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---- Ken Morrist remembers-- Good Old PHIL GUNNINGHAM--, -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------he used to have to get the bus to work, or walk. He decided to get himself a little two stroke moped and put in for the driving test. Later he told us in the factory at Love Lane that they had not passed him when he took it, explaining that the examiner asked him the sequence of the traffic lights, where-by Phil told the examiner that there were no traffic lights the way he went to work, so he had no idea.

Jay Curtis Remembers MARTYN WHALE--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------About a year after the closing of the Love Lane site, Martyn Whale (now in New Zealand) was working at the Medway City Estate site and was interested in seeing where Staples had been in Rochester. They went up Love Lane and the place was still empty with a hole in the side panneling where the Printa X had originally been removed. They got inside for a look round and Jay found the old fire instruction sign still there. He rescued it.see photo page 5.

Geof Curtis remembers TERRI GATES-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Terri was a very forth-right Scottish lady who worked in the kitchen-- and I will never forget that if you asked her for a cup of tea she would always respond 'get doon the steer' in her rich Scottish accent. This was her way of suggesting that you 'go down stairs to the canteen and get one.' See her picture -6th photo on page 5

Freda Jeffery remembers NOBBY HOWES. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------My husband Ken and Norman (Nobby) Howes worked together in the Commercial Office for many years, where they were highly respected members of staff. Anyone who was familiar with their workdays will know of their lunch-time walks down to the shops. They would set off together like bullets out of a gun and keep up a pace that made anybody exhausted just watching. ---Chatham and back in the break was nothing to them. Suprisingly no-one offered to join them ----.See them standing side by side 2nd photo on page 6.

Lee Fairbrother remembers ARTHUR ROLING--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------A certain top compositor, Arthur often had everyone in stiches with his unbelievable, but often true stories. A couple that spring to mind are one where, because he spent a large proportion of his day at SPR and living alone, he was concerned about being burgled. So he purchased a WOODEN dog and placed it in his front window to deter any wrong-doers. But the ditty I really love, was when he fell out with his electricity supply company, so just to spite them, he TURNED ON every electrical device in his house----and then came to work.-------- Hah that got em, he said !!!!!

Lee Fairbrother remembers PHIL GUNNINGHAM----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ah yes, for as a boy as I remember him as Uncle Phil-- along with many other SPR employees, that in my younger days, I regarded as Uncles. He decided it would be a spiffing wheeze, back in the mid-fiftes, at one of Mr Bacon's excellent Garden Parties, to place me under the boss's strawberry nets and tell me to help myself! To which I dutifully obliged---and got well and truly told off for doing so!!!

Lee Fairbrother remembers GEOF CURTIS ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------And now one for the wonderful Geof Curtis on the one and only time he truly ''lost it'' I remember him rushing into the planning dept., red as a beetroot with fists flaying clutching a piece of photographic paper.-------- He launched into an unbelievable tirade, the like we had never seen before. The reason for this outburst, was that someone had written ''Where's the Bromide?'' in the centre of a piece of Medport Cartoon A/W,------ now we, namely, Len Williams, Ray Walters, Norman Coward, Gary Freestone and Myself all loved and respected Geof and we were all waving and pointing and generally trying to explain that this was indeed part of the A/W cartoon and was a joke about cooling Sailor's ardour!!!!

Oh dear Geof, never lived that one down, we didn't see him for a couple of hours.

Geof Curtis remembers-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The time that is told of above- I think that it taught me a very valuable lesson --- not to go off half cock. I tried never to react that way ever again, being so very wrong to a good bunch of lads was painfull.

John Turner remembers FRED MARSH-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Fred would come pushing into the washroom in his usual loud bustling way and plunge his hands into the sink of water that he and Ken Warren had drawn for their own use, after elbowing them out of the way. So they used to run the water boilng hot-- too hot to put their hands into, hoping Fred would scald his hands. Fred still pushed them out of the way plunged his hands in, washed them and never batted an eyelid.

John Turner remembers Jim (Chic) INGRAM------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chic was fanatical about oiling his machine, so he and Ken would wait until Chic had finished his oil-up and settled down at the back of the machine with it running, to read his paper. Then they would make a rythmic high pitched whistle in time with the movement of the machine and laugh as he would scurry round with the oil-can, trying to stop the squeak. They would stop and he would settle down and a few minutes later start the whistle again- and off he would go with the oil-can.

Tony Styles remembers the good times------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ --my memories of Rochester go a long way back. In my mind I remember the friendships and the individual characters that made the company what it was. From 1961 I served as a compositor under Manager Les Robotham, a great individual who taught me a lot. Later when he retired I got his job as Dept. Manager which gave me my first experience in a managerial role. At that time the Love Lane factory was bursting with activity working 7 days a week, which everybody was pleased about. Then eventually I rose up into the office with Jimmy Rock, to try to climb the ladder of success. This later led to greater things for me and I became Director/General Manager, during my last few years at Rochester.

I am proud to have worked at Rochester and constantly think about all my friends that were there. There were some great people working for the cause and it is so sad to see it all gone now.

To all the staff its great to hear the comments coming up on this web-site. I live in Lincolnshire now, away from medway, but I still have many pleasant thoughts about you all.

Andy Baker now in Christchurch New Zealand remembers---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------a certain machine minder in the 60s (that was one of those people who stood by a machine saying "mind my machine") SORRY JUST AN OLD COMP JOKE. This minder had a thing about singing and particularly the song "American Woman" and used to perform this from the platform of his machine, using a screwdriver handle as a mic.,-- He says he remembers me doing this and asks "did you invent karaoke Geof?"

Brian Bull remembers Love lane--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I was a Compositor Apprentice at the Stanhope Press/Staples Printers from Novemberish 1950 until 1954/1955. I was a late joiner and didn't have to do the full five years apprenticeship. I was initially under the watchful eye of Mr H J Clinch, JP, who allowed everyone to call him Bert. I found him a very understanding and personable 'master' who forgave me any indiscretions I may have committed. He taught me a lot, particularly as my only understanding of the printing industry had been at the Printing Department at the Medway College of Art. Least said.

Later on in my apprenticeship I had the essential experience of being coached by such notable staff members as Arthur Hibben (jobbing), Maurice Kent (Newspaper Press Directory), Jack Ellender and George Martin (Europa Publications) plus other 'comps' who were always helpful and understanding.

I stayed at Staples for two further years or so then moved to W & J Mackay & Co in Chatham to broaden my experience and knowledge. This was a very useful in seeing new approaches to production and quality concerns.

From Mackay's I joined the Kent Police in 1964, but circumstances at that time were not right and I returned to Staples Printers, Rochester, for 10 further years. Many of the old members were still there and it felt like I had never been away. However, the calling for the Police Service began again and I rejoined Kent Police in 1977, where I remained as an Officer until 1989 then worked for them as a civilian employee until final retirement.

I made many friends at Staples Printers and remember many of them. It will be interesting to see what Staples site has in its memories.


Brian Bull, Rainham, Kent.

Jeff Huggins, now in Spain, remembers Jack Foord-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He says that is was particularly great to see photos of Jack, who was his 'journeyman' throughout the five years of his apprenticeship. He has often spoken of him to his wife, particularly about all the trouble he put Jack through, getting up to all sort of escapades. He thinks that Jack had the patience of a saint. At times he was like a second Father to him.

 

Jeff also remembers Saturday morning overtime at Love Lane.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He was doing 4 hours overtime one Saturday morning and had the idea that He would pop out into the lane to crawl under his Ford Popular to check out some renovations that might be needed. As he lay there with his feet sticking out into the road, some 'bright spark' came along and kicked them enquiring "what the hell do you think you are doing?" As with all apprentices, the reply was mainly four letter words, until he removed himself from under the car and he realised that it was the Works Manager. ( He can't remember his name). In his opinion it was only the persuasion of Jack Foord that saved him from being sacked and he was banned from overtime for three months (gulp), what a close Shave.

 

Bob Dunn remembers minders and their cars at Love Lane.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I remember when Geof Curtis passed his driving test, but not the date. He bought an Austin Cambridge made in the 1960s and registered in Brighton. For some unknown reason it became known as "the Sussy bus". Once in a while our good ladies would let us out for a night, (had we told them it was a union meeting?) and we would all meet in The Coopers Arms, We would all then 'pile' into the Sussy bus and head off somewhere.

This car had a strange habit of only being able to turn left and somehow we would usually seem to end up at Whitstable. Later after a few beers, coupled with a bowl of whelks and cockles from the stall outside The Pearsons Arms, it was all back on board.

By this time the Sussy bus had recovered its ability to turn right and it always got us back to the Coopers Arms in time for a 'lock in' thanks to Charlie and Hetty who ran the pub at that time. much explaining to our respective good ladies ensued next morning and we were usually grounded. ------ TILL THE NEXT TIME!

I also remember when Ken Morrist traded his first car in, for what I think was a Vauxhall Victor at about this same period. He always said it was well run in, being an ex taxi with about a million miles on the clock. Ken could be a nightmare to go out with at times. He was always joking and sometimes would pull over to ask some old bloke out walking his dog on a rainy night for directions. The trouble was, that he would break into an unknown mixed up language.--- It would go something like this.---- "Comprendie pour fovour, parle vous Rushkie?"--- the reply was "no mate, sorry."--- Ken would continue, "Ver ist Bur Ham?",--- -Do you mean Burham?, came the reply in a loud voice.---" Ya Vole Senior-- Burham." Ken would agree. --- Then there would be a head thrust in the passenger window, with water dripping of the trilby hat, all over your best Chinos, while the poor bloke would try to give directions, very loudly in broken English. ---- Suddenly Ken would reply, "thanks Mate, now I remember it from the last time I went there". With which flourish, he would drive off, leaving a stunned looking stranger and a wet scottie dog with a big grin on its face.

Later on, Ken bought a maroon V W Beetle, we were on night work at one time when he lent it to me and Tom Blacklock---- but thats another story!

WONDERFUL MEMORIES--- -- Best wishes to all and thanks to Geof for a great site. Bob Dunn Oct 2010.

