We are grateful to those readers who have contributed brief accounts of their time with HMSO, and beyond. Please feel free to join them: modesty is not essential.  Any embarrassing events you may wish to divulge will be rigorously edited to protect both the innocent and the guilty. Especially as regards Christmas parties.


Listed alphabetically, please scroll down


Keith Batchelor joined Publications in 1964, initially with catalogue section in Atlantic House. We all remember the first person to help us out with their store of knowledge, and in Keith’s case it was Assistant Bookseller Len Filbey (who joined HMSO in 1924 at the age of 16). Then various incarnations as sub-editor; elections officer; transport officer; equipment evaluation and development officer and finally Royal Household Liaison Officer. He was employed in Atlantic House, Cornwall House, Bunhill Row and Britannia House. Memorable moments: running the netball team (can Valerie Barnard still get the ball in the net? Of course she can.) and refusing to do Pay Duty (a hanging offence in my day). He still keeps in touch with Penny Mitchell (see earlier IC note); Ron Dann and Jim Stewart (both ex RH Unit — Ron is still with Banner/o2o/Lymeswold) and Esther Mackay (an ITW survivor from 1968). He also remembers the identical twins Carol and Christine Horney who joined Supplies, Atlantic House in 1966. He ought to — he married Carol 40 years ago and has one daughter and three grandchildren – all sporty teenagers. (Unfortunately Christine whilst still living in Norfolk is now a widow. She has a son / daughter in law and a grandson).  After leaving HMSO Keith joined, in succession, CCTA, Hertfordshire CC and the London Borough of Enfield, as records officer. Following redundancy he became a self-employed consultant in records management, health and safety. He recommends working from home as most beneficial in terms of both salary and sanity. He is still involved in voluntary work (including being the Hon Archivist for the HMS Cossack Association Code 3421) and youth work and — if the technology works — may be seen as a youthful forty-something (with a similarly youthful Jim Stewart) setting out the stationery in Lancaster House.


Terry Burchell joined the crew of HMS ‘Office’ in April 1971. He says ‘crew’ because at that time many of the staff had started to grow beards and became the ‘Pirates of PP’. He’d served his apprenticeship as a Compositor in a small firm in his home-town of Gravesend, Kent and, after National Service in the RAF, married and moved to Fakenham, Norfolk, buying a 5-bed house in a quarter-acre of land for £1500, (then being on £1000 per annum!). HMSO came eight years later, where he started his career in Print Progressing, before moving to Print Ordering and a stint in Publications. His great interest in photography came to the attention of the hierarchy and he was asked to ‘shoot’ any visiting big-wig and events such as retirements, promotions, exhibitions etc, culminating in the Bicentenary Sports Events and the visit by HM The Queen. He also took a formal portrait of George Thomas, Speaker of the House of Commons (later Lord Tonypandy). Other well-known people he has photographed include Malcolm Arnold (Composer), Roy Castle, Linda Lusardi, Richard Todd and Jean Kent (the latter film stars of his youth!). Since his retirement in 1993, he has concentrated on photography, working on replacing lost images when Norwich Central Library tragically burnt down, and supplying the photographs for four books on Norwich plus a recent colourful ‘coffee table’ book entitled Norfolk Moods. Living in Mulbarton with his wife he has seen their three children married and settled and they have seven grandchildren (so far!). He can recommend retirement — he’s never been busier or happier.


Stan Church joined HMSO from the Civil Service Commission in Basingstoke as a Programmer in 1970. After spending a number of years in Systems branch, he spent some time as Payroll Manager before joining Business Supplies on computer purchasing and sales, enjoying many years of free lunches. Following his departure in1997 after privatisation, he spent a year working as an Account Manager for a computer manufacture before finally hanging up his expense account. The remaining years have been devoted to leisure and pleasure attempting to play (usually badly) a variety of sports and pastimes often with ex-retirees including squash, tennis (Ron Fairbrother), badminton (with Phil Marriage, Mike Taylor, Bob Hall), golf (with Harry Currie, Ian Hatfield, Terry Blyth and Gwyn Morgan) and snooker (Dave Dring). There is also a weekly lunchtime gathering at the ‘Plasterers’ in Cowgate involving some of the above as well as John Wilson (still working!), John Spinks and Graham Thompson where we attempt, among other matters, to diagnose the malaise of Norwich City.


