Items listed in chronological sequence
10 May 2018 - From Bob Avery
Hello Reg, As promised, here's the list of attendees and photos of the HMSOldies London Lunch 2018. Not too many people this year, as it clashed with an OMTS reunion on the same day and you can only have so much fun! Ken Dustan, previous organiser of Parly. Press annual dinners, arrived with albums of photos taken at these events in the 80’s, testing peoples memories to put names to faces. He also passed on a package of ‘unofficial’ newsletters of the events, which will probably arrive with you, via Trevor Priddle and John Rumball.
Hope you are keeping well, Regards, Bob
Hello Bob, Thank you - some excellent photos with some well-known faces looking on good form. Glad to hear it went well. As you say, we need to limit our fun these days for fear of getting over-excited! Best wishes, and keep it all going down there! Reg.
8 May 2018 - From John Rumball
Jarrold Print Museum ex HMSO volunteers in attendance at recent Blickling Hall display.
5 May 2018 - From Robert Simpson
Hi Reg, Not much happening on the Edinburgh front, Eddie Hendry and I are still golfing but we have heard nothing for some time from Norrie Veitch and another Edinburgh colleague Brian Jackson has joined our Golf Club, Brian was in the Bookshop. I still see Gordon Campbell occasionally usually at our local Flower Show he managed a few entries last year at the time he was looking well although frail but are not we all subject to 'Anno Domini'?
Regards, Bob Simpson
Hello Bob, Thank you for getting in touch, and good to hear that you and some of the old friends are in decent form. Anno domini says it all: you should see some of us down here! Whenever Norrie's name is mentioned I remember the times when he would pick me up from the Edinburgh rail station and we would have a chat in a couple of decent Rose Street pubs before going along to see Dave Currie and others. Happy days. Best wishes, Reg.
3 May 2018 - From Les Birch
Dear Reg, I was on the point of writing to you to express my sorrow at the passing of dear John Westwood with whom I had a good working relationship during my spell as ADP1 in the 60s. At one stage however I became rather impatient at the time that some items were taking to pass through GD and I invited John down for a chat. It turned out to be very much a monologue as John sat there with his usual inscrutable expression, not saying a word, whilst I, rather pompously, explained where I saw GD fitting in to the whole scale of Government publishing and hence into the whole field of government. At the end he thanked me and asked whether I would come to the Studio and repeat the talk to his staff. John and Philip may recall the occasion - and I think items did indeed move slightly more quickly through GD after that.
Whilst I am meandering through Memory Lane, Pubns 1960 style, I might mention one other item, which John may also remember. I think it was he who one day came to see me to discuss what colour cover we should put on what was in fact the first ever Government discussion paper. We already had White Papers and Blue Books and as this paper was, to the best of my recollection, about the countryside we agreed the cover colour as green, not realising at the time that because of this choice all Government discussion papers henceforth would be called 'Green Papers'. I have looked on the internet to see whether I could confirm the date of this without success but I did learn that all discussion papers by the EU, all Commonwealth countries and the USA are called Green Papers. Throw a pebble in a pond and see how far the ripples go!
On a personal note I shall be off to Normandy for the annual pilgrimage with my grandson as carer on 2 June. Hard to believe that this is the 74th Anniversary with the next biggy, the 75th, coming up next year. We are unveiling an exclusively British Memorial to the 22,500 British dead during the campaign and as by then the youngest of us will be 93 it is not expected that many of us will be around for the 80th.
On which cheerful note I send you my best wishes, Les
Hello Les, I didn't know the 'Green Paper' history. You never know - someone might unearth the date. Very impressed that you will be attending the 74th anniversary at Normandy. Makes my age (72) seem even less of an achievement! All the very best to you for the trip, and beyond. Reg.
19 April 2018 – From Bob Allder
Hi Reg, If you would be so kind as to post the details of our Annual Lunch on the HMSOldies website I would be most obliged.
With kind regards,
020 8597 5360
18 April 2018 - From Nodge Carnegie
Dear Reg, Regarding John Westwood's obituary it occurred to me that we made no mention of his love of music. It's not something that might spring to mind as one of his interests, in view of his increasing deafness with the passing of the years.
The reason I mention it is that he and I spoke about music during my initial interview in Atlantic House. He was asking about my current interests. Not wanting to say "my girlfriend" on such short acquaintance (true as that was), music was the obvious thing to mention. Instead of the usual responses to any such mention - "Oh!" or "I only listen to the Top Twenty" or "It's Beethoven all the way, for me" - or "In my opinion, jazz ended when Louis Armstrong left New Orleans" - he asked what I was listening to at the time. When I included "jazz", he waxed very enthusiastic. One of his sons was a budding bass guitar player, who was already involved with several well-known British jazz outfits - and the young player barely out of school. JW was clearly very proud of his son's achievements and, over the next eight years told me how well he was doing.
The jazz link didn't end there, as JW came a few times to the lunchtime jazz sessions in The Rumbo pub in Old Bailey: steak and chips, a pint and a jazz trio. It was difficult to tell whether or not this pleased the rest of our once-or-twice a week expedition members. (Regulars were Joe Burns, Gerry Watt, Mick Shillaker, David Challis - occasionally - and, during their time in the studio, Jim Cairns, Ronnie Burnett, Phil Randell, Phil Critchley, and Paul Beer.) Thanks to that early conversation, though, JW's enjoyment of the "live" music made sense.
Best wishes, Nodge
17 April 2018 - From John Hughes
Regarding the John Westwood obituary. Sad news, but he obviously had a good life. There were times when he could be a little trying I know, but he was a man of great integrity and as others have noted, what went on behind closed doors on our behalf in GD I suppose we’ll never know.
Soon after starting in GD, still wet behind the ears and taking over the workload of Tony Garrett, was a daunting task. But I remember JW telling me he’d employed me for what I was capable of, not what others thought I should be doing. That phrase has stood me well many times over the years.
I remember the day in 1973 I was asked to bring in my portfolio to show JW prior to being invited for an interview. Sitting in his room in Atlantic House overlooking Charterhouse Street and Shoe Lane, he was asking me about my choice of typefaces and their suitability for different types of paper, I was spared having to give him an answer, at that very moment the IRA decided to explode a bomb in Hatton Garden just up the road. He hardly flinched, and carried on discussing the merits of Plantin over Times. I still wonder to this day if he had his hearing-aid turned down to avoid listening to my feeble answers, and never heard the explosion.
But he still offered me the job. Thanks for everything John.
Regards, John Hughes
11 April 2018 - From John Nash
Good Evening Reg, Well done to the chaps for getting HMSOldies up and running again. I know you had been providing some of the info in an alternative way but a number of us really preferred the original format and pleased to see its return.
Re the Obits I was very sorry to learn about Bryan Blackmore whom I knew quite well in our early days - as others have said a really splendid chap. And of course Tom Johnson - who was an old time ‘character’.
And now for another topic. Word has reached us that “Teedons’ Walk” is about to be bull-dozed and demolished. Can this really be, or is it part of an April Fool’s jape? If correct many of us will recall the quick cut-through to Sovereign House and Anglia Square without fear of being run over. The footfall figures by HMSO staff must be enormous. So is there a Petition to save the site, or at least a Blue Plaque to commemorate its existence?
Hello John, Thank you for your kind words, which I have passed on to 'the chaps'. Your note came on the heels of another from one TC Riley, so I am in full CRS glory-days mode now, and none the worse for that. TCR's tale of Alec Gravatt wanting 'a Light (ale) with the top off' translating into 'a top with the light off' was enough to get me going.
The whole of our Technical Services and Graphic Design Divisions (P, R and D) are, even as I write, perspiring under hot towels as regards the future presentation of HMSOldies. I believe that 'Brexit', if you have heard of it - hasn't made the newspapers here- may have something to do with it. Anyway, your comments about preferring the original format are well made.
NowI can see why you are getting your Underpass in a twist. The item was reported in the Norwich Evening News. We added a piece to the HMSOldies Facebook page. Seems that the old Teedon's Tunnel was in a very sorry state, and was much less used for other than dubious activities than in the days when Sovereign and St Crispins teemed with people straining to get to either the Sovereign Club or the Golden Star. Nobody left in Sovereign - about 80 in St Crispins - and nobody wants to go to the decimated Anglia Square unless to Boots for their daily fix of Night Nurse, or to be mugged.
I recalled the day when there was a bid to see off Jack Palmer down there (see photo: I don't know what he said to the lorry driver to make him want to back into him like that) and the day when the strident Mrs DNG Rust was flashed at by a poor bloke who has probably never unzipped in public again ('put that thing away, you silly little man. I've seen bigger varicose veins!') as well-remembered by Rosemary Lynch.
Enough reminiscence. Let's hope for a bit of sun before we have to put the clocks back. Best wishes, Reg.
9 April 2018 - From Gavin Turner
Hi Reg, I know that the number of HMSO early music enthusiasts is pretty small; but this time my concert is more accessible for most people being in the centre of Norwich. With a budget of around £10,000 I need to pack the Cathedral if I am not to go bust! Below is the poster, programme details and a blurb about the event, if you could kindly put out the word I would be most grateful. I shall not be putting up posters in and around the city until mid-June, but any informal publicity before then would be great.
