Dear Reader

Dear Reader #155

Dear Reader,

“Comic book characters never grow old, evergreen heroes whose stories are told.” – Bernie Taupin. It seems to me that every actor has a ‘perfect’ moment, a moment you remember forever. Eva Marie Saint was 98 recently, but I’ll always think of her as 35 in North By Northwest.

My latest article for the Seaside News appears on page 34 of the magazine.

The River Thames was, of course, central to London’s development. The dockyards and shipbuilding thrived, and both industries employed a number of my ancestors. Two of London’s most important dockyards were Deptford and Woolwich, with their strategic positions on the Thames.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries corruption in the dockyards was rife. Clerks and labourers were badly paid. Consequently, they cheated the system by falsifying records and siphoning-off goods. Samuel Pepys tried to combat the corruption by introducing new systems of record-keeping, to no avail.

Pepys also reformed the navy and made it more professional. He introduced improved standards for ship construction – which affected the shipbuilding Stokes and Wilder branches of my family – victualling, discipline, officer training and seamen’s welfare. Seamen’s hospitals, like the one in Greenwich, were built, and in later life some of my naval ancestors spent their final years there.

🖼 Samuel Pepys, portrait by John Hayls, 1666.

In Pursuit of Carol Thorne, Series 1, Episode 9 of The Rockford Files is a neat episode where a group of cons try to out-con each other while looking for stolen loot. John Thomas James aka series co-creator Roy Huggins outlined this story. He used this stolen loot motif in another of his successful series, Alias Smith and Jones.

Rockford’s father, Rocky, appears in this episode, but it’s interesting to note that attorney Beth Davenport and Sergeant Dennis Becker are yet to feature regularly. The series was still finding its feet at this stage.

The Rockford producers tried to shoot ten pages of script a day. James Garner appeared on most of those pages, which indicates how hard he worked on The Rockford Files.

This week’s answer machine message was a good one: “This is the Message Phone company. I see you are using our unit, now how about paying for it?

📸 James Garner with Lynette Mettey, who played Carol Thorne.

Len Allchurch, born 12 September 1933, enjoyed a distinguished footballing career, which spanned nearly twenty years. During that time he represented Sheffield United, Swansea Town and Stockport County. 

Born in Swansea, and the brother of the legendary Ivor Allchurch, Len also won eleven caps for Wales and was a member of his country’s 1958 World Cup squad.


In 1950, at the age of seventeen, Len began his professional career with Swansea Town. In March 1961, for a fee of £18,000, he signed for Sheffield United. Len scored six goals in eight games and helped his new club to clinch promotion. 

Over the following three seasons, Len scored 37 goals in 140 appearances for Sheffield United before, in March 1965, transferring to Stockport County. His transfer fee: £10,000, making him the most expensive signing in the club’s history.

Eventually, Len’s career turned full circle and he ended his professional days at his home club, Swansea Town.

Len enjoyed many highlights during his long and distinguished career, but perhaps this remains the most remarkable fact: he did not receive a single caution or booking throughout his entire Football League career.


Operation Zigzag, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, book one, has returned to the top of the Amazon charts. Many thanks to everyone who has made this possible.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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