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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Patrick McGowan

I heard today the sad but not unexpected news that a long time friend, Patrick McGowan, had died.   Patrick had been suffering from an inoperable brain tumour.   It must have been around 1970 when I met Patrick.  He was the crime reporter on the Bradford Telegraph and Argus and I, as an Inspector, was Bradford City Police's press officer.   Patrick was a man of the utmost integrity and I trusted and respected him.   If we really wanted some serious publicity for a case Patrick could write it up in such a way that it was the top story, come what may.   He reported on all of the serious crime of the time - and there was a lot - the Yorkshire Ripper, the Black Panther, race riots and tragedies with scrupulous fairness and accuracy.

Patrick McGowan
Such a talent was unlikely to remain for ever in Bradford and sure enough Patrick became Chief Crime Reporter with the London Evening Standard.  He and his wife Margaret never lost touch with this part of the world - as members of the Friends of the S&C and as owners of a holiday home alongside the line.

On the day after some major bomb outrage in London I met Patrick on Settle Station.   I expressed surprise that he was in Settle.   He grinned from ear to ear and told me that he had given up journalism and, for a complete change, had become a South West Trains driver, in and out of Waterloo.

Very soon after we bought the water tower Patrick climbed the hairy scary ladder to inspect the project.   He turned to me and said "This should add years to your life expectancy, you know."   How poignant.

A modest man, he never told me his claim to fame.   Only when I read his Guardian obituary did I discover that he was the journalist who asked the hapless railway manager what had gone wrong with the trains that day.   It was Patrick who had the privilege of reporting to the World that it was "The wrong sort of snow"!

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