George Rowles. The Printing Family and Class

With the exception of a few sentences about his elder brother, and one about his wife, the family and home are mentioned only in Chapter two: Background.  It could be argued that the subject of ‘home and family’ in this particular memoir, lie in the realms of the Chapel and along the roads of The Inky Way.

The whole industry was run like a family business and George mentions families that had been in the trade for many years including the family of William Sessions and the Cheney’s of Bradbury. Both these families had been in the trade for over two centuries, as had George Josiah Palmer’s family with The Church Times. (pp. 203-5) The origins of Inky Way was in the early days, very much, a family business and was proud of it’s family morals and values.

I have ten thousand happy memories of the journalists, advertising people and printers with whom I have worked and made contact. Various possessions constantly remind me of past experiences. One is a tankard inscribed “George Rowles, from World’s Press News, January 11, 1952, to celebrate his fifty years on the Inky Way. (p.208)

His long term work colleagues were also his friends and family. Some of great stature and some even greater. People like; George Him, H L Evans, L Pook, Frank Easto, Jim Larkin, Roy Passmore, Tommy Naylor and Robert Willis all held quite notable positions and then Lord Kemsley and Lord Northcliffe were both acquaintances of Rowles as was Beatrice Warde and Rev. Joost De Blank.

Chapter twelve Memorable Mentors, is a quite short chapter but it is dedicated to John Bright. He believed in knowledgand progression. He always had time for the youngsters and got great pleasure in seeing a success of someone. He knew everything there was to know about the Military and his advice and knowledge was second to none:

His hobby was the collection of all kinds of military data. He knew the badges, the motto’s traditions and nicknames of most British regiments. (115)

Chapter thirteen A Notable All-rounder is about Charles Baker who was one of the most versatile chaps amongst the caps in the old days. Not only was he a good journalist but he had an up-to-date knowledge of type display as it was practised then. He could prepare a flat-bed, write advertising copy and he was a good salesman.


Bibliography: Rowles, George. Chaps Among the Caps. Unpublished. Burnett Collection of Working-Class Autobiography, Special Collection, Brunel University Library, 1:600

Rowles, George E. The Line is on. London: The London Society of Compositors, 1948.

Photo London compositors 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.