Items listed in chronological sequence
25 May 2016- From Philip Jinman
Not sure whether this qualifies for HMSOldies but it might be of interest, especially if you could find out what happened to Lincoln House which HMSO occupied for a short time to serve COI. The Park Plaza London Waterloo hotel opens Summer 2016.
Hello Philip. Thank you. This will be interesting to those many ex HMSO people who dealt with 'Print London's biggest customer.' I used to go in there in the 1990s - days when Alex McLeod, John Barker, Allan Davies, Les Pettet, Don Mabbutt, Derek Eke were around. I remember having to go to a meeting chaired by a somewhat autocratic Scotsman at COI and give him some news he didn't want to hear. I was asked to leave the meeting and spent a pleasant lunchtime in a nearby pub - The Pineapple, would it have been? Happy days, some of them. Hope all is well with you. All the best, Reg.
25 May 2016 - Drury Lane Press: From Rod Janes
Good morning Mr Walker. I did get in touch some years ago and I may repeat myself regarding certain details. I started at Drury Lane August 12th 1957 as an Engineering apprentice. Harry Kent was my immediate Boss and Mr Teesdale was the Chief Engineer. The engineers I was apprenticed to were George Munnery, George Baker, Jimmy Mitchell and Ray Jackson and when he left the Army after 'Call Up', Alf Spearing. A great bunch of blokes! Also in the adjoining workshop was Fred Poulton the Press Carpenter. It was a filthy place 'hot metal' is dirty by nature, but I loved it!
When we moved to Pocock St, we also absorbed Abbey Orchard St and the War Office press in a 'secure' department. I was up in London recently and went and had a look at the building on the old press site, so I was very pleased to see the photographs of the building I started work in.
Sincerely, Rod Janes
Hello Rod, Good to hear from you. Time certainly flies: I see that when you wrote to us last it was on 17 December 2006. In your 2006 note you mentioned Devon Williams, to whom I have copied this note. I saw him recently in Norwich at the pre-retirement of Dave Burchell - also a London Presses man. You will have seen the various posts from retired HMSO people on the HMSOldies site. Always interesting to me that there are more contacts, proportionally, from ex Press people than from the Clerical/Executive side. More of a community, I suppose. Best wishes, and thank you for making contact. Reg
23 May 2016 - From Peter Stoessel
I came across your website by total chance as I am trying to find out more about where my late father Paul Stoessel and my late Granddad Fred Stoessel had worked within HMSO. I was wondering if any of your readers have any information of interest or any photos of my Dad or Granddad whilst working for HMSO? I did see a picture of my Granddad in your archive page but just wondering if there are any more?
This is the presentation printing plate given to my late Dad when he left HMSO Hansard Press, with the names of the managers who worked with him. My Dad was deputy print and plate making manager at Hansard between 1980-1986 coming from Manchester Press which was the only press that I never visited. I have been to Gateshead Press when I was a small child in the late seventies and Hansard quite a few times in the early eighties.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Many thanks and kindest regards.
Hello Peter. Good to hear from you. The photo you mention, on HMSOldies, was sent by Dave Crank, who worked at Gateshead, and unfortunately I do not have any email details for him - if anyone else has more information, I would be grateful. We will see if there is anything available in the dusty cupboards (and dustier memories!) of HMSOldies readers. As you can imagine, there are fewer of us every year, and it is 20 years since HMSO was privatised.
The only Staff List I have which is of any help is dated 1972 which lists the following:
'Frederick Alexander Stoessel, Grade III Overseer (Machines) Gateshead Press, born 31 August 1924, Established 16 March 1972, Joined HMSO 17 February 1969.'
Other Group III overseers at Gateshead at the time were Messrs Pollard, Gordon, Smith, Thomson, Ashton, Manders, Westbourne and Biddle were Group IIs. I used to visit Manchester in the days of Messrs Ling, Mackie, Richardson and others. Not much help yet, but we will see what we can do.
Best wishes, Reg Walker
Kevin Thwaite has lived in Canada for some years now, but in the good old days he worked for SSPP as an apprentice 1972-1977 and later Macaulay Press. He's recently written to HMSOldies expressing an interest in another HMSO Press - at 55 Drury Lane as he knew Arthur Day, Head Reader, and two copy holders Roy and Don Munt (all now deceased) who worked there. He also remembers Compositors Barry Palmer and Mike Harrington.
13 May 2016 - Prints of Old London
Drury Lane is still a famous London thoroughfare, at one time well known for prostitution and for a profusion of gin palaces. Not, we hasten to add, in the time of Manager Charlie Walker (no relation), JJ McGarry and many other sober celibates.
Dave Martin and Philip Marriage both began their HMSO careers at Drury Lane and John Eveson recalled that the Drury Lane Press was often talked about by the late Bob Manders and Tony Ford. SSPP was the result of merging Drury Lane Press with Abbey Orchard Street Press thereby bringing the Vote and Hansard etc under one roof and opened in 1981.
Delving into the archive we've found these photos, taken in 1985, of the old building.
Anyone out there with memories of the place?
The entrance for the 'workers' (as opposed to the 'office) was actually in Martlett Court, just around the corner.
28 April 2016 - Lines of Thought
Many HMSOldies with an interest in books may wish to be aware of an exhibition being held in Cambridge. The University Library is celebrating its 600th anniversary with a display of some of the most iconic items from its collection in an exhibition entitled 'Lines of Thought: Discoveries that Changed the World' from clay tablet to Twitter. I visited a couple of weeks back and found it fascinating.
The items on display range from a second-century AD fragment of Homer’s Odyssey, The Gutenberg Bible, Darwin's copy of 'Origin's', Tyndale's Bible, Shakespeare's First Folio, William Morris' 'Beowulf', Newton's own copy of 'Principia', books by Galileo and Halley plus the manuscript for 'A Brief History of Time' from Stephen Hawking and many other interesting things including 20th century Penguin paperbacks and even our own London Gazette.
Lines of Thought: Discoveries that Changed the World is open to the public and runs until Friday 30 September 2016. Entry is free.
HMSOldies Lunchtime Wednesday 22 June 2016
Robert Stutely adds: Your mention Philip of the Gutenberg Bible reminds me of a study tour that Watford College printing students made to Europe in 1968. It spanned a glorious Easter when the temperatures were in the seventies. When we were in Mainz, we visited the Gutenberg Museum where we were greeted by the Oberbürgermeister (or Lord Mayor) and then, amongst other items, saw their copy of the Gutenberg Bible.
After we left the museum, we were invited by the Oberbürgermeister for refreshments. I cannot remember any eats but we were each served with a one-third litre of wine. One of my friends did not like wine so he passed his half-full jug to me. But then we received a second jug and then a third. Bearing in mind that we had little to eat so far that day, a very merry party of students made their way back to the coach. Oddly, I cannot remember what we did in the afternoon.
There is always a trigger, and this time it was pulled by Bryan Blackmore, who sent a note saying that he would be in the Norwich area during late June and was there a chance of a lunchtime meeting at The Eagle Public House, Newmarket Road?
A word with the most accommodating landlord, James Linder, and the bar/garden is non-exclusively reserved for an informal gathering of HMSOldies for Wednesday 22 June, 1200 hours onward. You will be most welcome if you can make it. Bring a friend if you wish. Or even a relative.
I know that some of you luckily still employed may have difficulties, and we will work out a separate event to suit your circumstances. Those of you living in Canada, France, Spain, South Africa, Australia, London, Edinburgh, Bristol and far-distant Oldham might well decide to organise their own event. George Rokahr might even be persuaded to go along and not play his bagpipes.
Meanwhile, those who have not accessed the HMSOldies website (there is also an HMSOldies Facebook page) may wish to read past the obituaries:
We are a bit behind with the obits - still finishing off pieces on David Bowie, Prince, Ronnie Corbett and Victoria Wood: remember when they all worked with Len Capper in P5c? What a miserable lot they were. Just as well Joan Quilter and Laurie Andrew were there to cheer them up, and Barbara Went to give them a song or two.
I'll get my hat.
25 April 2016 - Twenty Years On
Twenty years ago this very day - Jayne Ward's xxth birthday as it happens - on 25 April 1996 Her Majesty's Stationery Office generously agreed to - nay, insisted upon - the early retirement of the whole of Customer Care Division as a precursor to the privatisation of the entire organisation.
As you can see from this photograph taken at the Wake held at The Saint Andrew's Tavern, Norwich, we handled this premature ejaculation bravely.
5 April 2016 - From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, I met up with my former boss, Philip Glover, on a flying visit to Norwich up at the airport cafe today. We spent a happy couple of hours catching up on what we had been up to in the intervening 20 years since he left HMSO Publications to start a new career in teaching. He is now nearing retirement as a primary school teacher and head, having worked in different parts of Scotland: on the beautiful isles of Harris and Skye, in Glasgow and Aberdeen, and latterly in Ayrshire, where he and Linda have (he hopes) finally settled to be closer to the children and first grandchild (above). Philip sent his best wishes to all his old colleagues before boarding his plane to Bonny Scotia.
Best wishes, Stuart McLaren
Thank you Stuart, I see that Philip joined HMSO as Senior Information Officer in October 1983. Time flies. We will add to HMSOldies as a good news story. Speaking of good news, I encountered our next Mayor of Norwich yesterday: Marion Maxwell is excited by the prospect, and good for her! All the best, Reg.
