New book captures the story of a former Fifer who helped revolutionise the UK newspaper industry

Author Tom Bell with his book The Man Who Never Sleeps.
Author Tom Bell with his book The Man Who Never Sleeps.

Born into poverty on a council housing estate in Kirkcaldy, Tom Bell was dubbed ‘The Man Who Never Sleeps’ by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Now an eye-opening new book capturing the life story of a boy from the Lang Toun who helped Murdoch revolutionise the UK newspaper industry is going down a storm.

‘The Man Who Never Sleeps’ is Tom’s autobiography – the man who Murdoch, turned to when he took on the might of the print unions in the infamous Wapping Dispute of the mid-1980s.

Tom was born at the former Forth Park Maternity Home in the town on February 14, 1952 and spent his childhood in a tenement on Nicol Street.

He said: “I remember we had to scavenge for ‘black gold’ – sea coal – on the town beach and Pathhead Sands as we couldn’t afford ordinary coal and the windows inside the tenement used to freeze up on the inside.”

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Life changed though when Tom was 10 years old as this was when his father found work in Kent and moved the family to Snodland. After leaving school, he became a lorry driver.

Tom said: “I worked my way up from a delivery driver with TNT, through a host of other roles until I eventually became managing director.

“Part of that journey saw me team up with Rupert Murdoch during the infamous Wapping Dispute in the mid 1980s.

“I devised the plan to ensure Murdoch’s News International titles – The Sun, The News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times – could get out of ‘Fortress Wapping’ and be delivered throughout the country.

“Murdoch was supposed to have given us six to eight weeks’ notice but that shrank to just 24 hours’ notice. But what Murdoch did – with the help of me and TNT – was revolutionise the British newspaper industry.

“It heralded in a new dawn of freedom for the press.

“It was a 48-hour rollercoaster of emotions and absolutely no sleep.

“It was the biggest challenge of my life – and it paid off!”

The success at Wapping and subsequently building TNT’s Newsfast business helped fast track him through the TNT business empire.

And after deciding to capture his life story in print, Tom collaborated with former journalist and his head of communications at TNT, David Walker, on the book for over a year.

The Man Who Never Sleeps is published by Book Guild Publishing Ltd, priced £12.99.