Items listed in chronological sequence
30 July 2015 - In and Out The Eagle (again)
The latest in the HMSOldies sort-of annual, sort-of unorganised, reunion lunchtimes attracted a star cast of attendees despite (because of?) the inclement weather.
Who, you may ask, has come between George Rokahr and Jayne Wilkinson? They were the first and last to turn up in the bar. Well, in no particular order, we had the pleasure of the company of: Sue Prutton, Anne and John Eason, Bob Simpson (all the way from Edinburgh), Brian Blackmore (from Devon), Alan Cole (from the pub down the road), John Perry, Larry Lewendon, Jane Burgis, Adele Cook, Dave Martin, Janice and Alan Pawsey, Denis Moloney, Jean and Brian Whitefield, Sue Whitaker, Mike Burroughs, Julie Jermy, Steve Johnson, Valerie and Bob Barnard, Roger Dunn, Annette Conn, Alan Crabtree, Pat Tate, Jim Marshall, Bob Nelson, Viv Jones, Mary Dickinson-Jones, Renato Bernardin, Ann Clancy, Ian Hatfield - and Philip Marriage, who won the 'Senile? Who's Getting Senile?' contest by remembering the telephone extension he had when he was GD3 in 1978 (x7445 since you ask). Told you it would be an intellectual gathering.
22 July 2015 - From John Cripps
Reg, If you look closely at the handsome fellow on the left in the green you might recognise him from HMSO. Taken on Sunday after cycling 205 miles in a sportive round Norfolk. Knees are rubbish for running but OK for cycling. Not bad for an OAP.
Three possible club rides coming up: (1) London to Paris in 24 hrs (2) Coast to Coast - 400 miles, and (3) Lands End to John O'groats 850+ miles. If they go ahead I'll keep you updated.
Hello John, Well done - a veritable chip off the old Reg Harris block! My brother-in-law Graeme King also gets up to this sort of leg-crippling activity - I'll tell him that I have shared a pint (in The Lamb Leadenhall Market among other places, if you remember) with A Professional. All the best, and keep the joints oiled. Reg
Pat Kennedy adds: Hi Reg, I read John's message with some interest - quite a feat of endurance cycling 205 miles as an OAP - but then Norfolk is mainly flat! My longest single bike ride in a day was 234 miles from Keighley to Gretna Green and back, in 1954, including the hills of Yorkshire and the Lake District, when I was a fit and young 23-year-old. We named the ride 'The Border and Back'.
When I met you at The Royal Oak, HMSOldies reunion on 15 July, I didn't get the chance to mention that I had bought a new carbon fibre bike a few weeks previously. It cost the same price as I paid for my first house in Manchester in 1960 - £1,800! It's worth every penny - I can now cycle up all the hills in Hertfordshire without the need to dismount!
Hello Pat, Everything you say makes me feel the lazy slob I know I am - and, although there is no denying that your new velocipede is an impressive price, I know people who spend more than this on a couple of hedonistic weeks at the side of a foreign pool. Keep it up (and you, JC) - a lifestyle guide for us all! All the best. Reg.
21 July 2015 - The Walking Challenge is over!
Another Walking Challenge comes to an end! With over 2,000 participants and 54 government departments and agencies taking part to support The Charity for Civil Servants, this year’s walk was the biggest yet.
Collectively everyone walked an incredible 322,260 miles (almost 13 times around the Earth) and almost 39,000 miles further than last year! Comments by some of this year’s walkers include: “I’ve lost over a stone in weight whilst completing the Challenge. I’m so proud of myself!”; “I didn’t realise how inactive I really was until this Challenge! Great motivator and what an eye opener!”; and this one which is our particular favourite: “I know it's over. But it isn't, because I walked 4 miles before breakfast, saw 6 rabbits, a woodpecker, moorhens, ducks, Canada geese, thrushes, blackbirds, magpies, a jay and a buzzard. How can I give all that up?!”
Annette Hooper | PR and Publicity Manager
The Charity for Civil Servants
9 July 2015 - From Billy Stevenson
Dear Reg, Summer has come to Belfast and with it the Tall Ships. With thousands of other people I went along to see them on the Harbour Estate (once known as the Queen’s Island). It was absolutely fantastic. They were everywhere in all shapes and sizes, and long queues to go on board.
I was lucky and managed to get to see and look around the Statsraad Lemkuhl which is a large Norwegian three masted barque I’m told. I discovered she was built in Germany in 1914 for the German merchant service. She was named the Grossherzog Friedrich August and after the First World War became a prize of the United Kingdom. Then sold in 1921 to a former Cabinet Minister Kristoffer Lehmkuhl. In the Second World she was captured by the Germans and called Westwärts. A Bergen ship-owner bought the ship in 1967 to continue using her for sail training, doing so at his own expense between 1968-1972 until the oil crisis in 1973 when she was laid up in Bergen Harbour. In 1978, she was donated to the Stiftelsen Seilskipet Statsraad Lehmkuhl - The Foundation for the Tall Ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl, which now owns and operates the ship. Anyhow she is now 100 years old and in very good shape.
Which brings me to those of us who consider ourselves as ‘oldies’ take heart. Sir Jeremy Hutchinson, who could as a former customer be an honorary HMSOldie, is 100 years old this year. He served in the Royal Navy and was shipwrecked with Lord Louis Mountbatten when the HMS Kelly went down. Another interesting thing is when he stood for election to Westminster back in the day, his driver was a young Tony Benn. He later became a successful barrister and defended George Blake among others. His biography by Thomas Grant has been published recently. Compared to this man I consider myself a young whipper-snapper.
Now from Tall Ships to Tall Buildings, while attending a friend’s birthday party in London last year with my two sons, Geoff and Michael, we got to visit The Shard. What a wonderful experience. The view from the top is out of this world, well almost. I had just read Hilary Mantel’s 'Wolf Hall' and as I looked down, there was the Tower of London. Traitors Gate could be seen clearly. History before my very eyes. Among those who passed through would have been Sir Walter Raleigh. When he was about to be executed he looked up at his executioner and said 'Strike man Strike' whereupon the headsman, being a staunch trade unionist laid down his axe and went to join the picket-line. Raleigh we are told later went on to manufacture bicycles.
My former workmates in Belfast are like buses, you don’t see them for a while and then along comes two or three. So it was that as I shuffled along Bridge Street I heard someone call me. I turned round and there was Ray Megahey. I hadn’t seen Ray for twenty years. We had a chat about old times and then he told me the sad news that Charlie McGrillen had passed away. A few days later I literally bumped into Alice Collins who could rattle off two hundred words a minute when together with Sylvia Whelan they ran the Typing Pool in 80 Chichester Street. They were ably abetted by Barbara and Gabrielle. Barbara’s brother-in-law was the famous television news journalist John Cole. Then as I was about to order my morning coffee in Nero’s, Elizabeth Hood walked in. She told me she had been on a night out with Maura Fitzpatrick and Michael Blair.
Well Reg, that about sums it up, feel free to edit this ruthlessly.
Yours nostalgically, Billy
Hello Billy, Many thanks for your 'News from Belfast' which is, as ever, both educational and entertaining - I will pass on your Raleigh insight to my granddaughters for their History exams. Although I am somewhat nearer The Chard than you, I have yet to get inside. Walked past it last Friday, and applied for the window-cleaning concession, but was told that my Chamois was too small. Story of my life. Good to hear that the Tall Ships are doing the job, and that at least one of the HMSO customers has made the ton: stubbornly refusing to go until he gets the delivery we promised, no doubt. And fascinating to read the old names again - good to hear that they are still around. I got a note from Brian Brown recently, and hear from Brian Watt, Paula Ronald, Fiona Gunning from time to time. No word of Peter McAuley though. All the best, Billy, and keep 'em coming! Reg.
29 June 2015 - From Larry Lewendon
Hi Reg, Trawling through treasures uncovered these two.
(SO) Review No 3 1981 - The Royal Wedding Special with a variety of blasts from the past.
Staff Welfare Guide (May 1970) a little yellow booklet. JLAG Jones and his staff produced more names to conjure with, as did the content of the booklet.
Peel away the form-filling and HMSO didn't sound so bad a place in which to work, which of course it wasn't. Knowing your penchant for ill-considered trifles, can I offer you either or both of them? But if not, do not fret. I see that the British Library has, or had, all four extant copies of the Magna Carta on show and will be looking for something to cap that.
ttfn, Larry Lewendon
Hello Larry, Good to hear from you. I think I may have the Royal Wedding item among the bowels of the archive, but it sounds interesting - as does the Welfare booklet. Anything with 'names' is good - John Lewis Alfred George Jones might have been 101 years old this 2 June past - could there be a bar-stool left in the deserted Cat and Fiddle among those with imprints of the delicate buttocks of KS Kemp and SG Thompson? Were you to bring said publications along to the lunchtime proposed for The Eagle on Thursday 30 July I am sure that they would cause a ripple. Best wishes, Reg.
27 June 2015 - Hebridean Jaunt
Hi Reg, You were asking how my recent trip to the Hebrides went. Well it was a memorable holiday though not without incident.
We shared it with our Australian friends Adrian (ex HMSO) and Audrey Young from Canberra. I was quietly driving along the Ullapool sea front, heading for a petrol station to fill-up before catching the evening Ullapool/Stornoway ferry to the Outer Hebrides, when a car door suddenly opened and sliced-off my wing mirror as I was passing!
Turned out to be a car full of Swiss who'd only arrived in Scotland that day and had just driven up from Edinburgh. Not the best of starts (for either of us) especially as there was hardly any mobile coverage from our cottage in Callanish, Isle of Lewis, so dealing with LV, our insurers, was frustrating to say the least as they only seem to be able to deal with claims via a telephone - and I must have spoken to a dozen different people before being cut off - so I immediately sent all the details and photos via email. However I was later told it could take days before they could reach the claims team!
Next morning we set out to enjoy our surroundings set amidst the late-Neolithic standing stones - a World Heritage Site. Barbara was in pre-historic heaven! There are in fact three groups of standing stones and we could see each from different window in our cottage. The nearest to us, Callanish II, began some 5,000 years ago, was only a couple of hundred yards from our front door so we set of to explore, me excitedly with my camera, Adrian with his sketch book.
Having satisfied ourselves with Callanish II we set off across a waterlogged field to Callanish III atop a nearby mound. I was a little behind the others having spent more time taking photos and I couldn't find an easy way to make progress around the boggy bits but having seen my companions already at the Stones I knew there must be a way so I forced the issue and stepped/leaped over a muddy patch but instead of landing on firm, if sodden, ground my foot sank in and I pitched forward onto my nose. I wasn't too fussed, got up somewhat embarrassed and was soon with the others. However my hand was numb and swelling up.
Having broken my wrist some three years back, and been ticked-off by the Consultant at the N&N for not having it checked-out for two weeks, I thought a quick trip to Stornoway A&E would soon settle matters and find me strapped-up for a sprain and I could once more start enjoying this much anticipated holiday.
I was their only patient, so different from A&E on the mainland. However I was received by the nurse in Stornoway hospital, clutching the x-ray results with a cheery "Well you've made a fine job of that, you've broken your fingers!" I was then strapped-up together with a wrist splint and sling and told that I might have to return the next day to see the consultant - they'd let me know.
That, I explained, would be a problem as the next day we'd planned a trip to St Kilda and had just received a text message from the skipper confirming that it was on - only the second time this year that the weather conditions looked good enough to allow a landing - and nothing was going to prevent me from that.
Next morning the four of us dutifully arrived at Miavaig Pier at Uig at 7.15am, to be joined by two other passengers who told us they'd been waiting a month for the conditions to be right for this trip. There was one other chap who I took initially to be a member of the crew but who turned out to be John Macleod, the St Kilda Artist in Residence.
It takes three and a half hours to reach Hirta, the largest of the St Kilda group even in a high-speed boat pushing 23 knots. St Kilda is the most remote inhabited part of the British Isles and over forty-miles from the nearest land. For me the trip was pretty demanding in a high-speed boat, unremitting roaring engine noise too loud for anything but shouting, relentlessly thumping against the incoming westerly waves, with a 1 to 2 metre swell, and occasional bigger waves which threw the boat up in the air and us out of our seats only to land and slide down on the smooth plastic seats. Holding on was a necessity and I only had one good hand for that!
About 11am we arrived in the bay at Hirta formed from the rim of an ancient volcano. Boats cannot land anywhere in the St Kilda Group - to ensure rats do not get on to the land - so everyone is taken ashore by tender, in fact a small rubber dinghy, though with seven passengers plus the skipper there was worryingly little freeboard.
Grateful to be on solid land at last my heart sank as it started to rain and the thought of the next four hours ashore with little shelter. The island's warden gave us a brief talk (quite oblivious of he rain) about what we might see and do adding that there was a small museum in one of the restored houses (and maybe somewhere we might hunker-down if needs be I thought).
Fortunately the rain quickly passed and the rest of our time on shore was spent in the dry, if overcast conditions. The original stone walls of the cottages/crofts are still complete though without roofs of course with a piece of slate in the fire-breast recording the name of the family who once lived there. The last of the original inhabitants asked to be evacuated from the island in 1930. Ancient Soay sheep still roam everywhere.
In the 1950s the MoD established a tracking station on Hirta to support the missile-testing range on Benbecula, firing out into the Atlantic. The army base is still there with a handful of personnel, but their unsightly drab huts and radar masts disfigure the bay. Ignoring them the island is pretty much as it was left by the islanders, albeit with their stone homes now just shells. There were a number of young volunteers, with accents from all over the world, helping with renovation projects. There's lots of seabirds of course - it's most important seabird colony in north-west Europe with over a million birds we were told, but most nest on nearby Boreray and its sea stacks but I witnessed a Great Skua attacking a Fulmer, bringing it to the ground in an attempt to steal its catch. The 'Village Shop' opened for thirty minutes just before we embarked by tender back to our boat as the sun came out.
This was fortunate as the highlight of the day for me was cruising amongst the sea stacks around Boreray with its thousands of seabirds circling overhead, mostly Gannets - one fifth of the world's population of Northern Gannets nest here. The reason is the plentiful food supply demonstrated by the Gannets diving into the water up to 60mph to catch lunch for their chicks returning to nests by the thousand on the surrounding steep cliffs which emerge 600ft straight out of the sea.
In times past the islanders harvested the nesting birds each year somehow finding a way onto the steep cliffs in bare feet, then carving ledges into the rock to encourage the birds to nest and returning the following year to collect them for the pot. We were told that on one occasion, a couple of hundred years back, three men and eight boys found themselves marooned on the sea stack for nine months as there were no able-bodied men on Hirta able to rescue them due to an outbreak of smallpox!
Our return to Miavaig was a lot smoother, going with the waves so to speak, just as noisy of course with water spraying high in the air either side but without the constant bumps and thumps. It's still a long trip however and I tried my best to nod-off - it had been a long day! When we neared land somebody spotted a young Golden Eagle circling overhead.
