Life as a Junior Reporter for the Northern Scot by Bruce Taylor

Piper Alpha Memorial Window  source: wikicommons

Piper Alpha Memorial Window at Ferryhill Church, Aberdeen Source: Wikicommons

Bruce enjoyed writing at school and generally enjoyed his English lessons. He left school in 1961 at the age of 15 and went to Websters College at the top of Batchen Lane in Elgin to study shorthand and typing. His first job was for the Northern Scot newspaper where he described his first duties as a “general dogsbody”. They included buying cigarettes for the Editor, covering events such as  Flower Shows etc.  He had to travel to local towns including Lossiemouth and Dufftown to look for stories. All the time he was looking for stories of general interest. He travelled by himself as there was no staff photographer at this time.

When he turned 22 he moved to the Press and Journal Newspaper. Someone came from the P&J to his house to offer him the job, which included an increase in wages. Bruce accepted the offer and his earnings rose from £16 a week to £25 per week (a 56% increase).

During his time at the paper the biggest story he covered was the Piper Alpha Disaster in July 1988.  Bruce was the first reporter to travel out to the rig site, the day after the accident. By that time the flames were out and all that was left was the smoking skeleton of the platform. Bruce wrote about his first impressions and his reports were run on other papers as well as his own.

Bruce thought the best part of the job was the contact with people and helping them to communicate an issue they were concerned with. This could be raising funds for someone who was ill or a local campaign against a new road or the closure of an institution. He also covered Moray Council meetings and was an advocate for those who would have had no voice. It gave him great satisfaction to see his own stories in the Press and also when some stories were taken up by the National Press.

Additional Information

British Newspaper ArchiveThe Press and Journal has 13,234 back issues lodged with the British Newspaper Archive holds a number of Press and Journal newspapers in a digitised form. The BNA website

New Scottish online resource related to the Piper Alpha Disaster. The resource is part of the Glow Intranet community.
 Piper Alpha Disaster – Education Scotland website with a link to the glow-based resource.


Printing Apprentice by Ron Elmore

Found the job of being a printing apprentice in a career book. Went to work for Stanford and mann at the age of 15 in 1961. Learnt how to use a Heidelberg Automatic. Left the job eventually as he didn’t want to study and joined the Merchant Navy.

Old railway trackside hut Typical of those provided to afford protection to the track maintenance gangs when they were working on the track.Later on he was a plate layer and lengthman for the railway. It was a very responsible job. His job was to maintain a particular length of line. No money in it. Became a ganger after just two years. It was a hard job out in all weathers on high speed mainlines. Did a visual inspection of the track over a ten mile distance every day. There were 16 people in a gang on a ninety mile track.  Sometimes it was very hard to hear the trains coming especially the electric ones. Just heard a humm when they were 30 yds away. The train driver blew the horn but if the wind was blowing the wrong it could be a close thing!

Memory contributed by Ron Elmore

Lynne’s work as an Office Junior for three newspapers

Lynne Taylor in 1960s. Photo supplied by Lynne. Copyright Lynne Taylor

Photos supplied by Lynne. © Lynne Taylor

Lynne started work as an office junior at the age of 15 in 1962. She was sent there by the Labour Exchange. Her tasks included sorting the post then taking it round the offices and printing works. The statement addresses were on a lithograph which was then punched onto new metal address plates. A Franking machine was used for outgoing post and newspapers. Newspapers were ordered for home and abroad. She also had to answer the phone and make tea. The newspapers were The Evening Dispatch, Sports Angus and Sunday Mercury.

The Evening Dispatch was amalgamated with the Birmingham Post and Mail and we all lost our jobs at that point.

Memory contributed by Lynne Taylor, Elgin

Additional Information
Archive section of the Birmingham City Council
Sports Argos Information page. This newspaper finally closed in 2006.
Cartoon Archive– look at newspaper cartoons form the past