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Note from Geof.----- It was called 'Sussy' bus because it came from Sussex, (Brighton). It was LKK 540, was red and grey and had those sharp 'Marina' fins on the back, later Will Gates sprayed it dark Blue for me. It ended its life when the engine blew up and it ran out of steam,----but not before being used for transport on their summer holidays by Tom Blacklock and then Norman Heard.-------Not everyone had cars in those days and it helped them to have a good time.--- Then I got the 'Orange Sparkle'. It was a bright orange Ford Van that was also good for the 'union meetings' with plenty of room in the back for the lads, --------also the lasses, if I remember correctly. GTC.

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Stewart Murray remembers Jack Harrison.-------- Jack was one of the "old timers" at Love Lane and had a wicked sense of humour. I recall the time when Jack had got back on his machine at Love Lane after lunch when big Reg Letchford came looking for him. Reg was the commercial manager, tall and bulky and always wearing a tight dark blue suit, flecked with fag ash. He squinted at Jack with his screwed up face and peered through his small round glasses, saying in his squeeky voice, " How did you manage to clock in at 1 p.m., when I saw you riding your bike up the lane at 1.10 p.m.?"-- Jack looked at him and replied "I Hurried".

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Tom Blacklock remembers Love Lane. He recalls the table tennis and playing snooker on a little table shaped like an aeroplane propeller where the balls never went where you wanted them to go. Also the four letter word game that we played when the machines were running.-------------- And candlelit early morning Skiffle sessions when the three day week was on due to the power shortage, with guitars and tea chest base. Happy Days.

*Note from Geof. I think the word game that we invented was called Turn Word. You changed one letter from the word you had passed to you (but not the one that had just been changed) and the object was to come up with a word that could not be changed into another.

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Bob Dunn remembers John Rodda.

Times with 'A Good Ole Boy'===== I first met John in January 1966. One of my first jobs on the Heidelberg Cylinders at Love Lane was printing a 4 colour section of a Focal Press pocket book of colour photography. Peter Allard was the compositor on day shift working on this job when I started it. The shifts changed and he went on nights and his opposite number on the rota, then came and worked with me on days. That was John. IT WAS THE START OF A LONG AND MEMORABLE FRIENDSHIP------John was a first class compositor, modest but taking great pride in his work. When you put a 'John Rodda' job on your press, you knew you had a 'good un'. -------John was one of the 'Coopers Arms' lunchtime gang. (I remember your seat Bob-- it was in the corner under the clock with Rod Stewarts 'Maggie May' playing. G ). We all enjoyed many a good pint at these sessions. On nights we would often take an early break and have the last hour or so before closing time down there. The problem was, the 'Coopers' did not shut at closing time very often and it could be hard to prize John out of the bar to return to work. Strangely though, he could still set type or impose a forme as good as ever!

A few years on and two young ladies started work in the offices at Love Lane. One named Pauline worked in wages and the other, Karen, was a secretary.--- little did John and I know that they were to be our future wives. After a while we often went out together as a four-some. We all left Staples at the end of the 1970s. I went to work at Bowater Cartons and Karen went into social services. John and Pauline moved to her home town, Chichester in Sussex. John stayed in the trade for a while, but with the continuing demise of Letterpress printing and John not keen to retrain to Litho, they decided to convert the large three story Victorian house that they had bought, into a guest house. John was a good handyman and it was amazing to see what he could make out of a few old pallets.

Karen and I spent some great weekends in that house with them. Their two children, Jane and Dean were born there. Sometimes, we would go down and look after the kids and run the place, so that John and Pauline could get away for a few days.--John became good at growing his own vegatables and produce on his allotment. He also kept chickens for lovely fresh eggs and rabbits for the pot. John loved his food and could have won prizes for the way he demolished a meal before the rest of us had hardly started. I've never seen anyone clear fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, whilst walking along the front at Blackpool, like he did. I swear the paper went down too!

In the early 90s, John and Pauline sold up in Chichester and moved to Wales, near to Newcastle Emlyn. By this time, Karen and I had gone our separate ways, but John and I always remained in touch. I went down to see them a couple of times and John came to Rainham now and then. He loved going to 'my local' The Boatswain and Call, some good nights were had in there. ( A favourite drinking hole for Harry Russell of the machine room in the old Love Lane days. G). One time in Wales John said "lets go to my local". It was the time between Christmas and New Year. The weather had been awful with storms and floods. "Its not too far", said John. Ha Ha!--- We set off with torches in the pitch dark, (no street lights there). The road started to get steeper in a downward direction, till it was near vertical. "How do we get back up after a few bevvies?" I asked, "Don't worry about that" he replied, "it will be worth the surprise you get when you meet the landlord".--- "It must be someone I know", I thought. ----- On entering the bar at last, I could not believe my eyes. Germany's second world war leader did not die in a bunker after all, he was running a pub in Wales and speaking with a Welsh accent. He was a perfect double.--- A very good night was had and I was most relieved when Pauline came to pick us up in the car. John had a good bit of land with this property and kept his usual animals, plus goats, for milk, I think,--- also horses and ponies for Pauline and the children. He carried on growing his produce as usual.

I have many more good memories of John, too many to list here, all great fun and happy times.

HE WILL BE GREATLY MISSED.

BOB DUNN. May 2011

click here to see John and Paulines picture.

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Geof Curtis remembers Alan Luckhurst------------------------------------ having been told today that Alan is still around and well, makes me remember the trip that some young guys made to India (I think). Working at Love Lane at that time, it seemed an amazing thing for them to do.------------- Being all that time ago, my memory plays tricks. I believe that it was Alan, David Clements and Brian Ellis .--------If I am right, they went in Alans VW Beetle, driving all the way to India. Please if there is anyone out there who can put me straight, then I would love to hear from you.

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Rod Palmer remembers Staples and Bruce Hayes. --------There were many things that happened at Staples that were funny and amusing. I was very much of an observer of such things in the years I worked there.

I recall on one occasion there was a Fire alert in the Bindery at Love Lane; a Folder machine developed a fault and thick, choking, acrid smoke, began to fill the factory. We were verbally alerted to vacate the premises (for some reason the Fire Alarm failed to go off) and we all trooped outside, coughing and spluttering, to assemble in the yard to await the arrival of the Fire Brigade.

Ron Honess in his capacity as Jobbing Manager, and part-time Fireman at Sheerness where he lived, took it upon himself to find out what the problem was and where it was situated in order to report it to the Officer-in-charge when the Fire Brigade arrived.

The Fire Brigade arrived and the Firemen went about their business, running out hoses and entering the building through the smoke to tackle the incident as we stood outside as a group watching the events unfold.

After a while order was restored and the situation was bought under control.

Suddenly, somebody said ‘Where’s Bruce!?’

Now Bruce – you may all remember, was a very pleasant affable chap – but he was wheelchair bound. He’d suffered Polio and worked as a Reader for the firm. He sat in his wheelchair hidden away in a little curtained off caboose every day at the far end of the Jobbing department in the old Comp room. He’d get terribly lonely on his own in that caboose.

‘Has anyone seen Bruce?’ went the cry once again. ‘Bruce? No – I haven’t seen him’ replied one.
‘I thought he was with you!’ went another.

Bruce had been forgotten in the melee!

Eventually the smoke cleared, the Firemen made up their hose and we were given the OK to go back inside.

I went to see Bruce to see how he was. There he was in his little caboose, the canvas curtain still in place across the entrance, quite unperturbed, blithely carrying on with his reading, completely and totally unaware that anything had happened!

‘Hello Bruce,’ I asked as I went in, ‘are you alright?’

He looked up. ‘Oh, Hello,’ he replied. ‘Tell me,’ he said somewhat mystified, ‘has something happened? It’s all gone terribly quiet, and there’s this sort of fug in the air, and a rather strong smell of smoke!!!’

*                         *                         *

Another occasion I recall was when little Jim Jeffreys, a young Comp-room apprentice, took pity on Bruce sitting alone in his little caboose all day and, out of the kindness of his heart, offered to treat Bruce to a midday break. It became a regular thing each day for Jim to wheel Bruce away from his desk each Lunchtime and along to the Backfields high on the hill at the back of Staples at Love Lane. There, on a lovely sunny day, little Jim would stand alongside Bruce in his wheelchair admiring the scene high on the hill overlooking the beautiful countryside, the river Medway, and the Motorway Bridge away in the distance.

One day as they stood there surveying the scene, rumour had it that little Jim had failed to properly secure the handbrake on the wheelchair in which Bruce sat, and as they viewed the scene, the wheelchair began to roll forward.

Shaken out of his reverie, little Jim made a lunge for the chair as it rolled away, grabbed the handles and was immediately yanked off his feet by the gathering momentum as he desperately fought to restrain it from going any further down the hill, but without success! Great beads of sweat appeared on little Jim’s brow as he desperately struggled to hold it back, but the weight of Bruce on such a steep incline was too much! Yelling out to Bruce to ‘Hold on tight!’, Jim began to slip and slide, and finally – too late – they both careered down the hill with little Jim hanging on the back for all he was worth, both of them scared out of their wits as they disappeared down the hill in a great cloud of dust and smoldering shoe leather!

I have no idea if this really happened quite as I’ve described  – it was a rumour – but picture the scene. Poor Bruce, sitting helpless in the chair and little Jim hanging on the back as they hurtled down the hill! The story going the rounds at that time certainly raised a laugh! Click here to see Rod's cartoon.

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Alan Luckhurst I remember, wrote a series of very funny and amusing biographies for those members of the Chapel who were about to retire. I wonder if they could be reproduced for the website?

*                         *                         *

I also have a collection of the famous amusing sayings of Arthur Rolings at home here. Maybe a few quotes wouldn’t go amiss? I wonder, has anyone heard anything about old Arthur recently?
Could it be that old Arthur has departed from us and gone to the great Comp-room in the sky?

