Posted on July 12, 2014
Since I bought this 1949 Empire Aristocrat on Gumtree last weekend, two more Aristocrats have been listed on Australian eBay – one in better condition than mine, the other in worse.
There has been a surge of Empire Aristocrat interest on the Typosphere recently, with Nick B obtaining one while he was in England, Georg Sommeregger healing one of his, and Robert Messenger providing us with the latest in a series of Empire-related blog posts.
Manufactured by British Typewriters Ltd, West Bromwich, England
Serial No. L86531
Not being able to add anything useful to the information Robert has already provided, I took a more whimsical tack…
As Robert mentioned, The Empire Times, a company newsletter provided to The Black Country Bugle, by a Mr Fellows – whose wife Marlene was employed as a receptionist for British Typewriters from August 1954 until August 1961 – provides an interesting insight into the company post-war.
Dated October 1956, Mrs Fellows’ copy of the newsletter was the first edition to be published after publication was suspended during World War Two. The German Luftwaffe may have temporarily halted typewriter production after bombing the original factory in 1940, but they didn’t halt it for long:
“Stocks of typewriters, components, jigs, drawings and some tools, were lost. Fortunately much of the modern production plant was saved. Production was transferred to temporary premises and later to an old soapworks, where production of the Empire Aristocrat began in 1948.”
Speaking about his wife, Mr Fellows remarked that: “Marlene doesn’t remember the Queen visiting — only Noele Gordon!”
Noele Gordon, as I well remember from my childhood, starred in a long-running English TV soap as Meg Richardson, the owner of a motel in the English Midlands…
These days, Crossroads has an online fan club, but in the days before computers and the Internet, the office of the Crossroads Appreciation Society made good use of a typewriter…
It may not be an Empire Aristocrat, but it is a typewriter that was manufactured in the English Midlands. We don’t get a clear look at it, however when you compare the distinctive carriage return lever above with the one below, you can be reasonably sure it’s an Imperial 66.
Reg Watson, pictured with Noele in the black and white photo below, helped establish ATV Network’s ATV Midlands in 1956 and went on to become the producer of Crossroads, which was first broadcast in 1964.
Reg Watson and an Olivetti Lexicon 80 (or Graphika) in the offices of ATV, 1972
Reg grew up on a sugar farm in Queensland and worked in the UK between 1955 and 1973 before returning to his native Australia, where he continued to devise and produce popular serials including The Young Doctors, Sons and Daughters and Neighbours.
Hoorah for Australia and it’s soap!
Hooray for the Empire!