Jim Kevan

(R and R Clarks)

Jim Kevan started work at the Galloway Gazette and then briefly worked at the Ayrshire Post before moving to work at R and R Clarks in Edinburgh. He worked in the caseroom at Clarks before moving into the reading department to be a reader. He was involved with the caseroom chapel and participated in annual trips and burns supper walks.

0000 Description of photograph 1957 Largs caseroom outing.
0100 Brandon Social Club
0130 Outing to Ayr. Hired special train.
0200 Provided meal and organised sports
0230 Some people would not participate thought should be given better wages rather than a trip
0300 Prize for best programme for Burns Supper designed by apprentice
0400 Description of a programme for a trip tp Ayr with the various items mentioned in the programme
0435 Programmes make reference to the War
0500 Would catch the train from the Caliedonian Station on Princes Street
0600 Trains could be caught to more places in those days. You could get a train from Newton Stewton to Edinburgh Waverly.
0620 Would bring wives and children. No payment for the workers.
0640 Firm was thriving and did not have reps on the road. Blair Maxwell was owner. Work would come to firm
0710 George Bernard Shaw insisted that Clarks do all the printing.
0800 Pygmallion. George Bernard Shaw chose actresses to play Eliza. He chose Wendy Hillor. Did a one woman show later in life and did show about her experiences with Shaw. Clarks were declining and he discovered a framed copy of a letter Shaw had written to R and R Clark
1000 Had a photocopy of letter and gave it to stage door. Got a letter from her to thank him for sending her the photocopy.
1200 Born in July 1929. Started apprenticeship with Galloway Gazette in 1944. Working for iron monger for a year.
1230 Got job through labour exchange. War Years employment strictly controlled. Scout master found out about job. Got job as linotype operator / compositor.
1314 Taught trade and paid 15 shillings for 49 hours. Started 8am, finished 5.15 Mon. Wed and Thurs 6pm.
1400 Friday night publishing night. Earliest 8pm but could work till midnight. Galloway Gazette run by diesel engine in basement. Hot metal heated by hot jets. Lit by apprentice in the morning in semi darkness. He would be 14 as this was school leaving age. If mother was a widow could leave school at 13.
1600 Worked under caseroom foreman. Linotype in caseroom too. Left in fromt of linotype keyboard and told to learn. Linotype machines had no safety catches.
1705 Hot metal would burn back of hand. Small accidents in works. Frightening place.
1730 Finished apprenticeship in 1950 and then did two years National Service. Had to get job back for 6 months.
1820 Took back but had to find another job. Got job in Ayrshire Post which was unionised so was able to join union. No union in Galloway Gazette.
1900 If were in paper would be sacked for being in Union. Monthly magazine that union issued there was always jobs but would not be available to him in Galloway as not a member.
2000 4 years later saw job at Clarks advertised. Advertised for compositors. Wanted to move to Edinburgh because it was a big centre for printing. Was many print forms and moved in Spring 1957.
2100 Had to find digs in cul de sac off Leith Walk. Was engaged to be married when moved up. Was getting married in September and she moved up in summer to Silverknowes. Bought house in Davidsons Mains and stayed there for 25 years.
2220 R and R Clarks had 300 employees and vast caseroom compared to anything. At Galloway Gazette had points system for type rather than strange name for different types of type. R and R Clarks used old system using names as pearl, gruvere.
2420 Used points system but only gradually phased out and still using part as late as 1970s.
2500 Machinery more modern. Vast number of people. Interview. Caseroom overseer not happy as wanted a book man, said he would not fit in
2642 First week thought in mad house. Was working on stones to impose pages to go through to the foundry. Was in caseroom for 7 years
2740 Applied for job in reading dept, did not get it. James Campion Asst to Managing Director was leaving to go to a company down south and came to caseroom and said that he had arranged for him to transfer to the reading department before he went.
2840 First day saw a figure going past an elderly man with a 3 piece suit with stains wandering round the work. He was a reader who was 94. He had worked for D C Thomson in Dundee. Printed comics and were anti union. He had left D C Thomson and the story was he had walked to Edinburgh from Dundee to join union and start at Clarks
3100 Was upset when asked to retire at 94. Union magazine registered deaths and people used to die in 60s. Many men died before retirement.