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Dave Sandford - who worked at Love Lane 1973-1977 remembers that he was made redundant at a small newspaper in Cuxton as an apprentice and finished his training at Staples. His overseer was Tony Styles and the deputy was Reg Farmer, who he has met quite recently (June 2012). He mentions that he was good friends with Dave Slater, who was the first Litho minder at Love Lane running the newly purchased N.P 56 perfector.

He also remembers some of the apprentices - Peter Martin, Steve Risbridger and Jim Jeffries, who, in his words, was always drinking milk. He also remembers Con. Quinn, Arthur Roling and Len and Lee Fairbrother.

He recalls that he 'was a bit of a rascal' in those days and when Tony Styles had gone out for the afternoon - he would put on Tonys' white coat and creep up on people asking "what page they were on?".--------------- His other memory is that he lost count on the number of times he heard the starting bell ringing as he was running up Love Lane to clock in, missing the time and losing a 'quarter. He says he "can see so many of the old faces -- but cannot put names to them-- and that is terrible".

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Brian Bull e-mailed to say that the site has grown so much since he last saw it -- and adds these memories--

There are many memoris that I either witnessed or had told to me. One I had told to me involved one Brian Ellis, comp apprentice working at the time with Len Fairbrother when I returned to Staples in 1966. For some reason I have now forgotten, a hole was cut in the floor adjacent to Len's/Brian's frame and, I believe if memory serves me right, close to wall. Beneath this hole was Nell Blackman's tea kitchen. In his usual arsing about, Brian Ellis managed to fall through the said hole. His fall was broken by a flooring beam running across so he caught the full impact on his privates and never reached the floor below. Down below an irate Nell Blackman fearing all sorts of intrusion into her domain and personal safety was to be seen and heard leaping up and down armed with the broom she kept there encouraging one Brian Ellis to get out of her kitchen. Apparently all was hilarious.

Another incident that comes to mind was the night of the great fire. That night I believe I was working with just Peter Allard in the Comp Room. Somewhere in the premises Mac the general purposes sweeper-upper/general cum all was going about his business, whilst in the Machine Room one or two presses were churning out the production. Pete Allard and I sat down for our meal break and everything seemed quiet and peaceful. Except every now and then we became aware of what sounded like Mac out in the boiler room breaking up old bits of wood to throw on the big old coke boiler that supplied the central heating and hot water. We thought nothing of this initially but a little later the sounds were becoming louder and more frequent. By now we had become alarmed enough to go and have a look. Pushing open the door we were almost thrown back by the heat of the raging fire from within the boiler room. Beating a hasty retreat I think it was Pete Allard who shot off to phone for the Fire Brigade. Mac appeared from wherever and a rather old rubber hose pipe was fitted to an outside tap and we vainly tried to dampen the inferno. I also remember I then dashed back into the Comp room and shot up the steps to the old wash room that overlooked the outside view to the boiler house. The heat inside here was quite considerable so it was back downstairs and by this time the Fire Brigade turned up and got things under control. Hose pipes and water everywhere. It was all quite heart thumping stuff and we got wet and filthy but it did make the night a bit different from the ordinary. I do remember the management were so pleased with our combined efforts that we got a £10 gift for our troubles.

One of the funniest things we ever did as apprentices was when the Comp Room had the layout re-arranged which meant moving radiators and the like. This caused several round holes, the size of industrial central heating pipes, to be visible in the floor. By laying down and looking down we could see immediately below was a large 'table' in that part of the Bindery where the charming ladies were engaged in collation of printed sections into books. It was my apprentice running mate Ian Sherwood who caught one of the largest indoor spiders I had ever seen. Naturally it had rolled itself into a decent sized ball when he tickled it with a suitable object. Over to the hole in the floor it was taken and just as gently it was dropped down through the hole to the collating table below. For a second or two there was quietness then came a succession of bloodcurdling screams from a multitude of voices as the pandemonium broke out below. It was hilarious. I seem to remember there was some sort of enquiry into these going ons which happened some time back in the early 1950s.

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Bernadette Vinten (as was) adds these memories for all to share.

I was looking at the recent pictures on the site and started to reminisce about downstairs in the bindery department when I was back working in Love Lane, myself and two other young 16 yr olds in 1975, Maggie Marsh and Deborah Kerr were all seated by the sewing machines taking off the newly sewn pages which Yvonne (had a little blond sister, I forget her name) had sewn. When break time came we had a ciggy our usual ryvitas and cuppa from Sue who rushed everywhere and worked in the Kitchen, I gave one ciggy to Deborah with a little foil thingy inside so that when she had smoked it half way down it went off with a bang, she didn't speak to me for three weeks and Maggie nearly wet herself laughing. Dear Irish Reanie was always worried about something or other and Francis who called me Dot at times, smiled away not sure of what was going on. I can still see Stan at the cutting machine and old Ted and Dave cutting the edges of the books and Eileen at the back of the factory working with lower down, Fernella, also Stella and Felicity gathering their pages and further down with my mother in law Doreen Vinten, her sisters Audrey and Sheila all inspecting the books while father-in-law Dave Vinten worked on the book presses etc. Staples had such a friendly feeling to it, it really felt like one large family and I can honestly say I loved working there with all the jobs it entailed downstairs in the bindery department, even with Sid and Joan looking out from their cubby holes. I've been looking through the many familiar names and faces and really enjoy coming back to the site from time to time.

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Remembering Bert Neale. (see 16th pic. on page 25.

Seeing the article about Bert reminded me of a couple of things that always spring into my head about him. Bert was always meticulous about his appearance and personal hygiene and I often saw him cleaning his teeth in the washroom, which was off of the machine room at Love Lane. This was an unusual occurence in the general run of things in those days, so stands out in my mind.---------- I met his wife a couple of times and they were a friendly couple.

Bert usually went out at lunchtimes and had a very close friend that he would always spend time with whenever he could. They liked to walk into Rochester and sometimes spent time in the castle gardens. I never knew her name.

Once I was having a discussion with some lads in the factory and 'army officers' came up.---They were saying that when a salute was made, it was made to the badge of Army rank. I explained that it was not so, but that the sulute was made to the person and not the uniform. Being recently out of the service and a Regimental Provost Corporal, made me quite sure of what I was saying.----- Someone said "lets go and ask Bert Neale, he was a commissioned officer". Someone duly went-- returning with the answer 'that the rank was saluted not the person'. He really let me down, being the totally incorrect reply. The Queen commissions the PERSON and if you meet an officer who is in civilian clothing and you know them, or they show you I.D. (and you are in uniform and wearing a hat), then you should salute that PERSON.---GTC.

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Pasting the article about Mr Bacon into the pages reminds me when I was a minder in the Platen Room at Love Lane.

Smoking was restricted to certain times of day and I was about my business when Mr Bacon strolled into the department. He was taller than me with a shock of white hair and an imposing presence. --"Hello Laddie", he beamed - one of his favourite greetings, I respectfully replied, "good afternoon Mr. Bacon".---- I happened to be smoking as it was between 2pm and 2.30pm, the allowed afternoon times. He looked around for a minute then appoached me again and said, "do you know what times you can smoke in the factory?". "Yes Mr. Bacon" I said, "well what time is it now Laddie" he replied. I glanced at my wrist and said "ten past two Mr. Bacon". --He paused, looked down and said "Oh dear, my watch has stopped".--- He smiled and strode out.

Another time he said to me in the same room, after coming in to thank me for turning round a job quickly that his customer loved,--"hitch your wagon to a star young man".------- I hadn't a clue what he was talking about, I only had a bike.----- GTC.

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Peter Fogarty e-mailed in this memory of Vic Lambert from his Love Lane days.


I have a particularly enduring memory of Vic who worked on the frame
opposite George Johnson (he worked as the comp on the hardware catalogue we
produced every year). Well every Christmas Eve we would all go off to a pub
in Rochester High Street at lunchtime (you can hardly believe it but in
those days we finished work at the normal time on Christmas Eve, had the two
days off and then back to work even if it was a Friday) This was Christmas
1965 and the pub we retired to had a jukebox and Vic insisted on playing
'Glad all Over' by the Dave Clarke Five, it had been a number one hit that
year. Vic was normally a very quiet and sober individual, frankly a bit of a
bore in the comp room, but this lunchtime he pushed the boat out. First the
pints+music, then the whiskeys+more music then onto the Brandy+ even more
music. The track has a distinctive Boom! Boom!, with the words 'Glad all
over' and Vic would shout out the words and jump off the ground in sync. with
the Boom! Boom! Later back in the comp room we were all the worst for wear. Vic fell
asleep under the proofing press and only woke up when Len Fairbrother
shouted out 'Glad all over'. Vic jumped up and shouted in return --Boom!
Boom!. This carried on for the rest of the afternoon. Keith Jarrett and many
others, played Vic like a puppet.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Lee Fairbrother sends in some memories sparked by Peter Fogarty's photos. (see last of page 26 and first of 27).


Loved the latest pix, Old Mink Earing Himself Pete Fogg! Of course Rossy was my idol all that dark blue leather how could he afford it on apprentice wages?? So sad when he went so young, and I found out at a Christmas ''Do'' last year that Peter's younger brother Tommy an excellent local footballer, had also died.
Just a little discrepancy, of course the photographer was indeed ''BILL WHITE'' another Octogenarian, ( I had put Peter White, a much later member of staff. GTC.)---arch nemesis of Bert Clinch, sat two inches from each other and hated each other's guts!! LOL. Drove, yes at his age a grey small estate parked in the main car park and sod the rest?? Peter White was a lot later of course but both in The Reading Dept.

______________________________________________________________

Talking to Bob Dunn and Andy Coe at our meet up, they reminised about two 'office girls' from way back at Love Lane. The first was 'Debbie' -- a very vivacious blonde girl in the front office. She was very pretty with a bubbly personality. Now it transpired that Andy was her centre of attraction and she never missed an opportunity to 'chat him up'. We remember that even when he continued to 'play it cool', she went on almost 'throwing herself at him'. We all thought he was crackers for giving her the 'cold shoulder' and never taking up her advances.-------------- BUT BLIMEY, HE DOSEN'T HALF REGRET IT NOW.