Stuart McLaren adds: Yes, Philip mentioned 1983. He left in 1995 to train to become a primary school teacher then worked in Norwich for about five years before taking up a teaching post on the Isle of Harris. His background was in academic publishing (SAGE Publications) before joining HMSO. His wife is a successful novelist, writing under the name Linda Gillard. Philip ran P4 (P4A and P4B), generally known as known as the 'pretty books' section, which I inherited for a couple of years until the Men in Black wisely decided I was surplus to requirement.
29 March 2016 - From John Patterson
Dear Reg, I worked at HMSO Harrow from 8 January 1962 till 1969 and then from 1970 for a further three years before going on to Waterlow & Sons (Radio Times) and finally ending up at the Daily Telegraph in Fleet Street, but alas all that came to an end, since then I've been a Black Cab driver for forty years, and still going strong. My father was Den Patterson, my brothers Terry and Colin all sadly deceased, also my grandfather worked there as well, so in ending the Patterson family was an integral part of HMSO Harrow history. Regards John.
Dear John, Many thanks for your most interesting note, which we publish here to see if there is anyone out there who remembers you from Harrow. I have also copied to a few of our ex HMSO Press contacts for their interest. Coming from the non-technical side I did not visit Harrow very often (although my late Uncle Harry Wakely lived in Rayner's Lane and worked at the Radio Times). Those were the days when Derek Wintle and Ken Lowe were managing. Good to hear of a 'family dynasty' and that you are still doing a valuable service on the Black Cabs. Many is the time when they have been a life-saver with a smooth journey from Victoria to Liverpool Street, and all the latest London news: you never know, we may have met! All the best, Reg.
Robert Stutely adds: I was at Harrow Press in 'S' department for a few months in the early seventies. At the time, Dennis Patterson was a machine room overseer, I guess that is the same Den Patterson. I don't recall Dennis having sons at that time or even a wife.
18 March 2016 - The Glory Days Of HMSO Parliamentary Print, and beyond
We are indebted to John Rumball for passing over a fine 'bundle of memorabilia' to HMSOldies. The documents range from a set of black and white photos taken from the top of Jarrold's Mill in the 1960s - the foundry at SSPP in 1987 - a set of Ken Dustan's classic annual Parliamentary Press Dinner programmes (sample above from 1989) - and similar from Bob Allder - also blank certificates used in connection with the Norwich-based 'Longest Day Walk' to the Berney Arms.
Meanwhile readers may wish to see the photograph (below), taken in 1986, of various Print and Publications notables. Anyone able to name them all?
18 March 2016 - The Wearing of the Green
St Patrick wasn't forgotten this 17 March in the Norwich Evening News - and good to spot John Gardiner and Rory Quinn representing HMSO.
17 March 2016 - From Doozoot To Grey Suit
Who would have thought that the shy, unassuming young lad who joined HMSO Supplies Division in January 1972 was destined to become a full-page feature by Derek James in the Eastern Daily Press, forty-four years later, on 12 March 2016? Step forward Harry Currie from Cowdenbeath. Spellcheck wants me to change 'Cowdenbeath' to 'Downbeat.' How inappropriate.
Bet you wish you had saved some of those H. Currie signatures on SP16s to sell on Ebay.
7 February 2016 - From Brian Cockram
Hola, Another picture for your collection. Hopefully, demonstrating that we are still all alive and resisting the loss of little grey cells. I speak personally of course. Incidentally, Ian was again asked if his organ was hand pumped. I leave you to imagine who posed the question. Linda distributed her annual Charity Quiz (Against Breast Cancer). One hundred questions for the very reasonable donation of £1. Slightly less difficult than the recent GCHQ effort. This year’s theme is place names in GB and N Ireland. For example 'a fictional pilot crosses a river' Mrs C has solved a number of questions with minimal help from me. Mickleburgh was 'going great guns' but apparently as in previous years has not submitted the results for audit.
Adios me amigo. Brian
Hello Brian, Thank you for the splendid photo, which people can judge just how far tempus has fugitted among you ex HMSO Paper Procurers since the last event. Durkin and Mickleburgh look every bit 'The Management' about to take on some poor unsuspecting Supplier - Maurice is doing his Beardless Corbyn act, and you look as though you are about to throttle the jolly Ms Blake (I knew her as Miss Bartram, you know, an innocent girl from Worstead thrust among the tyrants of Supplies Registry - Baptiste, Jacks, Taylor, Gardiner, Hatfield). And as for Ian Dougall - are you sure that's him? Looks like a young Peter Macdonald (if there ever had been such a person). All the best, and good luck with the quiz. If you get stuck, Anne Eason is hiring out John's brain at reasonable rates. The downside is that you have to take, and feed, the accompanying body. Reg.
Brian Cockram adds: Whilst looking for a picture of a late aunt I came across this photo from 1991. A lot of hair in those days! Taken in the Briton Arms. Maurice retired the following year!
Hello Brian, My word, what a group of Bright Young Things. I see that Warman had pre-empted the Corbyn Beard. All the best. Reg
3 February 2016 - From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, Just come across this marvellous image of HMSO staff at the Government Forms Office at Salford during World War I. It's on a Gov.uk website about women in the Civil Service. One for the album?
Best wishes, Stuart
Great old photo. I like the way in which they are all well dressed - suits, white shirts, ties, blouses, headgear. I don't think that any of our readers feature, but perhaps a parent or grandparent. Thank you for passing this on. Reg.
Les Birch adds: Although impossible to identify her on the photo I feel reasonably certain that one of the girls there would be a Miss Elizabeth (Betty) Brimelow. As a Clerical Assistant she was my 'staff' when I joined as a Clerical Officer in 1939 - I was quite chuffed that as a young lad of 17 I had this lady under my charge. I think she joined in 1916 and probably retired during the war. I cannot imagine that you have any records going back that far. Best wishes, Les.
Dear Les, Good to hear from you, and to hear that your infallible memory is still on top form. You are right - my oldest Staff List is dated 1954, so no Miss Brimelow. We will see if any HMSOldies reader has any record. Coincidentally your name was mentioned in a pub (where else?) this lunchtime. Alan Cole is just back from South Africa where he encountered a lively 'tourist' full of tales and bonhomie. He was only 93. Possibly a relation? All the very best, Reg.
18 January 2016 - Caught on camera: Norfolk EDP magazine Christmas Edition
Dear Reg, I thought you might like this item of news. It was taken in the teeth of a gale and it felt as though I would be blown over the cliff - but worth it in the end.
Regards, Mike Taylor
Congratulations to Rosie Taylor who sent this picture of her husband Mike taken recently when the couple visited Norway for a holiday. Rosie says "he is an avid reader of the EDP Norfolk Magazine and took this month's copy with him with the sole purpose of having his picture taken with it at the most northerly point of Europe". Rosie wins a £25 voucher courtesy of Urban Jewellers of Burnham Market.
Hello Mike, What an excellent adventure: thank you for letting us know. I missed this in the EDP. Looks a wonderful place - see Wikipedia. No doubt you took your golf clubs with you and hit a straight shot into the distance! Unadventurous soul that I am, this year we have confined ourself to the highest point in Norfolk - Cromer again.
Best wishes, and thanks again. Reg.
31 December 2015 - From John Nash
Good Evening Reg, 2015 was not a good year for we seem to have lost a good many 'chums'. Thus I am sorry to have to report the sad death of Bernard Terry, a good friend to HMSO. Bernard of course was a member of CCTA London but on occasions worked closely with our CCB and particularly with CRS on a number of major projects. Indeed at one time it was mooted he might join CRS and we would have benefited from his vast knowledge and vibrant enthusiasm. He will perhaps be best remembered for the design and development of the LIBERATOR Portable Text Processor which could be regarded as the forerunner of so many computer devices in use today. I believe one of the prototypes is now held by the Science Museum in London. Since he was so well known in our Department I hope it will be convenient to include a brief paragraph about him in the HMSOldies pages?
On a happier note I can report that George York has just celebrated his 95th Birthday and hope this can be mentioned also.
Meanwhile our grateful thanks to you and the team for continuing to maintain the HMSOldies pages which help to keep us fully informed about the 'old firm' and many of the personalities.
All good wishes for the New Year. John
Hello John, Thank you for your note, which of course contains both sad and happy news - perhaps inevitable given our combined longevity! By the way, I have received a message from Bob Nuttall, newly-pacemakered and in good form again. Bernard was indeed a pioneer, and I enjoyed meeting him when we were given the brief to sell The Liberator by the then Head of CCTA, Paul Freeman. Paul Barnard was a particular fan, so I have copied to him, and Tony Smith, the computer-based publisher who produced the comprehensive article which we added to HMSOldies in 2012. Anyway, it is good to hear from you on this bright, sunny first of January 2016 and the very best of wishes to you and yours for the future. Reg.
23 December 2015 - A Christmas Card for the Oldies from Richard Nelson
Hi Reg, Having spent my career in print and design, I wonder if the creative gene has passed on to my grandson Toby? This is his design, picked for his nursery school’s Christmas card. He is not quite 5 years old and this is better than anything I ever accomplished!
