Papers of Tom Baistow

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers relating to life and work of Tom Baistow.

The first section of the collection contains personal papers related to Baistow's working life including correspondence, notebooks, expenses, identification documents and professional contacts, providing an insight into a journalistic life of the mid-20th century.

Other papers have been divided into sections reflecting his journalistic career. His work for the News Chronicle from 1936 to 1960, when the newspaper closed, is shown through press cuttings of his articles, under his name and his pseudonym, Andrew Lawson. As NUJ father of the chapel his efforts to support his colleagues at the time of the newspaper's closure are recorded through correspondence, meeting papers and press cuttings.

His work for the Daily Herald from 1960 to 1965 is demonstrated through copy and press cuttings of his articles. Specific papers are related to his coverage of political crises in the Congo in 1961, including his copy and cables with the newspaper.

Baistow's work as journalist at the New Statesman, before his retirement, is shown through copy of his articles covering the period from 1965 to 1976.

Administrative / Biographical History

Enoch Thomas Baistow, known as Tom Baistow was born in Glasgow on 13 July 1914. During the First World War, he lived near Inverness where he learned to speak Gaelic. He emigrated with his family to Calgary in Canada in mid 1920s and in the late 1920s they returned to Glasgow.

He left school in 1928 and became a copyboy at the Scottish Daily Express where his father was a compositor. Then he became caption writer and started subbing, establishing himself in the newsroom. In 1931 he moved to the Daily Sketch in Manchester as 'splash' sub.

In 1936 Baistow moved to the News Chronicle as picture editor. The same year he visited Germany for the first time and became a 'secret' member of the Communist Party and Peace Pledge Union as well as the Labour Party and National Union of Journalists. In 1937 he met Mae Berg who became his wife within a year.

In 1939 he volunteered with his brother-in-law for the Navy but was told to await the call-up, so in 1940 he joined the army. He had basic training at Catterick, Yorkshire. Baistow came to senior officers notice by organising a strike about the poor quality of the food in the mess. His socialist views were also expressed in a competition to the question 'What kind of a society do you want after the war?' His officers, scared of his militant tendencies, sent him to Royal Military College at Sandhurst. There he edited a Forces newspaper. In 1941 his son Peter was born.

In 1942 Baistow joined the Royal Tank Regiment and he went to Egypt for the end of the North African campaign, Operation Torch, as a tank commander. He returned to Britain to prepare for the Operation Overlord and in 1944 he landed in Normandy on St Aubin beach near Arramanches. He lost many friends in those days, including the poet Keith Douglas. He was made a Captain in the and in 1945 fought in Belgium, Holland and Germany. He was with one of the first allied troops into the concentration camp at Belsen.

In 1946 Baistow returned to Manchester to his old job at the News Chronicle. In 1947 he moved to the News Chronicle in London as deputy features editor. The following year his daughter Karen was born. In 1948 Baistow started writing poetry in gaelic and ws broadcast on the BBC. He stood as Labour candidate in local elections.

During 1950s he worked as features editor and then foreign editor at the News Chronicle where he formed an 'infamous' lunch club (after being banned from the wine club El Vino). He late became special feature writer of the News Chronicle, covering industrial unrest in the car industry in the Midlands, housing, education, immigration - the whole of Britain's post war social development. Tom Baistow spent months covering the political crises in the Congo and in Rome for the Olympic games. He also wrote for The Tribune under the pseudonym of Ewan Pearson.

In October 1960 the News Chronicle closed down and he fought to secure best possible deal and new jobs for his colleagues. He joined the Daily Herald as special feature writer. During the 1960s, when the Daily Herald became the broadsheet The Sun, Baistow left and became deputy editor at the New Statesman. He was now frequently broadcasting on the BBC.

In 1976 he retired from the New Statesman and became part-time lecturer in the School of Journalism of the City University. In the 1980s and 1990s he contributed regularly to the letters, books and obituary columns of The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and the New Statesman. Tom Baistow died on the 8 March 1999.

Arrangement

Arranged into the following series:

  • 1. Personal papers
  • 2. News Chronicle
  • 3. Daily Herald
  • 4. New Statesman
  • 5. Poetry and broadcasting
  • 6. BBC contracts and copy
  • 7. On the Press
  • 8. Freelance
  • 9. Cuttings
  • 10. Vicky cartoons
  • 11. Other cartoons

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Records may be viewed in our reading room by appointment only, see our website for more information.

Acquisition Information

Presented to the GNM Archive as a gift from the Baistow family in 2003. Previously retained in Tom Baistow's office at his home.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue description for this collection can be found on the GNM Archive catalogue.

Geographical Names