The second girl was named 'Barbara' and I remember her as petite and pretty. I never brought this up because I didn't think anyone else in the world would remember it--- but Bob Dunn mentioned it.------ The ladies toilet was off of the machine room at Love Lane and one day I was on the end of the Quad Demy when this nice Scottish Barbara came out of the door. She proceeded to walk down the gangway on her way back to the office - when I called out her name and she came back. I then asked her to stand with her back to the wall-- AND PULL HER VERY SHORT SKIRT OUT FROM BEING TUCKED INTO THE BACK OF HER KNICKERS.-- She shrieked - did it and scuttled back to her desk.----I couldn't remembered her name, but Bob did--- but I never forgot those small white panties. Nor did a lot of the other lads. GTC.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good to hear from Frank and Christine Ryde after all this time, Frank was a very popular apprentice in Love Lane machine room and Christine, a lovely girl who worked in the bindery. They e-mailed this memory into the site.

We both have many good memories of our time at Staples and the social side was beyond compare. Whether it was the lunch-time games including darts and snooker, or football down on the riverside, sometimes followed by a swim in the open air pool. (It was a one and a quarter hour lunch break in those days. G.) There were also the trips that you arranged, Fleet Street, Syon Park, London Zoo and many more.

Do you remember the time that we were all eating our lunch by your machine, before going down to play football and a ball was being passed to and fro between us, when it somehow went to Jack Harrison just as Jim Rock (the Works Manager) was walking two clients through the machine room.---- Jack took it in his stride and cooly dribbled the ball around them. George Best would have been proud of him. Jack was a one off. (I certainly agree with that! G. ).

I could go on with many other tales, but will save them for another time. Christine and I think the web-site is great and have had a good laugh reading this 'Memories' section.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From Peter Fogarty in amongst the things we talked in recent e-mails, was this memory that he reminded me of. He recalls how I 'saved his bacon' one day in the Love Lane machine room, when Les Robotham, (the Comp Room Overseer) came in to the department and found him 'chatting to one of his fellow apprentices', Keith Adams. Keith always carried the nickname Barney in those days. -----Peter recalls how I quickly stepped in and explained to Les that he had just been checking a forme on one of the presses. I think this was a 'little white lie' on my part, but Les went on his way. --Peter also kindly mentions the work that I put on in the social side of things, which he greatly enjoyed.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now Following is a group of memories sent into the site by Rod Palmer, they are written in his usual great comic way and I am grateful for his contribution, GTC.

-----------------------

I recall, with some humour, recollections of life as it once was at Staples.

I remember Jim Rock, Works Manager at Love Lane, or ‘Rocky’, as he was more commonly known. Rocky was very brisk. He was always in a hurry.

There were times when he’d suddenly appear in the Comp Room at the foot of the stairs from the upstairs back office with a sheaf of papers under his arm and hurry very briskly through the Comp Room – left, right, left, right, left, right – with a cheery nod here, and an acknowledgement there, as he passed on his way through to the Bindery dispatch or Machine Room areas almost as if on a pressing, urgent, important mission with never a moment to lose . . .

At nine o’clock, twelve o’clock, and three o’clock each day Mary (Mary Fassum, who married Jim Foy. GTC.) would climb the stairs from the Bindery and kitchen area below with a tray full of tea and plonk it on the forme rack at the far end of the Comp Room. Old Jim Freeman would yell out ‘Tea up!’ and the whole Comp Room, as one, would down tools and make their way en mass for the tea and a chance to enjoy for a few minutes a cup of that refreshing golden liquid. It was like a gigantic stampede of Comp’s all dying of thirst, heading in one direction with outstretched hands towards the tea tray at the far end of the Comp Room – invariably just as Jim Rock was coming through from the upstairs back office with a sheaf of papers under his arm making his way to the Bindery dispatch area or Machine room. (Excuse my sense of humour but on such occasions I often had visions of the two parties colliding head on with each other in the rush; with Rocky being trampled underfoot by the opposing force coming at him from the opposite direction; then, after they’d passed over him, picking himself up off the floor in a somewhat disheveled state, dusting himself down, and then continuing with his mission . . .!)

The Comp’s, then with cup in hand, would return to their frames and for the next ten minutes or so giant gulps and slurps could be heard echoing through the Comp room as they partook of that steaming liquid.

Tea and chips we used to call it; tea out of a chipped cup!

Then tea drunk, the comp’s as one, would return their cups to the tea tray at the far end of the Comp room, and once again, en mass, return to their frames to continue with their work, (just as Jim Rock was returning from the Machine Room or Bindery dispatch area with a sheaf of papers under his arm and get trampled underfoot again by the opposing crowd coming at him from the opposite direction!)

Ah me, yes, I well remember those days at Love Lane!

*                    *                    *

I well remember on many occasions Sylvie Whitnell in her capacity as Transport Supervisor, walking through the small swing door at the far end of the old Comp Room at Love Lane, looking for Dave Southworth, Bindery Manager, crying out with good humored exasperation ‘Vere is zat Dave Souswood?’ in her broken Dutch/English accent, ‘I cannot find him anyvere! ’ave you seen him?’

Lee Fairbrother was convinced there was a secret room somewhere at Love Lane where all Departmental Managers could hide when the going got tough; a secret retreat; a refuge from where they could escape the maddening crowd and the pressures of the day; somewhere perhaps where they could wail and knash their teeth and tear out their hair to relieve the tensions, pressures and demands of each day, because at times – when needed – they just simply couldn’t be found!

To find them, search parties would be created in an effort to trace their whereabouts; lookouts posted at various places throughout the building in the hope of spotting them before they disappeared again!

I joke of course. But where was that mysterious room?

Search as we may, we never found it!

*                    *                    *

Geof. You may remember one day last year you phoned me with a query arising from a new batch of photographs you were loading onto the website that had been passed onto you originating from Keith Jarrett, referring to a ‘Readers Digest’ article on old Ron Spain (Linotype operator) and a group of us – including me – who’d become known – apparently – as ‘The Barber Shop Four’. You wanted to know more; you were curious! Had I seen the article? What was it about? In all your years at Staples this was something totally new to you; a Barber Shop Four; at Staples, in ‘Readers Digest’? See page 25 of the website in ‘The Gallery’.

It jogged my memory – yes, of course!

I had actually, just prior to your call, seen that photo in one of my regular nostalgic visits of interest to the site. Yet, whilst I’d seen it and had somewhat amusingly digested it, in the meantime I had forgotten all about it.

It caused a chuckle.

No, there hadn’t been a ‘Barber Shop Four’ and my only interpretation to it at the time had been that it must have been a joke, either originating from Ron Spain – or a misinterpretation, deliberately or otherwise, by Keith.

Then, upon reflection, I remembered!  More likely I suspected it was by Alan Luckhurst, who had developed a very funny, and amusing way of compiling highly amusing biographies of those workmates of ours when they retired. Some of these biographies, I remember, would suddenly appear as unofficial press cuttings, or as a mock-up page of Who’s Who, or as entries for Europa, which would appear attached to a Union (Chapel) pass round.

Alan Luckhurst – if indeed it had been by him – had an extremely good sense of humour, and one, which really appealed to me.

Amongst my souvenirs of Staples, I have, somewhere, several of those entries, which I photocopied. One such entry I remember was when old Arthur Hibbin retired. It’s an entry I’ve long been intending to retrieve and submit to the site – that’s if I can find it. (No luck so far).

Actually the so called ‘Barber Shop Four’ was really nothing more than Ron Spain, Me, Alan Quy, and Bob Marsh talking together on occasions, about our Hi-Fi systems which we all so lovingly enjoyed and the pure enjoyment of listening to real music – the nuances and wonders of aural reproductions that emanated from our stereo system speakers! Wonderful.

*                    *                    *

A certain tea girl, who shall remain nameless, was waxing lyrical about her new boyfriend to an amused crowd queuing downstairs in the kitchen at Love Lane one lunchtime. ‘Oh, he’s lovely’, she sighed. ‘He takes me out; he buys me things . . . he took me out for a meal in a posh restaurant at the weekend, Oh it was lovely’ she said wistfully.

The surrounding group as they queued for their tea, listened intently. ‘I bet you had an orgasm’ said one, no doubt with reference to the film, ‘When Sally met Harry’.

‘No, no,’ she said innocently ‘No, I had a Chinese!’

*                    *                    *

There was always controversy in the Comp room at Love Lane about the Comp room windows being open even in the heat of a summer’s day. Some Comp’s liked the windows open; others preferred them closed and would say so quite emphatically, ‘Shut that ’udy window!’

If my memory serves me right Brian Bull liked them to be open, to enjoy the healthy fresh air wafting in from the River Medway as we worked on Ports of the World, Benn’s Hardware Directory, Newspaper Press Directory, or ISSD Directory, but on occasions there was an annoying dog in the garden of one of the houses situated just below Staples along the Esplanade, who seemed to be perpetually yapping – especially it seemed when the Comp room window was opened! Brian would sling wooden quoins at it through the window and yell at it to ‘Shut up!’ then, despite his preference, resolutely slam the window shut!

It must have been sometime during the 1970’s and the weekly BBC ‘Softly, Softly’ Police drama programme was a regular feature being broadcast on television at the time. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I learned later that the programme was filmed at Rochester and the Medway towns. I remember seeing a film crew filming a scene in Rochester High Street on one occasion, although at the time I knew not for what programme.

Not being a regular viewer of TV at anytime and especially of that particular programme, I was surprised one evening whilst relaxing at home to glance up and see the opening title sequence of a programme being aired on our television screen.

It was ‘Softly, Softly’ and the first time I’d seen it. There on the screen looking down from on high was a car, moving at speed up a road,* and, before it sped out of frame, passing a set of what appeared to be white pillars of a gate and driveway to a big house. Then a scene change and a somewhat vaguely familiar River scene met my gaze with moored yachts and boats upon it as the camera slowly panned the view. Suddenly from my living room I realized what I was looking at. It was the River Medway! It was almost like being back at work again with the window open! At any moment I almost expected to hear someone to shout ‘Shut that ’udy window!’

