Bill Hodgkinson dies aged 96 after rising from copy-boy to News of the World sub at Withy Grove

 

Bill Hodgkinson, who spent all his working life in Withy Grove, Manchester, died on 13 December, at the Half Acre Care Centre, Radcliffe, aged 96.

At one time Withy Grove was the biggest printing centre in Europe and was variously known as Allied House, Kemsley House, Thomson House and Maxwell House before becoming The Print Works, an entertainment centre.

Bill, who was born in Gorton, started work on the Chronicle Midday, a racing tip sheet, as a copy boy when he still wore short trousers, but rapidly rose to be a sub-editor on the Sunday Chronicle. In those early days, as well as the Sunday Chronicle, Allied Newspapers and then Kemsley Newspapers produced the Sporting Chronicle, Daily Dispatch, Sunday Chronicle, Empire News and the Manchester Evening Chronicle from Withy Grove and Bill worked on most of those publications.

He was subbing on the Empire News when Roy Thomson, who had bought the Kemsley newspaper empire in 1955, decided to close that Sunday newspaper to accommodate the northern print run of the News of the World at Withy Grove, and Bill moved over to help strengthen the northern editorial office of the News of the World. He remained there until production switched from hot metal to the new technology at Wapping, London, in 1985.

During the Second World War Bill was a tank driver. He signed up in February 1940 and served in Caen, Falaise, Antwerp, The Ardennes and The Rhine.

His wife, Muriel, pre-deceased him in 1995 and he is survived by his sons Alan, a former compositor at Withy Grove, and Brian, and four granddaughters and three great-grandchildren.

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