Harry Currie joined HMSO straight from Edinburgh University in 1972. He worked as an EO in Supplies with Joe Delaney and George Rokhar. Eventually they found him out and sent him to Management Services with Stan Church, Tim Cutbill, Eric Pointer, John Rowe and Frank Payne. Again, having been rumbled he was moved to Work Study where he worked with the (in) famous team of Ray Fox, Les Duffield, Bill Brewer, and Sam Rae. During this period he met and annoyed most of the industrial staff in HMSO. Things got continually worse until Mike Lynn eventually sent him to Bristol where he ‘worked’ as Logistics Director of Banner. Eventually his big moment came and in 1997 he took the mighty dollar and buggered off seldom to be seen again. Since then he has worked as a private business consultant and is currently teaching guitar at various schools across the county. Indeed, at Reepham High he has linked up once more with John Rose and Mike Seppings. Still gigging with his band around Norfolk Harry manages to fit in golfing sessions with Stan Church and Ian Hatfield. He is now 55 (actual age) 85 (how he looks) and 17 (how he acts).


Ian Dobson left college in the halcyon days when students could choose between jobs. Of the three offered to Ian, he chose the design studio in Atlantic House, joining in 1973. His final year thesis was on Computer Aided Design but it took a decade before computers really got near the ‘desktop’. However by this time he had dispersed to St Crispins and was well-placed to lead the introduction of the first Apple Macintosh computers into HMSO’s studio — one of the first major publishing houses to do so. After some twenty years in GD, during which he rose to Design Manager, business re-structuring saw a move into HMSO’s Research and Innovation team, followed by a post with Electronic Publishing. In common with many others, ‘the scandalous sale’ (Ian’s words) of HMSO in 1996 encouraged a move to pastures new. Since then he has worked as a freelance designer on CD ROMs, exhibitions and publishing projects for a number of prestigious companies, at times with ex colleague print-buyer Albert During. For many years he has acted as an External Verifier / Examiner on Edexcel (formerly BTEC) courses at design colleges up and down the country. More recently he moved closer to the ‘electronic desktop’, currently working for Hussey Knights in Norwich where he occasionally services his HMSO ex colleagues. Married to Jo (ex Pubns, now with Castle Colour Press) they live in Wreningham with their daughter Kerri.


Tony Durier joined HMSO Harrow Press as a letterpress machine apprentice in 1958. He left HMSO to work for W. S. Cowell Ltd in Ipswich, however he returned to the London area and worked for several other printers before returning to HMSO Harrow Press Security Department. He joined the Technical Office as a Printing Officer in 1969 and was posted to ITW Print Inspection in Cornwall House, and immediately posted to the outpost at Post Office Supplies Depot at Pentonville Road. On return to Cornwall House he requested a Divisional transfer and found himself in Technical Services in 1972 on the MTPS Team under Arthur Phillips at Bunhill Row. He spent four very happy years there working mainly on the Statutes-in-Force project. His next move was to the Hansard Press Project Team under Ken Lowe in Atlantic House. During this period he gained substantive promotion to TO and moved to Works Division where he was given, in his words, ‘the most boring job’ gathering statistics on Press performance. Next came a spell in Works Training, dispersing to Norwich in September 1978. From 1980-3 he worked in Works Management Accounting, gaining a great deal of new experience. In 1983 he moved to IT Division retraining as a programmer and joining the CAPO Team in 1984, gaining promotion to HEO and was mainly employed on system design. In the later stages of CAPO he became CAPO System Manager but by then it was becoming clear that CAPO needed to be replaced. In 1994 he joined Brian Cleland in Print Division in St Crispins on what became the PROPS Project as Business Analyst. He thought this was a great project, building into a team of dedicated people with whom he found it a joy to work. The project went live on the day that HMSO was privatised. From that point it was all downhill and he finally managed to escape in June 1997.

Those who knew him well would know that his interest outside of HMSO was model engineering, but on retirement he’s put this temporarily to one side. In 1998 he started to restore and ride old British motorcycles and this interest has made him an enormous number of new friends from all walks of life. He’s an active member of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club, Norwich & District Section, serving on their committee, and also has close links with the Norfolk Motorcycle Museum at North Walsham where he’s carried out a great deal of voluntary work for them over the last ten years, from full restorations to the remaking of long-obsolete parts.