Best wishes, Gavin
29 January 2018 - From Brian Cockram
Hi Reg, Here is a photo taken at our annual lunch at the Oakland Hotel. An excellent carvery patronised by pensioner couples, so we were not out of place. Geoff Sinden could not make the event on this occasion probably out playing old man marbles.
A pleasant lunch. Brian.
Hello Brian, Thank you for the photo of your recent Annual Mill Paper Lunch. We leave it to Readers to consider whether you have all had work done to keep you as youthful-looking as hitherto - your photo from 15 May 2017 and beyond. Best wishes, Reg.
3 January 2018 - From David Holt
Hi Reg, came across this photo whilst searching for things of great import. That's not to say this wasn't as I am featured on the front row! I only know a couple of names, other than my own, and I'm not letting on. Those of us featured were the 'younger intake' rather than the old guard that are commonly on HMSOldies. Fancy publishing it as a new year quiz?
Happy new year Reg, hope to see you adorning the charity shops of Norwich in the future.
Cheers, a rather healthier, David Holt
Hello David, Great photo - thank you. I am missing a few names as well - no doubt they will come to me in due course. Good to hear that you are on the up - let's hope that 2018 is kind to us all! Best wishes, Reg.
25 December 2017 - From 'English Jack' [Keating]
2017: It was an average year, at least I think it was. I am still driving cars and trucks all over the country and loving it. I had a few long runs, e.g. a three-day run to deliver a Ford Fiesta to a customer in Nebraska, a round trip of about 3,000 miles. Then another one to the west part of New York State. This was about 1,200 miles and then I flew back. I quite often do two-day runs into North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, etc.
Some time at the end of the summer I got stuck in deep mud on a country “road” in the early hours of the morning. After about five hours I got a tow truck to find me, with the help of the local police, and tow me out to a proper road.
In April I started getting a tightness and pain in my chest. A guy I drive with said he would drive me to the emergency clinic. He phoned his wife and told her what he was doing. She said, “Are you going to stay with Jack?” He replied, “No! F**k him, if he dies he dies.” I had phoned Kate and she met me down there. She had also arranged for a wheelchair to be waiting for me! She stayed with me for the duration of my stay. After a few hours of blood tests, heart testing, blood pressure and CAT scans, or was it an MRI, I forget, I got the all clear. It was also my birthday!
In September we had to endure Hurricane Irma which killed 134 people. Its highest recorded wind speed was 183 miles per hour and caused 66 billion dollars’ worth of damage, making it the fifth costliest hurricane on record. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season finished with 17 named storms – 10 of which became hurricanes, and six of those 10 reached Category 3 strength or higher. Making 2017 a season for the record books.
Kate was hospitalized in February for a week. She was supposed to have had about four or five bypasses put in but after tests it was found that her lungs were too weak to perform the operation. The surgeon ended up putting in five stents to go with the one she already had. She is on oxygen for most of the 24 hours a day.
It’s not been a good year for deaths. My younger brother Eddie died in March. I flew over to England and wrote and read the eulogy at his service. My cousin Brian in Canada died in August. He had spent seven weeks in hospital before his death. An extremely good friend John died in Norwich, England. We were good drinking buddies and he was a lot of fun. Another long-time friend Alan also died in Norwich, England. He was having breathing problems, called an ambulance and died shortly thereafter of a massive heart attack. Two neighbours and good friends died this year. Two people I work with each lost a son; one was in his forties and the other one was only in his twenties.
Earlier in the year I got stopped by a motorcycle cop for failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign before turning on to my own street. He had been hiding in some bushes on the corner. He followed me the 200 yards to my driveway, got out a phone, showed me a video of me turning and asked me to tell him when I came to a complete stop. Obviously I couldn’t, so he said this one was on him; the next one would be on me!
At the beginning of the summer, on my way back from Pennsylvania, I was stopped by a Highway Patrol cop in Maryland. He said he’d clocked me doing 72 miles an hour while overtaking some cars in a 65 mile-an-hour zone. He asked lots of questions about whose car it was, where was the registration and insurance, etc.? I told him I had my cruise control set at 67 miles an hour and did not overtake anyone because everyone was going faster than me. He argued that this was still exceeding the posted speed limit! I told him that the Dealer Plate attached to the back of the car allowed me to drive any car. Finally he gave me a citation and said he would not enforce it.
At the end of November I was driving a Mazda 3 from one dealership near Orlando to another in Daytona Beach on a two-lane country road. I came across a few cars moving below the speed limit and decided to overtake them. I just got past all of them and then there was a flashing red and blue light in my mirror. A Sheriff was in the middle of the cars I had just overtaken. No wonder they were all going slower! I stopped and gave him my driving licence. I did not have the dealer licence plate on the back of the car so I took it off the dashboard and gave it to him. I said I did not have screws to put it on. “It’s not my fault,” he said. After a quarter of an hour he came back and gave me four tickets; one for driving 20 miles over the speed limit [$281], one for overtaking in a no-passing zone [$166], one for having no insurance [$116] (the insurance is usually taped to the back of the plate but the one I had was three years out of date but it was a mistake on the part of my Mazda dealership), and one for failing to display a relevant registration for the car [$116]. He asked why I was not wearing glasses. I said I did not need them because I had had surgery on them last year. He said my licence stated that I needed corrective lenses. [I had never updated my licence.] He told me to go to the surgeon and get a letter saying that I did not need glasses. I have since got a new licence which was easier than I thought.
I got the current insurance and took it to the County Courthouse. The fine went down to $10. I was told that the speeding and overtaking citations would put SEVEN points on my driving licence and was advised to make a court appearance. These points would put up my car insurance by a large amount. I spoke to a guy I work with and he told me to go to the Ticket Clinic. I did and paid a fee to the lawyer. He told me to forget my tickets as he would look after them. I have since been to the road where I was stopped and measured the passing and no-passing zones. With the information I found I have written to my lawyer with a map of the road. I hope this will help me. We shall see.
I will try to be more law-abiding in the coming year; who knows?
Best wishes, Jack
Hello Jack, Thank you for your most interesting Review of 2017. A particularly insightful piece on the workings of the US highways, police and legal systems. I'm afraid that any review of my 2017 would be nowhere near as exciting. Where we would meet would be the number of deaths and disasters among friends. You don't think we are getting to 'that age' do you? All the very best for 2018, and you take care out there. Reg.
Second Tuesday in December: 2017 meeting
Initiated by the Office Machinery Technical Service, we have been meeting customers from the Reprographic Services areas of Government Departments and Office Machinery and Supplies Contractors for more than 40 years. A brief history can be found here.
This year's crop of brave souls who braved the snow, ice and train delays to take lunch in the wonderful Royal Oak, Borough High Street, were photographed for posterity by Pat Kennedy (still cycling, but not all the way from St Albans).
Bernard Johnson made it all the way from Devon. He managed to avoid the camera, but then he was always one of the nimbler Addressograph-Multigraphers!
6 December 2017 - From Dan Connor
Dear Reg, I met up with John Galley this summer and renewed our friendship after a lapse of over 20 years. We have kept in touch since my early retirement in 1996 but this is the first time we have met since then. John was a regular visitor to Belfast over the ‘troubles’ for obvious reasons and got to know IDB House and the Bookshop over the ‘best of times and the worst of times’. It goes without saying that he was also very familiar with the Kitchen Bar and the Garrick. It was thirsty work! On my visit to Norwich it was very sad to see Sovereign House now derelict. I have many happy memories of days spent there.
I am now living in Virginia Water, Surrey, convenient to our daughter, son-in-law and our four grandchildren and enjoying daily walks in Windsor Great Park with my wife, Ivy. May I wish you and all the ‘old boys’ a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2018.
Kind regards, Dan
Hello Dan, How good to hear from you after all these years. As you say, it's been a while. Your mention of the Kitchen Bar and Garrick certainly brought back memories of The Good Times. My late Uncle Frank - a Belfast French Polisher - took me there in the 1960s and I was always happy to go back until they closed it. The revamped KB hasn't got the same atmosphere. Or the Paddy's Pizza. I haven't seen John Galley for at least ten years, when he came along to a lunchtime at The Eagle. Seem to remember he lives Costessey way. And good to hear that you have landed at one of the more salubrious areas around London (I was a Tooting boy myself: say no more). Let me know if you are in the Norwich area again and we might be able to summon up a few old friends. Which reminds me of one of the Belfast photos we have on HMSOldies.
All the very best to you and yours for the festivities and for 2018. Best wishes, Reg.
19 October 2017 - DDay ProAM 2017 from Les Birch
Dear Reg, Photos from recent Omaha Beach GC visit as promised. The food was the entrée for the Gala Dinner and is the first time I have ever eaten a pansy - quite good too. As it was my 8th. visit to this event very many of the 144 entrants know me but some of the newcomers, mainly youngsters in their mid twenties, at one stage formed a queue to shake my hand and then took lots of group photos with me. One photo was taken during my compulsory after-dinner speech (kept mercifully small) whilst another is with the new girl-friend of my golfing friend. As I am still very much in touch with his original girl friend, who is the sister in law of my twinning friend in Lannion, life can become quite complicated over there.