And a picture of the artist . . .
Happy Christmas to all the Oldies
Hello Richard, Excellent. As you suggest, it must be in the Nelson DNA! All the best to you - and please pass on our compliments to the Artist. Reg.
16 December 2015 - From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, Don't know how I missed this before; published this year: Susan Curran's latest novel With The Enemy, a murder mystery set in 1998 in a newly privatised government agency, 'Regional Utility Services'. HMSOldies readers will undoubtedly wish to ponder who exactly is who in this intriguing roman a clef!
Best wishes, Stuart McLaren
Hello Stuart, Thank you for the timely reminder. Can't wait for the film version from the HMSOldies Film Society. Who will be cast as The Beaver? How will we find someone to simulate 'a friendly accountant?' This could make 'Star Wars' look like 'Carry On Warehousing.' All the best - and no Spoilers please. Reg.
14 December 2015 - From John Straghan
Hi Reg, I hope you are keeping good and gearing up for the big day and that Santa will be really, really good to you and the family. How interesting it is to read of what ex HMSO colleagues are up to, seeing old and current photos of them and noting how little some have changed over the years (I do hope no selective air brushing is taking place on the HMSOldies website).
A couple of photos although posted sometime ago require a little clarification.
Photo number one above with Peter Brooke MP and Secretary of State, Norman Armstrong and myself is particularly memorable as Peter Brooke had just whispered in my ear he considered my factor figure calculations on saddle stitching for the CAPO order on screen were wrong and would you believe it he was correct.
A right smarty pants.
In photo number two above taken in the Kitchen Bar when yourself and Terry McCrum visited Belfast over 12 years ago (time is just whizzing along) I wasn’t being reflective. I was just trying the old trick of avoiding eye contact in a ploy to get out of buying the next round, notice the almost empty glass. I realised what a waste of time with such experienced bon viveurs as Messer’s Walker, McAuley and McCrum so I just had to dig deep which even after all this time still hurts.
I am always saddened to read on the website the passing of HMSO colleagues. Derick Moore, Peter Bradbury and Joey Bishop were my TO’s on my various exchange visits to Norwich. I have very fond memories of my visits to Norwich all due to them and all the staff I met on my visits to HQ.
I have just retired from NI Court Service where I have worked for the last 16 years, have three grandchildren, enjoy regular horse racing weekends to Dublin and play a mean clarinet meanly.
A Happy Christmas to all ex HMSO colleagues and their families.
Hello John, How good to hear from you. It's been a while. I have copied to Terry McCrum and to Roy Plackett, both of whom are in good form, who I am sure will be pleased to hear from you. Meanwhile, I have just got some reindeer food for the granddaughter to spread on Christmas Eve, so you will see that preparations are in hand. All the best for now. Reg.
9 December 2015 - From Roy Arscott
Bonjour Reg! What a blast from the past to read David Berwick’s contribution concerning the HMSO Bicentenary celebrations in 1986 [see 18 Feb 2015]. David is a multi-talented man; a superb organist, a prolific composer and, in later years, a successful author! I feel blessed to have been counted amongst his friends. However, I suspect that amongst the preening establishment of the then HMSO he was unknown in this respect and certainly not appreciated. His contribution to the success of the bicentenary concert was enormous.
As for myself, memories of all the hard work that went in to that event provide me – now in my 81st year (!!!) – with fond memories from all those years ago. The Sovereign Singers were a great crowd and we had some tremendous times together. My wife, Jill, and I have been living the dream in South West France for nearly fifteen years and we feel privileged to be able to carry on the important work that we do with the English Speaking Church in Mirepoix (official title on website). Jill bears the bulk of the work as secretary and co-ordinator for our ever increasing congregation who worship in a delightful chapel attached to Mirepoix Cathedral. As musician to the outfit I’m finding life still very fulfilling.
Here are a couple of pictures (one inside a local restaurant, one outside) taken during my 80th birthday celebrations which spread over many weeks and locations – Spain, France and west of England.
Keep up your good work with HMSOldies.
A happy and meaningful Christmas to everybody. Roy Arscott
Hello Roy, Many thanks for your kind words and your fond reminiscences. You don't look any different to when I last saw you, around 20 years ago (and I don't mean that you looked 80 in 1995!).David Berwick lives five minutes from our house, near the granddaughter's school, so I see him on occasions and pass on your good words. Good to hear that you are both thriving - and all the very best to you for the festivities, and beyond. Reg.
20 November 2015 - From Tom McNeill
Dear Reg, I do not know how you find the time and energy to run this website but I do appreciate it. It was lovely to hear news of many old friends. I know that you cannot give out peoples' email addresses but I am happy for you to give out mine, so that people who know me can contact direct.
It is: email@example.com
My wife and I celebrated our Golden Wedding this year with a tour of Tuscany and below is a photograph for those used to horror movies! Tom.
Hello Tom, Thank you for your much-appreciated kind words, which I have copied to Philip, Robert and Dave, who do the hard work behind HMSOldies. I just write the inanities: nothing new there then. Hard to believe it was 25 years ago that I used to visit you in Manchester - days of Alex Mackie, George Rokahr, George James, Bernadette Farr, Gil Smith, Joe Coonan, Charlie Hartley, John Owens, Louise Robinson and so many others. When a pint of OB in 'The Monkey Wrench' was 99p - happy days. Good photo of you and Mrs M enjoying a slice of civilised Europe: long may it last! All the very best, Reg.
18 November 2015 - From Barry Palmer
Hi Reg, I saw your article on the happenings of old workers with HMSO. Most of it was of things I didn’t know about, having never worked in Norwich, but one thing that did ring a bell was the article from Kevin Twaite on 25 May 2015. Pity he did not get in contact with me, as I might have been able to visit him in hospital. I will try again and hopefully he will respond: I know how lonely it can be alone in this big city of Toronto and surroundings.
We spent our summer vacation - my wife is still working - on a visit to my son way up north-western Canada and was able to camp with him, as we both have trailers and trucks to pull them now. However, we are having to buy a new trailer - used but new to us - as we almost turned the truck and trailer over on the journey back to Edmonton (they use sand on the roads in winter and never bother to clean it off). However, all survived and we got home OK but the trailer suffered a massive dent so we are replacing it with a newer one - it is 17 years old. Trailering is the best way to visit States and Provinces in the U.S. and Canada as you don’t have to worry about hotels and there are camp-grounds all over (we belong to Kampgrounds of America 'KOA') and yes they are very good places to stay both for adults and children, and even if you don’t have a trailer most have some cabins to rent out.
Tell Kevin I would love to chat with him (if he lived a few miles further east he might have had my wife looking after him as she is still nursing in the local hospital). It is a big country and a lot of people do not take kindly to strangers but where we live outside of Toronto the people are a lot more friendly. Any way I have written to him a couple of times and he has not responded as yet but I live in hope.
Hello Barry, Good to hear from you, and also to hear that you are still getting around that huge Continent over there! I have copied to Kevin, who I am sure will appreciate your kind words. Wet and windy in Norwich at the moment, and dark by 4 in the afternoon, but I wouldn't presume to talk weather with you hardy souls! All the best to you and yours. Reg.
18 November 2015 - From Ian Billings
Hi Reg, Thanks for a reminder that the site is there. A never-ending stream of obits some just names that I had heard who I never met, but sadly an increasing number who I not only met but had contact with - David Silver, Derek Wintle, Norman Frost who was Gateshead Press manager when I was involved with the sale (although he had jumped ship to Norwich by then), and Dick Moore.
And then there are the photos at The Eagle: I read the names, I search the pictures - ah! there he is, all that white hair no wonder I didn't recognise him. And then I look at my reflection in the computer screen and realise that I am getting there, though still quite grey!
Best wishes to all involved with the HMSOldies site, and thank you.
Thank you for your kind words, Ian. As you imply, tempus is indeed fugitting. Twenty years gone this coming 3 May. I think more and more of our old colleagues are staying close to their firesides (or what is left of their Lump Sums) as I see relatively few of them on the streets, or at events. Although I am told that is because they see me first . . . All the best, Reg.
18 November 2015 - From Sue Prutton
Lots to read here, Reg, though the names are mostly unknown to me.
I do enjoy the writings of people, ordinary people, who are good with words. I wonder which came first - entry into the Civil Service or word skills? I am getting known throughout several of my voluntary organisations as having a talent for proof reading. It is not the posh stuff with squiggles all down the margins and although the word processors correct spelling errors I still need to differentiate between principals and principles and practice and practise. I also enjoy spotting the errors of bad syntax, ambiguous word order, punctuation etc even though some of the boobs make me sigh. The colon and semi colon seem on the way out, but I think their correct use is taught less; I insert them whenever I can. And the lack of the use of the subjunctive - shock, horror. One scribe recently named Tennyson's heroine as Shallot. I mailed the perpetrator a copy of the lovely J P Waterhouse picture and asked whether she looked as though she was/were a vegetarian - No reply! The key is attention to detail and strict application of the rules - essential for work in IT. There we have it, perhaps! Or may be it is thanks to Miss Rawlins, head of English at Norwich High School.
