Part One in a series of ‘how many can you stand?’
by Reg Walker
Progress was a Staff Newsletter produced by HMSO Marketing for eleven years. Upon privatisation, tSO subsequently produced an occasional Newsletter entitledProfile, which was discontinued in March 1999.
The first edition ofProgress , the cover of which is reproduced in thePicture Gallery appeared in February 1984 and led with a message from Controller WJ Sharp entitled ‘On target for the third time.’ And a picture depicting the December meeting of the Departmental Whitley Council (19 delegates). ‘Focus on Edinburgh’ presented youthful pictures of Director Dick Moore, Dave Currie, Alison Ross, Jimmy Gillan, George Anderson, Ken Macdonald and other smiling Scots. Hansard Press was also featured, with General Manager Gordon Parfitt, Steve Abbott, Les Long, Brian Clay and Bill Mallet. The magazine was edited commercially, by Ken Holmes of Publicity Plus, and designed by HMSO Graphic Design. Messrs Allen, Rutherford, Saville and (Mick) Moore made up the Editorial Board.
Progress Number Two appeared in July 1984. The Editor had changed — Caryl Holland Editorial Services — and Alan Davies and Don Burgess replaced Mick Moore on the Board. In a reversal of current trends, the design changed from A4 to A3. Headline story: ‘How Computers Help . . . some 7000 miles of magnetic tape are stored at Norwich and are looked after by Dawn Bunting.’ A further article reported that ‘HMSO’s 33 year connection with the City of London was severed on 4 May when the last remaining staff located at Atlantic House were transferred to Britannia House. HMSO moved to Atlantic House, which was newly built, in the summer of 1951 from its previous HQ at Keysign House (see Picture Gallery ) in Oxford Street. In February this year the doors were also closed after 44 years at the HMSO Warehouse, Alperton, while in April a 35 year association was ended with the vacation of the warehouse in Olympic Way, Wembley. Some might remember it too as the outpost of Accounts Division, until 1968. Another London building with an even longer connection is Cornwall House, which was built for HMSO with the intention of housing all departments. As it turned out, only part of the building was taken over in 1920 when it ceased use as a military hospital. Over the past year there has been a planned transfer of operations and stocks to the new Publications Centre.’
Focus was on Belfast, with pictures of Director Ms Phil Collins (who was shortly to retire after 36 years with HMSO), Norman Armstrong, John Straghan, Laurie Malloy, Ron Spence, Sandy McCabe, pretending to be helpful, and Pat Kennedy, pretending to be a customer, in the Bookshop. Elsewhere, an article on Laboratory featured Gaynor Tabor, Geoff Sentinella and Dave Scott. ‘Two senior staff changes have been announced in Publications. Ken Rhodes, who was Director, has returned to his beloved London to take up an appointment as Administrator for the National Museum of Science and Industry . . . Keith Staff, Chief Accountant, is rejoining the private sector to become Commercial Director at William Clowes of Beccles.’ SSPP was featured as well: ‘All production is carried out using hot-metal techniques with 22 Linotype machines, a small Monotype unit and printing on a range of flat-bed letterpress machines.’ Pictures featured Tony Woolacott, Terry Girdler, George Munnery, Bill Bedworth and Bert Hodges. General Manager was Eric Hendry.
October 1984’s edition featured HMSO’s hosting of the Government Printers’ Conference (45 delegates from 28 countries) and the Human Face of Internal Audit (Jo Archer would get my vote). Focus was on Manchester: ‘The oldest branch office with the largest HMSO warehouse facilities’ Pictures of Ian Smith, Kath O’Gara, Eileen Partington, Andrew Judge, Eric Turner and Ross and Elsa — security guard dogs. Featured also were Walter Greaves and Brian Earley (any news of Brian? I would like to speak to him again) from OMTS, and the 24 craftsmen, Bob Merchant and the print marketing team, Alan Bintley and the Forms Centre, and John Dixon, Warehouse Manager (‘typically Scottish, John is not one for boasting.’ Just how far did the author have his tongue in the cheek forthat one!).