Sadly one of the two days golf was cancelled because of thick fog made all the more ironical because the following day, when we sailed back to Portsmouth, was absolutely brilliant. We still managed to squeeze in a couple of visits to the half-way tent and indulged in the oysters, burgundy and so on.
So that is that for this year - I am having a week in Devon early in November and before we know where we are I will be booking the ferries for 2018. The years continue to roll by far too quickly.
Best wishes as always, Les
Hello Les, Wonderful, as ever. The words 'first time I have ever eaten a pansy' are as good an attention-gripper as we get! It's lunchtime, and that talk of oysters and burgundy is making me quite hungry - pity I've only got a cheese roll. All the very best, and keep on enjoying. Reg.
12 October 2017 - From Keith Batchelor
Hi Reg, I found these on a 'junk' stall at a recent classic car show. I guess the classic bit is correct. I wonder if the print is as many today – 200,000 of the 121?
Hello Keith, Ah, happy memories - from the days when people wrote stuff down for posterity instead of using electronic systems and losing it for ever. Best wishes, Reg.
27 September 2017 - From John Rumball
Reg, We at The John Jarrold Museum had a surprise visit today from Tony Ford together with his son and daughter-in-law, as his son is into digital printing they thought an outing to Norwich for a couple of days would be appropriate to see some of the Pocock Street artefacts. Tony was in good form although has problems in walking any distance.
Hello John, Good to see Tony and family in fine form.
All the best, Reg.
7 Sep 2017 - From English Jack (Keating) in Florida
Last Tuesday 5 September I received an e-mail from my eldest daughter asking me what I was going to do about Hurricane Irma. I told her I had never even heard of Irma before today. I put this down to the fact that I never watch the news, or anything else for that matter, on television over here. I use the television to watch films on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Long live the BBC!!! As you know by now Irma is on her way but at the moment no one knows where she will land; it could be southern Florida or central Florida or even as high up as the Carolinas. I went to Publix (a local supermarket) this morning and it looks as though the stocking-up-on-food panic has started. Shelves that used to contain water and other essentials are completely empty. The Florida Governor has already issued a state of emergency for all sixty-two counties in Florida. We shall just have to wait and see.
Yesterday Kate and I half-decided that we would leave and go to North Carolina but on second thoughts we have decided to stay put. I have just told my son in England that if our house is to sustain any damage due to the hurricane then we feel it is better to be here to try and mitigate any damage than to arrive back after a week and find the house damaged. I will e-mail updates on the hurricane as long as we have lines of communication. It goes without saying that we will be without electricity at some point over the next week. A lot of gas (petrol) stations have already run out.
My next door neighbors Tom and Pat have just purchased a small generator, big enough to run lights and fridges. Tom told me yesterday that if I have a long enough electric cable, which I have, then he will let me plug into his generator. What a nice guy!
I spent yesterday and today making some preparations, for example moving all outside furniture into the garage and anything that is lying around which could become a missile. I have a huge gazebo covering the hot tub which had to come down before Irma takes it down for me. I have put some supports up against my fence to try and help it.
I had a major problem on Sunday night/Monday morning, 3 and 4 September. I picked up a friend and his family from Miami Airport and dropped them off at their house which is in the middle of nowhere . . . and I do mean in the middle of nowhere. They do not have roads they have rutted paths through the forest. The ruts are one and two feet deep in places and when driving you are doing about five miles an hour or you'll take the bottom off your sump or bugger your suspension. The problems were exacerbated because we have had a lot of rain lately plus it was one o'clock in the morning and as black as a witch’s heart.
I left them and got on my way. I phoned Kate and said I would be home in an hour or less. After a short time I realized that somewhere I had gone wrong. It didn’t seem right. Due to it being pitch black, I had taken a wrong turn and ended up farther in the middle of nowhere. At this time in the morning and with only headlights all trees and pot holes look the same. There was no way to turn around because of the width of these paths and the bloody pot holes which were full of water. The ground has now turned to mud and I kept on struggling to get the tyres to grip. After about half an hour I tried to cross a water-filled pot hole and, lo and behold, I got stuck. I tried to go forward and backward but the wheels just kept on churning up mud; so I stopped. I got out my phone to call Kate and the guy I had just dropped off, hoping that he may be able to help . . . but I could not make a call because I had no signal. I thought I saw lights up ahead so I got out and walked, slid, scrambled towards the lights. At times the water was right across the track so I paddled ankle-deep across. You have to remember that it is now two o'clock, pitch black and a small amount of panic is setting in. For example, "What the hell am I going to do at this hour of the morning?" The vehicle is not mine, it belongs to my employer; what would they say if I told them their 2017 Ford Explorer was stuck in a water- and mud-filled rutted hole and I had no idea where it was. After about twenty minutes I came across a big truck on huge tyres but no one was around; there was nothing around only the muddy water-filled track and me. Farther on I came across a truck stuck in the middle of a huge puddle. It was almost up to its axles but again no one was around. I was using the lights on my phone to see my way.
I finally got back to my vehicle and decided I had to do something. Although my phone had no service I could still make an emergency call so I called the police. A nice lady said she would try and find out where I was by using my phone. I gave her an idea of where I was and asked her to call Kate and get a towing truck out to me as soon as possible. Did I have money to pay for the towing, she asked. Yes, I said, I would sell my body right now to get out of here! As it was pitch black I said I would turn on my lights so the tow truck could see me. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity and eventually I saw lights in the distance behind me. I put on my flashers. The other vehicle stopped about fifty yards behind me so I got out and started walking, or I should say trudging, towards it. It turned out to be the local Sheriff. He told me that a tow truck had been called but had no idea when it would arrive. We chatted for a while and I told him about the other two vehicles ahead of me down the track. So he decided to get out his torch and off he went to see them for himself. His light got dimmer until eventually I could not see it. I was hoping that he had not been kidnapped by aliens. Talking of which; when I left my friends’ house a bright light shone on me from behind and seemed to move to my right then went out. At the time I was talking to Kate and she mentioned aliens.
At last the Sheriff finally came back and we chatted some more and he said he was going to get back into his vehicle and write up a report. I got back into my vehicle but as I was low on fuel I did not switch on the engine. After reading my Kindle book for some time I started getting sweaty, my heart rate increased, and I started feeling a little unwell. I also kept on seeing flashes, or what I thought were flashes both in and out of the vehicle. Maybe it was my imagination! My brain and body were by now screaming out for sleep. I tried putting the seat back but sleep was hard to come by because all I could think of was how long would it be before the tow truck turned up . . . if it ever turned up because of where I was, stuck in the middle of nowhere!
The tow truck finally arrived at around five o'clock; so this meant I had been stuck for almost four hours in the middle of this God-forsaken place. To my left the ground was raised up by a foot or so forming a twenty-yard long dry piece of ground. It was only wide enough for a vehicle to sit sideways. The Sheriff had seen this high ground and had driven up on to it. He moved farther along the bank to allow the tow truck to back onto it. The tow truck guy fixed chains to the back of my vehicle and said he was going to drag me up onto this high bank. I got in my vehicle and started the engine. Then slowly he started dragging me up onto the bank with various grinding noises and scrapes until I was diagonally sitting on the bank with my back to the tow truck. He removed the chains and told me to try and do turns until I was facing the opposite way; was he kidding? At the back of me were trees and to the front of me was a foot drop back into the water-filled rut I had been in. Slowly, with the aid of the Sheriff behind me and the tow truck driver in front, I managed to turn around. I asked the tow truck driver to lead me out to the nearest paved road which he said he would; so with the truck in front of me and the Sheriff behind me, we set off in convoy to slowly, and with bated breath, drive the few miles out. At only four and five miles an hour it took us a while. I was panicking at times because when the tow truck came to a deep water-filled rut he slowed down forcing me to slow down and I did not, for obvious reasons, want to stop either in another "pond" or on a mud-surfaced track. Eventually after a hair-raising journey we got back to "civilization".
Unknown to me at the time, the police had been in touch with Kate and kept her informed of my situation. In fact they made five calls to her. Kate had told the police she had no idea where I was only where I had been. Fortunately I did not have to sell my body to get towed out, they charged me $150. I think I may be able to claim this back from my car insurer.
As I was low on fuel and it was by now five-thirty or so in the morning I had to find a gas station. I did find one open but on my way out of the gas station I turned the wrong way and found myself driving on the wrong side of the road. Tiredness, joy at getting back to civilization, euphoria, "sensory deprivation" while sitting for hours in the dark [I am jesting here], I think they all contributed to my momentary lapse of concentration. Anyway I finally got home at six-thirty - more than four hours after I should have been home.
After Kate had been told by the police that I was stuck she obviously stayed up waiting for me. We got in bed around six forty-five. I got up at ten thirty, took the car back to the Ford dealership, came home and promptly got back in bed. I did not get up until around three o'clock in the afternoon and was back in bed before nine that night.
