Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Printer's Apprentice

Why did Mr Longman leave Sussex to live in Dorset?

The temptation is to invent some wild tale of gambling debts, fast women and slow guns...
after all, this was 1905.

All we really know is that the train changed everything. 

A hundred and twenty miles goes by
in a blink of a steam driven eye…

Whatever the reason, the journey was a success. He found a place to start a new business: a printing works in Dorchester. He printed postcards, stationery - even books for old Mr Hardy.

One of Mr Longman’s Post Cards
Part of a private postcard collection © Copyright Mr. M Russell OPC for Dorchester

Business goes from strength to strength.
Mr Longman gets married.
Mr Longman requires an apprentice.

The boy on the ladder, looking at the camera, making eye contact with you from eighty years ago, my Grandfather back in 1933...

He was 15 years old. Too young to know, as we all are, what the next few years would have in store. 

War ended everything. My Grandfather changed direction, when it ended, and followed a career in psychiatric nursing. But he always had a soft spot for Mr Longman and his days in the printing works. 

Of course, Thomas Hardy had died five years before my Grandfather had started work at Longman’s. But the idea that they had narrowly missed each other, for me at least, is an appealing one.

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