Before the days of e-mail

Signal box - The bleak and isolated siting of the Idsworth signal box illustrates the loneliness of the signalman's lot

THIS WEEK IN 1970: Time runs out on the lonely reign of a signal box man

Have your say

I received several replies to my article last week when I described working in the old offices of the Evening News in Stanhope Road, Portsmouth.

One came from Alan Wellman and it tells us how we have moved on in the past 50 years.

Alan says that in 1962 he worked in the Gosport office and it was his duty to take advertising and reporters’ copy across on the ferry to Portsmouth, then to Stanhope Road where he delivered it around the departments.

Nowadays, of course, it would all be sent by e-mail. With promotion, Alan ended up running the front office for a year after production of the paper had moved to Hilsea.

When the office finally closed, a temporary office opened in the LDB, then moved to Lake Road.

Alan ended up working for the company for 28 years. Some of the news vendors he remembers (apart from my father) were Mr Ducalion from Fratton Bridge, Albie Dines from Arundel Street and Mr Andrews from the Post Office opposite the Town Station.

Another seller I must mention is Tom Rees, who sold papers and magazines outside Aggie Weston’s in Edinburgh Road.

Tom had a cancerous bottom lip caused, I was always told, by putting money between his lips while giving change. It was not a pretty sight and he was not allowed into the canteen of Weston’s.

When he used to see me he would give me his mug and, in a very gruff voice, say: ‘Get me tea, boy.’ This would frighten the life out of many a young lad, but I knew Tom from a very young age and he was a pal of my father’s as well.

I once saw a photograph of Tom as a young man in the navy and he was a handsome man.

Another who dropped me a line was George Warner, who was employed as an office junior in the advertising department of the paper.

George got the job as another boy attended the interview with his mother! God help us. George’s main job was digging out lead advertising blocks and taking them to the compositing room for staff who were laying out the pages of the paper.

When George told them he was leaving, the advertising manager came to the pub where he lived, The Air Balloon at Rudmore (his father was the landlord), to try to get him to change his mind.

George had a job lined up at RNAY Fleetlands, but he would always wonder what life would have thrown up had he been persuaded to stay.