Obituary: Derek Maggs

Derek Robert Maggs, journalist and printer, born Deal Kent 27 July 1926, married 1956 Beryl Johnson (three sons, two daughters; marriage dissolved 1984), died London 2 December 1992.

DEREK MAGGS, known at Bush House as a first-class radio journalist, unflappable in a crisis, who made an important contribution to the life of the newsroom in an individual and team capacity over many years, was a 'double-lifer' - like so many in the World Service. On his days off he worked in his garden shed as an artisan printer.

Maggs was not, and never claimed to be, a printer in the league of Christopher Skelton or Bernard Roberts (whose beautiful work he admired greatly) - he had neither the technology nor the ambition. What he did do as well as anybody was to hand-set, print and bind small, unembellished yet elegant books and pamphlets for several small-press publishers, including the Enitharmon Press, Poetical Histories in Cambridge, the Big Little Poem Series in Grimsby, and myself, at the Menard Press. He printed, too, more than 100 'MenCards' for me over 20 years. These were postcard poems often marking a Menard author's new book, visit to England, round-number birthday or death. He was the perfect jobbing printer of wedding invitations, church bazaar programmes etc for many colleagues in Bush House, where he worked for more than 30 years, finishing as a senior duty editor.

Surely the cheapest printer in the UK (basically he worked at cost price because he enjoyed the labour as a hobby), he printed for me at times when subsidies were not forthcoming. It was not even that he printed things more cheaply than anybody else, so much as he made books and cards possible which would otherwise never have seen the light of day. He always did exactly what one requested, though he could be affectionately irascible if the customer was unclear with instructions or asked too much of his rudimentary technology.

We lived at opposite ends of London, and would meet half- way, at Bush House (on more than one occasion at 2am), for a drink or two and the handing over of the latest book or card. Although he enjoyed the company of close friends and colleagues in the BBC Club, he was an intensely shy and private individual who would never come to the publishing parties for which he had printed the invitations.

His death from a galloping cancer - less than two weeks before he died he wrote me from hospital that he'd be home in time to finish my latest job before Christmas, and on the phone he was even able to joke that since he was already bald at least one symptom did not affect him - removes a friend and colleague from the small-press scene who was, the words are correct for once, literally irreplaceable.

(Photograph omitted)

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 People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high