Best wishes, Jack
Hello Jack, I had been wondering - especially since I saw someone I know and their heap of ruined furniture outside their Texan home. When you are from Tooting and live in Norwich, Texas and Florida are on the same street. First thoughts, of course, are 'poor buggers!' Then, glib as it sounds from somebody who has been 'slightly inconvenienced' by a shower of rain when he was going out for a newspaper, I suppose you have got to think that it could have been worse, and keep all the fingers and toes crossed that it stays that way. We will make HMSOldies readers aware so that they can join me in the counting of blessings. You take care down there. All the best, Reg.
30 August 2017 - HMSOldies Reunion at 'The Eagle', Norwich
Michael Aidan: Don't remember working with so many grey-haired blokes!
Reg Walker: That's why I always wear a hat.
Reg Walker: Nothing lasts these days: I charged my camera for hours yesterday, and the battery only managed one photo. Damn thing is only 30 years old as well. Just as well the photo that was taken featured the dynamic combination of Woodhouse and White. Anyone else think it looks as though Kevin is trying to sell, and Mike is telling him the figures don't add up? Those lucky enough to avoid the lens today at 'The Eagle', Norwich, were Brian Blackmore, all the way from Devon - Peter Macdonald, all the way from Cromer - plus, from all the way down the road, Rod Durkin, Alan Cole, George Rokahr, Brian and Barbara Cockram, with Brian's brother and his wife, Brian and Jean Whitefield, Brian Puplett (how often do you get four Brians in a room these days? Pity Brians Wilson, Ekers and Brown couldn't make it), Alan and Janis Pawsey, Alan Crabtree, Sue Whitaker, Bob and Valerie Barnard, Jim McGregor, Helen George, Sinclair and Ann-Marie Simpson - Sinclair being the sole representative of HMSO Print. Some of them might even have taken photos, so be on the alert! Thanks to James and staff for accommodating, and feeding, us so well.
Later: Helen George kindly sent us her selection of photos:
28 August 2017 - From Barry Roberts
[photo 2017_0824_569_A_HMSO forms Centre here]
Hi Reg, Your mention of Brian Blackmore as a 'special guest' at The Eagle event coincided with a clear out I was having, where I found him mentioned in an old magazine (which I must have bought when I was up there?). The photograph from Chadderton is above. It also shows Marion Evans (now Marion Maxwell) - a recent Lord Mayor of Norwich. Everyone at Chadderton probably bought the magazine, but I thought I would send it anyway!
Your mention of Brian Blackmore as a 'special guest' at The Eagle event coincided with a clear out I was having, where I found him mentioned in an old magazine (which I must have bought when I was up there?). The photograph from Chadderton is above. It also shows Marion Evans (now Marion Maxwell) - a recent Lord Mayor of Norwich. Everyone at Chadderton probably bought the magazine, but I thought I would send it anyway!
On a non-HMSO subject, you might be interested in a compilation of Norwich bottles and breweriana, which I have recently done (as I believe you are familiar with the local scene?). I did it for my own personal use, but got a few copies printed out and donated one to Norwich Heritage Library - which is now referenced. This was for the sake of posterity, as I am now beginning to realise that life is finite - as evidenced by the increasing number of obituaries in HMSOldies!
Hello Barry, Good to hear from you- and thank you for the Manchester photos, which I have passed on to Marion, Brian and Pat in memory of those happy Chadderton times. Also thank you for the Bottle Book, which certainly looks interesting. I will look out for it in the Museum. Some lovely old labels there. Reminds me of the time when I went with Bernard O'Brien to the Municipal Dump in Trowse where we dug up loads of old bottles. Dispersed them around a few pubs, The Bystanders Society etc. The Fat Cat still has several relics of those simpler pre-Craft ale days. Best wishes, Reg.
24 August 2017 - Holt: Who Goes There?
It seems like yesterday, not more than twelve years, when we wrote on these very pages of an encounter on the streets of Norwich with an ex-Supplies Office Machinery survivor as follows:
'David Holt was about, and asked me not to mention that he was in the Ribs of Beef with a newly-purchased towel rail, wondering where to put it. He knows how to buy a present.'
And there he was again, in London Street, asking me not to mention that he was on his way to the White Lion. He had obviously found somewhere to shove the towel rail, and this time was accompanied by his long-suffering wife Susan. But, this time, not as long-suffering as the man himself, who shook a bandaged hand, in a sling, as he launched into a series of health mishaps that would make those of us who have had anything less than a full-body transplant feel humbled.
So, if you are feeling sorry for yourself, have a word with David when you see him and you will walk away counting your blessings.
David Holt adds: Now then Reg, I was off to the King's Head on Magdalen Street there to chew the fat with Duncan Dawdry that great survivor. It seems that a couple of pints is the current requirement for lunchtime for those still clinging onto the handrail of St Crispins. With Aspalls cider at £4 a bottle in the King's Head I hope my taste buds for a cheaper tipple of beer soon return.
Yours faithfully, David. (Still an old crock)
21 August 2017 - 1995 Photocall
Not the line-up for 'I'm in CEPA Get Me Out Of Here'' nor even 'Flextime Bake-off' or 'Strictly Come Graphic Designing' but a random grouping of the most photogenic that Brian Cockram could persuade to forego the lure of the St Crispins Atrium Restaurant for two minutes to have their likenesses preserved for posterity.
Barbara Cockram, Steve Larwood, Jackie Anderson, Nick Churchard, Tony Kingston-Smith, Donna Beales, Lucin Jackson, Toni Warden, Helen George. Nine smiling faces, and I have only seen three of them on the streets of Norwich in recent years. Where are they now - still hanging around the Atrium waiting for Brian to buy another reel of film for his Brownie 127?
Brian Cockram adds: It was not until this evening that I scrolled down and read the entire message. Sadly we have lost contact with many in the group although Mrs C is still in touch with Jackie Anderson and Donna Beales. Also Helen and Lucin via CSSC Norwich Area group. Unfortunately I left the Brownie 127 on a London bound Eurostar train a year later. It was never found despite a search at the Waterloo Station lost property office. Sadly,along with snaps of Paris, it contained the re-union pictures!
18 August 2017 - From Paul Nunnerley
Reg, I’ve heard from John Eveson and it seems that he’s probably as nostalgic as I am! I’ve been rummaging around my photos and came across these. As you can imagine the pictures of St Stephens foundry don’t convey how hot, smelly and dirty it could be in fact ‘elf and safety’ would have had a field day there nowadays, they probably would have closed us down! The two photos at the bottom show one of the plate casting machines called a Pony autoplate and could turn out 1 plate a minute.
These are some pics of Hansard Press. The gentleman with presentation front page plate is Eddie Hunter one of Alf Spearing’s staff. The two photos of myself were taken as part of a series depicting the various stages of production of Hansard during the night, and although it says midnight on the caption, it was in fact 3.45 am! The other two photos pics were taken on the last night of production. I’m wearing the highly coloured shirt (a bit of a private joke) and my finger is about to stop the press for the last time. The staff around me clockwise are Devshi Patel (ex manor Farm), Roy Oldfield, Malcolm Sharp (ex Harrow), Paul Arnold and Gary Anstead.
One of the things that stuck in my mind was on the occasion of receiving a prize in the apprentice award scheme, when a senior manager in Works Division, on congratulating on my success remarked that he didn’t think a six year apprenticeship was necessary and the job could be taught in six months much to my dismay. However his words proved to have some meaning, when 15 years later it took about two weeks for me to be retrained.
Happy Days, Paul Nunnerley
What excellent pictures. I have also had notes from Gordon Parfitt, Steve Linehan and Dave Burchell - they all remember you of course, and were pleased to have their minds taken back to better days. Your comment regarding apprenticeships rings a bell. My late father was born in 1905 and served a seven year apprenticeship in Upholstery in the 1920s. It wasn't until later in life that he realised that the last couple of years were added on so that they could continue to pay him at 'learner's rates.'
All the best, and thanks again. Reg.
17 August 2017 - From Paul Nunnerley
Dear Reg, My name is Paul Nunnerley and I had been surfing the net, and like Peter Stoessel, came across the ‘Oldies’ website by chance. Peter's article about his father Paul dated 23rd May 2016 immediately drew my attention.
I first met Paul in 1980 when I transferred from St Stephens Parliamentary Press to Hansard Press to work in the print/platemaking department. He helped train some of the machine minders who did not have any experience in running the rotary presses and I remember him donning a white boiler suit (much to the amusement of the minders) so that he could give a hands on assistance to the m/c room staff. He was popular with the staff and joined us on one of the day trips to France, becoming a little inebriated on the way back. When he left in 1986 I believe he went to Dorset to run a pub there.
The photo of the printing plate shown was made by myself (my name appears at the bottom right). It became quite a custom for retirees to receive a replica printing plate of the front page on the occasion of their retirement. I’ve attached a picture of two that were made to commemorate the last editions of Lords and Commons Hansard printed by Hansard Press. I’ve still got mine!