That's enough for now - off to my stint in the Charity Card Shop this afternoon. Thank you for publishing Jean Southgate's mention. Quite honestly I never thought to ask you to give us a plug. We were officially opened last week by 'HM Queen' during the gap between the matinee and the evening performance at the Theatre Royal and are doing really well, helping 24 different charities.
Thank you Sue. Yes, I know what you mean about spelling/grammar etc. Tempting to consider it a generational thing. Elder Statesman Les Birch always sends completely perfect script. My nine year old granddaughter's very imaginative prose is a delight to me but possibly not what my own English teacher (Mr Mulhern, Room Q with the 'Pilgims Were They Alle...' mural, since you don't ask) would have recognised as the Muvva Tung. Must visit the card shop - easy to find as it must be just about the only place that hasn't been turned into a coffee bar, hairdresser, nail bar or tattooist. Which reminds me of my favourite recent quote - woman was asked if she was a fan of David Beckham, and she said 'I liked him more before someone scribbled all over him.' Do you think I'm getting old? All the best, Reg.
18 November 2015 - From Sarah Pettegree
Hi Reg, You asked if I was on Eggheads tonight and indeed yes, I am. Thank you for noticing, and like Debs Green’s recent post, I’m here to add further balance to the obituaries.
The next couple of paragraphs are very strange (but true) so I invite people to skip them if they seem too odd to process.
It was an odd route to temporary Z list fame. I was asked to join the team by a group of North West Twitter friends - poets, writers and the like, who have over the past few years taken it upon themselves (possibly because no one else would do it) to reverse the fortunes of tripe. I’m not sure if anyone is buying any more tripe as a result, but, they are very funny in going about this Herculean task, so they are quite the Twitter sensation and have managed to sell a good number of their own publications, mostly non-tripe related, as a result. I expect that was the sort of clever marketing that you did in your time in Marketing Division Reg?
To achieve this they have self styled as The Tripe Marketing Board and had Eggheads in their sights as a probable wing of their arch rivals The Egg Marketing Board (disbanded 1971). I should think most of us remember the tripe stall on Norwich market, though I never saw much selling action there. They’d have loved that.
Anyhow, I met up with the rest of my team in the foyer of BBC Scotland and had an excellent day out. Although the first thing we did as a team was get stuck in a lift, I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before, but it was very bonding and a good way to get to know a bunch of strangers who you are about to (eventually) appear on national TV alongside.
Incidentally, I’d really never watched the programme before the invitation came in, so if I’ve got my 'bluffing it' face on, that’s why.
Anyway we had a great day (as you’ve seen, I’ve documented it on our Facebookpage and the website so I won’t bore you with that again) and all the production crew, Eggheads, and twinkle toes Jeremy Vine were truly delightful and very welcoming. If anyone’s tempted to apply with a team, I’d heartily recommend it as a fun day out and an excuse to buy a new shirt/blouse or three.
Best wishes and no doubt bump into you soon in the Fine City,
Bray's Cottage Pork Pies
'Norfolk's best kept secret' Country Life
01263 712958 (orders 01263 713683)
Hello Sarah, What a good story. Any lines I was going to use about our being used to dealing with tripe are hereby self-censored. I only ever cooked it once - around 1969, in my flat on the Heartsease. Fried it. Same week as I was bitten by a dead pig (that'll do for another day). My Uncle George with the dickey tummy, from Earlsfield, thrived on it. But Eggheads. We have had the Kerry's on Bargain Hunt and Grant and Annie Moore on Mr and Mrs many years ago, but you are up there with John Eason's son's girlfriend's sister, who was on Mastermind. Anyway, it's lunchtime and I'm off to buy a pie. Any suggestions? And a television: seems there's an interesting programme on tonight. All the best, Reg.
17 November 2015 – From Ken Arnoldi
I recall when HMSO was in Atlantic House in the 1960s, a monthly visit by an officer from the Department of Employment. On the last Tuesday of each month he brought the latest employment figures. I had to insert them in some sort of document (it took about 5 minutes). He then departed. I wonder whether he would have come all the way to Norwich had we been there? I imagine this is now done by pressing a few buttons.
Thanks Ken for this reminder to us all of simpler times. I think that despite the computer age and the speed of communication, people still like a day out, and a way would be found. If evidence were needed, every time I switch on the BBC there is news about the Parisian tragedy presented live by yet another 'Presenter' sent over from UK, quite unnecessarily when they have perfectly competent French-speaking BBC employees there already. Best wishes, Reg.
17 November 2015 – Letter from America from Jack Keating
What’s happened in Florida since I last wrote in June of this year (is it that long)?
I've had a couple of "firsts" happen to me. About three weeks ago I was driving on a road with another driver and we were talking about black bears. He has lived here all his life and has never seen a black bear in all that time. I said that I too had never seen one. Then, lo and behold, there was one sitting at the side of the road ahead of us. We slowed down and I took out my camera but as we got close it turned and loped off into the woods. It was nice to see it and I just hope that it was not one of those that was culled recently in this state. The state issued licences, at a price, to would-be hunters. It started on a particular date and once you had shot one and registered it you were not allowed to kill any more. In less than two days they stopped the cull because just over two hundred bears had been killed.
I was up in North Carolina two months ago having a bite to eat in a fast-food place. A few of the waitresses were looking through the window and pointing. I asked what it was they were looking at and they pointed to a groundhog. It was climbing, quite clumsily, up a chain-link fence to eat shrubbery that was entwined in the fence. I asked if it was Punxsutawney Phil the famous animal used on Groundhog Day every year in Pennsylvania and got looked at as if I was daft.
I had two friends from Norwich visit my wife and I during October. They just happened to be here during the annual Biketoberfest, which was very fortuitous. During their first week I drove them to New Orleans; that den of iniquity in Louisiana. We spent two days there and had a very good time. We had to move out on the third day because an American football game was taking place that night between New Orleans Saints and a team from Atlanta, Georgia. You could not get a hotel room for love nor money so we drove back into the panhandle of Florida and had a nice day in the Gulf coast town of Destin. When we got back I was asked to drive a car and bring one back from Charlotte in North Carolina and asked the guys of they would like to come with me. On the way back we stopped for the night in Columbia, South Carolina.
Talking about my driving job; I set a record for the longest drive to deliver a car and bring one back. I had taken my wife's car into the Ford dealership I work for and was walking through the showroom while waiting for it to be fixed when one of the salesmen stopped me. He asked if I was busy and I said no. He asked if I would like to be busy for six days and I said yes; thinking he was kidding me. His father had just bought a Ford F-450 diesel truck and wanted it delivering to him in Montana. His father did not want to drive down here to pick it up because he could not afford the six days it would take him. I telephoned my wife and asked her to pack a bag containing enough clothes for six days. She drove it up to me, I kissed her goodbye and set off. This was a Friday and I did not get back to the dealership until the night of the following Wednesday. It took me six days and the total distance was 4,600 miles. Including Florida, I travelled through eleven different states and stayed in five of them. My out-of-pocket expenses were a whopping $1,278, this included $781 for diesel fuel and $450 for hotels. It did not include my meagre wages for the six days. I loved every minute of it. Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat.
A few weeks later another driver and I did a three-day trip to the northern part of New York State. The place was barely an hour from the border with Canada. We delivered a truck and drove back two trucks the customer put in part exchange. I can't remember how many tolls we went through but we spent a hell of a lot of money on them.
One day the company flew me from Orlando to Houston in Texas. I was to pick up a Ford Expedition and drive it back the 1,000 miles. The Ford dealer in Texas had to drive 120 miles to get to the airport, give me the car, let me check it over and then start driving back. I stayed overnight somewhere in the Florida panhandle and continued on the following morning.
I lost my glasses a few months ago and did not bother to get a new pair right away. In the end I decided my eyes were not as good as they should be, particularly driving at night and in rain, so went for an eye test. I knew I had cataracts in one eye but was told they were now in both eyes. To make a long story short I went to see a cataract surgeon and decided to get my left eye done. I can't believe the difference it has made to my sight; everything is bright and the colours are outstanding. Next week I go to see the surgeon to talk about getting my right eye done before Christmas.
Best wishes, Jack
Hello Jack, Many thanks for your 'Letter From America:' a veritable Alistair Cooke with a Liverpool accent! My word, if anyone could be said to have a life diametrically opposite to my own, it is you. Oddly enough, your name came up yesterday in a reminiscence about 'the old days' with Andrew North, Matthew Hensman and other Techies. All the very best to you and yours - and keep your seat belt on. Reg.
13 November 2015 – The Charity's Santa Letter!
Every child loves to get a personal letter from Santa at Christmas. If you’d like to create an amazing childhood memory that will last for years to come, why not order your Santa letter from The Charity for Civil Servants? Orders must be placed by 14 December, and letters will be posted from 7 December onwards. You can order the letters online via the Charity’s Christmas page on their website. All monies raised will go toward helping the Charity support civil servants in need.
If unexpected costs mean you cannot meet your normal expenditure don’t forget we may be able to help with the basics.
Annette Hooper | PR and Publicity Manager
020 8240 2417
7 November 2015 – From Jeanne Southgate
Reg, I wonder if Sue Prutton has been in touch about the card shop? This 50th year operating at 6 Royal Arcade, Norwich, from 4 November to 18 December. 100% of sales goes to the charities.
