Residents' Stories

Alan

Alan started his four-year apprenticeship learning the art and craft of stereotyping as a 14-year-old in 1937 at E.J. Arnold & Sons in Leeds, an educational publisher and book printer. As a stereotyper he produced multiple plates of pages of type.

“The conditions were excellent,” he recalls. “As apprentices we were given day release to attend the technical college and our evening school fees were paid. We were, of course, subservient to the journeymen, who were instructing us in our craft.”

Throughout his career, Alan has always been supportive of the charity. He has been a resident in one of our sheltered homes for a number of years, having been told by a friend about the charity’s sheltered home for retired printers, who gave him regular progress reports during its construction.

Alan’s father, who died when Alan was young, was also a stereotyper and Alan still has his father’s indentures.

Eileen

One of Eileen’s first jobs when she left school at 15 in the 1950s was in Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Road. She lived in Camberwell at the time and had to catch three buses to and from work.

“I loved working at Foyles where I repaired damaged spines and covers on books that had been out on loan to customers,” Eileen says. “Our job was to make the books look like new, but there was no formal training. I remember meeting Christina Foyle, who gave us each a powder compact and lipstick for Christmas.”

When Eileen was 16, her sister’s boyfriend in the Navy introduced her to her future husband, Alan, by setting them up as pen friends. They got to know each other through their letters and met when he was on leave.

After her children started school, Eileen joined Pullman’s, working mainly on the Muller and Manifold machines in the Finishing Department. Her brother worked there as a printer and her husband too after he left the Navy, but Eileen and Alan were on opposite shifts.

“You couldn’t talk to anyone while you were working because of the noise from the big web machines,” Eileen says. “They weren’t so strict about health and safety and people sometimes worked without the guards down on the web machines.”

Eileen and Alan used to walk past one of the charity’s sheltered homes when it was being built and her husband picked out the flat that would suit them. It is where Eileen now lives.

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