butler while on holiday in Cyprus, and Dave Martin met someone who knew George Rokhar in New Zealand (how far does one have to go to escape the skirl of his Chanter?). Perhaps we should start a competition for the most unusual sighting. Anyone seeing someone who knows Albert During anywhere in the world ― North Pole, South Pole, Gobi Desert, Peckham ― is disqualified: too easy. All the best. Reg
7 August 2012 - For students of Architecture
For those not lucky enough to be able to visit the verdant pastures of Magdalen Street, Norwich, on a regular basis you may care to see the improvements made since HMSO left it in rather a hurry in 1996, leaving the washing-up in the sink and the step unswept.
Thanks to the Hardest Working Man in St Crispins, Mr Mitie, Sean Cooper, the place is considerably tidier on the inside than on the outside. How he remains so cheerful is a lesson to us all.
6 August 2012 – Open Heritage Days in Norwich
Dear all, Bookings are now open for the Open Heritage Days in Norwich 6th to 9th September. Click below and have a look on the site ― you can book by email:
Dear Reg, You are doing a grand job in keeping the HMSOldies web site going. I log on a couple of times a week, and it brings back many happy memories of the people I have known and worked with over the years. When I joined in September 1962 HMSO was about 7500 strong and I was drafted into Works HQ and have many happy memories of dealing with you in Supplies along with the likes of Chester Willmott and Kath Daviss. You must have been about 18 at that time. Where have all the years gone?
I finally packed up work just over a year ago when my firm Colibri decided to shut down. I was 73 then so I had enjoyed a good run. Shortly after I packed up, my old customer COI closed down as well. Very sad as I had made many friends there, and some of them were old HMSO staff. A very difficult time for those made redundant there as we all know what state the country is in regarding finding a job these days. When I took over the COI section in PP in the late '80s we were buying £21 million of business for them. Unbelievable isn't it.
I still keep in touch with some of the COI staff and attend the HMSO Oldies lunch run very well by Bob Alder. We usually have a good turn out and try to put the world to rights. Haven't succeeded yet but will keep trying. I keep myself busy with sport. I play in two table tennis leagues, and have all my family living near me. Four grandchildren ranging from 2 to 15. The two youngest are really hard work as they have so much energy. I am sure that you have similar problems.
In a recent email you heard from Phil Jinman, who I used to work with in PP and later at COI. He mentioned me along with others. If he wants to get in touch with me please give him my email address and he can contact me? I go up to London on a regular basis so it wouldn't present me with any problems if he wants to come up and meet me.
I am sure that you are enjoying the Olympic Games along with the rest of us. Aren't we doing well? I hope you and your family are well, and who knows perhaps we will meet up again one day.
Regards, John Barker
Hello John, Great to hear from you, and that you are doing well. I had heard about Colibri from old friends at Formara. As you say, who would have thought that COI would dissolve in such a way? And by the way, I endorse your point re grandchildren ― just returned from a day out with mine, where coincidentally we went through Hevingham where one of the very nicest of HMSO men lived ― Norman 'Chester' Willmott, who you mentioned. I was 19 when I worked with him in S6, Atlantic House.
Thank you also for your kind words. I am sure that many will remember you. I will contact you when we organise our 'second Tuesday in December' event in The Ship, Borough Road, to see if you are available. Meanwhile, all the very best, Reg
1 August 2012 – From Billy Stevenson
Dear Reg, It was interesting to learn from Jim Wretham that the Copyright Act of 1911 is celebrating its hundredth birthday. I think I'm right in saying that this Act made provision for the legal deposit of a copy of every book published in the UK in each of the Libraries designated for this purpose. Trinity College Dublin is one of the aforementioned Libraries. There is none however here in Northern Ireland which brings me to the subject of HMSO’s own depository. In Northern Ireland this was in Belfast and known as 'The Controller's Library' where we kept one of every 'Government Publication' produced in Northern Ireland since 1921. Anyhow what happens now to all these printed works? Will they be committed to memory in a 'Cloud' somewhere, or will we still be able to see the originals in printed form?
Kind Regards to you and the team, Billy
Hello Billy ―Good point ―we will publish your item and I think we will get an answer from at least one reader! All the best. Reg
Alan Pawsey adds: Billy, You are indeed correct about the requirements which were set out for Legal Deposit in the 1911 Copyright Act. Although it didn't affect the old arrangements for deposit at Trinity College the legal requirements were superseded by the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 which enabled arrangements for the deposit of electronic publications.
Following the privatisation of HMSO's trading functions in 1996, the responsibility for the Controller's Library transferred to the privatised company, TSO. I am not sure what its current status is, though I doubt that printed copies have been retained for all titles. Following the creation of the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, when I had responsibility for Official Publishing policy within the Cabinet Office, I ensured that arrangements were put in place to ensure the deposit of copies of all Northern Ireland Official Publications at the Library of Queen's University, Belfast. I know that these arrangements were warmly welcomed and that it has encouraged the campaign to change the law regarding the deposit of all publications in Belfast. The Publishing industry generally has fought against these proposals and the aims of that campaign have, therefore, yet to be realised!
Jim Wretham adds: Reg, and others. Alas it seems to be part of my role these days to shatter people’s hopes and dreams. I would love to be able to report that the contents of the Controller's Library is alive and well and the contents are being stored in pristine condition in a library somewhere. But back to the real world . . .
As you will no doubt recall, pre-privatisation the Controller’s print library consisted of a huge pile of books scattered on a few pallets at Nine Elms. At privatisation the CL transferred as an asset to TSO. TSO continued to maintain the CL for several years but wished to dispose of it when it moved out of Nine Elms. The residual HMSO was asked whether they wanted it and it was decided that government didn't want the contents. Alan Pawsey made efforts to interest various universities in the CL but there were no takers. Consequently, my understanding is that the books were scrapped. Alan may have further information.
The British Library would hold a copy of each of the publications of course. The BL also have a microfiche set (filmed by the microfilm unit at Basildon incidentally). Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. Regards, Jim
Dave Burchell, Parliamentary Liaison Manager, The Stationery Office adds: Reg, Regarding the Controllers Library, a large amount of it still exists in a DHL Warehouse at Normanton. We have used it to enable us to digitise copies of the Commons Journals going back to 1834. I believe that we still have: Command Papers, Commons and Lords Bills, Lords and Commons Papers, Bound Volumes of Hansards and Public Bill Committees, Acts, Statutory Instruments. There are no London Gazettes in the Library.
The Controllers Library is still an important resource for TSO as we now produce a large number of orders as Print On Demand. If we do not have a physical copy for scanning, the Controllers Library is our first point of reference. I believe that there were originally two complete sets of everything at Nine Elms, but when we moved from Nine Elms, one complete set was discarded. There is still a large amount of material in the Controllers Library at Normanton that has not yet been catalogued, so exactly what else may be there is still unknown.
Hope this helps, Regards, Dave.
31 July 2012 – From Les Birch
Dear Reg, Much saddened by the passing of Roy and Vic [seeObituaries ]. I succeeded Roy as Director Wales and West in 1976 when he retired to breed his goats in West Wales. I visited him once in Belfast when there had been some suggestion that I might succeed him there but having learned of the 24 hours guard on his home and the inaccessibility of one of his warehouses because it was in the Catholic area of the city I decided against it.
Dear old Vic had tried to persuade me in the 1960s to join his team of all the talents to work on computers in their early days in the Department and assured me that this was where the future lay. In one of the more spectacular of my many misjudgements during my service I argued that the future really lay in reprographics where I was already having a great time in CRS. Whenever we met in later years he never failed to remind me of this.
Vic died on the day when I was having a tremendous bash at the golf club to celebrate my 90th birthday on the following day (23 July). My daughter had laid on a hog roast there and incredibly the weekend coincided with the biennial visit to Caerphilly of our twinned town of Lannion in Brittany. So my friends of 21 years' standing came from there together with my friends from Normandy, including my golfing chauffeur from the D-Day ProAms at Omaha Beach Golf Club. The international flavour was completed by the attendance of my son from Budapest, where he has lived and worked for many years now, together with his Turkish wife. I was of course thoroughly spoiled and it will take quite a few weeks for me to get through the bottles of various whiskies which, apart from the usual malts, included a buckwheat grain from Brittany and the inevitable calvados. We were fortunate in having a glorious day for the event after the months of rain ― mainly due I think to the presence of our Normandy Veterans Branch padre who I am sure used his direct line to the Weatherman to fix things.
Best wishes. Les
Dear Les, Many thanks for your characteristically incise memories of both Roy and Vic. I don't think you did too badly by avoiding HMSO Computery! And of course I would like to add our belated hearty congratulations for your 90th birthday. Just shows that living a virtuous and abstemious life brings its rewards ― Alan Cole and I well remember a couple of abstemious evenings with you over 30 years ago. Excellent to know that you had a full company of admirers on the great day, including divine intervention. You obviously still have the old powers of persuasion. All the very best. Reg
26 July 2012 – From Genevieve Gardner
Dear Sir, I have looked at HMSOldies website and was very impressed to see how everyone is still keeping in touch after so many years! I have noticed though that most people on the website used to work in Norwich or various locations in London. I have been desperately searching for ex-employees of the HMSO Bookshop at 258-259 Broad Street Birmingham up to its closure, possibly in 1996? Would you have any information or leads that could help me in my search? I would be very grateful for your assistance in this matter and look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards, Genevieve Gardner
Hello Genevieve, Good to hear from you. I must confess that I am personally not too familiar with Birmingham Bookshop, but we will see if anyone can help. I have also copied to a couple of ex-Publications people who may have some information. Presumably you worked there ―who was the Manager at the time? His/her name may help the search! All the best. Reg
23 July 2012 – Les Birch at Ninety
GL Birch was born on 23 July 1922 and joined HMSO on 8 June 1939. That didn't mean he missed war service. Quite the contrary, as can be verified by the fact that he still has very good friends in Normandy, some of whom were on hand to celebrate the great occasion with members of the extended Birch family. Just goes to show that a few rounds of golf followed by decent food and a glass or two in good company is the best medicine!
18 July 2012 –Tom Smith at Ninety
TG Smith joined HMSO in 1957 and moved to CEPA in Norwich in 1967. In those days long ago, as he looked through the window of Norvic House at the drizzle forming on the Chapelfield Bandstand, little did he expect that 30 years after retirement he would be celebrating his 90th birthday in the prestigious company of the Friday Club (Organiser Plackett, R – members Messrs Bradbury, Jones, Marchant, Davy, and others too nervous to be outed). But the highlight of the day was the attention paid to him by the Landlady of theTrafford Arms. He was so overcome that he was still smiling when the Landlord presented him with the bill . . .
13 July 2012 – From Jim Cairns
Hi Reg, I came across this picture, taken at Tom Watson's leaving party, in the Blue Blazer , Edinburgh, sometime in the 70s. I hope it will inspire folk to attend the upcoming reunion [Thursday 25 October – see below]. PS long hair and beards optional! Sadly quite a few of the people in the picture are no longer with us, including Tom Watson.
Hello Jim, What a good photo. This should make for plenty of head-scratching regarding names ― Norrie is front-of-stage, of course ― and Gordon ― isthat a young Gigg? And young Roger Dunn? Looks like a good event. All the best. Reg
Jim Cairns adds: Hi Reg, In the photo, in no particular order: Bob Wood, Malcolm Steven, Bill Merrilees, Allan Forbes, Jim Hume, Ron Burnett, Jim Cairns, Tom McNeil, Bill MacIntosh, Sandy Cameron Eddie Robertson, Bob Thomson, Tom Watson Gordon McGowan, Hugh ???, Gordon Campbell, Grace ???, Jo Landles, Norrie Veitch and Eddie Hendry. Please forgive my memory, those of you I've missed or have forgotten your surnames!
Hello Jim, Perfect.There are some famous names in your list, which will prevent some grey-haired head-scratching. On the other hand, the sprinkling of names might pose more questions than it answers. For instance, the Mike Gigg impersonator at the back, in the light-blue roll-neck, and the besuited, blue-tied lad to his left. I'm sure I know them, but the names have gone. . . . All the best, Reg.
Jim Cairns replies: By jove! Mike Gigg must have been a fine-looking man! That's me in the polo neck, I'm afraid! The chap with the tie was an English lad who didn't work with us for very long. Can't remember his name.
Jim, Well I'm damned ― of all the people to get wrong! All I can say is that Mr Gigg was/is a strapping fine fellow and the most helpful man an HMSO Press Officer (as once was I) could ever hope to have on his side. Enough of this, I'm starting down that dangerous Road to Reminiscence . . .
