Printing the Northland Age, 1962

Many thanks to Graeme How, from New Zealand for sending in this illustrated article.

Printing the Northland Age

Machinery In The Modern Printing Plant of the ‘Northland Age’ –

TOP left: The Klischograph Photo Engraving Machine. This machine played a big
part in the engraving of blocks for this magazine. Right: The Leitz Enlarger in our
modern photographic department. LOWER right: 2 typesetting machines. Left:
The thirteen and a half ton Cossar printing machine on which the Northland Age is
printed twice weekly. BOTTOM left: One of our Heidelberg letterpress machines
used for the many printing jobs required in your business – letterheads,
statements, docket books, wedding invites, catalogues etc.

Printing the Northland Age

Top left: Trimming paper on the guillotine. Top right: Keeping the accounts straight.
Centre: The Linotype machines. Bottom left: A printing machine for small work.
Bottom right: The machine which prints ‘The Northlander.’

Left Panel reads: We Are Printers of Everything. Right Panel: Let The News Do That Next Job.
Centre Panel:
“The News” Printing Department has the machines, and men to look after all your
printing requirements. It costs nothing to get a quote.

NEWS LTD
Box 1 KAIKOHE Phone 321
“The Northlander” was printed in Kaikohe by “The News”

Rochester, NY Newspapers

Many thanks to Bill Westland for sending in these great photographs. They were taken at the Rochester Times-Union and Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspapers before computerisation.

Linotype operator wearing shirt and tie

A well-dressed Linotype operator

Bank of Linotypes, with a female operator in the background

Bank of Linotypes, with a female operator in the background

Another well-dressed operator with visor and cigar

Another well-dressed operator with visor and cigar

Close-up of copy and keyboard

Close-up of copy and keyboard

Operator having a smoke

Operator having a smoke

A bank of linecasters

A bank of linecasters

Between editions

Between editions

Between editions

Linecaster with guards

A quiet corner

A quiet corner

Democrat and Chronicle article with a photo of Bill himself!

Democrat and Chronicle article with a photo of Bill himself!

Women Linotype operators and a proofreader

Women Linotype operators and a proofreader

A Ludlow Typograph

A Ludlow Typograph

More Ludlow action

More Ludlow action

Ad makeup. My father at left.

Ad makeup. My father at left.

Page make-up

Page make-up

First computer system to convert

First computer system to convert “idiot” TTS tape into justified tape for Linotype Electrons

A Linotype Elektron

A Linotype Elektron

Elrod material caster

Elrod material caster

Stereotype

Stereotype “mat roller”

Hand type cabinet

Hand type cabinet

Tools I took home: Page chase, pica gauge, type stick, chase crank, Xacto knife, chicken pluckers and makeup tools

Tools I took home: Page chase, pica gauge, type stick, chase crank, Xacto knife, chicken pluckers and makeup tools

Slug cutter

Slug cutter

Various galleys

Various galleys

Page chase

Page chase

Pages from a Font book used for character count for ad markup

Pages from a Font book used for character count for ad markup

Pages from a Font book used for character count for ad markup

Farewell etaoin shrdlu

The date is Sunday, July 2, 1978, the last time that the New York Times was printed using hot metal.

David Loeb Weiss, then a proofreader and Carl Shlesinger a Linotype operator filmed and narrated this film to record the occasion.

Retirement Day

As well as a detailed look at the production process there are interviews with workers including a lucky man whose retirement coincided with the end of the era.

Towards the end of the film we take a look at the “clean area” where the new technology was already in use producing the vast majority of the paper.

Brighton Argus (UK) 1990 – video

Don’t miss Brighton Argus 1973

We start with a look at the county of Sussex, which the newspaper serves.

On to the Evening Argus building in Brighton where we see Press Association news reports being received on a VDU.

We see journalists at work in the field, with one taking shorthand notes. We also see the photographers out taking pictures.

On to the Sports Desk where we see journalists at work on VDUs. Then short interviews with the editor, the environment reporter who tells us about a scheme to replace trees blown down in the 1987 gale, and the editor of the “Argos Woman” supplement.