In fact a few days later on North Uist we saw Golden Eagles again, the male catching a rabbit and delivering it to its chick on the nest whilst the female circled overhead, both huge birds constantly harassed by smaller birds trying to drive them away from their own nesting areas.
We were also lucky to spot a Short-Eared Owl on a fencepost as we returned one evening from dining out. The food in the Hebrides by the way was universally excellent - everything is local and fresh as it's costly to have anything brought in by boat or plane.
It's a bit of a bummer as someone who enjoys taking photos to find myself with only one working hand but I did manage some nice shots of the sun setting behind Callanish 1 - the most well-known standing stones in Scotland, like Stonehenge in England, but unlike Stonehenge's massive trilithons, Callinish comprises stones arranged in a rough cruciform pattern with at its centre one thin elegant, almost feminine, giant monolith quite unlike any other. It's a special place and has been for thousands of years.
All in all it was a memorable holiday if, like us, you enjoy experiencing self-contained isolated communities living life on the edge, exploring single-track roads, unspoilt scenery, mountains and lochs, empty white-sand beaches, pots of archaeology, wildlife, friendly folk and good local food.
Yesterday I had more x-rays, this time at the N&N which revealed three broken fingers (one up on the last count) so I've a new specially-moulded splint (my fourth!) but I'm now back at my HMSOldies desk with a fullish in-tray ready to be tackled - albeit with one hand!
Philip, My word, you don't do things by halves! While you were away I had four days in Dublin, and - good as it all was - I don't think I could fill a paragraph with anything like that excitement. I hope you will add to HMSOldies, for two reasons: the excellent photographs and nature descriptions, and the fact that most people take a degree of pleasure in sympathising with the holiday misfortunes of others. I'll try to send you HMSOldies items suitable for monomaniacal (is that the word for single-handed?) processing until you are fully mended. All the best, and keep away from danger. Reg.
15 June 2015 - From Les BirchDear Reg, It is not given to many of us to unveil our memorial before we actually shuffle off this mortal coil but that is in effect what happened to me in Asnelles last week. The joint memorial nominee, Bill Evans, was one of the last survivors of the 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers, who sadly died last August having been too ill to attend the 70th anniversary commemorations two months earlier. He was very highly thought of in Asnelles and, having decided to honour him by naming the area around the SWB memorial after him, the council must have thought that, as I was likely to follow him in a comparatively short time, they might as well save a few euros by adding my name immediately.
My grandson, the one with the shaven head, looked after me very well indeed and as always everyone over there was very kind. My three French girl friends in the pictures are an ex-councillor who is one of the diminishing band of survivors of the landings, my twinning friend from Lannion, Brittany and her sister in law (the youngest of the three) living in a village just outside Caen through whom I met my golfing friend.
Best wishes, Les
Hello Les, Great to hear from you - I had been wondering how you are. A wonderful occasion and of course well deserved. Best wishes, Reg
14 June 2015 - Florida News from 'English Jack' [Jack Keating]
I am still dashing about the country delivering cars, vans and trucks. Two of us went to Augusta in Georgia two weeks ago to pick up a massive Ford F-650 from a company that specialized in fitting bodies on to chassis. But the company damaged it so we could not take it. They inquired if we were going near Jacksonville, Florida and we said yes. They asked if we could take an enormous F-650 F3 Series to Jacksonville docks as it was being shipped to some Arab in Dubai.
This monster, according to them, cost $200,000! It gleamed with chrome everywhere and had lots of electronic gizmos fitted to it. There was a camera facing forward and backward at the same time; it had front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive but drove like a dog on the roads due to the massive chunky treads on the tyres. We thought it might even be bullet proof! They gave us $100 each in cash and we also got paid from our own employer. Not a bad day.
Last week we drove over to Pensacola in the far west of Florida, about five miles from Alabama, to stay with Kate’s son and family. Their youngest son was graduating from high school so we attended that. I got very, very drunk on our first night there, can’t remember a thing after about 10 p.m., and suffered from a severe case of lethargy the following day. Her son put me to bed and, so I am reliably informed, I appeared later in my boxer shorts standing in the doorway of their kitchen and was led back into bed. I blame it all on the copious amounts of Scotch whisky I imbibed. How old am I? Do I never learn? My only consolation is that I was told I behaved impeccably. Thank heavens for small mercies!
My wife Kate has been suffering for the last few weeks with a shortness of breath. She has been on oxygen both day and night. She went to see a pulmonary specialist a couple of weeks back and he recommended a CT scan of her lungs. I am amazed that he said, after examining her, that there was a chance that she might have lung cancer; hence him asking for a scan. She had to change health insurance providers in April and her new insurers will not pay for the scan until she has met a deductible of $3,500. That means for most services, she will pay 100 percent of her medical and pharmacy bills until the amount she pays reaches $3,500. After that, you share the cost with your medical plan by paying coinsurance and co-pays. Her own doctor said he may have an X-Ray done instead. I went with her last week to see this specialist and he gave me a note saying that he needs a CT scan for Kate which I will pay for myself.
Almost all of the local newspapers carry a section called mug shots. These consist of photographs of people who have been booked in the last ten days in our local counties; have a look.
There is a small town about fifteen miles south of where I live called Cassadaga. It is a small community located in Volusia County, just north of Deltona. It is especially known for having a large number of psychics and mediums, and has consequently been named the "Psychic Capital of the World". Even the street names allude to it having more mediums and spiritualists per square mile than any other town. Check out the town’s web site.
You never know what you are going to find while driving around the roads over here. A couple of days ago a trailer carrying four sandbar sharks crashed after blowing a tyre. It happened on an interstate just south of here. One of the sharks died after being ejected from its tank. The sharks were en route from Marathon, Florida, to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn. A team from SeaWorld rescued the remaining sharks and brought them to SeaWorld in Orlando for the time being.
A truck carrying more than 2,200 piglets crashed last Monday on a road in Ohio. About 400 of the piglets were killed. The search for any surviving piglets that may have fled into the surrounding forest area had been called off.
The weather is its usual hot self with not a lot of rain so far. It’s getting into the high eighties to low nineties almost every day - lovely!
Once again, that’s it for now.
All the best, Jack
Hello Jack, I wondered where you had been lately - and now I know. Good grief, you must be having an even more exciting life than when you were in Electronic Publishing! I am inclined to issue a warning to anyone opening the Mugshots pages in any detail - there are some faces in there that are the makings of nightmares. Worse, some of them are eerily familiar. Sorry to hear about Mrs K and fingers crossed for a successful outcome. Softie as I am, I don't think I will be emigrating to your neck of the woods - the occasional Yarmouth day is enough for me. All the very best, and thank you for keeping in touch. Reg.
Another Year Older . . .
. . . and deeper in (what was that I heard you mutter?). Anyway, July 2015 sees the 11th anniversary of the creation of the HMSOldies website. And don't tell me there are too many obituaries: that's the department upstairs.
I know that not everyone can make it to Norwich on a Thursday afternoon at the drop of a hat - indeed, not everyone would want to - but those who can do so will be welcome at:
The Eagle Public House, Newmarket Road, Norwich http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3821690
Thursday 30 July 2015 . . . 1230 hours onwards.
I have cleared it with the Manager, James, and he is expecting a couple of dozen bulging wallets (that's Gordon Robbie and Allan Reid covered).
As previously, nothing will be organised (I was taught how not to organise by the best of HMSO Consultants) . . . buy your own food and drink if you have any Lump Sum left. Let me know if there is anyone you would like to see, and I will try to get them there. More interestingly, let me have your list of people you don't want to see and I will try even harder to get them there.
We already have Bob from Edinburgh and Brian from Devon making the long journey especially to see people. Is that a threat or a promise? You'll have to turn up to find out.
Incidentally, if London is a better location, a few of us will be meeting some old Civil Service and Reprographic Manager contacts at lunchtime on Wednesday 15 July at The Royal Oak, Tabard Street, London SE1 - and again you would be welcome: http://www.harveys.org.uk/pubs-tenancies/find-our-beer/the-royal-oak-london
Any questions, general observations, suggestions, criticisms etc. are desperately sought: I used to work with Joe Delaney, Stan Smith, Paddy Burgoyne, Peter Macdonald . . . and I miss the abuse.
2 June 2015 Sue Ellingham (was Sue Weston) writes . . .
Hi Reg, I’m delighted that we have been able to link up The Charity for Civil Servants with HMSOldies - as you said in your email to Annette it’s good to have a positive development in amongst the obituaries. It was through attending Janet Grimes funeral that I became aware of the HMSOldies site.
You might feel it's helpful to do a follow up article with us at some point in the future so I’ve given you a brief HMSO biography below.
I worked in the Welfare team from 1989-1997 when the impact of the 1996 privatisation saw many of us made redundant from the new company. I was initially based in the Publications Centre in Nine Elms also covering Macauley Press, Holborn Bookshop, and all the HMSO buildings in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff and Swansea.
In 1994 I transferred to Norwich and was based in Sovereign House. People may remember me better by my maiden name of Sue Weston.
I’ve been working with The Charity since 2006 – so I’m still helping Civil Servants past and present in times of need.
With best wishes,
Hello Sue, Keep up the good work- and Happy Birthday for 21 August (as you see, I still have an old staff list!). Best wishes. Reg
26 May 2015 - From Patrick Iredale: Board of Trade Journal
My first job after leaving school was with HMSO at Atlantic House on Holborn Viaduct. My first post was in Printing and Binding and then, after they re-located to Norwich, I transferred to Advertising. This involved collating advertisements to be inserted in the 'Board of Trade Journal' and occasionally collected printing blocks from advertisers, which got me out and about.
My query, is when (or if), this publication ceased publication. Also, I would like to know, how much of HMSO is left in Atlantic House.
I do hope you can help, as I have been unable to find out anything on the Internet.
Kind regards, Patrick Iredale
Dear Mr Iredale, Or should I call you Patrick James, born 22 September 19xx, joined HMSO 18 September 1967; established Clerical Assistant in Printing and Binding 22 January 1968 I still have a Staff List from 1968, as you can tell. Good to hear from you. And good that, coincidentally, six names above yours in that Staff List is Alan Pawsey, then in establishments, who was the last-but-one Senior HMSO Officer left in the small unit in Norwich representing the old HMSO after we were privatised in 1996. Alan retired last year but I have copied this note to him to reply, I hope, on your specifics. I can tell you that TSO has taken over the official publication duties and that Atlantic House was taken off the HMSO premises list in the 1990s. It was redeveloped as a building and is now full of Solicitors! Have a look at the HMSOldies website for random entries on 'the old days'. All the best - and, if you can remember any names from your time at HMSO, I might be able to let you know of their current disposition. But it was 48 years ago . . . Reg Walker, Editor, HMSOldies
Patrick Iredale responded: Dear Reg, Thank you so much for your speedy reply. Its interesting to know I still exist in the Civil Service albeit in list form only. Now for some names: In Printing and Binding, my 'boss' was a tall Scottish guy whose name completely escapes me (so much for 'now for some names')! The guy who sat opposite me was a lovely Irish guy from Cork, named Matt Quinn and who played an excellent practical joke on me as a 'pay back' for one I played on him.
Matt was a very talented artist who had done caricatures of most of his office colleagues. My joke on him was to purloin a couple of the most 'wicked' of these and place them on their respective desks in his (and their) absence. One of the subjects took it very well, but the other, a spinster who was quite overweight and had a large blue and white striped mug for her tea, that must have taken a full pint, didn't at all and ripped into Matt ( who had mistakenly signed the caricature not thinking the subjects would ever see them!
Matt's revenge on me was to bring in a bicycle bell one day and ring it in the corridor to replicate the one on the tea trolley. His timing was perfect, I have to say. I was in the toilet having a pee, when I heard the 'tea trolley'. Rushing back to the office I was met by Matt and several others heading toward the non - existent tea trolley (currently out of sight down the corridor) with their mugs. I got back to my desk sat down and opened my desk drawer to retrieve my mug when I saw the bicycle bell. I picked it up still not making the connection, whereupon, a colleague Vivian (who had a wooden leg), from the 'professional' end of the office walked back into the office holding his unfilled mug, only to see me holding the bell. He said "I suppose you think that was funny"! This was when the penny dropped! That, coupled with Matt grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat! Needless to say, I played no more jokes on him.
The guy who sat alongside me was an elderly Welsh guy called Lou (the subject of Matt's first caricature) who often came in late and proceeded to have a strip wash and wet shave in the gent's (honestly)! One of the guys from the 'professional' end of the office commuted from Brighton! I thought this a bit extreme as I myself commuted from Southend on Sea (well, Benfleet to be precise) which involved a bus journey to the railway station, train on the Fenchurch Line and four stops on the tube from Aldgate East to Farringdon. Whenever I was late (my hours were 8.30 - 5.00 three days a week and 9.00 - 5.30 the other two), usually elicited the comment "cow on the line"!
I could go on, but don't wish to bore you. However, if you would like to receive some more recollections, I will dig a bit deeper! I'm hoping some of the 'lost' names will eventually pop back into my brain.
Kind regards, Patrick
Hello Patrick. Lovely stuff! I remember Matt Quinn - and the 'Vivian' was the late Peter Vivian, married to Ruth. Always wore a bow tie and was active in the IPCS Union. I think 'Lou' might have been Lou Edwards, a man who loved a gamble. Tall Scottish Printer or Binder - hmm - I'll have to think: there were quite a few. Cecil Hughes? Always a pleasure to hear tales from The Good Old Days. All the very best, Reg.
Phillip Brooks adds: . . . the Board of Trade Journal was renamed 'British Business' and I think it was around into the 1970's as an HMSO title. I recall the editor at the time was Alan Williams (a bit of a character who drove a white Roller and had a few problems with some of his publicity ideas) and the business manager was Jackie Stevens. The guy who was the advertising manager for the Board of Trade Journal when I joined HMSO was (I think) Bill Wakeman. My memory runs out there.
25 May 2015 - A walk down Memory (Nine Elms) Lane
Hi Reg, I was only an occasional visitor to the Publications Centre in Nine Elms Lane, in the 1980s - though I did spend a short spell covering the Graphic Design Studio when Peter Branfield, our sole London designer, was unwell. My memory of that period is rather hazy but I remember the building itself standing out architecturally from its neighbours, proudly displaying the HMSO BOOKS symbol to passing traffic, but the surrounding area was neglected with uncared-for buildings and deserted waste-land.
The only redeeming feature was the splendid building itself and the magnificent views it offered over the Thames to Vauxhall Bridge, the Millbank Tower beyond and the turrets of the Palace of Westminster. The Riverside Walk from Vauxhall Underground Station also offered fine views, past a red-brick block of new luxury flats - the first sign of the impending regeneration - and up-river to the iconic Battersea Power Station. I strolled out occasionally with my camera, as far west as the Battersea Dogs Home, but it was a depressing walk with little to offer - however that was thirty years ago.
