Dave Bowles

John Bowles sent in these pictures, and photographs, of his father Dave Bowles – Former Sunday Telegraph compositor and Father of the Chapel.

Dave Bowles at the Sunday Telegraph

When Dave Bowles left the Sunday Telegraph on March 23, 1986 he was presented with a framed plate of a Sunday Telegraph front page with the lead story taken out and replaced with a tribute to Dave headlined: "The Godfather Contracts Out."

Here's a small extract: DAVE BOWLES, former FoC of the Sunday Telegraph Stab Chapel, has retired, leving behind him the true tradition of a never-to-be-forgotten leader of men.

This small but vociferous man paved the way to one of the best Chapels in Fleet Street.

But what of the man himself, his likes, his dislikes – here we try to bring you a short (if that's possible) synopsis of his achievements.

Let us start some 23 years ago with the birth of the ST. Then, and still no taller, Dave Bowles was in the spring of his career in print, as we his colleagues know it. Amongst all those other members who started at the outset of our paper, he truly shone, although at the time a "mere boy."

His colleagues of that time recall: "I know the war's over but I've served under many generals but this boy's earning his stripes, it's a pleasure to work here, who wants to go Awol under this regime. He's fair, but when necessary we'll fix bayonets.

Dave Bowles at the Sunday Telegraph, 1970s

John says of his dad: "He started work in 1944 at the age of 14. He was only about 5ft tall then and about 7 stone soaking wet, but one of his duties was to push a big box on wheels full of type from one building to another.

He was very proud to be a member of the NGA, and the LTS before that, he was also in RAGA when he worked in ad setting.

Before he went into Fleet Street he worked in many jobs in the General Trade, as soon as he found a firm paying more he would be off to that firm, he said if you were any good it was easy to get work then. He said that ad setting was where you could make a lot of money.

He started in Fleet Street on the evening paper 'The Star' but no sooner had he got a job there than he was made redundant when it folded, but luckily enough the Sunday Telegraph was just starting up so he was among the first intake. I think 30 comps were taken on and they needed so many for the piece case from that 30, so they all drew lots and he pulled out number 29 so he said that as he would be on the stone longer than anyone else he might as well be FOC, he then went onto be Imperial FOC.

The Sunday Telegraph comps were like a family, I often used to have a drink with them in the Printers club around the back of the Telegraph, you could always get a drink in there out of hours.

When I started in the general trade I was sent over to Shoe Lane to pay the union subs in and as I got almost there I bumped into my dad and as I stood there chatting to him lots of the NGA leaders walked past and all said hello to him, he seemed to know everybody.

He always had a roll up in his mouth, Old Holborn was his favourite, he was a big drinker but never drank indoors and he loved a bet.

When he left the Telegraph he went to work for the Royal Mail in one of their sorting offices, he said it was great as the workers were the same sort of people as compositors, they didn't put up with any rubbish from the management.

Unfortunately he died approximately 16 years ago at the age of 64. Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Dave relaxing


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