Jimmy Christie, Bill’s partner was a dour Scot, who was from the old school and very careful with his and the businesses money. Bill and Jimmy operated under a partnership called Van Hallan, which was named after a distant Dutch relation of Bill. Van Hallan were photographers across a diverse and wide range of the social and commercial spectrum. Clients included all the national daily newspapers (Fleet Street), regional newspapers, Tatler and Harpers & Queen glossy magazines, PR Agencies, Industrial clients, aviation and of course AFN & Porsche Cars Great Britain.
When I first started popping into the South Street premises I always used to look for Bill’s Porsche 911, FGX911C, to see if it was either parked outside or inside the yard. Bill normally kept it inside Harper’s Yard for security reasons.
Beside the main gates into the yard there was a pedestrian door at the side, which was open during normal business hours. On a number of occasions, I used to pop in this side door and subsequently I got to know Harry Olrog, who monitored the gates constantly.
Harry Olrog was based permanently at Harper’s Yard and had worked for AFN since it began literally all his life man and boy! He was retired, but John Aldington had kept him, George Sneath and Nelson Ledger on after their retirement age as this afforded them some additional money and kept them all active and busy whilst still contributing to AFN/Porsche.
Jimmy Christie knew I was friends with Bill but never invited me in or offered me a cup of something. He always told me, “Bill was out on an assignment”, so I went off disappointed, walked up the yard and chatted to Harry Olrog and the body repair man Jock Wallace.
Harry prepared all the new Porsche cars and looked after the tyre fitting and Jock was at that time rebuilding Betty Haig’s famous aluminium bodied Porsche 356 at the back workshop. Inevitable Bill would show up a little later or if not, I would make my way home until another day.
Bill took all the photographs and Jimmy worked in the administration and dark room side of the business. In their early days Bill had worked for the Aeroplane and other flying magazines and he was the first man ever to fly in a two seat English Electric Lightening, over Farnborough Airshow, upside down, shooting photographs of a squadron of Hawker Hunter aircraft!
I met Bosun, Bill’s father in law some years later and he was in the Royal Flying Corps, which later became the RAF. Bosun had story after story and he recalled to me, “Bombing the Arabs in WW1”. When I asked about this he told me he was literally holding bombs in his hands and dropping them out of a bi-plane! Bosun’s son went on to be Air Vice Marshall in the RAF a generation later.