21 December 2016

Thirty Years Ago

It was thirty years ago this month in December 1986 possibly this week in December that year that I became the owner of a Filofax Winchester.

Life was very different back then for me. I was in my late 20's I was about to become a father for the one and only time within the next few weeks. We had moved in to our family home earlier that year. I was working in an office in Central London, I commuted up to London each morning.

At home we had no computers, although I used one at work. We only had four channels to watch on TV. We bought newspapers and magazines from the newsagents, borrowed books from the local library. Sounds a bit primitive I suppose!

By early 1987 my briefcase would have looked something like this.

My Filofax Winchester, a pager, my Texas Instruments (TI56) calculator, a Walkman for music from cassette or radio, and the daily papers.  May be a book or two and my lunch!

Before you ask why have I still got newspapers from 1987... they date from the day my son was born. On that day in 1987 one of the front page stories was about the kidnapping of Terry Waite the Archbishop of Canterbury's Special Envoy who was trying to negotiate with people in Beirut who had taken hostages, only to become one himself.

I had seen an article in one of the Sunday newspaper supplements about Filofax organisers and how they were the 'latest must have' for 'Young Upwardly Mobile People' and I had to have one!

So my Filofax Winchester was a Christmas gift I think, I really can't remember! But I recall struggling to understand what all the different inserts available where and trying to figure out the diary insert options. I did have a catalogue which I had picked up from a shop in Kingsway in London.

My Winchester has stood the test of time quite well I think. The plastic cap on the popper cracked and fell off a few years ago, but I cleaned up the metal cap that was left behind and painted it with a spot of enamel paint.

The edges give away its age quite a bit if you look really close under strong lighting. And the edges and the corners have some 'curl' to them. The calf leather has a lovely shine to it from all the handling it has had over the years. The dividers and A-Z index tabs are the original ones I bought back then.

Organisers came empty back then so you had to decide what you wanted to fill it with.  I use it these days as a store for my diary pages from 1987-1989.

The Winchester only has an ID pocket in the front inside cover, there are no credit card slots, just pockets. The large flap covering the pockets at the front and back also act as ring protectors.

The credit card insert is also an original one from the 1980's

It has a fairly small single pen loop underneath the clasp.

The rings measure seven eighths of an inch (approx 23mm) in size. They still close nice and tightly. I did venture underneath the cover plate for a Philofaxy post a few years ago, but they have never been taken out.

Diary inserts didn't have any information pages, you could buy National and International Data Sets for each year to add to your organiser.

During 1987 I used a week on two pages with white paper, but in 1988 I went over to a cotton cream paper insert. As you can see the pages have gone quite brown in colour giving the passing of time.

I've photoshopped out the notes on the pages! My notes during 1987 make interesting reading mainly about our son and his arrival in to the world and what I was doing at work and at home.  I really wasn't using it as a planner at all, more a journal. I hadn't learnt how to use it correctly!

By the early 1990's I had moved over to using an electronic Casio Diary for reminders and appointments, and then later a Psion 5mx and other electronic gadgets. So the Winchester sat in my desk at home un-used but not forgotten about.

When I started my new job in 2005 I started using it again because 'personal electronic devices' where not permitted in the office because of the security around the job I was doing at the time. But a Filofax was ok. So I rediscovered my Winchester and started to using it again.

I think by 2006 I had bought a Finsbury A5 because it was easier for me to print inserts for it and then by accident I discovered Philofaxy.....  Nan invited me to join her and Laurie in 2009 and the rest is history I suppose!

Naturally I could never part with the Winchester, so many memories, it will keep going for another 30 years or more.

Not that I can say the same for the pager, you can only set the date up to 2004, after that it goes back to 1984!


  1. Nice post thanks Steve. Takes me back.
    My black Winchester is the same, and still in daily use. It is perpetually over-stuffed, so it looks a bit chubbier than yours in its storage mode illustrated.


  2. I remember the stationery shop in Kingsway, Holborn.
    I was working near Chancery Lane during those years and popped into the stationery place often enough to purchase my Lefax and Filofax inserts, accessories and of course the binders themselves.
    That was way back in the late 60s and early 70s.
    I still have some of the Lefax information sheets and inserts that I bought and almost all of the binders I purchased from the shop.
    Most of the binders were branded N&H (Norman & Hill) back then.
    There was also a W H Smith at the top end of Kingsway which stocked some Filofax items.
    Oh, how I wished for those early days!

  3. Your briefcase looks very lightly loaded! Maybe you didn't have to take work home? I remember having to squash the lid closed all the time on mine because of all the correspondence, documents, meeting papers etc. needing to be prepared for the next day. Virtually everything these days is sent as a computer attachment, reducing the amount of paperwork enormously! It's rare these days to arrive at a meeting with great bundles of paper - unless you're a Government minister! I also had one of those "house brick" portable telephones (and an essential spare battery) by 1986. That added to the weight and bulk too - and rarely worked well!

    1. Yes given the departments I worked for taking work home would not be allowed! We have all read newspaper stories of civil servants leaving sensitive documents on trains etc!

      In the modern era going to meetings off site became an issue because you had to get any protective marked documents sent to the other site by secure means a few days ahead of time. Then arrange for the copies to be returned or officially destroyed after the meeting.

      Accounting for every bit of paper and every manual I had is not something I miss!!

      I briefly had a Technophone analogue cellphone for an exhibition I attended at NEC during 1986... I remember one call on it very well... my dear wife telling me I was going to be a father!!!

  4. The name of the stationery shop was Chisholm.
    They also had Chisholm's branded filofax covers.

    1. You may be interested to read Steve's recollections of Chisholms here.
      Sadly I never made a visit there.

  5. Thanks Steve. My work bag was pretty similar, and as I worked for the Home Office, electronic gadgets, other than officially issued ones were not allowed. I did get a special dispensation in later years though. It seems like only yesterday, but my goodness, 30 years!! Where have they gone?

  6. Thank you or this post. It's always good to learn and see pictures of predecessors. What a treat.

  7. What a wonderful post, especially at this time of year. I remember how Filofaxes were all the rage in the 80s--for "young urban professionals." It's good to see how well your Winchester has held up after all these years.

  8. Thank you Steve for that great post! I love seeing vintage Filofax planners and knowing how they have been used and I think we need more of those posts!

    My first FF was a personal green Winchester back in the late 80s. I have used it for about a decade before getting an other planner (a personal Ascot in blue probably). Then it has been the beginning of a long series of planners (Balmoral, ostrich... to my recent Classic and Heritage). I keep (and use) all my vintage FF but my beloved green Winchester is the only one I keep in a box.

  9. I am of the opinion that the Winchesters age better when used than when in storage. I have a number of them, and even though I use conditioner on them, the leather of my 5CF1/2 is more supple, and has a patina to it that only comes with use---, and love. It is still going strong after every day use for all these years. I'm quite sure now that it will out last me.

    1. Yes - I think mine will also still be in working order. I sometimes wonder whether I should ask for it to buried with me!
      (Actually I plan to be cremated, and I think it's more likely to form part of my estate.)

  10. Love this nostalgic post.

  11. This is such a nostalgia trip for me. Although I am a bit younger and American (so I never used your specific stationary shops), your briefcase contents are reminiscent of my manufacturing administration jobs in the 1980s and even early 1990s. Love the Walkman, and the pager. I still have a DayTimer and a pocket Filofax from that time. Use a Malden personal now.

  12. I worked in London in the mid-1980s and remember Filofaxes being very cool. And they still work better than smartphone apps for many purposes.


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