More info on www.oncccs.org.uk and on Facebook.
Thanks Jeanne, Good website. I'll be along for my annual visit. All the best. Reg.
24 October 2015 – From Debs Green
Hi Reg, Thought I'd send in a news item to counteract all the obituaries! I was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace last week and this photo was taken outside Lincoln Crown Court.
Hello Debs, Thank you - lovely, and just what we need to raise the mood on HMSOldies! Congratulations on becoming a JP. Very impressive. I would say that you make it a pleasure to appear up before the beak, but I suppose that would sound disrespectful. So I won't. Best wishes. Reg.
Dear Reg, Just back from a few days in wildest Devon and much saddened by the news of Tom's demise [see Tom Harris in Obituaries] even though he has been virtually lost to us for a few years now. Together with Harvey we had been firm friends for some 76 years from those far off pre and early war years in Manchester. We all became rebels after our 18th. birthdays in 1940 when we were not allowed to volunteer for military service being told to wait until our age group was called upon to register. As I have said previously we took every opportunity to do anything but our allotted work, joining enthusiastically in the office fire brigade and later the Home Guard. Tom once broke his wrist trying to start the mobile pump for the brigade and it had just about healed when stocktaking came up. This was an annual weekend jamboree which I think earned us something like an additional 5 or 10 shillings. Harvey and I decided to give Tom a ride on one of the trolleys used by the warehousemen to look out smaller stores, known for some reason as pianos, and unfortunately took a corner rather too quickly, resulting in Tom's wrist bring broken again. We had each to write an accident report which all turned out to be strikingly similar in that Tom had allegedly fallen from a ladder while counting stocks of a heavy paper. We heard no more from the powers that be.
24 October 2015 - From Les Birch
One day we all decided that we would join the Royal Tank Regiment together, the idea being that we would form part of one crew in the same tank. My father vetoed the idea immediately(he had spent 4 years in France in the First War), as did Tom's father, with the result that Harvey was the only one to join the RTR, spending some 5 years in the desert, Sicily and Italy for his pains. Tom meanwhile joined the RAF but sadly was discharged after about 2 months with ear trouble. On my first leave from the army early in 1942 I visited Tom in Manchester Royal Infirmary where he had a massive bandage round his head and the ear that had been operated on.
On return to the office Tom was sent to Belfast with one, H.S. Andrews, an HCO who had lost an arm serving with the navy in the First War. Years later when Tom and I were ADs in Establishments we had a letter from the Treasury asking whether in our view Mr Andrews' pension should continue to be paid, as he was at that time serving 12 months in Strangeways Prison, Manchester for an income tax offence - he had been claiming an allowance for his wife twice, once for his HMSO salary and again for his private butchery business. Needless to say Andy kept his pension !
Sad too to hear of Bill Bissett's death - I started the month third on the Old Boys Seniority List and here I am now top of it. Unfortunately the only promotion from this list is to Greater Glory as the old evangelists put it but I will continue to decline this opportunity for as long as possible.
Best wishes, Les
Dear Les, Thank you for your fine reminiscences, which as ever evoke the spirit of times past. I have copied to John Eason, who might well mention to Harvey Wild when next he sees him on the mean streets of Eaton, Norwich. We need you at the top of the Seniority List for a long time now, so don't do anything risky - as if you would. Best wishes, Reg.
17 October 2015 - From Mike Trigg
Hi Reg, I had a beer with Peter Fudge at his daughter and my god daughter's 21st. Usual suspects (mainly London-based Publications people) will be meeting-up Friday 27 Nov 1200 at the Wellington pub opposite Waterloo Station - everyone welcome. Word has it a guest appearance by Mr Steve Whitnell.
Dear Reg, Only got back from Normandy yesterday - the usual great time, getting spoiled rotten and loving every minute of it. Cloudless blue skies from morning till night and the half-way house on the course both days living up to its usual standard. I left there on the second day with a glass of Mouton Cadet in the right hand and a glass of calvados in the left. Plenty of sole meunière consumed and one meal of grilled lobster - delicious but hard work getting to the meat. Reservations made for June and October next year so we all remain optimistic.
14 October 2015 - From Les Birch
Best wishes as always, Les
Dear Les, Very good to hear that your Normandy adventure was, yet again, enjoyable and successful. Great pictures of you looking happy (why wouldn't you?) and tucking in to a well-filled plate. I like the extra touch of the French dictionary! All the best: suddenly I am feeling hungry . . . Reg
13 October 2015 - Ken Dustin Memorabilia
We are indebted to John Rumball for forwarding a fine selection of memorabilia collected by Ken Dustin, who worked in SSPP during the 1970s.
He went on the inevitable training course at Mundesley - but do you recognise the others around the tables? Judging by the bottle of Mateus Rose, this was the 1970s. Sheila Blowers, Larry Doyle, Eddie Perry, John Brooker are there - who else?
And some photos from the August 1990 Parliamentary Press Newsletter - plus a sad monument to a memorable institution: the catalogue for the sale of SSPP equipment in 1987.
• RR Donnelley Flaxby Moor plant set to close
2 October 2015 - From Dave Burchell
Reg, Don’t know if you have seen this from PrintWeek:
Regards, David Burchell
Hello Dave, Thank you: I had not seen this. Another blow for British industry, and of course mainly for the people involved. Best wishes, Reg.
2 October 2015 - From Stuart McLaren
Dear Gentleman and former Colleagues, I have followed the (mis)fortunes of Anglia Square for more than 30 years. In that time its has had four owners that I know of. Redevelopment plans have come and gone, some major, involving extensive demolition and rebuilding, some minor, involving building big metal sheds along the Pitt Street side of the area. Currently, it is owned by Threadneedle Investments, who bought it in 2014 at a bargain basement price (£7.55 million) from a Republic of Eire public body that administers bankrupt companies' assets. It had previously been bought for a rumoured £36 million. There have been two reports in the local newspapers this year on Anglia Square's future:
• Boss of Anglia Square in Norwich says future is bright, but rules out Tesco store
• Big names hand boost to Norwich’s Anglia Square shopping centre
It is worth noting that neither actually includes a direct, attributable statement from the owner, but rather by the Square's manager, Mr Eric Kirk (the Square is managed by Workman, a property management company under contract to the owners) and by two of the major retailers based there (Iceland, Boots).
Norwich City Council is seemingly powerless to force the owners to do more than safeguard the public from falling bricks, etc. The Norwich Society has no legislative power at all, but can be a powerful lobbyist where it wishes.
Secretary, St Augustine's Community Together Residents' Association (ACT)
Thank you Stuart, A full and speedy response, and an excellent summary of the current state of play which I am sure would interest readers of HMSOldies. I go through Anglia Square at lest twice a week , and agree with all you say. I never go down Magdalen Street without remembering that lovely film made in the 1950s, featuring Duncan Sandys MP and the revitalisation project. Best wishes. Reg
1 October 2015 - From Ivor Hosgood
Dear Reg, Thought you might be interested in my brief communication with The Norwich Society regarding the unsatisfactory state of Sovereign House, Botolph Street and New Botolph Street (formerly Pitt Street) Norwich.
Unfortunately, this exchange of messages tells us very little about future plans for either Sovereign House or improving the look of New Botolph Street. (The Norwich Society is currently more active in seeking the rebuilding/refurbishment of Norwich's city walls!)
Perhaps one of my former colleagues is prepared to pursue this matter with either The Norwich Society or Norwich City Council planners later this year.
Yours sincerely, Ivor
+ + +
To Miss Vicky Manthorpe
The Norwich Society
21 September 2015
Dear Miss Manthorpe
As you yourself may have observed, the condition of Sovereign House is fast deteriorating.
Please say whether your Society has any plans to approach either the current owners, or the appropriate department of Norwich City Council, with the aim of seeking voluntary (or compulsory in the case of the latter) demolition of this office building.
Although Threadneedle Investments purchased Anglia Square a couple of years ago (with a promise of launching a series of improvements!) the purchaser has not confirmed that its acquisition included Sovereign House.
Pitt Street (or at least part of it) has been renamed 'New Botolph Street', but its down-at-heel appearance remains!
Perhaps your news from the owners in respect of their plans is more up-to-date than my own.
In its present condition, this building is in a very sorry condition and currently constitutes a blot on the appearance of this 'Norwich-Over-the-Water' area.
I propose passing over your Society's reply to <HMSOldies> an on-line organisation which publishes the views of former HMSO employees of both Sovereign House and St Crispins (Norwich) and those employed in Belfast, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
Ivor R. Hosgood MBE
+ + +
Reply from Vicky Manthorpe
24 September 2015
Dear Mr Hosgood,
The firm of Cushman & Wakefield (formerly DTZ) are advising on the redevelopment. They tell me that they have now started pre-application dialogue with Norwich City Council. We will be meeting with C&W towards the end of the autumn to get a better picture of what is being planned.
+ + +
Thank you Ivor. Frustrating, isn't it? I have copied to Stuart McLaren, who - in his role as livewire in the St Augustine's Society - may be able to shed more light, if such light exists. Best wishes. Reg
28 September 2015 - Sixty Glorious Years!
Hi Reg, You queried about a possible Anniversary a week or so ago. So I can now reveal that Jean and I recently celebrated our Diamond Anniversary. Philip and Karen kindly arranged and accompanied us on a Britannia mini cruise to Guernsey, another of our favourite haunts, which was a lovely experience. How time flies - but I can remember the Wedding Day quite clearly!