Michael Terry Harrington started with HMSO at the press in the War Office in 1958 as an Apprentice Compositor, and after six long years training was ‘Banged-Out’ in the traditional way before partying in a local pub. He then joined the Obelisk Press at Lewisham as a Comp/Mono Keyboard operator, when a call from Barry Palmer (another ex HMSO apprentice) enticed him to Westminster, at Wightman Mountain, where he stayed until marrying his wife Carol. They moved to Benfleet, Essex and he joined Eden Fishers at Southend before another enticing call, from ex HMSO Comp, Allen Harris, took him to Photoprint Plates. He was only too keen to take over Allen’s job as they were in the forefront of the new technology of filmsetting. Then three of the Mono-Ops started their own typesetting business which he joined, staying until the early 1990s when the emergence of desktop computers changed typesetting forever. So he started his own business ‘MATS Typesetting’ with a friend, and their name appears on the reverse of many title pages. Nearly a half-century after joining HMSO, and with his business partner now retired, he still continues working as a typesetter.


Phil Leach joined HMSO Norwich as HEO in September 1975 from HM Land Registry, Gloucester. Initially he worked to Peggy Page and Peter Jefford, then moved to Management Accounting with Robin Chapman, Peter Macdonald, Vic Bell and other luminaries of the bean-counter’s art. Then it was Supplies Invoicing, with 60 staff, followed by Human Resources and early retirement in 1994. Most important job: Secretary of the Sovereign Club. Currently Part-time Assistant to the Clerk of Costessey Parish Council, on which Dick Smith is currently a Councillor. Still interested in philately and a member of the prestigious Pipe Club of Norfolk. Also a keen singer with Frettenham Singers, Costessey Singers and the Rosebery Road Methodist Church Choir.


Philip Marriage had to miss the 1958 Cup Final to sit the HMSO Entrance Exams, however this sacrifice was rewarded by an apprenticeship in 1959 in the HMSO Press, Drury Lane. He soon decided to specialise in graphic design, encouraged by John Westwood who offered him a position in the studio in 1965. A career in graphic design ensued ending in 1995 as Publications Design Manager, followed by a couple of years in Electronic Publishing, pioneering the embryonic Internet. Since early retirement from tSO much of his time has been spent in equally interesting publishing projects. The first, produced in 2001, was From Layout to Graphic Design telling the story of the fifty-years of graphic design in HMSO. Lately he has been involved in Memories of Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich a book designed by Jennifer Hannaford (ex HMSO) and launched in June 2004 by the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Chris Southgate (ex HMSO). Other interests include photography, walking and recently he joined Mike Taylor, Stan Church, and Bob Hall (all ex HMSO) in representing Norfolk at veterans badminton.


David Martin started at HMSO in 1959. He achieved early retirement from the then recently privatised tSO in March 1997, having spent the intervening years chiefly at Drury Lane Press, Cornwall House, Bunhill Row and Norwich. For the last eleven years of his time he was based in Electronic Publishing. After retirement he took on some freelance work from several sources, including proof reading database entries for a tSO electronic publication. Invoicing tSO each month for over 7 years has given him immense satisfaction! He and wife Moira delight in the company of their eldest son’s two children and enjoy visiting their youngest son, whose work takes him to various countries. David’s other consuming interests are participating in choral music and maintaining his Irish family connections.


Barry Palmer joined HMSO in 1956 at the Abbey Orchard Street Press, Westminster, then when it closed transferred to the newly built St Stephen’s Parliamentary Press. In 1963 he moved back to Westminster, joining Wightman Mountain, before relocating in 1967 to Page Bros in Norwich, where he married for the first time. Tired of spiralling inflation he moved to Canada in 1969 to work for Mono Lino Typesetting (ML) in Toronto where he found himself in the forefront of computerized typesetting reaching the dizzying heights of DP Manager. Alas typesetting became so cheap that ML closed and he moved on, ending up at Fleet Typographers (temptingly located below a cigar factory just after he’d quit smoking cigars) where he stayed for a couple of years, escaping just before the doors closed for good. Next came a period spanning approximately two years at Norgraphics assisting with the Northern Miner newspaper. The company was then sold to Conrad Black who closed it down. Life then became a bit hectic, trying to keep-up a full-time job whilst starting his own printing company, plus a stint at photography of animals at pet shops in Ontario. The need to eat and drink forced him onward to his present position with Computer Composition of Canada, a post which he has enjoyed for several years and which he expects to see him through to retirement in 2007. It has been an inspired ride from his days at HMSO and if he knew then what he knows now he probably wouldn’t have left, but he has no regrets. He thinks Canada is great but the beer (Molson is now owned by Americans and Labatts by Germans) is lousy. He can’t even get Toby Ale any more. Along the way he remarried and has three daughters to go with the son from his previous marriage.


