Two lost legends of journalism

SALT IN HER VEINS: Peggie Robinson in her yachting days           Picture: Shields Gazette

RICHARD DISMORE remembers two great and respected Daily Express characters

So, we have lost two legends of journalism who worked through the Manchester office of the Daily Express.

 Stan Welsh was one of the two best copy tasters I ever worked with. (The other, of course, was Les Diver). Stan would sit there twitching with frustration at the mess the Night Editor was making of the edition. He could mischievously restore order with a disingenuous query, such as: “What’s the splash doing on Page 15?”

 It was Stan who introduced me to the dubious delights of the Crusader Club. Down the back stairs of the Manchester Lubyanka, across the vanway and straight into a den of iniquity. Beer-sodden carpets, wonky pool tables, inkies downstairs, journos up, elastic chucking-out time.

 When we got to the bar, Stan ordered a pint of water. He dropped in two Alka-Seltzer-like tablets. As they fizzed away, he explained: “Stomach ulcer.”

 While Stan drained his medicinal draught, I wondered what was the point of coming in here if he couldn’t drink… then watched as he followed it up with six pints of lager!

As for Peggie Robinson, she was a simply wonderful reporter, whom I worked against on the 1973 Lofthouse Colliery disaster story as a reporter on the Yorkshire Post.

You couldn’t shake her off. I would turn up at the home of a relative of one of the seven men trapped in the flooded pit 750 ft. below the surface – and there would be Peggie, sipping tea in the front parlour and listening with genuine sympathy and concern to someone who didn’t know if they would ever see their loved one again.

 That was her great strength. She felt completely at home with ordinary working folk.

 There was nothing ordinary about Peggie herself, though. She was a tough lady in (at that time) a man’s world. And matching them, story for story.

 I was a sub when I arrived on the Express the following year and had the pleasure of subbing her copy, which was always full of vibrant detail as well as properly-checked facts.

Two great journalists. And, curiously, neither of them had a Double First from Oxford. Shurely shome mishtake.

Shields Gazette tribute



© 2005-2019 Alastair McIntyre