Withy Grove, Manchester – 2

Many thanks to Paul Bailey for sharing these photographs. Says Paul: “Hi, found your site a while ago, I started work at Withy Grove Press, Thomson House, Manchester as an apprentice Monotype Caster & Keyboard Operator in the jobbing section, then I moved (upstairs) to the day composing and linotype section, then finally onto nights as a keyboard op on the national dailies.

I knew I had taken some photos, but I had handed them all out to the lads as mementos when Withy Grove closed down. But having recently purchased a neg scanner to digitise family photos, I found the negs of the ones I had taken at Withy Grove.

When Thomson House closed I went into chemical sales for a while, then went back into printing in Skipton at the Craven Herald as an Apple Mac op, worked in Keighley, Ilkley and Bradford before finally ending up in Blackburn at Newsquest North West Headquarters as a graphic designer. Five years ago the design production was farmed off to India. Since then I’ve had the odd job or two, but if some one offered me a job back at Withy Grove I’d snap their hand off. Great place, great blokes … loved it.

Paul Bailey setting the Telegraph TV guide
Paul Bailey setting the Telegraph TV guide.
Denis Barber (Ali)
Denis Barber (Ali)
Paul Bailey seated and George Vale
Paul Bailey seated and George Vale.
Ken Bond
Ken Bond.
Sam Calvert at the Elrods
Sam Calvert at the Elrods.
Racing-up-to-date crew
Racing-up-to-date crew.
Ged, messenger boy and Dave Grant
Ged, messenger boy and Dave Grant.
Dave Heald
Dave Heald.
Denis Sidebottom and Bomber Harris
Denis Sidebottom and Bomber Harris.
Alan Peason
Alan Peason.
Brian Mottershead and Arthur Bond
Brian Mottershead and Arthur Bond.

24 thoughts on “Withy Grove, Manchester – 2”

  1. Wow, a proper blast from the past! I was only a ragarse at the time, but still keep up with Dave Heald now and again, he will love these. Great pictures Plunger!

      1. I have just text him the website, he will be in his element, especially the one where he is holding a tray of whiskey glasses in one hand and an empty bottle in the other . . . priceless!

    1. What was the celebration Dave? Or was it “normal business.” Have you got any pics that could be used on the site?

      1. It was normal business. Are you an enthusiast about the world we lived in? I don’t recall your name. Dave Heald

        1. Dave Heald as I live and breathe. How’s things with you. Ken Tetlow here. Absolutely loved working at Thomson House. Started as apprentice in Withy Grove Press before moving onto the Linotype on the fourth floor. Happy Days

  2. Wonderful times I was an apprentice machine manager at a Kent paper (Gravesend Reporter). The pics just reminded how the print industry was, full of unforgettable characters, lots of tradition and the unions were so very strong because of genuine support for your fellow colleagues.

    1. I started work at Kemsley House, Withy Grove Press, in the summer of 1961 as a printer and bookbinder I have wonderful memories of my time there I was no stranger to the old place as my mother use to take me to work with her during my school holidays she worked in the canteen her name was Ann she use to take the trolly round in the afternoons, I don’t think there was a room in the old place that I hadn’t been in, even now I write chapters of my time made in Dagenham had nothing on us all, I even took over as MOC when Edith Johnson retired. Sadly I loss track of Les Byers from the print room when friends reunited folded
      Susan Baker (nee DUNN)

      1. Hi Susan, Glad you enjoyed the pics. M.o.C – a thankless task, but plenty of time off work for meetings (that’s my experience as an ex- F.o.C.). Lets hope Les Byers spots the article and makes contact.

        1. Hi there. My dad was FOC at wythy grove Manchester for many years. Love it if someone remembered him or had an photos…. Neil Boardman

  3. I was a Lino op from 1968 to 1979. My name is John Keefe (also known as Monkey!). Just wondering if anyone out there was employed at Thomson House at the same time as me? I left to go to the Daily Express and Daily Star.

  4. My mam Carole Gibson worked there from being 15 so probably from 1960 and left in 1973 on maternity leave. Heard so many stories sounds like it was a great place to work. Her boss was Mr Judd 👍

  5. My Dad, Dave Wilson, worked at Thomson House on the linotype in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Sounded like it was a great place to work and i know he missed it when he left to go the Telegraph in Trafford Park. Thanks for posting the photos. Takes me back to when I was a kid and he showed me around.

  6. Hi. I was an apprentice compositor at Withy Grove Press along with Paul Bailey who was slightly younger than me. Great photos Paul invokogreat memories. Started my 5-Year apprenticeship in August 1970. I used to do 2 hours overtime most nights except Friday and all day Saturday and some Sunday mornings. Loved working there. Worked last couple of years on Monotype keyboard. Then moved upstairs on the newspapers working on a Linotype machine. Moved to Manchester Evening News until redundancy. Started own print business with partner in Deeside. Then bought out by typesetting company in Newton-le-Willows where I relocated and became Production Manager. After 7-8 years again redundant and started digital print business with one of my sons. Now retired but remember fondly the heady days at Withy Grove.

    1. It was the best of times. Made some great friends, still in touch with some. Very fond memories of Thomson House, from Withy Grove Press, Racing-Up-To Date to working on nights on the Nationals. These photographs bring back fond memories of the golden days in my working life. Thank you so much Paul and good to hear from Ken Tetlow.