The News Roundup included ‘Derek Rutherford, DGCS, has been promoted to Under Secretary and appointed to the Board of the Forestry Commission in Edinburgh . . . Alex Smith has been promoted to DGCS . . . Mike Lynn to DPP . . . Alan Davies to DFP. Mike Woodhouse, accountant in Production, is better known outside HMSO as an international aviator par excellence. He has been flying model aeroplanes for more years than he can remember.’ (I saw Mike this very day, flying over Tesco in Norwich. Honest.). ‘After more than 25 years, Sylvia Parnell has retired and moved to Eastbourne with her husband. They ran a Lodging House, I seem to recall (I can see the bill: ‘Use of cruet: 2p; bath-water after 7pm: 8p . . . asking for job and finish, thrown on the street . . . ’) Joining HMSO as a temporary shorthand typist in 1958, Sylvia worked her way up to become SEO responsible for industrial relations in the PC, Holborn Bookshop, OMTS, London Warehouses and Garage . . . Chris Southgate has been given the task of overseeing HMSO’s major new computer systems . . . HMSO has been closely involved in the development of a European Passport.’ Basildon was not left out: ‘John Brunton, former Reprographic Manager who has recently retired after more than 30 years service, believes that the Unit’s best selling point is the complete service it can offer and the 200 staff well experienced in the production of government documents.’ Pictured were Joyce Upton, Don Turner, Eileen Barker, Lily Bacon, Peggy McInnes, and Sue Sacker.
January 1985, and it’s ‘Well done, Warehouses’ with pictures of Tom Kingsley, Warehouse Manager at Park Royal, John Corsham, ‘Dolly Morgan, MoC, has been with HMSO for nearly 20 years. With the other girls, she produces over 2 million memo pads a year.’ Strange how political incorrectness hits one in the eyes these days. No matter, George Reece, Doreen Matthews, Nick Osbourne, John Dickson, Wilf McCann, John Thornberg and Peter Woolstenhulme all featured. As did ‘Future financial managers . . . Alan Davies meets some HMSO staff undergoing training for professional accountancy qualifications . . . Caroline Adam, Ann Clancy, Alan Milburn, Peter Griffiths and John Martin.’
‘Exactly a year from starting on site, a pleasant modern brick-clad building at Bricklayers Arms in South East London was ready to receive the first equipment for the second stage of HMSO’s redevelopment of Parliamentary printing. ‘I would not say that any records were broken in putting the building up’ says Frank Croisdale, project officer.’ Then, a visit to Nine Elms. ‘Dave Brock, Paul Sanford, Bob Noakes, Reg Deamer, Joe Renton, Tony King, Harry Lyons, Fred Cashman, Arthur Kemp, George Selby, Terry Harwood, Lynette Tomlin, Dawn Crossdale, Janet Bernard, Betty Bramdale all pictured. Where are they now? (The only one I can guess at is Terry Harwood — I imagine he is home in Norwich with his Sainsbury’s shopping, as I saw him there this very morning). Then it is Welfare, with Margueritte Finn, Corinne Barker, Joyce Blaker, Ian Hatfield, Ben Sawyer, Ruth Vivian, Nat Hall and Ivan Grainger. ‘At the 23rd Apprentice Award Ceremony held at St Crispins on 12 December 1984 Controller Sharp presented major awards to John Chambers, Manchester Press, for Best Performance over the whole Apprenticeship’ and Andrew North, also from Manchester Press, for Most Progress During the Year.’ Andrew North! Whose skin is he getting under these days? Bet they deserve it.
May 1985 saw an OBE for Terry Soutar and a small mention of ‘the new British made portable Liberator text processor launched by Thorn-EMI.’ I was involved with this project, and must mention Bernard Terry — then Grade 7 in CCTA — who masterminded the whole thing and was, in effect, the father of lap-top computers in the UK. I could write several pages on this, but must get on . . . PP Trades List Index gets a mention, with Tony Ivett, Philip Blyth, Colin Clark, Tom Theobald and Penny Everard. So does Works Job Costing — Jim Mowat, Helen Bell and Malcolm Jones, with Marian Gartside from Manchester. ‘Work Study plays it straight down the middle’ with Les Duffield, Philip Jinman, Frank Mace, Bill Brewer, Ray Fox and Harry Currie, then Lester Adams — IFOC at Holborn Bookshop — as a WS ‘Customer.’ ‘A day in the life of an OMTS Service Engineer’ profiled Reg Parnell, who looked after HM Naval Base, Devonport. ‘Ken Wanstall of Technical Services has not only won a BSc Honours Degree in Printing Technology at Watford College but also the Metal Box Award for the best degree project . . . he is seen with . . . John Eveson, HPPT.’
Too much, too much — this will have to be a series (whether you like it or not). The bits I like are the names of the people who were employed in the various regions — that’s what it was all about. The earnestness with which HMSO embraced the multifarious ludicrous Government-inspired projects was both heartening and depressing (what idiot overturned Central Procurement and created 123,000 ‘Procurement Officers’ who spend their days in Government Departments solemnly sending out quotation forms for 1000 boxes of paper clips?) — or is that just me again? One Foot In The Grave? Grumpy Old Persons? You don’t know the half of it. You should see my letter to ‘one’ railway — exit, pursued to the bar . . .