Bert Reynolds: One of the world's oldest online editors

At the age of 96, Bert Reynolds, Publisher of The Industrial Pioneer, was still working on the publication's website on the morning before he collapsed and died.

Reynolds was an indefatigable campaigner for better industrial relations and investment in Britain's manufacturing base, particularly in the West Midlands, where he lived in Birmingham. He used the columns of The Pioneer, described as "a constructive shop- floor voice of British industry", for that purpose, writing many articles into his senior years.

Lord (Bill) Jordan, former Secretary General of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, says that Reynolds' "unstinting" work to produce industrial harmony is "probably just as relevant now. He was in contact with many union leaders, trying to build relationships during Britain's turbulent years of industrial relations. That work went unrecognised and was hardly known. He did a lot of work to promote industrial harmony and didn't look for praise."

A former member of the Post Office telecommunications workers' union, Reynolds became the Publisher of The Industrial Pioneer in 1987 when he was already in his seventies. He had retired, aged 60, from the Post Office in June 1975, having worked there for 45 years.

The Industrial Pioneer, published monthly since the 1960s, though more recently bimonthly, was seen in the trade union movement as the moderate voice of trade unionism. It was never affiliated to any political party, though Reynolds and the editorial team came more from the Christian socialist tradition of Labour's founding father, Keir Hardie, than from that of the hard left. The paper was funded by subscriptions and donations from supporters as well as a willing volunteer staff of writers.

When the printed edition ceased publication in March 2007, Reynolds created the online edition with the help of his son William. He would probably have earned a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest online editor.

Born in Wrockwardine, near Telford in Shropshire, in 1915, Reynoldsmarried Iris Stephens, a fellow PostOffice worker, in 1940. After the war they moved to Hereford, where hewas active in the local Labour Partyand was its agent for many years. On his retirement in 1975 they moved to Birmingham.

David Owen, the former Chairman of Rubery Owen, the automotivecomponents group, says that Reynolds rejected the "Red Robbo" approach of industrial class war. Rather: "his great writing, his great song, was to build up trust between management and unions, and he lived that out in his own lifecompletely. The great thing about Bert was his total wish to understand the big picture. He was always probing thefuture and what could be done about it." The paper's website describes its focus as "industry and business meeting world needs".

Mike Sheehan, a former director at the British Leyland Longbridge car plant, and his wife Anne, were regular hosts of Industrial Pioneer gatherings, organised and chaired by Reynolds. The last one, held in September, was addressed by Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, founding Chairman of the Warwick Manufacturing Group at Warwick University, promoting manufacturing investment in the West Midlands.

The growth and retention of British manufacturing in the Midlands, with its engineering skills base, remained a cause close to Reynolds' heart. He maintained close links with a wide range of trade unionists, business people including Sir Adrian Cadbury, academics, community leaders and others.

He was a regular participant in the annual conferences on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy held in recent years at the Initiatives of Change conference centre in Caux, Switzerland. Retaining an alert mind, Reynolds would stay up late for evening discussion groups despite his great age.

He collapsed at his home in the Birmingham suburb of Moseley andwas taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where his death from heart failure was confirmed. His wife Iris predeceased him and he is survived by their son William.

Albert Reynolds,post office worker, trade unionist and journalist: born Wrockwardine, Shropshire 13 June 1915; married 1940 Iris Stephens (deceased; one son); died Birmingham 6 January 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced PPC Search Marketing Executive

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: PR and Press Executive - Beauty

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading cosmetics group is lo...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Applications Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Applications Enginee...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue