Former Shields Gazette worker who started out as messenger boy in 1940s remembers decades working for South Tyneside's newspaper

Alex Abernethy
Alex Abernethy

As the Shields Gazette turns 170, we look at what it's meant to people over the years. Here's the story of one of our former workers:

Alex Abernethy, 86, from Henderson Road, in Simonside, South Shields, was first employed at the Gazette when he was just 14, back in 1947.

He said “ I have some wonderful memories of working there, when I first started I was an editorial messenger boy. I remember having to run like hell across the town on an evening to make sure an edition was on the 5pm train leaving from South Shields to Newcastle.

Related: Happy 170th birthday to the Shields Gazette: South Tyneside’s newspaper looks back on covering events across three centuries
“This was to make sure copies could then make it down to London as that’s where the head offices were back then – we were part of the Westminster Press Group.

“After that I became a compositor and I earned 17 shillings and six pence, that was a good wage back then, I remember we had to get to grips with the new metric system when that came into play, it was suddenly all about the centimetres.

"But the rules were still the same, Binns or Woods had to have the main advert on the front page.

“It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the paper is still here 170 years later.”