We see pages being “pasted up” from bromide photographic output.

Then we take a look at an advertising rep visiting a business to sell advertising, then on to the art studio where the adverts are designed.

Tele ad operatives are seen taking classified advertising over the phone, and inputting to VDUs. We see a huge computer that operates the photosetter, which produces output on bromide paper.

Polymer Plates

We see the Pagemaster camera producing full page negatives. These negatives are then sent to a Letterplex machine to produce polymer letterpress plates.

We then move to the machine room where we see a plate being put on the press and reels moved about. The press, which can produce 40,000 papers per hour is seen running.

From there to the despatch department, where we see the papers being bundled up an put onto vans. After an explanation of the various newspaper editions we move to the accounts department, then the promotions department.

We take a look at the various “free sheets” that the Argus produced, and then a look at the Pearson Group’s operations (of which the Brighton Argus is a part).

Brighton Argus (UK) 1973 – video

Don’t miss Brighton Argus 1990

The film starts with a look at Brighton sea front and other towns in the Brighton Argus circulation area, accompanied by the obligatory cheesy music recorded on a very stretchy tape.

We then take a quick look at a management meeting before going to the news desk. Here we see the reporters at work on their typewriters, some very impressively typing while holding a lit cigarette!

Then on to the wire room where we see the teleprinters and photographs being received over phone lines.

Next we see the sub-editors desks before the copy is sent by a conveyor to the composing room.

In the composing room we start with an overview of how the linecasters work, followed by setting headlines on the Ludlow.


Tele ad “girls”

In the advertising department we see tele-ad “girls” typing out copy while on the phone. There is another conveyor taking the copy to the composing room.

A quick look at the artists before going into the production process for producing a halftone block.

From there we go to the stone where we see full pages being made up.

The page then goes to a “mangle” where we see a flong being made. Then we go to the stereo department where we see a plate being cast and finished before being put on a conveyor for transport to the press room.

We then see the last plate being secured before the press is started up. We see a “fudge box” being added, for some “stop press” news.

The film ends with the despatch department and papers being loaded onto vans.

Last Hot Metal London Evening Standard

Roy Brachet, a Linotype operator on the paper for 25 years, took these pictures on the day of the last hot metal edition of the London Evening Standard.

Frank Matthews
Frank Matthews, main display ad setter
Evening Standard
Peter Knight, Peter Merchant and Frank Matthews again
New Technology
Says Roy: “what the rest of us who stayed post-hot metal got lumbered with: Notice the Lino keyboards specially made for us dumb-clucks who had never typed on a querty one.”
The Press
The last hot metal headlines, typical of the period (1980)
Bagpipes
About that bagpiper: Eric Neller, one of our younger operators. I think he was booted out of the Dagenham Girl Pipers and was glad of this gig
Journalists at the stone
Journalists at the stone
Last-minute corrections
Last-minute corrections – “I’m sure there’s a journalist touching the type on this pic, it was always very much frowned upon.” – D.H.
Off the stone
Off the stone
Final pages
Final pages
Sending it off
Sending it off
Decorated comp room
Decorated comp room
Gathering under the clock
Gathering under the clock

 

Book Impositions

Dave Gladwell, who spent his printing days in large book publishing houses, sheds some light on large impsosition schemes, and more.

Book imposition chart

Said Dave: “Given to me when Composing apprentice at Billings of Guildford when I moved on to the “Stones” for tuition, now coming on to 60 years ago!

“The question of a “Boy” was why these pages had to be laid in such a complex order on the Stone.

This explains why, because the sheets needed to be folded in a specific way to relate to the chosen imposition Scheme and form a “signature”.

The book lays out what extent the Stonehand’s life was governed by an exceptional memory and dexterity of hand with his tied-up pages slid from the galley into position, chased and locked into the forme.

These days I doubt whether a Clicker, or Journeyman would have the time and interest to produce by hand an explanatory document on his own typewriter, for the good of a succession of Apprentices under his charge.

