Cambridge University Press Memories by Elizabeth Toller-Brown,
I started work at Cambridge University Press (C.U.P.) in August 1968, in the ‘Assessors’ office; a section of the accounts department. I was just seventeen years old. This was the start of a big adventure for me and it continued for the next three and a half years.
During this time, I grew up, had great fun, in so many ways and made more mistakes than I care to mention, but all in all, it was generally a happy time. I left before big changes took place there and I am glad I did! I had enjoyed some of the best years C.U.P. had to offer.
In my time there, I worked just a few offices from my beloved father, Eddie Toller. He had worked at the old C.U.P. building, in Trumpington Street, from the age of fifteen and had worked his way up to become one of the managers and ‘Production Liaison Officer.’
In my father’s previous office, in the front corner of the second floor of the old Pitt Building, he had a huge wooden desk; full of interesting things like putty rubbers, that a child like me could squeeze and squash and a swivel chair, which I could spin around on, when I went into ‘town’ and called in to see Dad.
Across the road from this lovely old building was a hairdresser’s shop; Reid’s. One day, for fun, the employees lifted the cover off the man hole in the path and kept popping a hairdresser’s dummy head out, much to the surprise of passers by! This was one of the amusing tales Dad told us, when he cycled home, had his dinner (including a dessert), a lie down on the bed and then cycled several miles back to work! We lived in Netherhall Way and I don’t know how he did this, but he was very fit! He had done the same when we lived in Oxford Road, until 1954. It was much easier for Dad to cycle to and from work when the new building opened in Shaftesbury Road, in 1962.
I had not been able to take the eleven plus exam, as I was in hospital at the time (another story!) and I felt cheated, as they had said I was “university material” and going to college had been my childhood dream. From my later years at secondary school, I determined to work at the new ‘Press’ with my father and my brother-in-law, Mick Brown. Several of my mother’s Hatchman cousins also worked there, but at that time, I did not know them.
When I eventually got a job at the Press, after doing two other mundane jobs, to pass the time of waiting, I found that my office was on the second floor, near my Dad’s. I was to be surrounded by a number of other ladies, mostly around my own age and our poor male boss, Jack Whybrow, had his desk at the back of our office. What goings on he had to endure each day! He was such a quiet, gentle man, nearing retiring age.
All of the offices and workrooms were built around a square of gardens, with other workrooms leading off on one side. This meant that we could look out of our office window and see people across the way; great fun for them and us; we fun-loving, giggly girls!
One day, I was about to go on one of my walk-arounds, to take papers to other work departments like ‘Compositors’, ‘Readers’, ‘University’, etc. when my friend, Tina Leland, put her black cardigan over her head and a white band across her forehead and sat in my chair near the window, telling me to tell those in the opposite room that we now had a nun working in ‘Assessors’ and of course, they then looked up to see if they could see her! Tina sat there singing ‘Ave Maria’ and saying she was ‘Mother Inferior’! That was just one fun time I remember.
We were paid on the 28th of each month and my friend, Carol Hurst, and I would go to town in the lunchtime, on pay day, get some cash out and go shopping in the ‘Alley’ boutique in Falcon Yard, to ‘Primavera’ gift shop on King’s Parade and on the market. I sometimes bought gifts for my Mum and maybe pear drops or sherbet wafer rounds for my Dad, which he enjoyed eating from his desk drawer. Of course, we also bought L.P. (long-playing) records, too.
The other lunch-times were usually spent in the large staff canteen, eating cheese rolls, or we might go for a walk to nearby Finches Walk or somewhere local.
On Friday evenings, Carol and I would go to the Press discos in the Pavilion, which was then a very small building in the grounds. The disco was run by three of the apprentices, whose work I mainly dealt with; Barry Reynolds, Graham Cherry and Roy Fabb. It was, of course, called the R.C.F. Disco!
‘My’ apprentices included Barry Reynolds, Roy Randall, Graham Cherry, Roy Fabb, David Pearson, Alan Pell-Coggins, Graham Pegg, Noel Woodgate and Roger Thwaites. I also had to assess how long jobs would take for those in ‘Comps’ (Compositors), ‘University’ and ‘Journals’ departments. The men often tried to get me to give them longer time to do jobs, so that they could get more bonus minutes! I enjoyed working out the times for jobs and I could spot mistakes on proofs easily.
