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London School of Printing > London College of Communication.

A few months ago I contacted London College of Communication about the Brunswick Map Printers……. LCC is what the London School of Printing has evolved into, and the London School of Printing is where my father learned his trade and particularly printing off litho stones in the mid 1930s. These were the skills that made the map printing operation in Oflag-79 possible in late 1944.

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My father, Philip Radcliffe-Evans,Kelly Thomas at London School of Printing on the right looking dashing with cigarette in mouth.

When I contacted LCC, I was put in touch with Kelly Thomas, Project Co-ordinator, who was immediately interested in the connection between LCC and the Brunswick Map Printers and my father as an alumni of the old London School of Printing, and she asked me to write a piece for the college’s blog.

LCC posted the piece yesterday and the link is HERE.

Notes on notes & possibilities of a reconstruction…

Since I embarked on the making of The Brunswick Prison Camp Map Printers in 2014, and indeed since the type was set and the book printed, I have uncovered more and more information, about life in Oflag-79 and particularly about the process and problem solving involved in creating and operating the press successfully. It doesn’t affect how we approached the book, as that was always going to be a reprint of my father’s original article in 1951 Printing Review Special Map Number, but it does raise the interesting question as to whether there might be a further book about the Brunswick Press, and indeed, whether it might be possible to rebuild the press in order to see whether it is possible to replicate the original results…

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Among the new material I have found among various boxes and folders I have had in my possession since my father’s death in 1992, (and through several house moves via a number of attics, cupboards and shelves), is a much longer typewritten transcript than the Printing Review article of a talk my father gave about the Brunswick Printers in about 1949-50 containing much more technical information.

Further to that I have an original copy of a typewritten war diary of a man called Wallis Heath living in St. Andrews, Fife with whom I had a correspondence in the mid 1990s. He had also been captured at Tobruk, and had had a parallel journey through various camps to my father, from Chieti in Italy to Oflag-79 at Brunswick. I believe he has now died, but he was kind enough to pass on 40+ type written sheets of his diary to me.

He had printing experience before the war, and though there is no mention of it in his diary, he told me that he had been involved in the map printing press at Brunswick, and though there is no mention of him either in my father’s diaries, he wrote an article which appeared in The Times in 1997 with more than enough technical information that is corroborated by other sources for me to be certain that he was one of the team involved with my father and Ken Whitworth who is mentioned in both my father’s and Wallis Heath’s diaries.

Only one page of Wallis Heath’s notes relates to the Brunswick Printers but it is particularly interesting on the precise detail he briefly records about how the inks and wash-outs were made and how the press worked; used in conjunction with the detailed drawings of my father’s (which can be viewed in other posts on this site) it would seem to be entirely possible to reconstruct a working facsimile of the press… an interesting project about which Ken Burnley and I have had brief initial conversations.

Here below is the page from Wallis Heath’s notes referring to the press, inks, etch, wash-outs and process.

Wallace Heath Printing Inks

Interest, opportunities and taking stories home…

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Part of the one stone tile printing plate that survives; bought back in a goat-skin German WW1 dispatch rider’s bag by my father in 1945.

After a lull in wrapping up books and taking them to the Post Office round the corner there has been another flurry of interest……. several to London, one to Eire and one to California this week. But interest comes in different forms and I am busy writing pieces for various journals, blogs and magazines. There’s an illustrated article appearing in Maplines, the journal of The British Cartographic Society in August which has been sent. This weekend I’ll be sending a piece to the London College of Communication which is what the London School of Printing that my father attended in the late 1930s is now called and incorporated into – I believe this will be appearing on their blog shortly. And I’m about to start a 2000 word article on The Brunswick Map Printers for Forum, the twice yearly journal for The Letter Exchange, an association for the people involved in the lettering arts, typography and book design. This will appear in the Autumn. These make for valuable opportunities to revisit, update and become further acquainted with the Brunswick Printers’ material, story, process and the secondary story of how this book came about.

It also offers time to consider whether to take it further, and if so how. I have recently found further material of my fathers consisting of 12 closely typed pages he wrote for a talk that he must have given to perhaps The Printing Historical Society is about 1949-50-51. This is longer and much denser and richer on technical detail and process than the Printing Review article we have re-printed in The Brunswick Prison Camp Map Printers and may well be of interest to the letterpress and print community. I am about to start transcribing it into digital form as a start, and then decide if it is worth publishing in some form.

I am also due to speak with Andreas Eberhard of Braunschweiger Zeitung next week, which I am looking forward to. It seems curiously poignant and meaningful to be able to take this story back to where it started in such different circumstances, long after my father’s death in 1992, and doubtless after the passing of the men who worked assisting him in creating the plates, inks, the press and printing the maps.

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Liberation day, 12th April 1945.

Maps and Newspapers…

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My father’s 1:10,000 map of Oflag-79 overlaid on the present day site on Google satellite images.

