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Letter: Do You Remember ‘The Guildford Keyhole’?

Published on: 2 Jul, 2013
Updated on: 2 Jul, 2013

TGDN Letter feature DragonFrom Stephen Pinn

Like Sue Bushell [Letter: I Have Just Discovered The Guildford Dragon NEWS!] I too stumbled upon The Guildford Dragon NEWS by accident. It reminds me of Guildford Keyhole, a similar publication (not online, of course, just a lot of back-breaking work on an ancient Roneotype printing machine in a Victoria Road basement).

When a group of us (all cub reporters indentured to the Surrey Ad between 1969 and 1973) were called out on strike by the National Union of Journalists, we thought we should provide a crude (but infinitely more interesting and entertaining) alternative.

In those days, proprietor Ray Tindle was prevented from publishing the real thing because the big print unions actually supported the NUJ on occasions. I still have a few grainy photos of some of us huddled around a brazier in Martyr Road.

Having spent 18 months in Colchester, I returned to the Surrey Ad as chief reporter in late 1974, eventually resigning in 1977 when the news editor refused to delay the print schedule to take breaking news of a bank robbery in the High Street (just a few doors up from the Bull’s Head, where we happened to be having a pint at the time).

By the time the the following Saturday’s edition was on the streets, the culprits had long since been apprehended and charged.

Which brings me to your piece on Guildford pubs; not just those that closed, but those that changed their name (sometimes more than once).

At lunchtimes and after work, we decamped to the Two Brewers in Castle Street, the Spread Eagle (Dead Beagle) in Chertsey Street, or the Surrey Arms in North Street (chip butties, pints of Directors’ bitter, a game or two of bar billiards and lunch hours that seem to go on for ever).

Didn’t spend much time in the Horse and Groom (just as well, as it turned out) and no time at all in the Live and Let Live (I mean there’s spit and sawdust, but just spit?).

Anyway, keep up the good work.

(Some of your readers may remember some of my partners in crime – Simon Clarke, David Britton, Tim Friend, Tim Petzold, Rebecca Renbourn, Jane Adams, Robin Elias and many more).

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Responses to Letter: Do You Remember ‘The Guildford Keyhole’?

  1. Peter Bullen Reply

    July 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Alas, I never saw a copy of the ‘Keyhole’, Stephen, but have a similar story to tell about the Surrey Advertiser in the late 1950s.

    At that time, the print unions were on strike so all the reporters – plus wives and girlfriends – spent hours producing a synopsis of local news. We had to produce every page on hand turned duplicators, collate and staple them together and stack them for distribution.

    It took hours and hours. There were rumours of bonuses or other rewards for our extra-ordinary efforts. When the strike was over, a beaming managing director, a Mr Brooks, walked into the newsroom and doled out a slice of chocolate cake to each of us as our reward! And not a thing, not even a bunch of flowers for our wives and girlfriends!

    Like you, we really cared about getting the news out to our readers, an ethic Guildford Dragon news has, happily, inherited.

    Thanks Peter. Such compliments from former, very experienced journos, like you, count for a lot with us. We do care and we do the best we can with the small, but good, team we have. Thanks, Ed.

  2. David Rose Reply

    July 5, 2013 at 12:54 am

    When I started at the Surrey Ad on June 25, 1978, the Guildford Keyhole had become the paper’s in house satirical news sheet with lots of fun stories about staff members and poking a bit of fun at the management.

    I think it was largely edited by Alan Jones, who was a reporter at the time.

    Moreover, towards the end of 1979 there was a UK-wide strike by members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). I was in the advertising department at the time, so was not on strike but I sympathised with those who had walked out.

    The main reason being that those on the picket line in front of the main office in Martyr Road had to put up with some endless awful seasonal music blaring out from a tape recorder!

    In an attempt to get them to disperse, the SA management rigged up a cassette player to a speaker that was poked out of a first floor window from the accounts office directly above the entrance to the offices.

    Now, I don’t mind some seasonal music and Christmas carols, but this was a truly dreadful recording of well known tunes. It was played over and over again, but the hardcore of those on the picket line remained at their post.

    The paper still came out as the advertising staff and printers were not on strike. A few journalists worked on, mostly those who were members of the Institute of Journalists, who were not involved in the strike, and including the editor Ted Adams and his secretary Anne Millward.

    When everything went back to normal, the SA management was pleased to discontinue with its loss-making Surrey Daily Advertiser, that had been launched in 1973 only as a spoiler to other newspaper groups who had ideas of introducing evening newspapers into the home counties and around and about.

    Haven’t times changed?

  3. Jane Garrett Reply

    July 8, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I was one of the reporters on the picket line. It was utterly miserable and after sticking it out for weeks we realised we had achieved nothing. In those days you needed the support of all the other unions involved in newspaper production to stop the papers being printed and exercise some pressure on management. The compositors and printers carried on working and enough editorial staff were working as well to get papers out. It was a hard lesson that journalists were not as important as we had thought!
    We also brought out a parallel paper during the strike but I can’t remember its title. I think it was a satirical take on the Sy Ad title.

  4. Eric Bignell Reply

    January 31, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I remember Tim Petzold… and the strikes. I went to Portsmouth College with Tim to learn journalism. Happy days. Whatever happened to Tim?

  5. Mary Bishop Reply

    June 9, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I was truly amazed and delighted at the turn out for Stephen Pinn’s funeral in January 2014.
    I was his long suffering wife.
    Stephen died very suddenly of a stroke two weeks after Christmas.
    I found him in the garage sitting behind his prized MG sports car, something he had wanted for years.
    Yes, I remember Keyhole very well – in fact I think I was mentioned in it at some point?
    Stephen would have appreciated all his old colleagues turning up at Guildford Crematorium, including Simon Clarke, Robin Elias, Robin Stride and Tim and Bernie Friend.
    I’m still trying to track down Jane Adams and Alison Fox ….

  6. Barry Walker Reply

    April 11, 2020 at 12:07 am

    Oh happy memories of the Surrey Advertiser reporting team.

    My then fiancée (Linda Pullen) worked at the “Ad” back in the mid-70s with Tim Petzold, Robin (and later Sally) Elias, Anne, Rebecca Renbourn and the rest of the crew.

    I seem to recall numerous evenings drinking in the Brewers or occasionally an excursion out to the Onslow Arms. Petzold generally holding court whilst feigning horns and mooing loudly whilst downing yet another pint of the preferred hostel’s brew.

    I now reside in a small village in Somerset. I often think back on those days and wonder where everyone is now?

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