YEP125: People that made this your newspaper

MARCH 9, 1991: Yorkshire Post Newspapers editorial floor.
MARCH 9, 1991: Yorkshire Post Newspapers editorial floor.
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As the Yorkshire Evening Post prepares to mark its 125th birthday next week, Paul Robinson looks back at some of the paper’s stalwarts

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STARING into a camera belonging to Gale’s Studios on Briggate in Leeds, his is a face from another era.

The gentleman’s name was Tom Matthews and he worked as a compositor at the Yorkshire Evening Post during the newspaper’s earliest days.

Mr Matthews, who lived on Compton Road in Harehills, is just one of the countless staff who have contributed to the YEP’s long and lasting success.

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We have already looked at famous former YEP employees such as Barbara Taylor Bradford and Keith Waterhouse during the build-up to our 125th birthday next Tuesday, September 1.

So today we turn the spotlight on Mr Matthews and a selection of other, lesser-known stalwarts of the paper.

They are:

* Leeds-born Frank Metcalfe, who died in 2007 aged 80, entered the world of newspapers as a copy boy on the YEP in his teens.

A prolific writer, he interviewed a stellar cast of celebrities including Laurel and Hardy, George Formby and Charlton Heston.

* John Sanderson spent 47 years with the YEP before retiring from his job as a despatch overseer in 1987.

He witnessed massive changes during his career, including advances in technology that saw his department transformed from manual to fully automatic operation.

* Legendary YEP crime reporter David Bruce worked on some of the region’s biggest news stories, including the Yorkshire Ripper murders, the Michael Sams kidnap case and the M62 bombing of 1974.

Born in Hunslet, he started out as a copy boy in the mid-1960s at the paper’s old offices on Albion Street. He was hailed as a man “admired by reporters, relied upon by news editors and trusted by readers”.

* Don Smith, a compositor, retired in 1980 after clocking up nearly 50 years with the YEP. Speaking at the time about his first shift, he said: “My overseer had been appointed to his job the same day I joined the paper and was wearing a beautifully embroidered waistcoat. I managed to spill a pot of sticky, black printers ink down the front.”

* Henry Futrell joined the YEP as a junior in 1901 and later became chief sub-editor before being appointed editor in 1930.

He played a major part in the paper’s fondly-remembered Boots for the Bairns appeal prior to his retirement in 1946.

* Cartoon character Alfie Apple featured in the pages of the old Leeds Mercury newspaper and then the YEP for 20 years up until the late 1940s.

Well-known Leeds headmistress Mary McClure came up with the idea for the character while the pictures were drawn by YEP cartoonist ‘Thack’.

* Ted Fountain retired as overseer of the YEP process plate department in 1994 after 39 years’ service.

His great-grandfather, William, had first joined the YEP’s sister paper, The Yorkshire Post, in 1858, when it was named the Leeds Intelligencer.

Mr Fountain’s grandfather and father also gave 100 years of combined service to Yorkshire Post Newspapers.

* Nigel Scott started at the YEP in 1988 and for many years was the paper’s highly-regarded and hugely-popular business editor.

He won widespread acclaim for his columns charting his brave battle against cancer before his death aged just 47 in 2009.

* Eric Simpson arrived at the YEP’s Albion Street offices in 1969, helping manage more than 40 street vendors who between them sold more than 15,000 copies of the paper every day.

An instantly recognisable figure around the city, his dedication to the job also saw him taking Leeds news to homesick holidaymakers in Blackpool as well as Paris for Leeds United’s European Cup final date in 1975. He retired as sales supervisor in 2014.

* We finish where we started, with Tom Matthews. His great-nephew, 86-year-old Thomas Reilly, of Beeston, knows his relative worked at the YEP but further details about his career and life are sketchy.

Anyone who has any information about Mr Matthews is asked to e-mail paul.robinsons@ypn.co.uk and we will forward it to Mr Reilly.

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