Running short of shorthand typists and coal

Wilfred Pickles
Wilfred Pickles
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OFFICE of the Evening Post, Scot Lane, March 1951

THERE is a serious shortage of shorthand typists in Doncaster, and there are no signs of improvement.

Only 23 girls took it up last year – far too few to meet the demand.

All that will happen now is the these women will flit from one job to another increasing their wages but not helping to lessen the number of vacancies. They will work in solicitors’ or accountants’ offices where the pay is higher and they are more or less their own boss. Firms wanting shorthand typists are having to send girls to school at least one day a week.

Most reporters here use Pitman but one or two I know use Gregg. Pitman or Gregg, only a few of us are really quick except Reg Hancock and he uses everything he has in his notebook. The sub-editors hate it.

n Doncaster’s first television licence for a pub has been granted to the Alma Inn. Police Supt Davis told the magistrates that where there was TV in pubs, with subdued lighting and customers crowding round, the bench might consider applications should not be granted.

Mr Smith, the landlord, said his TV would be in the smokeroom and would not need subdued lighting.

The chairman, Mr Barber, said the bench granted the application with hesitation, perhaps because of the novelty.

n Alderman Mrs Rose Hodson, our first woman mayor elect, says she will wear the robe and hat in the style worn by generations of mayors. She will not want the hat to be specially made. Mrs Hodson is a director of the Doncaster Co-operative Society. Her daughter-in-law is to be mayoress elect.

n The secretary of the Horse Protection Society has appealed to Doncaster housewives to refuse to buy horseflesh offered for human consumption. “If you buy it you condemn more horses to torture and cruelty,” he says.

A shop in Silver Street sells a lot of this meat and housewives buy it ostensibly for their pets. Really it goes, heavily disguised, into stews.

Mother says “what the eye don’t see…”

n Scenes of Doncaster in 1851 modelled by boys and girls of Wheatley Modern schools, have been accepted for display at the South Bank Festival of Britain exhibition. The task has taken many hours of research using old newspapers.

n Wilfred Pickles, who used to read the news bulletins for the BBC and who has made himself famous with his Have a Go quiz show, was at the infirmary last week. He presented a Doncaster Chronicle Children’s Corner bookcase for the use of young patients. It was paid for in threepenny bits. It was another big day for our reporter Miss Higson (Annie, or “Jocelyn”) whose Corner goes from strength to strength. For years the young readers collected foil milk bottle tops until the tottering heaps reached her office ceiling.

The smell of unwashed bottle tops got so strong she had to call a halt to that idea, even though it raised a lot of money for good causes.

Pickles moved on to Woodlands, where children queued for three hours to see him and Have a Go. They were packed three on two seats.

When Pickles asked a child what did she wish for she replied “More coal” – did someone tell her what to say?

n Local builders say that if they had been given a free hand they could build houses faster than the Corporation. As it is, 50 keys are handed over every month. The borough waiting list remains at 5,300 and every month 120 new applicants add to that.

If we build 600 houses a year we shall have cleared the list about 1980!

n Lady Dundas addressed Doncaster Scientific Society. She is a sister of Col W Forrest Bracewell, the solicitor, and when her father Canon Bracewell was vicar of St James’s she attended our High School. She has lived in India for 13 years. Her husband was Secretary for Defence for India before partition, after which she was a guest of the Khedive of Pakistan who put a personal plane at her disposal.

n Bob Walker, editor of the Chronicle, gave a speech on the history of newspapers in Doncaster and referred to such long-gone journals as The Flying Post, The Reporter and a periodical known as The Review. He acknowledged that local events were not fully reported because of the shortage of newsprint. He advised readers to look for the nibs (news in brief) – a 25-word summary which in better times might be worth half a column.

n Betty Hutton is the star of Annie Get Your Gun at the Picture House.

n Rovers beat Manchester City 3-2. There are now four internationals in their ranks – Doherty for Ireland, Lawlor, Giles for Eire, and Graham, their most recent signing.

Billy Thomson was knocked out by Frenchman Montane for the vacant European lightweight title. Billy will most likely move up to welterweight. He is furious that he let the title go so easily after a very good start.

n Doncaster Rugby League Football Club is now in official existence. A prospectus is available and their 10 shilling shares are on sale.

Entrance to the ground has been fixed at 1s 8d. if gates can average 5,000.

n Corporation bus conductors’ ticket punches are being replaced by 100-ticket issuing machines which use a roll of paper. So instead of a nice ringing tone you get a whirring noise. Every boy got a conductor’s outfit (old style) for Christmas at some time in his life and managed to punch a hole in his finger at the same time!

n School meals in the Don Valley are to cost more, from sixpence to sevenpence. Ten thousand meals are served in Valley schools every day.

n We have been promised more telephones on the Doncaster exchange. There are 350 would-be subscribers on the waiting list and it is hoped that all of them will be “on the phone” by the end of July.

This will mean that since the beginning of 1948 600 telephones will have been installed in Doncaster. The GPO says that there can be no limit; it is just a matter of men and materials.

n CromptonParkinsons, the electrical goods makers, are still looking to increase output at their factory at Wheatley. “Excellent conditions for single women and girl school- leavers, starting rate for girls of 15 is 44s a week.”

n The Press Gang duly performed at the amateur drama festival at the Arts Centre.. What’s in a Name was a modest achievement by Annie Higson, Pat Wood, Bill Lowcock, Hughie Goodall and yours truly. Praise rightly went to the author, Bob Walker. “First rate natural dialogue, extremely well-written. Characters in a small cast all well-drawn.”

I have no objection to playing the romantic roles, but when it comes to passionate kissing in front of an audience and a professional critic... no thank you.

We didn’t win any prizes and we didn’t expect to. Not bad for a first effort, though.

n The first consignment of 500 tons of imported American coal arrived at the Doncaster railway yard. Some people are appalled – “coals to Newcastle” they say. “Utterly ridiculous.”

Further supplies are due at Immingham.

“The coal is cleaner and better graded and a delight to handle,” say the railway workers. Our own miners’ opinion can be imagined.

Are we so short of coal we have to buy it from the Yanks?