Last week I was in the area again, taking advantage of my son's flat whilst he was away on holiday. Barbara and I strolled down to Vauxhall and along the Riverside Walk again, passing the same red-brick block of luxury flats but now accompanied by so many other developments. The 50-floors of the St George Wharf Tower, gleaming in the sunlight under a threatening sky, dominated the start of Nine Elms Lane. The view back down-river, past Vauxhall Bridge, remains similar but high-rise buildings pepper both sides of the river, the Houses of Parliament view now hidden, but the Shard could just be seen in the distance peeking between office blocks and the new MI6 building. Nine Elms Pier and small inlet, just big enough to squeeze-in three house-boats, is now trendily called 'Tideway Village'.
The Publications Centre has long been demolished of course, to make way for the new American Embassy and surrounding developments. I found it difficult to work-out where the building had once been but reckoned it stood opposite a small grove of trees at the end of Riverside Walk from where I took some photos. The embassy development is now half-built surrounded by tall cranes.
Continuing down Nine Elms Lane both sides comprise new offices and luxury apartments - many sold before they were built. Battersea Power Station remains derelict and empty awaiting the regeneration of the surrounding land and the wealth it will provide to convert the building into a complex of shops, offices and apartments with a huge roof-garden plus panoramic views from one of the chimneys. As we strolled past I noticed that one chimney had been removed, presumably to be rebuilt as a viewing gallery.
Thankfully The Duchess pub, rebuilt in Victorian times, is still standing amidst these new developments and it was here we paused for refreshment at the completion of our trip down memory lane.
Philip, excellent! I think that this would fit perfectly into HMSOldies. There would be considerable interest - not least from John Balls, Gavin Turner, Chris Joyce and other fellow members of the Publications Distribution Project Team. When I was involved there wasn't a half-decent pub within walking distance. All the best, Reg.
25 May 2015 - From Kevin Twaite: Bad news from Toronto
Hi Reg, I hope all is well with you and HMSOldies. I suffered a stroke on Sunday 20 April in front of my wife, who rushed me to my local hospital, the clot busting drug did not work so I was sent to Sunnybrook Hospital a teaching hospital where an angioplasty was performed on me and a brain stent inserted. I have weakness on my left side and can eat, talk and walk thankfully. People here were very good to us and colleagues at my work took a collection for me which was really nice of them. I came home last Thursday and now have a lot of appointments to attend. Unfortunately I cannot retire yet, I am only 59! The HMSO pension does not translate into a lot, but is helpful supplement to my wages, the recent increase was small but at least an increase!
What about the Election result in the UK?
Keep in touch!
Hello Kevin, What a way to spend Whitsun! You poor man - just what you didn't want. As regards the election, I think you will find, if you come back for a visit, things will be much the same as they were when you left - apart from the fact that every second person you see will be on the mobile phone! You take care out there, and all the best. Reg.
22 May 2015 - From Bob Simpson
Hi Reg, Following my comments about Eagle Presses, when I used one in anger back in the days when Letterpress ruled. I recently took my eldest Grandson to the National Museum of Scotland when he stayed with us during the Easter holiday. Seeing the Columbian Press displayed in the main concourse brought back a host of memories from those apprentice days. The sight of this was worth photographing and I am sure that many of my oldie colleagues would be interested. Note the makers plate (especially former Scots oldies).
Regards, Bob Simpson
Hello Bob. Thank you for your interesting note and also for the sad news regarding Miss Millar, which we will include in the obituaries. Best wishes, Reg.
18 May 2015 - From The Charity for Civil Servants
The Charity for Civil Servants’ Walking Challenge has started and the good news is that there’s still time to sign up if you haven’t already! And if you’ve already signed up, why not join the special Facebook Group, just for walkers – somewhere to share your photos and top walking tips, including how to #UpYourAverage, with the rest of The Walking Challenge community.
You can check the progress of all the walkers on the dedicated leaderboard and there’s still time to join them because the Challenge runs until 6 July. Every step and every penny raised will count towards our department’s performance, so even if you don’t want to walk, you can still help us reach the number one spot by sponsoring your colleagues in their endeavours.
Over 1,700 civil servants who have already signed up to walk 10,000 steps a day for 50 days!
Many thanks for your help in promoting the Challenge this year.
Kind regards, Annette
Annette Hooper | PR and Publicity Manager
020 8240 2417
15 May 2015 - The Southlanders Wouldn't Like It
Those of you who were around in 1958 may remember the popular 45 rpm gramophone record 'I Am A Mole And I Live In A Hole' by The Southlanders.
They would be disappointed to hear that our own (she learnt all she knows at the feet of the wise managers in Supplies Office Machinery) Louise Chapman is going from strength to strength in her mission to rid the world of the little devils.
Or, at least, encourage them to live where they do less damage.
A very impressive new website tells all:
Please tell your friends. But don't let the moles know.
12 May 2015 - From The Charity for Civil Servants
My colleague, Sue Ellingham, used to work for HMSO, and suggested that I get in touch. I work in the Communications Team at The Charity for Civil Servants (formerly the Civil Service Benevolent Fund), and wondered if it might be possible to have a link to our website
on the links section of your website? There may well be former or retired civil servants who worked for HMSO and might be in need of help or advice.
Annette Hooper | PR and Publicity Manager
The Civil Service Benevolent Fund
5 Anne Boleyn's Walk, Cheam, Sutton, Surrey, SM3 8DY
Hello Annette, Thank you for contacting HMSOldies. We would be delighted to add a link to the Charity for Civil Servants (I am still a contributor via the CS pension). As you can see from the site, we have been going for over ten years (HMSO was privatised in 1996) and, inevitably, many of the entries these days are obituaries, so this would mean that we can add a positive slant. Remind me where did Sue Ellingham work exactly? If she wonders about the current disposition of any old colleagues, you never know - I might be able to satisfy her curiosity. Best wishes. Reg
IPCS News 1958-1971
We are indebted to Cecil Hedley Hughes for passing on his bound copy of the Newsletters of the Institution of Professional Civil Servants - Technical (Office) Section, HMSO Branch.
The world was a somewhat different place 57 years ago. The first page of the December 1958 notice gives the pay scales effective from 1 July 1957: at age 22 - £605 p.a. to a maximum of £850 p.a. The note is signed ‘PR Vivian Secretary.’
The following year there was a ballot for committee members at the AGM. Some well-known names appear: ‘K.A. Allen, Technical Officer, age 31, 9 years in office; EP Croager, Technical Officer age 46; JN Palmer, Printing Officer age 32; former Messrs RB Macmillan, AA Smith, Technical Officer age 31.’
A note showing the appointment of officers and committee, 1959, showed PR Vivian as Secretary, FW Butler as Treasurer, HW Robbins Assistant Secretary, GS Glover and TG Smith Auditors. EP Croager elected Chairman - SM Goldfarb Committee Member, along with Messrs Allen, Austin, Chambers, Collingson, Neale, Smith, Stewart and Williams. Other famous names mentioned in committee papers are BD Whitefield and JG Smith - both Assistant Examiners (Laboratory).
Leaping forward to March 1964, the committee comprised EB McKendrick (Chairman); LV Bourton (Secretary) LG Pettett (Treasurer) and Messrs Woodford, Waller, Glover, Smith, Baker, Dwyer, Ferguson, Hudgell, Hulbert, Hunter, Palmer, Vivian, Whitefield and Taylor.
By March 1966 the Chairman was Bob Dwyer, Secretary Peter Staples, Treasurer Les Pettet, Assistant Secretary Jack Palmer, and Minute Secretary Brian Ekers. Committee comprised JH Berry, FH Baker, LV Bourton, WN Frost, FE Grigson, A Hunter, P Kennedy, S Simpson, GA Travell and P Vivian.
The 1968-69 Chairman was Cecil Hughes; Vice Chairman Andy Hunter; Secretary Don McFarlane; Treasurer Joe Bishop; Assistant Secretary Peter Bradbury and Minute Secretary Roy Marchant. Maximum annual pay rates as at 1 January 1968 were: PO/BO £1284; TO £1559; HTO £2005; SEO £2580; CEO £3209.
Finally, the July 1971 edition showed that the Chairman was Peter Vivian; Secretary Don McFarlane, Treasurer Colin Pulford; Assistant Secretary Roger Nash; Minute Secretary Roy Marchant.
Pat Kennedy adds: The IPCS News extract certainly brings back my memories from the early 1960s! Having joined HMSO Manchester in October 1959, I was transferred to Atlantic House in May 1965 and my name apparently first appeared in the IPCS News in 1966. There is a gap in the date for about 1967 when I succeeded Bob Dwyer as the IPCS Chairman leading up to the 1968 Dispersal to Norwich, succeeded by Cecil Hughes. I was appointed General Secretary Staff Side, serving for three years 1970-1972.
I have just returned from a two weeks cycling holiday in Majorca and now feel fit enough to take part in my fifteenth St Albans Rotary Club charity cycle ride (30 miles) to be held next Sunday 17 May. If I have any energy left I might see you at the reunion in London on 15 July.
Best wishes, Pat
Hello Pat, Excellent- I somehow felt that you would be an early responder. I thought of you on Saturday when our local butcher, Michael Quinton, mentioned that his keen cyclist son was doing a marathon run - Paris to Bahrain or some such - but then, he is less than half your revered age! All the best, and looking forward to our next meeting. Reg.
7 May 2015 - From Martin Carey
Hello Reg, My name is Martin Carey, I was an apprentice at St Stephen's as a compositor from the end of 1962 for five years, I spent a couple of years in the S Department, and have memories of some of the lads who were there at the time, especially Tom Copsey and Norman Walker. I remember several of the people mentioned on your home page and have worked with Brian Sawyer and Dave Martin on Lloyd's List which used to be printed by Benham's in Colchester, which, alas, is no longer in operation. I spent the remaining years of my life in print running my own small printing company, and eventually retired ten years ago. I am now living in Suffolk.
I hope that maybe this will be of some interest to some of the oldies.
Kind regards, Martin Carey
Martin, Many thanks for contacting HMSOldies. Most of we old'uns (I joined HMSO in 1963: clerk in Cornwall House, so we are much of a generation) really enjoy such contacts, out of the blue. We will add to the website and hope that some old mates, from times past, will see your message. All the best to you and yours. Reg.
William Byrd Choir concert at Salle Saturday 4th July 2015 at 6pm
Gavin Turner writes: Following a substantial theft of lead last Autumn from the roof of Salle Church, the William Byrd Choir is giving a concert to help to raise funds towards the cost of the £30,000 restoration.
If you definitely decide to come, please order your tickets from Roger Fry at Salle as soon as possible; not only will you get better seats (numbered seating this year), but the extent of the advance ticket sales will help us to decide if additional publicity might be necessary towards the end of June; obviously the less we have to spend on publicity the more money for the appeal. Full programme details are available at: www.williambyrdchoir.com
At the website you can also hear our recording of Lobo’s Versa est in luctum (which features in our concert on July 4th), and you can see a video of Tallis’s Libera nos which we filmed just before last year’s concert at Salle (the Libera nos video is also on YouTube).
We have A3 and A4 posters, and A5 handbills. If you have friends who might be interested you are welcome to forward this email to them, or I would be happy to post you some handbills to pass on to them. Also, if you live in Norfolk and have anywhere useful (church, village hall, shop) to put up a poster, do let me know:
For those of you who have never been to Salle, it is one of the great medieval architectural masterpieces of North Norfolk with a wonderful acoustic for church music but especially for unaccompanied Renaissance polyphony. Here is a photo of Salle Church from the home page of our website. There are lots of nice places to stay nearby!
12 April 2015 - From Kevin Twaite
Hi Reg, I was apprenticed as a Proof Reader at St Stephens Parliamentary Press from 1972-1977, then I worked at Macaulay Press (formerly Foreign Office Press) from 1988 to 1995. In those days the Composing Room Manager was Ted Lucking and Arthur Day was Head Reader. Your name is familiar to me these days I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my family. I work as a Security Guard and enjoy a modest pension from my time at HMSO and the Metropolitan Police. Anyone remember me?
28 March 2015 – This Sporting Life
Geoff Sinden has unearthed his copies of the Bicentenary Sports programme from 29 years ago. Many famous names in there - several sadly no longer with us, and several more no longer at the peak of physical fitness that they were then.
You have no need to mention that I don't feature. Seems that 'Golden Star Glass-emptying' was not a recognised sport.
I have added to the HMSOldies Facebook page, and sent separately to those for whom I have email addresses so that they can reflect on past glories. Any scanned photos from the events will be more than welcome.
John Rumball adds: Reg, I've managed to find these photos, the top showing the entries for the Men's Doubles and below an action shot of me by Rosie Taylor - how did I move like that?
25 March 2015 – From Bob Simpson
Hi Reg, This is my Bragging Rights Pictures from Currie Show Last year with all my prizewinning Begonias. The photograph recently posted [see 7 January below] from Google was one that I could not remember as being taken let alone ending up 'Googled'. That was taken by a member of Dalgety Bay Horticultural Society one cold January evening in 2013 when I gave a talk on 'What a Judge looks for' this was at the request of that Society after I had judged the Vegetables at their 2012 Annual Show.
Earlier this month at a Gardeners Question Time I met up with Gordon and Isabel Campbell, whom many colleagues may remember, Isobel worked for a little time in the late 80’s at Sighthill as a CA. Gordon has not been in the best of health in recent months but I was pleased to see them both on that evening. Gordon, occasionally exhibits on the Show Bench at Currie Show, mainly with Carnations and although he and Isobel live a mile or so down from me in Currie it is usually only the Currie Show (now held in Balerno) that he and I meet, Isabel has been the Show Secretary for many years’ so since retirement I have seen more of Isabel at committee meetings than I have of Gordon and she kept me up to date with his activities. The late John Rome lived only a couple of streets away from them, and mention of John may well conjure up a memories perhaps from Tom McNeill when they were both at Edinburgh Press
Now may I ask if Norrie Veitch looks over HMSOldies, that he may like to get in touch as I last saw him at John Hamilton's funeral and spoke about him coming for a round of Golf at Baberton and look over our new Clubhouse. If you can manage it Norrie we can share a buggy I now have to use one to get around the course, (Arthritis Rules). Eddie Hendry would like to meet up and we could try and get Malcolm Steven also to join us.
On one of my trawls through HMSOldies there was a terrific picture of an old Eagle Press that brought back memories as a young apprentice, about a hundred years ago it fell to the youngest to set the headings for Account Books using a long Wooden Setting Stick and then using the Eagle Press to print off the sheets, it was a steep learning curve and woe betide you should you get wrong. We also had a smaller Albion Press which was used for proofing.
Can I also enquire if anything has been heard from or about Ian Imrie?
Bob, You are a star, of course - both stimulating ,and uneditable (ie literate, so I don't have to change a word, condescending old fart that I am). I have copied to Norrie and to John Eveson - our 'go to' man for HMSO Press contacts. And, as you say, Ian Christopher Crawford Imrie was born on Christmas Day 1942 and I have not heard a word from him for these 19+ years - lovely man he was. And, I hope, still is. All the very best, Bob, and thank you for the memories. Reg.
