Posted: February 13th, 2024
MIKE FOX, former industrial correspondent for the Daily Record, died on January 27 , after a brief illness. He was 73. His funeral will be held at 2pm on Friday, February 23, 2024 at St Mary’s Church, Thornton Watlass, Ripon, HG4 4AH
With thanks to Roy Templeton (ex-BBC Scotland): As industrial correspondent for the Daily Record during the early 80s, when Margaret Thatcher was in her full pomp, Mike Fox witnessed at first hand the many strikes that permeated a country trying to come to grips with the decline of its heavy industries.
He joined the Record in 1981 after a spell working in the slightly calmer waters of the UK shipping industry newspaper, Lloyds List. Fox’s reports – on everything from long-running oil industry construction disputes to the national miners’ strike – were widely read throughout Scotland. He was on first name terms with most of the union leaders of the time, and had a wide knowledge of the shipping industry.
He later became involved in a headline-grabbing newspaper strike of his own when Daily Record owner of the day, Robert Maxwell, locked out his staff over an attempt to cull jobs. During a bitter three-week strike, Fox and his fellow workers brought out an alternative newspaper, and they later took the newspaper tycoon to an industrial tribunal. It all left a lasting impression. That, along with Maxwell’s attempts to siphon off staff pension funds, resulted in Mike leaving the business he loved, upping sticks with his family, and moving south to North Yorkshire where he ran an idyllic country pub, The Buck Inn, in the village of Thornton Watlass.
(A keen racegoer, Mike once delighted in confusing a freelance journalist who’d taken umbrage at having a new and unknown competitor on his patch. The irate freelancer’s confusion about who this Mike Fox intensified when the next bylined piece purported to be written by someone named Thornton Watlass.)
Michael Joseph Fox – Mike frequently mentioned that he was the original Michael J Fox – spent his childhood in Hendon, north London, in Newton Aycliffe and then later in Bengeo in Hertfordshire. Among his early interests, some of them verging on the obsessive, were buses and trains, and he also started writing his own newspaper while attending Hertford Grammar School.
He enrolled at Newcastle Polytechnic to study sociology, a subject he later conceded was a complete waste of time. It was in Newcastle that he met landscape design student Margaret, the duo pairing up at a dance competition. They won the dance contest and never separated.
The couple moved south, and Mike began work as a journalist on The Herts and Essex Observer in Bishops Stortford before later moving to Lloyd’s List in London. And in 1981, they moved to Scotland where Mike was one of the dying breed of industrial correspondents, complete with much-needed duffle coat and 40 Hamlet cigars a day.
Later, at The Buck Inn, Foxy took to life as an innkeeper well, and his pub was known for many miles around for its late night lock-ins. He sold The Buck in 2014, and went on to enjoy part-time racecourse jobs with Tote Bookmakers. Mike continued to frequent his former pub as a customer following his retirement, using the collection of his daily newspapers for what he referred to as “his paper pint”, as well as the “picking up a stamp pint”, “taking the dog for a walk pint” and regularly “claiming to look for his neighbour Barry pint”.
Mike leaves widow Margaret, son William and daughter Jenny, plus grandchildren Callum and Ewan.