Aubrey Thomas: 40 years in Fleet Street

Aubrey Thomas, a Fleet Street journalist for more than 40 years, has died aged 77.

Thomas, who retained a lifelong pride in his Cornish roots, came from Hayle, and after Penzance Grammar School his ambition was to go to sea like his father.

It was wartime and Thomas applied to join the Navy, but failed the medical. So, forced to remain on dry land, he gave journalism a go.

To begin with, he worked for free at The Cornishman but bosses rapidly discovered his value and decided to pay him – 10 shillings a week.

A reporting job at the Western Morning News in Plymouth took him a small step closer to the capital, but it was in the London office of the Bristol United Press that Thomas got his first taste of Fleet Street.

After an interlude in Sydney, Thomas returned to the Street and subbing jobs on the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror. While at the Mirror, he was asked to take on the Rex North column when North fell ill. It was on a job for that column in Paris that Thomas met the Mirror’s long-time man there, Peter Stephens.

Stephens had been looking for a number two and asked Hugh Cudlipp to give Thomas the job. He was summoned by the great man, who liked him enough to send him over to France for the next two years as the Mirror’s second Paris correspondent.

After his return to Holborn Circus, Thomas became chief sub of the Sunday Mirror.

Thomas was always the life and soul of the party, and like many newspapermen of his generation, knew the insides of most Fleet Street pubs. His wife, Pat, was resigned to regular drives to countryside stations in Kent on Saturday nights after he fell asleep and forgot to wake up in time to get off at Bickley in South London.

Thomas leaves a widow, Pat, to whom he was married for 54 years, and a daughter Jenny, who lives in Paris with her family.

Nick Jenkins

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