A Day In The Life Of A Fleet Street Photo Press Agency -1960’s

By November 7, 2012 Will Carleton

From our new contributing ‘staffer’ Mr Alan Coomes

Alan at the glazer – Photographer unknown at this time

Hi Will,
Please find as requested a brief summary of what departments jobs were in Central Press Photos in the mid 1960s

Hours 8.00am til 5.00pm or 10.00am til 7.0pm.( or whenever )

Messenger Boys… First job at 8.00am was to go to Westminster Press and collect the days national papers ,these were then check for previous days publications, then came the most important job of the day, this was taking a large silver teapot down to Micks Cafe in Fleet Street and getting it filled with tea and also ordering toast for the Darkroom and Bench staff. The rest of the day was mostly taking the photographs round the National and Provincial newspapers or delivering prints to COI over at Waterloo, other duties included collecting copies of the Evening Standard and Evening News from the paper seller outside Barclays Bank. Occasionally going out to collect films from one of the photographers this could include going down to the Oval Cricket Ground and collecting the glass 5×4 negs that were brought back for developing or collecting wire prints from Cable & Wireless at the Temple. The last job of the day was taking all the post to the Old Bailey sorting office, if there was Boxing or a late job you could still be delivering prints at Midnight.
The Bench….. This job included stamping and captioning all the prints and then getting them delivered to the newspapers by the messenger boys, also captioning yesterdays contacts and sending them to the Library for filing. Last job of the day was weighing and putting stamps on the post that went abroad.
The Sink… Making sure that the developers were heated and at the right temperature, then making copies of prints that arrived from abroad and then developing them ready for the darkroom to print, other jobs included making contacts of the previous days work,washing and drying all the prints and glazing single weight prints and private orders (see picture of glazer above )
The Darkroom… Mostly printing  24 10x8s  and 8x6s and 6x4s off negs, on rush jobs you had to make the first print called a spike as quick as possible so that the caption writer could see it and write the caption, other printing included stock prints 8x6s mainly of footballers or horse racing these were sent out to the Newspapers libraries for future use or large quantities of 8x6s were printed for COI, these were mainly rota jobs.Another job was printing wire prints from abroad mainly cricket from Australia, these were printed on an old 4 foot camera with bellows. If the photographer sent back a roll of film it was the Darkrooms job to develope it otherwise the photographers developed  it themselves.
Library… Filing all the previous days work and indexing each print with a number, also included taking taking orders for private firms and customers.

Will, hope this will help you,most probably missed loads out, maybe others may be able to fill in any gaps.

• All comments and additional info to [email protected]
• And I am looking to credit the photographer for the above image so let me know if you know who took the shot.