Carol and I loved these wonderful times. We dressed in the latest fashions and wore quite a bit of make-up, which we took great care applying!
We loved dancing at the discos and were pleased when reggae and bubblegum music came along, enjoying these, as well as the usual soul and pop music. In those days of the late sixties to early seventies, bands were always called ‘groups’ and bands were a larger company, playing ballroom, jazz, classical music, or whatever
Another use for the Pavilion was as a rehearsal room for the C.U.P. Singers. I had a small group of my own among this group of people, called ‘The Press Gang.’ As a larger group, we sang songs from the musicals, a medley of London songs and many others and my little group sang things like ‘Morningtown Ride’, ‘Michael Rowed The Boat Ashore’ and other folksy songs. I played a 12-string and other electric guitars, which I frequently changed at Ken Stevens, in Petty Cury! We did many gigs all around Cambridgeshire and nearby Suffolk.
In my office, among others who came and went, were: Carol Hurst, Gill Hurst, Julie King, Tina Leland, Teresa Georgi, Boosha something, Iris Squires (a lovely older lady), Helen Sweet, Yvonne Pope, Margaret, (who later married ‘Pressite’ Dave Allen), Janet Ayers, Paula McKnight.
In Dad’s outer office were Mick Brown, Brian Allen, Tony Littlechild, Colin Walsh, Carmen Raghaven.
I knew everyone at the Press and I loved my job and work colleagues. I think it’s sad that all girls do not enjoy that camaraderie with work colleagues and the chance to enjoy the dances, discos and parties that were connected with work, in those golden days; along with the socialising and fun experiences galore, including swimming together at Parkside, which went well until my bikini top came undone in the pool once and the Compositors manager, Gerry Haslop, told everyone about it the next day!
All Press employees were photographed by one of the ‘Readers’ named John Bowman; a quiet, reserved person usually, but a keen photographer.
Ah, happy days!
Elizabeth Toller-Brown. April 2021
8th Dec 1963 - 10 days after the funeral of Ada Broom (formally Cruden, nee Hatchman). St Giles Cemetery, Huntingdon Road Cambridge
c.1935 - Back garden of Oxford Road, Cambridge. Bottom left to right - Connie Toller (nee Broom), Ada Hatchman (prev. Broom/Cruden), Marie Cruden, Violet Cruden. Top left to right - half seen probably Bill, Ed Toller, George Cruden, Arthur Cruden.
My granny (Connie Toller) talking about her mum (Ada Broom) working in The Globe Pub on Hills Road Cambridge c.1915
Last night (8/07/2010) I stayed in a hotel in London called ‘The Grand Royal’, situated at no’s 1-9 Inverness Terrace, London – just to the north side of Hyde Park. To my surprise, after settling in, I noted that the hotel bar was named the ‘Lilly Langtree Bar’ as I waited at the reception to ask why the bar had been named so I also noticed that there was a glass display cabinet in the lobby containing several old frames photographs of Lilly Langtree. When I asked the lady at reception what the link with the hotel and Lilly Langtree had been, she was unsure but duly printed off a history of the hotel for me. According to the brief history which I was given, the hotel had been built/renovated at the turn of the last century, commissioned reputedly by Edward VII as a private residence for his mistress Lilly Langtree. The architect was Charles Mews who had just completed the London Ritz. What was unusual about the renovation was the addition of a private theatre – which is now the ‘Lilly Langtree Bar’ – Lilly Langtree was a famous socialite and actress and the hotel I stayed in last night was created, supposedly, as both a love nest and a career bolster for Lilly.
I took some photos of the pictures of Lilly Langtree displayed in the hotel lobby and some of the theatre bar which you can see below.
The theatre bar originally consisted of two rooms, the front circular and domed (the auditorium), the second (the stage) rectangular with a proscenium arch between them. It is a very intimate space with mirrored walls and Venetian glass chandeliers with soft plush velvet seating. The wonderful, original Edwardian theatre seats are still there and in very good condition.
