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Regional journalist who became chief sub at national dies aged 93

Patrick NicholsonA regional journalist who went on to become chief sub-editor at a national title has died aged 93.

Patrick Nicholson worked for titles including the Hartlepool Mail, Liverpool Echo, Liverpool Daily Post and Manchester Evening News during his career.

Patrick, pictured, later went on to Fleet Street and spent 15 years as chief sub on The Sunday Times Magazine, taking up the role at the invitation of former MEN colleague and legendary editor Sir Harold Evans.

He took early retirement in 1991.

In a self-written obituary, Patrick described himself as “a journalist of the old school” who began his career on the Kentish Mercury, in South-East London, aged 16 “long before there was any formal training”.

Describing his early carrer, Patrick wrote: “I used to say the only tuition I received was half a day in the magistrates’ court with a senior colleague before being left to cope on my own.

“National Service, which was in existence at the time, was something of a busman’s holiday because I edited a garrison newspaper at Catterick Camp, Yorkshire, during my two years’ military service.

“I did the layouts, wrote most of it, subbed all of it and delivered copies on a bicycle.”

After demobilisation Patrick returned to the Mercury for a while before going North as a reporter on the Hartlepool Mail – then called the Northern Daily Mail – the Liverpool Echo and Liverpool Daily Post.

He moved to the Manchester Evening News, where he was a diary writer, then finally diary editor and feature writer.

Patrick went to Fleet Street as a sub-editor on The Daily Telegraph and later The Times, leaving briefly to be an assistant to the TV editor of Radio Times.

He returned to The Times and became deputy chief sub in the Special Reports division.

Patrick joined The Sunday Times Magazine at the invitation of Harold Evans, then editor of The Sunday Times, with whom he had worked on the MEN.

While he was chief sub he also specialised in writing profiles of legendary comedians, including Arthur Askey, Tommy Trinder, Cyril Fletcher and Stanley Holloway.

In 1979 the management suspended publication of The Times and The Sunday Times during industrial actions by print unions.

Recalling the episode later, staff writer Philip Norman wrote: “I remember, in the darkest hours, coming upstairs to find Patrick Nicholson, the chief sub, alone at his desk like a starship commander, piloting his craft single-handed through the strike-deserted galaxies.”

In retirement, he wrote fiction and had his first novel – Drink to the Devil – published aged 79.

Patrick, who died last Wednesday, was a member of the National Union of Journalists from the age of 16 until his retirement, when he was made a life member.