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Former weekly editor dies just short of 100th birthday

Ken NuttA former newspaper editor who spent more than four decades working in the regional press has died aged 99.

Tributes have been paid to Ken Nutt, left, who edited Northampton title the Mercury and Herald from 1972 to 1975.

Known for his “legendary” local knowledge, he was a sub-editor on the newspaper prior to his appointment and also worked for the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, then a daily.

Ken had been determined to see in his 100th birthday, but died at a nursing home in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, having entered his 100th year.

Born in Northampton in November 1916, the son of a mayor of the town, he left school aged 18 to work as a junior reporter at the Chronicle & Echo.

After a spell in charge of the newspaper’s Daventry district office, he was recalled to Northampton to establish his reputation as a sub.

In all, Ken spent 44 years working in journalism, but his career was interrupted by the Second World War, during which he registered as a conscientious objector and worked on a farm.

At the age of 57, he married the Mercury and Herald’s theatre critic Julia Gordon-Lennox and, following retirement, the pair travelled the world until Julia died from cancer in 1986.

In a tribute piece on his retirement, a colleague wrote: “Ken’s local knowledge has been legendary in the office for longer than most of us can remember. Very often he was quicker and more informative than the nearest dictionary or reference book.

“He was the only person in the office who, to take just one unlikely example, had read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire from start to finish..”

During later life he continued to love words, completing crosswords and often sending letters to the Chronicle & Echo accompanied by cuttings with corrections made to the grammar.

In his 90s, he moved into a flat which used to be his old school headmaster’s house and in which he could remember having lessons as a boy.

Niece Fiona Seymour said: “Ken was a gentle man and he remained a journalist through and through.

“Even late in his life he would wake in the night thinking for a moment that the paper was about to go to press.”

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  • December 7, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Ken was, indeed, a gentle soul and I can remember him serving as a conciliatory counter-balance to the volcanic editor L.W.Dickens when he worked as Dick’s deputy on the old Mercury and Herald in the 1960s.
    Besides his encyclopaedic knowledge, Ken possessed a keen eye for spelling and grammatical errors and gently chided those juniors – like me – who fell short. He was an old-school stickler for accuracy who took great pride in the sub-editing role.
    I was pleased to learn here that he eventually achieved the editorship of the Mercury and went on to reach his 100th year. He was truly a ‘gentleman of the press’ who was a credit to our profession.

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