Winter News — 2005 No more Social Diaries — do you really want to know that we saw Terry Harwood and Danny Burns in Sainsbury’s (and, more to the point, do they want themselves exposed to Tesco moles for even more junk mail?). But ‘rare sightings’ might be more interesting. For instance, I hadn’t seen Mike Woodhouse for 10 years, but up he popped in St Giles, looking the same as ever and still living in Eaton. And Ken Rhodes, Dave Forbes, John Eveson all seen in London . . . Brian Ekers, Jim McDonald, Steve Johnson, Barry Harper, Philip Nash (dad John still in his favourite stamping ground — pun intended — the Islawhite, wife Karen still working and father-in-law Mike Mahoney getting into his new winter gloves), Sue Whitaker, Derek Vallance . . . no, stop, we’ll be back to ‘I’m An HMSO Celebrity, Get Me Into Here’ again.
But notes out of the blue from Ron Sims (he tells me that his wife Iris has unbelievably reached 80 — still junior to the sprightly Phil Storey seen with glass in hand at the Norwich Beer Festival); Maureen Wickham (nee Riley) and husband Bill (ex F4D and CCTA); John Morgan (one time editor of SO Review, now living in Cromer) are always welcome. Who have you seen or heard from lately?
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
Thought for the Festive Season: Be nice to your children. After all, they are going to choose your Nursing Home. Nicer thoughts, from readers far and wide, have arrived electronically and otherwise, from Ian Billings, Eric Bone, John Elderton and Margery Kraszewski (France), Vic Kefford, John and Gloria Flynn, Mary Robinson (Australia), Fred Stubbs, Dorothy and Harry Teedon, Clover Moore (Alex’s widow), Louise Chapman, John Eveson, Brian Lambirth, Chris and Jeanne Southgate and Ivor Hosgood.
25 December 2005 — From Augustus Cuthbert Dear Editor, I am moved to write to you by your recent articles in your esteemed web site on the subject of Lavatory Paper. In the mid-Sixties, I was a Clerical Officer in another department when I received the results of an Executive Officer posting to HMSO. My EO at the time was an ex-naval man and he informed me that the size of toilet rolls for MOD (Navy) were half-inch wider than for the rest of the military and civil service ‘to allow for the roll of the ship’. In my career with HMSO, I never spent any time in Supplies Division and was never able to verify this statement. Maybe one of you readers can enlighten me? Yours sincerely, Curious of Cringleford
Dear Augustus. Many thanks for your most interesting letter, which I have passed to our Artistic and Technical Divisions for processing. Particularly pleased that you have chosen to write to us as a prelude to listening to the annual speech by HMQ. Was the thought of HRH Prince Philip enough to remind you of Naval Manoevres? I, too, have memories of the ‘extra half inch.’ Was it an early example of urban myth, put about by JP Delaney, DR Paul, R Tinkler &co, or was it fact? Perhaps RC Barnard and other antediluvian luminaries can enlighten us. All the best, Reg
Charles W Blundell Gets to the Bottom of Things
In 1991 the late CW Blundell OBE (born 1920; joined HMSO1937) published an autobiographical account entitled Gluepots. The name derived from a family tradition where the word would be shouted if someone repeated an old tale. Charles eventually became Director of Supplies, and as such knew his way around the Division. His reminiscences have been called into evidence to help solve the puzzle set by Augustus Cuthbert on 25 December 2005.
On page 305 of Gluepots, CWB avers that ‘toilet paper is always good for a laugh . . . fun was made of the awful brown paper supplied throughout the war in sheet form, not least because the technical trade name for the material was Smallhands.’ Other tales refer to Percy Theodore Hann, who joined HMSO in 1914, but paydirt was hit with the following paragraphs:
‘I ought not to let pass the opportunity to set down a success in the matter of toilet paper supply, which may be one of the few enduring changes to be laid at my door. From times further back than anyone can remember, the Royal Navy had been supplied with a special size toilet paper, always in sheets, always the same quality tissue as other Services, civil or military, but of much larger dimensions; and all HM Ships were fitted throughout their Heads with wooden boxes to take this size. It was a costly business to procure this item specially, but ‘Oh yes’ I was told when I came across this anomaly in my new bailiwick in charge of all non-machinery provision and issue, ‘Many attempts have been made to convince them to take normal supply. They depend upon the tradition in the first place; the cost of altering the boxes in the Heads in every ship in the fleet and shore station in the second place; and lastly and incontrovertibly, as they will have it, they have always needed larger pieces — and still do — to allow for the roll of the ship.’ It took a deal of arguing and persuasion to make the Navy see reason, but the economics of tapping into the normal toilet roll supply clearly more than covered the cost of conversion of the wall furniture in a year or two’s consumption. Maybe, also, the more modern ships were not so prone to rolling?’
People Listed alphabetically
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 i/c note); Ron Dann and Jim Stewart (both ex RH Unit — Ron is still with Banner/o2o/Lymeswold); Rita Ryan (still living in Basildon, HMSO class of ’39) 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 30 years ago. (Christine is also happily married and living in Lincolnshire). 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 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.
Michael Terry Harrington started with HMSO at the press in the War Office in1958 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.
Sue Holden (m. Morgan/nee Holden) is lively, well and living in Northern Ireland whence she embarked in pursuit of Steve to whom she is now married (but won't use his name) in 1988. Unfortunately she's had to work for her living since: firstly for British Telecom for a couple of years then, for the last 15 years, for the Health Service. She's skipping gleefully towards retirement which seems to persist as a mirage on the horizon. She now has (as does her ex, Gwyn Morgan) three gorgeous granddaughters, still living in Norfolk, whose company she has the pleasure (?) of for the odd week in the summer holidays. Gwyn cops the regular baby-sitting, though the girls are now 11, 9 and 4, so hardly babies. She's also pleased to report that her dad, Jim Holden, himself ex HMSO, then CCTA from where he retired to make excellent and continuing use of his pension, is hale and (mostly) hearty and still living in Eaton, Norwich with wife Anne. She has many memories of the time when dad was the Officer in Charge of the Cardiff bookshop where, if she called in during school holidays she would be given a heap of filing to do! (Probably rates as child abuse now). Her most recent visit to the Fair City was in July to celebrate her mum's 80th birthday which was done in style with all the family gathered from far and wide for the occasion. She maintains a watching brief on things Norfolkian and HMSonian through Isobel Williamson with whom she keeps in touch and occasionally holidays, and with whom she is going off on 'a jolly big adventure' next month. Perhaps when the Women have returned they may have the odd photograph with which to entrance and delight the Male populace of the website.
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 râle for the remainder of his Civil Service career. Robert is proud to 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 borne. When exhausted by the demands of tSO, he left to form astutech, 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.
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.