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Introspection, Trainspotting and Wine-sousing


By Reg Walker


That’s what one of the old boys in Cornwall House called the division when I joined ITW — officially Inspection, Transport and Warehousing — in October 1963. Most of them seemed to remember the war (1914-18) as if it were yesterday, and it was unusual to meet anyone who did not still carry their ration book and identity card, ‘just in case they bring them back.’


Those days were brought back to mind when the Norwich Eastern Evening News  printed one of their series of pictures from the past entitled ‘Do you remember? Our picture shows Victor White checking an invoice with Sue Hiestand in the Inspection, Transport and Warehousing Division of the Norwich Stationery Office in 1968. She was one of the local girls who was attracted to jobs at the office when it moved to the city. The picture is from our library and copies are available from us.’


The photo shows a dozen or so people, all heads down working. All the men wore ties, some jackets. The odd teacup was on show, but no electronic aids (calculators, adding machines, screens, printers, copiers, shredders, dictation machines, ansaphones, faxes). I am sure that there were several ashtrays, though.


ITW was not to last long after the photograph was taken, as their function was integrated within purchasing divisions. They had moved to Norwich as part of the Advance Party in 1967, conditioning the local people to working with all those Londoners (and Scots, Welsh, Irish, Northerners, Brummagers and West Countryfolk plus the occasional Commonwealth National) before the main onslaught was to arrive in 1968. They, in turn, sent messages back to London on how to eat samphire and what to do with a pint of twos.


KJ Coleman was one of the indistinguishable figures in the background of the picture (unless he had slipped out for an ounce of Walnut from the Co-Op). He has brought his considerable memory to bear on who should  have been there at the time. By the way, if anyone is stuck for the appropriate code for any common stationery item- lead seals threaded with string, foolscap transit envelopes, endorsing ink etc.- ex Clerk of Stationery and Registry Officer Coleman is your best bet.


ITW1a comprised VH White (a Horticultural Society enthusiast whose date of entry into Established Service was 1934), Tony Knights (footballer first, Clerical Officer second), Dave Ruffles (moved on to CCTA; still seen around Wymondham carrying items for his prize-winning garden), Geoff Sinden (egg-man turned semi-pro bowler), Mike Trembeth (went to C&E?), Mrs Heistand (I thought she was Sylvia, not Sue as the Evening News claims) and Mrs Phyllis Starling.


Coleman was employed by ITW1b, where the EO was Dave Rudling (who also went to CCTA), Archibald Campbell ‘Jock’ Barr (a Glaswegian ex Naval rating who had seen many intriguing sights around the world, not least the last tram from Auchenshuggle. The number 9 from Anderston Cross in September 1962 for any tram anoraks out there), Colin Hall (later CSPA Secretary), Tom McCrory, Jim Scott, Geoff Leach (also went to C&E?), Miss ME Leader and Margaret Rees (who became Margaret White). There were doubtless other people there at different times. KJ has his suspicions that — like the Moon Landing — the picture has been staged in some place other than Room 2S of Sovereign House. As he says, ‘where are the trays piled with uncleared invoices? We used to shift paper at an heroic rate.’ Perhaps copies of SO Review  from the time might offer an explanation: all my copies from 1964-69 seem to have been recycled.
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