Farewell to the Wells office, that lovable outsize brown box

It was a right old faff to get around, with a door entry system guaranteed to trigger coffee spillages and a kitchen where you’d be hard pushed to swing a mouse, let alone a cat.

I recall it never quite being the right temperature, and you could hear everything that went on on the floor above.

And yet that office, with its piles of paper, room full of bound volume archives and milkless fridge, felt like home.

The Wells Journal headquarters was always my favourite office to visit during the 18 months when I was an editorial trainer covering the west of England.

It helped that it was a nice drive from my home, and that Wells is one of the most beautiful places on God’s earth.

But it was also a real newspaper office, where you could have one craic-filled conversation, and where real people popped in with stories.

I say it was because it closed yesterday.

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It had been living on borrowed time for a while, and I completely understand why it’s been declared surplus to requirements by my old employer.

I also feel for all the editors – many of whom I count as friends – who are having to square increasingly difficult financial circles, again and again.

But I can’t help feeling a pang of sadness at the loss of somewhere that was a second home for scores of reporters over the years.

It’s not quite like the closure of a church.

But there is something special, even perhaps – it is Christmas after all – spiritual about newspaper offices.

Above all, they are places of creativity and mischief, where ideas can be incubated and tested, where the gallows humour that gets you through the day can go unchallenged, and where a finger on the community pulse should be apparent.

So good luck and much love to everyone I used to run into in that outsize brown box on the edge of that little city.

And to those of you lucky enough to work in newspaper offices where you can still – with the right imagination – smell the newsprint: enjoy.

Happy Christmas to you all.

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