ROYSTON Millmore was the Wool Record’s associate editor and had an office at one end of the building. He came from a wool-trade family and had served an apprenticeship in wool topmaking with Laycock Son & Co, a celebrated Bradford firm. He ventured into the wool, hair and wastes merchant business on his own account and in partnership with AK Graupner, who for more than 30 years carefully translated into English handwritten German newsletters sent to the Wool Record by its correspondent in Bremen, Dr Franck.

Royston, who succeeded Derrick Boothroyd as editor, was responsible for writing the popular “Almost at Random” feature which first appeared in the Wool Record in the 1950s and amused woolmen worldwide. He believed that a man had a better chance of achieving success with independent financial means and the best possible education. “Everyone is at liberty to take tea at the Ritz,” he declared.

He wrote a novel, Heatwave in Berlin, based on his experiences living in 1930s Germany, and a monograph, the Brief Life of the Brontes, first published in 1947. He owned warehouses in the Sunbridge Road area.

Charles Bottomley joined the magazine in 1964 as technical editor. He had a wide knowledge of textiles and I regarded him as a good friend. He’d trained as a worsted spinner, had managed mills and knew as much as if not more than any other expert about the new machinery he was asked to evaluate. He entered the textile industry in 1931, aged 16, joining Baldwins & Walker, hand-knitting yarn manufacturers, before moving to John Dewhirst & Co, a worsted-spinning company in Elland as production manager. After serving in the RAF during the Second World War he helped to build up John Dewhirst (Knitting Wools), then worked at Homfray & Co’s carpet manufacturing mill at Sowerby Bridge before joining Keighley textile machinery firm Prince-Smith & Stells as technical writer.

Other experts contributed to the journal’s production, including a boisterous bunch of ex-woolmen who appeared in the editorial room regular as clockwork every Thursday morning to discuss the weather, the state of the nation, their own health, and the international wool market. Most were dressed in three-piece suits, Trilby hats, and dark Crombie overcoats that probably weighed more than the Underwood typewriters on which we typed our reports. Some smoked pipes stuffed with strong-smelling tobacco - it was as if thick fog had rolled down from Baildon Moor. What intrigued me was their almost obsessive interest in the legendary Billy Gaunt, Bradford’s celebrated tycoon, who had been dead for years, but whose ghost seemed to haunt our offices. I half expected to bump into him in the corridor on a winter’s night!

Gaunt had made millions by taking bold business decisions, and bought mills in England (including Thomas Burnley & Sons of Gomersal), Canada, the United States, Australia and on the Continent. He lived in Apperley Bridge and had a country house at Pateley Bridge. At one stage he had a large stake in a London film company, £500,000 invested in five West End theatres and owned the sole agency for Packard cars in the UK. Worth an estimated £15 million, he was made penniless following the Wall Street Crash. More than 35 years later he was still idolised by the elderly men turning up at the Wool Record offices every Thursday, all office boys when he’d enjoyed success.

They also held editor Derrick Boothroyd in high regard. Once Derrick came in, irritated about a report on Leeds in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus. Derrick had a soft spot for Leeds, regarding it as a vibrant, cosmopolitan place. I suspect he held a far less charitable opinion about Bradford. “I can’t understand why people in Bradford seem to dismiss anything that happens in Leeds as being irrelevant,” he complained. “If Leeds Town Hall fell down this morning there would only be a four-line paragraph in the Telegraph & Argus, buried at the foot of one of the sports pages.”

“Ah, it’s far more serious than that, Derrick,” one of the wise old men said, puffing his pipe. “Years ago, when the Temperance Movement was flourishing, the elders of a large Bradford chapel invited a Leeds vicar with strong views on alcohol, to give a lecture in a large hall. The place was packed. The vicar spoke for an hour, at the climax of his speech shouted: ‘Do you know that every year in Leeds almost 300 people die from drinking beer or spirits?’ A drunken man at the back called out ‘It’s not enough!’”

Derrick became editor of the Wool Record when the British wool-textile industry employed over 120,000 production workers and there were more Bentley cars per head in Bradford than any other city in England. But mills were beginning to close in ones and twos, and there were signs that an even greater concentration was about to take place in every section of the industry. “Alas,” he lamented, “although few people then recognised it, the Bradford wool trade was on the slippery slope. The golden afternoon was fading and the twilight was setting in.”

* From Mark Keighley’s memoirs, The Golden Afternoon Fading.