      1. Hi Bill. Is that you, my first FoC. Still look for Hibs results. Remember well the first Christmas I worked and you and the lads squeezed me into a corner of the Swan With Two Necks and plied me with drinks. I’m sure I had to jump off the bus halfway home to throw up. Happy days, Ken

        1. Hi Ken, so good to hear from you. I can’t believe you are still looking for the Hibs results after all these years. I still look out for them also, though I am afraid Scottish football is at a very low ebb these days. I apologise for being such a bad influence on you all those years ago. You obviously survived those times and I am happy to hear you have done well. You are right Ken they were happy days. So many great lads, so many great memories. I never once thought I didn’t want to go into work in those days.

          When I first worked on the Handicap Book the likes of Paul Whitehead, Richard Larkin and myself were the young Turks. Then you and others came along in the second wave and took over. I am still in touch with Paul and Alan Pearson, Alan is over 90 now. Some of the characters we knew are no longer with us now unfortunately. Sam Calvert was taken too early. I met Sam shortly after coming down from Scotland when I started at Withy Grove Press. We kept in touch up to his passing away about two years ago. Alan Pearson also worked at Withy Grove Press then and I couldn’t have met two better people.

          Brain Mottershead, Arthur Bond, Tony Powers and Alan (Womble) Walters were my drinking companions in those times. Sadly Brian and Alan passed away around the time we were made redundant.

          After the redundancy I went down to London with a few others from Manchester to work at the HMSO. The HMSO were changing to the new technology so we worked there while their employees were being trained at their new premises. It was supposed to be a three month to six month gig but it lasted 13 months for Raj Mudaliar and myself. We worked on the London piece rate so the money was very good.

          When I return to Manchester I did a few nights in at the Express, Daily Mail. I was then asked by a union official if I would do holiday cover at McCorquodales. I was asked back by their management as they were purchasing another Linotype machine. After about 6 to 9 months they wanted to change to Apple Macs. The original Lino operator didn’t want to learn so when I was asked I jumped at the chance. I was tasked with setting up an origination department. Eventually McCorquodales morphed into Communisis and moved to Trafford Wharf. I was the supervisor of the origination department on days for about 12 years before moving onto nights as factory supervisor. In total I worked there 19 years retiring when I was 61. Like you Ken I was lucky enough to stay in printing. For the last 12 years I have been living in Thailand. I am into photography these days and enjoying my retirement.

          I am very grateful to Paul for sharing these photographs, like you he was a great bloke.

  7. I was a compositor at Thomson Withy Grove from 1968 until it closed. Originally on days on the Handicap Book and then transferred to nights in 1971.
    I remember almost everybody in Paul’s pics, particularly Ken Bond and Dave Heald . . .
    . . . and who can forget John Keefe.
    It was a good place to work: the variety of jobs and the different styles of the titles made for interesting work.
    On nights the break time social life (mainly to the pub) was enjoyable – the Hare and Hounds on Shude Hill was a particular favourite – I went there for a pint (or two) about four years ago (30 years on) and it was like going back in time.
    After being made redundant on closure, I had a chance meeting with a chap named Bill Tarbuck who had been a monotype caster apprentice at the same time as I was a comp apprentice at William Morris Press in Northenden.
    At the time of that meeting Bill was a self employed typesetter using a Linotype CRTtronic. I spent a lot of time watching him and eventually I started to do typesetting jobs for him while he had his lunch break.
    Bill had some good connections at Linotype (who were in Altrincham at that time) and through them I managed to get some casual work with a couple of small typesetting companies using CRTronics.
    Next I worked for Tony Williams who had worked in the reading department at Thomsons and on redundancy had set up a typesetting company (originally with Ian Hunter, also from the readers at Thomsons) again using a CRTronic.
    Eventually Tony amalgamated his business with Deanwood Studios who did a lot of work for advertising agencies.
    After I had worked for a few years with Deanwood Bill Taruck approached me about setting up our own typesetting business.
    At the end of 1989 I commenced work as Byeword (the spelling was Bill’s idea – I never did understand the reason). I worked on my own as Bill was a sleeping partner still working from his office in Altrincham.
    Original equipment (memory is a bit hazy here) was a CRTronic and a Linotronic 300 imagesetter with a Rip 4 using a Mac Iix as a front end.
    Byeword was on the first floor in rented accommodation in a converted old mill building in Ardwick Green. In early 1992 there was a fire on the floor above us and our machinery suffered serious water damage.
    Fortunately we were insured and with the help of some friends at Linotype (who found us temporary accommodation and the use of some equipment) we replaced our damaged machinery with a Linotronic 530 and Rip 40 with two Mac IIfx front ends.
    If you think typesetting equipment is expensive today here’s a couple of examples of costs in 1992: A single Linotype font was £186 – that was for a single weight – so if you wanted roman, roman italic, bold and bold italic that would have been £744. Of course you could have bought the full library for £250,000. A 24 inch Sony colour monitor cost us £2,000 (£4,000) today.
    Bill didn’t want to continue so I bought him out – with the help of a couple of sleeping partners.
    After a couple of years it became obvious that typesetting’s big money days were on the way out so we decided to go down the film bureau route (outputting film for companies the did their own electronic artwork but couldn’t afford an imagesetter), so we upgraded to a Rip 50, purchased a software based Harlequin Rip which ran on Windows XP and also bought a Linotronic 330 as a back-up to the 530.
    By 2001 it had become difficult to make a living without working 10 hour plus days so Byeword moved in-house at a printers in Longsight to help when their artwork and imagesetting departments were busy. With the work I was doing for this printers, some typesetting for small printers and film bureau work i managed to make a living until I retired at the end of May 2010, just short of 49 years in printing. I did carry on doing some typesetting and artwork from home for a few companies for two or three years after retiring.
    I don’t see anybody now who I worked with at Thomsons except Barry Stonier (comps) who is my brother-in-law, but Ken Bond and Derek Lumb (comps) both helped me out by covering for me several times each so I could take holidays.

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