John Eveson adds: Thanks everyone for this. I too remember those old presses (they were of course already old). Nice memories.
16 March 2015 – HMSO Norwich: The Final Curtain
Rumours regarding the final days of HMSO in Norwich ('the residual rump" as Peter Macdonald never called it) are unfortunately founded in truth, as the following notice confirms:
"The Norwich office of The National Archives formerly The Office of Public Sector Information which incorporates Her Majesty’s Stationery Office will be closing on Friday 20 March 2015. This ends a long tradition of HMSO in Norwich which started with the first dispersal of staff from London in 1968 and a subsequent dispersal in 1978.
HMSO will live on at the HQ of The National Archives based in Kew as the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament, Queen's Printer for Scotland, and Government Printer for Northern Ireland, and her teams will continue to deliver a range of UK wide official publishing responsibilities and services.
The three remaining staff in the Norwich office will be going their separate ways – two will be leaving the Civil Service and one will continue to work for The National Archives splitting her time between working from her new home in Worcestershire and travelling to the office in Kew."
So that's it. Karen Sullivan has the honour to be the Last of the Few - that is, she joined HMSO in April 1978 and is the Last Woman Standing, with just short of 37 years service with HMSO – four more years than I managed, and I am old.
Must remember to ask anyone canvassing for my vote in the forthcoming May nastiness as to how much public money has been saved since privatisation in 1996 . . .
23 February 2015 - Training Days
Apologies to those non-Norfolk readers - but - we're pleased to spot in the Eastern Daily Press that Doug Boyd (good Scot that he is) is doing his bit for local culture on the the Wells to Walsingham Light Railway.
23 February 2015 – A Night Out with the Lads (and one lass) from HMSO Accounts Division, 1938ish
Charles Walter Blundell, OBE, joined HMSO in 1937 as a seventeen year old clerk. So did Robert Frederick Govett. Sadly, neither are still with us, but one (Charlie) left a self-published memoir, and the other (Bob) left a thoughtful daughter, Claire, who has passed on to HMSOldies this picture of A Night On The Town. Bob’s copy of ‘Gluepots’ came with the note, in Charlie's hand . . . ’To Bob, - 'a survivor of events catalogued from page 93! . . . ' Those of you with a copy of 'Gluepots' can take up the story from there.
And what a night it seemed to be. Pubs, restaurant, The Crazy Gang at the theatre and a deal of what my old mother would have called 'enjoying yourself in reverse.' A drink reference, that is: how dare you think my mother meant that!
All dressed in their Fifty Shilling Tailor suits and looking any age between 17 and 70. And who is the brave lady among them? Joan Stokes? Surely not Margaret Crawley?
The best brains of the office (alright then, just Les Birch with a little bit of Mike Lynn) have verified some names, but our correspondent has come up with the following from the names pencilled onto tracing paper in her father’s hand.
'Names as follows from the gap at the bottom right of the photo, clockwise:
Bernard Canavin, Arthur Hope, Bob Govett, Ken Meredith, Ross Turner (whose wonderful given name, I note, was Rosomund Walter, born 10 September 1891, joined HMSO 1919. Wasn't Rosomund a Schubert Overture?), Cyril Self, Angus Gorten, AW Dando, CW Blundell, JJ Cherns, Claude Stallen, George King, Joe Fine, Walter Slater, Bud Martin, Bill Glasscock (the man Danny Paul referred to as 'Billy Brittledick', but never, never ever, in his company), Freddy Brittan, Walter Head (was he related to Adeline Rosina Head?), CS Walker (not Charlie Walker the Press Manager and friend of Win Jennings), George Mann, then 4 unreadable, Jack Blake, another unreadable, Jimmy Carruthers.'
So there. A little bit of history. We will not see such times again. They all seemed to get on well, and enjoyed the odd lark. What could be wrong with that?
20 February 2015 – From Les Birch
Dear Reg, This is a photo of a 'medal' struck by Omaha Beach Golf Club and given to all participants in the 6th. D Day ProAM there last October - well, it isn't really a medal but a very elaborate ball marker (the centre of the obverse is detachable to make the actual ball marker).
Ray Tollefson was one of Colonel Rudder's Rangers charged with capturing the hill-top battery at Pointe du Hoc at the western end of Omaha Beach. When the ramp of their landing craft was dropped early on the morning of 6 June 1944, Ray's sergeant and several members of his platoon were killed instantly. To avoid their fate Ray jumped over the side, nearly drowned but struggled ashore only to be immediately wounded in the arm. He reckoned that his war lasted 2 minutes but he was very lucky to escape with his life.
All the 36 holes on the 2 courses are named after people concerned with the landings and on the hole commemorating Colonel Rudder there is a sub-plaque recalling Ray's experiences. I met him first in 2010 and again in 2012 after he missed a year following the death of his wife. I have not seen him since but when he was over for the 70th. Anniversary the club took a charming photo of him with Colonel Rudder's daughter, Rudder himself having died in 1970.
I did not play this year as you know but on the team I drove round with was the joint owner of the whole Omaha Beach GC complex. I happened to mention to my golfing friend, François, when we reached a certain hole that out of the 144 holes I had played there in the four previous years this was the only one where I had attained par, which just shows how brilliant my golf had become before I finally gave up. I jokingly said to François that there should be a commemorative plaque on that hole to record the achievement and before I left he told me that the owner, Pascal Dupont, was going to arrange for a plaque on that hole. So, Ray will be remembered for his heroism whilst I, if the plaque indeed materialises, will be remembered for something entirely different! But it is still something of an honour to find myself coupled with Ray on the commemorative ball marker.
A more significant honour is being accorded to me next June 6 at Asnelles, the little seaside village near to which I landed and where I lived for some 3 months from June 1944. Since the monument to the South Wales Borderers was unveiled there in 1996 I have laid our South Wales Branch of the NVA's wreath there every 6 June and up to 2014 I have always done this jointly with a chap called Bill Evans who I believe to be the last survivor of the 2nd Battalion SWB. He had originally been from Swansea but post war moved to North Wales. He was sadly too ill to attend this year and subsequently died in August. They held a very big memorial service in his honour at the memorial and at that ceremony the Mayor of Asnelles announced that from henceforth the area around the SWB memorial would be called L'Espace Bill Evans/Les Birch. In accordance with their customs over there it looks as though I will be unveiling the commemorative plaque there next June 6.
I leave to you as always how much of the above you want to use generally but some of it may be of interest to such of my contemporaries as survive.
Best wishes, Les
Dear Les, Excellent. Wouldn't change a word. Thank you. Never know whether to be jealous, envious, humbled or privileged. I'll stick with privileged for now. My old dad (1905-1998) would have loved to be among such vitality! All the best. Reg.
18 February 2015 - HMSO Bi-centenary concert Saturday 26 April 1986
Thanks Reg for sending me some concert programme info and, yes, I certainly do remember the occasion as if it were only . . . ages ago! Your mail sent me searching my archive resource department, (garage!) and I’m glad to say a complete programme was retrieved. By the way, Gerry Watt, a member of the choir and of HMSO’s GD department, designed this attractive programme – as he similarly did for many other concerts. It was a great occasion and your accompanying photograph, (surely a T. Burchell special from the organ loft?) reminded me what a packed St Peter Mancroft church awaited the choir’s performance that evening.
Roy Arscott, Sovereign Singers ‘ Musical Director, had of course worked hard to assemble the orchestra and to get the Sovereign Singers into peak performing condition for this very auspicious celebration. I can only think that this concert was the biggest engagement we ever had - even though we had presented a choral and orchestral concert at the same venue two years earlier, the prestige of the 1986 event was unparalleled. The choir was certainly flourishing then and it is no exaggeration to say that we were one of the finest and most respected musical forces in the county at the time.
The choir turned out nearly fifty singers for the occasion and the orchestra was of equal number. Sovereign Singers took the central part in the whole concert performing Schubert’s ‘Song of Miriam’ and Mendelssohn’s great ‘Hymn of Praise’ - a most appropriate piece to have been included in the proceedings - for it was commissioned from the composer in 1840 to mark the 400th anniversary of Johannes Gutenberg‘s invention of printing from moveable type in 1440. This work brought the evening to a close in fine style. The professional solo voices of Jan Jonson, Jo Oxborough and Peter Leonard had been specially invited to enhance the Schubert and Mendelssohn works. Also playing his part in the last piece was the late Kenneth Ryder, who at that time was the organist and Master of the Music at St Peter Mancroft.
If I may just say that I have a particularly special reason for remembering this concert, for Roy Arscott had asked me if I would compose a new work for the occasion. It was of course a privilege to be asked to do this and I was encouraged to have a free hand in the scope of the piece. I think Roy said call on all the resources you need – within reason! In the event I scored the piece - called ‘Choral Fanfarade’ - for choir, nine brass instruments, (HMSO’s Ivor Annetts on trumpet) and three percussionists. I also saw the opportunity to involve the two organs in the church as well.
Kenneth Ryder, who had been my organ tutor, (who understandably mostly kept quiet about that!) played the substantial main organ part and I gave myself the task of playing the secondary organ contribution. For the choral words I choose the verses of Psalm 150 ‘O praise God in His Holiness . . .’ as it gave me scope for introducing dance-like themes and resounding bass drum, timpani and cymbal offerings along the way! It was a memorable performance and Roy worked miracles bringing the whole piece off in grand style.
How sad to have to conclude this reminiscence by recording the death, just a few weeks ago on 3 January, of our then concert rehearsal accompanist, Rex Dickens. Rex had formed the Sovereign Singers way back in 1971 and for a short spell I was the singers’ accompanist under his baton. What a lovely man and fine musician he was. I was glad that Christine and myself went to his funeral where, in the Eulogy, his son spoke warmly of his father’s musical gifts and how much he had loved his role with Sovereign Singers. We were the only ex-SS members present. His wife, Beryl, spoke warmly of the many folk who had written to her following Rex’s death. It was very much the end of an era.
Hello David, Thank you: excellent! Sad to read of Rex Dickens. I did not know him personally, but I see from the Staff List that he was born in 1932 and joined HMSO in 1958. He dispersed to Norwich as an EO in Computer Services. Best wishes. Reg
10 February 2015 - Atlantic House/Farringdon 1970
Hi Reg, My friend Adrian Young in Australia has been going through his old photos taken when he worked in the Atlantic House studio and has sent me these. They were taken around 1970 as there's a poster on the wall advertising a new edition of a book which I can't quite make out.
At the top is a pair of fine looking young men who I barely recognise today as John Saville and myself - were we ever that young? Below is the studio with, at the far end, George Sewell, our illustrator who had the finest hand with a sable brush yet worked within inches of the drawing board constantly with a cigarette between his lips. Next is Max Carrena a temporary designer brought in to work on telephone directories. Then comes Caroline White who joined us in 1968 and left in 1971 for Tyneside to freelance, and finally the back of (I think) David Challis who subsequently moved to The Museum of London before freelancing.
The final couple of piccies show two Old Boys who used to busk outside Farringdon Station - twice a week if I recall (Tuesdays and Thursdays?). They weren't very good but made enough on sympathy to make a weekly comeback..
Philip, Ah, the Beautiful People from the 70s - ties, cuff-links, decent haircuts - and what is that - a trilby on the coat rack? Lovely. But - George Sewell? Is that he, pre- 'Get Carter' etc, with the bald head - obviously asleep, or concussed, or dead at the back of the room? Or was he, as Laurie Andrew used to say, 'concentrating deeply?' Or 'getting into the part?' I also remember the buskers outside Farringdon Station. Excellent, esp. in b&w - must publish! Reg.
Philip Marriage adds: A further photo of the two old buskers outside Farringdon Station, two young trendies at the John & Yoko exhibition at Alexandra Palace and another photo of the studio c1970 - this one showing the back of Len Lawrance (who later went to The Curwen Press before setting up his own studio), Peter Branfield (who led the small London Studio when the rest of us dispersed to Norwich), the back of David Tudor (who chose freelancing rather than disperse) and finally at the far-end Nodge Carnegie (the only designer to join the Graphic Design studio in London under John Westwood, disperse to Norwich and transfer to The Stationery Office upon privatisation).
9 February 2015 - From Brian Cockram
Hola. Another snap to add to the pile. Why we appear to be gathered around that old rogue Sinden is beyond me. It reminds me of yesteryear official photographs. A group of sycophants gathered behind their beloved section leader. Excellent carvery lunch. Seven of us dined for £59.40 including desserts and coffee. Pre-drinks were purchased by Geoff Mickleburgh. Apparently it was his birthday! Have just checked my 1984 non industrial staff register and confirmed it is indeed his birthday. I can dimly remember him reaching 50 in the year 2000.
Also bumped into Brian Lambirth at the hotel. He was sporting a chain of office which easily rivalled that borne by the Mayor Norwich. He is currently president of the Norwich & District Past Rotarians. The names of all the past presidents of the group are engraved on tablets attached to the chain. It reminded me of the chain of ledgers, cash boxes etc dragged by Jacob Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol.
Hello Brian. Thank you for sending us a picture of people enjoying themselves: just what we need to lift the winter gloom, and welter of obituaries on HMSOldies. I know we have already published similar in the past, but we can't have too much of The Beautiful People (just ask the Beckhams). Any libel writs received from the representatives of BR Lambirth will be redirected to you. All the best, and keep keeping fit. Reg.
30 January 2015 - Ex HMSO Electronic Publishing Post Christmas Dinner
Hi Reg. Flu had taken its toll so the number of old Electronic Publishers attending their annual meeting at Don Pepe’s restaurant in Norwich on 30 January was down this year. Present though were Philip Marriage, Lynda Marshall, John Saville, David Martin and myself. All enjoyed an excellent meal accompanied by the odd glass of good Spanish wine.
Good to see that the stalwarts made the annual event- must be the nineteenth since The Dissolution? Dave Martin seems to be making a fist, so he doubtless remembers who upset the apple-cart way back in 1996. And the young couple in the background, on a pre-Valentine date, seem to be thinking 'that could be us in forty years . . .' Reg.
20 January 2015 - Believe it or not - Phill Brooks is 70!
Hello Reg. As promised here is a picture. Can't think why I’m smiling – maybe it's because my glass is (almost) half full. Phill.
17 January 2015 - From Bob Dwyer
Hi Reg, John Barker mentions Mrs Butler and thinks she was the only female Printing Officer. I can think of another one in the past as Mrs Amy Hislop at Atlantic House plus more recently in Norwich Janis ? (surname unknown) who used to work in the Rep Room was promoted to TO. Hope I am right on this.