*St Margaret Street, from the top of Rochester Castle.

*                    *                    *

The Reader’s Stitcher, like ours in the PMU Department, was always going missing! There was a certain interaction between Departments in those long gone days of yesteryear, when in moments of haste at the end of the working day, Proofs were to be dispatched out to customers like Europa, Air Pictorial, Science of Thought, or whatever.

Those Stitchers, from the Reader’s Department, as well as ours from the PMU Department it has to be said, were so much alike they were absolute identical replica’s of each other; destined to be forever on hand for immediate use by Readers and PMU Artist’s alike in moments of haste, to staple bits of paper or proofs together, especially, and even more particularly, at the end of the working day! Indeed, such was their similarity to each other that it was not in the least surprising that they should become mixed up.

Such incidents like that with Stitchers mysterious going missing, especially when they were desperately needed, caused untold misery, despair, and frustration in the workplace! International peace was at stake here were it not for diplomacy and loving tender awareness . . .

The following is a Note, from September 1985, address to me from Mick Lee, which I found one morning appended to my Light Table. It was a typical touch of Mick (sarcy) humour and it read as follows:

Dear Rod,

Just a note to say how touched and grateful I was over your concern for the well being of the Reader’s Stitcher.

Had it not been for you, our poor Stitcher would have probably got very cold and lonely over night, maybe even gone rusty! But you, dear kind and gentle Rod, took our little Stitcher and placed it all warm and cosy, with a little companion of its own to talk to in an obscure metal (Filing) Cabinet in your Department. It only took me 23 minutes to find it and when I did, tears of delight sprang to my eyes, because not only had you done this much for our Stitcher, but you had also relieved it of all those nasty, heavy, Staples it has to carry.

Once again I am forever indebted to you.         Mick.

 

                                                             
My reply, actually written some 29 years ago, but never sent, was as follows:

Dear Mick,

It was in on a beautiful September morn, in the year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five, that I didst receive your message, couched in all kind of sentiment, and containing an element of cryptic form extolling all the wonderful virtues that I possess.

These kind thoughts will forever be engraved upon my soul as suitable and overwhelming tributes inscribed with such loving detail, like a monument to all kind guardians of Reader’s Stitchers past and present. Your words touch the very fabric of Society, and as one fellow guardian of Reader’s Stitchers to another, your words touch me deeply.

One might even say I was a caring soul that went far beyond the call of duty, inasmuch as never in the realms of human conquest have so many Stitchers owed so much to so few.

But alas and alack, I cannot tell a lie. It was Gary Freestone, who upon seeing the little Stitcher in its loneliness, and, not realizing in his innocence that it was the mysterious twin of the PMU Stitcher, who did imprison and incarcerate the little fellow in the metal casket!

Indeed, had I not, in the execution of my duties been in such demand to perform immediate functions, I would have suitably pointed the said Stitcher in the Reader’s direction from whence it came. None less to thy hand.

Let me add in all modesty, that there are others far nobler than I in these deeds, yet go not unnoticed – but totally unmentioned in dispatches – thus escaping the commendations and citations of their fellow men.

Rod.

*                    *                    *

 


 

The actual note from Mick that I found on my Light Table.

---------------------------

I stand to be corrected on this one. This is a tale I once overheard Ernie Burton relating to a group of Comp’s at Kent Art Printers – but it relates, I believe, to an incident that once happened at Staples . . .

It must have been during another very bad winter – possibly 1963 – and the snow lay thick and heavy on the frozen ground. The whole country was snarled up and coal supplies to heat the boilers at Love Lane were running desperately low.

So low in fact that an urgent request was put through to a local Coal Merchant to replenish Staples dwindling coal stock forthwith – the workers, Comp’s, Machine Minder’s, Natsopa’s, Bindery Staff, and Office Staff respectively, all slaving away at their jobs were in danger of being frozen to death at work if the coal in the coal hole down in the Bindery ran out and wasn’t refilled soon; like immediately!

The Caretaker – Lou Blackman, I assume – was down in the coalhole one morning, scraping up the remains of what was left of the coal in the bunker, when the coalman arrived. The coalman climbed out of his cab, walked around his lorry, heaved a great hundredweight sack of coal onto his back and humped it across the yard to the coal hole. Then with dexterity he lifted the manhole cover off the top of the chute, and tipped the coal down the coalhole on top of a totally surprised and unsuspecting Lou working underneath . . .!

Workers coming to work that morning were surprised to see an irate Lou, coming up the stairs from the Bindery below, as if from the bowels of the earth at the crack of dawn, and wondering why he was coughing and spluttering and covered in coal dust!

*                    *                    *

An announcement was made by Kit over the Tannoy system at Love Lane one day for Phil Fuchter (pronounced Phil Fooshter) except that Kit had difficulty in pronouncing his name, which in view of the way his name is spelt (Phil Fucht | er ––  Polish, I believe), was not in the least surprising!

Well anyone could make a mistake like that – couldn’t they?!

*                    *                    *

ANYONE WHO WAS AT LOVE LANE ALONG WITH THE INIMITABLE ARTHUR ROLING, WOULD KNOW OF HIS 'WORDS OF WISDOM'. It is great that Rod has kept some for posterity, included herewith. GTC.

-----------------------------------------

Arthur’s Sayings – Random quotes from the Book of ‘Rolokisms’, or the ‘Book of Arthur’s Famous Sayings’, Volume II.

Arthur would frequently get his words all mixed up. It was all done innocently but the funny comments he’d make caused considerable hilarity amongst us at Staples so that I began a book where many of those remarks of his were recorded for posterity. I have to say for the record that none of these remarks repeated here are in any way repeated maliciously, for Arthur was genuinely, quite a character.

This is a tribute to him and the years we all spent with him at Staples.

 

Arthur had taken up Cooking and regularly attended evening classes at night school to improve his cooking ability – and why not indeed! He was taking it very seriously too. But these classes were mixed ability classes, so there was Arthur, donned in an apron (and possibly a chef’s hat?), working alongside, and in competition with, a class full of women.

‘Of course,’ declared Arthur to us the next morning, ‘when it comes to cooking, these women ain’t half-ignorant,’ he says, ‘especially the educated ones!’

*                    *                    *

On another occasion in conversation about cooking, Arthur said that a lot of adjectives were added to food these days!

He meant Additives.


*                    *                    *

On a visit to London, Arthur went to see Madam Two Swords!

*                    *                    *

Arthur very seriously to Jim, an apprentice, one day: ‘If you want to get on Jim, stay on the right side of me and you’ll soon learn which side of the fence your bread’s buttered!’

*                    *                    *

This was in the days of hot metal (5 August 1978) and Arthur had been working more or less continuously for a month mounting countless line and halftone blocks for a publication on dogs.

He said to Bob, ‘I’ve been working on this job for so long Bob, that anyone would think I was working for Scruffs!!

He meant Cruft’s.


*                    *                    *

Sue, the tea girl and local representative of Staples Canteen had taken advantage of a recent course on the art of make-up that she’d attended in London and in an endeavor to improve her looks as a part-time walking advertisement of Miss Oxfam 1978 had had her hair done, plastered herself quite liberally with all form of cosmetics, eye shadow, powder and rouge and had quite simply overnight, taken on the appearance of a Geisha girl.

Arthur upon seeing her, commented loudly – ‘Is your husband going to buy you a COMODE for Christmas?

For the puzzled and bemused, he meant Kimono.

*                    *                    *

Profound statement: Arthur in conversation reckoned it was only the old people who lived to an old age!


*                    *                    *

Arthur was a very keen cyclist. As secretary of the Wigmore Cycling club, and in true Arthur Rolings style he asked Gary if he would be good enough to make up a rulebook for his club from typematter proofs that he would supply.
.
He announced that as secretary, he was trying to get the Cycling club back on its feet!

 

*                    *                    *

Arthur went to the Crematorium one weekend. ‘I had a wonderful time up there’ he said to us the next day. ‘The only trouble was getting there on the bus,’ he declared. ‘On Sundays, they only run a skeleton service!’

*                    *                    *

A serious crime was committed outside Arthur’s house one night.

After coming home from a shopping expedition he discovered to his dismay that his dustbin had been stolen!

‘It’s all these young couples who take out these expensive mortgages and can’t afford the upkeep,’ he said.

Police are looking for a homeless couple with an expensive mortgage and a cheap council dustbin to upkeep!

Later Arthur said ‘Ah! But I’ve still got the dustbin lid!’

*                    *                    *

It was about the time that Staples were going high tech. and the new Miles Computer System was being installed. We were all discussing its merits.

‘I used to be a Linotype operator,’ said Arthur to Gary, ‘so I reckon I stand a good chance with these new VDU keyboards when they’re installed.’

‘But the keyboard is different,’ interrupted Paul Sears. ‘It’s a Qwerty keyboard.’

‘Oh that’s alright,’ replied Arthur. ‘I’ve forgotten the other keyboard anyway!’

*                    *                    *

Arthur liked to bet on the horses and enjoyed doing the Football Pools each week. He reckoned he had a new sure-fire system for winning the Football Pools –

He reckoned he stood a very good chance of winning if he picked a team that had won its last two draws!


*                    *                    *

Older former members of Staples may well remember Paul Sears of the Comp room. In March 1981 Paul was Deputy FOC but Arthur reckoned that Paul was the total working man’s enigma. Arthur reckoned that Paul, as Deputy FOC, had distinct Communist views; supported the National Front; and voted Conservative!

A case of supporting the old Red, White, and Blue!

*                    *                    *

Arthur went to Stonehenge whilst on holiday one year. He commented upon his return: ‘The place hasn’t changed a bit since I was last there!’

*                    *                    *

Arthur was comparing the Falklands Crisis with the D-Day landings in Normandy during the Second World War. ‘When I was in the war,’ he said very seriously, ‘for 3 weeks we had the Germans bottled up in Caens!’ – which was perfectly true, we did – but it was the way he said it – it sounded like ‘we had the Germans bottled up in Cans!’ No? Oh never mind.  – (25 May 1982)

*                    *                    *

One day, in serious conversation on the Cost of Living, Arthur said, ‘Money goes nowhere these days. Once you’ve spent a £  – it’s gone!’

