Late Extra! Extra Final!
Ian Young tells of his early experience of the world of work in the 1950s and early 1960s in Rutherglen.
I was born in 1946 and we lived in the Mactaggart and Meikle houses in Kingsheath Avenue which crossed the Rutherglen/Glasgow boundary. When I was aged ten I got a paper round for the evening papers in my own street for which I received six shillings per week for delivering the Glasgow Evening Times, the Evening Citizen and the Glasgow Evening News from Monday to Saturday from Broadley’s Newsagent shop in Castlemilk Road. My older brother, George, had set a good example by working in the morning milk deliveries at Mitchell’s farm on Bankhead road.
I knew the newspaper shop well because I purchased the boy’s comic the Tiger there every Monday. The early editions were threepence from 1955 but that soon increased and later it produced a spin off comic strip of Roy of the Rovers, the main strip in the Tiger. Mr Broadley, the shop owner used to sing the old song ‘’Hold that Tiger’’, every time I walked into the shop.
The Glasgow Evening News was an important Scottish newspaper in the early 20th century. Neil Munro was editor for a time and his Para Handy stories were first published in the newspaper. However soon I had only two papers to fold and put in the bag as The News closed in January 1957 and I had noticed that it had been the least popular of the three in the mid-fifties. That is not quite true because four houses had the Jewish Echo delivered once a week.
Left, front cover of the Tiger comic from November 1961.
Image credit: Amalgamated Press/Fleetway Publications/IPC Magazines.
On a Saturday night the sports editions were pink for the tabloid Evening Times and pale green for the Evening Citizen broadsheet. Numerous editions were produced to get the late football and racing results in, with red stamps at the foot of the back page with names like Late Extra, Extra Final and Sports Extra.
After doing the evening run for three years I started doing the morning run for Kingsheath Avenue and then graduated to two morning runs in the shop which were the biggest (Kings Park Avenue, Kingsknowe and Castlemilk Road and Crescent). These runs, like my first one, started in Glasgow and finished in Rutherglen in Kings Park Avenue near the Mill Street end. However they were much longer and required a bicycle which I now had. They paid the small fortune of 17/6d per week. I was rich! However they were long and I had to be down at the shop at 06.20 hrs to do the deliveries and still get to secondary school at Melrose Drive which was at least a twenty minute walk. I did this until I was 16 years old and it helped me to save for my early guitars and guitar strings as well as my Third Lanark season ticket and other fabulous luxuries.
More importantly I suspect it helped to teach me some of the discipline and value of regular work and saving and I never really lost that childhood desire to try to make my hobbies pay for themselves if possible. While the newspaper industry is now under great pressure in the digital age, traditionally a larger share of the Scottish population read newspapers than in other countries globally.
When I was delivering the Sunday papers in the 1950s and 60s many families purchased three titles and the most common combination was Scottish Daily Express, Sunday Mail, both produced in Glasgow and the Sunday Post, produced in Dundee. You needed an extra bag on a Sunday! Nowadays most people don't get a paper delivered and very few would dream of buying three because of the range of digital media now available.
Right, front page of the Glasgow Evening Times, 4th. January 1960. Image credit: Google News Archive
My mother’s younger brother Donald Macrae worked in the newspaper industry all his life. Uncle Donnie told me this story. Like most of his generation he left school at age 14 and worked in Albion Street in Glasgow delivering the bundles of newspapers to the shops in Glasgow. Donnie was born in 1910, in 1925 his boss said to him:
‘’How would you like to learn to drive a car, Macrae?’’
‘’That would be great!’’ says Donnie.
To put this in context this was before Lanarkshire or Glasgow Police had motorised vehicles and there was no driving test and few vehicles on the roads. One day they were trying to beat their record time for delivering the bundles of papers to various shops including one in the neighbouring burgh of Renfrew. To save time the bundle was thrown from the slowly moving vehicle towards the shop doorway and it hit a horse on the pavement which then panicked and bolted causing mayhem. Donnie was detained by the police and was up in court presumably on a breach of the peace charge. The magistrate said to him:
‘’What edition of the papers were you delivering Macrae?’’
‘’Extra Final Sir’’ says Donnie
‘’There is nothing more final than final, Macrae, you are fined ten shillings!’’
After my sortie into the world of newspapers I had a summer job with the local co-operative grocers as a delivery boy, for the summers of 1963 and ’64. This involved delivering the general groceries and also soft fruits such as raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants in little open punnets perched precariously on my bike. The deliveries were in Bankhead, Croftfoot, Kings Park and Toryglen. Sometimes the fruit ended up on the road and were surreptitiously replaced in their little punnet containers.
When the soft fruit was in season in August there was a big demand for these berries as many people made their own jam. This was much more common at that time and my parents used to buy their fruit at farms near St Andrew’s and Cupar in Fife if they were visiting that part of the country on our summer holiday in August. We were fortunate that my dad had a small car, a Morris Minor, because he had a job as a sales representative and in those days he was known as a commercial traveller.
However that is another story for another day.
Ian Young, February 2021