10 July 2012 – HMSO Scotland Reunion on 25 October
I wonder if you might be kind enough to draw attention to an upcoming reunion of the Edinburgh Branch. It will be held in the Alexander Graham Bell, George Street, Edinburgh at 7.30pm, Thursday 25 October. All ex HMSO folk are most welcome! Many thanks, Jim Cairns
Hello Jim, Good to hear from you, and thank you for the advance notice. Sounds a good location: if there was a cheap, direct train from Norwich I would be tempted to make it. I was last in George Street with Norrie Veitch ―time before was Dave Currie. First time was a month's course in Atholl Crescent, staying in the barracks at Holyrood. Happy days. All the best, Reg
9 July 2012 – Ton Up: Jim Wretham Celebrates his Centenary
Jim Wretham is among the last of the (very) few people still entitled to write the words 'HMSO' in the box marked 'Current Employer.' A cause for celebration indeed ― made all the more exciting by the fact that his particular area ― Copyright ― is celebrating a significant birthday this year. All will be revealed if you access the following sites:
We don't mean the aeroplane ― not even the Spaceship in Blake's Seven ― nor even a reference to Daniel O'Connell (there's one for the Irish historians), We refer to the ground-breaking laptop text processor from the mid-1980s.
The May 1985 edition of Progress contained a short paragraph celebrating 'the British-made portable Liberator Text Processor launched by Thorn-EMI ― with an estimated public service requirement of 6000 plus printers for the year 1985-86 ― demand for a further 10,000 during the following year.' Following development instigated by a team from CCTA under the leadership of Bernard Terry, HMSO had been granted the sole Public Service agency, with a predicted ￡4m sales during the first year.
In fact, the predicted level of sales was not achieved, despite the very positive user reaction, due to the fact that Government Departments were not prepared (or authorised) to increase their office equipment budgets. There were also procedural and Union-led questions regarding the engagement of relatively highly-paid staff on typing-related activities.
To the point (at last). In July 2012 Tony Smith ― not the HMSO Tony Smith: the London-based editor ofThe Register , one of UK's most-read Tech websites, and an excellent read too as you will see by clicking
sent HMSOldies an email to the effect that he was researching background to The Liberator and had seen theProgress reference while trawling the Net.
Subsequently we spoke to Tony, and gave him as much information as we could. Like a good journalist, he is hungry for more, and has plans to interview one of the product developers in the near future. He would also be very interested in any user or supplier perspectives that we may be able to offer. Naturally, we will not divulge your details unless you wish, so if you contact The Editor with any information your privacy will be secure. On the other hand, I know that Tony would appreciate a conversation should you agree. Of especial interest would be any promotional material etc. My copy of the short Operation Guide is sadly still in a cupboard in Room 5S, Sovereign House . . . Reg
Judy Pritchard adds : If I'm not mistaken, the first Liberator to land at HMSO found its way into the hands of Ken Allen, who was understandably reluctant to part with it, like a kid with a new toy. I still have nightmares about you begging me to get it back from him. I think that was probably the reason I left HMSO. Happy days, Judy
Hello Judy, Amazing how the casual mention of something like The Liberator triggers instant memories such as this. Now you mention Ken Allen's 'attachment' it all comes back to me. Luckily, many of the Senior Officers at the time liked to keep technology at arm's length, otherwise we would have lost the lot . . . All the best. Reg
4 July 2012 – PC World
Most readers will recall that HMSO Publications Centre in Nine Elms was demolished some years ago to make way for the new US Embassy. Progress is being made, according toThe Sunday Times dated 1 July 2012:
'It is an unlovely stretch of the River Thames: a tangle of industrial warehouses interspersed with Covent Garden flower market and the brooding presence of Battersea Power Station. Yet all that is set to change . . . at its heart will be the American Embassy, a new glass and steel construction on a four-acre moated island. Surrounding it will be a variety of developments that will include about 16,000 homes spread across the 482 acre site, making one of the largest residential schemes to be built in the capital for a decade.'
'This week . . . Embassy Gardens, a development of 2000 new homes, opens its marketing suite. First off is the Ambassador Building, due to be finished at the end of 2014. It will be 19 storeys high, with 313 Studios and 1-3 bedroom flats, as well as a private members' club that will include a gym, a cinema and meeting rooms. Prices start at £400,000 for a studio, rising to about £1m for a three-bedder. Two more buildings in the first phase are due to be completed by 2015.'
'The developer, Ballymore,has already sold about 200 properties off plan, to a mixture of overseas (a lot of Chinese, apparently) and British investors . . . and Nine Elms Parkside, a 13-acre site owned by Royal Mail, has planning permission for almost 1900 homes, a primary school, and shops. A little further down-river The Tower, One St. George Wharf, contains three penthouses priced at up to £50,000,000, one of which has been snapped up by a Middle Eastern buyer.'
On other pages: 'there's no money left . . . we're all doomed . . . run for the hills!' You could not, indeed, make it up.
30 June 2012 – From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, I was wondering if your readers would be interested in any of these snaps? They were taken at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June 1996 where HMSO was launching QuickSilver. An Investigation into the Development of German Grand Prix Racing Cars 1934-1939 , a facsimile of a book published by HMSO after the Second World War. The launch was in the tent of the vintage car auctioneers Brooks (no relation!). The Mercedes Benz team wheeled over a real Silver Arrow, which Lynda posed in after flirting with the German mechanics! I still have one of those T-shirts.
Most of the personnel should be familiar to you. Mr & Mrs Gordon Robbie, Phillip Brooks, Lynda Turner, Mick Spencer, John Hudson and the young Miss Hudson and yours truly, Stuart McLaren. Most of Pubns from London and Norwich seem to have turned up that day. Those were the days when expense and travel claims were more or less treated like confetti.
Hello Stuart, We are delighted to add these photos, from days long ago when the sun shone in June, and I must say how elegantly most of you scrubbed up for the event. Which bounder told Brooks it was dress-down Friday? All the best. Reg
30 June 2012 – From Philip Jinman
Hi Reg, I am off to a family celebration at The Chelmer Tavern in Chelmsford tonight as I retired from Augustus Martin Ltd yesterday after working for them for 6 years 3 months, and I will be 67 on 5 July. As I will have time on my hands ― although I will be going on a short holiday on 9 July to Rye in Sussex, and another on August 12 (my late Mum's birthday and the start of the grouse shooting season) to see the Edinburgh Tattoo ― I expect will do some fishing and be looking for a part-time job either paid or voluntary.
The fares from Braintree to Stratford are in the region of ￡4,000 a year and going up again in January so now was a good time to retire. Augustus Martin Ltd used to do work for my ex colleagues of COI many of which used to work for HMSO such as Carol Piper and Phil Brimley. Augustus Martin Ltd acquired Print Processes whom HMSO used to use for printing posters for me when I worked for COI. But COI closed at the end of March this year with the loss of many jobs.
I wondered whether there were any reunions that maybe I could go to either in London or Norwich? It would be nice to see John Barker, Geoff Hooper, Alex McLeod, Ted Johnson, Carol Piper and Phil Brimley again. I never did find out what had happened to Adrian Lambley — we joined HMSO at the same time and went on holiday to Elba together in the 70's. Yours, Philip Jinman
Hello Philip, Good to hear from you — and congratulations on your second retirement. I beat you to it, a few years ago, having retired from my post-HMSO job at Formara Printers. I am sure that you will find something to fill the day ― I find wandering the streets and generally boring people with self-righteous ranting compensates for the absence of 'Quality Circles.'
There was a London reunion lunch recently ― photos etc will appear on HMSOldies soon, as they will for The Eagle event we had in Norwich. I will certainly let you know when another lunchtime is planned. I used to see John Barker in The Pineapple, Hercules Road, when he was lunching Phil Battle on behalf of Colibri ― while I was doing the same for Carol Piper for Formara. Alex McLeod is living in Kent, I believe: I haven't heard from him for years. And I can't help you regarding Adrian: perhaps one of our readers can. I know that Phill Brooks and Alan Pawsey had lunch with Phil Brimley at the last knockings of COI.
I remember you in your IP days ― Derek Wintle, Mick Moore, Harry Currie, Malcolm McNeill were around then, I think, I dealt with Reg Myers, Terry Quinlan, Glyn Jones (still around Norwich), Dave Ware, Graham Boulter on various PC and Warehouse jobs. Seems a lifetime ago ― I suppose it was. All the best for what sounds like a convivial weekend. Reg
Philip Jinman adds: Hi Reg, I have been asked by Augustus Martin to do holiday cover for their estimating in August. Unfortunately I'm enjoying my new found freedom but nice to be asked. I'm going to see the EdinburghTattoo and looking after grandson in August so no can do estimating as well ― even from home, as it would be nightmare going to Bow during the Olympics. Enjoying fishing and went on a long walk round the footpaths of Finchingfield and Great Bardfield yesterday. Just come back from a week in Rye: weather was good despite rain everywhere else, it only rained at night or as we were going to Hythe on a bus ― free to us oldies, had to pay for Barbara though. Regards, Philip
Hello Philip, As you say, nice to be asked ― but it doesn't take long to realise that for many of us the flog into and back out of London was the worst part of the working day. Good to see that you are adjusting well. Don't tell everyone: they will all want some. All the best, Reg.
30 June 2012 – Pubns’ Rock by Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, I've just been studying the 1971 Pubns organisation chart in the IC of 26 June [below]. Having joined Pubns 20 years later, what struck me was that of the five names that I recognise, four are graphic designers ― Mssrs Arnoldi, Hammond, Marriage and Saville. Among the non-designer fraternity only Mr R. C. Barnard stands out. What the chart reminded me of most was one of Pete Frame's hand-drawn Rock Family Trees. On this analogy GD was clearly the Rolling Stones of Pubns in terms of its consistent and enduring core personnel. I don't know what that makes Bob Barnard, the Ozzy Osbourne of Pubns perhaps! Best wishes, Stuart
Thanks Stuart. Well observed ― I have forwarded to Bob Barnard so that he can bask in the undoubted compliment! All the best. Reg
26 June 2012 – Philip Marriage agitates his little grey cells
Reg, Barbara Bovington's neurones are clearly still in good shape if she remembers me after forty years, however I do know she worked under Kath Daviss in P1c because I still have this chart (don't ask why) drawn-up by John Westwood in August 1971 showing Publishing and Design teams and their reporting structure.
[click chart for larger version]
There's so many personalities here which linger in my memory, big Terry Morgan, helpful Derek Eke and Frank Glynn under Ken Hutchins and booming 'Sergeant major' Eddie Sargent in P&B (as it was then).
Nora Henderson, the indefatigable Ivy Lee (who could give Eddie Sargent a run for his money), the immaculate Miss Williams (sometimes 'Billie' but never Nora) and tiny Kath Daviss in Pubns under Bob Barnard and Andy Woolway. The relaxed Paddy Morrison and Dorothy Daggett in Publicity with the plummy-voiced Harry Edwards under Ray Brearley.
And my fellow designers, Vera Brice (who later became Senior Designer at HarperCollins) and myself learning the 'gentle craft from a gentle man' that was David Napthine as John Saville once described him. The inimitable David Challis (who later joined The Museum of London) and Sue Grindley whose involved tales of why she was always late amused us all. Tony Garrett (who later joined The Times ), with Ken Arnoldi, Dee Smallridge and George Hammond each of whom made the move to Norwich. But David Tudor didn't, preferring the life of a freelancer in London, and bearded Peter Branfield who headed the small HMSO London Studio until 1985. Peter is best remembered for designing some four hundred posters for the V&A and other national museums. All of us striving for the challenging John Westwood.
Then the senior staff whom I knew less well, Jack Carpenter, Bert Leader, Tim Powis, Charlie Blundell, the industrious George Macaulay, Jim Macausland, red-nosed John Morgan, water-colourist George Thompson, Doug Masson, and lofty Derek Dashfield – all good to work for as I recall.
Finally the Management Board of Jack Cherns, Bill Donaldson (who sanctioned the change of my day-release course to Graphic Design), and Jim Turner (who signed my Compositor apprenticeship indentures when I first started in 1959) each reporting to the Controller, the energetic Cliff Baylis who I most remember dashing around the corridors of Atlantic House one Christmas Eve wishing everyone a much appreciated Merry Christmas.
They were happy days . . .
Hello Philip, Lots of names, just what I like. Kath Daviss worked on S6 as EO with Charlie Lloyd as HEO in 1965 when I moved to S6B. As you say, happy days. Reg
25 June 2012 – London at its best . . .
Many HMSOldies living and working in Norwich are known to be of the opinion that the best thing about London is the train back home from Liverpool Street (when it is not a Replacement Bus Service, that is). Well, if they care to take a later train they may be interested in what the area around the station has to offer.
In 1967 Philip Marriage discovered he had ancestors who once lived in Spitalfields, so it was inevitable that he would explore the area with his camera.