Hello Bob, Good memory! Mrs Amy Laura Hislop was in fact the name mentioned above Mrs OM Butler on page 31 of the 1961 Staff List, under the title 'Printing and Binding Officers: 34,000 Scheme Entrants.' She was born in 1897 and joined HMSO 8 years before Mrs Butler, in 1941. They were both Established in 1953. There are some famous names on that page, and glancing over at page 31 can be found the name Dwyer R, ITW, joined HMSO 2 November 1959. In good company: Messrs Hudgell, Bent, Travell, CH Hughes, Palmer, Bagley, Bennett, D'Amato, TG Smith, Skiggs, Gamble, Forbes, Pendergast, Abra, Simpson, Stubbs, Waller, Pettet, Grigson, Kennedy, Dobson, Wintle, Gray, Macdonald, Moore, Shepherd - among many others. All P&BOs. No more women's name have come to light, though. I am sure that the more red-blooded Printers will come back to us with memories of the elusive Janis. Janice? Name rings a bell. All the best. Reg.
Sinclair Simpson adds: Hi Reg, Re the references to Olive Butler as being the only female PO as I recall there was one other - Amy Hislop. I'm afraid I can't add much detail about her other than that she worked in P&B/PP, I have no personal memories of her but am sure that others will.
I mentioned to my wife about the training courses run at Mundesely as she had been involved similarly but working for Norfolk County Council. She had two specific memories, the first related as to how cold it could get and how someone had left a toothbrush overnight in a glass of water only to find it frozen solid the next morning. The second was of one of the waiters who always had a 'golliwog' from a jam jar attached to his lapel. As you said it is funny the random memories we hold.
Hello Sinclair, Good to hear from you. And, coincidentally, as you will see above, Bob Dwyer has made the same point regarding Amy Hislop. Also most interesting to hear that the mention of Mundesley training courses has also taken your wife's memory back thirty plus years. I think the rooms are warmer now - and that badge is probably on Ebay! All the best. Reg.
John Barker adds: Dear Reg, What a wealth of information you have at your disposal. You had better keep that 1961 staff list under lock and key it must be quite valuable. I like the title of the 34,000 Scheme Entrance. Where they got that from God only knows. A little misleading. Perhaps it referred to the whole of the Civil Service. When we joined HMSO they were about 7,500 "working" in the department. From memory Harrow Press had around 1,500. An incredible amount even in those days. Keep up the good work. See you in the spring.
Thanks John, Yes, the Staff List can be a great aid to the failing memory! You are right in that the 34,000 Scheme referred to the whole Civil Service. The 1961 List (two years before I joined) showed a non-Industrial total of 2,972 for HMSO. Pity there wasn't an annual Industrial List as well. Non-Industrials in 'Printing Works' totalled 276. ITW - where I started - was 182. P&B was 138, Pubns 188, Supplies 126 - and Accounts a mighty 367. You could tell what they thought was important. But, the largest Division by far was Duplicating, with 575 non-Industrials. Sign of the times. Another sign of the times is that there were only 8 non-Controlling staff earning more than £2300 a year - all Divisional Directors. About a month's rent for a small London flat these days. All the best- and hope to see you in 2015. Reg.
7 January 2015 - From Bob Simpson
Reg, I had lunch today with Eddie Hendry and he mentioned that he had accessed HMSOldies and then proceeded to demonstrate with his smart phone. My name is Bob Simpson and I came to Sighthill in 1972, Eddie, I think had joined the year before me.
Norrie Veitch was our T.O. Eddie and I became good friends and some time ago he decided to join Baberton Golf Club after having been a member at Prestonfield for many years’ we play on a regular basis with our third member of our demented golf group Professor John Mavor who was formerly principal at Napier University. With the closure of Torphin Hill Golf Club ex HMSO representation at Baberton now includes Malcolm Steven and Derek Jackson.
Like many I was retired in 1993 and I now spend time when not on the course, growing and showing Double Begonias and I am looking forward to retaining the Trophy for the sixth successive year.
Yours aye, Bob Simpson
Hello Bob, Good to hear from you, and that you and Eddie are well. I see from 'the book' that you joined HMSO in November 1972, Eddie in January 1969, and Norrie in October 1961. I used to visit the section when I worked in Print Marketing - Jim McDonald was the Norwich-based DD who set up the BT Section in Edinburgh, with John Hamilton and others - happy days!
I have copied your note to Brian Puplett, who organised the HMSOldies Golf Society Centenary event (see HMSOldies dated 9 August 2014).
Thanks to the wonder of Google we are able to add this picture, taken at one of your floral achievements. Good luck in 2015! All the best- and thank you again for making contact. Reg
4 January 2015 - From John Barker
Hi Reg, In your response to Les Pettet's obituary you mentioned me working with Arthur Barham at that time. He was such a nice person to have as a boss. Some lunch hours he used to take me round the sights of London and show me the dodgy areas to avoid, such as Soho. I was only in my 20's then and he didn't want me to go astray.
If you go back a month or two on the Oldies web site. Two people that I remember got a mention. Olive Butler and Albert Hyde. One Christmas when George Macaulay was Director of Print Procurement he came round the Division and wished everyone a happy Christmas. Unfortunately for some reason he missed Olive out. She may well have been out of the room at the time. She got quite upset about this and word got back to George in Norwich. The very next time he came down to London he sought Olive out especially and wished her a happy new year. That made her day of course. That was the sort of person George was. Very sad that he died virtually the day after he retired.
As far as I know Olive was the only lady printing officer that we ever had in HMSO. Things may have been different during the war of course. Her husband had also worked in HMSO but had died before I knew Olive. In those days print was very male orientated with no lady compositors or machine minders. In bindery it was a different matter with probably more women than men. It would have been much more interesting if we had had lady Printing Officers like you had on the administrative side.
Regarding Albert Hyde. I never knew that Albert had working in Layout along with Arthur Phillips. What you can learn from HMSOldies? My first real posting was working with Arthur Phillips and Freddie Pymm in Works HQ. This is when I first met you. Albert used to pop in to see us from time to see if we could help him with the purchase of machinery or equipment. When he left HMSO as an HTO he must have gone on promotion to the Prison Service, so was SEO or above. He appeared to be in charge of printing at the prison service and found it useful for us to purchase things for him. In those distant days of course they probably came out of HMSO's Vote. That was before accountable management etc. He was a very friendly person and it was always interesting to hear his stories about the prisons over a cup of tea.
All the best. I hope to come up to Norwich again in the spring. Perhaps this time I will let you know in advance so that we can meet up. Last year you came to London as I came up to Norwich.
Hello John, It's a good day for reminiscences. I could over-indulge, but you bring back such good memories of the genuinely decent people we worked with. Without getting too much into the rose-coloured specs, I don't think our own children and grandchildren are as lucky. But indulge me for a minute - the Staff List gives the following dates of birth: Willmott 1912, Barham 1908, Mrs O M Butler 1899! (I remember Lou Edwards, Binding Officer, talking of her in revered tones), and Mr Herbert Grosvenor Hyde, born 1909. And, as you say, a kind word from 'the guvnor' meant a lot. Remember telling my mother, in 1963 that 'Mr Jamieson (HEO in ITW) liked my waistcoat' (which she had made). Funny thing, the random memory.
When I worked with Charlie Lloyd, Tommy Taylor and others in Supplies we always tipped the hat to the Technicals - they saw the more interesting side of Civil Service life, we thought. It would certainly be good to meet again - Norwich with Messrs Stutely, Aldus, Rumball and others - London with Eveson, Parfitt and whoever you can lure to the pub!
All the best, and thank you for unearthing the good times. Reg
29 December 2014 - From Les Birch
Dear Reg, Pat's mention [below] of Tom Kearsley reminds me that he was I believe the second man from Manchester to enlist in, I think, 1940, the first being of course Charles Bradshaw. He joined the Honourable Artillery Company, quite an elite mob I believe, was sent to the North African desert in the following year and was promptly taken prisoner. I do not remember seeing him after the war perhaps because he was exiled in the warehouse in Inspection away from the main office. A nice chap.
Will write again soon. Yours, Les.
Thank you Les, I see from the Staff List that Tom Holt Kerslake was born in 1916 and joined HMSO in 1938, rising to Assistant Director of P&B in 1972. If I remember correctly, he was Security Officer for a while, and as you say, very helpful and a decent man. All the best - hope the weather is being kind to you: frosty but no snow in Norwich. Yet. Reg.
Les Birch responds: Dear Reg, I worry about you sometimes. The guy that Pat and I are talking about is indeed Tom Kearsley, not Tom Kerslake. I don't think he ever rose to the dizzy heights of ADPB but he was still a nice chap. Yours, Les.
Dear Les, Humble apologies: I can only blame festive sobriety. But the mistake I made was to refer to the Gentleman as 'Kerslake.' Don't know where that came from: I don't know anyone in HMSO with that name. The 1973 Staff List does indeed refer to T.H. KEARSLEY as an AD in P&B. Just going for a lay down. Or, truth to tell, to a funeral. Nice cold day for it. All the best - and sorry again! Reg.
Pat Kennedy adds: It's great how a casual mention of a great person, Tom Kearsley, can stir up fond memories. Tom never mentioned his war service, so Les Birch's reminisces of Tom was a revelation to me. I recall that when I was declared successful on a 1965 promotion board to technical officer (TO) and endured the agonising wait for a local posting, I had high hopes that Tom Kearsley would also be successful on a separate promotion board to select higher technical officers (HTO), that could have paved the way for me to remain in Manchester with a possible appointment to the TO post to be vacated by Tom. Not to be - Tom was unsuccessful on that occasion and I was promptly packed off to London. Lo and behold, Tom succeeded on another HTO board held a few months later, when he was also summarily transferred to London, to take up the post of P&B security officer and later promoted in post to SEO. Tom never transferred to Norwich and I lost contact with him. I believe he retired in the late 1970s and moved to Abergele, north Wales. I was delighted to see him and Mrs Kearsley, when they attended my retirement reception at HMSO Manchester in 1992. Best wishes for the New Year, Pat
Thank you Pat. And it's good to have it confirmed that Tom K was indeed the helpful Security Officer I dealt with. A different man to his successors . . . All the best. Reg.
Ernie Downs adds: I was a Printing Officer in Manchester Press, working on the Composing Section aspect of the incentive scheme. My TO was Alan Crompton, who left, and Tom - who had worked in Inspection - took his place. I think he was the last of the Printing Officer Higher Grade at the time, having joined HMSO pre-war and enjoying early promotion. POHG was abolished, making way for the Technical Officer grade. Tom was not graded TO, and this did not please him. He would recall that, pre-war, the Civil Service hours were 10-4, plus Saturday mornings. These conditions were surrendered when war broke out, with an assurance that they would be re-instated when the war was over: the Official Side had the utmost confidence that we were going to win! When recalling those times, Tom would tell us that when making his way to the office he was one of the few, the majority of office staff having already gone to work. Now, when he set off for the office, he was on his own - the other office workers were still having breakfast. He spent time in a Prisoner of War camp in Italy. When asked if he had ever tried to escape, he said 'No: the guards on the camp were Italian, and their routine was made up as they went along, so the prisoners could not depend on the guards maintaining a timetable.' Tom was a quietly-spoken pipe-smoker, and when in discussion with Industrial Staff regarding the Incentive Scheme, his pipe-filling routine gave him time for thought!
Les Birch adds: Hi Reg, Ernie has summed Tom up brilliantly. POHG was the technical equivalent of Higher Clerical Officer (HCO) which was certainly the kiss of death if one expected further promotion. The only compensation was a much shorter salary scale than EO so that the rewards in the early years were that much higher. I really must get out more often. Les
27 December 2014 - From Pat Kennedy
Hi Reg, A bit late, but have been struggling to send you this image, via Dropbox, taken at The Royal Oak, Borough, on the occasion of the 2014 'Second Tuesday in December Society' meeting.
I was sorry to learn from Sue Whitaker at the reunion, that Bernadette Farr had died several weeks earlier, and to recently read about Bernie in your email digests. I had known Bernie as a colleague since my return posting to Manchester in October 1979 and saw her progress to the SEO grade succeeding Brian Blackmore in post as Assistant Director, Forms Centre (ADFC2). I worked in a nearby office as ADFC1 and found Bernie to be a very approachable and energetic person to work with.
From memory, the previous occupants of Bernie's post during my eleven years served in Manchester, were Arnold Mackenzie, Marjorie Bannister, Ed Crickmore and Brian Blackmore (may not be in the correct order of their respective periods of service). It's of interest to note that I saw a succession of Manchester Directors come and go during my time there: Dickie Dunn, Bob Norris, George James, George Rokahr and Alex Mackie, before I retired from Manchester in 1992.
I was greatly interested in Les Birch's memory recall of his time served in Manchester prior to, and following WWII and his mention of 'NABADS', I first arrived on the Manchester scene in October 1959 as a young printing officer appointed to Inspection, Transport and Warehousing (ITW) working under the guidance of technical officer Tom Kearsley. I found the work to be partly interesting, but generally boring, examining printed work delivered into the adjacent warehouse (later to be renamed The Forms Centre). It appeared to be a 'proof-reading' exercise performed after the work had been printed! It was also a responsibility to ensure that the delivered work was exactly in accordance with the contract specification. Some excitement was gained when errors were discovered and 'rejection action' was contemplated!
Although memories of the Northern Area Branch Amateur Dramatic Society (NABADS) was often mentioned, I don't recall any amateur dramatic activities going on, during my time there in the early 1960s. After two or three years detecting some howlers 'proof reading', I was transferred across the Chadderton site to the general office, to prepare ad hoc tender specifications and print procurement, or printing and binding (P&B) as we preferred to call it. Len Day was the higher technical officer in charge, later succeeded by Wally Hughes. The formidable Ella Coyle was in charge of the clerical side of the house, under the director Roy Pysden. I am sure that Bernie Farr was working in the office somewhere, but I was posted to Atlantic House on promotion to technical officer in May 1965 before I had chance to be acquainted with Bernie.
Best wishes to all my old colleagues in Manchester, London and Norwich. Pat.
Hello Pat, Lovely photo which I have copied to others who I am sure will be interested to read your comments. Coincidentally Terry McCrum came across some information on St Albans recently and I was able to refer him to the fine 'history' you presented to me. Sadly, the staff at the successor to HMSO Chadderton are all on redundancy notice, so all that will soon be left are these fond memories. All the very best to you and yours, and thank you once more. Reg.
Ernie Downs adds: Hi Pat, I have been browsing through the above correspondence on Manchester and its personnel in times past. You say that cannot remember any NABADS activity whilst you were there. I was there from 1962 to 1968, and can remember the yearly pantomimes with the Dup. Ops, providing the chorus line, both female and male. The procedure was after work a party of the P.O.s would retire to the pub until it was time for the performance start. Recollection of the later parts of the evening are rather sketchy. I saw at least one play; it was one of the Whitehall farces, 'Dry Rot' I think, Starring Jim MacCallum and I think a Mary X. I say the play was 'Dry Rot', I had an exchange of emails with Jim MacCallum some years ago and he could not confirm this. Hope you are well all the best for the new year. Ernie Downs.