My involvement with HMSO began on 3rd September 1962 just three days after my 16th birthday, when I commenced my apprenticeship as a stereotyper at Harrow Press. This lasted for 5 years 2 months when I finally qualified as a journeyman stereotyper. I remained at Harrow until 1973 when at that time Gateshead Press was starting up and there was a possibility of a transfer there.
Not wanting to move far from my roots I opted to transfer to St Stephens Parliamentary Press on nights still in the foundry, where I stayed until 1980 when the all singing all dancing ‘New Technology’ Hansard Press opened, so rather than be made redundant I chose to be retrained as a platemaker/machine minder.
When Paul Stoessel left in 1986 I applied for his job and became deputy manager under Jim Pickavance, succeeding to manager on Jim’s retirement. 1993 proved to be a difficult year and I reluctantly chose redundancy when Hansard Press closed, although after working for 20 years on permanent nights it was good to see some daylight!
I hope you will have found this interesting, I might have some pictures to send if
I can find them.
Regards, Paul Nunnerley
Hello Paul, How good to hear from you. I see from my 1990 Staff List, when you were Printing and Graphics Officer in Hansard Press, that you were born in the same year as I was, and joined HMSO in September 1962 (I joined October 1963). Your email will bring back more memories of days past. Always good to hear that mementos such as the Lords and Commons Hansards are still being kept, and any photos you may have will be very favourably received. I was in London recently and went into the foyers of two buildings I worked in: Cornwall House and Atlantic House. Both heavily modernised - in fact, Atlantic was rebuilt - but the memories are still around the areas. Best wishes, Reg.
John Eveson adds: Hello Paul, I remember you from the Presses - I was in Tech Services at the time. The main point is - I was a stereotyper too. My apprenticeship was at Nickeloids in Union Street. My heart jumped a beat mate when I read your email. There's still two of us keeping the memories alive. Best wishes, John Eveson.
Once again at 'The Eagle' - Wed 30 August 2017
It is over a year since we (sort of) organised an informal lunch at The Eagle, Newmarket Road, Norwich, so in response to an In-tray full of requests for a repeat performance (well, one postcard from a Mrs Trellis) we will bow to the wishes of the electorate (sounds familiar?) and meet again at lunchtime on Wednesday 30 August 2017.
I hope you can make it. Among 'special guests' we expect Brian Blackmore (ex Bristol, Supplies Division, and Manchester) to make the journey up from Devon via his son in Cambridge.
21 July 2017 - From Gerard Tinney
Hello Reg, I just came across your website via your posting on the Belfast History Project - Old Belfast Photographs page on Facebook, about HMSO in Belfast. What a lovely site for workmates to share memories with former colleagues, and the rest of us who are interested, too. I'm a serving civil servant, and it's all so familiar - in a good way, of course.
All the best with the site into the future, Gerard.
Hello Gerard, Thank you for your kind and thoughtful note, which I have copied to the originators of the 'HMSOldies' site - an enterprise started 13 years ago, 8 years after the Government privatised HMSO. Many ex-staff are here in the Norwich area, but even more are around London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle and of course Belfast. Personally, Belfast holds special significance, as my late father was born there in 1905. Your kind words are much appreciated, and we will keep going for as long as we can. I am always pleased to see such Facebook sites as Old Belfast Photographs, as they prompt instant memories.
Best wishes, Reg.
5 July 2017 - New Controller for HMSO
News hot off the Press, courtesy of Alan Pawsey:
'This week’s big news is of course the appointment of Jeff James as the new Controller of HMSO succeeding Carol Tullo. Jeff is the Keeper of Public Records and CEO of the National Archives. I must say from my time at the National Archives (when he occupied a more lowly position) I always got on well with him and he was invited to my retirement do in London.
Hello Alan, Thank you for the 'hot news' which I have passed to HMSO Old Boys so that they can get to the shops early tomorrow to purchase an appropriate card. Vellum, of course. All the best. Reg.
29 June 2017 - From Les Birch
Dear Reg, Much saddened and shocked by the news of Derek's [Rutherford] death and everything you said about him to Anne is so very true. Whenever we met, and this was not all that frequently, there was always much light-hearted banter conducted in the best possible spirit. He seemed so timeless and though it is many years since we last met I still feel that I will miss him. A lovely character.
Glad to say all well at this end - just recovering from the latest Normandy pilgrimage. One of my Normandy girl friends has recently switched her affections from my golfing friend to a Caen wine bar owner. He very kindly presented me with a 1981 bottle of Calvados which his grandfather had made, a gift to which his mother consented willingly. I am off to Lannion at the end of the month, just after my 95th., for our biennial twinning visit. Then Omaha Beach GC in October for the DDay ProAM and yet another year vanishes all too quickly.
Best wishes as always, Les
Hello Les, As ever, excellent to hear that your social life is putting mine deservedly into the shade! And, of course, to hear your appraisal of Derek. Spot on. Another year rushing past, as you say. Alan Cole and I often reminisce about the good times - especially the occasional night in Bristol in the 1970s-80s. All the very best, and take care out there. Reg.
28 June 2017 - From Stuart McLaren
Hi Reg, The vicar of St Augustine's, the Reverend Father David Austin, has been delving into the parish archives and found a few interesting items referring to the parish's previously unsuspected close associations with HMSO. One mentions that the incumbent of St Augustine's was appointed chaplain to HMSO. Not sure yet who or when but presumably post-1967. Also, most intriguingly, that St Augustine's Church Hall was designated a bomb shelter for HMSO staff. I imagine the church hall would have been deployed more as an evacuation shelter than a bomb shelter in the event of an IRA-type bomb incident rather than following a nuclear strike! I wonder if it was ever so used. I recall that Marion Maxwell once occasioned the evacuation of Sovereign House when she spotted a suspect item on the corrugated roof of the old derelict laundry building opposite in Botolph Street. Amazingly, it turned out to be a handbag belonging to my sister, which had been stolen, emptied and chucked up there (you couldn't make this stuff up!) I feel confident that there are HMSOldies out there with more information.
Best wishes, Stuart McLaren
Hello Stuart, A great memory. I certainly remember the 'Chaplain to HMSO' role, around the late 1960s, and I am sure that the late David Roberts acted as intermediary. The 'bomb shelter' aspect also rings a bell, and I have copied to Robin Kelly to see if he can dredge anything up from his younger and more alert memory, and to George Rokahr, who remembers everything. A pity that Bob Courteen and Peter Taylor can't be called into play. Thanks for the memory, and all the best. Reg.
Stuart McLaren adds: Your HMSOldies article on the Sov Club visitors book lists three chaplains. None named, however, were ever priest in charge of St Augustine's parish as far as I can tell. During the late 1960s to the early 1980s these were the Rev MacDonald Steele, 1957-68 (the last ever rector of St Augustine's, thereafter they were just plain vicars); Rev Idris Jones, 1968-75: Rev Jack McGinley, 1975-6: Rev Roy Skelhorn, 1976-9 and Rev Laurence Hubbard, 1979-85.
Thanks Stuart. I think Rev Idris Jones must have been the incumbent at the time. Upon further reflection, I think that David Roberts had dealings with the Vicar at Colegate - but with luck, we will find somebody with a good memory of those (upon reflection) happier days. Reg.
Later: Stuart, in response to your note above, we have had quick replies from both Robin Kelly and George Rokahr, who have obviously maintained the efficiency they exhibited during their days in Office Services. George sums up his memories of the time in question - endorsed by Robin's note - as below. All the best. Reg.
George Rokahr adds: I vaguely remember the Chaplain to HMSO and I think I was introduced to him once but that’s all I can remember about him. I guess he would have been appointed sometime in 1968 after the bulk of us were transferred from London. The church hall was never designated as a bomb shelter for HMSO staff. Instead it was available for the use by HMSO staff if they were evacuated from Sovereign House in inclement weather. I remember doing evacuation drills in my early days as an HEO when we had a key to the hall. I think we only used the hall once during an evacuation drill because it began to rain. I don’t think many people used it then. We always tried to do evacuation drills in reasonable weather because I didn’t want Colin Hall complaining to me that his members were getting wet.
Stuart Mclaren adds: Great stuff, gentlemen. Thank you. A pity those annual cheques for use of the church hall as a bomb shelter are no longer in the post. The vicar needs a new car!
6 June 2017 - HMSO 'Through the Decades'
Dear Derek James, Many thanks to you, and the fine EDP photographer and graphic designers, for the HMSO display in today's newspaper. It will bring back many memories to the considerable number of ex HMSO people who are still in and around Norwich.
Reg Walker, Editor, HMSOldies
29 May 2017 - From Joseph Hilley
Sir: I am a writer in Houston, Texas (USA) and I am researching the life of George Fisher Gilmour, an artist who lived at Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey. Mr. Gilmour was born in 1904 and died in 1984. He signed his paintings as 'G. F. Gilmour' and often wrote under that name as well. At the time of his death Mr. Gilmour was remembered as a retired civil servant.
In addition to painting, Mr. Gilmour wrote at least three plays. One of those plays, entitled 'North Light', was performed by the Shepherdess Dramatic Society at the Cripplegate Theatre during the month of October 1950. The Dramatic Society was comprised of HMSO employees and I was wondering if Mr. Gilmour worked at HMSO and whether you or any other former employees might remember him or the play.