I think it was Ralph Wheatley who went on to be Composing Manager at Billings the massive book and bible printers in Guildford, who produced the explanatory chart originally.

Note the final sheets of 4 feet by 2 feet 6inches. Even larger were monsters for the 128-page backed up imposition “N”, often churned out from the pair of sliding beds on the large letterpress flatbeds that broke your back in half if you were unlucky enough to be lumbered with the “Machine Revise”, not to mention doing it over a forme recently scrubbed with trichoethylene!

At Billings letterpress machines were situated in an old building’s bottom floor. In the 1960s and 70s the same system existed when I was at Richard Clays Bungay, the great Machine hall there was over 100 yards long, and bore these roaring monsters both sides, floating off the delivery tapes and rollers massive sheets of black on white words.

Interspersed with their lesser brethren with 1 bed and only 16pp or 32pp to view and the smell, of ink strong on the air, such were the days of pride in our Craft, Trade and Industry!

Withy Grove, Manchester – 2

Many thanks to Paul Bailey for sharing these photographs. Says Paul: “Hi, found your site a while ago, I started work at Withy Grove Press, Thomson House, Manchester as an apprentice Monotype Caster & Keyboard Operator in the jobbing section, then I moved (upstairs) to the day composing and linotype section, then finally onto nights as a keyboard op on the national dailies.

I knew I had taken some photos, but I had handed them all out to the lads as mementos when Withy Grove closed down. But having recently purchased a neg scanner to digitise family photos, I found the negs of the ones I had taken at Withy Grove.

When Thomson House closed I went into chemical sales for a while, then went back into printing in Skipton at the Craven Herald as an Apple Mac op, worked in Keighley, Ilkley and Bradford before finally ending up in Blackburn at Newsquest North West Headquarters as a graphic designer. Five years ago the design production was farmed off to India. Since then I’ve had the odd job or two, but if some one offered me a job back at Withy Grove I’d snap their hand off. Great place, great blokes … loved it.

Paul Bailey setting the Telegraph TV guide
Paul Bailey setting the Telegraph TV guide.
Denis Barber (Ali)
Denis Barber (Ali)
Paul Bailey seated and George Vale
Paul Bailey seated and George Vale.
Ken Bond
Ken Bond.
Sam Calvert at the Elrods
Sam Calvert at the Elrods.
Racing-up-to-date crew
Racing-up-to-date crew.
Ged, messenger boy and Dave Grant
Ged, messenger boy and Dave Grant.
Dave Heald
Dave Heald.
Denis Sidebottom and Bomber Harris
Denis Sidebottom and Bomber Harris.
Alan Peason
Alan Peason.
Brian Mottershead and Arthur Bond
Brian Mottershead and Arthur Bond.

More pics, added January 2021

Brian Stafford sent in these pictures. If you have any pictures taken at Withy Grove that you would like to see here please get in touch.

Doc's retirement, Withy Grove
Doc’s retirement from the Handicap Book. Left-Right: Brian Stafford (always fell asleep for photos); Arthur Bond; Doc Holliday; Jack (old pal) after he’d trapped his finger in the delivery guide on an Intertype (ouch!).
Brian Stafford typesetting on an Intertype in 1985 at Thomson Withy Grove, taken by Doc Holliday.
Brian Stafford typesetting on an Intertype in 1985 at Thomson Withy Grove, taken by Doc Holliday.

New pics added September 2021

Many thanks to Heather Stewart for sending in this picture of her father Norman Douglas Stewart who worked on the Daily Mirror from 1976 to 1984.

Heather also added to the Comments.

Norman Douglas Stewart, Daily Mirror typesetter, 1976-1984
Norman Douglas Stewart, Daily Mirror typesetter, 1976-1984

Heather also sent in these photos from her father’s collection, but has no idea as to who is in the pics. If you can shed any light on them, please comment below.

