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Clive Branson 1935-2022
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Clive Branson 1935-2022

North West News

An appreciation by friends and former colleagues.

Gerald Bowey, former CEO, IBP, writes: The passing of Clive Branson draws to a close one of the most varied careers in financial and property journalism across a range of media platforms. However, Clive’s heart and mind remained in Fleet Street and with the national media that he loved so much.

I first met Clive in the early 1980’s when he was editor of CSW, based in Red Lion Court and I was a director of Creasy Public Relations, in Crane Court, both just situated off Fleet Street. I was heading up the Campaign for Traditional Housing at the time, but CPR had just won the BMW Motorbike PR account and, as I knew Clive was a motorbike and speed fanatic, I invited him to give the latest model a test drive and critique the experience. It took some time to get the bike back from him! We became firm friends and when I became chairman of IBP in 1992, I asked him to be the Vice Chairman. Typical Clive, at first, he asked why? I explained that I wanted to broaden the appeal of IBP to the national press and that I would find his background and knowledge invaluable in achieving this ambition. Clive never faltered and was a steadfast supporter of IBP. He was particularly effective as the chairman of the journalism awards judging panel for the Young Journalist category, he was passionate about encouraging young newcomers to journalism and went out of his way to guide them in the right direction. It was also Clive’s idea to establish the IBP Northwest Regional Journalism Awards in 2008. He clearly identified that the regional property sector was not only creating some outstanding developments but talented young journalists too.

Following national service in the RAF and a short flirtatious period in politics Clive eventually started work at the Financial Times followed by a stint as city editor of the Daily Sketch. There followed a period as a freelance focusing on economic analysis and financial magazines and several years at the start of AP-Dow Jones, moving back into national journalism at the Daily Mail.??Branson went on to complete another bout of freelance work at the Investors Review which he later bought and subsequently sold to Charlie Forte. Throughout this time, he also did shifts on national newspapers including the Observer together with city offices of regional papers such as the Yorkshire Post. ??After the Investors Review, he completed a period on the Sunday Times and later the Sunday Standard. He then moved to the Builder Group as editorial; director of RICS Journals overseeing the redesign and launch of CSW magazine (now Property Week), launching his final title Euro Property. His last national newspaper appointment was property editor on the European newspaper. He was still editing Commercial Property Register, a series of regional property titles, at the time of his death.

Clive and I met regularly for lunch with the conversation always covering a whole range of subjects, many grabbing the news headlines. We had over the years tried to launch a magazine together and were working on a book together, covering his experiences in the city and some of the stories he couldn’t break. I will miss him, and we will all miss those insights that have now alas gone with him.

Charles Garside, former Editor in Chief of the European: In the rough old world of journalism Clive was a gentleman.

A fine journalist, a good raconteur, and an excellent lunch companion.

He loved business and the business of journalism. Another good man gone too soon.

Dominic Morgan, former News Editor, Property Week: Clive is the reason I am where I am. In the summer of 1986, he offered me work experience two days a week at what was then Chartered Surveyor Weekly. That was my break in journalism and the start of an extensive career in the built environment. He was a mentor and an inspiration, imbuing his team with old-school Fleet Street news sense and a healthy mistrust of the pomposity that was rife in the sector in those days. And he always had your back. He’d support his journalists to the last, even when they might, on occasion, blur the lines between a juicy rumour and a confirmed fact. Clive had great stories of his own and was a straight-talking raconteur, whether reminiscing about his national service, his brief foray into politics or his days on the street of shame. He was smart, charming, and good looking, with a south east London edge that could command a room when he wanted to. Property journalism owes a lot to Clive. He played a big part in pushing that sector of publishing beyond the confines of the traditional trade press to becoming a lively, newsy, compelling, and sometimes controversial weekly read. Our world has lost a great friend.

James Whitmore, former City Editor, Property Week: Without Clive I probably would not have become a journalist. I had long dreamed of being a writer but after spending an idle three years at university and screwing up my degree, I was fearful for my prospects. Through a mutual friend, Clive offered me a job “interview” at Chartered Surveyor Weekly. Fortunately, he didn’t give a fig about my degree. All he cared about was: “Do you really want to be a journalist”? He offered me a month’s unpaid work under the guidance of features editors, Janice McKenzie. I ended up writing a few (fairly ropey) regional features and he offered me a job as a junior reporter. Clive was an old school editor. He loved telling us stories about his former life on Fleet Street as a financial hack. That was when he was in our Pemberton Row office, which wasn’t often. Sometimes he would be there early in the morning, sometimes he would be there later in the afternoon, but never in between. When he did come back in the afternoon, his daughter, Sophie, would invariably arrive to take him home. One afternoon he came back to hear me on the phone being harangued by Michael Cole, Harrods’ PR man, after I had written an erroneous story about Harrods opening in Canary Wharf. He grabbed the phone and for the next five minutes gave Cole a piece of his mind. It didn’t matter that I had got the story wrong, I was Clive’s reporter and he always looked after his team.

Clive didn’t write a lot for the magazine, but the one feature he wrote religiously was about the seaside town of Worthing. It has to be said that Worthing did not really merit an annual feature, as it didn’t possess a commercial property market as such. However, it was where Clive had a second home and every year he would pop down for a few days, interview the local property agents and write up 1,500 words in praise of Worthing. I loved those times in the late ‘80s working for Clive. I know my colleagues did too. He was a very kind person and such good company.

Charlie Potter, Founder/Publisher, Commercial Property Register: Clive joined Commercial Property Register 24 years ago, a sprightly 62-year-old. The magazines were a niche publication but despite only cornering a small part of the market Clive’s enthusiasm and ideas to improve the product were boundless.

Of course, Clive was a good journalist but for me he came into his own when he hosted our regular editorial lunches. Clients were perhaps expecting a younger editor, fresh from university and instead were presented with Clive, a veteran of Fleet Street, a former war correspondent and a past editor of one of the big National Property Magazines.

Not surprisingly, lunches were very entertaining, memorable, and long! One of the more amusing stories that Clive would tell was when he was in his late twenties and was working on one of the National Newspapers on Fleet Street. Clive had either been fired or, more likely, had told the editor to get stuffed but as a consequence was out of a job. Whilst nursing his wounds in a Fleet Street pub one of his old friends, a professional diver, joined Clive in the pub and asked a favour of him.

North Sea Gas had just been discovered off the coast of East Anglia and his friend had been hired with several others to survey the ocean floor for suitable spots for the gas platforms. Clive’s diver friend had been let down by a diving associate who had cried off late in the day and he needed someone to take his place otherwise he would lose the job and the lucrative earnings. He assured Clive that he would not have to dive as he would do it all but there was a safety requirement that each diver needed a “buddy” in case of emergency.

The next morning Clive found himself on a boat in the North Sea hiding behind a copy of the Financial Times, nursing a horrendous hangover, whilst the other divers, including his friend took turns to survey the ocean floor.

About lunchtime the captain of the boat, who had lost a leg during the war, approached Clive, and asked him why he was not diving? Peering back from behind his paper a nervous Clive replied that he had not been asked…. not a problem the captain said…you are next! Luckily, Clive was a fit young man, a keen rugby player and despite being told the diving basics by his friend was nevertheless still very apprehensive as he was lowered to the ocean floor. A much-relieved Clive returned to the boat a little later and then for the rest of the day had to avoid the crusty one-legged Captain who had taken an amorous interest in him! Clive had a full life and was certainly one of a kind, who was a good friend and will be sorely missed!

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