Kind regards, John Nash
Hello John, Excellent, thank you. Sounds like an excellent event - and Guernsey must be a fine place if you were persuaded to leave the hallowed beaches of the Isle of Wight for a visit. The Staff List shows your start date with HMSO as January 1950, so you are also 'celebrating' a 65th anniversary this year. Good to get some happy news on the HMSOldies site, and there is a space allocated for your 70th come the day. All the very best to you and to Jean. Reg.
John Eason adds: I'm really jealous of John's hair. Perhaps he could send me a bag of clippings after his next visit to the barber. Does he now support Newport (IoW)? Or does he retain his previous allegiances to Norwich, Chelmsford City, Charlton and Leyton Orient? And does Jean still grow cacti? Anyway congratulations and Best Wishes to both of them.
I'm sure that Philip Nash can negotiate a bag of Beau Nash's Barbery Bits - and I well remember his almost-unique devotion to Athton Charletic.
16 September 2016 - Printers' London Lunch
We are indebted to Bob Allder, who organised the event, for the list of attendees at the September lunch and to John Rumball amongst others, for the candid camera-work.
16 September 2015 - From Michael Gullick
Thanks for passing on the recent material. I read through the Information Circular, and several very interesting things in it even for me. I especially liked the poster of the royal arms etc [see 18 November 2014].
In the earliest HMSO guides (1917-1921) the arms on the left here were used, whereas in 1924 onwards the arms on the right were used. (I had not looked into these closely, although I knew a variety were available.) I did not know that the designer of the 1924 one was Kruger Gray (there is some biographical information on him on the web if you Google). He is best known as a designer of coins for the Royal Mint.
What Sinclair Simpson says about the three kinds of guides is quite right of course. The Souvenir guides were individually designed as is obvious from the twenty or so I have and the others I have seen. They also were printed by a variety of houses, none by an HMSO press I think. Some of these do contain details concerning their production. For example 'Produced by the Information Branch of the MPBW', 'Produced by the Directorate of Information of the DOE' and 'Prepared for the Ministry of Works by the C[entral] O[ffice of] I[nformation]'. One, Carisbrooke Castle (published 1979) names the designer as W. Brouard of the DOE, and another Clifford's Tower (published in 1971) names the designer as T. Wrighte. The artist Alan Sorrell (1904-74) that Sinclair mentions did a lot of work for the guides in general from the late 1930s to the 1960s? There is a website about him under his name.
Look forward to hearing more!
All good wishes, Michael
Hi Reg, I have just picked up on the matter of the blue guides and thought I would add my comments. Back in the 1960's, as a PO, I was part of a P&B section with Bill Robbins as my TO and it was my job to order the printing of Ministry of Public Building & Works guides.
16 September 2015 - From Sinclair Simpson
These were divided into 3 types:
1 Abridged Guides - Which were just a simple sheet of print, size (then) demy octavo.
2 Standard Guides - The blue guides which had a standard design cover, demy octavo size and with text and a centre section of half-tone pictures all in black and white.
3 Souvenir Guides - These were individually designed and printed in 4 colours. These could be very ornate with overlay drawings by the artist Alan Sorrel.
The work came to me via Arthur Holland in Pubns, if I remember right his EO was Bill Ford. I can't recall who printed the abridged guides but the standard guides were all done by Edinburgh Press where my contact was John Rome. The souvenir guides which were only done for the bigger monuments, such as the Tower of London and went out to full tender.
Hope this is of interest, Sinclair
Hello Sinclair, Good to hear from you - and to read some 'famous names' from the past. All the best, Reg.
16 September 2015 - From Bob Simpson
Hi Reg, I realise this is somewhat belated after the event at The Eagle public house, it was intentional as I had several things coming up that could all be incorporated into this email.
Firstly, I want to thank everyone who attended on 30 July and although some people were not known to me I was made welcome and meeting up with Bob Nelson we had a good chat not only about our Edinburgh days but all our other colleagues whom we had known down the years. Not only at The Eagle but later Bob and is wife Carol made me most welcome at their home so the old times went on into the night.
Whilst killing time in Norwich the next day, I took the camera over the Cathedral and got what I hope were good pictures of the building, then a good lunch, then back to the station to catch the train.
Then in August, the build-up started in earnest for my annual assault on the Show Benches, winning for the sixth successive year the trophy for two pots.
Double Begonias (bragging rights picture above) also winning a trophy for Hybrid Tea Roses. Not only winning that trophy I took Best in Class with the Begonias as well. I had about 26 items on the Show benches overall and gained a good number of 1st 2nd and 3rd prizes out of the total entered. So as it used to be said in boxing circles 'The boy done good'.
At our Show I met for the second time in a week Gordon Campbell, firstly at a funeral then on Show Day itself, he had made some entries in the Flower Classes and he also had success. He looked quite well and we talked for some time. He asked about the 'Oldies' and I said that he should look up the Web and make contact
Then today, Eddie Hendry had finally managed to pin Norrie Veitch down and got him at last to have a round of Golf at Baberton. During the course of the round Norrie mentioned some names and he said that Willie Ross EO in Supplies Edinburgh is into his nineties now but is sadly housebound. Willie was one of the group who after retirement met up at Prestonfield Golf Club playing if able, if unable came for lunch, That august gathering included Norrie, Willie Ross, Alex Morris, Jim McCallum, Dave Currie, Andy Baptie and at times Ben Pearson. Sadly, many no longer with us but I am sure will be remembered by many 'Oldies'.
For myself, my health is good apart from the moving parts of the body, hand surgery coming up shortly and next an appointment with an Orthopaedic Surgeon for investigation on my left knee which is giving bother. As Norrie said this morning it's all down to 'Anno Domini' or as I put it 'Domini Anno' the 'Domini' having passed and overtaken the 'Anno'. Thankfully, it’s only the moving parts that need servicing and not anything worse and for that I consider myself fortunate.
My regards to all the 'Oldies', Bob
Hello Bob, Excellent to hear from you, as it was to see you at The Eagle. I had meant to thank you for making the considerable journey: we were very flattered! And very pleased to read of your continuing horticultural success. Good to read all those names again. I had quite a lot to do with Dave Currie at one stage, and we were on a couple of Courses (Civil Service, not golf - although he took me to Edinburgh's oldest golf club for lunch once) where he was good company. And I remember many of the others you name. I know what you mean about that saucy minx Annie Dominey: she has her claws into many old mates down here as well! All the best to you, Bob, and please keep in touch. Reg.
11 September 2015 - From Michael Gullick
Dear Reg Walker, I stumbled onto your website while researching the production of a series of booklets produced and published by HMSO, guides to Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings. These first appeared in 1917 and were then, but for much of the Second World War, printed and published regularly until the foundation of English Heritage in 1984. I am planning to write something (I do not know quite what yet) about the guides produced between 1917 and 1984. I am especially interested in the design of the so-called blue guides (as they had blue covers) that first appeared in 1959, as no designer (of course) was ever credited in HMSO publications (so far as I am aware). It would be nice to put a name or names to them.
I see that your former colleague Philip Marriage self-published From Layout to Graphic Design, and I can easily get to the V&A museum or St Bride's where copies were deposited as I live near London. I wonder if I might learn if there is anything that would interest me in the book, and furthermore if he knows something about the matter that is not in the book.
From an old designer who learned with metal type and still works in publishing, with (in anticipation) thanks for your help, Michael Gullick
Hello Michael. Thank you for your enquiry. As you will have gathered from the content of the HMSOldies website, we are merely a vehicle for nostalgia among previous employees of HMSO, which was privatised 19 years ago. However, as you spotted, our designer, Philip Marriage, is still around in Norwich, along with other HMSO Graphic Design ex-colleagues, and as requested I have copied your note to him so that he can consider how he may be of assistance in your endeavours. All the best, Reg Walker.
Philip Marriage replied: Dear Michael, I'm happy to help though I fear I may not be able to offer you much. My memory of the Blue Guides is rather vague - it's a long time since I was at the drawing board (or should it be Mac?). However as a young designer in HMSO's Headquarters in Atlantic House on Holborn Viaduct I do remember the Blue Guides passing through HMSO's studio with some regularity. In those days each designer was allocated a dozen or more Government Departments and were responsible for the design requirements of that department's publications. I don't recall handling the Department of the Environment's publications personally.
Thinking back, the Blue Guides were very straightforward productions and I have a feeling they came to HMSO in a more or less finished state requiring very little intervention by the designer concerned - the format, typeface, layout and cover-design following an established style. The priority was economy, the lowest possible price to the monument's visitor. All this changed, like so much else, in the 1980s with the commercialisation of government activities and soon glossy coloured guides started to appear with a hefty increase in the cover price. These were not necessarily HMSO publications - rather 'departmental publications' (as we called them), designed and printed by HMSO for the Government Department concerned but not published by 'HMSO BOOKS' and sold in Government Bookshops.
Regarding 'From Layout to Graphic Design' the history of the fifty years of HMSO Graphic Design, I don't think you'll find a mention of the Blue Guides as they did not feature in any significant way.
