Good companion

I left university with nothing in front of me. No job. Just time.

But, as I had (Great) Uncle Charlie’s Imperial typewriter, I decided to learn to type. I bought a book and painstakingly covered the keys to learn to touch-type.

I don’t remember how I ended up with it. He was my paternal grandma’s youngest brother. She adored him.

When she was 80, my parents gave her a birthday party. What made her day was that Uncle Charlie was there. The rest of the day was irrelevant.

He bought her a gold brooch with an inset pearl for her 80th. As with the typewriter, I inherited that too.

Uncle Charlie started in journalism a hundred years ago, more or less. He worked for the local newspaper. He was also a stringer for national papers. While my grandparents were living in rented accommodation, one in council housing, the other (his sister) in a tiny one down, two up, outside toilet, terraced house, Uncle Charlie managed to buy a modest semi-detached for himself and Auntie May.

Luckily their house backed onto the local rugby ground. He didn’t have to go far to report on the matches.

By the time I had grown up, he was just covering sport and stringing for the nationals, mostly the Daily Telegraph.

My cousin, some 17 years older than me, also worked in newspapers on the advertising side for the Yorkshire Post. Later she moved to London to work in PR for a fashion firm.

On my mother’s side, my Uncle Bill got a job on the local paper as a cub reporter, but left to join the RAF where he hoped to be able to play more sport, rather than reporting on it.

Nepotism? No. I wish. Every one of us got our jobs on our own merits. All the more interesting though. Three generations, all working in journalism for the same company, and yet no connections or influence in choosing or gaining those jobs.

Imperial was a British firm based in Leicester although it was founded by an American-Spanish engineer, Hidalgo Moya, in 1908.

Portable typewriters were introduced by Imperial in 1932, and mine probably dates from the early 1940s. It’s a Good Companion Model T. (Lots of photos of old typewriters on that link)

The Leicester plant was closed in 1974.

All my typewriter needs is a new set of ribbons. Now, if only my computers would last for 70+ years …


10 comments on “Good companion”

  1. Great story. Your Uncle Charlie sounds like a great guy. I wonder, however, if your Uncle Bill ever regretted his choice of the RAF as a sport-facilitating venture.

    I grew up with typewriters,, but no journalists in the family — although my great-grandmother became the publisher of the city paper when her publisher husband died. (It’s rather odd that I never think of him as my great-grandfather, but only as my great-grandmother’s husband. She gets all the glory in my family, because we tend to trace the family lineage back to her parents. Will have to try to change that…)

    I love this photo (although it makes me sad that the ribbons are not working well, and that there is no line of type at the top of the page.) It looks like a real reporter’s machine. I don’t remember ours ever looking so solid.


    • The line of type was so faint. I wondered if I had reversed the spools if the red would have worked.

      Uncle Charlie was very distant. A little up himself maybe? Uncle (proper uncle not great) Bill, retired as Wing Co. I think he made a good decision career wise.

      I so want to hear about your publishing family history. Just. Wow! We were all plebby reporters. OK a little cachet and it’s trendy, but owning a publishing company. Mmmmmm.

      It is solid, it still works. I may buy the ribbons yet!


  2. I love the story that goes with this pic and the family history of your typewriter. And, it prompted me to log onto EBay and buy a new ribbon for my retro orange Brother 210 typewriter I found discarded on the footpath on King Street, Newtown a few years ago. At this stage I’ve only bought a black as it was free postage (love free postage!) but there are red-blacks listed as well, which I will probably buy later on.


    • Nooooo! Do post a pic eh? I have a sequel to this, but I haven’t taken the piccy yet.

      It was only when I had taken the pic that Partner said ‘there’s probably 100 years of history in that story’ and, so there was.


  3. I know… how can anyone throw such a beauty out especially as they sell for A$80 in retro shops etc.


  4. But can you put Photoshop on it?…


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