*                    *                    *

One day Arthur complained to the Pay Office that he was £1 short in his holiday pay packet.

He gets called to the office over the Tannoy, whereupon they tell him they’ve made a mistake and paid him £5 too much!

Arthur wasn’t happy. He said afterwards that he came back down from the pay office with his legs between his tail!

-------------------------------

'Great stuff'' Rod, ---many thanks. GTC.

-----------------------------------

Tommy Blacklock has been kind enough to send in a few endearments after his visit back to us in Medway. I take this opportunity of adding them, as his memories are rather special to me. He has been kind enough to say that he had never forgotten me over the years and that I had made a good impression on him. He adds that I was always at the 'centre of things', that I was always organizing something or other and was funny and entertaining. He says he has never forgotten the 'phonetic alphabet' that I sometimes spouted. He kindly suggests that I was a kind of 'Hub' in those days, for the great times we had. He now thinks the web-site is a 'must' for all old Staples employees.------------- When I set the site up, there were a few people that I was hoping to get in touch with again -- and Tommy was one of those at the top of the list. There was a group of us who were real good mates and it is a great pleasure to still be in touch with some of them. --GTC.

----------------------------------------

A MEMORY OF ROY HOWE, WHO SADLY PASSED AWAY AUGUST 2014.

Roy played a big part in my early life at Love Lane and I am so pleased that we kept in touch with him and Julie over the years and when they emigrated to New Zealand, that we got to stay with them at their home in 2002 and visit so many places with them, meet their family and have so many fond memories. When Roy and I sat together on the first night of our visit at their home outside Auckland, drinking some weird concoction that he had, out came the guitar. It was as if the years apart hadn't existed and we went full cry into 'House of the rising sun'. In the old times, when we used to entertain, I always felt that Roys voice, coupled with mine and Ken Morrists', were always interesting with some lovely natural harmonies and I know other people enjoyed listening to us.

~~~~

I was always coming up with ideas to 'make a few bob' and I used to grow cacti and succulents in great number and make cactus gardens for sale. These were in boat shaped or round dishes and decorated to look as attractive as possible. Roy joined me in this particular venture and bought a fair sized plastic green house and started the growing from stock I gave him. Later we even supplied Woolworths in Chatham. If anyone remembers the 'Rose Bowl', or Lawrences, the top florists in Chatham High Street in those days, they were two of our biggest customers. We used to get loads of orders for Christmas, including from the staff at Staples, you know what it is like trying to find that reasonably priced interesting present.-- Roy and Julie and Sylv and I used to go out at week-ends with our children, combing beaches like Seasalter for driftwood, seawashed stones, pebbles and crushed shell gravel, to decorate our products. These trips were always fun and we made some good money over the years.

~~~~~~

Sometimes when we were just 'sittin and jammin', Roy and I would go over a song that I wrote. ------Loads of us would on occasion go to the seaside on a Sunday with the children, drinks, sandwiches and after a long day, drive home 'nose to tail' up the jammed A2. We would have sand in our shoes, sand in our cars, salt stains on our clothes, sunburned faces and kids asleep on the back seat. The song was written after the last trip of the summer one time, as it was getting darker and colder and we knew we would not be able to have this experience again for a while. The words have been with me all my life since and I share them with you now, sadly without the nice little tune that goes with them, in memory of someone really special -- To ROY HOWE.

. . . . . .

THE SUN IS GROWING TIRED AND THE SAP NO LONGER FLOWS

NO MORE WARMLY PUSHING UPWARD AND THE FLOWERS BEGIN TO CLOSE

WILL I SEE ANOTHER SUMMER, -CAN I BRAVE THE DAMP AND COLD,

WILL THE SAND AND SEA, REMEMBER ME -- OR SHALL I BE TOO OLD

~~~~~

WILL OUR CHILDREN MAKE SAND CASTLES, ARE THERE PLACES TO BE SEEN,

AND STILL SOME PLEASURES YET TO COME, OR HAVE I HAD, MY SUMMER DREAM.

WAS THAT THE SUMMER DREAM MY FRIENDS, SUMMER SO QUICKLY GONE,

WITHOUT THE PROMISE OF ANOTHER, I DON'T THINK I CAN GO ON.

~~~~~~

IT'S ALL GONE THE MAGIC SUMMER, LAYING OUT BENEATH THE SKY,

WARM AND GOLDEN, FAR FROM HOME --OH! BEAUTIFUL JULY.

CAN I LAST UNTIL ANOTHER, CAN I BRAVE THE DAMP AND COLD,

PLEASE LET THE SEA, REMEMBER ME, I DON'T WANT TO BE TOO OLD.

~~~~~~

SOME PEOPLE YEARN FOR MISTY, OR A CLEAR COLD FROSTY DAY,

OR DARK AND DAMP AND WINDY, WITH THE EARTH AS WET AS CLAY.

BUT GIVE ME THE ORANGE SUNRISE, THAT WARMS A CLEAR BLUE SKY,

LET ME BATHE IN BUTTERCUP SUNSHINE--OH! BEAUTIFUL JULY.

~~~~~~~

IT'S ALL GONE THE MAGIC SUMMER , LAYING OUT BENEATH THE SKY,

CONTENT AND RESTED -- FAR FROM HOME -- OH! BEAUTIFUL, OH! BEAUTIFUL, OH! BEAUTIFUL JULY.

CAN I LAST UNTIL ANOTHER, CAN I STAND THE DAMP AND COLD,

WILL THE SAND AND SEA REMEMBER ME, OR SHALL I BE TOO OLD.

GTC for Roy and his family.

Click here to view The Memorial page

===================================================================================

Well I'm not happy about this, as it is a memory I'm adding at the passing of another old friend, Syd Lloyd. He has left us and again I thought that he was a great bloke. When I started to get sorted out as machine room manager at Love Lane, Syd and Len Bagnall became my shift deputy managers, they were a tower of strength to me and I always appreciated their honesty and cooperation. One young lady I always liked was Violet Patmore in the bindery and it happened that she was transferred to sheet checking in the machine room. Now she was 'going out' with a strange but likable character, who although not working at Love Lane at the time, used to 'pop in' a lot. --------His name was Dez, (thanks to Alan Southworth for reminding me of this), but things did not always run smoothly for them and pretty soon Violet became 'smitten' with Syd and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was probably about 4 years ago that I received a request to provide a reference for Syd. The print trade being what it is, had seen a lot of people look outside it for employment. Syd was applying to become a carer and I hope my return of the form showing complete faith in his ability and honesty, helped him in securing the job. For secure it he did and worked at times in the Watts Arms Houses in, I am advised, a very professional way.

The last works memory I have of Syd was on the Medway City Estate site. The 'day of the long knives' had been and gone, with the heads of top brass being chopped off. I had survived and with promotion became part of the team that were trying to save Rochester. The machine room was in a mess and I got Syd and Len into the office telling them about my plans under the new M.D. Bill Scott and asked them if they would once again become shift managers and help in its reconstruction. They both agreed and I would have relished the challenge, but with time and money running out -- it never happened -- and eventually Rochester closed.

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Dave Caleno adds a memory from the Medway City Estate.-------------- "December 1997, location Docutech department. I had just been handed an envelope which I then opened and read the contents. I then said out loud to all and sundry in the room, 'I've worked here for seventeen years and this is the first time I've had a Christmas bonus'. Eldar Villars, the future Mrs Bill Scott, then said, 'What is that then David'. To which I replied, 'my redundancy notice'. Her reply to that was, 'I still have not got used to your warped sense of humour'.---- THIS SEEMS A WORTHWHILE REMEMBERENCE AT THIS TIME OF YEAR."

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Roger Young sends in a contribution to these memories.-------------At present, my long term memory is vivid, especially as I have pleasurable memories of my time at Staples. You are right, I left on September 1st 1967 and joined the Kent Fire Brigade as a whole time fireman, after completing 13 weeks training I was posted to Medway Fire Station on red watch, I was on the fire in the Love Lane cottage. Following 4 years at Medway, I transferred to Maidstone Fire Station and in 1972 transferred to Sittingbourne. In 1979 I was promoted to Leading Fireman then in 1982 to Sub Officer, in 1990 I was promoted to Station Officer in charge of Sittingbourne. In 1992 I was promoted to Assistant Divisional Officer at Brigade HQ then to Divisional Officer II in 1998, the following year I retired aged 53. I have kept in touch with Kenny Stickens and Roy Sands at the Wyvern Press where they always said that I had made the right decision!!!!!
Some memories:-
I recall Tony Styles coming to Love Lane, he liked singing Moon River by Danny Williams, Maurice (Kent) used to gee up Dick Galliers about being a Jehovah's Witness and he used to crush my hand with a hand shake, he had strong hands as he played the double bass in his band. John Collins would get me in a neck lock if he caught me sitting on "his" sink in the comp room toilets! Jim Freeman would always be singing "ass holes are cheap today" etc. You must recall riding your bike down the Lines footpath Geof and bumping into a police officer, it was Tony Styles who was a special constable. I could go on and on. (I actually don't remember that incident and only now recall Tony being a 'special' after this prompt.)

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I (Geof) add these two memories of Ron Ambrose at the news of his passing. At the CIDA interdepartment competition Ron was down to play Cribbage and whoever was the other member of the team had a problem and couldn't turn up. I was there obviously on the organizing side so had to step in to represent the machine room. Now it is true to say that I was quite good at crib, so Ron and I started on the round playing the others in a knockout. For me that evening lady luck continually dealt me rubbish, but I played as well as I could, pegging where I was able. It so happened that I kept getting in my hand the Jack of the suit turned up -- so in the count kept claiming 'one for his knob'. Ron was disparaging on my play even though we won the event and through the years of our working together often asked "hows the one for his knob these days?".