HMSO also had a very talented team of designers in Edinburgh and the attached photo, which is to hand, shows one of them working on the guide to Stirling Castle.
I'm aware this isn't much help to you - however I will copy this email to others with whom I'm in touch in the hope that they can add more to your quest. All best wishes (and please let us see the finished result if you do decide on an article). Philip
Michael Gullick replied: Thank you very much for your helpful observations. I am sure that blue guides would have passed through the studio fairly regularly, and I am also sure (from my experience) that they would not have required a great deal of attention. Between 1952 and about 1959 guides had coloured paper covers with individual designs and used two papers (one for text and one for illustrations). From about 1957 (the earliest I have seen) guides had blue paper covers with title etc centred and a frame of two rules, all reversed out. These also had two papers inside. From about 1968 (again, the earliest I have seen) the blue covers had title etc ranged left and some kind of appropriate art work at the head, all reversed out. These had one paper (coated) so text and illustrations on same paper. From 1971 the booklets had a wider A3 format. (There is also a little variation in the 1971 onwards guides, some one column, some two, and some variation in detail as to nature and position of page numbers, running titles and sub-heads etc.)
What intrigues me is who first thought of the blue covers in or about 1957, but perhaps this is too far back for anyone to recall. I presume that the artwork on these covers was drawn/prepared at the HMSO studio from suggestions by someone connected to the Directorate of Ancient Monuments.
I liked the photo of the design staff at Edinburgh! Guides for Scottish sites were, I think, always organised in Edinburgh (writing and production) from the earliest that appeared in the late 1920s. You may (or may not) know that the the HMSO printing works in Edinburgh that printed British guidebooks (and much else) from about 1963 was purchased from the printers J and J Gray Ltd who printed many of the Scottish guides pre- and post WWII.
These are the covers for Whitby Abbey (1952), Berwick (1967) and Titchfield Abbey (1969), and these illustrate the chronology I noted above.
I do think that the blue guides particularly elegant and satisfying. English Heritage guides began rather brutalist in their design, then came all singing and dancing full colour (over designed in my view), followed by the current crop.
I will certainly send you anything I write. I have been buying guides since my student days, but only in the past few years have I been doing some serious work on the content, chronology and production of the guides. The first, published by the old Office of Works, appeared in 1917 and it occurred to me a little while ago to try and pull my notes together and write something for the 100 years anniversary.
Best wishes, Michael Gullick
Jim Cairns adds: I recall that the Blue Guides were fairly restrictive in the design sense, but in Scotland they were replaced by two colour covers and differing display typefaces were used to capture the individual monuments, while the text pages incorporated the picture, rather than have them grouped in 4 or 8 page inserts. We used to try to achieve extra colour by overprinting the two inks. As you say, they were superseded by the introduction of full colour guides. Ron Burnett designed the Stirling Castle guide. While I did the Edinburgh Castle version. We had the pick of the Ancient Monuments picture Library plus we were able to use a freelance photographer called Sean Hudson for specific shots. These guides were meant for the general public and were less architecture-orientated. I had a struggle to get the author of the Edinburgh guide to include a full colour picture of the Tattoo! Of course they both sold so well that they became the norm for the larger and most popular sites. Happy days!
Fred Stubbs adds: That was interesting after all these years. I did get involved with them a bit - I thought that they were publications rather than departmental items. I remember a complaint about the colours. John Westwood arranged for dozen or more copies to be sent to the studio. We found that the colours varied from light blue to almost purple. The guides were printed all over the country hence the variation (before PMS). From then on a PMS colour was chosen and all I believe was OK in the future.
George Hammond adds: Dear Michael, I was involved with the graphic design team responsible for their production at HMSO although as Philip pointed out is was mainly one of oversight. I am currently on holiday in Northumberland and will contact you again on my return to see if I can be of any assistance in your research.
Vera Brice adds: I do remember those guides – may still have a couple myself in a box in the attic. I’m sure they were done at little expense but I do remember they had some very detailed and accurate plans and drawings (wherever they were produced). Must have been at drawing offices within the DOE. How all that has changed with the glossy guides of today. I’ve just come back from a wonderful week on Mainland (Orkney) with an armful from Historic Scotland.
John Saville adds: I’m pretty sure the Blue Guides didn't come through GD in my time. The guides I’m sure would have come under the Ministry of Public Building and Works (later to be split between various depts and agencies). What I do remember though is that they did produce designs for special properties and these were designed by an illustrator called Foster. We had the job of fitting the type. Hope this is of some help.
Phillip Brooks adds: I think Philip's third paragraph is pretty much right. I recall that towards the end of my time looking after the Guides, DOE took them over entirely and supplied only a few to us for sale. They were, of course, mainly for sale at the monument. There was a series of short guides too – a sort of abridged Blue Guide which sold for (I think) about 5p.
Michael Gullick replied: Dear Philip, Thank you so much for your email and all its memories. I have some additional comments:
For Jim Cairns: Yes, the blue guides for Scottish sites were treated differently in several respects to the English and Welsh ones. I presume that this was because they were 'produced' at HMSO studio in Edinburgh and to assert Scottish difference and independence!
For Fred Stubbs: Yes, the 'blue' of the covers did vary a lot, and the Scottish sites usually appear to have a very dark blue. Before 1963 the guides were printed at different houses (the names of printers is not always given), but after 1963 always at the HMSO press in Edinburgh.
For Vera Brice: I think the plans were all produced by specialist staff at the Directorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings that was part of the DOE from 1970 to 1984. I think from 1917 onwards the plans were always produced 'close' to the old Office of Works and its successors to enable them to be closely overseen by the archaeologists/authors etc. The old fold-out plans are very inconvenient in rain and wind, and this may have been a reason why plans came to be 'incorporated' into the guides, such as the Historic Scotland ones you no doubt used during your holiday in Orkney.
For John Saville: When was your time at GD? From 1970 onwards the Ancient Monuments division was within DOE (as just noted). Do you think that before 1970 responsibility for seeing the guides through the press was not done at GD but somewhere else, a studio attached to the old Ministry of Public Buildings and Works? The designs for special properties you mention were perhaps what was called 'souvenir guides'. These were smaller than blue guides and had less text and more pictures and clearly intended to be more popular. (These had colour early, something never in the blue guides.) The earliest I know is 1950, and they were produced until the 1980s. (I don't think any were actually printed at HMSO press in Edinburgh, but a variety of printing houses.) All of them were 'individually' designed (there was no standard format but always the same size) and they do all seem to be for the most frequently visited (or popular) sites. Some of them were certainly produced at the old Central Office of Information (COI), but at present I am not quite sure who was responsible for ordering them and the 'chain of command' involved. The archives of the COI are at the British Library, but I have not investigated these yet.
For Philip: A final comment. I noticed after my first email to you that the earliest blue guides I know about are for Scottish sites. (Crichton Castle, 1957, Bothwell Castle, 1958, Holyroodhouse, 1958), and these are earlier than 1959, the year I said the first blue guide appeared. Might the idea for the blue covers originate in Scotland where blue of course an 'important' colour (St Andrew's Cross flag and Rugby jerseys.) Might the Brits have taken over a good idea from the Scots? I will have to check out further!
Best wishes and many thanks, Michael.
8 September 2015 - It's time to Get Yellow!
Get Yellow! That’s the new name for The Charity for Civil Servants’ annual fundraising week, running from 5 to 9 October. Brighten the office with a splash of yellow this October - all the money raised goes towards helping civil servants, past and present, with whatever problems they may have.
It’s a great opportunity to get together with your colleagues and be as inventive as you like, because every penny raised helps make a huge difference to the lives of people in need. Contact the Fundraising Team at the Charity for ideas (eg how to host a cake sale or office dress down day), if you’d like a soft toy for a raffle or tickets for the Prize Draw. The Prize Draw has a generous £2,000 first prize, sponsored by The Civil Service Insurance Society – you can buy tickets for yourself or request a raffle pack to sell them around the office. We’ve also just refreshed the Big Quiz, which would be perfect for an office get-together!
Annette Hooper PR and Publicity Manager
020 8240 2417
Please note with regards the Prize Draw: Players must be 16 years or over and a resident of Great Britain. Unfortunately residents of the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, BFPO addresses and Northern Ireland are excluded from the Prize Draw.
8 September 2015 - HMSO use of Vellum in Print
We have recently received a request for information on this subject from James Freemantle, as follows:
'. . . Just to put your mind at ease, I don’t work for any form of newspaper or similar, my day job is actually as a Solicitor. In my spare time, I am an amateur printer and editor of The Private Library journal, which prints a quarterly journal and books on printing and publishing. I would never publish anything that anyone didn’t give me their express permission to be able to publish.
What I would really like to know is if there are any printers still alive who would have actually done the printing of the Acts on vellum themselves on the press? I would love to either speak with them, or through you hear their thoughts on how easy or difficult they found the printing, what presses they used, what the biographies are of the printers and their careers etc. More of the practical side. There is a little bit in the notes you kindly sent me. The article I am writing is much more from a technical point of view, although I will also be discussing the history of it all.
My many thanks for any help you can offer.
Best wishes, James'
Any information you can give - via HMSOldies - would be most welcome!
