Keystone Press Agency 1981 – Where Are They Now?

By September 21, 2012 February 3rd, 2014 Will Carleton

The staff at Keystone Press Agency around 1981.

Update: 31 Jan 2014: Sad news in from the family of ex Keystone London owner Bertram Garai this morning.

“Dear Mr Carleton, this is to inform you for your records that my father, Bertram Garai (nbr 10 in your photo!), passed away peacefully at the age of 94 on Tuesday last week , January 21 at his own home in Surrey.”
Kind regards

from his children,

Andrew and Robert Garai, and Caroline Bennett

The funeral will take place at 16:00 on Thursday, Feb 6 at :
St Mary the Virgin
Church Hill
GU21 4QQ
And afterwards at Chobham Golf Club, GU21 2TZ. If you do have the sense that anyone in your circles would like to attend, naturally we would be happy to welcome them.
If you are planning to attend it would be helpful for organisational reasons if you would kindly inform us in advance. Please call 07802437827 or email Will Carleton on [email protected] – who will then forward your details to the family.

Sept 21 2012: Photographer  David Levenson has sent in the image (above)
He says: ‘This is a scan of the print that was on the staff notice board in the last days of Keystone being a proper Press Agency, after Colour Library International had bought the company. It was taken at the leaving party for photographer Garry Weaser ( no. 3 ). He was off to join The Guardian.’
We called it the “Curse of the Black Spot” picture, because every time someone in the photo left, we put a black spot on their forehead….so as you can see, most were quickly made redundant….
The man who losthis head totally ( no. 1) was Picture Editor, Bill Huggins. We used his head from this shot to make his leaving card, when he went to AP.

Next to him are the two ladies from the Library, and below them ( no. 7 ) Sandra, who helped on the Picture Desk. Next to her (no. 6) is Picture Editor Arthur Marsh, a lovely man and a great editor, who if you returned from a news story with more than two rolls of film, would look you up and down, and say ” What’s this? You shot a whole bloody feature story?.

At the back ( no. 2 ) is Graham Turner – now a Guardian photographer, then ( no. 3) Garry Weaser, then Siobhan from the library, and  (no. 4) is Simon Dack, now Chief Photographer at the Brighton Argus, ( no.5  ) is Jeff Blackler, Features Editor, who went to Rex Features. Behind him is Chris Aldred.

(no. 8) is photographer Ian Tyas, (no. 9) is Jim Holliday the Darkroom manager, and in front of him is Sue Cox, who ran the Accounts

(no 10) is the owner Bertram Garai – who a couple of years back I saw driving a mobility scooter down the centre line of Woking High Street, dapper as ever in a white linen suit and fedora!…
They are all standing around Arthurs desk in Despatch, in the good old days when distributing an image meant quickly knocking off a dozen 10 x 8″ black and white prints, whilst Arthur typed a caption, that was then xerox copied, and glued to each print
They where then given to messengers, to be hand delivered to all the Fleet Street picture desks.
This is where things slowed down a bit, because Bertram being a bit of a cheapskate, only employed pensioners as messengers. I kid you not, there was not one of them under seventy….and their idea of rushing a print out to the papers, was stopping for a quick woodbine under Holborn Viaduct on the way… I am amazed that Keystone ever managed to get any news pictures published at all!

Updated: this in from Leon Meyer:

Hi Will,

Interesting to see the group photo from Keystone circa 1981. What memories it brings back for me (30 years ago, eek!!)
However, It was just before I joined so I can only recall Siobhan Murphy, and the lady second from left was I think EIieen who used to do the filing and marking up of prints.
I joined Keystone as a picture researcher in 1983, recruited (age 23) from an ad in the Holborn Job Centre. Keystone were in Bath House on Holborn Viaduct, a horrible concrete building now thankfully demolished.
A year later Bill Huggins called me up for a vacancy in the photo library at AP. Without recounting my whole CV, Keystone was the beginnings of a career of some 22 years in the picture archives with the latter stretch of 11 years at the Hulton Deutch/Hulton Picture Company/Hulton-Getty, where of course the B&W archives of Keystone London, Central Press and Fox Photos ended up.

Dear Will,

I just read the story behind the image. I worked at Keystone during the summer of 1983 and I can confirm what Leon says about Eileen and Siobhan Murphey.

I can remember Eileen explaining to me that the Winston Chuchill files had a section missing because they had been lost when the original agency building had been hit during the blitz. Yes, Eileen had been re-filing the prints back into the boxes from that period!

Susan Glen

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