I would never have added this one whilst Ron was with us, its a bit strange and I have no intention of being unkind. When Howard Carey left Love Lane he was the machine room overseer and Ron as his deputy took over. Now it is fair to say that Ron could be a bit of a moaner and his interaction with the new fangled Litho process (namely with a big old third hand SRAO perfector that continually broke down coupled with the large personality of the new Litho minder employed to run it), was not very enthusiastic. One particular day Ron had not been very happy with how things were going and in a fit of pique, strode up to the office and handed his resignation as manager in to Jim Rock. He came back down to a few of us saying "that will show them, perhaps now they will do something ".-------- And 'they' did. Before you could utter 'Jack Robinson', there was a typed letter on the notice board 'regretting Rons decision' but accepting the situation and thanking him for his service. Later that day they had Bob Dunn as Rons' deputy and me as shift overseer up in the office and asked us to 'run the room', while they advertised for a new manager.

We went at it like a new brooms, both of us had retrained as litho minders,-- acknowledging the fact of the matter that Letterpress was a dying art, so we worked to improve the department situation all round. This lead to a very strange arrangement, which worked quite well and eventually they asked us to become joint Print Managers and work week on machine and week in the office, about. We both enjoyed working with Bill Scott who joined Rochester as M.D. He was a great motivator and like a breath of fresh air to us.---Later, Bob didn't much care for all the admin, so he stepped down and I became Print manager with Bob as my deputy. We were an excellent team I think.

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A MEMORY OF HIS FATHER sent in by Dave Knott.
My name is Dave Knott. I am the youngest son of Eric Knott who worked at Staples from 1954 or 1955 until his retirement on 5 March 1982 and have recently found your website while researching local history around the Medway Valley .
At the foot of this email is a mock up column of the Daily Mail that his work colleagues put together on his retirement day with a great photo of Dad in his working gear. I am not sure what the piece of equipment is in the background is but I am sure it will be recognised by you guys.--(Added to the Gallery Page 28)

--------------I have a few ad hoc memories of Dads career in print in particular the 1950s and 60s when I was growing up in Snodland with my brother Howard.---------------------- The things that come to mind are :
A garden party or fete in the late 1950s in Shorne ( Mr Bacons garden of 'The White House' ) which baffled me a bit as Dad usually played cricket on Saturday for Snodland and he was a very keen player. Must have been rained off that week --(probably the tall white haired, imposing boss Mr Bacon said, I will expect you to be there 'Laddie', as he did.)
In the summer of 1959 I remember a six week print strike and Dad was a very committed Union man. (National Graphical Association at that time.) As strike pay was non existent, Dad worked as a Farm Labourer while the strike was on and he came home looking like Worzel Gummidge as it was harvest time.------------------------ I seem to remember the strike produced the 40 hour week in the trade, I think.
I came into Love Lane a few times usually after a Saturday morning shift as we would occasionally go off to watch Charlton or the mighty Gills.- I clearly remember the Linotype machines down the stairs in what seemed like a basement and Dad proudly showing me around his workplace.
A bit later in early 1974 when the Miners Strike was on I remember Dad working really long shifts during the three day week which he found really tough going, as I am sure everyone else did.
However more than anything else, I remember Dad coming home and chatting very fondly about the latest news and gossip of his work colleagues at Staples. Names that spring to mind are Keith Jarrett, Roy Boorman, Maurice Kent, Len and Lee Fairbrother and Ron Spain, but there were many others .
Dad's retirement was fairly short as he passed away when he was 72. However he got a lot of fun watching Kent in the summer months and spending more time with Dill. Mum is still going strong at 97 and now lives in Maldon, Essex near Howard.
I realise most of Dad's work colleagues will sadly no longer be with us but I would like to end up by saying to those that do remember Eric, thanks for the memories and keep up the great website.
Best wishes to all
Dave Knott
PS I was in the same school year as Lee at Chatham Tech so it's nice to know there are a few Old Holcs still chugging along!.

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Paul Dixon sends this memory of his time at love Lane.


Memories of working at Rochester
often fill my thoughts. Looking back at
this period of my life I can barely
believe I took on the challenge of
joining the company with its shabby
buildings and lack of technical development.

I soon found that despite the
tools we had to work with, there was a wonderful
atmosphere amongst the staff
which has left me with many good memories.

Regards to all

Paul.

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This is a memory from me Geof Curtis. I am so grateful that Paul Dixon who passed away after a long illness on 26th May 2015, managed to email the above memory into this web site during his last days. I remember when Bill Scott started to change the atmosphere at Love Lane and eliminate some of the lies, back-biting and deviousness from the management structure, how I enjoyed it. When I first met Paul Dixon who came to the print from I think ACAS or something similar, I thought "Oh blimey a typical ex university twat, I'm not going to get on with him".

But how wrong I was, I suddenly found that he would listen to reason and argue constructively, not just trot out the usual "I run this factory", that we were used to hearing. I soon learned too, that you could not pull the wool over his eyes, just because you had done something 'like this for years' and that he could see through to the sense of things. I greatly enjoyed working with and under him and am pleased that other directors have told me that he valued my contributions.-------He motivated me and many others. To see a couple of things that I acheived that were hardly recognised by certain other directors, see BRAD no. 6 on page 28 of gallery and OU 3 pages no.14 of page 28 of gallery.---- Just some little things that I can feel pleased about in my time working with Paul.

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An email arrived ot our website from a Michael Barton regarding Bert Clinch.

Herbert Clinch. ------I inherited from his son material about the delegation to Soviet Union in 1935 at which he represented Medway. I have copies of some including Bert’s address to the local union on this trip. Sadly the local archives were not interested nor the gentleman who wrote a book on Medway unions,- I can’t remember his name. Rather than let this archive remain unsung , or just destroyed, I got in touch with an unlikely source, through a contact and it is now held in the Cambridge University archives (should have been lodged in Strood!!!!). You can source on the web “janus Herbert Clinch” (takes a time to come up on screen) or contact me – I knew and greatly respected Bert. I also have photos of Bert and Elsa in very informal holiday situations and on the Brighton vintage car race etc. One might have thought that as an Alderman of the city some local source would have been interested.
P.S now in my vintage running a history group in Gravesend, I took some folk two weeks ago around some of the non tourist parts of Rochester especially pointing out industrial spots – including Staples, of course !

If anyone would like to contact Michael on this subject, his email address can be had from me. GTC.

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This memory was emailed in By Bernadette Vinten.

Hello Geof
I hope you're keeping well and the family too, I thought I'd share a picture for the Staples site with you
and the other members. My grandson and Dave and Doreen Vinten's great grandson Josiah Vinten
was playing with my sewing box that I had as a wedding present from 1976 and inside he pulled out an item
asking "Nanny what is this". ---I told him it was a rubber fingerette that I used when gathering
pages together when I worked in the printers with great Nan and Granddad many, many years ago.
He was fancinated to hear how books were made and asked if he could keep it as I had several others
that I had put there after leaving Staples to give birth to his daddy. Such wonderful memories and so lovely still sharing them with my grandchildren. Take care.

I am including the picture on page 28 of the Gallery and will add it soon. GTC.

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Bob Dunn remembers January 3rd.

21 to 71.

The 3rd of January was a landmark date for me. I was twenty one and had 'served my time' at Kent Art Printers and had just had a few months out of the trade working as a general hand in a property maintenance firm and also on a delivery round for a wine merchant on their Christmas rush. It was the time I went back into print and when I was offered a job with Staples, I started on 3rd. January 1966.---- I was put on a Heidelberg cylinder, it was a fairly new machine in good condition and was next to a second, older model.. My first job to undertake was a Staples type sample book and the minder I took over from told me that it must be of the highest quality. Now this was scarey for my first job, but it went well. My next job was an 8 page, four colour set for Focal Press and when it was completed I was happy with the product.----- A few days later, Ernie Chapman the M.D. came to see me on the shop floor with a letter in his hand.-- "Read this" he said, I immediately thought I was in trouble, but great relief came over me when I read that Focal Press were delighted with the book. "there will be a six shilling and sixpence rise in your pay next week, well done" Ernie said and walked off. A couple of minders came over and asked if everything was alright and when I explained what had gone on, they said "well that's the first time that has happened, he never comes out onto the shop floor".

The work that I was doing was of great variety and interesting and I soon started to join in with the social side of things that were going on. There were good outings to shows and films in London, family days out to places like London Zoo and Thorpe Park and these were very popular and sometimes needed a coach and a double decker bus to cope with the number of people taking part. There were also good sports days and pub games evenings. I was not on C.I.D.A. the people who organised it all, but when the Chicken Club started as a Christmas savings club, I was asked to run it. It proved to be a great success and interest made at the end of the year went to buy raffle prizes. We went to some of the local cash and carry places and opened up trade accounts. Geof Curtis, being a bit of a 'Del Boy' made the most of it and was 'wheeling and dealing' all year with it. This also helped when Geof and I set up our little aquatic business through Staples Fishkeepers club.

Later in 1966 I was asked if I would do a spell on nights as we were very busy. It was to be four weeks on nights and four weeks on days. Night workers looked after each other. If you were on days and had 'a bit of time in hand', you left it for the night minder and they would do the same for you, when you were on nights. Also if you were 'running on' at night, you would take part of someone else's back patching make ready sheet and cut it out for them. This could all add up to everyone having a bit of extra time during the break for a pint down the Coopers Arms. One time we were having a pint during the said break and Jack Harrison, who rode a motorbike and sidecar put on his black bike gear as he always did, to go down the pub. Hettie, the landlady had baked us all a huge apple pie to take back to work and as we left, Jack was still talking to a friend, "I'll catch you up he said and we went. Back at work the pie was cut up and we all tucked in, "where's Jack" someone said, then a few moments later in stumbled Jack with his black clothes smothered in wet chalk. "What's happened Jack?" we asked. "I forgot about that trench that's been dug in the lane and I fell in", he said. "It's about 5 feet deep and I couldn't get out, luckily a passer by heard me and helped me get out.".-----No sympathy was shown as we were all in fits of laughter.------"Where's my pie?" said Jack.

