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A career in the local press

Frank Slaughter is more qualified than most to comment on the local press. Born in 1901, he has seen massive changes in the industry over the course of his life.

But one thing has remained the same throughout – Frank’s enthusiasm for the profession. Nottingham Evening Post reporter Caroline Foulkes caught up with him to celebrate local newspaper week.

Like most youngsters, Frank Slaughter had a dream job. A job he aspired to. A job he wanted to do.

Frank didn’t want to be a racing driver or a spaceman, because nobody dreamed of doing things like that back when Frank was at school.

He didn’t want to be a top businessman, or a teacher, or even run away to join the circus.

Frank wanted to be a journalist.

Hours spent editing the magazine of his Peterborough school made him even more determined.

Yet Frank’s first job was as a clerk in an office belonging to a distributive coal firm.

Sitting behind a desk, writing in ledgers and penning letters, his dream seemed to have been suffocated under a mound of paperwork.

Even the shorthand he was learning would only be used in his role as clerk… or so he thought.

But the man who ran the shorthand school was the director of a local newspaper.

One day he called into Frank’s office and invited him to come and work for him.

Relating the story to a packed newsroom at the Post’s old Forman Street offices in September, 1966, nearly 40 years after joining the paper and more than fifty years after entering the industry, Frank added with a laugh:

“And that is how I was led into slavery.”

This year Frank celebrates his 100th birthday.

And he’s still as enthusiastic about newspapers as ever.

“It was good, working in newspapers.

“I’m glad I became a journalist — what else could I do?”

Frank joined the Nottingham Guardian and Post in 1927 from the Wisbech Standard, where he was editor.

During his 39 years with the paper, Frank, who lived in Wollaton Vale, Wollaton, was agricultural correspondent, angling correspondent and bowls correspondent.

Before his retirement, he was deputy chief reporter.

Recalling the long hours he worked in Nottingham, he said he even had to ask permission from the chief reporter to make arrangements for his wedding to wife, Margery.

“We worked from 10.30am to 11pm every day, and if you missed the last bus home it meant a 35 or 40-minutes walk

“I often wonder how I found time to do any courting,” said Frank.

Despite the long hours, he enjoyed his working life.

“They were very strict in those days, though,” he said.

Before joining the Guardian and Post Frank worked at the Lincolnshire Free Press, where he underwent his initial training, and the Cambridgeshire Times, as well as at papers in Eastbourne, Herne Bay, Kettering, Boston, Leeds and King’s Lynn.

During his time in Nottingham, he also took an active interest in the community, becoming a member of the Nottingham Mechanics Institute for more than 50 years.

He was elected to the institute’s management committee in 1939 and was chairman twice, as well as being a trustee and vice-president.

He also founded the Mechanics Auxiliary, helping to raise thousands of pounds for the development of the institute.

Frank left Nottingham in 1988 and now lives in the Newspaper Press Fund Home at Sandy Cross in Dorking, Surrey, where he celebrated his birthday with a port.

He said he believed the secret of living to 100 was to “take life as it comes”.

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