BKS Readers Stories
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Cars and Credit card size timetables
I worked for BKS as assistant to Ian Latto the sales Director approximately from 1962 to 1964/5. I started in Seymour Mews near Selfridges and then moved to Heathrow. We were three in the sales Department - Ian Latto, his secretary (an Australian girl at the time I think - name escapes me). Later on we were joined by John Newby who was Station manager at Heathrow. I remember making sales calls to Agents with John, delivering and setting up displays in Travel Agents including some nice models. I was also responsible for producing the BKS timetables starting from raw flight schedule data provided by Geoff Corbin, Operations Manager. Geoff negotiated the schedule slots with the airport authorities. I then had to transform this data into easily readable timetable format, trying to keep it as simple as possible, by reducing the complicated exceptions / limitations into footer notes. This was a good test of analytical and logical thinking - especially for a young man not long out of school! It was also a tight deadline job to meet the revised schedule dates i.e. Summer / Winter Timetable changeover. I also started the first credit card sized pocket timetables (Credit Cards were invented in 1950 by Diner Club - Ed). I then had to arrange the printing and approve the drafts. There was always the fear (sometimes a reality) of discovering a printing error after the print run and the timetables were issued. This could cause havoc! But I wasn't fired.
My other duties were to investigate lost baggage claims and I would have to visit Heathrow station mostly - where I first met John Newby - to see if we could try to find out what happened to the lost luggage. If it was well and truly lost I had to draft a letter to the customer and make an offer of compensation.
I remember Mr Stevens (by then he had bought out Barnaby and Keegan). On one occasion I seem to remember he got pinned against the Seymour Mews office wall by his Mk 10 Jag!
That also reminds me of another senior person though I can't remember his name (maybe the Accountant?). He was a Citroen fanatic I recall.
Ian Latto was also very keen on cars. He had a Farina Style Riley saloon. He was very proud of it. He told me that when he was quite young he had one of the first Jowett Javelins and one time was stopped by a police Q car. He thought he was going to be done for speeding but they only wanted to have a look at his car.
John Newby was a real vintage car enthusiast and had at least one old Alvis. My fiancÚ (now my wife; we were under twenty at the time) and I were invited by John to go to a Silverstone Vintage car racing event with John and his other Alvis buddies. John lived in a lovely old farm house type of building in Little Missenden - I think. About 25 years later we were driving about the Oxford country side and passed by a lovely pub and noticed a large number of old Alvis cars in the car park. I went into the pub and asked if anyone knew of a John Newby. They pointed out a fellow who turned out to be his son; he seemed to have taken up on his dad's Alvis car interest. John, I think was at home and quite elderly by then. We had met his son when we went to Silverstone and he was about 10 or so.
Another of my jobs was to arrange charters of BKS aircraft for horse transport mostly. For this I had to get availability windows and prices from Geoff Corbin to then quote customers.
I have always valued my experience at BKS as a great grounding for a young man, where a wide experience was gained in a small dynamic highly competitive and pressured industry.
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