Periodically over the years he repeated his visits and slowly built up a collection of photos which record the changes that have taken place. A selection of these photos were recently published by 'the gentle author' of 'Spitalfields Life':
Those Oldies who know London might find these photos of interest and the many other fascinating articles on this web-site — I certainly did, in common with Barbara Bovington, who in the 'Responses' at the foot of the first article says "Interesting to see these. I doubt that Philip would remember me but from 1971-1976 I worked for HMSO in Pubns (P1C)." Small world.
24 June 2012 – Peyton Place? Jack tries not to Tampa with the evidence
I may live in a geriatric community, Crane Lakes Golf and Country Club, where you have to be at least 55 years old to live here, but it is more like Peyton Place at times. You remember that American series that aired in Britain in the late sixties?
ATTEMPTED CONTRACT KILLING: Last summer my friend Neil’s wife died. A few months later he married his cousin, Doreen; well it was his wife’s cousin so she was not a blood relative. After a short while Neil decided to dump her and she didn’t like it. She became angry with Neil because he sold their home and didn't split the money as he promised. Neil had sold his home here for $72,000.
What did Doreen do? Well, she's accused of putting a contract out on Neil? She reportedly asked a fellow nurse's aide to kill her husband. According to Press reports, she allegedly offered Brandon Parrish $25,000 from her husband’s insurance policy to murder him. But Parrish told the police about her offer and she was arrested and is still in jail without bail.
It doesn’t end there: Investigators are reportedly questioning whether Doreen could be a black widow. A report shows her second husband mysteriously committed suicide in New Hampshire in 2001. Investigators said they found traces of anti-freeze in his system that he drank over time. That case is now being revisited.
LIGHTNING: A woman was injured after lightning struck two trees Wednesday afternoon on our golf course. Lightning had struck two trees nearby, but it couldn’t be confirmed that the woman was struck.
The woman was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center of Port Orange. Witnesses said she was knocked to the ground and bleeding from the mouth, but alert when transported.
SUICIDE: In the next street down from my house a woman committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. Apparently she didn’t do a very good job of it because when the police arrived she was still breathing. She died the following day in hospital. Now why would an apparently attractive woman in her late fifties do this?
From what I have been able to find out she was a bit of a boozer and was also addicted to pills. I don’t mean banned substances I mean pain pills, sleeping pills or anything she could get her hands on. Her next-door neighbour was a gentleman in his lower nineties who was being prescribed various pills by his doctor. Our suicide victim found out and asked him if he would let her have some. He at first declined until she offered him “favours for pills”. So she would pop around to his house, pick up some pills, provide him with her favours (don’t lose sight of the fact that he was in his nineties!) and go back home . . . until one day the gentleman declined to give her any more. She was none too happy with this and got hold of a small gun, put it to her head and . . . bang!
DEATH AND RESURRECTION: I was told by my friend Harry that a guy named Jim, who lives about twenty doors away from me, had been found lying face down in the road, dead to the world. This story went from mouth to ear like wildfire. Jim lived on his own so it could not be confirmed too easily whether he had in fact died. It went on until Wednesday evening when, during a bingo session in the club house, someone got up and announced that Jim was not dead but had gone north to visit relatives in Pennsylvania. So where had this story of his death come from?
A few friends and I were talking to Jim at a baseball game last Wednesday evening and he told us the story. A friend of his said he would pick Jim up in his car and take him to the airport. It was thought, so I am told, that the car resembled a hearse (why? Because it was black or what). Someone saw the car turn up and then saw luggage being carried out; I can only assume that it was not in broad daylight but in fading light, but then you never know with myopic geriatrics. This unknown person put two and two together and assumed that it was Jim’s body being removed from his house. It doesn’t resolve the mystery of why someone said he was found face down in the road!
I need to get away from all this excitement; it is not good for my heart! A friend of mine said he would hate to live here on Crake Lakes. When ask why he replied, “The noise of the ambulances, fire trucks and police sirens coming to pick up the dead would keep me awake.” As a matter of interest the fire trucks are usually first on the scene of accidents because all the crew are trained paramedics.
Talking about getting away I am flying across the pond and will be in Norfolk and Suffolk from 3 to 23 July. Best wishes from, Jack Keating
Hello Jack, My word, I didn't realise that life over there was so exciting! I thought at first you were trying out a script for a new television series ('Scouse in the House?') and checked to make sure it was all true . . .
We will certainly find a place for your piece as a Public Service and it would be good to catch up with you when you are over. All the best. Reg
Stop Press : Jack escapes from the Everglades for a week or two and gets outside a few pints of London Pride in the Wig and Pen , Norwich.
23 June 2012 – From Billy Stevenson
Dear Reg, Like your good self, I look forward to reading Dr Pickford's new book when it is published. I have reserved a place for it on my bookshelf alongside "Barty-King" which I got from Amazon for two quid. A further place is reserved for Reg Walker's definitive work on the old firm. I know you can do it, having read your many recollections in the 'Oldies'
The Belfast Bookshop I was thinking, had been at 80 Chichester Street for a long long time, I must check if it was there when the Titanic was built. Now there was hot metal of a different variety, white hot rivets, which reminds me of my own days at Harland and Wolff. My good mate in those times was Roy Walker. We were Catch Boys in the Victoria Yard or Wee Yard as it was called. Roy went from Catch Boy to Catch Phrase.
The Shipyard was like an Industrial Academy, young lads learned a lot, not only about Trade skills but about life in general. The things I remember most were the wonderful nicknames. One of the Riveters I worked with was called "Bones Gallaher", another was "Jack Bull Hynds"
They were tough men, but warm-hearted too. There was about twenty thousand men in the Yard at that time and most of them came to work on bicycles, myself included. It was God help pedestrians when the horn blew in the Yard at finishing time. Another memory was, on Friday night when we got paid the members of the Squad you worked with gave you what was called "Blood Money", no it's not what it seems. It was for boiling the tea cans. Good Days as was my time on board HMS Circle at Chichester Street and later Arthur Street.
Best regards to yourself and the team. Billy
PS Did I catch a glimpse of you Reg, in the Royal Enclosure chatting to Frankie Dettori the other day?
Hello Billy, Lovely reminiscences ― especially for me, as my Uncle Frank (born around 1908) was 'one of John Brown's Boys' at the Shipyard in his early days. He was a French Polisher and went on to Gilpins, a place of which you are well familiar. Even had the honour of a mention in 'Belfast Life' . . .
He lived into his 80s at Cregagh, with daily trips to The Rosetta and the odd away-day to the Kitchen Bar, Ulster Sports Club etc. Roy Walker was not a relative of mine, as far as I know, and I am flattered that you thought I was among the 'monied classes' at Ascot. Fakenham Races is about as far as I am likely to get. You bring back some fine memories, which I am sure will be shared among many ex-pats and visitors to the places you mention. All the best, and keep 'em coming. Reg
23 June 2012 – From Brian Blackmore
Reg, Thought you would like to see that I am still alive and kicking!
Hello Brian, You old Sea dog, you haven't changed a bit! Could have just come back from a walk to Orsman Road to check on the number of Fit Stock Gestetner 105s . . .We look forward to any reports of your future sea-going activities. All the best, Reg
13 June 2012 - HMSOldies at The Eagle, Norwich
The eagle-eyed among you will spot the following participants in this slideshow of photos taken by Messrs Pawsey, Taylor and Walker:
Ann Clancy, Alan and Janice Pawsey, Judy Tassell, Brian and Jean Whitefield, Jane Burgis, Julie Jermy, Ann Cullum (the only person to avoid a portrait!), Steve Johnson, Viv Jones, Brian Ekers, Alan Cole, Andy Taylor, Pat Owen, Pat Tate, George James, Roger Nash, Gordon and Jennie Robbie, Ann Eason and Reg Walker.
6 June 2012 - HMSOldies London Lunch
Twenty-three HMSOldies attended the Annual London Lunch at The Freemasons’ Arms, in Longacre, Covent Garden organised by Bob Allder. By coincidence, the venue was an appropriate place to hold the event as just around the corner lies the building which once housed the old Drury Lane Press.
Those present were: Bob Allder, Bob Avery, John Barker, George Billson, Dave Burchell, Eric Darby, Alan Crawley, Dave Brennan, John Davies, Ken Dustan, Michael Edwards, Dave Forbes, Tony Ford, Eddie Gregory, Alan Hardman, Geoff Hooper, Fred Howe, Ron Reddick, Dennis Rose, John Rumball, Gordon Parfitt, Graham Smith, and Peter Watts.
Although booked-in for the lunch, but unable to attend on the day were: Geoff Brewer, due to a medical emergency was prevented from attending; John Morley, delayed in getting back from France; Grace Ware, having just returned from holiday, ended up with a heavy cold. The three spare meals served up were shared around the tables with Ken Dustan clearing the most plates. No doubt Ken needed the extra sustenance, having travelled up to London all the way from Torquay.
After the meal, apologies for absence were announced: John Eveson, away on holiday in sunnier parts; Keith Frances, unable to attend on the day; Gerry Taylor, attending the Steyning Festival; Ron Sawyer, involved in the his local Diabetes Support Group activities; Mick Davies, looking after his grand-children during the school holiday; Ron Bent, recovering from a triple by-pass, and suffering at the time from a tooth abscess;. Martin Grant, away on holiday; John Robertson, attending a prior engagement. After the meal, the assembled company were later joined by John Rumball’s wife Christine.
There were no reported sightings of any apparitions, as within visible distance of the venue is Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, frequently used as “Thames House” the headquarters of MI5 in the television series “Spooks”. With no pressure from the landlord to leave the function room, the event carried on well into the afternoon, enabling those present to continue their conversations and “catch-up” on news and gossip.
6 June 2012 – From Dr Susan Pickford
Dear Mr Walker, I've just come across your very interesting and informative website. I'm an academic currently working on a chapter on government publishing for a forthcoming volume of the Cambridge History of the Book in Britain. At the moment I'm trying to find out what happened to the HMSO bookshops in the 1980s and 1990s: I presume privatisation saw the end of them and the operations are now run online through the TSO. I wonder if you or your members could shed any light on the question for me?
I'd also be interested in the possibility of reproducing an image or two from your photo archive if you are inclined to grant permission.
With many thanks, best wishes, Dr Susan Pickford, University of Paris
Dear Dr Pickford, Thank you for your kind words regarding the HMSOldies website. It is some 16 years since most of us were made redundant from HMSO so our knowledge of TSO and o2o (the Banner-branded Office Supplies business) which remain as privatised entities is becoming less reliable. I know that the bookshops have disappeared in their old form. In fact, I was in London yesterday and walked past the old Holborn shop, which is now a coffee bar. This TSO site, which you may well have seen, gives the latest contact information:
The book sounds interesting: once it is published we would be pleased to mention it on the website if you give us a prompt. Good luck with the book. Reg Walker, Editor, HMSOldies
30 May 2012 – Who's that with Maria? From Bob Cavanagh
Ed, Following the publication of photographs of John Terry in the wake of Chelsea's Champions League success, my thoughts returned to a picture I came across on the internet a while ago.
In all his youthful, debonair, un-photoshopped glory here's HMSO's own Phil Brooks accompanying a very chic Maria Callas. And with Liz Taylor and Dickie Burton in tow ― strolling through the Bois de Boulogne on their way to Longchamps. Ah, Phil, you were such a handsome bugger ― even Burton is in awe. O tempora, O mores, eh? Don't suppose they'd serve you if you dressed like that in The Eagle ? Cheers, Bob Cavanagh
Hello Bob, Thank you for your bombshell: Brooks mixes with the Beautiful People! All these years and I didn't know that he was a Gigolo. We will publish and see if any of our readers has other samples of his Other Life. Hope he took leave for this event . . . All the best. Reg
Up and Down the Newmarket Road . . .
Norwich readers — and of course others who will be in the area around 1230 on Wednesday 13 June 2012 — are reminded that the next informal lunchtime meeting will be held, as before, in The Eagle. Further details, should they be needed, from The Editor.
20 May 2012 – CSSC Goings On!
Hi Reg, had an enjoyable although cold visit on Saturday 19th May to Barnsdale (Geoff Hamilton's garden from BBC TV ― if you are old enough to remember this!) and Rutland Water. HMSO colleagues on this visit were Brian Wilson, Bob and Val Barnard, Arthur George, Barbara and Brian Cockram, Kevin and Pauline White, Jim and Lynda Marshall. They all know a good value day out when they see one!
We are organising a visit to the Olympic Park in August, 20:20 cricket at Trent Bridge in June, Duxford/Cambridge in October and pantomime visits to the Theatre Royal in the New Year. So if any HMSOldies would like to come along we would be very pleased to see them. Contact details for the events can be found in the newsletter in this link.
19 May 2012 – Cambodia: An Introduction from Jo Williams
Reg, So much so soon has happened after arriving back in Cambodia, after my first and only visit in 2002. People keep asking 'how has it changed?' For me it has the same mixture of dusty streets, vibrant capital, sleepy river towns and generously spirited people always ready to help and invariably with an honest smile.