My interest in this and surprise came from the fact that I had ended up in a place once frequented by my great grannies friend! My great granny was Ada Broom (previously Cruden, nee Hatchman) and when she lived on Russell Street in Cambridge she would let out rooms. Lilly Langtree had stayed at my great grannies house in Cambridge several times when she had been playing at the ‘New Theatre’ in Cambridge, which was just down the end of Russell Street on Hills Road (no longer there). My granny (Ada’s daughter) remembers Lilly Langtree staying at the house well. One of the tales she tells is how Lilly had a little dog she would carry under her arm (not too dissimilar from the Paris Hilton’s of today), granny told me how one day Lilly came rushing into the house calling “Mrs Broom, Mrs Broom!” and how grannies mum had come running to see what was the matter. Lilly had said “Oh Mrs Broom, it’s my poor little dog! He has hurt his foot!” Great granny had said “Alright dear, give him to me; let me have a look…now tell me what happened.” Lilly replied by explaining how she had been in town (Cambridge) and had gone to Boots (still there today!) and at the entrance to Boots there was a revolving door and as she had gone through the door her little dog had got his paw caught. She had rushed straight back to great grannies house on Russell Street. Great granny bandaged the little dogs paw and saw him alright.
Granny told me how Lilly left a box of chocolates on the sideboard for her dog to have as a treat and had told great granny to give them to her dog every now and again when she was out. Granny said how her mum had said “Now dear, you are not to touch those chocolates coz they’re for the dog” and granny had replied “but they’re real chocolates for people” and granny still says today “they were you know!”
So what a nice surprise it was last night to spend a night in a hotel where Lilly had once slept too!
If you'd like to support the work that I do, why not buy me a coffee, I'd be really grateful and it will help keep me going :)
These letters belong to my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ). These contain interesting home front information and political views of the war. This letter is one from George Cruden's mother Ada Broom, who lived in Cambridge.
95 Oxford Road
August 1st 1945
My dear George,
Thanks for letter glad to hear you are keeping well, & trust something will soon turn up for you either a nice shop or a nice house... Bill [ brother ]said he has not heard any more about that house at Harston , there, that big shop for sale & to let the corner of Gloucester Street that said to be a cycle shop and another the corner of Parkers Piece that said to be another house. no doubt there will be lots soon as there are a lot of people going away. Glad you have got yourself a watch for you will get over that, sorry I am not able to send you a cheque to help you on a bit, it is very nice when a fellow & parent are well off though to give help now and again in stead of the other half about. Well dear Marie will be here after Friday or Saturday & it will be rather nice if you turned up to.
your loving mother
These letters belong to my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ). These contain interesting home front information and political views of the war. They were written by my Great Aunt Marie to her husband George Cruden. ( both now deceased. )
In several of these letter Marie refers to George as Peter Precious- as she was a Catholic from Ireland and didn't want to introduce him to her family as George ( the English kings name ) she called him Peter.
Monday ( whit ) May 21/1945 letter 3 [Cambridge]
My dearest & Best x
Have taken Cons [Connie Toller] letters to the hospital this am, & we’ve just had our dinner- was going to take the kids on the rec: but its turning with rain again- proper thunder showers- so thought I’d write a few lines. We had a nice time together last night. Plenty to drink & they all got merry; old Ivy [Broom] is a scream when she has had a few- she kept us in fits- & on top of that she goes home in the middle of it all, comes back with a basin of what looked like beaten eggs- plus the egg beater, & made us all beat it up like juice & when we all wanted to know what it was in aid of, she told us it was egg flip! 4 eggs, gin, brandy & port- & my goodness — it was lovely!! Wish you could have some- Arthur [Cruden] made me laugh to kill myself!! His soppy grin & then he says- drunken rabble- take ‘em away- bring me dancing girls- then she started doing the can-can with the egg beater as castanets- I thought I should have collapsed! It was damn funny- but it bucked mother up no end- I’m going back tomorrow afternoon, as I have an appointment for my hair Wed: morning, so must get back. I wanted mum to come to the pictures but she didn’t feel up to it and said with this bronchitis she dare not go far- & as the sun has come out we’re off to the Rec! Cheerio my love, they’re waiting, Aunt Phobe [Hatchman] has called & sends her love to you all my love, as always your Own loving wife Marie xxx
These letters were given to me by my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ) she now owns these letters which were written by her grandmother- my great grandmother- Ada Hatchman (formally Broom/Cruden), Living in Oxford Road, Cambridge.