Pat Kennedy replies: Hi Ernie, Nice to receive your email. I served my early HMSO days in the Manchester office from October 1959 to May 1965, before my transfer to Atlantic House. I remember our service overlapped together for about three years, when you arrived in Manchester Press. While I don't recall any NABADS performances, it was probably due to my need to get myself home (I lived in Middleton at the time), to my dear wife and young family of three daughters. I was therefore not normally available after working hours, so obviously missed some of the NABADS and other after work pub activities! I do recall the excellent Christmas parties that were held in the General Office, as special occasions. Sorry if I gave a misleading impression that NABADS were inactive. I was also unaware of any NABADS or Dup Ops pantomimes being organised - I could have made some effort to attend and support them, if I'd known! Perhaps as a young and happy family man, it was as well I steered clear of such temptations and activities! Best wishes, Pat.
23 December 2014 - From Geoff Bedford
Hi Reg, I was very sorry to read about Paula Middleton and the impending demise of the Manchester Press (as was).
I am not sure if I have recalled correctly that there is a proposal to save HMSO relics for some kind of museum? - but if this is so I have an HMSO Scotland flag and a fairly large coloured and framed plan of the South Gyle site which was presented to me when I retired (it was clearly cluttering up the place!)
I was reliably told by Alan Bennett, the former South Gyle Estates Manager, that two wall tapestries (carpets really!) woven by the renowned Edinburgh Tapestry Company were removed to Manchester (warehouse?) when the office was sold to Royal Mail.These were hung in our atrium. The one on the lift wall was a cheerful map of the UK with weather symbols over it (probably around 18' by 6' , and the other was of South Gyle when it was in former times (I think) a water meadow. This would be around 8' by 5'.
It might be worth asking if these are still around (no doubt) wrapped up somewhere. I suspect they will not appeal to many so there is a slight possibility they are still gathering dust.
Merry Christmas and best wishes, Geoff
Amy Driver (3M Print & Supply Module Manager, Chadderton) adds: Reg, Consultation closed at the end of November. A proposal for sale did not come off, so we are now closing. Everyone will be finishing between April and July, as we wind the contracts down. Notice letters were issued in mid-Dec.
I've never come across any tapestries - I'll keep my eyes out though. We postponed the plans for a history display due to the delayed end of consultation & general bad timing. We intend to do something in about March, when people have come to terms with it.
Happy Christmas, Regards, Amy
Tom McNeill adds: Dear Reg, I was so sorry to hear of the closure of HMSO Edinburgh and of Manchester Press. I feel hugely privileged to have served in both locations. Privatisation was all about asset stripping. What happened to service to the taxpayer and fair treatment of suppliers? I am glad to be out of all this but feel so sorry for the people adversely affected. I remember the initial privatisation and did not like the change at all. Nobody would talk about what was right only about what was profitable. Nobody now talks about service only Mammon.
On that depressing note I wish you, and everyone on HMSOldies the very best for Christmas and the New Year.
Thank you Tom. Can't disagree with a word you say. Depressing indeed. But as 'today is the day' and my wife has just finished admonishing me for buying her a box of 'Grumpy Cow' toiletries then cynicism had best be put aside, if only for the sake of the grandchildren. I have passed on your good wishes to the team, who do the real work at HMSOldies, and we reciprocate heartily! All the best. Reg.
21 December 2014 –
From Valerie Knowles
Hello Reg and Diane, A merry Christmas to you both. Here are the photos I mentioned in the summer, Reg. At last I have time to re-locate them and scan to send you and it is more appropriate now at Christmas time.
I can’t remember the year but it must be about 1992. Pubns went to the Sainsbury Centre for Christmas lunch. I don’t know all the names but you will recognise the S.O. Review cover-girl Corinne Barker. Also in shots are Margaret Baker, Libby Rose, Ruth Bowden Dave Martin, Stuart McLaren, Gary Windeler, Philip Glover and Bob Barnard. Me too of course and Peter somebody from Training Branch with his wife. Maybe you can name any others here?
And a Happy New Year! Valerie
Hello Valerie. Lovely. Thank you. At first, I thought that Stuart McLaren was that bloke from Strictly Come Dancing: very smart! We'll have a ponder over the missing names. Here's hoping that you have a good Christmas. All the best from Diane and . . . Reg.
21 December 2014 –
From English Jack [Keating]
A Merry Christmas from sunny Florida, 2014
We hope you have a Happy and Holy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year
Warm Regards, Jack and Kate
Hello Jack, And a very merry one to you and yours too, from blustery Norwich. No snow - yet. I have copied to 'HMSOldies Management' who are furiously battling to get the site up and running before the January sales. All the best, Reg.
19 December 2014 - Spirit of Heidelberg Lives!
Philip Jinman joined HMSO as a Printing Officer in 1973, moving on promotion to Industrial Personnel Division (Sovereign House). He has recently been in touch with HMSOldies, enthusing about the traditional printer, Francis Cupiss of Diss with these photos
He comments on the photos as follows: 'I think the lady in the picture was having a fun day at the printing works and John Harding was the gentleman in the picture. They do have foil blocking, proofing and as you can see Heidelberg platens. They have printed some novel Christmas Cards with the word Norfolk on and they have also got a Wharfedale which is at Bressingham Steam Museum. Apparently it was taken down at Diss and rebuilt by the steam engine engineers from Bressingham.'
Sounds worth a visit for anyone in the area – or even an organised trip on a Letterpress Experience Day for aficionados? More details here.
5 December 2014 - From Barry Roberts
Dear Reg, You asked for memories and photos of courses HMSO employees have been on. Below are a couple of photos which may be of interest:
This first one shows the happy participants of a course at Aldeburgh - probably at the Brudenell Hotel - in 1981. The names I remember are as follows:
back: Peter Wright and David Crump (trainers)
middle: Dee Reeve (now Diana Duhig), Steve Walmsley, ?,
front: Martin East?, Devon Williams
I think that the three to the left of Dee worked in PP and Technical Services. Three of the group (including myself) were from Publications Management Accounting (PMA) - headed by David Silver - which had recently 'dispersed' from London. I came from Atlantic House (under Joan Organ and Tom Fiander), Steve transferred from Manchester and Dee had transferred from a Supply job in Norwich (I think?).
I don't have any memories of the course other than sitting in the bar and taking the photo (where you'll notice that the member from PP? had his fly open!).
This second photo is of an Internal Audit course held at the White Lion in Oak Street in 1990. I forget the name of the trainer sitting on John Slaughters lap, but Jo Archer, Dave Higginbottom and Malcolm Wilson are looking on attentively in the background. Actually this wasn't a training course - it was John Slaughter's retirement bash!
Best wishes, Barry Roberts (ex PMA and IA)
Hello Barry, Excellent photos - and memories: thank you. I have copied the 'Aldeburgh' photo elsewhere to see if we can add more names. 33 years though – hard to believe. As regards the other photo, it is very much of its time: wouldn't happen in a pub these days, and that's just the cigarette in Malcolm Wilson's hand! The Young Lady had quite a business going for her: I have photos of her appearance at a similar event for Vic Bell. And her then boyfriend was the 'Tarzan-o-gram' employed for Gill Gent's leaving do, held in the Marketing suite in St Crispins - all done in the best possible taste. We'll see if anyone else comes up with names. Thanks again, and all the best. Reg.
LATER: The top picture of an Aldeburgh Management Course, was missing a couple of names. Steve Walmsley, who features, says one of them is Phil Brimley - and thinks that the young lady in white might be Sue Holt? Reg
Sue Prutton adds: Reg, Re the Aldeburgh picture - the 3rd from the left unknown chap, next to Dee Reeves, is Ian Summers. I know him quite well - he left HMSO to work for Page Printers in Norwich, but the Prutton contact has been through the musical connection as he was an accomplished bassoon player and played in the orchestra for several productions with Norfolk Opera Players and Claxton Opera.
25 November 2014 - From Barry Palmer
Hi Reg, its Barry from the frozen North (Canada). We had an apprentice at Abbey Orchard Street named, Derek New, who was transferred after a year to Harrow.
He probably doesn’t remember me but it would be nice to know how he got along and if he is retired now and whether he remembers his old friends and if he would like to get in touch with them.
Hello Barry, Thank you for your note from Frozen Canada (received in cold and wet Norwich). We will cross our fingers that someone might know the current disposition of Derek New. All the best, Reg.
24 November 2014 – From Philip Hetherington
I worked at Harrow as a compositor until its closure, have any of my former colleagues contacted you?
Hello Philip, Good to hear from you. I have copied to a few old colleagues who were in and around the London Presses to see if they remember you at Harrow.
When were you there? As it happens I had an uncle - Harry Wakely - who lived in Rayners Lane, Harrow in the 40s and 50s: he was briefly at Harrow and went on to Radio Times. The only times I ever went there was for a review of the Payroll section: I seem to remember Ken Lowe being around at the time - possibly Derek Lees. Were you there when Derek Wintle was around? He is still in Norwich, but not contactable by email. So are Glyn Jones, Trevor Priddle, Robert Stutely. As you can imagine, not many from the shop floor moved to Norwich but we will see what we can do as regards making contact. All the best from a cold and misty Norwich. Reg.
21 November 2014 – From Kathryn Crump
Hi Reg, You recently asked if anyone had any pictures from the training courses at Mundesley, I have managed to find these in Dad's photo archive. I’m afraid the only people I recognise are Dad and Digger Dungate. Hope they are of some interest.
Best wishes, Kathryn
Hello Kathryn, What wonderful photos: thank you! I will have another look tomorrow, but immediately I recognise Ivor Hosgood, Ivan Brown and a very young-looking Jim Wilson. There are other familiar-looking faces who I might remember later –but I have copied to others so we'll see what more names are remembered. Best wishes, Reg.
Keith Batchelor adds: Wow! I had hair then and was better looking! Just got to check to see if I still have the same suit and if it fits. I can only remember that it was the first winter after being appointed as an EO. 'A winter of discontent'. The hotel was cold and draughty. I remember having to stuff toilet paper in the gaps in the window. The only other thing I can remember was having to produce a talk using OHP slides - no death by PowerPoint then! Regards, Keith.
Thanks Keith, Ah yes, I remember it well! The hotel has certainly improved its game since those days. All the best - and I hope the suit still has a ten bob note in the top pocket. Reg
18 November 2014 - From John Nash
Hi Reg, One of our gentle pleasures in retirement is trawling around the Island's Book Fairs and similar Antique & Collectable ones. Last weekend we came across a nostalgic item with connections to the old firm - a pen and ink tray. A slim wooden block with a groove for the pen and complete with two glass ink bottles, covered by silver plated caps. On the base of the tray was stamped the SO Symbol together with a basic Crown - no orb or additional frills - but no code number either.
When I first started at Cavendish Square in 1950 I recall seeing a similar item on one of the Staff Officer's desk (Ernie Scarborough I believe) so guess they were intended for senior officers. Might you or any of the chums have any idea about the date when they were issued; my 1950 is a clue but it could have been earlier. The pen is not an original and at around £40 don't expect you will want one for your 'museum of oldies', but it would be nice to try to date it.
Many thanks, and kind regards, John
Hello John, Good to hear from you, and to be taken back to 'the good old days.' I have copied to Bob Barnard as our local representative of pre-1960s HMSO nostalgia! When I joined (1963) I'm afraid we were down to the plastic trays, but I remember the substantial items to which you refer on the desks of the likes of Messrs Pengelly, Wilkinson and Jameson. A damp, coldish day in Norwich: I'm sure the IoW is as temperate as ever. All the best, Reg.
Bob Barnard adds: It was nice to hear from John and about his find in the IOW. I'm afraid I can't help about ink stands. I don't recall them as a stock item especially when I was in S4C or S4D. My guess is that they would have been an Office Requisite and provided by S4 though possibly as a 'Special' order. In S4C I supplied Staples and Staplers, India Tags and Laces and Cellotape but no pen trays and then in S4D Pins, 69 12, Paper Weights 69 13 (I'm looking at one now) and Letter Openers 68.43. I have vague recollections of the plastic pen trays and wonder if they were issued by S4B (Sid Brooks, Alan King, Margaret Allen) as they issued pens and pencils. I tried to jog Valerie's memory but she could not remember issuing pen trays in S4A (her first appointment in Supplies Division) or S4D when John and I were two of her staff. I'm sorry I can't be of more help. If ever I see Judy Tassell I will ask her, I think she lives in Cringleford now, as she might remember. Best wishes, Bob
Thank you Bob, Ah, memories! I was also S4c for a while (1967) - under Norman Parker, with David Roberts as SEO. Stencils, litho materials, marker pens etc. Mary Weatherhead (who I saw recently with Angela Brandish-Hughes) was S4B. Reg Andrews S4d (photographic) - Jenny Meikle newly-appointed as S4a. Keith Coleman, who was Clerk of Stationery for a while, has a phenomenal memory for all this stuff: must ask him when I see him next. All the best, Reg.
John Eason adds: If the inkstand is a lovesome thing God Wot, then it was probably provided by PSA or their predecessors, who had the responsibility for supplying to Assistant Secs and above. They developed a modish 'Lumium' range for them I remember. Meanwhile regards to all my readers, have a good Christmas!
Well-remembered as ever, John. Yes, MPBW looked after The Toffs. Can't recall Lumium but they may have, unsurprisingly, been taken over by Indian entrepreneurs. Reg
John Nash adds: Thanks for the info and ideas about this item. The distinguished list of contacts now reads like a page from 'Who's Who'. I have been able to take a 'sneak' photo of the inkstand.
I was unable to include the Crown and S.O. on the reverse; it is stamped on the base but merges with the brown wood and won't reproduce. Does Philip (and indeed Fred Stubbs) recall the GD booklet on the use and styles of Crowns which may help to date this specimen? It is clearly a 'special' and not a Stock item and guess it was intended for staff at a certain level. I'm sure that one of the S4 sections was involved in this item and I'll have a further word with Bob Barnard. Perhaps the solution to all this is to purchase myself, wallow in nostalgia and then bequeath it to your 'museum of oldies' when the time comes! Cheers, John.
Hello John, another 'S4' man from the 60s. A lovely item of desk equipment: I certainly remember seeing them on the desks of Senior Civil Servants when I visited Whitehall Departments. Wouldn't surprise me if they appeared in episodes of 'Yes Minister.' Looks like this one will run and run. All the best from a still-wet Norwich. Reg
Fred Stubbs adds: Thanks Reg for the email and photo of that fine inkstand. I have a small collection of inkstands but not that one alas! Hope all is well with you. Best wishes, Fred (From Fred's iPod)
Thanks Fred, Yes, good memories of times when basic items were of lasting quality! All well here - I trust the same applies with you. All the best, Reg.