But for sure change has happened, as indeed it has back home in my own English city. Cambodia is returning to a place where various nationalities can emigrate to. There is evidence of Chinese, Vietnamese, European and American investment in homes and businesses. Also the change has been to accommodate the holidaying ‘barang’, foreigners, and hopefully to work with or profit from them. The distinction seems to be that the poorer locals seek money from work and the wealthier government officials seek money from corruption. The overwhelming impression I get however is that everyone is an entrepreneur engaging in proven ways to make money. They need to be, there is little in the way of government support.
Anyone with a small capital investment can purchase a small plastic basket to contain a small bottle of oil, some string, a piece of lime, a pair of scissors, a piece of cloth and some nail varnish and they are mobile beauty parlours. Children buy photocopied Khmer bestsellers and make bright woven bracelets to sell at riverfront restaurants. Families save money from selling surplus rice to invest in a 250cc motorbike so that the son can start a moto-taxi business. Some people buy a push-cart to sell prepared fruit from. Farmers take fresh coconuts by ox-cart to wherever they can sell them. All profit in their own way. The hard part is getting the initial capital so a good friend or family member who has already succeeded is key to getting a loan.
32% of the current population are 0-14 with 64% aged between 15-64. With a third of its population too young to remember the Khmer Rouge’s genocide of the educated, there is a real understanding of the benefits of education. The children know little of the past, either because of unspoken words of what happened to their families, or relieved by the country’s present stability or they are simply uninterested. Most people who lived through the Pol Pot era and subsequent Vietnamese occupation seem to have gone on with living without self pity, whether through cultural norms of denial and suppression or by strength in Buddhist faith, and most seem able to be present and do what they can in their short lives as life expectancy falls short of 65 years old.
The main feeling I had though is that despite all that this country and its people have been through, the people are strong enough to succeed and will do so with determination. Perhaps it's because of what they’ve been through that this is possible. They realise that tourism and foreign trade will play an increasing part in their lives and most young people I met seemed to be doing what they could to earn money to pay for English classes at private schools or for extra tuition by teachers at the government schools. The people I spoke to had excellent pronunciation and were very forward in practising their English with foreigners, shyness doesn’t seem to exist. Even at a café run for and by deaf people I had a conversation about the football match they were about to play and how they would get there.
Corruption exists of course, and people have no choice but to endure the drawn out Khmer Rouge show trials screened daily on live TV which have been taking place for 3 years and are now seeking funds for another 2 years at cost of millions of dollars. They live with the ghosts of the horrific past with unshed tears and in painful denial but in some ways maybe that is what is needed in the end to maintain a sense of letting go.
I hope to return to Cambodia within a year. Cambodians smile and are outgoing, fun loving people with a sense of responsibility and seemingly have easy joy in their relationships with family, friends and neighbours. Most people were patient, friendly and honest, all of which count for a lot when you’re travelling. My advice ― Visit Cambodia ― you’ll live to love the experience as all of the travellers I’ve met have!
Hello Jo, Good to hear from you ― and read your optimistic reflections. Sounds fascinating! All the best, Reg
16 May 2012 – From Les Birch
Dear Reg, Congratulations to Jim Cairns on his production of what must be one of the best pieces we have seen on the site for a long time. I remember him joining the design team in Edinburgh ― they were all first class designers and the London boys I think felt that their noses were very much put out when Edinburgh consistently gained the highest awards for their work. They were of course all complete nutters ― I recall one occasion when they were designing a book for the Ancient Monuments people in Scotland, something about some dig in the Orkneys or Shetlands, I cannot recall which. I walked into the studio to find them all wearing Viking helmets, essential, they told me in all seriousness, for them to get into the right frame of mind to design the book appropriately. But it seemed to work. Best wishes, Les
Hello Les, Yes, an excellent piece as you say. I have alerted Alex Smith, who I am sure will be interested. Thank you for your additional reminiscence ― which tallies with my memories of the exuberant GD people I dealt with at Customer events in the early 1990s.
However we have managed to find a photo of them from 1980 in one of their more relaxed moments ― Jim Cairns on the right, Dot Adams in the middle with Ronnie Burnett on the left. All the best, Reg
16 May 2012 – HMSO Great War Roll of Honour: update
Following Stuart McLaren's earlier note (1 May), HMSOldies is in the process of re-positioning and enhancing the prominence of this important aspect of HMSO's past ― and we have been told that there are plans to place the Plaque on permanent public display near the main reception desk at the National Archives at Kew later in 2012.
Printers' Pie and Pyknyks — in Edinburgh
John Saville has alerted us to this excellent short film, produced by Jim Cairns
The film follows the progress of the well-known Edinburgh Printers, R&R Clark. Jim Cairns joined HMSO Edinburgh in 1974 as Technical Officer in Graphic Design. He subsequently left to set up a design consultancy in Glasgow. The film will be of interest both to printers and those interested in social history — specifically related to Edinburgh in the last century. And the background music is also particularly well-chosen.
Jim Cairns adds: Dear Reg, Thank you for putting my 'Printers' Pie' film up on HMSOldies. I hope that people will enjoy it. It was kind of Les Birch to remember GD Edinburgh so nicely, and I take his description of us as 'nutters' as the highest possible compliment! I wonder what happened to those Viking Helmets? Regards to all oldies, Jim.
Dear Jim, A lovely film: even non-Scots and non-printers have told me how it happily takes them back to The Good Times (rose-tinted specs suitably adjusted) that we all think we remember. Strangely enough, we took the grandchildren to an event at Pensthorpe recently where there was a re-enactment involving Viking helmets. I wonder . . . All the best from a very warm Norwich. Reg
Fred Stubbs adds: The Jim Cairns film was most enjoyable and I found it quite moving at the end. When I was in the Edinburgh office HMSO made good use of R & R Clark as it was a top quality printer. It really looked like a very good firm to work for. Jim deserves some kind for award for the production of that film. Best wishes, Fred
Bob Nelson adds: I’ve just watched Jim Cairns’ film about R. & R. Clark of Edinburgh, and have never seen a more affectionate record of a printing firm. I worked at R. & R. Clark for about a year at the end of the sixties and I worked with Jim in Edinburgh for some years before moving to Norwich in 1978.
14 May 2012 – David Berwick: 'The Divine Delinquent'
Hello Reg, You were on my list of good folk to contact when blow me, up pops a message from Nodge this morning saying that you were enquiring after info! I've no idea how you knew about it. I would of course be delighted if you could give my latest publishing venture a run in front of your readership. My first book took 25 years to produce. I'm getting the hang of it now — this one has whizzed into life in slightly less than 3! I am publishing this one myself — PP experience has been very handy indeed! Mature readers from the technical area may be interested to know that dear ol' Barnwell's of Aylsham are being trusted with getting paper between printing surfaces and in the right order — hopefully! They now have a very modern plant and produce some excellent work. I can't speak highly enough of them thus far down the track. Anyrate, if you could run the details from the attached documents I would be more than grateful. All the best, David.
Hello David, Good luck with your launch! All the best, Reg
9 May 2012 – Les Birch: A little more about Chadderton
Dear Reg, Good to see Jack Payne's note about Chadderton and particularly his mention of the bowling green ― it was of course a crown green, flat greens being reserved for effete southerners. In addition there was a 9-hole putting green adjacent to the main office block and 2 shale tennis courts (they would be called 'clay' now). Indoor sporting activities were covered by a full size snooker table and two table tennis tables. There was also I believe a dart board but in keeping with the class distinctions Jack makes much of this would be the province of the 'industrials', the 'clericals' being above this sort of sport.
It has struck me that apart from myself the only people still alive to remember those pre-war and early war years at Manchester are Jim Holden and Harvey Wild - the memories of both Tom Harris and Charlie Bradshaw being both a little fragile at present. So here are a few other memories of those now distant days.
On arrival in June 1939 we were soon conscripted into the office fire brigade. About once a month we would have a wet drill when, shorn of all clothing except a boiler suit and Wellingtons, we would have great fun squirting water from a pretty powerful trailer pump over all and sundry. I think we were paid 1/- (5p) for each such wet drill ― doesn't sound a lot but when one's annual salary was £80 the sum was very welcome. The salary would of course rise by annual increments to £350 p.a. by the time we were 37 and we were told quite seriously that if we kept our noses clean (a clean nose being most essential) we might achieve promotion by our early 30s to Higher Clerical Officer where the salary would eventually reach £450 p.a. ― Staff Officer (later HEO) was a distant dream carrying a princely maximum of £550.
With the fall of France in June 1940 the next excuse to get away from the desk arose with volunteering for the LDV, later the Home Guard. We used to do at least one guard a week and as we were granted a half day off for every 2 guards done we tended to volunteer for as many guards as possible. One of the daily rituals if one was on guard duty at the main gate was to present arms to the Superintendent, Captain Hammond, as he swept through the gates in his car ― he somehow managed to get enough petrol coupons to keep his car going throughout the war. Presenting arms to a retired RASC officer was way over the top and he should have had just the simple slap on the rifle butt by way of salute ― if that.
With the arrival of the blitz later in 1940 our monopoly of night duty was shattered by the onset of firewatching and we 'soldiers' resented very much the presence of these 'civilians'. They used to sleep during the night so of course did not have the time off that we managed.
All the time from when we reached the age of 18 we would submit an application every month to be allowed to volunteer for the forces and every month it would be turned down. Eventually we were told that we could volunteer as soon as our age group were notified of their date for registration for conscription into the forces. In my case the notification was made on Friday 5 September 1941, I went down to the recruiting office on the morning of Monday 8 September, signed on immediately to report to an RE depot in Halifax on Tuesday 9 September and of course caused much upset in the office leaving with virtually no notice. Not that I cared in those days.
We all returned in 1946/7 to be greeted by the then Superintendent with the immortal cliché 'You left us as boys and have returned as men' which I suppose was true enough.
And talking of enough I think that this is it for now. Use of it what you will, if anything, but I hope that it will be of some interest to the Norwichites for whom quite often I feel a measure of sympathy for never having known what I and some others think of as the real HMSO.
Best wishes as always, Les
Hello Les, What a perfect potted history ― just what we need. As you say, you are certainly one of 'the few' again as regards remembering pre-war HMSO. I like to think that although I came to HMSO relatively late, in 1963, just about everyone I worked with had been through the war, generally in the Services, and one Messenger had been in WW1. The man I sat next to ― AJ Mew ― spoke almost entirely in Army slang ― and Marge Todd also taught me a few new phrases.
My oldest Establishment List is dated 1954, by which time you were already an exalted HEO in ITW (Director A Ryder; Deputy Director C Pengelly, who was Director when I joined) on a payscale £ 830 - £ 995. The few women HEOs, such as your contemporaries Winnie Delaney, Adeline Rosina Head, and Doreen Brandel, were on a scale £ 710 - £ 860. Incidentally, John Eason is still in contact with Arthur Brunwin, an EO in 1954 languishing on a scale up to £ 800 p.a. Brings it home to you when the London Evening Standard is advertising one-bedroomed flats in the City 'from £ 500 per week,'
All the best, Les, and please keep any memories coming. Reg
The Only Way Is S6
There was a time, in the mid-1980s, when visitors to Supplies Office Machinery thought they had walked into a Model Agency. HMSO's own George Clooney — Norman Reeves — had moved on when these pictures, supplied by Philip Nash, were taken, but his legacy is apparent.
The photos were taken at evening and lunchtime festive functions in 1984 and 1985. Main setting is the Savoy Greek Restaurant in Norwich's Prince of Wales Road. Philip was only 19 at the time, and was obviously trying to impress his EO, Gill Gent, with his savoir faire. Otherwise why would he try furtively scratching the back of her neck in one picture, and burning her nose with a candle in another? She smiled through it all, of course, thinking that it couldn't get worse. It could. And it did.
Philip continued the rounds of the party — via his old friend Mark Ganderton — helping Louise Chapman put linen (don't ask) on JT Gardiner's head — then hokey cokey with Eileen Johnson and Barry Finch, of Grundig. He wasn't there to help Madeleine Baldwin spoon-feed Bob Adams (also Grundig) thus earning another 5% discount on the Standing Arrangement. Frank Payne (seen restraining a drunk who insisted on singing) worked them hard in those days. What were Peter Gauchy and Gill Gent laughing at? Was he pulling that old 'waiting for a Dictaphone' line?
Lots of other famous names — who can you spot? No prizes for getting ARH During: lucky Albert won a day's labour from Gandy in the raffle. Funny thing, he hasn't been seen since . . .