I appreciate your assistance in this matter,
Joseph H. Hilley
Dear Mr Hilley, Thank you for your fascinating note, which I have copied to ex HMSO staff of the time of which you speak - Messrs Birch, Barnard and Nash, in the hope that they might remember Mr Gilmour. The oldest HMSO Staff List which I have to hand is dated 1952, and the only Gilmour listed is the somewhat unusually-named Miss Janet Peter Gilmour, a Clerical Officer in Supplies Division born 29 April 1933. Possibly a relation? The HMSOldies site carried this piece on Shepherdess Walk Dramatic Society some time ago. I will certainly let you know if anything emerges: good luck with your quest. And other recipients are invited to reply to you direct, should they wish. From a very warm Norwich. Best wishes, Reg Walker
Later: Dear Mr Hilley, Nothing positive on your enquiry as yet, but my old copies of the Staff Magazine from the early 1950s indicates that the Shepherdess Dramatic Society was thriving in those days. I have copied to previous recipients, plus to Gordon [Robbie], whose Uncle Norman also features in the listing. Hope to hear something soon. Best wishes, Reg Walker
Gordon Robbie adds: Dear Mr Hilley, I am the 'Gordon' to whom Reg Walker refers, and nephew of the late Norman Robbie mentioned in the attachments to Reg's email. My uncle was an enthusiastic amateur thespian at home in Scotland before he went to work in London and became an active member of the Shepherdess Dramatic Society. He may well have appeared in their 1950 production of 'North Light', but it was some 11 years later that I joined HMSO in London and for some months lived with my uncle and his wife, and I don't remember him ever mentioning that particular play. I'm sorry that I can't offer any information, and I wish you success in your research. Cheers, Gordon Robbie
Joseph H. Hilley responded: Gordon, Reg: Thank you for your responses to my recent inquiry concerning plays written by George Fisher Gilmour which were performed by the Shepherdess Society. New information now indicates Mr. Gilmour most probably worked for Inland Revenue rather than HMSO. His plays were submitted to a competition sponsored by a writers group comprised of civil service workers and it was that organization that parcelled out the winning plays to various groups in order to have them performed. Thanks again for your help,
Thank you for coming back to us: good to have the ends tied up! I had thought, in the absence of any 'HMSO Staff List' entry, that Mr Gilmour might have been from another Department. I don't know of anything similar to 'HMSOldies' for Inland Revenue - a much larger Department. You will doubtless be aware of the facilities available at The National Archives. Best wishes, Reg
John Nash adds: Hi Reg, This somewhat unusual request propelled me into a lot of interesting research over the weekend though it seems I have been forestalled by the subsequent information from our friend in Houston. However you may still like to have the info to round off the story.
When I joined HMSO in 1950 I was still involved in my Croydon theatricals and did not join the Shepherdess Players until a little later on. But I did go to the plays at the Cripplegate Theatre and certainly have no recollection of 'North Light'. George Fisher Gilmour is well documented as an artist but I could find no biographical details regarding possible Civil Service employment nor any involvement in amateur theatricals. So I researched the Samuel French Catalogue (the bible of Acting editions) and once again there was no trace of either play or author.
I do recall however seeing a brief snippet in an SO Review of the time about a Civil Service amateur dramatic competition which took place not at the Cripplegate but one of the Whitehall Departments. Amongst those involved I seem to recall were Norman Robbie, Reg Vine, Marjorie Stoakley and others. My guess is that the competition was for One Act plays and Mr Gilmour probably provided his own typescript - hence no reference in French's catalogue. Sadly there is now almost no-one from those days but I wonder if Kay Barrow is still with us and might just remember anything about this production?
Hope all this trivia is of some interest. Kind regards, John
Hello John, Many thanks for your note, which I have copied to Mr Hilley and to other participants for interest. It is always fascinating to see where these seemingly simple questions regarding times past will lead! If anything else emerges, rest assured that you will be kept informed. From a wet and windy Norwich. Reg
29 May 2017 - From Keith Hewitt
Hi Reg, I hope you are well and enjoying sunny Norwich. I've just found what was probably the last Christmas Lunch of the staff of Harrow Press, circa 1982, and I this thought might be of interest to some of your readers.
So we have clockwise:
Alan Blundell, WO2 TD Composing;
Brigitte Brown, CO TD Planning;
George Craft, Manager S Dept;
Joan Catherine's head, CO TD Planning;
Keith Hewitt, WO3 TD Finishing;
Alan Whitehead, (leaning on hand), WO4 S Dept;
Alan Lunt, PO TD Planning;
Vic Barnett, WO2 TD Finishing;
Ken Weatherill, who was Grade III Overseer (Engraving); and
Ken Kent WO3 TD Composing.
Hope this will jog a few memories
All the best, Keith Hewitt
Hello Keith. Great photo - thank you. Where did those 35 years go? I didn't have many dealings with Harrow, other than when doing a review of the Pay Section with Den Moss in the mid-1970s. 'Tony' Hancock the EO in the section? Seem to remember Derek Wintle and Ken Lowe being around. My Uncle Harry Wakely from Rayner's Lane worked for the Radio Times for a while but don't think he made it to Harrow Press.
All the best, Reg.
25 May 2017 - From Barry Felstead
Hello Reg, I came across this website with an article about Atlantic House. I sent it to Steve Linehan and asked him if it may be of interest to you, so here it is. I've tried to find you in the photos, but to no avail. All I can think was that you were probably working, or perish the thought, in the pub.We keep saying that we will have a meet-up again the next time we make the pilgrimage to the Jarrold Museum, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Hello Barry, What an excellent find! You have certainly hit the nostalgia button there - especially this month, which marks 50 years since the Advance Party left London for Norwich. Most of HMSO Atlantic House, including me, left in 1968. I had been there, following a time in Cornwall House, since 1965. And you are right: I was probably in The Victoria with Charlie Lloyd, Tommy Taylor and Gordon Stein when the photos were taken. I have copied to a few denizens of the old place, for a good wallow - which is what I will have when I get into the site. Sometimes I think how lucky I was to work there, on the fringes of the City, Fleet Street, Leather Lane, Gamages, Henekeys, Mooney's - now where's that handkerchief?
It would be great to see you, Steve, Dave Burchell, John Eveson, John Barker, whoever can make it up to Norwich. Just say the word and a Wig and Pen lunchtime can be arranged.
All the very best, and thanks again, Reg.
Philip Marriage adds: This is a fascinating article, not only for HMSOldiest but also for those who worked for the many other government department to be found in the building, including COI who, if I recall correctly, occupied the top floor below the building's canteen. I see amongst the 'thoughts' below the article a contribution from Pat Broad who was a regular visitor to Pubns and the Graphic Design Studio all those many years ago.
22 May 2017 - Fifty Years On
Roger Nash, along with Mike Taylor and Pat Tate, came up with the good idea that the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the HMSO 'Advance Party' in Norwich on 22 May 1967 should be commemorated.
With the assistance of Roy Plackett, arrangements were made for an informal lunchtime at The Plasterers Arms in Bull Close Road - a popular venue for Sovereign House staff (especially Printers) in the late 1960s and 70s.
The pub was smart, friendly and accommodating, providing a good range of beer and sandwiches to those attending. Ciaran and Adrian McCrum provided 'the youth team' and were able to satisfy their elders as to what was going on in St Crispins these days. Unfortunately none of those featuring in the only photo we have from those distant days (EDP photo of ITW section in 1968 - above) could make it on the day.
We all think we haven't changed a bit, so there should be no difficulty in putting names to the faces in the fine photographs kindly provided by Terry Burchell.
15 May 2017 - From Brian Cockram
Hi, A somewhat delayed picture from the Annual Mill Paper Lunch. We have been away in Scotland for a month and I have only recently got control of my overflowing 'in tray'. The lunch went well. We all look as young as ever but then my eyesight is not what it was. Linda sold each of us another of her excellent annual quizzes. The quizzes raise money for the cancer charity Bosom Buddies. This year’s theme is films and musicals. Yet again we all promised to complete the 100 questions and return by the closing date. Mrs C is still working on our entry but I understand that Mickleburgh has completed his entry and posted the form! Very smug!
Hello Brian, Thank you for the photograph, which yet again proves that having worked in the Mill Paper section keeps one young. You should see the gnarled and grizzled faces of those of us who slaved in Office Machinery. The men, that is: I am too old to fend off the verbals from Mistresses Whitaker, Burgis, George and Tuttle. Must have been those Contractors' lunches that did it for you. I understand that, by the end, Geoff Sinden was down to two a day: real will-power. And, the most youthful of all (sorry, Linda) Ian Dougall has managed to get his face in the frame twice. Good luck with the quiz. As you well know, speed does not always denote accuracy. Ask any spin bowler. All the best, Reg.
4 May 2017 - From Bob Avery
HI Reg, Please find attached photos and details of a depleted London reunion after most had unfortunately left . . .
