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From typewriters and ambulance chases to PCs and the internet

As the Scunthorpe Telegraph celebrates its 70th anniversary, feature writer Hazel Tomlins – a stalwart of the newsroom for more than 30 years – looks back at how the newspaper has changed.

The Scunthorpe Telegraph is only five years older than I am – an alarming fact, but one which is certainly true.

Furthermore the local one-time ‘night paper’ has played a significant role in my life and career.

My association with the paper spans five decades and began when I was a girl at school and my father, Reg Clarke, was a photographer with the company.

At that time, the newspaper operated from Telegraph House, in Doncaster Road, and we lived in one of the neighbouring company houses.

Years later, and when those properties were converted into more office space for the reception and advertising staff, I would find myself wandering into what would have been my bedroom or the kitchen!

The building by then had changed beyond recognition, but it still seemed like home to me. In the interim, and after living and working for a while in Birmingham, I became a reporter on the former local weekly, The Scunthorpe Star, in Ravendale Street, and worked for the Caldicott empire.

But when that publication was taken over I was successful in gaining a place on the editorial team of the Telegraph and simply walked up the High Street back ‘home’ again.

That was in 1973 and the following year I worked alongside my editorial colleagues on what was the biggest story of my career – the Flixborough disaster. Like many others, that tragic event had a profound affect on me, not only as a reporter, but also as a member of a community which had suffered the loss of 28 lives.

There have been many other less traumatic incidents which have filled my notebook and over the years. I have seen numerous young reporters go through their paces and then progress to much bigger and better things.

I was a member of a news team which followed fire engines, ambulances and police cars in a bid to be first on the scene of an incident.

The other side of the news coin saw me sitting in on countless council meetings, inquests and court hearings.

I’ve been privileged to have worked alongside some of the Telegraph legends including former news editor, Mick Robins, photographer, Norman Reeder, and crime reporter, Jack Clark, not to mention having to answer to six editors over the years.

On the production side of the operation our industry has undergone a number of major changes.

I cut my teeth on a typewriter but that was way before new technology bit into our industry. Now we log on to computers and communicate with our colleagues and readers simply by pushing buttons.

For several decades the paper would be printed in the machine room neighbouring Telegraph House, but the tide of change silenced the press and that part of the production was moved to Grimsby.

Later, and when more change crept in, we evacuated our offices in Doncaster Road to new, modern premises in Park Square.

For me the move saw yet another chapter being written in my own personal history of my working relationship with the paper and it was a rather poignant moment when we closed the door on Telegraph House for the final time.

In our new home we no longer work in separate offices but toil away in an open plan, air conditioned environment.

And as well as continuing to publish a newspaper, we now also offer an internet facility which keeps everyone up to date with breaking news, sport, business and other features as well as a guide for those seeking a new home.

It is true what they say: ‘The times they are a changin’ – and no doubt they will continue to change and evolve, but I hope the Scunthorpe Telegraph, in whatever form, will go on forever.