Philip Marriage adds: The crown on the inkstand could well be an indicator of its age and was almost certainly what we in GD called a 'Cypher Crown' - that is a simplified stylised rendering of the St Edward Crown suitable for stamping on all kinds of things including wooden rulers as well as inkstands. My hazy memory is that The Queen commanded that the St Edward Crown was to be used on her succession rather than the Tudor Crown used previously - so if it is St Edward then it is post-1953. John mentions the book on the use of official heraldry administered by GD. This definitive work was written in 1964 by John Westwood and called'Heraldic Design for Her Majesty's Stationery Office' but more commonly referred to by everyone as 'The Green Book' due to its green hardback binding. It included all current versions of the Royal Arms and other related insignia and was invaluable in providing advice to government departments. A leaflet summarising the most often used versions was also available. Upon privatisation 'The Green Book' passed into the hands of HMSO/Cabinet Office as TSO (a commercial company) had no rights to the use of official heraldry. Whether it is still used I have no idea. In 1993 I produced this poster showing some of the different versions the Royal Arms used from HMSO's founding in 1786. This was available to delegates attending a Publications Customer Conference held here in Norwich.
16 November 2014 - From Alex Mackie
Hi Reg, It was with a sad heart that I got the news about Manchester even though it had been taken over and lost the HMSO link. It got me back to the time I first arrived as a TO in the incentive section and realised the site was a community dependency. At that time the history of the previous operation of Northern Area Branch was still remembered along with the NABADS which was the amateur dramatic society. I think the older Members and the retirees still thought of themselves as NABIANS which I thought showed great belonging.
One of the long serving officers was Ella Coyle who seemed to be a mainstay of the past. I smile now when I remember playing table tennis against her at lunchtimes in the old theatre and she was no easy opponent I can tell you. It always surprised me that there was rigid dining arrangements with a canteen for office and industrial staff, one for senior staff and a separate directors dining room. Our boss then was Cyril Errington (born 1912, joined HMSO 1935) 'always called Mr', also from the old school but he did say once after he retired that he would have liked to have been called Cyril.
Those times are long past but there was a great atmosphere then. Alex.
Thank you Alex. I have a couple of volumes of photos from NABADs days, mostly featuring Paddy Cochrane. Will have to let you see them one day. All the best. Reg.
15 November 2014 - From Michael Harrington
Dear all, I have just found this in my loft. Do any of you remember going on this outing? I remember going as I met the coach about 6am in Dartford. We then went to The Bull to pick up some beer to have on the way, and we had a pint then. I left my motorcycle at the pub, but must have been well over the limit when we returned at night.
A good time was had by all. Regards, Michael.
Hello Michael, Thank you for your email, which I see you copied to others - we will see if they come up with any similar 'memories'. My word, you did well in those days: 'Drinks, Cigarettes and Chocolates provided for the journey'. I don't know the area well: coming from Tooting our days out were usually Brighton, Littlehampton or Southend. Amazing the memories a piece of paper can evoke! All the best from a damp Norwich. Reg.
Philip Marriage adds: Hi Michael, The 'S' Department certainly knew how to enjoy themselves - pity it didn't continue into my time there as I joined on 4 February 1963, a year or so after this event and I don't recall subsequent 'Annual' outings - more's the pity.
Terry Robinson adds: We certainly always had good outings, I look back on those days with great affection. Best wishes, Terry
12 November 2014 - From Jim Wretham
Reg, I thought you and other former HMSO colleagues might care to note that to commemorate Armistice Day there was a wreath laying ceremony at Kew yesterday. Jeff James, the Chief Executive at The National Archives, read out the names of the former employees of both The National Archives/Public Record Office and HMSO who were killed during the First and Second World Wars.
Head of Information Policy, The National Archives
Thanks Jim, Good to hear that one of the better traditions is still being maintained. Counting the hours rather than the days now? All the best. Reg
6 Nov 2014 - From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, This National Archives announcement re 'Remembering our Tommies' has just been brought to my attention - I thought it might be something you would like to put on HMSOldies as Remembrance Day draws near. Stuart.
5 November 2014 - Civil Service Pension Scheme
Ian Billings has provided updated contact details as of November 2014:
'Although I provided previous information for HMSOldies, you must remember that this was based on details as they pertained 17 years ago. Much has happened since, the latest being that Civil Service Pensions are now administered by MyCSP rather than Capita.
PO Box 2017,
Phone 0300 123 6666 (for expats: +44 1903835902)
It might be as well to publish this change in case any current pensioners have not notified change of address and have not received this September 2014 letter.
Kind regards, Ian'
5 November 2014 - Closure of HMSO/SPSL/3M Press at Chadderton
I'm afraid that the closure has been coming for a very long time. When 3M lost the UK passport contract to De La Rue, most people had grave doubts about the long term prospects. Many reassurances of replacement work were made, but it never really materialised. I think that 3M purchased the plant on the basis of the contract retention and also the expansion of the UK identity card. The latter was of course cancelled by the government several years ago.
It appears that, while the financial losses were reducing year-on-year, there was no real prospect of breaking even in the foreseeable future. Staff numbers have steadily fallen over the years and now total about 125 – well below the peak of around 300. There's a 45-day consultation period which ends around 04 November, after which I expect a steady reduction of staff numbers. Final closure expected next summer.
Best regards! Gil Smith
Thanks Gil, Good to hear from you, albeit with such depressing news. Always sad to read of people who thought they had a decent job for life being subject to the 'whims of the Market.' Best wishes. Reg.
27 October 2014 - Chadderton History: from Les birch
Dear Amy, As Reg says, sad times particularly for those of us who worked there when it was the Northern Area Branch of HMSO. I started my HMSO career there in June 1939, served there until September 1941 when I joined the Army and came back again in December 1946, finally leaving for London and subsequently Nottingham in June 1948. I had a very brief spell back there as Director (must have been in 1970 or 1971) when the then Director, Charles Bradshaw) had a near fatal car accident.
In 1939 there was a crown green bowling green, two shale tennis courts and a 9 hole putting green. The bowling green and tennis courts were in between what was the main warehouse and the canteen block whilst the putting green was attached to the office block which stood on the immediate right as one came through the main gates. In the canteen block there was a full size snooker table, two table tennis tables and a dart board.
A Home Guard company was formed in June/July 1940, wearing the cap badge of the Lancashire Fusiliers - there is a photo of three of us listed as Soldiers Three in the HMSOldies Picture Gallery. The Superintendent at the time was a Captain Hammond (RASC Great War) who insisted that whoever was on guard duty at the main gate when he arrived in his car each morning should present arms. This was ridiculous for a Captain who should have received, if anything, the usual salute of a slap on the butt of the sloped rifle. But we knew no better in those days.
There was also an office fire brigade and we had great fun with wet drills for which I believe we received an additional shilling (5p) for our trouble. A Dornier bomber flew low over the site one lunch time in 1940 - we think he was looking for the AVRoe aircraft factory which was pretty near in Hollinwood. The story went that it had been shot down over the Pennines but then these rumours circulated whenever a plane came over in daylight.
I hope this helps a little - I remember quite a few names from those days but they may not be relevant. The NABADS dramatic society was formed after the war and I was in their first production, J.B.Priestley's 'When we are Married', where I played the drunken photographer, something of an irony in that I was supposed at the time to be a teetotaller.
Best wishes, Les Birch
Les, Perfect recall, as ever, and lovely stuff, thank you. We have also received a personal reminiscence from George Rokahr. All the best, and enjoy the Autumn sun. Reg.
22 October 2014 - From Amy Driver: Chadderton History
Reg, As you have noted on the HMSOldies site, we at 3M Chadderton are in consultation to close the site.
Some of us thought it would be interesting to gather as much information as we can about the history of the site, with an idea to create a display in time for the quarterly site briefing on 12th December. By then we should know the outcome of consultation, and whether we are to be closed or sold, and it would be good to look back. I've had a look through your site, which is very interesting, and provides a glimpse into how things were.
Do you have any information about the history? We have people here with around 37 years service, but it would be good to find out about the site from earlier times. I understand the HMSO Northern Branch was created in 1916 as a response to increased demand in WW1, and I think some of the site was sold to Costco at some point, and that we had bowling greens and tennis courts. Can you or your members fill in any of the details? We are hoping to include some of the basic facts, as well as some good anecdotes, and hopefully some photographs & artefacts.
Thank you, Regards, Amy
Amy Driver | Print & Supply Module Manager
3M Traffic, Safety & Security Division
3M Chadderton, Gorse Street | Oldham, OL9 9QH
Hello Amy, Sad times, but excellent to hear that you are doing something for HMSO history! HMSOldies has various references - 69 in total, according to our Search box. I have sent you some hastily-scanned pages from the HMSO History 1786-1986 by Hugh Barty-King, and a couple of other pictures which may be of use. I have also copied your note to specific people who worked in the area, in the hope that they will contact you direct. Meanwhile, if you have any specific questions with which we may be able to help, please feel free to contact me. If it wasn't such a lengthy train ride from Norwich I would pay you a visit myself. All the best. Reg Walker, Editor, HMSOldies
20 October 2014 - From Gerry Aldus
Morning Reg. I have fond memories of several training courses at the hotel, but like you absolutely no memory of anything relating to training. At the time I worked in Tech as a programmer in Norvic House and as such was pretty much cut off from the mainstream, so 2 weeks at the hotel with people from other areas of the office represented a major and very welcome change.
Perhaps the course I remember best was the one when there was a blizzard and Norfolk including Mundesley (or should that be England) was cut off. The last man to escape the hotel was Glover, the Deputy Controller, who had joined us for an evening session and a free dinner. I remember that things were so bad, Harold Wilson appointed a Minister for Snow, an ex-football referee who had previously been Minister for Drought.
The hotel lost all electricity, management could not get to the place and we were left with 2 Calor gas stoves, a waitress, a waiter and the chef. There was no heating or hot water, hand-basins froze, we went to bed with candlesticks and severe warnings from the waitress about fire risk. I for one slept fully clothed although with the wind blowing a gale off the North Sea there was little sleep to be had.
We feared we were stuck until August but on the Saturday morning a van turned up to deliver fish and the driver said he had heard that if you followed the coast road north for a few miles there was a single track cut through to Norwich. With one leap we were free, despite the trainer trying to block our exit on H and S grounds. (I can't remember his name but I do remember he tried to teach statistics and spent much of his time attempting to get us to buy him Southern Comfort, failing on both counts).
On other courses, I remember the food being plentiful to the extent that Pat Kennedy refused dinner on occasion and had bread and jam instead. There were a number of liaison's too, if rumours are to be believed.
They were happy days, we were all much younger and the future seemed full of opportunities but whenever I visit Mundesley, as I did during the summer, I remember the snow, the wind and the cold dark nights at the Manor.
19 October 2014 - Middle Management Courses at Mundesley
This weekend we were invited for lunch at the Manor Hotel, Mundesley, by my brother-in-law and his wife, celebrating their wedding anniversary.
The last time I was in the hotel was on a two-week course in 1975, with HMSO Royalty JP Delaney, Sylvia Parnell, and several others. Most of us put on at least half a stone in weight, with three meals a day and a hotel bar with a wonderfully relaxed attitude to licensing hours for residents.
I was delighted to find that the hotel had been smartened up but not changed greatly - the food was good, the bar was excellent, and my brother-in-law attested to the quality of the accommodation. Above all, the reception, bar and restaurant staff were pleasant, efficient and welcoming.
Memories flooded back of course participants - not the content of the course, but the people. Has anyone memories - better if they have photos - of a course they were on? HMSOldies carries several references, but more would be most welcome. Reg.
19 October 2014 - All Square on the Square
It is two years now since I had the good fortune to be invited to join a group of local photo-historians on a visit to the crumbling edifice that is Sovereign House, and a year since I was interviewed by the charming and talented Miss Andi Schmied on the same subject.
Interest in the old place seems unabated, with various tales of sales, luxury hotels and apartments, even a possible Tesco . The latest burst of interest was reported in the Norwich Evening News dated 18 October 2014, which carries details of an exhibition devoted to Anglia Square.
15 October 2014 – Norwich Charity Christmas Shop
Jeanne Southgate has sent us her annual pre-Christmas message, which we are pleased to publish:
Can I ask you to give the usual annual publicity to HMSOldies about the Christmas shop?
It opens for business on Monday 20 October at 9.30am at a new venue - the All Saints Church opposite John Lewis.
This is the 49th year of the shop. Last year £40,000 was distributed to our charities - a full 100% of sales proceeds. All costs were met by sponsorship and fund-raising.
Many thanks, Jeanne
14 October 2014 – Manchester Security Press
As recently as 20 February 2012 we published an illustrated piece by Les Birch following his visit to the premises formerly known as HMSO Chadderton. Now we have sad news brought to us by the Oldham Evening Chronicle, via Gil Smith and Jim Richardson, that the old place's days are very much numbered.
Sad news indeed.
14 October 2014 - From Ivor Hosgood: Purchase of Anglia Square
Dear Reg, At last, a promising reply from a representative of the purchasers, which you may wish to reproduce.
* * *
'Dear Mr Hosgood,
Thank you for your email of 17 August 2014 and apologies for the delay in responding.
We appreciate your interest in the future of Anglia Square.
As the new owner of the centre, Threadneedle believes that Anglia Square has significant potential as a shopping destination and our goal is to ensure it has a commercially-viable future.
Over the coming months, Threadneedle will be working alongside Norwich City Council to explore opportunities to regenerate this important site and make it an attractive place to visit and spend time.
These ideas are in at an early stage and it is too early to discuss specific elements, with the scale and nature of any development proposals subject to more detailed discussions.
That said, we understand that the local community should have a role in deciding the future of Anglia Square and Threadneedle fully embraces the need for public consultation to inform and develop any development proposals for the site.
In the meantime, thank you again for your continued interest and please get in touch with me directly if you have any additional questions.
On behalf of Threadneedle Investments'
* * *
I am still not clear whether Sovereign House and Gildengate House are included in the purchase or the consequent redevelopment. If Threadneedle Investments send me any more information, I will let you know. In the meanwhile, I will copy my acknowledgement of its message to the company to you. Incidentally, I understand the St Crispins is up for sale. Are you able to confirm this?
Yours sincerely, Ivor
Thanks Ivor, Well done on getting a response. I am sure that Mr Baxter is an excellent PR man! You are right about St Crispins, as we mentioned on HMSOldies in September - see the NEN article. Keep up the good work. All the best, Reg.
11 Oct 2014 - From Tony Smith
Whilst on holiday – a walking centre in Sussex with voluntary leaders – one of the leaders, a chap from Inland Revenue who retires shortly - mentioned that his father worked in HMSO and had I seen him mentioned or a photo in HMSOldies? His father was Herbert (generally known as Albert I think) Hyde who worked under a Mr Carter in Layout (Graphic Design?) in Atlantic House but his father didn’t move to Norwich and presumably joined another department. Where would I find him in HMSOldies please?
Hello Tony, There are four mentions of Albert Hyde in HMSOldies, the most pertinent of which is by Bob Barnard, to whom I have copied your note. You will find the reference in the IC2010-10. The other references can be found by putting in the name in the Search Box at the end of the menu list on the first page of the HMSOldies site. The 1961 Staff List shows that Herbert Grosvenor Hyde was a TO in Contracts born 19 December 1909 and joining HMSO 3 April 1939. Max pay for the grade then was £1,154 pa. Happy days. I seem to remember that he was attached to MOD Woolwich at one stage - or was that another Mr Hyde? Hope this helps - perhaps others can add more. Reg
Philip Marriage adds: Hi Tony, In addition to the references Reg has mentioned there is a quite extensive paper in the ARCHIVE section of HMSOldies by Arthur Phillips in which 'Albert' is mentioned on pages 4, 12, 14 and 22.
