3 April 2019 – From ‪B‬rian‪ Cockram‬

Hi Reg, Here are a few pictures from 1982 which may interest you. The first is Alec Laing the day he retired from HMSO – March. At the time he was a Staff Inspector. The other two were taken in Belfast with the river view showing Bob Barnard and Mick Moore and the final photo showing Geoff Bedford, Frank Franklin and Mick Moore at the railway station. Mick headed a team of inspectors on a periodic review of the Belfast Regional Office. Bob Barnard was the Regional Director at the time. They were interesting times.


Hello Brian, What good pictures! Interesting times indeed. The Staff List tells me that Alex would have been 100 last year. I first met him when he was P5a in Cornwall House in 1963 – always very helpful. Can almost read the paper he has in front of him: the name ‘Caroline Buddery’ can be seen at the top. You put me in mind of other Staff Inspectors at the time – Harry Jackson, Len Capper, Bill Nairn among them. EL ‘Frank’ Franklin joined HMSO in 1970, working in Supplies and PS – Mick Moore was one of two ‘Administrative Trainees’ in 1971, the other being John Collins, who worked in Publications. Thanks for the memories, and all the best. Reg

Geoff Bedford adds: Hi Reg, The Staff Inspection of our Northern Ireland office in Belfast was of great interest for me, as I was returning 10 years after a four year stint (1968-1973) there serving as the HEO under Jimmy Jones and then Roy Stonehouse, OBE. My time covered some of the worst period of the “troubles”, including “Bloody Sunday” and when our warehouse in the Lower Falls was an IRA target (we were supplying our Army only with their office needs, but it was just a matter of time! We decamped the warehouse to Newtownards, more friendly territory.) it was quite an experience standing in the warehouse that night without any windows, all the racks blown over and silhouetted by the swinging fluorescent lights. Roy said, waiting on his ferry in Belfast dock, that he heard the bang! No one was hurt, it being after 9pm that night, but the phone call you don’t want.

During his time as Director we moved from an old Victorian building on Linenhall Street to a spanking new Chichester House on Chichester Street (since demolished -intentionally this time I note). Here we suffered a few collateral damage incidents as the Law Courts were across the road. It’s not easy picking glass out of Multilith machines!

Lovely people and “interesting” times, but not suitable for raising a young family.

Brian Cockram and I were persuaded to join Phil Collins, a lovely lady, our daughter’s godmother and eventually a Belfast Director herself, for a few days in Dublin once the inspection was over. Mick Moore, our boss, was not amused, but then there were two of us, both bigger!

Best wishes, Geoff

PS Mike Lynn had been EO Bookshop Manager also in Linenhall Street, transferring back to the UK a year or so, I believe, before I arrived in 1968.

Thank you Geoff. A most interesting reminiscence of a time in our working lives that it is now hard to believe people had to work through. Best wishes. Reg.


Brian Cockram adds: Two more photographs from 1982. Phill Collins, Geoff B and self. I know the infamous bookie jacket but can you identify the scarf? I believe I presented you with a scrap of it. Brian

Brian, Excellent – thank you. And, yes, I well remember the jacket – and the scarf! Reg


Geoff Bedford adds: Hi Reg, I found this pic of Chichester House taken from the Law Courts, showing the boarded up windows – HMSO was on the first floor, save for the Bookshop which was on the corner. Chichester Street is where the bus is – and the next pic is bomb damage on the other side of the road just up from Chichester House. The bomb bounced the wall in Roy Stonehouse’s office where I was sitting at the time – and my head with it! Next is Cullingtree Street Warehouse, Lower Falls area and Tommy Pentland, AWS, after the bomb.

The final photo shows Roy Stonehouse OBE, Director HMSO Belfast circa 1973. Roy always said that his OBE was awarded in recognition of the work of the whole Belfast Office, the excellent service given by HMSO to the Government of Northern Ireland (GNI) and MoD during some very “troubled” times, and despite the difficulties that the staff faced almost every day in simply getting to work. Road blocks, diversions, public transport disruptions, plus in many cases shootings or bombings in or near their own home neighbourhoods. Finally, of course, everyone knew someone personally affected by these terrible events.

Many Old Boys will recall that we also managed a good number of young female GNI staff, essentially on reprographic duties, again, all good people who performed their duties very professionally over those long, wearisome years

Best wishes, Geoff.

Thank you Geoff. Good photos. I remember it well – and ‘The Garrick’ and ‘Rumpole’s’ opposite! Reg.