8 May 2012 – From Tony Gummett
I read with particular interest the recent entry in HMSOldies regarding the forthcoming performance by Gavin Turner and the William Byrd Choir. This prompted me to dig through my CD collection and find a BBC recording of an excellent performance of a Palestrina Mass by the choir ― conducted by Gavin ― in the Sistine Chapel, Rome, and broadcast by the BBC on 31 December 1984! It is good to know the Choir is still going strong. Regards and thanks for keeping the Oldies going. Tony Gummett
Hello Tony, Excellent to hear from you ― and that you are still an HMSOldies reader. We will add your note, and I will pass on your comments to Gavin, who I am sure will be pleased to read them. Best wishes ― and hope to see you in The Ship on 11 December (only about 30 weeks!) Reg
4 May 2012 – From Helen George (NAA Newsletter)
Hi Reg. Just been catching up on HMSOldies site and saw Annette Conn's note about the Norwich Area Association (NAA) visit to Syon Park last Sunday. Would it be possible for you to put the NAA newsletter on the HMSOldies website? It might be of interest to some of the Oldies that no longer belong to CSSC ― they can rejoin at any time.
There are a number of HMSOldies involved in the NAA, Geoff Sinden, Alan Crabtree, Kevin and Pauline White and myself and we regularly see other Oldies, Annette Conn, Jill Ward, Lucin Jackson, Barbara and Brian Cockram.
It would be much appreciated if you would publish this newsletter on the site. We publish a newsletter every 6-8 weeks and the next one is due out in about 3 weeks. Would it be possible to put them on the website regularly? Regards, Helen
Hello Helen. Thank you for your note. I see no reason why we can't add the link to the CSSC Newsletter now, and on a regular basis. Meanwhile we will see who surfaces . . . All the best, Reg
2 May 2012 – HMSOldies London Annual Lunch: 6 June 2012
Bob Allder writes on 2 May 2012: Would you be so kind as to post the details of the HMSOldies London Annual Lunch on 6th June 2012? I have attached a flyer with details and Booking Form. HMSOldies really is an invaluable site –where else can you find out who's doing what these days, and sadly who has passed away.
With kind regards, Bob Allder
1 May 2012 – HMSO Great War Roll of Honour
Can I make a plea for a more prominent position for the HMSO Great War Roll of Honour (currently buried at the end of the Picture Galleries)? and could there be a link to http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Surrey/HMSO.html please? This is where the database of information I compiled on the individual men listed on the plaque is located. With the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War looming I think there will be more interest in this.
Incidentally, I have completely failed in my efforts to get the National Archive to say what they intend doing with the HMSO roll plaque. If anyone has any contacts there still perhaps they could try to find out. It's a pity if it is not going to be displayed. Thanks.
30 April 2012 – From Annette Conn – brief report on CSSC trip to Syon Park
Despite driving rain, 35 of us set out for Syon Park on a wet April day. We had an excellent guided tour of the magnificent Syon House, good food, a chance to spend in the beautiful Garden Centre and time to explore the Great Conservatory and the Park.
The rain finally stopped and we had had such good day. I think one of us got carried away in the Gardens or found enough coins in the pond to pay the modest £5 (for members) for the day! Kevin White organised the day.
All the best, Annette
25 April 2012 – Last of the summer printers, Edinburgh
Reg, Hope you are keeping well. Jim Johnstone and I went up to Edinburgh in April to see John Hamilton. We had a good day out so I thought you might like to see the state we are in. Regards, Dave Crank.
On the bench (they couldn't get a game at Hamilton Academicals), from left to right, are John Hamilton, Dave Crank and Jim Johnstone ― stunt doubles for Compo, Clegg and Foggy.
Hello Dave, Good to hear from you, and that you have been in good company. I remember JGH Hamilton Esq. as good company when I visited Edinburgh to see Norrie Veitch, especially when he worked on the Post Office (or was it BT?) Print section set up by Jim McDonald. Glad to hear he is in fine form. I will let Ernie Downs know that you are still dodging around. All the best, Reg.
19 April 2012 - Street-walking In Norwich and London
We get asked, by the occasional caring reader, if we have seen so-and-so and are they still up to such-and-such with what's her name. Farbeit for us to associate ourselves with the disgraced practices of the News of the World, and Ron 'I made an excuse and left' Mount, but the following 'Faces' (excuse the lapse into Sweeney-speak) have recently been seen on the streets:
Mistresses Eason, Williamson, Conn, Womack, Upton, Holland and Messrs McCrum JT, Durkin, Plackett, Bradbury, Cole, Holland, Penn, Reid A, Eason, Taylor M and Brooker JJ (sportsmen both), Marchant, Davey, Betts, Simmonds, Carnegie, Staples regularly feature on the streets of Norwich. London saw Messrs Ekers and Eveson out to play. A rare encounter with David Holt, where he vouchsafed sighting of Sue Whitaker taking tea among the blue-rinses at Notcutts and a possible reunion including Sally Webb, David Horn, and others recently removed from their place of employment on grounds of efficiency (they were too efficient at keeping customers happy: that will never do). I promised not to mention that he still remembers with pride the only advice he received from CTBL Robinson: 'You will never get on in the Civil Service if you wear socks like those.'And Ian MacFarlane, at the dirty end of Nelson Street, still with DWP, as is Ray Allwright. David Rae has escaped, as Ian might next year. He still sees Roger Dunn on his visits back from USA.
And who have you seen? We are sure that readers will be interested.
Robert Stutely adds: As most of my time is spent at my PC and gazing out of the window* behind the screen (doing my bit for Neighbourhood Watch is my excuse), it is not unusual to see George James passing, sometimes with his wife. My wife, when dog walking, tells me that she often saw Alex Herbert and his wife before they lost both of their dogs just recently in quick succession. I do venture to Norwich on the bus with my carer (Mrs S) but have not seen any ex-colleagues yet or just do not recognise them.
*I can now do this all day. When in the office, this wasn’t allowed in the mornings else what would we do in the afternoons!
Philip Marriage adds: I was in London recently at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum and quite by chance my visit happened to coincide with a 'Magic of Meccano Show' with enthusiasts from all over displaying their models. I mentioned John Westwood's name to a couple of exhibitors and they said he was still involved with the world of Meccano and may even make an appearance that day – not bad for someone in his nineties, though they added that he is quite deaf now and no longer drives.
Ernie Downs adds: A couple of sightings for your delectation. On April 4, Mr and Mrs J Eason on a bus close toThe Fat Cat. On April 8, on the Marriott Way, Peter and Mrs Lince. They were walking part of the Way working up an appetite for lunch; having started atThe Otter at Thorpe Marriott and were returning to same.
10 April 2012 – From Jack Payne
Reg, Seeing the item from Les Birch about Chadderton reminded me of my time there. I went the first time in 1952 and it was like a step back in time. I had just had nine months in Atlantic House and so expected something similar. Everything was segregated at Chadderton. The Industrials had their own canteen, the Clericals theirs, the Section Heads had a dining room where they paid an extra 3d to have their meal served and finally the Director had his own dining room. The toilets were similar except that the Section Heads had to share ours. The canteen was run as a club and the cleaners helped to serve the meals, changing their green aprons to white first! There was a full time gardener who was on the books as a top grade Warehouseman. His main job was to look after the bowling green. There were railway lines running through and this upset the run of the woods.
The Director was a tarter who wanted to control everything. He was called Glasscock but insisted being called Glasgow (we called him Brittledick behind his back!). All the annual assessment forms had to be filled in in pencil in case he disagreed with them. Reputedly there were three avenues to promotion. First a Mason, second a Queens Scout and third a member of NABADS (I joined NABADS but it didn't do me any good, he had gone before I even got in the field!). He was a big man and ruled all meetings. I'm sure his desk was on a raised dais to give better effect. His ending was a little sad. He was promoted to Director of Contracts and anybody from Chadderton who was in London was invited into his office to reminisce on old times and he would finish up in tears. He was a heavy whisky drinker and it was effecting his liver. He was retired I think on sick grounds shortly afterwards. I spent nearly half my service there on my two visits and enjoyed most of it.
I like the new format of the Information Circulars. All the best, Jack Payne
Hello Jack, Great to hear from you, and to read your fine reminiscence of Manchester. The segregated canteen system was still in operation when I visited in the late 1960s (to see Sam Garwood, Jim Billington ― OMRS/OMTS). There will be a few readers who also remember WH Glasscock (who I see was born 9.9.1899 ― he had gone before I joined in 1963). I seem to remember Danny Paul and Joe Delaney having similar memories. Thank you for your kind words re HMSOldies. With very best wishes, Reg
7 April 2012 – From Jim MacCallum
Hi Reg, Thanks for your email, sorry I haven’t been in touch recently. As far as I know all the old Edinburgh lads are still with us but we no longer meet for lunch and are not in touch very often if at all. I do hear from Norrie Veitch and Andy Baptie but not on a regular basis. As for myself I had a fall recently and did some damage to my ribs. I haven’t been able to drive for some weeks but thankfully I am just about ready to take to the road again. I always look at your website and like to hear about some of my old workmates. Keep up the good work. All the best, Jim
Hello Jim, Good to hear from you ― but not about the ribs. You take care up there! I mentioned your note to Alan Cole and Rod Durkin, who send their regards, and we will publish so that others can see. And thank you for your kind words. Best wishes. Reg
4 April 2012 – Bridewell History Wall
Dear Reg, I'm curating a project for the Bridewell Museum that involves sourcing thousands of photos of Norwich and its people since the invention of the camera in the 1840s. We're crowd-sourcing the photos from people using social media: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc, and approaching organisations and so on that people suggest. Someone on Facebook just mentioned you.
We're keen to get a real spread of stuff. I was wondering if you had any scans we might be able to use? It's a one-off thing, which will ultimately end with a 10-metre long photo mosaic mural in the newly refurbished Bridewell Museum. Anything you may have will help, we need upwards of 7,000 images in total, ideally 15,000. I'm quite happy, with your permission, to skim them from your website if it makes the process easier ― if that is permissible. We would also probably feature some on Facebook with a full link back to your site and a credit.
On a personal note, my father Charles Stone worked at HMSO from 1968, until he retired in 1977. I have fond memories as a child of watching him descend the spiral staircase when he left off for the night. Sadly he passed away in 1983, so I have no memories to share in return.
Lovely site, nice to see some local history in action, keep up the good work.
Please see our website for further information on the project, guidelines and terms and conditions.
Dear Nick, Thank you for your note. What an interesting project. The fact that ― entirely understandably ― you are centring on Norwich connections means that many of our pictures will be of no use, but please feel free to use those on the site that you find of interest. There are enough pictures of Sovereign House on the web (as you will know, HMSO moved in during 1968 - a year after the 'Advance Party' occupied Norvic House, Chapelfield, and Wensum House, Prince of Wales Road) so I am sure you don't want any of the building.
As regards your father Charles, I certainly remember him in the early 1970s. He worked in Finance, on the third floor of Sovereign, with JTT (Terry) Dickey, an HMSO 'old timer' who joined in 1947. Also in the area were Chris Randall, Frank Cottrell, Arthur Littlejohn, Sue Whitaker, Vince Fitzgibbon, Glynis Dole, Granville Reed ― and Alan Cole, who eventually became Director of Finance and with whom I had lunch today. I mentioned your father, and he immediately responded 'Charles Stone? Of course I remember him. A gentleman!' As nice a spontaneous comment as you could get, I think. All the best with the project, and please do not hesitate to contact me again if we can be of help. Reg
2 April 2012 – Jack Keating's Ecuador
On 10 January I took a ten-day trip to Ecuador. I had never been below the equator before, in fact the farthest south I had been was somewhere in the Caribbean. I went with my cousin Ken and his wife Kathy. They picked me up in their van and we drove the 240 miles south to Miami. We got to the Hilton hotel where Ken was to leave the van as the hotel had an airport shuttle bus. Instead of booking into a hotel they decided to sleep in the van. They stayed in the front seats and I got into the back. The following morning we got the bus to the airport.
It was a direct flight from Miami to Guayaquil and took us a little over four hours. We had booked into a hotel in the town of Salinas for eight days. Salinas is the most westerly point of Ecuador. The hotel was about a mile from the main part of town and the beaches which meant walking. After two days it was decided to move out and get a hotel in the heart of Salinas and closer to the beach. Not that we spent any time on the beach! We had one day in our second hotel but it was so noisy that I was screaming at idiots who were banging doors and arguing with one another on the other side of my bedroom wall. There was a disco across the road banging away with their usual loud bass beat which you can not only hear but also feel. Motorcycles revving their engines for no other reason than to annoy me! Trucks and cars were hurtling past almost non-stop. Police sirens going on and off for most of the night. Right across the street was the local fire station; they decided early that morning to get their trucks out, wash them and service their equipment. And other revellers who were obviously enjoying themselves getting drunk, talking loudly and generally aggravating the life out of me . . . and they never invited me! And all this despite being on the ninth floor! So after just one night we moved out.
