Reg Alexander, court reporter who packed a punch
Journalist ran news agency with Old Bailey press room legend David St George
11 December, 2017
Reginald Alexander hard at work
HE was a man of many talents and a hard grafter who helped to shape this newspaper.
Reginald Pietro Alexander was 83 when he died recently in hospital near his home in Hythe, Kent. He was buried at the local Hawkinge Cemetery, and given a warm send-off despite the bitter cold.
Reg was a regular and prolific correspondent. He was best known for the constant stream of reports he provided from local magistrates’, county and civil courts and also from the Old Bailey.
Many of the courts, like the famed Clerkenwell, have long since disappeared. His copy, bashed out on a typewriter from an office in King’s Cross Road – opposite Clerkenwell court and the police station, which was also the source of much news – was a regular feature of the CNJ, as was that of his journalistic partner, David St George. The pair ran an agency together, providing news items mainly about crime for local and national papers, London evenings, BBC and then independent TV, the Press Association, Sky TV and trade magazines.
Partners: David St George (far left) and Reg Alexander (far right)
When occasion allowed, Reg, an accomplished snapper, sent photographs with captions to accompany all manner of reports. Born in Camberwell, south London, he had a long association with boxing, joining the local Bradfield club and taking part in many matches.
To the very end he held a trophy – a tiny toast rack made of metal – as a memento of days in the ring, and tribute to his ringcraft. With a close-knit family of Italian background, Reg loved the times he was able to spend in that country with relatives, visiting family birthplaces.
Those were “wonderful times and precious memories”, recalled his brother Phillip. He adored children and animals, but remained a bachelor. Reg kept himself fit. He once sold ice cream, became a fireman, tailor and tinkled the ivories as a popular pianist on cruise liners. He could entertain all with conjuring tricks, mesmerising the children.
His emotional playing of “Sorrento” on the piano was always heartily received. A private, even secretive individual who normally shunned the limelight, he became a familiar face to magistrates and judges as he occupied the press benches at local courts and higher courts – predominantly Middlesex Sessions in Parliament Square, now housing the Supreme Court. Being self-employed in journalism a few decades ago was tough.
Reg had been in Fleet Street, with the Press Association, and was a fluent shorthand writer and touch typist before he met his business partner when both worked for an established court reporting agency based in King’s Cross Road.
They decided to branch out alone when that agency ceased. Reg took on the role of negotiating payments, then pathetically small (sometimes in old penny amounts), from extremely Scrooge-like and miserly local newspaper proprietors. There were few days off or times for long breaks away from six- (sometimes seven-) day weeks.
Reg and his sidekick would cherish the spare time they had.
Very occasionally they joined in the fun of trips with local CID, publicans and court staff to Derby Day outings at Epsom, racing at Alexandra Park and various greyhound tracks for a small flutter. There were few funds from the business to squander so they kept their stakes to a minimum.
A kindly local solicitor provided the partners with office space above his legal practice in King’s Cross. When life got a little easier – Reg had organised and paid for the funeral of a local paper colleague whose bosses were too mean to fork out – he taught journalism students at City University in Finsbury.
“We had our ups and downs, like most partners do, but we had a lot of fun. He was a good and loyal pal and I’ll miss him,” said his friend David St George.