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.

New pics added September 2021

Many thanks to Heather Stewart for sending in this picture of her father Norman Douglas Stewart who worked on the Daily Mirror from 1976 to 1984.

Heather also added to the Comments.

Norman Douglas Stewart, Daily Mirror typesetter, 1976-1984
Norman Douglas Stewart, Daily Mirror typesetter, 1976-1984

Heather also sent in these photos from her father’s collection, but has no idea as to who is in the pics. If you can shed any light on them, please comment below.

Withy Grove Sporting Chronicle Chapel
Says Heather: “So I don’t know who is in the following photo, but I reckon that guy in the shiny suit is a boss.. Although maybe not, but he’s dressed like someone with money. Notice the plaque it says Sporting Chronicle Chapel, I wonder if that’s the Chapel people were talking about on your page. Maybe it’s because the photos of the people already on your page, they were the printers of the Horse Racing Newspaper etc (only just figured out what Handicap Book meant, lol). And so the people in the photos I’ve attached below, they might be the printers of the “Nationals” Daily Mirror/Daily Telegraph.


Manchester Arndale Centre pub
Says Heather: “The boss guy in that shiny suit again, with the matching tie…. Anyway, if you look closely, that’s Thompson House, through the window! Actual proof, lol. The building had those weird protuberances on the outside walls below the windows. Photo of Thompson House This photo must’ve been in a club or pub, in the Arndale Centre, (before it was modernised after the IRA bomb), there were weird buildings with those weird rounded oblong windows. If you put this on, mention that it’s Thompson House in the background maybe. Maybe it was the leaving do for the guy in the suit.. No idea who these people are again!
Withy Grove visit
Says Heather: “So I don’t know what’s going on here, some kind of visit by bosses maybe, but there is my dad in the Blue overalls. Again, sadly, I don’t know who any of them are, more bosses in suits in the middle. More typesetting! I don’t even know, if my dad ever advanced to the Linotype machines, is that what people did? Advance on to those. But hand typesetting was a skill too. I have been watching videos today, I didn’t know the difference of it all. Unless people like my dad organised the type after it was created by the Linotype machine, I guess he did that!? He was very clever, if there was advancement available, he’d have been capable. These photos are probably from when I was about 4/5 so around 1981/82, maybe (judging by my dads hair). Think that first separate photo of my dad was about 78/79.
Withy Grove group
Says Heather: “Another group photo, with my dad on the left. I don’t know who any of these men are either.. The guy with the chain round his neck…. No idea where they are either. But they are definitely Printers, I know that.

New Pics November 2023

I have been contacted recently by Derrick Lumb, who sent me these two photographs. I have asked him for further information, names, dates, etc. but so far have received no response. If anyone would like to shed some light on these pictures, please do so in the comments.

In the first one everyone seems to be holding one of their shoes in their hand! Derrick says: “The photo with shoes is comps showing their shoes bought from Albert or Stuart, you could buy almost anything on the shop floor.”

This next one, in colour, I guess would have been taken at a later date.

Stuart Holmes, from night lino comps, contacted me with a couple of photos. He said: “It would be nice to see our names on the site, good memories of happy days.”

So, here’s the night Linos staffing list from about 1985.

Staffing list 1985

Stuart also sent in this one of a banging-out ceremony. “Banging out ceremony, everyone shaking hands with the retiree passing through the composing room to the noise from banging of metal on the stones.”

Banging out Withy Grove

Here’s another one from Stuart. “Withy Grove Night Lino Comps football team ready to play against Lino team.”

Withy Grove football team

Still on a sporting theme . . . “Stermac B bowling team, Thomson Withy Grove. I was the only compositor to play with these stereo department lads. Arthur Grewer was captain. 1980s.” said Stuart.

Stermac B bowling team

“We were well paid in the Comps. Felt like millionaires on a 26 hour week.”

Wage rates

“A happy face you may remember,” says Stuart.

A happy face.

Bringing it right up to date . . . a recent reunion.

Printers reunion

“Lino Ops, Tony Power.”

Printers reunion
John Latham, electrician worked 3 floors down in the cellars where all the power sources for the machines etc. were installed. His father Bert was a lino op and is shown on his retirement night in an earlier photo where he is wearing a silver suit and with the Chapel Committee of the Night Lino.