95 Oxford Road
June 20th - 1940
My Dear George and Marie
Thankyou for letters, trust you are both well and had a good holiday. You will no doubt be coming back sat. if you come to Cambridge for week end. We shall be pleased to see you both. Eddie [Alexander Edmund Toller] has only just got your letter, he is staying at
7356452 P.. E Toller
C/o Mr F Bowling
30 Sandhill Oval
we had a very terrible experience Tuesday night- 9 killed 14 injured our window nearly shook out and houses fell to the grounds St Mathews Church Vicarage Terrace, East Road way.
your loving mother
love to all.
2nd Letter from my great grandmother Ada Broom (formally Cruden, nee Hatchman) to her son George Cruden.
95 Oxford Road
Feb. 28th 1941
My dear son,
Thank you for your nice welcome letter, thought I was never going to hear again from you, Arthur [Cruden] said once you start that you would not be able to get away from it. It’s a shame you have to work so many hours and others are walking about doing nothing but God knows best you are safer there I should say. George and Louie? Was at Pheobe they said London had had a lot of bombs; we have had a lot here lately and a lot of deaths, poor Mr Britton was killed with a bomb and Mrs Peck’s shop down to the ground and also Louies boot shop so that is down for now. 52 bombs they dropped in the night. This last 2 nights they have been quieter. There is no sign of a house anywhere only a sumphj shop and I’m afraid your clothes will be spoilt. You ought to of sent them home because they can’t look after them in a stone place like they have got. did you get back alright it must have took all your time to write letters the few hours you got off but it was a change to get away from the work a bit. I had a letter from Marie [Cruden] she seems to be getting on all right. What time do you get to bed? Connie [Connie Toller- George’s sister] and the baby are well.
Eddie [Ed Toller] is supposed to come home 12th March if leave are not stopped we are expecting anything these days. We can only trust to God that things will soon be settled. It’s dreadful the suffering; these days and dear people being killed daily and everywhere take care of yourself George and I do hope you will soon get some more leave. How do you keep in health? Has your cold quite gone. I am beginning to feel better now, 2 months of ups and downs in bad health.
I expect you have plenty of snow drops about and crocuses this time in the year if you have more time to enjoy the country ..to the.. and send love and down your handkerchiefs I sent them off with this letter I have done the woolies and will send them on Monday
Love from us all
your loving Mother xxx
P.S So sorry were all broke this week George but mum and I will send you some fags in a few days Con. [Connie Toller]
Letter from my great grandmother Ada Broom (formally Cruden, nee Hatchman) to her son George Cruden.
95 Oxford Road
Sept. 29th 1941
My Dear Son,
It was kind of you to write to let me know you got so far and how I want to know how you got on the rest of the way. Hope the old bit of rust was worth taking back; after our allway going wrong but they are useful. Sept. 30th Your letter just come and I will give him your letter, when I come home.
The bomb dropped at the back of Hospital and the pilot got killed and Sunday night they drop bombs from Oxford Road to Histon Road all fell in the road and the window was all broken and the front of the houses broken up. And now we have 102 buses come down our road also other vehicles it is quite the main road now, it shook me out of the chair and then all the lights went out and cables under the ground all went so you can guess people about him was a bit scared. We have had lovely weather here; a little rain today; Marie wrote and sent the some curtains, hope you get on alright with your full time job well dear take care of yourself
Love from all
Your loving mother
I found the colours pin just against the …. as if it fell of the piano when the baby pulled the cloth and have move the …. now
The other side of the room as they can’t climb ….
