|Denis Laycock in 1961, tying up the parcel, with Patrick Draper, who think still lives in Brigg; Michael Stocks, son of Reg Stocks, head of Glebe Road School; and Graham Austin, still active with Brigg Amateur Social Historians.|
I’m a regular reader of your blog as I try to keep up to date with Brigg news, and I was interested to read Cliff Turner’s memories of Jack Clark as they reminded me of my days as a paper boy in Brigg some 55 years ago. Some of the following may be of interest to your readers.
I started delivering papers in 1956, working for the legendary Winnie Cammack at Richardsons in Wrawby Street. My ‘round’ seemed to go all over Brigg, along Bridge Street and Engine Street, through Springs’ arch and onto Grammar School Road; then round Sunningdale and the then new Council Housing, before final deliveries in the prefabs. All for the princely sum of ten shillings (50 pence), although I felt well paid.
In 1959 I began working with W H Smith & Son helping to put up the rounds for the paper boys to deliver. For a while I had a paper round with them as well, which meant I was delivering two rounds each morning. In the end this became too much and I finished the one at Richardsons.
There were five boys in the team who put up the rounds, including well-known Brigg characters Val Jeffrey and John Holland. When they went off to college I became ‘head boy’ of the team. As such I had to be at the station for about ten to five each morning to meet the mail train. Parcels of papers, which had been packed en route were thrown onto the platform, together with the bags of mail for the waiting postmen.
The daily routine was quite straightforward. On arrival each day my first task was to fetch into the station waiting room the five trestle tables which were stored on the main platform under the footbridge stairs, and arrange them in a straight line down the centre of the waiting room. The five or six parcels were fetched in as soon as the train arrived and opened up for the papers to be counted out. We had thirteen rounds to put up and I had to have the papers and magazines sorted into thirteen piles for the other four team members to sort into rounds when they arrived at 6 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays were especially hectic for on those days we had a large number of magazines, including the Radio Times and the TV Times, as well as the two local papers the Lincolnshire Times and the Lincolnshire Star.
If we packers disliked those two days the delivery boys (and yes, they were all boys) must have disliked them even more, although they were equipped with heavy duty red bicycles with panniers attached to either side.
The rounds were put into order for delivery from a loose leaf folder, with columns for addresses, the daily paper and any magazines. If there were any papers left over at the end, the whole round had to be checked through again.
Delivery boys arrived for 7 a.m It was illegal to employ them before that time and one of my responsibilities was to ensure no-one started early! Once the delivery boys had gone I had to pack two rounds into parcels to go on the buses from Cary Lane, one to Sturton & Scawby, the other to Wrawby. I transported them to the bus station in a large four wheeled hand cart with pneumatic tyres, calling in at the W H Smith wholesale shop in Bigby Street to collect further parcels which had to go out on the buses to other surrounding villages.
Returning from the buses, I still had my own round to deliver. By this time I was an ardent follower of Scunthorpe United (I still am) and on mornings following a match I would read the reports in all the newspapers. On such mornings my round took quite a bit longer, and I often arrived home with scarcely enough time to have breakfast and prepare for school. One of my favourite deliveries was to the home of Barry Horstead, United’s centre-half. I used to get great pleasure from reading about him in his parents’ newspaper before folding it carefully and slipping it through the letter box.
There’s one morning that still sticks out in my memory, and that was February 3rd, 1959. As I was putting up my rounds I noticed a small headline at the foot of one of the front pages: “Rock’n’roll stars die in plane crash’. It was a short paragraph announcing the shattering news of the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ricky Valens, and the Big Bopper. We stood for a full minute in silent tribute.
As Don Maclean wrote later,
Something touched us deep inside
The day the music died
FOOTNOTE: Denis taught at Glebe Road School in the mid-1960s, moving to Derbyshire, where he taught for a further 36 years, 28 of them as head of schools in Parwich (where he lives) and Matlock.