Home The Club Trips & Information Members Interests Business Minutes Guest Speakers

Speaker – Today‟s speaker is Iain Hindmarsh & the title is “A Journalist remembers


Nursing Sister Jo Begley, who should have spoken today, is indisposed and her talk on “Sexual Health in

Later Life” is postponed to a later date. Standing in, at short notice, is Iain Hindmarsh a journalist who spent the whole of his career based in the North East and gave an enthralling account of changes in the area interspersed with amusing anecdotes. Iain, who now lives in Stokesley, has vivid memories of the area when he was a schoolboy during the war. His first school was Kirby where the one room school was too small for both the local boys & evacuees, so each day half the pupils went on a nature walk. He remembers „Seldom Seen‟ a spoof town between Stokesley & Crathorne with random winking lights to divert German bombers. Only one air raid on Stokesley occurred, when incendiary bombs were dropped. After the war prisoners of war were a common sight in Stokesley & even went to the local cinema.

At school he developed an interest in journalism & became an apprentice journalist for the Kemsley newspaper group, initially based in Redcar at the Evening Gazette. Being an apprentice not only involved attending night-school but lighting the fires in the morning. On one occasion a blocked chimney caused smoke to escape through a window and the fire brigade arrived to put out the fire. As a reporter one covered all events from royal visits to funerals and travelled everywhere by bicycle. He even fell into a grave while taking a short cut through a cemetery.

Reporters also wrote simultaneously for several different newspapers in the Kemsley group. For each story articles of different length & detail were written & dispatched to the relevant newspaper by train. He reported on all the key events in the area including the development of ICI at Wilton & Billingham & the expansion of British Steel.

He remembers the North East as a hive of activity, throbbing with confidence. Subsequently Mr Hindmarsh became a reporter for Radio Teesside, which was then pioneering local broadcasting. His first office, in the Linthorpe road, was decrepit with leaking roofs & the radio equipment required covering with plastic sheeting, there was even a dead rat in the cavity above the suspended ceiling. When they went out to make an outside broadcast they were mistaken for a detector van pursuing licence dodgers.

As a radio reporter for the BBC Iain met many well known people & he was able to give insights of their character. He found Harold Macmillan, Prince Charles & John Harvey Jones, one time chairman of ICI, were , charming & had excellent memories for people & could recall names & personal details of those they may not have met for years. Conversely, Ian McGregor, formerly head of the National Coal Board at the time of the miner‟s strike, was a very unpleasant person, lacking in humanity. When Ian McGregor was knocked over in a scuffle during the strike a picture appeared in the papers of Iain with a microphone interviewing Ian on the ground, to capture his „last words‟. In contrast, Gladys Aylward, a missionary in China who had shown great heroism rescuing orphans when China was invaded by Japan, was an unassuming person whom you would never have suspected of great deeds. As a reporter he also covered the activities of the Green Howards & went to Hong Kong where he met Captain Peter Inge who subsequently became Field Marshal Lord Inge & Chief of the Defence Staff. He also went to Cyprus where he was

ambushed by EOKA terrorists.