Withy Grove electricians


Enjoyed the photos? Well, you’ve found the main page! But there’s another couple of pages on Metal Type you may have missed. More photos here: Withy Grove (no names for the people photographed though, maybe you could help out in the Comments) – and some pics sent in by Eric Saltmarsh here: Men and Machines. 

55 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

        1. I certainly do remember Rose in the canteen I went to work with my Mother during school holidays in the canteen I knew them all
          My Mother was Ann

  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.

    2. Hi Keneth
      Do you remember Ian Simmons from the Withy Grove Press compositors 1961 onwards he was an apprentice there while I worked in the printing & bookbinders
      Susan Baker ( nee Dunn)

      1. Sorry Susan. Ian must have moved on before I started there in 1970. Your maiden name rings a bell though. Were you still there in 1970-75 ?

      2. Hi Susan, there was an Ian Simmons that worked on the top floor on the nationals at Thomson House. A really nice guy, wore glasses. Like myself he was made redundant when Maxwell took over. Shortly after that I met him at Manchester Airport. He was working for a money exchange company. Hope this helps.

        Bill Reid

  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

  12. Mike O’Shea here; aged 67 and still a potential degenerate.

    I’m not on any of the photo’s I don’t think because I was a serial ‘bumper’. Work wasn’t important to me – golf and having a good time were top of my list.

    Bring back The Moonraker, George and Gerry; playing pool and Pacman, many many pints. Happy daze.

    Billy Reid, a little diamond of a jock. Great to see you’re still kicking my old mate.

    If there’s ever a meet up lads, count me in.

    e-mail: mikeoshea54@gmail.com

    1. To Mike O’Shea

      Hi Mike,

      It was great to see your comment on the Withy Grove site. It put a big smile on my face and brought a lot of happy memories flooding back. We had some great laughs back in those days Mike.

      The golf outings, Andy Tait’s Wrecked Fisherman’s Trophy Charity Fundraiser and drinking in the pubs around Withy Grove and beyond. Made so many great friends, you included my old mate.

      Memories also of the picketing at Eddie Shah’s Messenger Newspaper. You ended up in hospital and I ended up in a police cell.

      I am 75 in January and I tell you Mike it seems weird being the same age as old people. I had to give up golf 5 or 6 years ago, problem with my neck and few football injuries that have come back to haunt me. I took up photography and that is my main hobby these days.

      It must be about 30 years or more since I last saw you. What have you been up to?

      As I said before it was great to hear from you Mike.

      All the very best mate,


  13. Hi all. I have got Dave to add a picture of my father to this page. He was a letterpress printer at Withy Grove. His name was Norman Douglas Stewart, he was probably friends with some of the people in these photos. He was good friends with a guy called Alan, not sure if it is the Alan in the photos. Sure it was spelt Allan, but not totally sure on that. We lived in Reddish and I think Alan/Allan lived not too far away.
    I don’t know when my dad started, if anyone knows that would be a great help. I know he was a printer in 1976 when my parents got married, maybe he started in the late 60s, early 70s?
    I have a photo of my dad, at his letterpress station. And I have two other photos with people on, somewhere, but I might’ve lost those.. It’s a group of people sat together, some of the faces look like those in these photos. I might look for them tomorrow.
    Anyway, sadly after my dad was made redundant by Maxwell, in 84, he only got a few casual jobs here and there. He tried to learn computers so he could get a more modern job, even buying a ZX Spectrum to help learn and for home use (I tell you, he could’ve become a Games Designer instead). Sadly he died in 1991 after an operation, at the age of 56… He would’ve been 86 this year..

      1. For Heather Stewart.

        Hi Heather,

        Thank you for posting these wonderful photographs. I do recognise all the people in them but can’t remember all their names. I do remember your dad, he certainly wasn’t a grumpy person. He was a real nice guy with a ready smile. Your dad was a compositor (comp) and by the looks of it he was on the chapel committee. That is why he is on so many photographs.