Hello Bob, Many thanks for your early report on yesterday's lunch, which I have copied to John Eveson to ask him why he left early, or hid under the table when the camera appeared. I recognise several of those featured, and it's good to see them thriving. All the very best to you, and to all concerned. Long may these events last. Reg.
4 May 2017 - From Brian Broughton
Good Morning. Yesterday I attended a 'do' at Aldgate Tower – home of Williams Lea Tag. A meeting room over there was re-named the 'Dave Burchell Room' and Dave and a few invited guests went over to watch him cut the ribbon and eat a few bits and drink some champagne. Dave was well chuffed – me not so as the inscription failed to mention HMSO/TSO – but then I am getting very cynical in my last weeks! Brian
Hello Brian. Many thanks for that- lovely stuff! I will delay mentioning to Dave B until we have published, and he is too late to pull a D-Notice! From what I know of him, he certainly deserves the recognition. There was, of course, a Reg Walker room at HMSO Norwich - otherwise known as the Gents next to the Sovereign Club Bar. All the best. Reg.
29 April 2017 - From George Gubb
Hi Reg, I have a small solid silver medal which I recently found in my trophy shop in Hertford and I am trying to find the owner, or his family, to return a bit of history. The medal is engraved on the back as follows:
Would you have any idea who this was?
Hello George. Thank you for your email: fascinating! Unfortunately my copies of old staff lists make no reference to a WL Thorne. The only 'Thorne' mentioned is a Printing Officer named Graham Thorne, who joined HMSO in 1961. Possibly a relative, but not that uncommon a name. As you may know, HMSO was Privatised in 1996, so all records are dispersed. I have a few copies of the Staff Magazine from the 1950s, which occasionally mention the Table Tennis Club, but only in passing. I have copied your note to a few of those still around from those happy days, and a couple of others 'in the know' about such things. Best wishes, and thank you for making contact. Reg.
John Nash adds: This is an interesting find and an equally interesting query. I must say the name is not familiar although at the time Table Tennis tournaments were a great feature during our lunch breaks.
The games room situated in the dungeons of Atlantic House below the Post Room and Clerk of Stationery provided lots of enjoyment. Names I do recall are of course John Owen, Ray Pearce, Jim Nye and Keith Batchelor. Even Norman Parker, no doubt bemused by so many absentees from his S3 Section, came to have a look and even 'had a go'! Percy Thorpe, the Accommodation Officer, was another regular and even successfully obtained funds from somewhere to provide a first class snooker table for the Games Room.
The timing is about right and I seem to recall the 'SO Review' featuring an article on a Tournament including a photo of John Owen and myself 'going toe to toe' in one of the matches. I don't know whether any file copies of the magazine are still in existence.
Just one further thought. I wonder if this particular tournament was a Civil Service inter-departmental one with the winner receiving a medal. I doubt whether our own ones merited this sort of prize - I seem to recall it was a Book Token. This doesn't help to identify Mr Thorne of course - perhaps he was at one of the Presses or Bookshops. Hope all this is helpful.
Meanwhile kind regards to all, John.
Hello John. Thank you: always count on you to add some colour to these historical enquiries. John Eason is in touch with Arthur Brunwin, by occasional letter, and I have copied to Keith Batchelor, who I am sure will be pleased to be remembered. I have a miscellany of old SO Reviews etc - as yet, no photos of you and John Owen in pre-match Joshua/Klitschko pose, but still looking! All the very best to you on the Island of Dreams. Reg.
Keith Batchelor adds: I was never that good at table tennis to win many matches. They certainly provided alternative entertainment to the netball matches – although the legs around the table were not a pretty sight! I live about 4 miles from the Trophy Shop in Hertford and was there only last week to collect some engraving for another organisation!
Kind regards to all, Keith.
Thanks Keith. I have refrained from copying SO Review photographs of the knees of young Netballers (all of whom are well into the second or third decade of Pension these days) as I don't want to encourage a fit of the vapours. Small world as regards the Trophy Shop. You may surprise him by asking if he has any TT Trophies 'preferably ex HMSO!' All the best, Reg.
They Boldly Went . . . Fifty Years Ago
Nobody remembers the names of the first three people to walk on the moon on 20 July 1969 - Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins - but everyone remembers three of the intrepid explorers from London who arrived in Norwich on 22 May 1967 - Roger Nash, Mike Taylor and Roy Plackett.
Anyway, they are still here, no longer The Advance Party but more The Advanced Years Party. They, and many more, will be meeting (not buying, just meeting, so bring your lump sums) on the commemorative lunchtime, Monday 22 May 2017, at The Plasterer's Arms, Norwich. All welcome!
29 April 2017 - From John McKain
Reg, Look what I found at the bottom of the drawer marked ‘Accessories: before, during and after the fact.’! (although the children still wish I’d just call it the cutlery drawer). I cannot recall the events leading to this exposure of joy, although the poster on the wall may have some relevance; perhaps if any of the others thus exposed view the HMSOldies offering then they may be able to enlighten us.
That said however, I offer this up to your Garden of Indelible Ink Stains with the following observations: Given the personnel involved it must have had something to do with Accounts Payable; given that Ceri Prosser is involved it has to have been dashed important; and given that it is in monochrome it just has to have been in Norwich. Left to right: David Pritty, Linda Lenton, John McKain, Ceri Prosser, Angie Lincoln-Kemp, Keith Sykes.
I’m off now to oil the chain on my bicycle before I set off on my journey south for a curmudgeonly convivial wander around Outney Common, aka Bungay & Waveney Valley Golf Club, with the other convivial curmudgeons that comprise HMSO Golf Society (Friday 5.5.17), the first day of season 103.
Oh, and despite the passing years, (photo taken early 1990s), that tie still fits me.
Lang may yer lum reek, John
Hello John, Good to hear from you again, and especially good to hear that I am not the only one to unearth photographs of days when we were all Young and Beautiful. Well, one out of two isn't bad. The last time we were in contact, I think, was regarding things Scottish and the wearing of the righteous stuff by one GG Robbie, to whom I have copied this note and who is doing well, getting used to life in the South after 60+ years. Given that Mrs Ceridwen Prosser joined HMSO in April 1986, and you joined in May 1990, you have it right as being early 1990s. I have copied to a few people who were around at the time: a welcome change to all the obits at the moment (not many golfers: now I know why you all play. Thought it was just for the 19th). Watch out for those Bungay Rogers down there, and should any HMSOldies come up with any dirt on the assembled photographed glamour-models I will be the first to be indiscreet. All the best. And, of course, to Mrs McK. Reg
Sue Prutton adds: Interested to see John McKain's photo. I don't know Linda Lenton personally, but I can confirm that all the others worked in IT. Ceri was, I think, Quality Officer and it may be that Angie Lincoln (as she was then) provided Clerical Support. David worked on the small systems team for a while and then also System Support. Can't think where Keith Sykes worked but I can see him pacing around in Sovereign House. He was also a demon bowler in the IT cricket team for which I used to score - and I have vague feelings that John also played in the cricket team occasionally. I wonder whether this was a photo of the members of one of the numerous QUIPS (Quality Improvement Projects)?
23 April 2017 - From Philip Jinman
The Antiques Road Show, 23 April 2017 mentioned that the Ministry of Information, re-formed on 4 September 1939, was in The University of London Senate Building during the Second World War. It was the first skyscraper in Britain to be built and employed some 3000 staff during its peak. See here.
Thank you Philip. Fascinating stuff, and memories of the good times. A nice antidote to the constant battering of gloom these days! This is of interest as many of our HMSO colleagues had close connections with COI. From a cold and damp Norwich. Best wishes, Reg.
9 April 2017 - Summer Choral Concert in Norfolk
Gavin Turner has managed the William Byrd choir for many years, taking light relief from the onerous artistic duties by chores in the Publications Centre, Edinburgh, and HMSO Furniture.
The Choir's next Norfolk concert is on 22 July 2017 at the most attractive Church in Salle - a church occasionally patronised by such famous names as Isobel Williamson, Mike Seppings, Stephen Fry etc.
Details as follows:
1 April 2017 - From Roger Nash
Dear Reg, I have spoken to Pat Tate and Mike Taylor and we have decided to CANCEL the Re-union Function to 'Celebrate 50 years since coming to Norwich'. The reasons being:
1. A general lack of interest of people who know about the re-union.
2. I have not been able to contact enough people who are not aware of the re-union.
3. It's possible that those people who were NOT on the Advance Party think the re-union is solely for them.
As such it is not considered a viable proposition for the Golf Club.
Hello Roger, That's a pity. Thank you for letting me know. Presumably you have informed those who have contacted you by telephone. After this notice has appeared we will add a link to the HMSOldies Facebook page. I know how difficult it is organising such events, especially in the evenings with our 'ageing population.' We will let you know if and when we manage a lunchtime for HMSOldies, probably at The Eagle again. Best wishes, Reg.
27 March 2017 - From Brian Gardner
Hi Reg, I worked for HMSO between 1971 and 1983 and stumbled across HMSOldies a couple of nights ago whilst using the internet to indulge in a bit of nostalgia.