Page 14 is the most descriptive:
'Herbert Grosvenor Hyde, a gifted all-rounder was the most colourful member of the Layout Section staff. He was known to all the staff of HMSO as 'Albert' and his personality ensured he was known to all the staff. Directly after the war he held the record for being interviewed at panels with no obvious affect on his career, he was even the guinea pig for the first panel to be held in order to test the techniques of the interviewing board. He also told the board that he didn't read a newspaper, he was unable to affect world opinion and that was all that mattered, he'd sooner get on with his model yacht making. He brought up to HMSO a marblehead model and had it by his desk until the director of the technical division, who was not our boss, but controlled our future, told him it indicated 'a split loyalty'. When Albert and I co-operated on a project, as we did on some exhibition panels there was the risk that the rest of the section would stop work to listen to our exchange of wisecracks.
Albert was an enthusiastic photographer, when he had to do a recruiting booklet for the Prison Commission he appeared at the office with a spare uniform of a warder and invited me to dress up in it so that he could photograph me standing on the parapet on the roof of Atlantic House so that he would only have the sky as the background. I dressed up and went with Albert up to the roof, but for some reason he decided that he'd first take the lift down to the entrance vestibule, where he disappeared and left me standing there in the warder's uniform. It was around the Korean war time and the messenger at the enquiry desk looked at me with raised eyebrows and asked if I was happy in the service. I said I was. I then went and stood on the parapet.
Albert taught himself to be a very competent calligrapher. He did all the posters for exhibitions in the King's Library at the British Museum. They were very well done and he could have earned a reputation solely as a calligrapher. His ability was often misjudged through accident, he was missing from his desk when the Deputy Controller sent for him to promote him, and although I would have covered up for him, neither I nor anybody knew where he was, namely at a Stationery Office Dramatic Club rehearsal. Another time when he was somewhere other than at his desk, Carter was showing the Deputy Controller round the Layout Section and explaining what each of us was doing. An obvious calligraphic effort was rolled up on Albert's desk, Carter unrolled it after he had told the DC, 'this is something Albert is doing for the British Museum'. And unrolled, it invited everyone to a Brotherhood meeting at Chingford. But although this was interpreted as being done by Albert in official time it was done by him at home for his friend Arthur Barham, he had rather unwisely left it lying around. Albert's official reputation was often adversely affected by his ubiquitous kindness.'
This photograph (provided by the David Napthine, top left), dating from around 1950, shows Albert in the centre and was almost certainly set up by him. There's more on this photo by clicking here.
I can remember Albert scurrying around the Design Studio when he was liaison between HMSO and MoD, before our move to Norwich, catching up with his old colleagues like David, Reg Vine and George Sewell and he always took an interest in the work we were doing, even a youngster like myself at the time.
I will always be grateful to John Pitson (above top right) who, after I'd asked to look around the studio, suggested to John Westwood (then Head of Design) that I might spend some time working with them as the concluding six months of my six-year Compositor apprenticeship. This I did, though John Pitson had by then moved to Australia. A few months later I successfully applied for the first vacancy and stayed for the next 33 years. In 2009 I caught up with John again and was able to thank him personally at his home in Australia.
Hope some of this is of interest. All best wishes, Philip
PS I seem to recall that at the time I was finally 'released' by TSO there were only three of us whose service stretched back to the 1950s - Chris Southgate, you and me (I started 5 Jan 1959 in Drury Lane).
Bob Barnard adds: That was a lovely piece about Albert Hyde. I remember him well and I think from memory he was involved in producing embossed letter-headings for Ministers when I was in Supplies Division and again when we were trying to convert the House from Imperial sizes to A sizes for their letterheads and envelopes. A lovely man who was always prepared to help. Bob
Tony Smith adds: Reg, Many thanks to you and Philip Marriage for coming up with all this information so quickly. It was most entertaining – though I didn’t really have any contact with Layout and only occasional contact with Graphic Design in Norwich. Philip mentions joining HMSO at Drury Lane in January 1959. I actually started at Gee Street Warehouse in August 1958. When I told Albert’s son (Andrew I think but don’t quote me) he suggested that this must be somewhere between F Street and H Street! He obviously has inherited some of his father’s sense of humour! It is traditional at HF houses for the walks leaders to organise evening entertainment (the odd quiz or competition, silly games or even some country dancing - though not on this occasion). On our second evening Albert’s son, as an employee of Inland Revenue (or whatever they now call themselves), decided to give a talk on Taxation. It was highly amusing as he seemed to have been involved in many strange cases and with several well known people. He did say where Albert went when HMSO moved to Norwich but I cannot recall that fact. I really have nothing of use to add to the information already provided but it makes for a good story. Regards, Tony.
Thanks Tony, It is always cheering to know that some of our vast repositories of what to the outside world seems like useless information adds a little pleasure to someone's day. And I like 'G Street.' Not thought of it that way before. I used to go on pay duty there in the 6os - and deal with Bert Scott (AWS) and Alfie Swan (Whse Gp 1V) on old duplicator stocks. I think we have an HMSOldies picture featuring Keith Batchelor, Noel Warr and others. I wonder if your IR contact knew those Heroes of Procurement we dealt with as suppliers - John Cavell, David Smith (recently retired as Grade 3 in DWP), Tony Sopp, Fred Bagley - stop! stop! I'm drifting again. All the best, and thank you for the opportunity to remember. Reg
4 October 2014 – An invitation from Susan Curran
Dear friends, I'm particularly pleased to invite you to a special venue for the launch of the Lasse Press's next book: we're holding it in Norwich Cathedral Library. All are welcome, so do pass the attached invite on to any friends who might be interested (but do rsvp please, if you'd like to come.) We'll be showing all our list of books (see also www.lassepress.com), and they'll be on sale at special prices, so it could be a chance to pick up an early Christmas present.
Please do pass on to anyone who might be interested too the details attached of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust's day school, which is loosely on the theme of Norwich churches. I think it will be a fascinating day (and not only because I'm talking myself). There's a booking form downloadable from www.lassepress/nhct
Hope to see you at one or both events. All best, Susan
25 September 2014 - St Crispins To Get The Boot
Several eagle-eyed ex HMSO observers were quick to point out the article in Norwich Evening News dated 25 September 2014 to the effect that St Crispins (the last HMSO HQ and home to Banner, TSO etc) has been put on the market. Anyone with a spare £4.75m is advised to act quickly - although not too quickly, as Paul Cunningham points out that some occupants have signed leases up to the year 2020.
Meanwhile anyone who can offer a box-room with a desk to Duncan Dawdry is requested to contact The Editor - I can recommend him as very tidy, with impeccable manners. And lots of spare stationery.
13 Sep 2014 – From your editor at The Eagle
Thank you to those of you who turned up at The Eagle this lunchtime.
In August an email was despatched from HMSOldies to 155 people and we received 'Apologies for absence' from 25 (we chose a Saturday to accommodate those who still have 'jobs'. In the event 29 turned up (if you include Denis Moloney's son's dog, and I think you should) which, from a Sales point of view, is a good result. Star turn was Brian Blackmore, who made it from Devon - second was David Moloney, brother of Denis, a Tooting boy now residing in Littlehampton.
Full list, in order of appearance: Mike Burroughs, Reg Walker, John Rumball, Sinclair Simpson, Denis Moloney and brother Dave (followed by son Chris, his partner Katherine and dog 'Kipper'), Brian and Barbara Cockram, John and Anne Eason, Alan Cole, Brian Blackmore, Alan F Crabtree, resplendent in NCFC shirt (they beat Cardiff 2-4), Philip Marriage, Alan and Janice Pawsey, Sue Whitaker, Brian and Jean Whitefield, REN Quinn, Jayne Wilkinson, GF Rokahr, George James, Roy and Muriel Keavney, and Louise Chapman.
And a very sociable time was had by all. Thank you for cheering a relatively gloomy Autumnal day - photos below, courtesy of Philip 'Karsh' Marriage.
10 Sep 2014 – from Nodge Carnegie
Dear Reg, I hope you are well. Many thanks for the reminder about the gathering in The Eagle. Unfortunately, I will not be able to come along. Saturday is the third of four Heritage Open Days. Among the activities which comprise St John's contribution to the city's programme of event is - you've probably guessed - tower tours. We tower guides are so few in number that I will be fortunate to manage a lunch hour on any of the days. I'll cast a wistful eye (probably not a pretty sight) towards Newmarket Road on Saturday lunchtime. It's a good thing I still find the tours enjoyable.
About "work", I was saddened to read that Peter Bradbury has died [see Obituaries]. I always liked Peter, from a time (long before I met him) when we had telephone dealings on occasional jobs, him in Norwich and me in London. I see also that Bernard Downing has passed away. I did not know Bernard when he was "up the totem pole, one of the hole-in-the-wall gang" (as Roz would have described him) and only met him when he carried on as a TO after the official retirement age. Again, I got along well with him but perhaps that was because we were new to each other!
Also noted, with some sadness, was the recent death of Derick Moore - which you might have mentioned. I came to know Derick when we were on IPCS (later IPMS) Section and Branch committees, when he was Assistant Secretary. I learned a lot from him.
One 'lighter' memory, which always makes me smile, is of a train journey back to Norwich from Peterborough, where the Branch meetings took place for a few years. Derick, Gerry Lucioli, Brian Daniels and I shared a table. Derick was busily writing his draft of the minutes of the meeting (as he always did). Gerry was doing a little work on his then-current Open University assignment. Brian was working on some union papers. I was reading. Gerry broke the silence, as he realised that he needed one of the pieces of "kit" (let's call it "a gold-leaf spectroscope") he used for his course-work. He muttered "Oh, blow!" and then said aloud, "I don't suppose anyone has a gold-leaf spectroscope . . ." Without a pause, Derick said, as he reached into his jacket's inside pocket, "A gold-leaf spectroscope, you say?" Gerry joined in the laughter.
Thanks again for keeping us up to date with all the news. Please pass on my best wishes to anyone who might remember me .
Best wishes to you and yours, Nodge
Hello Nodge, Many thanks for your fond reminiscences. We are on the trail of good news among the gloom! I must sound out the granddaughters regarding their attitude to heights - and if favourable, get them on one of the Toe Tingling Tower Tours. Good story regarding the dry wit of Mr Moore - a man from the same part of the world as my father's family - good strong Ulster accent. Haven't seen you on the mean streets off Dereham Road lately - you must have seen me first! All the best, Reg.
8 September 2014 – From Dave Pelham
Hi Reg, For anyone who remembers me, I had the thrill of giving my daughter away in marriage on Saturday when she married her husband Jason. Great day was had by all. Dave
Hello Dave, Who could forget you, Dave? Stalwart of Supplies Machinery! Thank you for including us in what must have been an excellent day for you and your family - we all need some good news like this. Best wishes. Reg
4 September 2014 – Jeffrey Bridges replies
George, Thanks for the email, how interesting that you knew my dad and worked in the same room, your memories are very interesting and do fill some gaps as well as fitting with what I recall. I did come to Atlantic House on various occasions and can still visualise the place, all gone now of course. I still have a couple of government brief cases as well as a few items stamped S.O. which must have escaped somehow!
I do remember dad working on printing accounts and contracts at home when he had been out to 'customers', he liked the independence and the contact with so many other departments and government bodies, there were also regular trips to Basildon and I still have several letters of thanks to him for sorting out difficult problems.
I am still in touch with one of the contractors reps. from those days, Chris Springford, who at the time worked for BSP at Borhamwood, he became a good friend and came down to both my parent's funerals. My parents kept in touch with Mrs Butler and used to go and visit her, she gave them an open front oak bookcase, which now stands in our village church with the hymn books in it!
My dad retired early in 1976 or it may have been 77 and they moved from Harrow to Battle, where they enjoyed a happy retirement, sadly dad contracted rheumatoid arthritis aged about 70 and it gradually slowed him right up, but he did almost get to 82, still driving and getting out and about.
Kind Regards, Jeffrey
Jeffrey, My word, the reminiscences are coming thick and fast! All the best. Reg
4 September 2014 – George James to Jeffrey Bridges
As I was not born till 1942 I can't say I knew your Grandfather. However I did work on another section in the same room as your father (Ted Bridges) from 69 till 73. Many of the names that you and Reg mention visited the room in Atlantic House from time to time. Ted was involved at the time in small run offset and electostatic printing spending a lot of time out of the office with customer departments and contractors. When he returned he had numerous orders which had already been printed and delivered and an order was necessary for the contractor to be paid.
He had a loyal lady working for him, Mrs Butler (no one ever referred to her as Olive). Mrs Butler was a Technical Officer and worked diligently for your father but on Ted's return was overwhelmed with work and Peter Gannaway or myself used to give her a hand. Contractors were pressing for payment all they wanted was an order number and we simply wrote "printed and delivered as agreed with Mr Bridges" on the specification. We often had little idea of what was being ordered Finance Division less so, such was the trust in the man.
Another section in the room was Bert Holmwood who was a one man band looking after the Royal Household. A third section was headed by Ray Goldsmith who was responsible for security cases and boxes, like the ones the Chancellor holds up at budget times and then there was the section that Peter and I worked on for Publications binding headed by George Green. At times it seemed chaotic. We all got moved into other locations early 73 and I then moved to another division later that year and lost track of your dad and Mrs Butler
Hope this fills some gaps, George James
1 September 2014 – From Jeffrey Bridges
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 Pettegree, Bray's Cottage Pork Pies
"Norfolk's best kept secret" Country Life
01263 712958 (orders 01263 713683)
Facebook Brays Cottage
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.
More can be found in the Norwich Evening News24.
31 July 2014 – From Egg-man to Train-man
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 Legion d'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
3 June 2014 – From Brian Broughton
Good Morning. The site of the former Publications Centre at Nine Elms. Will leave you to add a suitable caption!
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!
30 May 2014 – Threadneedle's Treat
We are grateful to the Norwich Evening News dated 30 May 2014 for the following information concerning Anglia Square (click here)
30 May 2014 – From Les Birch
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.
All best, Susan Curran
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.
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 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 Plain Words 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?
Best wishes, Stuart McLaren
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.
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.
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 maximum of £ 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.
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.
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.
Best wishes, Alan Pawsey
Thanks Alan – very interesting. All the best. Reg
19 January 2014 – From Marguerite Finn
I'm glad we got out when we did!
Marguerite, My word, what will they think of next? I can just see Harry Teedon, Joe Delaney, Dan Paul, Stan Smith and Mrs Rust taking this 'initiative' to pieces! All the best. Reg
18 January 2014 – Gem of the Botolph Street Coast
Duncan Dawdry has noticed the following article in the Norwich Evening News dated 17 January 2014:
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
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