Frederick Jude: Led dramatic growth of Norfolk print firm

A senior print executive, Frederick Jude, who has died aged 97, oversaw the rapid expansion of what became Fakenham's biggest employer.

When he retired after a 40-year career as works executive director of printers and bookbinders Cox & Wyman, it employed about 600 staff.

Born in Great Ryburgh, he started work at the Lancaster Press, Fakenham, where he became a partner. Called up in 1942, he served in the Army in the Middle East, North Africa and Italy, returning home in 1946. Invited with allied soldiers to the Sistine Chapel, he met Pope Pius XII, kissed his ring and was given a special papal blessing after saying that he lived just a few miles from Walsingham.

He rejoined the Lancaster Press and after two years at Cambridge, he joined Wyman & Sons Ltd in 1949 as assistant manager, which then employed 150 staff.

It specialised in hard-cased and paperback children's books and sales boomed as Enid Blyton's Famous Five series and also Richmal Crompton's William books were published.

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In 1959, John Menzies bought the Wyman & Sons group, which included the newspaper distribution business. The printing section was resold to a company formed by Sir Christopher Bullock and Eric Burt, and renamed Cox & Wyman.

Staff numbers grew rapidly from 278 in 1964. Then in 1969, it was taken over by Thomas Tilling, which funded further significant investment in lithographic printing. As the new film setting technology developed from 1970, it rapidly replaced letterpress.

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Mr Jude was appointed a JP in 1966 and was a sidesman and lesson reader at Fakenham Parish Church. He was a governor of the town's grammar school and founder member of Fakenham Festival of Music and the Arts, of which he was chairman in 1965 and 1969. He had married Grace, who played the organ at Bale Church from age 11, at Thornage Church in 1939. They were married for more than 60 years.

Secretary to Fakenham Cricket Club for eight years, he played cornet with Stibbard, Fakenham and Reepham brass bands.

A member of the King's Lynn & District disablement advisory committee, he was a chairman of Norwich and District Association of the British Federation of Master Printers.

After he retired, he transferred as a JP to Norwich Magistrates' Court, where he served for five years before retiring in 1983.

While living at Thorpe St Andrew, he and his wife formed the Evergreen Group for fellow OAPs, of which he was chairman.

His wife, Grace, predeceased, and he leaves a daughter, Annette and son Peter, and three grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at St Matthew's Church, Skegness, on Wednesday, June 1, at 11.30am followed by interment at All Saints, Little Ryburgh.

Michael Pollitt

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