Farewell to Bill who marked the end of a newspaper era

Bill Webb receiving one of the many trophies he won in Horsham In Bloom SUS-170720-162147001
Bill Webb receiving one of the many trophies he won in Horsham In Bloom SUS-170720-162147001

Tributes are being paid to former West Sussex County Times typesetter Bill Webb - one of the newspaper’s longest-serving employees.

Bill, 89, who died on July 13, retired from the County Times in 1991 after almost 50 years working as a printer at the company’s former premises in Market Square, Horsham.

“The one thing people always remember about Bill is his smile,” said wife Shirley. “That is how people will remember him.”

A life-long sportsman, Bill was Horsham born and bred and joined the County Times in 1942 as a lad of just 14 when he began a seven-year printing apprenticeship which he completed after two years’ national service as an air traffic controller with the RAF based in Egypt.

His long newspaper career encompassed the hot metal era of newspapers during which he worked a complex intertype machine, setting advertisements and news reports in molten lead.

During the 1970s he retrained to a different technology using a sophisticated electronic keyboard which relayed images onto film.

He became a much-respected master of his craft and on his retirement was presented with an inscribed gold watch and a celebratory ‘front page’ depicting his career - along with a football signed by the Brighton and Hove Albion squad.

Bill was an avid fan of the Seagulls - as well as Arsenal - and attended all the Brighton team’s home matches until his later years.

Apart from sport, Bill’s other big love was gardening and he was a frequent winner of a number of categories in ‘Horsham In Bloom.’ His own garden - for which he grew all the bedding plants from seed - was often admired by passers-by.

In his early days, he played football for Roffey, winning many trophies and was also a keen cricketer. It was, in fact, his love of cricket which led to him meeting wife Shirley.

Unusually for the time, Shirley, too, was a huge cricket fan and enjoyed playing. “We met on the cricket field and it went on from there,” said Shirley. The couple married at All Saints Church, Roffey, and would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in September.

Among other sporting pursuits, Bill enjoyed snooker, golf and bowls and was a founder member, with Shirley, of a short mat bowls club at Roffey Institute.

Bill’s bowls and much-loved Brighton & Hove bobble hat and scarf were among poignant possessions on display at his funeral at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium on Thursday.

In addition to Shirley, Bill leaves daughter Lynn and husband Kim, son David and wife Paula, and grandchildren Matthew and Nicholas.