        Most of the photographs that you send in are when people were retiring. It was the printing tradition to “bang out” the person when they made their last walk through their department. Colleagues would bang metal objects, etc., to make a lot of noise, it was quite emotional for someone who had worked there for a long time. That was usually followed by leaving drinks in a nearby pub. The photograph with the Thomson House in the background is from the John Willie Lees which was used quite a lot for leaving do’s.

        It is possible that Alan Pearson was the friend you commented about. Alan is in his 90’s now and lives in Stretford.

        It is so sad to learn that your dad passed away so young. Redundancy at Thomson House hit most of us very hard. It was a great place to work and for the camaraderie between us.

        I hope this helps Heather.

        Warmest regards

        William Reid (Bill)

        1. Haha, hello Bill.

          I just felt a bit weird with that other post I made. So I asked for it to be deleted. He could be a bit grumpy at home, heh. He didn’t like Thatcher, he was always mouthing off at the telly even though only me and my mum could hear him. 😀
          So I kind of wondered if he’d had any friends at work. He had a loss of hearing after having his ears syringed one time and he never could hear the same in one ear, and I think he felt a bit left out because of it. If people said something and he didn’t hear it and then they said “Nevermind”, he hated that.
          It’s nice that both you and Roy remember him a bit, he was very creative, artistic, he nearly joined The Hollies, he knew Eric Haydock (probably Graham Nash too) and some of Freddie and the Dreamers, Karl Denver. But my grandma wanted him to get a proper job, as his dad died in 61. So he became a Printer, I don’t know when exactly. He passed his 11 plus as well, but no money for him to go to Grammar School etc.
          He used to work nights when I was a little kid, he’d go out and then come back with a book for me. (Sometimes he’d come back with some of the cast type pieces, naughty, he took one of George Formby, he was a fan). He’d always tell me and my mum “If you knew some of the stories that didn’t get printed”.

          So those two older guys, with the check suits, walking through when my dad was in his blue overalls, they were likely retiring?? That’s nice that they did that anyway. I googled the pub, I remember when it was all like that.. (I’m 44).
          Is Alan on Facebook? I bet he doesn’t use it. If you ever talk to him, please mention my dads passing. Does he look on here. He might see the photos and remember him.

          My dad had an Aneurism, he was a bit of a smoker. He kind of lost a sense of purpose after losing his job. He didn’t really want to do anything other than printing. (Though he’d have been a great newspaper cartoonist or ZX Spectrum Games Designer in my opinion. He did a lot of Gardening, in the years before he died. He wouldn’t have stopped being a printer if it had been up to him.


          Heather 🙂

          1. Hi Heather,

            When Thomson House was sold off to Maxwell the majority of us felt the impact very hard. I was fortunate enough to stay in printing until I retired. Working nights played havoc with your social life so going on your break for a drink in a pub around Thomson House with your work mates became your social life. So not only did you lose a job you loved you lost a lot of friendships.

            As I said before your Dad was a compositor and I was a linotype operator. My Lino machine was positioned in a row where most people came into the department. I would see your Dad most nights when working and we would always greet each other. As I said before I found him very friendly, one of the lads. I hadn’t realised he had a hearing problem, my dad lost his hearing as he got older and the same is happening to me. So, I can relate to the problems he must have encountered.

            Regarding him shouting at Margaret Thatcher on the television. This was common practice amongst most of us who were trade unionists. She with the help of Rudolph Murdoch went out of her way to decimate the unions. I hated her with a passion because of the vindictive way she went about it.

            You describe your dad has being very creative and it is a shame that these talents were never put to use. His age would be against him when trying for a job at that time as I found out. I was about 38 at the time of the redundancies. Whenever I went for an interview, I was told they were looking for someone under 25.

            Alan Pearson is over 90 years old, he isn’t on Facebook I’m afraid. I live in Thailand and have been here for nearly 14 years. We try keep in touch by the odd letter and a Christmas card. Because of Covid the UK stop receiving mail from Thailand at one stage so I was concerned I would lose contact with him. I have a good friend who also knows Alan and he went to see him at his home for me. The next time I sent a letter I will ask him if he knew your dad.

            I hope you can find out more about your father, he was a lovely man.

