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.

More pics, added January 2021

Brian Stafford sent in these pictures. If you have any pictures taken at Withy Grove that you would like to see here please get in touch.

Doc's retirement, Withy Grove
Doc’s retirement from the Handicap Book. Left-Right: Brian Stafford (always fell asleep for photos); Arthur Bond; Doc Holliday; Jack (old pal) after he’d trapped his finger in the delivery guide on an Intertype (ouch!).
Brian Stafford typesetting on an Intertype in 1985 at Thomson Withy Grove, taken by Doc Holliday.
Brian Stafford typesetting on an Intertype in 1985 at Thomson Withy Grove, taken by Doc Holliday.

32 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.

    1. Hi Rich. My dad (late) worked on the presses and as FoC at the same time as your dad. And then they moved to Oldham.

  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.

  8. Withy Grove

    Bob Alan Brian – Phil Brian M Bill

    Withy Grove
    Bob Phil Dave Brian

    Withy Grove
    Dave Brian Mottershead Phil Brian Stafford

    Withy Grove
    George Jack – George Dunnie Ronnie

    Withy Grove
    Jack retirement

    Withy Grove
    Norman Phil Ronnie

    Withy Grove
    Phil Brian Bob Jack Ken Alan

    When I finished my apprenticeship I applied for a job at Thomson House Newspapers, but for a day
    time shift as at the time I did not want to work regular nights. I was interviewed by the Head Printer,
    Ronnie Saycell, who was a very fair boss to work for and who had my full respect.

    Then began my seven very happy years working on The Handicap Book as a Linotype operator and
    FOC and have many great memories with Dave Heald, Ken Tetlow and Alan Pearson in the Chapel
    office and having a bottle of Alan’s recommended Famous Grouse Whisky.

    Some other names I recall are: Fred Hardman, Jack Wilkinson, ‘Old Pal’ Jack, Bill Reid, Vincent Smith
    (unfortunately no longer with us), Denis Brady,Vincent Clarkin, Steve Pickering, Brian Mottershead,
    Alan Pearson, Bob Woolley and Denis Brady. Also in the photos are: George Rennie, Brian Stafford,
    Bernard Clarkin, George Dunn (MD at Thomson House, I think) and Brian who worked with Sam
    Calvert but can’t remember his second name.

    We all had some great laughs, one was when Bill had his hair curled and Sam along with others all appeared around him with curly wigs on (sorry Bill)!

    Unfortunately, although I exchange Christmas cards with Dave and Ken Tetlow, we haven’t met up for
    years, maybe we should soon?

    In 1980 my son was born and I moved onto nights at the Daily Mail until made redundant. Spent 3
    months baggage handling at the airport before getting a typesetting job in Macclesfield on CRTronic
    and then APL230 before moving to APS in Cheadle where I spent the next 27 years mostly as Studio
    manager, until retiring in 2018.

    The Mail still holds a reunion twice a year in Manchester and though the numbers are now dwindling we still have 12-16 people turn up.

    1. Brilliant to see the old photos Phil, brings back so many good memories. If you can email me at ken.tetlow@gmail.com maybe we can arrange a get together with Dave and Paul Bailey who seems to have set the ball rolling down memory lane.

    2. Hi Phil, I remember the curly wig incident very well. I think there is a photograph of the guys in them around somewhere. Sam probably instigated it as he was always up for a laugh. Piss taking was part of the culture in Thomson House.

      I met Sam and Alan Pearson shortly after coming down from Scotland when I got a job at Withy Grove Press. The three of us became lifelong friends unfortunately Sam died a couple of years ago.

      I left Withy Grove to learn the Linotype at The Whitefield Guide. After about two years I applied for a job on the Handicap Book. Like you Ronnie Saycell interviewed me. He recognised me from my days at Withy Grove, as we had to go up to the fourth floor to use their equipment. He asked me when I could start and that was the extent of my interview. In my dealings with Ronnie when I was FoC I also found him very fair. He was a true gentleman and I had a lot of respect for him.

      It was slightly different with George Dunn as we clashed a few times. He came out with a belter one day when we had disagreement over something. He said: “Listen lad we may come from the same country but we don’t speak the same language”. The saying became Handicap Book folklore as Alan Pearson who was present at the time love retelling it every time we went to the pub. After saying that I also had a lot of respect for George. He ran Thomson House practically on his own, no mean feat.

      It was nice to see you kept in the printing game. It is great to see these photographs, which bring back so many happy memories. If you do see Ken Tetlow again give him my very best wishes and good luck to you.

      Bill Reid

    3. Hi Phil, Just stumbled on this webpage, by accident, great photos and memories! Worked at Thomson House, from 1974 on Handicap Book, when the book finished, moved onto nights until redundancy, end of 1985, happy days and nights! (still heartbroken)! Sadly never managed to get work in printing again! Reverted back to life as a pauper! Alas never met anyone from Thomson House again, until about 10 years ago, when I came across Bob Davidson! Would be great to meet up again with you guys, sometime in the future (covid permitting)! regards to all!

      1. Hi Brian, good to hear from you. I have been in touch with Dave and Ken and we are getting together when this Covid has gone away and will let you know when and where hopefully in 2021. Let me have your email mine is bradley377@btinternet.com. Regards Topcat

  9. Hi I wonder if anyone can help me. My dad, John Thompson worked at Withy Grove I think from around 1950 until its closure in the 80s. He died last year and I’m currently in the process of trying to write a book which will contain details of his life, which to my shame I know very little about. I have no real clue what he actually did there. On his death certificate it said “journalist” but to my knowledge, he never wrote a single article! He worked alongside a chap named Harry Jones and I think his immediate boss was George Dunn (who I have very fond memories of). I had a difficult relationship with my dad and I’m interested to know what kind of man he was at work, where he spent most of his time.
    If anyone has any information I’d be so very grateful.

  10. First job Editorial Messenger with the Daily Telegraph started June 1966 world cup summer £3.11s.6p per week for working 5 days 2:30pm until 10:00pm so also taken on by News of the World on the Saturday for £1.50 was there 1967 when the grand national was won by Foinavon and still remember the tea lady winning the sweep lol , so there was I 15 years old working 6 days a week including Saturday and Sunday for just over a fiver a week which my mum had 3 pounds of it.

  11. I was a copy boy for the Sunday mirror in the late 70s my dad was circulation manager for the Sunday Times, Jack Hannah. I got to know every place in that rabbit Warren, good memories, it’s was very strange to walk up the ramp into what it is now. I wish there were more photos of how it used to be. Thanks posting these photos

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