Written by Joan Punter (nee Toller) – my aunt – transcribed by Michelle Bullivant Dec 2010
When I was born on 16th April 1940 my father, Eddie, was away in the War. He came home on leave from time to time but I didn’t really have time to get to know him and I apparently got really cross if he and mum danced to the radio together, or kissed and cuddled. We had Russ and Ivy [Russ Broom & his wife – Joan’s uncle, my great uncle] living with us at 100, Oxford Road, so Val [Joan’s sister, my aunt] and I had a lot of attention, games played with them, books read to us and plenty of fun in spite of hours spent under the metal air-raid table, in the cupboard under the stairs (taking turns to sit on the gas meter of all places), and under the piano across the road at No.95.
No.95 [Oxford Road] was of great importance in our childhood. Gran, [Ada Broom, formerly Cruden, nee Hatchman, my great grandmother] was there, cooking wonderful old fashioned meals, cakes and pies as did all of her generation. She had also been a kitchen maid, then cook, in service in London as a young woman. It was there she had met her first husband, Cruden. They had George, Arthur and Elsie, then when her husband died of pneumonia in his 30’s, she had to come back to Cambridge where she had support from her mother and sisters, especially Laura and Phoebe.
Things were tough and she was very poor. Finally her milkman [Arthur Broom], giving her extra milk and butter for the children, courted her and they married. They had William Hardwick (Bill Broom) in Hardwick Street, then Russell in Russell Street, followed by my mother [my granny] Constance Beatrice. Ada was never one to live a quite life, and she always worked when she could fit it in with her children. I think what caused the most upheaval in the marriage was where she worked at the Globe [pub], Hills Road and started socialising, leaving Arthur minding the children (remember they were not his, and the other three were still very young).
There is a true story, told to us by Ada’s sister, Ethel, that one evening when she called at the house, Ada was late coming back from the pub. When she eventually turned up my grandfather said “See, she told me one hour, and it has been three”. With that Ada hit him over the head with a bottle of beer! My grandmother was all heart. She would give her last shilling to a tramp in the street and she loved her children and grandchildren with a deep and protective love; but she had a temper that sometimes frightened people to death. She had had a very hard life and had no time for anyone who was lazy or useless. The stormy marriage ended when our mother [my granny] was 3, so she never had a father figure after that, apart from older brothers of course. The one blessing, I think, that all of my mother’s family had was closeness and support for one another. Ada was always outspoken, even critical, to everyone, though, our mother had to make sure the house was clean when Gran popped over as she might say “What’s that stink in here? You will get the fever!” if something smelly had been left in the kitchen. She had suffered Typhoid Fever and Rheumatic Fever when a young woman so she was very health conscious.
Mum remembers, when they lived up Russell Street, if any of them had an accident, Gran would say “Quick, up the “orspidal”, as fast as your legs will carry you!” As Addenbrookes was in Trumpington Street then, it wasn’t far to run. Gran had worked for Turner the magistrate (who officiated at her divorce from ‘Broomy’ as they affectionately labelled him) so on the break up of her marriage Mr. Turner kindly housed them at no.95 Oxford Road “for as long as she lived”! (On her death the house was bought (very reduced in price) by Bill.)
So at last, when I was five and starting Richmond Road Infants School, the war ended and my father came home a hero, with his medals and stick with the silver knob on top. We used to play with gas masks on our faces, pretending we were Mickey Mouse, now that they had no use for gas attacks.
I don’t want to just record facts and dates in this essay but I would prefer to write a piece with the portrayal of the memories and atmosphere about this time. I sometimes drive down Oxford Road, Windsor and Richmond Roads. I immediately feel the security of the happy years of my childhood. Our house at 110 [Oxford Road] , called ‘Fredaville’, was a usual bay-windowed one, with the ‘front room’ kept tidy and the best furniture in it. We sat there in the sunshine and never messed it up. Our play area was the ‘back room’. It had no bright sunlight streaming in the windows; old chairs, brown worn lino on the floor, and a big old radio by the window in a cupboard. This was our only means of keeping in touch with news, music and comedy and I remember the feeling of dread shown by the grown-ups listening for news on how the war was going. We could be taken over, (with the rest of the world) by the evil dictator, Hitler, our fathers killed , our houses bombed and all of us blown to pieces.