I started out as part of CRS in Atlantic House, where as an EO I worked under Frank Wright in the photocopier section of CRS. I then went on to edit the CRS Information Service and, along with the rest of our small team, was moved to Gavrelle House in Bunhill Row. I was transferred to Norwich in 1976, initially being based in Norvic House. During this period my job became absorbed into Supply Division and I was eventually moved on to St Crispins when the rest of CRS moved to Norwich.
My next EO post was in Reprographic Supplies working under Isobel Williamson. In 1981 I achieved promotion to HEO at the second attempt and was moved to Industrial Personnel in Sovereign House, before ending up in Publications back at St Crispins, where I was charged with the task of helping to establish electronic publishing, reporting directly to the assistant director, Chris Penn.
I resigned from HMSO in 1983 to set up my own film production business.
The search facility on HMSOldies brought up just one reference to me. I appear in the CRS farewell photo.
This alone, I think, is evidence that I was never one of the many colourful characters people are likely to remember. However, looking through the website, there are many names that I recall. There are also other names lodged in my memory that are only referred to in passing or are not mentioned at all.
Please put me on your mailing list and keep me up to date. I have a few stories to tell that might be of interest to some of your readers, so it would be helpful if you tell me how to place them on the website.
Hello Brian, How good to hear from you (we have been looking for something to alleviate the welter of obituaries). Whereabouts are you living, by the way? We have the occasional informal pub lunch in Norwich and you would always be welcome. Some of us even make it to London now and again.
When I was in Supplies Machinery I had many dealings with CRS, mainly in the days of the Blessed Stanley Smith, Bill Robbins, Les South, Basil Radford. But I remember you there. I still keep up with a few of the old suppliers, from Addressograph-Multigraph for instance. But, inevitably, we are reducing in numbers if not in personal avoirdupois.
We very much welcome any contributions. Just send to me and the team will do the rest. And we will send you any notices of meetings etc. We also have a somewhat understated Facebook page. If you indulge in such things, go to Reg Walker and send the usual friend request and the process can start. Enough for now: please keep in touch. Best wishes, Reg.
10 March 2017 - From Geoff Bedford
HMSO Scotland relics transfer to the National Archives at Kew
Dear Reg, I thought you should know that Andrew Dyer, pictured above right in case there is any doubt, of the National Archives called today to collect four HMSO relics for the national collection - the framed site plan of South Gyle showing HMSO Scotland’s former headquarters in Edinburgh, the list of officers who had headed operations in Scotland from 1906 until privatisation, the 200 year history of HMSO published in 1986, and the HMSO Scotland flag that flew outside our offices - here elegantly draped over the garage door.
Sandra and I are off to Hingham, near Wymondham, next month in a down-sizing move and there was simply no room for the 4’ x 3’ site plan presented to me on my retirement in 1995. Incidentally, I wonder if the flag is possibly the only flag HMSO ever possessed? My thanks go to Alan Bennett, former estates manager, for salvaging this from the de-commissioning exercise.
I thanked Andrew for wearing the appropriate coloured t-shirt. It may come as no surprise to know that Carol Tullo, Andrew’s Director, was keen 'to accession' these items.
With best wishes, Geoff
Hello Geoff, Thank you for keeping us updated. I am sure that - especially - ex HMSO Edinburgh people will be interested, and I will also send a link from the Facebook page in due course. Good luck with the Wymondham move: we may well see you there one Market Day. Best wishes, Reg.
9 February 2017 – From Brian Cockram
Hi Reg, The item dated 18 November 2016 – A Christmas Competition from Keith Batchelor – prompted me to have a rummage in my bottom drawer, (I am still hopeful). I found a 58-12 short cloth file strap and a 23-73 blue gusseted document folder. At one time I had a SO folder from 1947 which had been made by a bindery in Biggleswade, Beds. I used it for years to hold letters sent to me by Estabs. Sadly I disposed of it when the flaps fell off! No doubt at some stage it will all go into the clearance skip.
Hello Brian. Thank you for your interest, stimulated by Keith Batchelor's competition. As I am sure you know, this comes under the category of 'Stationery Porn' so we have to be careful how we handle it. Especially Straps, not to mention Binders. Nurse, the screens!
SRGOI has strict regulations regarding the disposal of such items. If you are unsure, I can arrange for our crack team of Advisors (Messrs MJM Salt, CTBL Robinson and KJ Coleman) to pay you a visit.
Keep stationery! Reg
8 February 2017 - From Bob Barnard
Dear Reg, I have just seen Keith Batchelor’s photo of HMSO items in HMSOldies and I feel I must comment. I can give the code for a couple of items. They are 53-22 for the plastic ruler which is in front of me as I type this email and 64-12 for the scissors. The stapler in the photo was not a stock item in my day but my memory is going back to 1957. The staplers at that time were 57-13, a smaller and stumpy version and staples were 57-23. The stapler in the photo looks like the ‘special’ I used to buy from Standard Office Supplies in Farringdon Road.
Although we used to stock numbering machines we also purchased special ones to meet particular circumstances. Again by the look of the size of the machine in the photo I suggest it was another special purchase. I think the metal paper weight was again a special. Valerie says we had one but we can’t lay our hands on it now. I have a glass one 69-13 identical to the one given to staff to commemorate the bi centenary. This led me wondering whether Banner use stock codes and if they retained the old HMSO ones.
I’m afraid my contribution will not win the prize but the photo brought back memories.
Best wishes, Bob
Hello Bob, What a coincidence that you should get in touch today. This morning I visited the Break Charity Shop on Unthank Road, where a Volunteer asked me 'if I had seen The Barnards lately.' Don't know his name - he and his wife live on Park Lane and used to go walking with you and Valerie. Small world, as ever.
Any way, to business. Or to Business Supplies, as it became. I'm afraid that entries have been thin, due to the non-technical nature of those (Keith Coleman, Alan Cole and other backwoodsmen) who might know. However, to stimulate interest I have copied to Johns Nash and Eason - not to cheat as regards use of your answers but to see if they can add anything. The original posting was at 18 November 2016.
I don't think Banner uses codes that we would recognise. I have been in the market for a Stock List for some years, to no avail. Perhaps I should try eBay, Gumtree, Amazon, British Library, Alperton, Waste Dump?
All the best, and thank you for your response. Reg
7 February 2017 - From John Nash
Hi Reg, Firstly although we are now into February belated greetings for the New Year to you and the 'chums'. Just when I thought the list of Obits had ceased for a while several have come at once. I was so sorry to learn about David Robertson with whom we worked closely in CRS and Rep. He was a chirpy Scot, often battling us Sassenachs, but more than held his own. I had forgotten he had become a Lay Preacher and believe he was held in high regard in this role.
Reg Andrews (he of that 'darned pipe') was another well regarded colleague, always so helpful and with a wealth of knowledge. I believe in this respect he entered and won a Quiz organised by one of the local Radio/TV Stations, coming through the rounds containing some quite difficult questions with aplomb.
I was also saddened to learn about the unfortunate circumstances of Alan Milburn's passing and hope his death was not the result of foul play. We knew him well in London with Frankie Day and then latterly in Audit Section in Norwich, as well as numerous training courses.
On a happier note it was good to learn that Norma Groom is alive and well, and enjoying life to the full in sunny South Africa. (Oh crumbs, all these names from the past.)
All good wishes, John
Hello John, Good to hear from the Laird of the Isle of Wight, and thank you for your kind words. Your sentiments as regards the names you mention are heartily endorsed. And, in answer to your point, I understand that there were no suspicious circumstances regarding the sad passing of Alan Milburn. On perhaps a more cheerful note, did you happen to hear the 75th anniversary of 'Desert Island Discs' featuring David Beckham, who is himself receiving some unwanted publicity this week? Anyway, his first choice - commendably, an Ella Fitzgerald number - was dedicated to his grandfather. He even chose that record as the one he would save in a disaster. We all know who DB's grandfather was: step forward Joe West, SOGAT IFOC, pictured here in rare circumstances - in full football strip, and most unusually, without a Capstan Full Strength between the lips!
All the very best to you and to Lady Nash! Reg
1 February 2017 - From Roger Nash
A reunion of old HMSO colleagues (and partners) to celebrate 50 years since “The Advance Party” came to Norwich
To be held on Monday 22 May 2017 at The Royal Norwich Golf Club, Drayton Road, Norwich, 7-11pm (large car park). Tickets £10 (to include Buffet), payable on the night, cash bar.
Roger Nash Tel: 414570
Pat Tate Tel: 01508 550514
Mike Taylor Tel: 868247
22 January 2017 - Irish Eyes Are Still Smiling
We are grateful to Brian Watt for sending us this photograph of the Annual Dinner of what was once the Print Section of HMSO Belfast. Held at Benedict's Restaurant, Shaftesbury Square, it proves that a healthy retirement can stem the ageing process (although I think that in the old days of The Kitchen, Rumpole's etc the pints would have been more in evidence. Jealous, me? Of course I am).
Brian Watt, Larry Gould, Michael Hughes, Jackie Purdy, George Taggart, Jonathan Belshaw all in tip-top form. Long may they continue.
[Back to earlier ICs] – Earlier ICs not currently available but we hope to have them back soon.