This week I received an e mail from Andreas Eberhard of Braunschweiger-Zeitung, the Brunswick newspaper, which was both greatly interested and greatly interesting. What was fascinating was to hear of the changing attitude of the town towards the camp and its history – “Did you know that the „Oflag 79‟ was sort of rediscovered by local historians in Braunschweig only a few years ago? For many years it was almost forgotten in the public memory of our town. From 2010 on, some research was done. Now there is a book and several newspaper articles about the camp. I will be happy to tell you about it. In my opinion the story of the „Brunswick Printers‟ will be of great interest for many of our readers”. I’m hoping to speak with Andreas Eberhard over the next week to put a piece together for the newspaper. Apart from it being very pleasing to receive interest from Brunswick/Braunschweig I found it emotionally resonant in some slanted way that this connection has been made 72 years after my father and his fellow prisoners left the camp and the town behind.

Also this week, Jonathan Mounsey, the son of Harry Mounsey who was a fellow prisoner from Liverpool with my father, and who I met last week, sent me a Google satellite image of the current site of Oflag-79. In a moment of inspired idle curiosity I laid an image of The Brunswick Printer’s 1:10,000 map of the camp over the satellite photo and was astonished at how accurately it placed the roads and autobahn, areas of woodland and the bends of the River Schunter, all the major features.

The Brunswick Printers 1:10,000 map of Oflag-79 fits over the centre left hand section of the Google satellite image where the cross roads is.

Both these experiences have served to make the place more real and more tangible than I thought they might be; I have thought that there would be very little if anything left of Oflag-79, but what is more extraordinary is that a number of the buildings are still standing and still in use, currently as accommodation for refugees.

OFLAG79 now and then

An image of my father’s at the top, and an image of buildings on the same site today sent to me by Andreas Eberhard of Braunschweiger-Zeitung.

Brunswick Boy’s Clubs…….

Not touched upon yet on this blog is the Brunswick Boy’s Club in Bootle, now the Brunswick Youth and Community Centre. After the Allied bombing of the camp in August 1944 life became hard, the shower and kitchen blocks were badly damaged, drainage and sewage systems were partly destroyed, windows broken and power disrupted. From what I know from my father’s diary and other available information, life there until then had been reasonably bearable, but the winter of ’44-45 was cold and the war was moving into its final stages with German resources becoming scarce, with the obvious effect upon Allied POWs.

Many of the POWs in Oflag-79, like my father, were officers who had known a degree of privilege and comfort before the war, and for most, after 2-3 and more years of imprisonment without an end in sight, these were the worst days. There was among some a realisation of what it was actually like to live without comfort and resources. A meeting was held in the camp, discussions were had, hands were raised and a decision was made that when, and if, they got home, a promise was made to start a series of boy’s clubs back in Britain. Money was raised in the camp via promisory notes, raffles, handshakes and through a Trust Deed drawn up in camp and over £13,000 pounds was raised in advance of liberation in April 1945. “At least one good thing shall come out of this miserable rotting period….. we will found a Boy’s Club for some of the many whose difficulties we now understand”.

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Article on the founding of the Brunswick Boy’s Clubs. (Source unknown).

On return to Britain a committee was set up, and a national appeal started for more and better Boy’s Clubs, 10% of which was to go to the Brunswick organisation. Within a year, over £250,000 was raised.

As far as I know, three Brunswick Boy’s Clubs were opened; in Liverpool, Glasgow and Fulham. All of them are still in existence. The Liverpool club, known as The Brunny, was founded and steered by my father, Philip Radcliffe-Evans and two fellow prisoners of Oflag-79, Harry Mounsey and Mike Marshall. When I was young I remember my father attending meetings and dealing with paperwork and being involved very much in the organisation, and as his business grew I know he stepped back, probably in the early 1960s. Mike Marshall and particularly Harry Mounsey continued their involvement until much later.

Through working on The Brunswick Prison Camp Map Printers book I have reconnected with the now named Brunswick Youth & Community Centre in Bootle, Liverpool and was honoured and delighted to be asked to attend their 70th anniversary celebration day on 21st April 2017 and to say a few words. It has been through changes in both location and management since 1947, and now includes the Jamie Carragher Football Academy, is affiliated with a Tamil school, has links with the armed services and is closely integrated with everyone both young and old in the area; I know my father would have been greatly touched that it has gone from strength to strength and continues to be such a force for good in the community, and that it still carries the name “Brunswick” and that the reasons for its foundation are still so well remembered.

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August 1944…… bombs and litho plates…

A description from my father’s diary of the Allied bombing of Oflag79 in August 1944 which caused the prisoners to use tiles for plates out of necessity, which in turn led to his realisation that the tiles could be used as lithographic printing plates as explained in The Brunswick Prison Camp Map Printers…..

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“…Our new room was less crowded and very much better – only 10 people – the old team.

About this time I was stilling madly for Terence and Mike’s birthdays and made four bottles of raw alch(ohol). from raisin wine.

Late in August we had the big raid which was one of the most horrifying experiences I have had. Wave after wave of bombers came over dropping HE (high explosive) and anti-personnel bombs – we were very lucky about 5 HE’s dropped in the camp (in the open as opposed to on buildings) and countless anti-personnel and incendiaries. None of our buildings caught fire as we put them out but the German admin block blazed as did nearly all their buildings. 3 people were killed including poor old Kilkelly and several goons (guards).

