Urgent call to help save rare Kiwi Cossars

Sep 17, 2017 at 10:06 pm by Staff

There are hopes for a new future for two Cossar presses in Pahiatua, New Zealand, with the formation of an action committee to make plans and raise funds.

Fears that the presses - which are among perhaps only four in the world - might be scrapped followed a deadline for their removal from the former Bush Telegraph premises.

Wellington's Printing Museum has given up hopes of accommodating the presses - which are the size of a large room - at new premises, and ownership is now likely to pass to the Pahiatua committee.

Although they were manufactured in the UK, one of the two presses - dating to 1924 - is listed on New Zealand's 'protected objects' register. They were donated by NZME (then APN New Zealand) to the Printing Museum in 2008 with hopes that they would find a home when the museum relocated, but remained in Pahiatua. When those hopes fell through - and with changes at NZME, which hopes to merge with Fairfax NZ - a deadline was set for their removal.

Now an urgent appeal is going out to save the presses, with hopes that it may be possible to keep them at their present location.

Steve Carle, managing editor of the Pahiatua Bush Telegraph, says anyone interested in helping in any way, or making a financial contribution to preserve this piece of New Zealand newspaper heritage should contact him on +6421 153 1917 or email steve.carle@bushtele.co.nz

The older of the two presses printed the last Labour Party-owned newspaper, the Grey River Argus, in Greymouth, while the newer 1970 one printed the Kapi Mana Argus and Thames Star. The Bush Telegraph - now owned by NZME - was the last publication printed on the press.

Developed from the Wharfedale flatbed letterpress, the reel-fed Cossar transformed production for small newspapers because it automated the production and collation of printed pages into a complete newspaper. For country newspapers too small to invest in faster rotary letterpress machines - and the related equipment - used by their big-city cousins, it was a way to print bigger editions faster.

Despite having been built in Yorkshire, England, to the design of a Scotsman, the Cossar had a special place in the hearts of New Zealand newspaper publishers, one of whom bought the first press in 1903.

Museum secretary Bill Nairn says the Cossar design was very popular in New Zealand: "More than 20 provincial newspapers used these presses over the next 80 or so years, the last one in use in 1993 at the Northland Age in Kaitaia."

Other New Zealand users included Franklin Press (Pukekohe), Hawera Star, Bay of Plenty Times (Tauranga), Wairoa Star, Martinborough Star, Wairarapa Times-Age (Masterton), Viscount Press (Palmerston North), Hutt News (Lower Hutt), Sentinel Newspapers (Wellington), Marlborough Express (Blenheim), Evening Star (Greymouth), Timaru Herald and the Oamaru Mail.


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