However the spirit of our people was always victorious; our father, with his men, would destroy the Nazis forever and we would be safe. Mum was terrified, though, of the planes going over nightly, and the doodlebugs droning over, then exploding. She would drag us shaking, in the stairs cupboard, pitch-black everywhere of course in the black-out, or over to 95 [Oxford Road], making us a fortress under furniture while Gran made cups of tea. You would think Val and I would grow up afraid to leave the house, but it seems to have done us no harm in the long run, for we are both outgoing and confident mothers; so perhaps all our fears were finally put to rest with the jubilation of victory celebrations and seeing our menfolk return, marching proudly and in step along the streets of Cambridge, Union Jacks flying like mad from every house. We seemed to always have a little flag to wave in those happy days. Daddy put away his big kit-bag for good, with his khaki uniform and sergeants badges; Uncle George [Cruden] would no longer be seen in the air force blue uniform, nor Uncle Bill in his firemans one.
Everyone was now in ‘civvy street’ and Bill was a grocer again, George was in Mackintosh’s shop in town and our daddy went off every morning on his bike to the Cambridge University Press as a clerk.
We now had a baby brother, David, to add to the excitement too, so mummy was always happy and busy, the frequent visits across to Gran’s were now peaceful and jolly, laughter, singing and drinking by the adults at weekends, when Charlie from the Dolamore’s Role on his three-wheeled cycle, puffing and blowing up Castle Hill to bring bottles of booze and lemonade clinking in the enormous metal basket on the front, poor man!
We became good friends with Edgar Fletcher, the milkman and his daughter. She always seemed to have interesting pets. He had glass tanks in the garden containing butterflies, I think, also snakes. His daughter told us to come over and see her new baby golden bears. They were actually hamsters, but we had never seen any before, nobody had.
Part 2 to follow........
Notes on Elsie by her neice Elizabeth Brown (nee Toller) - my mother :)
Elsie Elizabeth Ely (formerly Calino, nee Cruden)
Born: 1st July 1903 in London.
She was gran's (Ada Broom [formerly Cruden, nee Hatchman]) second child with her first husband, George Henry Penny Cruden. Gran was 30 when she was born. Uncle George (Cruden - Elsie's brother) was 3. Uncle Arthur (Cruden - Elsie's brother) was born when Aunty Elsie was 1 3/4 years and their father died soon after this, so Gran came back to Cambridge with her three young children. Gran married my grandad when Aunty Elsie was 7 3/4 and they were living in Newnham. They soon moved to 76, Russel Street, Cambridge and gran had three more children (here, and the first in Newnham). Aunty Elsie had dancing lessons and was trained for the stage so, after a brief time as a young nanny, she left for America with her new husband Processo Calino, a Philipino man. The family all loved Cesso.
Cesso and Elsie parted; both remarried and he lived in a bungalow in Kenny (Elise's second husband) and Elsie's grounds for years. Uncle Kenny wrote to me after Elsie passed on in 1993 I think he wrote, then he became very ill. He said she never aged and the vast age difference never mattered to him: 30 years.
When Auntie Elsie left the theatre, she rescued dogs, at one time in the early 1960's, having many German Shepherds. They shared the couple's 'sunken bed'! She rescued one little dog called 'Nellie', who had been tied to a tree. The owner didn't stop her from taking Nellie, who had bitten Aunty Elsie in an effort to attract her attention she believed. The collar was cutting into Nellie's neck. Aunty Elsie and Uncle Kenny loved dogs so. He wouldn't leave his dog after she passed on and so he did not come to Cambridge again.
Aunty Elsie did not 'come home' until 1957 when she was 53 3/4. he came again in 1961 and 1970 then brought Kenny with her in 1979; the last time we saw her before she passed on in 198?
Aunty Elsie and Kenny married in America, in a church with two tramps as witnesses!
Recently discovered that Elsie had worked for Mr Porter of Little St Mary Lane at the Half Moon as a cook/domestic, after her marriage to Cesso in 1923 (aged 19) but before America.
About Michelle's Cambs History
This is a blog page for the archives in in my own collection. It includes many of my personal & family archives, tales and scrapbook items to all kinds of general archive items from Cambridgeshire UK. Search for items or subjects of interest under the categories below, by date or keyword, name or place etc or keyword search in the search box above. Any problems finding something or if you've any questions or comments please do get in touch by using the 'Contact' page on this website.