WHO knew that the women pictured at Bolton’s GPO in 1949 had all signed the Official Secrets Act?

Consequently, when reader Doris Partington recognised her former colleagues in The Bolton News when we published the picture on Looking Back last month, she wasn’t able to give us any details of the juicier telegrams she and her friends had typed.

Doris, now aged 83, started work at the Post Office in Deansgate in 1951. She said: “I had always wanted to be a telephonist and after I left school I went for an interview at the GPO. That afternoon a man came from the GPO to our house in Chorley Old Road. He said he only had one post available and that was for a higher grade telegraphist. It meant travelling to Preston for three months for training, so he would need my mother’s permission for that.”

Doris’ mother gave her permission and she embarked on her course at Preston, which meant catching the 7.20am train every day.

“It was quite tough training,” she said.”We had to learn the telegraphist’s alphabet and we had to be fast and accurate. We had to be able to type 45 telegrams in one hour.

“And we had to sign the Official Secrets Act . . . so I can’t tell you anything about the more interesting telegrams I ever typed. Although we did get lots of dubious messages!

“I loved working in telegrams.”

Doris’ skills were in high demand, and although she was based in Bolton, always going to the office pictured above via the King Street entrance, staff shortages elsewhere meant she was often seconded to Preston, Manchester or Stockport.

Her wages were the princely sum of £2 six shillings and nine pence a week, and she worked 9am to 4pm or a split shift of 6am to 2pm then 4pm to 8pm.

She worked in the office above until 1955 and then on the Post Office front counter until 1960.

Then Doris’ life took a different turn. After marrying in 1955, she eventually gave up work to adopt her two sons.

But she can still remember her colleagues. They are, supervisor Florence, Ena Grenelle, teleprinters Audrey, Joan Hudson, Pat Hardman, Stella Barnard, Helen Partington and typist, Sheila Coupe. In the middle, far left is a very special friend of Doris . . . her bridesmaid Marjorie Shipperbottom, who was aged 18 when the picture was taken.

If you recognise people in our Looking Back pictures, or if you want to tell readers about the job you used to do in Bolton, call Newsdesk on 01204 537271