            Best regards


      2. Hi Heather,
        I remember your dad. As Bill said he wasn’t at all grumpy, just the opposite very laid-back and friendly. Like Bill I remember some of the faces in the pics but only a few of their names.
        I get the feeling I may have worked with your dad before our days at Thomson’s – possibly Percy Brothers (Hotspur Press) – but it was a long time ago and I can’t be sure.
        best regards
        Roy Webster

        1. Hi Roy, it would’ve been cool if he’d worked at Hotspur Press, such an amazing old building. I hope they do something with it and don’t knock it down, it could be a cool cultural venue, or music venue, or even a Museum of Printing or something.. When did you work at Hotspur? He might’ve worked there since the 60s, or earlier (though he was a Painter and Decorator at some point), I just said 1976, because that was his occupation when I born (in early 77).

          Thanks, Heather. 😉

          1. Hi Heather,
            I worked there from 1967 to 1968. I went to Thomsons on the Day Lino after leaving Percy Brothers (Hotspur Press).
            cheers Roy.

  14. It’s great to see all these photos and memories of Thomson House. My Dad, Dave Wilson, worked on the linotypes between 1975 and circa 1984. I still remember all the characters he talked of. It was never the same once he moved to the Telegraph at Trafford Park.

    1. That makes sense. I was unsure of his exact start date as I was three at the time. He left the Stockport Advertiser to go to Withy Grove. Was walking through the Printworks yesterday and thinking of him. Hope you’re well and thanks for the info Andrew.

  15. John Latham

    I was looking at the photos at the beginning and came across the person in the shiny suit. That happened to be my father Bert Latham who was a Lino type operator. He started in 1959 on the top floor and enjoyed every moment till his retirement. He was a real character and on one occasion he dressed up as an Arab oil sheik proposing to buy the place.
    I also worked there from 1973 as an electrician and went on to Hollinwood and dealt with the new technology. Very happy days indeed.

    1. Awww, is that the guy in my photos? Of my Dad etc. Where they’re having a pint across from Thompson House. In the silver shiny suit? I thought he was the boss! Mostly because of the suit, ha! I’m glad I managed to have a photo of your Dad uploaded!
      I often wondered where my Dad worked there, he might’ve started in the 60s, I’ve said 1976 on here. But I don’t really know when he started. He was going to join The Hollies and he knew a lot of the early 60s beat group members, but he couldn’t and so got a “proper job”.

  16. Hello, all, me again.

    (Hi to Roy and Bill, hope everyone is okay). I just popped on as I was talking and thinking about my Dad. I wonder if that’s my Dads surname, on the list that Stuart Holmes has sent in, as there’s a Stewart there under “Off”. (If he was still working there then at all, he’d be off at a Christmas). I must remember “Compositor”, as my Dads job title. He might’ve worked with Stuart. The card with wage rates on is interesting, I did have a pay packet of my Dads for ages, with his his wage slip, if I find it I’ll take a photo of it. I’m sure he was like on £400 a week, but I always thought that seemed a lot of money for someone to earn in the 70s/80s, maybe it was every month.

    I’m glad I have uploaded a photo with John Latham’s Dad Bert in, you could edit me calling him the “boss” out if you want, and put his name in.
    Does anyone know how I could find out my Dads work history, and when he might’ve worked as a Printer? Or is the only way via the HMRC?

  17. Info for Norman Stewart’s daughter, Heather:

    I worked with Norman quite regularly. He was on the afternoon shift named “twilight shift ” starting time about 2.30pm. His shift would prepare everything for the rest of us who started later. I was on a 5.00pm start. Norman worked on the Daily Telegraph stocks and shares pages named “the figures page” . We updated the daily rise and falls.

    The twilight shift colleagues of Norman were Jack Lloyd, Anthony Gafney, Derek Doughty, Pat Keeley , Alvin Perry, Henry Miles, Bill Horridge mainly.

    Norman was friendly and quiet.

    On occasion I would sing a song whilst working. Norman liked to sing along to Blueberry Hill. The shift for the Twilight staff finished about 9.00 pm and my shift finished the page ready for print.

    We were well paid for our skills as Compositors and £400 was the average weekly pay.

    All good memories.

    Thanks for reading, Stuart H

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