Southampton office

Rod Hollick has submitted many memories and photographs.

Commercial Cable Office at 26, Queens Terrace, Southampton. Period 1960 - 1978
Southampton Office staff

Left to Right. Robert Snellgrove, BOO (Branch Office Operator), Rod Hollick, BOO & Jack White, Station Superintendent. Robert Snellgrove and Jack White remained with the Company until its closure. Rod Hollick left the Company and moved to Lancashire following his marriage in 1970.

Local Shipping Agents, all members of the local Rotary Club

Witnessing a "live" telecommunications Telex link-up with their American counterparts in Chicago. Operating the "7ERP" Telex machine is Rod Hollick, Southampton BOO. Standing second & third from left respectively, is CCC's London Acting Sales Manager, Peter Morris, and Southampton Messenger Boy, Brian Penny. The Rotary Club of America was a major customer of ITT. This "live" Telex link-up made directly with the USA was considered to be leading edge technology for its day !

Autograph on AC&R cable pad of the singer, Peggy Lee, obtained upon her arrival at Southampton Docks in the early 1960's
Monthly cycle allowance receipt. The station's messenger had to provide his own cycle for which he was paid the princely sum of 1 shilling and sixpence per week.

The attached receipt was made out to Rod Hollick, who started with the Company in 1960 as a temporary messenger boy while awaiting entry into an agreed and planned boatbuilding apprenticeship. At the end of his temporary six week's placement with the Company, Rod was persuaded by the then Station Superintendent, Mr. Gilbert, to remain with the Company and undertake a development plan. At the age of 17 having learnt his typing skills at the Southampton office, Rod transferred to Wormwood Street, London, where he officially "passed out" under the watchful eye of "Nobby" Clark. A photo of the special tie presented by Nobby to all typing school "graduates" can be seen attached. Rod returned to Southampton after six months following the promotion of Southampton BOO Derek Elkins to the position of Station Superintendent, Dundee. In later years, the Dundee office was one of the first to close and Derek Elkins moved to Wormwood Street to take up the position of London Sales Manager.

Memo from George L.B. White, General Manager to Rod Hollick on news of Rod's resignation and impending move to Lancashire.

It had always been muted that Rod's development plan would have resulted in a move to the Bristol office when the then Station Superintendent, Ernie Knight finally retired. Ernie was a good friend of the Southampton team and sometimes visited the office.

Various adhesive labels displaying office Telephone/Telex contact numbers.
Picture of RMS "Queen Elizabeth" moored alongside Southampton Ocean Terminal. Although both "Queens" radio communication networks were operated by officers of the "International Marine Radio Company" (An ITT subsidiary and an affiliate of The Commercial Cable Company), maritime legislation forbid the transmission of radio signals whilst the ships were moored in port.
The tie which was presented to all newly qualified telegraphists who gained their required typing proficiencies under Nobby Clark

Nobby used to arrange a final celebratory night-out for the group at the London variety establishment, "Talk of the Town".

Picture of a Commercial Cable office booth leased in each of the two arrival halls of the Southampton Ocean Terminal.

Rod Hollick reminisces

I worked for Cial for 10 years at both the Wormwood Street office (6 months) and in my home town of Southampton (for the remainder). I joined Cial in 1960 at the age of 15 as a messenger in a temporary position whilst awaiting for my boatbuilding apprenticeship to begin some six weeks later. Having worked for the Company during this period, I was persuaded by the then Office Superintendent, Mr Gilbert, to change careers and remain with the Company. Having learnt to type in SO and then officially having "passed out" in London, I returned to SO at the age of 18 as a BOO. The vacancy became available to me following the move of the then SO BOO Derek Elkins, who left to take up the position of Superintendent Dundee. The Dundee office was to close a few years later, and Derek moved to London to become Sales Manager for the Company. We were all great friends with "Earnie" [Wally?] Knight of Bristol who visited our SO office on occasion. Another old SO Cial BOO was Robert Snellgrove.Robert's Cial career came to an end in Southampton when the office was finally closed. When I first started at Southampton, 99.9% of our outbound business was gained from the visiting passenger liners and American naval ships. (Mainly US Troop Carriers although we were once asked to attend the Nuclear Carrier USS Forrestal when it made a courtesy visit to Southampton). We attended all these ships and set up tables onboard which allowed passengers/crew members to cable their loved ones in the Americas. Service indicators - ORD/GLT/Canada - ORD/LT/USA/CCSA and VLT/All U.S. Naval personnel. With the eventual and somewhat rapid decline of these vessels arriving at port plus the introduction of a new Office Superintendent and a change in policy - the office started to aggressively attack the local business communities. In revenue and volume terms, the station very quickly went from zero to hero and we were to climb rapidly up the GB office revenue league table. Real heady days. We provided a superb service and very quickly gained very many prestigious accounts. (For example - EVERY IBM and Plessey site/factory within our Southampton catchment area became to utilise our services). We handled daily, page after page after page of complex IBM message traffic. IBM were at that time, at the forefront of designing and manufacturing a relatively complex piece of equipment known in the newly established marketplace as a COMPUTER ! Each of their five sites spent an absolute fortune with us. Money was simply no object. It was never possible to leave the office on time at night owing to their daily volumes. The relocation packages offered to IBM's US design boffins (which of course, we were privy to see), would, in today's terms make current Premiership footballers appear destitute ! We simply couldn't believe the number of zero's we were being asked to transmit. Ending on an even happier note. Major WUI account "Cannon Electric" of Basingstoke. We tried for years to gain this large WUI account but the decision maker would never give us the time of day. Imagine our delight when suddenly, an inbound cable came in from Calif addressed to their cable address "Cannelec Basingstoke" but signed "ITT Cannon Electric USA". Yep - Yet another Harold S Geneen acquisition ! We couldn't wait to get into Cannon's offices to present them with the relevant local CIAL contact information !

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