Brian Puplett joined HMSO in 1982 from MOD Chatham. Initially on safety testing, he worked as Assistant, then Deputy Manager of OMTS. He moved to Norwich and became part of the Business Supplies sales force before leaving HMSO and managing a Health and Safety Supplies company. Most important job: Captain of the Royal Norwich Golf Club, and about to fly to Australia and represent the club at the Royal Fremantle club’s centenary celebrations. He also adds a plug for the HMSO Golf Society, ‘superbly led by our big-hitting secretary Gordon Robbie, we are now in out 91st year and are determined to make it to 100. We have a good programme of events this year, so if anyone wishes to come along just let us know.’


Fred Stubbs took the Civil Service (HMSO) entrance exam and interview towards the end of his RAF National Service in 1958. Firstly as a Printing Officer and later he joined the Layout Section. In 1968 he went to the Edinburgh Office where he started the first regional Graphic Design studio. On promotion to HTO he joined the Technical Services Division for three years before rejoining Graphic Design as a Senior Designer. He led the advance party for the 1978 move to Norwich and he remained there and in GD until he retired in 1994. He took a full-time course at the City College where he gained a City and Guilds certificate in furniture making. He keeps fit in the gym and swimming pool at Oasis. He is currently secretary of the Blafelda Probus Club and is a working member of the John Jarrold Printing Museum. Cruising holidays have taken him and his wife Doreen, to various parts of the world including Iceland, the Faeroe Islands,Russia, Latvia and Estonia. He feels he had more spare time when he was at work.


Robert Stutely joined HMSO in 1964 as a direct entrant EO on ‘promotion’ from the Ministry of Labour and National Service and was appointed as a temporary auditor. In 1965, much to his surprise, he was sponsored on the first degree course in Printing Technology at Watford College of Technology. He returned to HMSO in 1969, sneaking under the wire to join the technical side. Apart from a short spell as manager of the security printing department at Harrow Press (‘may we have some more envelopes embossed with stamps of the same colour as last time’ was one memorable phone call received which caused some explaining to be done to the Post Office for generating collectors items), he spent all his career in Technical Services/Development/Innovation while it existed. Then, with grateful thanks to Chris Southgate, Director of Publications, he joined Pubns in a similar role for the remainder of his Civil Service career. Robert is proud to have been part of the International Standards Committee that developed SGML, the standard that allowed HTML to be developed and which enabled the World Wide Web to be born. When exhausted by the demands of tSO, he left to form astutech ltd, a web development company, with his two sons. Astutech has just launched version 2 of wordserver, a product it has developed to enable anyone who can use Internet Explorer to design, develop and maintain websites without needing any technical skills.


Mike Taylor managed to escape from HMSO in May 1993 after 33 years service. The timing was ideal to take maximum benefit of early retirement terms, as he had just reached the age of 57, plus the fact that the mortgage matured the same month and with most of the summer to enjoy. Maintaining a large garden (approx two fifths of an acre) keeps him busy plus plenty of golf and badminton throughout the year ensures reasonable fitness. He has represented Norfolk veterans teams at golf and badminton for a number of years. He plays golf at Royal Norwich GC along with a few ex HMSO boys such as councillor Roger Nash, Tony Parker, Ernie Downs, Pat Tate, John Balls and Brian Puplett and badminton at the Norwich Sports Village doing battle with Philip Marriage, Bob Hall and Stan Church among others. He manages to keep in touch with a few other retired technicals on the last Friday in every month when they meet for lunch at the Farmhouse pub on the Norwich ring road. As a pipe-smoker of many years he was glad to see — on the occasion of the annual Ekers singsong before Christmas — that Reg Walker still smokes a pipe because, as he said ‘there’s not many of us left’. That reminded him that at one time in Print Procurement Division he ran a section PP1E to which some wit in PP (never detected) frequently changed to P1PE.