We booked into our third hotel in three days but after only one night my cousin complained to the management about this one. He said people were outside his room door until the early hours of the morning talking and smoking. They got moved to another room. A couple of times we got the local bus to two towns north of Salinas. The closest one, La Libertad, just had a big shopping mall; although there was a large street market or I should say markets as it was spread over a few streets. The streets themselves were just dirt roads full of potholes and dogs. There seemed to be dogs almost everywhere.
The other town we visited, Montañita, was about an hour and a half away. The bus journey was a thing to behold; going through slum towns with dirt roads; dogs sleeping in the middle of the road; a taxi parked sideways in the centre of the road; a drunkard standing in front of the bus until he got moved on by a local policeman. Montañita itself was like a hippie town, full of roadside stalls selling anything and everything. The stalls were mostly manned by Ecuadoreans with others run by European hippies selling beads they had made. There were lots of backpackers speaking English, German and other European languages. We had a walk around and got a bite to eat and a beer. It had a lovely long sandy beach but even here you were bothered by people selling their wares.
We had booked just one night in the city of Guayaquil which had the international airport. But my cousins decided they had had enough of Salinas and we got the bus to Guayaquil and booked into a hotel for our last three nights. The hotel was quite nice, cleaned every day and cost just $15.80 (￡9.88) per night! It is a largest and most populous city in Ecuador with nearly four million people and there was a lot more to see and do here.
While walking around the city one day we came across an open park on a junction of four roads. When we went in we found hundreds of iguanas lying on the grass and climbing up into the trees. I honestly didn’t know that iguanas climbed trees. They were varying sizes with the biggest measuring close to four feet but they are quite tame. What I did find strange was that the iguanas were not caged they had the run of the park but didn’t seem to want to leave it. The park also contained lots of turtles in the small lake and different coloured squirrels.
My cousins and I were accosted by a local television crew in one of the many parks in Guayaquil. I told the producer in my poor Spanish that I did not speak Spanish but that did not seem to bother her. The main man with the microphone started asking me questions in Spanish to which I replied, “Yo no hablo Español.” I told him in Spanish that I was English and pointed at my cousins and told him that they were Canadian and North American. Again my lack of Spanish and his lack of English did not seem to worry him. He asked some of the crowd of locals if anyone spoke English and found a young girl who spoke a little. She tried to act as an intermediary but I am sure a lot of it got lost in translation.
Las Peñas is a neighbourhood in the northeast corner of the city centre; is the artistic centre of the city. Many of the area's 400-year-old houses have been converted into art galleries and several notable artists have studios in the area. At the top of Las Peñas is a lighthouse, a small church and the remains of a Spanish fort. I don’t know how high it is but there are 444 steps going to the top and they are all numbered.
Las Peñas, along with the rest of the city, has been redeveloped by the present mayor. He started a campaign of construction projects for the city in the late 1990s to attract tourism, that included the "urban regeneration", which reconstructed the city in all levels including sidewalks, parks, sewer system, it took the power and telephone lines underground, it saw a lot of reconstruction of the city's chaotic transit system with the construction of multiple infrastructures (streets, speedways, overhead passages, tunnels, etc.). He also cracked down on crime, so much so, that you can see security guards in shop doorways, outside banks, restaurants, etc.
We left Guayaquil on the afternoon of Friday 20 January and flew to Quito, the capital. We only had two hours there and it was real cold due to its elevation of over 9,000 feet. It was also raining with low, dismal clouds. So to sum it up I moved into four hotels in the space of just nine nights!!
Some years ago Ecuador decided to give up its currency and use the American dollar which made things easy for me. The weather was hot both during the day (around 90 degrees) and at night (around the low seventies) so at least there were some small consolations. I had trouble finding any local bars but found three American and English-speaking ones (well they were not really bars they were restaurants with a bar and rooms to rent) and they tell me the same; there are not any Ecuadorean local bars. I wanted to find some local bars where the locals drank to absorb some of the local culture and try to improve my Spanish. Best wishes from Jack.
Hello Jack, Good to hear from you. Great pictures — but if you have a new job promoting Ecuadorian tourism, I have to break it to you that you have not persuaded me away from our planned exotic location this year. Torquay, since you ask. We will see if there are any takers — all commission will come your way. All the best, Reg.
About Face: March 2012
Those of you who choose to face the other way may have a passing interest in the contributions to the HMSOldies Facebook page made by the 87 (and rising) ex HMSO members of the site.
Richard Nelson's photo of familiar faces attending a Lakeside Jazz concert gave way to an interchange regarding the publication 'HMSO : First 200 years' and who managed to walk off with what in the way of stationery souvenirs when they were bundled out of office. Brian Watt made contact from Belfast — and Paul Simmonds from Norwich — Drew Taylor offered a copy of the front page of the Eastern Evening News dated 20 December 1996 with the headline 'Workers Flock to Quit Jobs.' By-line was 'Simon Wright.' Name rings a bell — as does Ian McCall with his (Famous Grouse-induced?) memory of a Supplies Catalogue, allegedly in use in HMSO Edinburgh as late as 1972, which contained among its listings quill pens (two levels of quality, depending on grade).
More recently, Duncan Dawdry (still in St Crispins) recently encountered Julie Jermy — then there is Ian (Smith) Loughran, Brian Puplett, Kim Ives, Judy Tassell, Alan Pawsey, Vanessa (Watson) Collins, Paul Radbourne, Kevin White, Andy White, John White, Deborah (Taylor) Green, Robin Kelly and his sightings through a white van windscreen — Terry Walls and his reminiscences regarding Lincoln's Inn Fields Netball — Alan Crabtree on Sovereign Club darts — and Alan Cole rising slowly from a giant Banner Glue Stick. What's not to like?
26 March 2012 – George Rokahr, a name known around the World
Hi all, We are now in Auckland, New Zealand, at home of son Ross. These photos show the garden in need of some attention so, this being early autumn, clearing of unwanted vegetation has started. Thus the Hired Help is carrying away parts of a palm tree, effectively a giant weed.
At the local pub on Saturday evening, guy in middle is Ross, guy on right of pic is Adam Shaw, brother of Ross's partner, Hannah. And now a surprise. Adam Shaw knows George Rokahr! He (Adam) comes from Rochdale where he came to know George through their mutual interest in pipe bands. While I was earlier showing Ross a picture of his brother Ian's ceilidh band it so happened that the same page contained reference to Norwich Pipe Band. Imagine my astonishment when Adam said he knew a member of that Band called George Rokahr. I didn't expect to go to the other side of the globe to hear that!
NZ is rightly famed or its beautiful coasts. We spent last weekend with some friends at what Kiwis call a "bach". This is pronounced batch and I believe stems from times gone by when single men often lived in wooden shacks whilst working in remote parts of the country. The term applies today to usually small wooden dwellings used as holiday homes. Fairly basic but in beautiful and quite remote surroundings. Our bach was about 100 miles north of Auckland in the sub-tropical Northland region of NZ. Dave Martin
26 March 2012 – It's St David's Day and the Welshman from IP has gone for a leek . . .
Roy Plackett and friends are nothing but considerate regarding those from third-world countries who have the honour of being granted residency in England. That has nothing to do with their treatment of the Welsh, however, as is evidenced by their reverential celebration of St David's Day 2012 — in the Trafford Arms, Norwich, as it happens.
The eagle-eyed among you may be able to spot familiar faces under the witches' hats ― Allan Reid, Peter Bradbury, Cecil Hedley Hughes, Tom Smith, Roy Marchant, Eric Davey, Roy Plackett, Glyn Jones (how did he get in there?) ― with Ted Vallance and Jack Sayers playing the part of token non-Civil Servants. Comment from Jones: 'Well I'm Sospan Fached, indeed to goodness isn't it?'
24 March 2012 – Churchwarden Pipes Up
Brian Cleland left the task of creating systems for Print Division long ago; nowadays he is creating funds for a worthy cause. The Norwich Evening News dated 24 March 2012 pictures him celebrating his contribution to the successful programme of improvements at St Mary's Church, Low Road Hellesdon, Norwich.
13 March 2012 – Blake's Heaven
Linda Blake was known in the Paper Trade as a ferocious negotiator ('I'm not going to bend down and pick up nothing, Mike: get your prices right!') so it will come as no surprise that her steely determination on the indoor bowls circuit has meant that she has bent down, so to speak, and come up as three-time winner of the NCBA/NCWBA Mixed Pairs, as this NEN article dated 13 March 2012 shows. Well done!
8 March 2012 – Dave Martin calling from Oz
Hi All, We're roasting in Cairns where temperatures are in the 30s Celsius. We should be further south by several hundred Ks (as they say here) but trains from/to Cairns were cancelled last Saturday [due to flooding] when we expected to travel on Sunday morning. We found out only by luck as we were leaving the hotel here. Another would-be rail rider saw us and gave us the news! Some serious telephoning eventually saw us re-booked by Queensland Rail for this coming Sunday, Mackay accommodation cancelled (and refunded almost immediately to my credit card) and our stay at the hotel in Cairns extended without any problem.
More enjoyable has been swimming with the fishes on the Barrier Reef, travelling on the heritage railway train to Kuranda though some incredible landscapes, seeing the rain forest from both ground level and sky level on the Sky Train. The photos show the diesel loco used on the train to Kuranda, the view from the train looking towards Cairns, the train climbing towards Barron Falls station and finally the return journey from Kuranda to Cairns the other way ― by cable-car.
My internet time is fast expiring so that's it for now. Off for a cool beer and warm dip in the pool before an afternoon trip around the wider Cairns area. Dave
Hello Dave, Well, I must have conjured you up ― yesterday I sent a note to Doug Boyd saying that we should meet you upon return for a bout of boasting ― and there you are! Good to see that Australia is still copying the Mother Country for some things ― rail disruption ― if not others ― the weather. It was pissistently pouring down all day Monday but cheering up now. Nothing of interest happening other than what you will read in the news ― Richard Nelson has just returned from a fishing trip to NZ so I hope he left it tidy for you. Take care when visiting the outdoor dunny, don't say that Fosters tastes like something a cat left, don't talk about cricket and you should survive until NZ. Meanwhile, if you see my Belfast cousin Billy down there (it's a small place ― he is in Geraldtown, Western Australia) tell him to buy you a Guinness. All the best. Reg
8 March 2012 - From Richard Nelson
Hello Reg, I am still running the Dereham Jazz Society, presenting live jazz every Wednesday at Lakeside Country Club in Lyng. Last night (7 March) we had the brilliant and world-renowned Dutch jazz violinist, Tim Kliphuis. The concert was uplifting and supported by a near-capacity audience. As well as myself, among the cheering throng were three other HMSOldies, Jonathan Holtom, Joe Burns and Nodge Carnegie. We posed for a picture with the maestro. You can find out more about Lakeside Jazz here: www.lakeside-jazz-club.co.uk or more about Tim Kliphuis here: www.timkliphuis.nl
I think you will agree that the photographer has been kind to all of us with a little bit of soft focus to hide the wrinkles. My healthy tan is the result of spending January in the New Zealand summer following my other passion of fly fishing for trout. I love retirement. Best wishes, Richard
Hello Richard, Sounds like a great night — and good to see a picture of you all having obviously enjoyed yourselves. We will publish the picture to show how jazz and clean living can keep you young and happy! All the best. Reg
Nelson Hooks a Brown Trout Down Under
Richard Nelson is a lucky fellow. Not only did he work with the world's top Graphic Designers (who writes this stuff?) but he has some good friends who were happy to provide his bed and rations around New Zealand on a recent fishing trip (not the sort that the Met. Police undertake but the sort that provides a panfried treat with a bag of chips). Hope he left the place tidy for Dave Martin's visit . . .
6 March 2012 – A Piece of HMSO History, provided by Keith Batchelor
A welcome arrival on the HMSOldies doormat was a copy of the Journal of the Society of Archivists, Volume 32 Number 2 October 2011. It was kindly provided by Keith Batchelor (currently Records Management Consultant working from Ware).
The article in question is entitled 'Records Making, Office Machines, and Workers in Historical Contexts: Five Photographs of Offices in the British Civil Service c1919 and 1947.' Authors are Barbara L Craig and Heather MacNeil, and the article is summarised as follows:
'This article uses five images selected from the Stationery Office and the Treasury to anchor a discussion of copying technologies in office processes in the British Civil Service between circa 1919 and 1947. The first section situates the photographs within a specific history of the use of copying technologies within administrative offices based on reading the images in concert with the surviving textual records of these departments. The second section views the photographs as visual symbols of the feminization of clerical work during this time period, a view informed by reading the images in conjunction with the literature exploring the 'white blouse' revolution and the proletarianization of typing work.'
It may be fanciful to hope that anyone who worked for, or is related to anyone who worked for, HMSO at Underwood Street (near Old Street, North London) might read this. In fact, HMSOldies has already posted a photograph of the Gammeter Section c1920 in the relevant section.
Anyone wishing to know more about this article is invited to contact the Editor.
