Greymouth recovers its letterpress heritage

Apr 12, 2017 at 12:50 am by Staff

Letterpress is back at New Zealand's Greymouth Star, 38 years after the newspaper abandoned hot-metal typesetting.

The newspaper (via the Printing Museum in Wellington) reports that an Intertype C4 from the Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune in Hastings "via Wanganui" has found a home at Greymouth, and is in working order there.

The newspaper introduced Linotype linecasters in 1904, and at one time had nine of them. Nimble-fingered lino operators Peter Carmody, Arthur Fong and Jock Burn are among those remembered in an article in the newspaper, which moved on to "cold type" in the mid-1970s. The last letterpress edition using Linotypes was produced on on March 26, 1979.

Volunteers from the Printing Museum and letterpress enthusiasts in the North Island were supported by Taranaki lino operator Terry Foster and former Christchurch lino mechanic Wayne Richards to "get it back on its feet" after "a few bumps and scrapes" in transit.

The paper reports that from the 1500 linecasting machines once in use in New Zealand, fewer than 30 are still in full working order. The C4 at Greymouth is one of a handful not in a museum.

• The Museum is looking for a home for an SW2 Wharfedale press, built in the mid 20th century by English builder Dawson, Payne & Elliott. The stop-cylinder design was popular for printing newspapers, magazines and posters.

The future of two Cossar newspaper presses in New Zealand - currently preserved at an NZME location in Pahiatua, and cared for by Steve Carle, former proprietor of the Bush Telegraph - is also uncertain.

Only a handful of these groundbreaking reel-fed presses, the design of which evolved from the Wharfedale, are believed to exist in the world.

Contact Museum secretary Bill Nairn, or 04 280-1064

Pictured: Greymouth Star staff members and former Linotype operators with the vintage Intertype C4 linecasting machine, Alan Shirley (started 1969), (left)

Rodney Perrin-Smith (1970) and Gavin Riley (1974), with editor Paul Madgwick (back)


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