In 1967 The Stratford branch closed and we received two heidelbergs from them. They were from the same batch as the new one we already had. The existing older one was sold. I spent some good years on them, a lot of the time with Tom Blacklock. The third one was an 'apprentice' machine. By the 1970s I was married with two young boys, money became a priority and Clements in Chatham were offering £2 a week more on nights than I was getting, so in 1972 after a great deal of thought, I moved on. It didn't last long however for after about six months the International Printing Corporation bought out Clements and started moving work to its bigger plants. The end was nigh. I was in the Coopers Arms one day when Ron Ambrose came in. He said that he had heard that things were not too good. I confirmed this and said I was looking for a new job, his reply was "Why not come and have your old job back?". I started back at Love Lane a couple of weeks later and it was like I had never been away. Litho was now coming in and the N.P.56 Perfector was installed and then next, a new 2 colour Roland Favorite. I went on a course for this machine and retrained to litho. Geof was to follow me as the next litho trainee. After a while I became deputy to Ron Ambrose and when double day shifts were introduced Geof became chargehand on one shift with me on the other. Ron did not seem able to take to the litho process and stood down as overseer. Geof and I shared the duties of managing the department which worked out very well.

By 1980 I had itchy feet again and wanted to have a go at large multi colour presses. Finally I left Love Lane and went to Bowaters at Gillingham. It became a bit like working at Staples as there were at least 14 ex Love Lane minders there after a while. When the place closed there were still 10 there, one having retired and one gone to New Zealand. I continued working on the same site for Tesco's security for my last 5 years and met lots of old mates when they were shopping.

"Well now here I am -- into my 7th. year of retirement, 3rd. January 2016. 50 years on from that first day at Love Lane. By the way, that minder who I took over from, all the time ago, has been a good mate for those 50 years-------- THANKS GEOF, HERE'S TO THE NEXT 50."

Bob Dunn.

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A great memory from Bob and there is no one that I have valued more as a good friend and work mate. Geof.

On the back of the sheet that I had from Bob he included this postscript,---- (this is why its still called the Bowater round-about, the blue ball that still stands in the car park at Tesco's was the water tank for the factory and I couldn't help smiling when the council were doing the bus lanes around and the big temporary notice with the arrows reading, 'Bow Waters'. GTC)----------

Bob finishes, "Just out of interest, the names of the ex Staples staff who went to Bowaters were:- Wilf Eastwood, Gravure, retired,----Roy Howe, Gravure, New Zealand, Arnie Manning, Platemaking,----Myself, first on litho, ----Malcome Castle, Gravure,----Frank Ryde, Gravure,---- Brian (Taffy) Brain, Assistant,---- John Ody, Flexo, ----Peter Brooks, Gravure,----Roger O'Shaunessy, Gravure,----Dave Ellis, Flexo,----Mick Smith Kerr, Litho,----Keith Adams, Litho,----Andy Coe, Litho---- and Stuart Murray, Litho."

Bob concludes, "Apart from the first three names, the rest of us were there to the bitter end when Tesco's bought what was left of the Bowater site, which had become Crest Packaging by that time."

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I found something in a box that I am going to add here as it is a piece of my memories with Staples. ---Sometime after 1987 Ray Green became the company representative for a new customer to us, Froglets Publications. Bob Ogley and Fern Flynn were the contacts and many of the staff including Lee Fairbrother, Jay Curtis and Len Bagnall would have spent much time on their publications. Bob, later went on to become a radio broadcaster and also gave talks to a circuit of local halls on a various range of interests. Fern was the power house behind the operations and I was their co-ordinator. Sylvia and I spent much time with them and I greatly value the considerable number of signed copies of their books that they gave me. Incidentally Jerome Flynn of 'Unchained Melody' fame with Robson Green, was Fern's son.-- In 2007 Froglets had a '20 years on reunion' a celebration of the night of the hurricane that ripped through the country-side. I gave them a copy of a poem that I had written to commemorate that night.

-

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Roger Young writes:-


Hi Geof, Thanks for the chat on Thursday at the Tuck Inn and introducing me to Bob again. I really enjoyed turning the clock back!! I was wondering whether you could enter this on the memories section.

"Can anyone remember the coach outings to Margate and Southend in 1961? I recall being picked up opposite the police station in Sittingbourne and picking Tony Hartridge up at Snipeshill.. I'm sure we stopped at the Roman Galley on the way for refreshments etc. We drove through Margate and the coach parked in Cliftonville, we all piled out and Geof suggested that as we were close by we could visit the Cliftonville Caves. We spent the rest of the day doing what we did until catching the coach home. That day Geof "introduced" me to a friend of his and Sylvia, her name was Stella!!!. I can't remember much of the outing to Southend other than we went on the Tilbury ferry and we visited the Kersal and went along the pier. On the way home, I sat on the back seat of the coach with Berilyn Gash!!!"

-------+-------

That would have been a real treat in my book, sitting on the back seat with Berilyn. Any lad who remembers her, would know that. I probably arranged the 'Cliftonville area' on that first outing, as that's where I had lived before coming to Medway. Stella was a tall blonde 'very friendly' girl. I remember that for some reason unknown to me, her nickname was 'Ottie'. The caves were a big attraction and were quite surprising, they were near Zion Place. However the big house that they were underneath, became unsafe and it was demolished and later the caves closed. The adverts can still be seen painted on the wall that remains in situ, next to a new supermarket. GTC

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Phil Henry writes:-


Dear Geoff,

I have just had a wonderful hour -reading through all of your fantastic website. I was only with Staples for five and a bit years- starting ( I think it was October) 1967.
Howard Cary was the overseer- but it was Ron Ambrose who worried to get things done, an incredible kindly man.
Bob Dunn was my journeyman, he’d recently got married- and was running Heidelberg Cylinders- and he taught me to print.
Fred Marsh - on the quad crown- taught me method and discipline.
And you taught me how to smile Geoff and how to look at life positively, also how to play a string orange box in the lunchtime home grown ‘skiffle’ band and sing. ( I think we even used a locker door for percussion!) Ink techniques?- you were the master…. 'Mix a bit of white spirit in the ink trough…helps it run, helps it dry quicker.' Yours was always perfect for Air Pictorial… mine always came out grey!

In my third year I was moved to the hand fed Wharfedale – learning how to duck as I filled the ink trough. I had a bad accident on my Vespa scooter- on the way to play table tennis at one of our games, and Howard felt sorry for me and transferred me to the vertical Miehle’s. After two forme collapses, I soon found myself on the wrong side of Arthur Hibben, who eventually became a brilliant mentor to me as I progressed to the Quad Demy/Royal perfectors under the supervision of Roy Howe.

Ian Moore was apprenticed at the same time as me. Malcolm Castle ( he had a huge Norton motorbike that fell on me when I tried to move it out of the way, so I could get my Vespa out)was just out of his apprenticeship, and Andrew Simpson – a Brands Hatch/Car lover … with a three wheel Reliant, was one year below me.

You, Ken Morrist, and Bob were all recently married - and so grown up and I was the typical struggling, naive teenager who fell for the long wait, the brass hammer and glass tacks – and yet you always looked after me, always pointed me in the right direction. Ahhh the lovely Eva Day – she was such a sweetheart, but our young love couldn’t survive my immaturity and regretfully, hearts were broken.
She married in 1970, but sadly Eva died in June 2012. – and is survived by her husband, two sons and a daughter.

I left at the end of my apprenticeship to work at Hovat Press in Knockholt (near Orpington). Id met Lynn- my wife to be (still together- two sons, five grandchildren) and we lived in Chislehurst, so Hovat was nearer. Hovat was a packaging and material converter with basic printing needs, and I eventually became Production Manager of the Company, which by then was an eighty staff unit, before taking a Production Planning Manager role with Burrup Mathieson in London. I went back to Hovat- a Wiggins Teape subsidiary by then- into Sales- before moving on to Sales Management roles in other packaging firms, taking up ‘consultancy roles in It/MIS systems companies, ending up as IT Manager for south London colour printer The Colourhouse for the last twelve years of my working life.
I live in Tonbridge, now happily retired- volunteering at Hospice in the Weald, and also at National Trust and doing family ancestry research ( which is how I came upon your website.)

So……..
Thank you for producing the website, thank you for the memories it has provided.
I only had five years at Staples- but it was family to me: from dear old Ron Ambrose to kindly Dutch Sylvia (Whitnall), to the beautiful- and always out of reach Olga (Templeman), to my first love Eva Day, to old school Fred Marsh. You, Bob and Ken helped me grow up.
I have worked in ten companies over my working life, - across different sizes, different market areas, and in different disciplines – none of them hit the bar in the same way Staples did!

the enclosed pic shows Tom Burr, ?, Bob , Paul Archer?, Me, Roy Howe, Ian Moore behind him,
Ken in Front, with you looking away.

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the photo mentioned above will be added to 'The Gallery'. GTC

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A memory sent in by Debbie Staples.
Hi Geof, I was thinking about my time at Staples and remembered that when I started there I thought Kit was an intimidating figure even though she was diminutive. However, after a while I really liked her and remember her saying that me and her should dress up for the Dickens Festival :).
When I left to go to a new job, I remember her pressing a £5 note discretely into my hand. She was obviously a pussy cat at heart :) xx

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After Bob Dunn saw the 'Jotting' about Dave Ellis he emailed me this information.

Hi Geof, just been looking at the web site and I was sad to read about the loss of Dave Ellis. Known to his workmates as Holy Joe due to his deep religious beliefs, he was a nice bloke. Living in Loose he could not understand why people grinned when he mentioned that his wife belonged to the Womens Institute. He was a good Platen minder and very fussy about his work. He left Staples and went to Hobbs Flexo in Maidstone. When they closed he came to Bowaters Gillingham where I was working and we often had a chat about our time at Staples. After Crest closed I saw him a couple of times in Tescos when I worked in Security there. ----He later worked as a car park attendant and said he was enjoying the change.

 


 

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