5 March 2012 – CSSC Trip to Syon Park, Saturday 21 April
Dear Reg, The CSSC do very good trips. (I don't participate in the sports!) I wonder if you could advertise the one below as they are a bit short on numbers
Syon Park – Saturday 21 April: We are proposing a day trip to Syon Park on Saturday 21 April 2012. Syon House is the last surviving ducal residence complete with its country estate in Greater London. There would be a guided tour of the house to view the magnificent State and Private Apartments with time to enjoy the spectacular Great Conservatory and 40 acres of gardens. More details can be found at: http://www.syonpark.co.uk/ Cost to members will be ￡5.00 and ￡18.50 for non-members.
Can anyone who is interested in spending the day at Syon Park, please contact Kevin White ASAP Tel: 01603 432510, email: email@example.com.
Thanks, all the best, Annette Conn
We'll see what a little publicity can do . . . Reg
1 March 2012 – MDC Nine Elms Lane
Hello Reg, Some of the ex-inmates might get a little damp-eyed seeing this:
Hello Chris, Thank you for stirring the memories. We will add to HMSOldies for the pleasure of the many inmates that passed through the well-designed doors. All the best. Reg
HMSO Old Bookface — or is it HMSOldies Facebook?
17 February 2012 wasn't much of a day but it will be remembered for eternity as the day when HMSOldies lurched semi-reluctantly into the murky world of social intercourse. Yes, that was the day on which the HMSOldies group page was created on Facebook.
If none of that means anything to you, fair enough. The main HMSOldies site will be in no way affected, and you will not be troubled by intrusive pokes, prods, likes, status updates and suchlike. However, it may be of some little surprise that the site has attracted 78 members (some significance as to the rotations per minute of their record turntables?) including contributions from, in no order at all, Judy Tassell, Alan Pawsey, Kim Ives, Eric Bone, Neil Fellowes Geigertek (the man who takes photos of Anglia Square buildings), Pete Turner (who has suggested a photographic competition), Ian Mccall — in one photo with John Bloomfield's knees and in another looking like Glaswegian butter wouldn't melt — then Gerry Lucioli, Brian Daniels, Vanessa Collins (leading a strand on the mating calls of the lesser-spotted Trolleypushers). Sally Frost was asking about Peter and Bridget Widgett. Drew Taylor, Duncan Dawdry, Deborah Green on the quality of canteen food, Alan Crabtree, Cath Mason, Richard Nelson, Laura Curwen . . . and photos of Andy Hunter's miniature printing galleys, ICL computers, an emergency candle, the HMSO telephone switchboard, an RAF party and a full-size SO Code 69-13.
How could you resist? Answers on a tweet (no, please, don't get me started on them . . .).
20 February 2012 – Les Birch
Dear Reg, I was obliged to visit my grandson's new flat in Manchester over the weekend (he moved there recently with BBC TV Sport) and was asked what I would wish to do on Sunday morning before being driven back to Caerphilly in the afternoon. So I thought it would be a good idea to see what was left of the old HMSO Northern Area Branch site in Gorse Street, Chadderton. After following the usual landmarks (The Gardener's Arms, The Whitegate, now a Beefeater and Premium Inn, and the old Boat and Horses) we turned off Broadway into Gorse Street, still surrounded by the Ace, Gorse and Rugby Mills, the latter sadly in a bad state of repair.
At the end of the street was a high security site, with strict warnings against trespass etc, and this was it. I took out my camera to record what I saw and the gatekeeper put his head out of his hut to enquire my business. I identified myself as an old HMSO employee who had first walked on that site on 8 June 1939, and he said that he had joined HMSO himself as a gatekeeper 30 years ago in April 1982, just 4 months after my retirement. He said that I would know some names he mentioned, amongst them George Rokahr who was apparently Manchester's last Director and who had lived in the old Office Keeper's bungalow on the site for the last couple of years of HMSO's existence, travelling home to Norwich at weekends, and Alex Mackie who had been in charge of the Press.
Of the original buildings on the site nothing remains except one of the cast-iron gate posts at the entrance. The security press itself had been moved from its original position on Broadway to one inside the new high security fence and is now currently being operated by our old friends 3M — which was a surprise to me but you probably know all about it.
The Ace Mill has finally lost its chimney — in the old days the Ministry of Works would send a little man periodically to sit on one of our walls with a pair of binoculars trained on a crack in the chimney to see whether it was growing wider - we never learned the results.
I left Manchester in June 1948 on promotion to EO to open our first Regional Branch in Nottingham and returned for a brief spell in 1971 to stand in for Charlie Bradshaw after he nearly killed himself in an horrific car crash returning from his daughter's wedding in Holland. So it was a little emotional to see what has happened to the old place but I was very fortunate to speak to the only gatekeeper who had been an HMSO employee. But we are becoming increasingly in short supply.
I do not know much of this you wish to use, if any, but some old Mancunians may be interested — makes a change from all this chat about Norwich!
Best wishes as always, Les
Hello Les, Excellent — just the information I have wanted to hear for some time. Thank you. I often wonder how things are up there, but don't find an excuse to wander down Chadderton Road these days. Last time I was there I seem to remember drinking a pint of Holt's in the Monkey Wrench. Or is my memory playing tricks again? All the best, Reg
Les Birch adds: These are some of the photos I took. Top left is the gatekeeper who joined HMSO in April 1982 and is the sole surviving ex HMSO employee on the gatekeeping staff — quite a mine of information. Top right is the view from the gate across the vacant space left by the demolition of the original office block. We never had such a clear view of the Rugby Mill which as you can see has been subjected to a degree of vandalism. Bottom left is the Ace Mill minus its chimney which stood immediately to the right of the building. Bottom right is the Gorse Mill showing the famous cast-iron gatepost, all that is left of the original HMSO buildings and thus I would think of the original First World War aircraft factory which HMSO took over at the end of that war.
19 February 2012 – Only Way Is Norway
Hi Reg, et al. Our journey ever northwards up Norway's coast has been a study in monochrome, a mostly white palette with flashes of green and every shade of grey. We flew into Trondheim through snow flurries and next day boarded the train for the ten-hour journey to Brodo, through endless valleys of spruce forests, crossing the Arctic Circle. We shared our carriage with a friendly white husky called "Herschel" whose owner, Jolanda Linschooten we discovered describes herself as a 'Professional Adventurer'. She left the train late in the day, just before Brodo, to begin a trek with just "Herschel" as her companion for the next 33 days, dragging a sledge across the snowy wilderness to Swedish Lapland for an article for National Geographic magazine. Quite a woman!
After a snowy day in Brodo we flew on to Svolvaer in the Lofoten Isles, the short twenty-minute flight taking twice as long as we circled the airport waiting for the snow to ease and the runway cleared but it was still blowing a blizzard as we struggled to the terminal. Next day the snow eased a little and we explored the town and in the evening the wind dropped and clouds parted and we could see stars for the first time on this trip.
It was well below freezing but the air was still and clear so about 9.30pm I decided to walk out on my own to take some photos near the harbour of the traditional huge fish racks strung with thousands of drying cod and after I'd finished I turned around and noticed a feint streak, like a huge comet trail, running down the sky to the horizon. It was quite unlike anything I'd seen before and I watched expectantly, then slowly the streak broadened and suddenly the sky burst into a green dancing cloud growing in intensity - this was what we'd come all this way to witness, the aurora borealis! Philip Marriage
Hello Philip. Lovely stuff..........I thought your picture was of an artist's mock-up at first...........very impressive. And you have given me an idea for my job description these days.........whatever the opposite of Professional Adventurer might be. Amateur Sloth? Reg
Philip Marriage adds: Jolanda Linschooten ran into trouble on her adventure. After she left us she made progress but twelve days into her journey the weather became 'hellish' with zero-visibility and 'Herschel' went AWOL for a while. Finally on 29 Feb she made it to an emergency mountain cabin for shelter only to find she couldn't prise open the door so next day was forced to use her satellite phone and call-out the Mountain Rescue Team. In her blog she added that an hour before she was picked-up the door thawed.
19 February 2012 – Charity Quiz from Linda Blake
As promised a copy of fundraising quiz for which you may be able to generate some interest and increased sales and ultimately more income for the charity. For the last few years I've been doing one of these quizzes, each year with a different theme, each year for a different charity.
Last year, 2011, I chose the Breast Cancer Resource Fund at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to benefit from the proceeds as I had been looked after very well by the Breast Cancer nurses there whilst undergoing surgery myself. With the help of friends we were able to distribute and sell many quiz sheets and altogether after the allocation of prize monies I was able to hand over £1192 to their fund.
This year I thought I would also raise monies for a cancer related charity and I've selected MacMillan Nurses. I'm hoping that I can do as well again. Fingers crossed. I would appreciate it if interested readers could return completed entries by post to me, including a £1 coin (or more if feeling generous!) by the due date shown.
Linda Blake (HMSO 1971-1996)
19 February 2012 – Arthur Aldersley: Funeral Arrangements
We have received a further note from Arthur's son John, as follows:
'I know a number of his former colleagues retired to Norwich where coincidentally his funeral is to be held, as he died in Norfolk – although he lived until very lately in Sussex. I shall be flying in from Australia and giving an eulogy. If Len Ellis or any other colleagues are around they will be most welcome.
The funeral will be at 1.15pm on Friday 2nd March at St. Faith's Crematorium, 75 Manor Road, Horsham St. Faith, Norwich NR10 3LF Tel: 01603 897727.
For those who wish to send flowers, these should be sent to the undertakers: Cromer & District Independent Funeral Services, 32 West Street, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9DS Tel: 01263 514814. Alternatively, there will be a collection at the crematorium for Alzheimers Research or you can donate on-line at http://arthur.aldersley.muchloved.com/ This is also a memorial website where you are very welcome to add tributes, memories and photos as well as making a donation if you wish.
Following the service we have booked a room at The New Inn, Norwich Road, Roughton, Norwich, Norfolk. NR11 8SJ for the Wake, where we will be providing a light buffet.'
12 February 2012 – The Big Lottery Fund and its Heroes Return 2 programme
Dear editor, I am writing to you on behalf of World War II veterans who, due to a lack of advertising, may not have been aware that in 2011 financial grants, Heroes Return 2, were available from the Big Lottery Fund to enable veterans and or their widows to pay a visit of remembrance to the theatre of war that they were involved in. Veterans, male or female, widows, and widowers of veterans, can all apply. The offer also extends to Merchant Seamen, as well as WAAF’s and ATS who worked closely with active personnel. It appears that the number of veterans claiming these grants were far less than anticipated resulting in these grants being extended to 31 December 2012. It would be extremely helpful if you can find space to make these details known so that veterans, who will now be aged 80 and over, may still take advantage of these grants and plan a visit.
The grants range from £150 to cover travel and accommodation for veteran, spouse and carer, within the UK, £1,300 to Northern Europe and £5.500 to the Far East. As I have received a grant for a visit I made last December, I would be more than willing to advise any of your readers on how and where to claim.
Dear Reg et-al, I was at the Central Government War Headquarters last week (and have been on and off for years) where I am currently researching HMSO Stocks held there from the 1960s to c.2004, these are much depleted now but there are hundreds of items still there with various stock codes, Code No.2-225 and so on. Do you think that there is a Catalogue of these Stock Codes from the 1980s that I might get a copy of (or even consult)?
Hello again Mark. Good to see that you are still on the trail of stock history. Fascinating website. I tried to ferret out an old Stock Code list (SARL rings a bell: Stock Average Rate List). As I was not in the area concerned when I left in 1996 I did not have a copy in my small bag of (legal) souvenirs. So we will see if anyone can help out. Meanwhile, if you have any specific 'numbers' that interest you we might be able to tax the memories of our Clerk of Stationery correspondents . . . Best wishes. Reg
31 January 2012 – From Sue Holden
Reg, The website is looking really good: congratulations on its new, clear format! Having notified you of my recent entry into grand-motherdom, here's a photo of me and new great-granddaughter, Lily-May, born 8 November 2011 to back it up. Feel free to publish if you wish: I note that my profile could do with a boost!
Oh, and you might want to add that I, in this new age of non- retirement, have recently completed my postgraduate studies and am now a qualified and accredited psychotherapist specialising in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I am in practice in the Primary Health Sector, with the Ulster Cancer Foundation and with a few private clients. So, I am not available for baby sitting duties! Sue
Hello Sue, Lovely ― and very appropriate. We had been looking for something cheerful, to alleviate the obits and the gloom offered up by the national media, so what could be better than the birth of a potential new reader? Lily-May will be wanting to know what her great-grandmother did all day at work before you know it. Thank you ― and congratulations to the proud parents ― not to mention great-great-grandfather Jim Holden. Well done on the impressive qualifications. As I understand it, CBT is a goal-oriented therapy (a useful form of TQM?) but as it deals in dysfunctional emotions I will, for a change, be careful what I say . . . Best wishes. Reg
28 January 2012 – Supplies Paper Buyers Annual Lunch 2012
This is a snap taken at the annual luncheon. Ian was unwell so did not attend. Not much to report. Tried to put the world to rights but nobody took any notice of our deliberations last year or any other years. For some reason all the movers and shakers were listening to speeches in a place called Davos? Sounds like something out of a Doctor Who script with the same obsession with fantasy. Publish and be dammed but not to burn in the fires of Hell I hope. Brian Cockram
PS I have run this through Photoshop software and given everybody a smile.
