NOSTALGIA: I was torn off a strip for not picking up the phone quickly

Many of you will remember the front office of the Evening News in Stanhope Road opposite Portsmouth & Southsea railway station. It was a classic of its time with polished teak counters and dozens of pigeonholes for mail against the back wall.Â

Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 1:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:35 pm
The Evening News and Hampshire Telegraph offices in Stanhope Road, Landport, Portsmouth, in the 1950s.

These places were always governed by women who looked and dressed as if they were entering the Miss World contest. The offices closed in 1969 and moved to Hilsea and a way of life for the employees ended at a stroke.

One who started her working career there was Jean Morley (née Glenister), then from Kirby Road, North End, now living in New Zealand. Tim King, the paper's former naval correspondent, is still in touch with her and she sent him these memories. 

'˜I started with the Evening News aged 15 just after leaving school. I was interviewed by a Cyril Maule on a Saturday afternoon for a job as a messenger girl.  When I arrived on the Monday morning I was taken up the lovely wide staircase to a large room to meet Mr Wilkinson, the chief sub-editor. It was quiet  with two long tables around which were seated several men with heads down checking pieces of paper.

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Jean Morley, nee Glenister, as she looked in her Evening News days.

'Mr Wilkinson introduced me to three other girls who were sitting at a small table underneath a brass tube which went up through the ceiling. This went to the compositors who set the print for the corrected stories that were to go in the paper that day. Rolled-up copy paper was put into a container, then into the base of the tube and it was sucked up and disappeared. 

'˜One job was to go across to the Town Station and collect anything that had arrived by train; another was to go to the courts and collect the latest from the reporter there. When I took my bicycle to work I had to go to the Harbour Station, again to collect copy.

'˜Going around the building itself, across the passage to the creed room (teleprinter room), to the readers' room (proof readers) or down into the depths to the printing department (press room) where huge rollers turned out the papers at a rate of knots, was very interesting.

'˜One thing I wasn't keen on was getting the morning and afternoon teas for the men. This meant climbing a flight of steel mesh stairs to the canteen where Mrs Tann was in charge. One morning I was on my way down with the large tray laden with cheese rolls and cups of tea, when my stiletto heel caught in the mesh and the tray went flying.

'˜Another job was to sort the mail, some for Mr Robinson the sports editor, some for the editor and so on. Names I remember were Sheila Wilson, Margaret James, Sheila Pratt from the typing pool; Miss Bentley from advertising; Mr Bryson, Graham Hewitt, Joan Fry from front office,and sisters Pat and Joan Wingent.

'˜After a few months, a vacancy came up on the switchboard from where I had to ring all sorts of places.

'One day, Sir Samuel Storey, the chairman of Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers, rang and blasted me as I didn't answer straight away. The switchboard was busy and I had no way of knowing he was ringing. I was summoned to general manager TG Moore's wood-panelled office and torn off a strip.'

Another job was to read football results to every branch office so they could use machines to print stop press columns. On Saturday afternoons the switchboard was jammed with reporters trying to phone in match reports. '˜Spare time,' she says, '˜was used for painting nails or toasting rich tea biscuits on a small electric fire.'

Eventually Jean left the paper and went to work at Avery Hardoll at Havant where she met the man she was to marry, David Morley, when she was 21. In June 1965 they emigrated to New Zealand. If you remember Jean and would like to contact her please do so on [email protected].