I don’t know whether it was the caged in feeling or what, but I’ve never been so frightened before or after. Of course the camp was wrecked, windows shattered, drains completely finished, water off, steam for cooking off – nothing, nor have any of these things except drains (where the work was done by ourselves) have been completely repaired since then. It was this raid which made the coming winter so miserably cold.

The camp was in a very bad state for weeks after this – nerves all to pieces and the constant “reds” (alerts) sending everyone to the shelters”.

 

Thanks, turnips and transcripts…

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Many thanks to those following this page who have bought books. There has been something of a modest rush over the period of the launch which has subsequently tailed off for the time being. But there is interest from various sources and I am currently working on three different articles; 1300 words for map/cartography journal, 2000 for a lettering/typography/print journal and a piece for the London College of Communication (London School of Printing, where my father studied before the war).
There has been much kind and appreciative feedback for the book, The Brunswick Prison Camp Map Printers, whichever copy has been bought, and we have sold almost a third of the numbered letterpress edition of 150, and about 30 of the digital print facsimile edition, so more work to do, and I’d like to get a piece on BBC Radio4 and perhaps my local radio station here in the UK.
I have my father’s POW diary which I have been referring to for the articles I’m writing, and the next plan is to transcribe that from his handwritten version to a more legible digital archive. Not necessarily for print, but for the record and to better understand it.

Ongoing news……

Letter from my father to The War Office in 1947 requesting clearance to publish an article about The Brunswick Printers at some point in the future, and their reply.

Back in Cambridge and back to relative normality (in my case a dusty workshop and chipping stone) after the build up to the launch in Liverpool. Of the green covered 150 numbered letterpress limited edition, around 45 have now sold, within 2 weeks, and when they are gone, they will be gone. So far we have sent to Australia, the U.S., Poland, France and all over the UK.

There has also been encouraging sales of the red covered 300 digital print facsimile edition, and there is potential for a second edition subject to demand and further publicity. I have been asked to take the original launch display up to the Brunswick Youth and Community Centre on their 70th anniversary celebrations in April. This was set up as a boy’s club by my father and fellow Brunswick POW’s from Liverpool Mike Marshall and Harry Mounsey in 1947 and is now partnered with The Jamie Carragher Sports & Learning Academy and the Liverpool Tamil School.

In the meantime, I am interested in other opportunities to get this story into the light of day after its long rest in folders of manilla envelopes in a box for 70+ years, in between taking book packages up to the Post Office most days and working on my stonework and sculpture.

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Book launch day….. Sunday 26th March

Sunday 26th March; what a great day after 3 years of working on The Brunswick Prison camp Map Printers! Ken Burnley and I had booked the Sandon Room at the Bluecoat, Liverpool, home of Juniper Press, a while ago. I drove up from Cambridge via Shropshire on Friday, and we spend Saturday setting up and preparing the room. I am fortunate to have a considerable amount of original material relating to The Brunswick Printers – photographs, prison camp documents, letters, drawings, my father’s original articles, and we made an exhibition up from all that was relevant. This went from my father at London School Of Printing, WW2 in N Africa, his imprisonment in Oflag79, the press, and his years at Tinlings printers in Liverpool where Ken Burnley was an apprentice, and through to Ken’s Juniper Press.

Despite it being a bright and sunny Mother’s Day, a lot of people attended.; people associated with my father’s life, Ken Burnley’s and my own. It’s extraordinary how what has mostly lain in a cardboard box for 70 years, and what I’ve often considered to be “something my old man did in the war” is actually something so unique and fascinating when it is compiled, curated and exhibited.

One aspect of the day that was particularly interesting to me was meeting people connected to the Brunswick Youth & Community Centre in Bootle, that my father and fellow ex Brunswick POWs Mike Marshall and Harry Mounsey had set up as The Brunswick Boy’s Club on their return to Liverpool after the war; a thriving organisation celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It looks as though I will be back up in Liverpool with the map and POW display panels in April.

It was a day that was the culmination of 3 years of work, and 3 years of a labour of love by Ken Burnley. I’m not sure about the attention, but my father would have loved the aesthetic of the letterpress production and the care taken over every aspect…… papers, fonts, layouts, binding etc. A lot of talking, a lot of connections and re-connections, a lot of interest, and yes, some more books out into the world. Thanks to all for making the effort and being there.

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Out into the world…….


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So, 29 orders in from Wednesday when we installed the Paypal buttons……… packing boxing and shipping out to the U.S., Australia, Poland and all over the UK. If you’re one of the buyers, the books will be dispatched from Monday and in the following couple of days from here in Cambridge and from Juniper Press in Liverpool. With only 150 of the numbered letterpress edition and the book launch in Liverpool on the 26th March, they will be going, and once they are gone, they will be gone. The facsimile edition (300) is also available – see contact page for purchasing options for both copies.

It’s been fascinating to see the power of the internet merging with passion for letterpress!