Reg Walker joined HMSO in 1963 (ITW Cornwall House, then Supplies Atlantic House in 1967). Still with Supplies on dispersal to Norwich in 1968, he was employed at various times in Office Services, Publications (MDC project), O&M, Print Procurement, Supplies Warehousing, Marketing and Customer Care. He rightly predicted that the New Management would not need his skills (mainly staying in the bar with the Customer all afternoon and, if necessary, evening) so departed for a life of (even more) indolence in 1996. For the past three years he has been employed part-time by Formara Printers (Southend-on-Sea) as ‘Government Liaison’ which uses the afore-mentioned talents to the full. Despite being a grandfather, he is as fit and virile as he ever was.


Terry Walls joined HMSO in 1966, to escape the London commute. He started in Finance in Atlantic House, dispersing to Norwich in 1968. After a spell in Staff Inspection and Supplies he moved back to London in 1978, for a period of detached duty in Publications, dispersing again in 1980. In 1988 he helped set up the Project Support Office and then joined the Currie/McCrum EDI team until early retirement in 1994. His wife Gill soldiered on in HMSO, working in IT (PC Support). He idled away a year, then worked part time at his local newsagent, before cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats (1050 miles in 21 days). He started work at Petals Florists driving the delivery van and ended up as the Company Secretary. He left Petals in 2002 as Gill and he decided they would like to move north and settled in Driffield, Capital of the Yorkshire Wolds, where they walk, garden, cycle, swim, travel around Europe, and recently (2008) took on an allotment. Hopefully 2009 will see them harvesting the fruits of their labours!


John Westwood learned a lot about printing from his father. John Biggs started his interest in typography in 1938, and as a post-graduate of the Royal College of Art he lectured at Carlisle College of Art in graphics, typography, and bookbinding. He followed Harry Carter and Alan Dodson as Head of Typographic Design & Layout at HMSO in 1960, and, encouraged by more than one Controller brought in a wider range of staff to make publications more lively in design. Founder member of the Printing Historical Society. Retired 1978; founder editor of International Meccanoman magazine 1988 to 1999, which now has readers in 32 countries worldwide. John builds models and collects and binds books at his home, 4 Grange Close, Goring on Thames. Deaf but not stupid at 85, he and Margaret welcome visitors. They have two sons: David in USA is into psychology; Paul is well-known as bass guitar expert.


Devon Williams joined HMSO in 1970 as a Clerical Assistant in St Stephen’s Parliamentary Press where he worked in the Costing Office, then Wages Department on promotion to Clerical Officer, then as Officer-in-Charge of Wages when promoted to Executive Office in 1978. He joined Industrial Personnel as an IR Trainee in early 1980s working to Malcolm McNeill and Sylvia Parnell in Atlantic House. He ‘graduated’ to IR Officer two years’ later and was soon transferred to Sovereign House to work with names like Sam Rae, Derek Wintle, Tracy Cooper, Helen Bell, Dave Ware, George James, Dave Harold, Roy Waterlow, Ray Fox and Jim Marshall (the latter also still at tSO). Devon left HMSO in 1989 to take up a job in London but then rejoined, ending up as deputy to Brian Minett at the Publications Centre when privatisation came. He’s been tSO’s HR Manager since then, again back in Norwich. He has three grown-up children from his previous marriage and now, married to Sonya ‘Judd’, with two little ‘uns living in Dereham.


Sonya Williams joined HMSO in 1986 as a temporary typist and became permanent after a year. While in the typing pool she covered PC/PS absences in PS/Marketing and, for her sins, IP, which is where she first met her future husband Devon. Most of her happy years at HMSO were spent in Pubns but she was sad when it became tSO and left in 1997. She had various PA jobs in Norwich and Cambridgeshire, moved to Littleport, married Mr Williams in 2002 and now have two beautiful children and live in Dereham.


Geoff Woods joined HMSO in 1987 as a messenger and later librarian in the Publications Library, which eventually became an information centre and stationery store. He decided to take early retirement in 1995. Most people will remember Geoff for his association with wildlife rescue, and athletics with City Of Norwich A.C. He has regretfully finished his wildlife rescue, but has had a European Eagle Owl for 25 years — the only reminder of a very busy time with Anglian Wildlife Rescue. The running has also come to a stop as he has developed hip problems, though he manages to crawl to the gym three times a week to keep the gremlins at bay. Most leisure time is spent happily working with stained glass, producing many different items, and he also attempts to play classical guitar. He continues to live in Frettenham, with his wife Lesley who still has to work to keep him in the luxury to which he has become accustomed.