Thanks Brian. Good to see that you are all ageing gracefully and that Maurice has combed his silver locks at the back. Not sure about Durkin's scarf indoors, though. Surely he is too old to be hiding love-bites? All the best, and start saving for next year's reunion. Reg
27 January 2012 – Slight Concubine Peril (10;10)
The linguistically aware among you may guess that The Editor was given an Anagram Finder for Christmas, which was as well as it gave him something to do while others were at the Electronic Publishing post-Christmas dinner at Don Pepe in Norwich.
Brooding Bore is a most inappropriate reworking for the patronymic of the jolly man in the pink shirt. Slinky Jean Wino may be slanderous. Adman Rivet, Agile Hair Primp, Jello Vanish, Shrill Mandala and Seaway Plan are good enough for Beachcomber's 'Register of Huntingdonshire Cabmen.'.
Which leaves me to leave you as . . . A Grilled Wanker.
27 January 2011 – Senior Staff Meeting
John and Ann Eason live near Harvey Wild (ex HMSO Manchester London and Norwich and CCTA), and John often meets Arthur Brunwin (currently living in Portsmouth; ex HMSO ITW Cornwall House) at Lords'. On 27 January all four met in London for a reunion lunch at an Italian restaurant in Soho, and a good time was had by all. Arthur entered established service in 1937; Harvey in 1939. The combined ages of the four diners is 318 ― proof positive that a virtuous office life brings its own reward.
26 January 2012 – Julia Holland notches up awards hat-trick
I’m pretty sure that this is the Julia Holland that worked in Business Supplies. Her photo’s (see image above. Ed. ) on her web-site mentioned in the article. Stan Church
Hello Stan, Well spotted. Yes, that's Julia. Good to see that she has found success following her time in HMSO and o2o. Must be a more satisfying life than allocating customer demands and arranging disposals in S9a!
Hi. Thought you might like a snap of Geoff Sinden at his surprise (at least to him) 70th birthday bash at The Cottage, Thorpe earlier this month. His daughter Claire had organised the party and had travelled from Jersey for the event. A splendid cake adorned with two tiny representations of Geoff and Mrs S bowling was cut and consumed. Geoff took to the dance floor throwing himself into rock songs from his distant youth. Not a sight for the faint hearted. Mind you my efforts at swirling the hips were positively disgusting. Brian
Hello Brian, Thank you . . . looks like a good evening. And isn't that sweat (sorry, perspiration) on the brow of ageing Geoffrey? More than he ever managed when he was sleeping over his tray of delivery notes in ITW1b in 1965. I think we should entitle this 'The Egg-man Cometh of Age.' Just about everyone who knows him will know why. And the thought of your swirling hips will take some time to leave my mind . . . All the best. Reg
12 January 2012 - Big Bags and Babies in Bangkok
Greetings from Bangkok, I made it but felt like it wasn't going to happen at times.
On the coach on my way to the airport I checked to see what my luggage allowance was and noticed the “Security Requirements” section stating that at check-in I needed to show the card that I'd paid for the flight with ― well I had decided I didn’t need this card so I called my brother to try and work out how to organise getting him, or my mum, to photocopy the card and fax it to the airport, if indeed they'd accept that. I stressed until I got to Heathrow and had a choice; to get in line and try and check-in without the card by keeping the staff distracted by chatting, or to fess up and ask before I got in the queue which was long and would lose me valuable time if indeed I needed to get a copy faxed.
I fessed up to a man helping organise the queue and I should have realised in the casual manner that is Indian (I flew with an Indian airline) I was told "So long as you've paid for your flight it'll be OK". Unconvinced I got the man to take me to a separate desk where I was told my flight was confirmed and it was “No problem” that I didn't have the card. So check-in was a doddle and my three bags weren't weighed together so I got away with the weight as all my heavy stuff was in my hand luggage.
So on to Passport Control. I waited behind a woman literally three times my weight, carrying a baby of about 6 months, four stuffed carrier bags, a Barbie rucksack, a bling handbag and with a girl of about 5 in tow. Whilst getting out all the travel documents she somehow slipped and fell off her 4 inch platform sandals sprawling like a jellyfish whilst holding the baby aloft. Everyone stood clear and the woman somehow got to her feet alone ― no wonder she was perspiring. I looked at the security staff as they stood impotently aside and offered to take the woman's bags: “I wouldn't do that if I were you, you're not allowed to carry items for other people” was the reply. But seeing that woman wasn't going to make it too easily alone I asked the woman if I could take her bags and she said “Yes, thank you” with such relief that I had to.
So on we went through to baggage security as I tried to appease the little miss who was pouting at me for insisting I hold the Barbie rucksack even though she was carrying a doll half her size. The woman was so stressed she seemed unable to talk so I started to work on the challenge that was little madam, or 'mama' as the mama called her. She scowled and crossed her arms like the baddest rappers and refused to answer any of my many questions: So what's dolly's name? I like your hair, did mummy do that? Is pink you favourite colour? Is dolly a boy or a girl? Have you been on an aeroplane before? What do you think of quantum theory? (I just typed that to test if you're still paying attention.)
As we got to the x-rays, I instantly stated loudly “THESE BAGS BELONG TO THIS WOMAN” so they'd go easier on me when they arrested us for drug/arms smuggling. Anyway through the other side of the machine I glided through as usual but they had taken the Barbie bag to one side. I was gifted the baby as big mama sweatedly stood waiting for the inspection. The baby girl was very cute, clothed as she was in a head to toe fluffy pink all-in-one; perfect for fooling the x-ray and no doubtedly double-lined with Class A's. Baby smiled and I cooed and little mama, on getting jealous that my attention was now on the baby, decided to engage me in playing at throwing/sowing magic/unmagic beans of which there was no shortage.
Bags cleared (although there should have been a legal limit on the amount of bling) big mama explained that “Actually these are not my babies”, gulp, “they are my grandchildren”, I wondered how she'd managed that. I asked what gate she needed to get to? 'Fourteen' big mama replied and showed me her boarding card showing that the boarding time had already commenced. I said “I'll carry the baby” thinking it would be the easier option for me as I had an 8.7 kilo holdall. So without trying to panic we all took off toward Gate 14, big mama with all five bags, little mama casually following along with dolly of unknown sex, dressed as it was in dungarees, me with a 8.7 kilo bag ripping into my bare shoulder and very slippery babe that wouldn't sit on my hip needing to keep stopping and rehoiking lest I dragged her along like dolly.
After a 15 minute suggested walk to Gate 14 that we'd done in 10, sweating and dishevelled, we approached incredulous staff at Gate 14 asking “Do you know we are about to close. How did you get through with all these bags? Are you travelling together?”. I told a woman to “Carry my bag” and on actually reaching Gate 14, I told the woman to “Take the baby” to which she replied “I am not allowed to carry babies”. Baby had finally lost the plot and decided to make her own panic, of being thrust upon a skinny white woman with glasses whilst big mama had had her back to her for the past 20 minutes.
I handed baby to big mama who was handing bags over for checking in the hold before she promptly disappeared through the tunnel, at least little mama acknowledged me as she shouted and waved “Goodbye, goodbye” before too disappearing from view.
Well I tell you, taking random buses and feeling lost in Bangkok has nothing of the same adrenaline rush.
That's all for now folks. Jo Williams
Hello Jo, Good to hear from you, and that you are still flying the flag of British Decency overseas. I seem to recall that the last time I saw you was outside Oxfam in Magdalen Street, from where I have just returned with a Daily Telegraph Book of Obituaries and a cordless mouse for a laptop. That's about as exciting as it gets. Oh yes, it's raining. All the best. Reg
9 January 2012 – Bob Barnard writes
Happy New Year to you. I thought you would be interested to know that last Thursday, 5 January, Sid Brooks was 90. Valerie and I met him and his wife for lunch at the Civil Service Club and we were joined by Sid’s son, Peter, Kay Griffiths and husband, David, as well as Sue Phillips (nee Hazell). I doubt you would know Sue as she resigned from HMSO on marriage in 1963. Sid was in good form having travelled up from Seaford that morning and he was going back there after lunch.
In the course of conversation, Kay mentioned that she and David attended Margaret Arkinstall’s cremation at Kingston Crematorium. Kay said there were two elderly ladies waiting outside the Crematorium who she did not recognise but who turned out to be Jean Wrench and Marian Williams. Both were not in the best physical shape and Marian was walking with the aid of a sticks. Kay knew Jean from earlier days but just did not recognise her at all. Kind regards, Bob
Thanks Bob: good to hear that Sid is in good form — and a reminder of Jean Wrench, who I seem to remember transferred to DTI in a pre-dispersal exchange with Stan Adams in 1967.
Sid Brooks adds: Dear Reg, We had a smashing HMSOldies gathering and lunch at the CSC. I managed four 'do's altogether and acquired three cakes, with four generations at the family get-together on Sunday. Joyce has given me a flight in a Cessna from Shoreham to Eastbourne which will include my old flat on the cliffs, our present house and the Anne of Cleves House where we married 11 years ago. As ever. Sid
Bob Barnard adds: At last I have down-loaded the photos taken at Sid Brooks 90th birthday lunch. The top one shows Sid with the cake Valerie and I took up to the Civil Service Club. It was a bit much to have 90 candles on the cake, so we settled for 9, representing each decade of Sid's life. The other one is of the group and reading from left to right they are: Joyce (Sid's wife); David (Kay's husband), Valerie, Sid, Sue Phillips (nee Hazell), me and Kay. Hope they will be of interest.
9 January 2012 – From Billy Stevenson
Dear Reg, When replacing my Chelsea Football Club Calendar I gave a last glance at the month of December and Lo and Behold! the month ended with the 30th. The player depicted was John Terry. Could this have been a subtle move by Roman Abramovich to reduce the players' wage bill for 2011? A three hundred and sixty fifth part of millions would be a considerable sum. It would help to offset his legal expenses. Or could it mean that John Terry's days at the club are numbered? One thing for sure is Roman didn't invite me to his party, but rumour has it Reg, that your yacht was tied up alongside 'The Eclipse'. Surely we must be told.
Redundant Cabin Boy, Billy.
Hello Billy. You have me bang to rights: that was indeed my Coracle bobbing along by the Trainer (used to be Plimsoll) Line of said yacht ― and as for being well-heeled, there's ten bob notes in my Lump Sum I haven't even broken into yet . . . All the best for 2012. Reg
4 January 2012 – From John Nash
Hi Reg, Many thanks for your New Year Greetings which of course we reciprocate. May we also join in with others to add our congratulations on the splendid Christmas card ― a really excellent and novel production. It seems a sensible decision now to list the Obits separately. Scanning the listings in their new format I was sad to read about so many old colleagues ― Gordon Cooper, Adrienne May to name but two; and also dear old Tony Bennett. Tony was held in great regard by the Steam Railway fraternity here since his library of excellent train pictures have been constantly used in Island railway books. Meanwhile all the best for 2012 from the Magic Isle. John Nash
Hello John. Good to hear from you, and glad you liked the card. Nice of you to remember dear old Tony Bennett — rummaging amongst our archive we found this photo of him taken in 2003 . All the very best. Reg
2 January 2012 – From Barry Palmer
Happy (maybe it should be hoppy) New Year to you all. Still planning a trip back this year but at the moment it seems all relatives are going to be out of the country (strange, must be something I ate) but we are thinking of going to mainland Europe first and finish in England. Will inform you when and where when we know. Barry and Bonnie
Thanks Barry. It would be good to see you when you come over from Canada. Incidentally, we have just received New Years' greetings from Mary Robinson ― sweltering in forty degrees heat in Australia ― and from Peter Turner ― hardly sweltering in Manchester, plus Messrs Eveson and Parfitt in London and, closer to home, Judy Pritchard in Norwich. All the best. Reg
1 January 2012 – From your Editor
The vastly overstretched Production Team was unable to attach itself to the coat-tails of the London Underground drivers' protest against Boxing Day working so spent the time in the worthy Pursuit of Excellence (remember those days? I hope not) with the result that all HMSOldies Obituaries have been designated their own section, thus freeing up space for the activities of the living.
Have a look. So far 2011 has been completed ― other years will follow according to the PERT Network in Robert's head . . .
Best wishes for 2012. And any news you may have would be most welcome.