John Eveson replied: Vellums are/were used for record copies of Acts and stored in the Victoria Tower at Westminster. They were produced two pages up on a flatbed letterpress printing machine at St Stephens, transferring to litho at Parliamentary Press in the late eighties. Mick Davies was the Finishing Overseer who expertly cut them and ribboned them together into a form of book. Years ago they were actually stored as rolls in the Vic Tower. The Material was often mistaken for goats skin but was in fact calves skin. I cannot remember the supplier but Dave Burchell will I am sure. Also Dave will tell you whether at long last the House of Lords have discontinued vellum for a paper substitute. A long standing threat thwarted on the floor of the Commons a few years back.
Dave Burchell adds: John is absolutely correct. The supplier is William Cowley situated near Newport Pagnell. The calves skins are a by-product of the meat industry and the skins are sourced from all over Europe. Two vellums of each Act are still supplied, one stored in Victoria Tower and the other in the basement of the QEII Centre. However, the 2014-15 session may be the last one using vellum as their use is under review and may be stopped. The Commons have a decision to make and the Lords are already wishing to stop using them. The reason to discontinue with them is cost rather than any ethical issues. The Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament no longer use vellum for record copies of Acts. The vellum sheets are printed as 8pp (4pp to view). Hope this helps.
Philip Marriage adds: I've just remembered that in FLTGD (page 132) there is this lovely drawing by Peter Branfield which shows 'an HMSO Christmas Card of an Albion Press, built in 1860, which was in regular use by HMSO at St Stephen's Parliamentary Press until 1971, for the purpose of printing special copies of Acts of Parliament on vellum to be signed by the Queen.'
19 August 2015 - HMSOldies London Annual Lunch
Hi Reg, Here's the booking form for the HMSOldies London Annual Lunch. If you would be so kind as to add this to the Information Circulars, I would be obliged. Many thanks.
With kind regards, Bob Allder
A PDF of the booking form can be downloaded here.
Hello Bob, Thank you for your note. Looks delicious: one day I'll make it! I am sure that you will have a successful day. Any photos, or general report, would be most welcome. All the best, Reg.
5 August 2015 - Chadderton
To Amy Driver, Print & Supply Module Manager, 3M Traffic, Safety & Security Division, Chadderton, Gorse Street, Oldham.
Hello Amy, I know that this might be a little late to ask, and I am aware that the last thing you want at such a time is somebody asking 'how you are.' However, I know that there are people I will be seeing - George Rokahr, George James, Brian Blackmore, Alan Cole among others - who would be interested in what is happening to their old workplace in Chadderton. I saw Pat Kennedy in London recently - he retired from Manchester in 1992 - and he has been in touch with Matthew Hensman, who worked in the Press until fairly recently.
Best wishes, Reg Walker (Editor, HMSOldies)
Amy Driver replied: Reg, No problem - we closed manufacturing/despatch at the end of June, when most of the staff left site. There are now a dozen of us tying up loose ends, before the site closes at the end of the month. The factory has been sold, and will have new tenants, hopefully from October - removing all the machines and preparing the site for handing over will continue until the end of September. I've got a job to go to, and am taking the whole of August off, so it has all worked out well for me.
We did have a display of the history of the site, which went down well with people. Thank you for your help with that. Most of the older information came from your website and emails, with some other info from things we found in cupboards, including photos from the build of the new factory/demolition of the old one, and from an open day in the 1960's. See below.
The archive has now been donated to the Oldham Archives - if you are interested, the archive officer is Jo Robson: Oldham Local Studies and Archives, Oldham Council, 84 Union Street, Oldham OL1 1DN. 0161 770 4654/1887. firstname.lastname@example.org
You might also be interested in seeing a Youtube video that was made recently by the IT team - to show the factory now that most of it is empty.
Hello Amy, Thank you for your prompt reply. Judging by that, and your organisational abilities, I am not surprised that you have secured another job quickly: they are lucky to have you! All very sad, but inevitable I suppose, given the climate we live in. As you can see, we will spread the word to those still with an interest. A very impressive exhibition: makes me wish we had done the same here.
The first time I visited the office was to see OMTS, around 1970, with Keith Beak (Manager). Jim Billington was around then - a young Brian Earley as well, no doubt. Sam Garwood was Foreman, as was John Cannon. I stayed overnight in the Manchester YMCA so that I had a few pounds subsistence to spend on a few pints of OB, Wilson's and Boddington's. Monkey Wrench is a name I remember, at 99p a pint in later years.
Dickie Dunn was Director for a time, and had a 'hygiene notice' erected in the Gents. I got the OMTS boys to unscrew it so that I could present him with it at his retirement in 1991. He still has it in his (Norwich) garage.
Very best wishes to you and to those we remember from The Good Old Days. Reg.
3 Aug 2015 - Foreword to ‘A Strange Life’ by Adrienne Nash (AmazonUK)
When I first started writing this book in the very early 1990s I was in ignorance and so was the world of the causes of transsexualism.
The psychiatrist, Dr John Randell who treated me in the 1970’s, was still of the belief that transsexualism was due to nurture, in his words, ‘You had a dominant mother’ and I could not persuade him otherwise. That was his professional opinion of every male to female(MTF) patient. Yet of course in the first half of the twentieth century, when women seldom worked after marriage, mothers were bound to be dominant in the early years of a child’s development. Children were alone with their mothers five days a week, only seeing fathers at the weekend, and fathers then were not very touchy-feely.
In Randell’s opinion, a mother would have over mothered a child, might even have cross-dressed a child, although belief in nurturing rather than nature was waning. He had practised aversion therapy previously, in an attempt to cure people of the syndrome. All the worst practises had been used by his profession to effect a cure, including electric shocks, aversion therapy which included electric shocks and electro convulsive therapy and sleep and drug therapies.
None of these experimental treatments were effective. They cost lives. Victims of such treatment often committed suicide because their basic nature was first assaulted, and then their wish to ‘change sex’ was denied. I was lucky. I was reasonably educated and read. I rejected such treatment and persisted in my desire. My GP Dr Curl of the Norwich family, liked to quote scripture at me. Eventually as the medical world acknowledged there was no cure, my wish was granted.
However, I did not know why I felt the way I did, nor did anyone else. The classic explanation every transsexual stated was ‘I have been born with the wrong body’. Yes, it sounds like the start of a horror film, or the transposition of brain and body as in the film, ‘The Fly’. It was, in reality, often a living nightmare.
For decades sufferers of the syndrome were sent to unsympathetic doctors and passed to unsympathetic psychiatrists who used the above cures that were not based on any science and were little better than torture.
There were several sensationalist cases in the newspapers, Roberta Cowell, April Ashley and others and cases of men being arrested for posing as women and thrown into a male prison, or treated as male in hospital.
In 1962 I visited a psychiatrist in Harley St. It cost me about £500 in todays money and he told me, if I ever presented as a female he would have me arrested.
The first glimmer of hope came when Jan Morris, formerly James Morris, ex Times correspondent and author, released her book, ‘Conundrum’ in 1974, an account of her change of sex. It had taken her nearly ten years of hormone treatment and finally, surgery in Morocco.
I started treatment in 1976, as much in mystery as to the cause as anyone else. Was I mad, was I some other kind of deviant. I liked children, did I like them too much? It frightened me though I had no sexual feeling for children. What was the ‘madness that possessed me?
It was not until the 1990s that A Dutch team managed to gather the brains of a few dead transsexuals and examine them. At that time they had to slice them in the laboratory, wafer thin slices and compare with the brains of ‘normal’ people. They found characteristics in (MTF) brains similar to female brains and dissimilar to their natal biological sex. In other words, it was becoming obvious that transsexuality was not an aberration, an assumed deviance caused by over loving mothers, nor homosexuals changing to have sex with men, indeed transsexuality has nothing to do with sexual preference.
With the 1990s came MRI scanning. Now it was possible to examine the brains of live people and there were also numbers of transsexuals available to examine. Research was pursued in several different centres, UCLA, Spain, Australia and elsewhere. All backed up and elaborated on the 1993 Netherland’s research. Transsexuals had been correct in their self-diagnosis all along, they had been born into the wrong bodies. Their bodies might be male but their brains were not. The treatment they had undergone under psychiatry had been little better than ‘torture’.
To this day, transsexuals remain one of the World’s most victimised, most discriminated sections of society, suffering more attacks physical and otherwise, than homosexual, lesbian and bi people. They are attacked particularly by churches of many denominations who like to quote scripture of dubious authenticity and ignore science. Trans people in the great USA have a very difficult time indeed, as one might expect in the land of Freedom, Faith and religious Fanaticism.
Scientists now know that in thirty-three per cent of identical twins if one is transsexual, they both will be. This occurs in only one per cent of dizygotic twins. So there is not only the influence of the balance of hormones in the womb affecting the brains of the foetus, there seems also to be a genetic factor as well, the makeup of the genome of each individual.
There are many sites concerning transsexualism on the Internet detailing this new understanding but for a lay person I recommend: Causes of transsexualism
Regards to all, Adrienne May
Thanks Adrienne for your thoughtful note. Good to hear from you, and that you are in good form. Best wishes, Reg.
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
[Back to earlier ICs]