Industry: water, steel & energy
Vey, Peter (3 of 10). An Oral History of the Electricity Supply in the UK
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2016-01-28, 2016-02-19, 2016-04-04, 2016-04-18, 2016-05-10, 2016-05-20
Vey, Peter, 1928- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 3: Remarks outlining PV career as journalist and press officer: well known journalist uncle, journalism seeming attractive, no degree needed at time; PV attending secretarial school to learn shorthand and typing, in a class full of young women training to be secretaries; joining family run Surrey Herald Newspaper in Chertsey for 1-2 years; tedious first trial at proof reading, followed by post as junior reporter covering funerals, flower shows and other local events; importance of names in articles to sell newspapers; subsequent job as reporter on Western Daily Press in Bristol for 2-3 years; pinnacle of journalism career seen as post on a national paper, PV joining Sunday Express for 3 years; mentions marrying wife Brenda, complications of married life with PV working Tuesday-Saturday, PV leaving Sunday express to become press officer at Shell Mex-BP; [04:00] PV becoming director of public relations services for Chrysler UK, but realising company was in trouble; PV applying for post at UK Atomic Energy Agency [UKAEA]; anecdote about PV interview with UKAEA coinciding with huge strikes and negative publicity for Chrysler, PV experience of difficult issues making him the perfect candidate for UKAEA; PV spending three years at UKAEA working with Walter Marshall, before both left for CEGB; PV pulling together UKAEA public relations efforts into a coherent strategy. [08:20] Remarks on PV uncle Stanley Bishop, a well known crime reporter, whose career including the Daily Herald, News Chronicle, Daily Express, where he worked directly for Lord Beaverbrook; uncle's influence on PV becoming a journalist; charming personality and good reputation meaning people were eager to help him with stories; uncle well respected for integrity. [11:30] Comments on PV first job at Surrey Herald, owned by Rawlins and Walsh: description of typical job reporting on a flower show, importance of accuracy; decline in local and provincial print newspapers in recent years; [14:00] community links of reporters, some journalists assigned to cover particular areas; importance of clarity and simplicity in writing; first editor Mr Ledger, part of family that owned paper, pillar of community; anecdote about only senior reporters being allowed to report on Chertsey [council meetings]; editors all different, national paper editors often formidable figures; mentions Fleet Street Press Club; journalists easy to criticise but essential; [18:10] focus of work on relationships with other staff; mentions Sunday Express 3 million circulation; PV finding post at Surrey Herald by writing to editor, starting with a few months of proof reading to prove himself; description of tedious task of proof reading; [22:10] outline of PV first major story on a murder in Chertsey, also covered by Stanley Bishop, murders shocking news at time, perpetrators probably hanged; recent debates over changes to law of guilty by association; police secretive, viewing journalists as a nuisance; PV travelling around district by unreliable James motorcycle; enjoying people but finding aspects of job boring, PV not covering another murder until work for Sunday Express; mentions £1000 salary when PV at Sunday Express in 1953, anecdote about picking up pay packet. [27:40] [cont' from 27:40] Remarks on newspaper offices: description of Surrey Herald premises in Georgian building, news room, loud print room in extension; Western Daily Press based in old building in Bristol, where Methodist owners banned smoking inside. [29:45] Remarks on: anecdote about PV interview at Western Daily Press focusing on his knowledge of different branches of Christianity; PV smoking heavily at time, preferring Senior Service brand; little fear of health hazards of smoking until later report of Richard Doll proved health implications of smoking. [31:30] Comments on working in Bristol for Western Daily Press: PV deciding it was time to move on from Surrey Herald; existing connections to Bristol; PV having interviews at all three Bristol newspapers, but deciding that working for a morning newspaper better suited him; Methodist influenced good working atmosphere at Western Daily Press; PV bedsit flat in Georgian house in Clifton with restaurant, where several journalist lived as landlady liked journalists as tenants; description of bedsit flat; [35:40] PV best friend a theatre critic, allowing PV to visit many plays in Bristol and Stratford on Avon; PV creating series of feature articles on Bristol and working as a general reporter; importance of folder of press cuttings for journalists future job prospects; good