Withy Grove Sporting Chronicle Chapel
Says Heather: “So I don’t know who is in the following photo, but I reckon that guy in the shiny suit is a boss.. Although maybe not, but he’s dressed like someone with money. Notice the plaque it says Sporting Chronicle Chapel, I wonder if that’s the Chapel people were talking about on your page. Maybe it’s because the photos of the people already on your page, they were the printers of the Horse Racing Newspaper etc (only just figured out what Handicap Book meant, lol). And so the people in the photos I’ve attached below, they might be the printers of the “Nationals” Daily Mirror/Daily Telegraph.

 

Manchester Arndale Centre pub
Says Heather: “The boss guy in that shiny suit again, with the matching tie…. Anyway, if you look closely, that’s Thompson House, through the window! Actual proof, lol. The building had those weird protuberances on the outside walls below the windows. Photo of Thompson House This photo must’ve been in a club or pub, in the Arndale Centre, (before it was modernised after the IRA bomb), there were weird buildings with those weird rounded oblong windows. If you put this on, mention that it’s Thompson House in the background maybe. Maybe it was the leaving do for the guy in the suit.. No idea who these people are again!
Withy Grove visit
Says Heather: “So I don’t know what’s going on here, some kind of visit by bosses maybe, but there is my dad in the Blue overalls. Again, sadly, I don’t know who any of them are, more bosses in suits in the middle. More typesetting! I don’t even know, if my dad ever advanced to the Linotype machines, is that what people did? Advance on to those. But hand typesetting was a skill too. I have been watching videos today, I didn’t know the difference of it all. Unless people like my dad organised the type after it was created by the Linotype machine, I guess he did that!? He was very clever, if there was advancement available, he’d have been capable. These photos are probably from when I was about 4/5 so around 1981/82, maybe (judging by my dads hair). Think that first separate photo of my dad was about 78/79.
Withy Grove group
Says Heather: “Another group photo, with my dad on the left. I don’t know who any of these men are either.. The guy with the chain round his neck…. No idea where they are either. But they are definitely Printers, I know that.

New Pics November 2023

I have been contacted recently by Derrick Lumb, who sent me these two photographs. I have asked him for further information, names, dates, etc. but so far have received no response. If anyone would like to shed some light on these pictures, please do so in the comments.

In the first one everyone seems to be holding one of their shoes in their hand! Derrick says: “The photo with shoes is comps showing their shoes bought from Albert or Stuart, you could buy almost anything on the shop floor.”

This next one, in colour, I guess would have been taken at a later date.

Stuart Holmes, from night lino comps, contacted me with a couple of photos. He said: “It would be nice to see our names on the site, good memories of happy days.”

So, here’s the night Linos staffing list from about 1985.

Staffing list 1985

Stuart also sent in this one of a banging-out ceremony. “Banging out ceremony, everyone shaking hands with the retiree passing through the composing room to the noise from banging of metal on the stones.”

Banging out Withy Grove

Here’s another one from Stuart. “Withy Grove Night Lino Comps football team ready to play against Lino team.”

Withy Grove football team

Still on a sporting theme . . . “Stermac B bowling team, Thomson Withy Grove. I was the only compositor to play with these stereo department lads. Arthur Grewer was captain. 1980s.” said Stuart.

Stermac B bowling team

“We were well paid in the Comps. Felt like millionaires on a 26 hour week.”

Wage rates

“A happy face you may remember,” says Stuart.

A happy face.

Bringing it right up to date . . . a recent reunion.

Printers reunion

“Lino Ops, Tony Power.”

Printers reunion
John Latham, electrician worked 3 floors down in the cellars where all the power sources for the machines etc. were installed. His father Bert was a lino op and is shown on his retirement night in an earlier photo where he is wearing a silver suit and with the Chapel Committee of the Night Lino.

Withy Grove electricians

 

Enjoyed the photos? Well, you’ve found the main page! But there’s another couple of pages on Metal Type you may have missed. More photos here: Withy Grove (no names for the people photographed though, maybe you could help out in the Comments) – and some pics sent in by Eric Saltmarsh here: Men and Machines.