11:43am Monday 22nd October 2012
By Stephen Lewis
The picture shows a smiling gentleman holding an old bill poster from the Yorkshire Evening Press. “Oh, Lucky Jim, how we envy him,” runs the legend.
The Lucky Jim in question was Jim Theaker – who at the time this photograph was taken was retiring after more than 30 years as a mechanic working on The Press’s linotype machines – machines which allowed operators to use a keyboard to set an entire line of news type at once.
The photo, and others on this page, were supplied to us by Mr Theaker’s son, Peter.
He rang us after reading about The Press's 130th anniversary.
Peter, himself now 83 and living in Rawcliffe, can’t remember the exact dates his father worked at the newspaper, but he began in about 1930, and retired in the 1960s.
He certainly worked at The Press during the war years. It was a reserved occupation, Peter said.
But his father – who until he joined The Evening Press had served with the 8th Hussars in India, Egypt and Germany among other places – was a member of the Home Guard during the war, and part of the Ack Ack regiment based on Knavesmire.
He worked at the Press during the time of the great air raid on York in 1941, in which the newspaper's offices were badly damaged.
It was his job, working with a couple of colleagues, to repair the linotype machinery after the air raid so that the newspaper could begin production again.
Peter said: “We never saw him for about two days. They went out into the country somewhere with these machines and put them back together again so they could print the Press.”
His father loved working at the newspaper, the younger Mr Theaker remembers. The family then lived in Eldon Street in The Groves. “Every lunchtime he used to come home, walk all the way from Coney Street to Eldon Street, then go back again.”
They all read The Press religiously. “Oh aye. In them days, the first thing you looked for was who had got diphtheria, who was in the isolation ward at the hospital.”
His father just missed serving in the First World War. He joined the 8th Hussars, based at Fulford Barracks, as a 14 or 15-year-old in 1919, and served with the regiment for ten years. “He was a band boy,” Mr Theaker said. “He played the clarinet.” But he was also a front-line cavalryman. “He was out in India at the age of 15.”
During his time at the Press Mr Theaker’s father was a keen sportsman and a member of the newspaper's football team, as well as a long-standing York City supporter. “He loved football. He would stand on the touchlines and shout at the players.”
The younger Mr Theaker inherited his father's love of the beautiful game. A sign-writer himself by trade, he used to draw a regular football coaching cartoon on Saturday for the Evening Press’s sports pages, in the days when Malcolm Huntington was sports editor.
He drew the pictures, and Bill Fenton wrote the words. “Malcolm Huntington always said it had to be ready by Thursday night,” Mr Theaker recalls.
• We welcome contributions from readers to Yesterday Once More. However, we would ask you not to send in original old photographs, as we cannot guarantee that these will be returned. If you have old photographs or documents you would like to share with us, either send copies, or contact Stephen Lewis on 01904 567263 or email email@example.com
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