stories generally about events that effect many people; [39:00] anecdote about PV colleague considering his articles mundane; typical stories covering Bristol courts, local organisations and events, visits and speeches by members of parliament; value of shorthand to PV at time, mentions Bernard Ingham skill at shorthand; Western Daily press having a shorthand test; technology of day including telephones, photographers; anecdote about covering Queen Elizabeth parade marking the coronation; PV story on a large fire in Avonmouth oil terminal. [44:10] Story about Sunday Express trying to buy information from IRA: police advice; PV preparing an envelope that appeared to full of money; drop to occur in WH Smiths in Edgeware; PV watching from flat opposite; information dropped off not proving valuable; mentions meeting with an escaped prisoner over information that he claimed could prove his innocence; mentions covering a jail break in Dartmouth. [47:20] Remarks on: Western Daily Press coverage of religious issues; PV having a career plan in mind to become a national newspaper reporter; Sunday papers having small core staff, but building up staff toward weekend; PV later becoming a Saturday journalist on Sunday Express for a short time; PV knowing wife through family connections;, both Young Conservatives. [49:45] Remarks on Young Conservatives: PV joining in Weybridge c.1950; very good social set, PV not that interested in politics; Labour having strong social circle too; few venues for young people to meet at time; activities including canvassing, fund-raising activities, supporting local MP but not politically activities; mentions senior members of local Conservative Party; PV viewing Conservative Party as more practical than other alternatives; parents supporting Conservatives. [53:20] [cont' from 53:20] Remarks on politics and journalism: Sunday Express under Lord Beaverbrook Conservative leaning; anecdote about Beaverbrook hiring a Labour supporting journalist to make him write Conservative supporting articles; journalists taking a neutral perspective in PV experience, political journalists supporting stance of the paper; Beaverbrook taking interest in newspapers as means of political influence. [55:45] Remarks on finding journalist jobs: jobs in journalism found through approaching newspapers with a persuasive letter and cuttings, then interview; uncle, Stanley Bishop, providing letter of introduction to Daily Herald, but PV fancying the idea of working at prestigious Sunday Express and applying himself by letter; Sunday Express new editor Bernard Drew setting up a week trial period, after which PV offered a job; PV regretting not going to university, but appreciating chance to have trial for journalism jobs. [59:55] Short description of self in 1950s, PV very social, liked, not introspective, ambitious, opinionated, mature for his age after experience as sailor. [1:01:15] Remarks on starting at Sunday Express: description of first day, shown desk, meeting colleagues; anecdote about older journalists educating him about expenses; camaraderie between journalists, papers having regular pubs, Friday evening drinks, friendly atmosphere with little obvious rivalry; PV junior reporter, senior reporters assigned biggest stories; [1:04:25] friendship with aviation journalist Arthur Brenard, anecdote about Brenard's wartime service in RAF leaving him a nervous flyer; mentions Beaverbrook favouring wartime aircrew as staff, due to experience of son Max Aitkin as pilot; description of busy Sunday Express newsroom, layout of staff and desks; importance of public telephones for reporting stories; long busy hours on Saturday preparing for next edition; sounds of people shouting across huge newsroom sticking in PV mind; smart suit and tie worn to work; sense of formality to workplace at time; Sunday Express a well produced, prestigious, campaigning newspaper at time, more reliable than rivals. [1:10:50] Description of 1950s Fleet Street: busy and energetic; black marble Express building; 'The Bell' the regular Sunday Express pub; huge deliveries of print rolls. [12:40] Outline of how a story appeared in print: submitting stories by phone or delivering written by hand, foreign correspondents sending stories by cable; stories typed up; sub-editors editing stories into allocated space; typesetting; proof reading; printing. [1:13:55] Remarks on: PV joining National union of Journalists [NUJ], not mandatory, unlike printing unions; NUJ not radical at time, providing useful press pass; PV originally a general reporter; PV spending a few months as film critic, watching films, attending receptions; anecdote about PV critical reviews of Rank films leading to him stopping being film critic; anecdote about use of PV critical review for a Bob Hope film in its advertising; meeting stars; relationship between advertisers and journalists.