3140 was made redundant and got job in legal document firm. Retired at 60
3224 Apprentice came down with parcel with a foot sticking out the back. Spare leg of man in casting department, lad would have to swop his legs every so often.
3330 Many characters in the firm. Keyboard operator who when switched to VDU screens eyes were worse.
3423 Brought in time and motion study at R and R Clarks. Terrible time and fixed a time for each thing. Reading department said it could not be done there. If you met requirements you would get three pounds. Just carried on as before
3550 Had to check that authors were correct and had to put together queries. Enjoyed the job. Had to latterly fight management to get book corrected. Managing Director said not to check for mistakes. Would not let medical book go out with mistakes.
3730 Time and Motion cut top off sloping top of case so was not at an angle and knocked down walls and then were gone. There for maybe a year.
3836 R and r Clarks a closed union shop. Sickness pay, were given 16 shillings a week, raised question of getting half pay. Was opposition on the floor but eventually it went through a long time later.
4000 Union very strong within caseroom and branch. Branch meetings. Collection of union dues.
4100 Wage 12 pounds and fifteen shillings. Discussion about Geoff Alsop and his wages at R and R Clark.
4146 Became Father of the Chapel. Had quarterly meeting and you were proposed and seconded for the position. The father and Clerk would go to management to discuss items. The union would restrict number of apprentices in relation to journeymen. At the end were not taking on any apprentices.
4345 Hot metal disappearing and knew they would not need any new people. Branch Secretary would check to see if there were enough journeymen for apprentices
4500 Was asked if he was willing to have his name put forward. Responsibilities of FOC. Meetings were always held round a stone in the caseroom. Different unions for different trades.
4600 Machine room did not have annual outing.
4700 Golf Club and Bowling Club
4800 Caseroom Chapel Burns Night\
4844 Burns night walk. Moved Hotels
5022 Description of a Burns Walk.. One year weather very stormy
5100 Only men but visitors were welcome
5200 Spanish sous chef alarmed when saw the address to the haggis.
5340 3 people on the committee. Description of drinks provided and the cost. Description of order of events.
5449 Paid for Burns night themselves. Saving for Burns Supper
5600 Company amalgamated in Thynnes. Had a newsletter. Mr Kevan shows a newsletter.
5700 Description of King of Norway visit and the production of silk scroll. Problems with the production.
5818 Dart and dominoes at Clarks social news. Organised by the men themselves.
5900 List of authors that Clarks printed books for.
6000 Compton McKenzie would be seen going around the town. Clarks prided themselves on being meticulous but latterly were not as interested. Letter from authors praising the reader.
6300 Letters of praise from author would not allow readers to be mentioned. Families within firm, not that many in the caseroom.
6330 Trips died out in the 1960s. People wanted to go socialize separately
6452 Discussion of holidays given. Fixed holidays to begin with and then staggered holidays. Discussion of statutory holidays.
6542 Closed between Christmas and New Year. When first started work would work on Christmas Day. Got half an hour extra on Christmas Day.
6723 EU, thought they got more holidays. Thought that when went in EU would get more holidays but it did not work
6800 Free newsletter by Thynnes. MD Ian Maxwell, he was called Mr Blair like he was the landed gentry.
6952 Badminton Club at Thynnes. In early years of marriage and did not have time to undertake this kind of thing.
7112 Move of premises at Brandon Street. Firm started to contract and places that worked. Reading department. Took over Constables.
7215 Terrible. Time and time again were waiting to find out whether you were made redundant. Made redundant in 1982. Made new company Clark Constable 1982. Affected pension and time served.
7330 Redundancy payout for Clark Constable, got 2,000 which paid off mortgage
7400 There till last day of company at Hopetoun Street, were at Tanfield then back to Hopetoun Street. Last stone thrown onto scrapheap.
7500 Pinders took at few people in to work for them.
7600 Law firm at Orchard Brae on Queensferry Road and went to be Legal document comparer. Used to work from copy and found it easier. Would read to him but he found that difficult.
7800 Found it difficult as people who read to him were not good. Would find mistakes but partners were not happy to be corrected.
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