Working Lives

Printing and photography (1950s-2007)

Location: Kent, Hertfordshire & Norfolk

Trevor moved to Norfolk and worked in printing until 1993 when he was made redundant from HMSO. He then took up photography full time and carried it on successfully into retirement.

I was born in 1937 in Gravesend, Kent. After schooling which finished at Gravesend Grammar I took an apprenticeship with a small jobbing printers, Southern Publicity, in Windmill Street, Gravesend, as a compositor. In those days we used moveable type setting pages of text or adverts letter by letter from differing styles of lead cast type. This apprenticeship lasted seven years, or at least would have done if National Service hadn’t cut it short at six and a half years. After two years in the Royal Air Force (flying a desk!) I had to return to the same press to do ‘make-up time’ as it was known, before I could gain my indentures.

Move to Fakenham

I then got married in 1962 and, because we couldn’t afford a property in Kent for the average £3000 moved to Fakenham, Norfolk, to buy a 3-bedroom house with a quarter-acre of land for £1500 (!) and although the house was very old it was sturdily built and needed some good updating for which we easily obtained a grant.

We were there for three years before deciding to move back South and I obtained work as overseer of the Composing Room in the Printing School of the National Children’s Home, Harpenden, Hertfordshire. However, after three years having had a house with the job I felt that I should get back into the property market again.

By this time property had soared in Norfolk to around £4000 for the average place. I remained in print and worked at a small jobbing firm in Watton having bought my bungalow in the town for around £3500.

To Thetford and then HMSO print buyer

Another job move found me in Thetford although still living in the bungalow in Watton. The firm, Jaycee Printers, produced items such as lottery tickets and most of the staff were from London having moved up to Norfolk on a Government scheme to expand the area around Thetford. To travel there used a motorbike but after some bad experiences on the road decided yet another change of job and place to live would be necessary.

This time an application to Her Majesty’s Stationery Office was successful and I became a print buyer for HM Government and a move to Brundall found us in another bungalow but nearer to my place of work.

Full time photography

Twenty years on in 1993 I was retired on redundancy terms and I took up my love of photography full time. Contacts made during my time with HMSO gave me immediate work and also with the extra days during the week (have you noticed that when working in an office it ALWAYS seems to rain at weekends?) I managed to build up a large library of colour transparencies and started selling to books and magazines.

I have been involved also with books of Norwich (Norwich Then and Now) and have produced a book on Norfolk (Norfolk Moods). I have been fortunate to photograph Royalty and one of the Speakers of the House of Commons, the late George Thomas (Lord Tonnypandy) the resulting photograph being reproduced for HMSO, Eastern Daily Press, Hansard and of course for Lord Tonnypandy himself. I believe that one may still hang in the Speaker’s Residence.

I am well retired but still involved in photography with many people approaching me to copy old family photographs for their family trees.

Trevor Burchell (b. 1937) talking to WISEArchive on 13th June 2007 in Fakenham.