1963-1967
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1963 ... I wanted 'hard news' experience and took a job with the Burney News Service in Wakefield,Yorkshire. It was to lead to greater things.

This was the real McCoy! Proper news in the raw. The agency covered all the news in the North of England, servicing the national newspapers who, in those days, all had offices in Manchester as well as London.

The Daily Herald liked my work so much, they wanted to meet me. I was offered a job on the staff - I was only eighteen years old and this was quite unprecedented. In my naivety (and I suppose arrogance), I turned it down on the grounds that 'I would prefer to work out of the head office in London'!

The Picture Editor was so amazed, he told me that he had a dozen staff men who had been with him in the Manchester office for years that would give 'both arms and both legs' for a chance to work from Head Office.

He had no influence in London,but gave me a glowing reference to the Picture Editor there - Len Hickman.

1963-1964 ... I was invited for an interview at The Daily Herald. This was a newspaper that enjoyed a gargantuan reputation as a photo-journalists' dream paper - it was known as the 'Paris - Match of British newspapers'.The paper was part-owned by the T.U.C.(Labour Party) and part by Odhams Press (I.P.C. Mirror group)

The Herald Picture Editor, Len Hickman, was a legendary figure in his own right. At my interview he told me that he would love to offer me a staff job but was not allowed to as I was too young. The Trade Unions had an iron-grip on the industry in those days and, after all, this was a newspaper part owned by the trade-union movement.

The best he could offer me was a contract as a regular freelance. Even then, an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Central London Branch of the National Union of Journalists had to be called to change the rules and make an exception for me.

At nineteen years of age, I was the youngest photographer ever to work in Fleet Street!

1964 ... One of my first jobs for The Herald was to cover the 'Great Train Robbery' in Buckinghamshire. Ronnie Biggs and his gang had hi-jacked the Royal Mail train relieving it of over 2.6 million (equivalent to about 26 million today).
Sept. 1964 ... The end of an era - The Daily Herald closed due to falling circulation. It had struggled and failed to shrug off it's "cloth-cap" image, which was its inheritance from the Labour Party. A sad day.

I.P.C. who were the part owners of the paper bought out the T.U.C.'s controlling interest and had great ambitions for a new newspaper which was to be called 'The Sun'. The staff and contract freelances (which I was) were offered redundancy payments. A select few (myself included) took a fat cheque on one day and a staff contract on the new I.P.C. Sun the following day! So the broadsheet Sun was born out of the ashes of The Daily Herald. This was my first full time staff job and it opened up enormous opportunities.

Towards the end of The Daily Herald, it was known who would be offered jobs on the new paper. There were several forward planning meetings where we were asked to put forward our ideas for the new newspaper. Everyone suggested that the future was tabloid, but in their wisdom, the I.P.C. management chose the broadsheet route, arguing that they didn't want to compete with their successful stablemate - the tabloid Daily Mirror. This decision was to be its eventual undoing as history has shown.

Another idea was put forward - and very nearly went into print - 'Why not use the orange sun from the masthead as a weather indicator - top of the page for sunny, bottom of the page for poor weather' - It was only at the eleventh hour that someone realised that this was a national newspaper and the weather was different across the country!

 

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