PRINTING PRESS: Brett Hanwright showing students from the Beeron Road State School how the South Burnett Times newspaper was produced in the ‘80s. (Picture: File)
PRINTING PRESS: Brett Hanwright showing students from the Beeron Road State School how the South Burnett Times newspaper was produced in the ‘80s. (Picture: File)

Changes in the world of printing in the South Burnett

OUR generation have seen many changes in our lifetime, but the printing industry has seen more than most.

I have been asked to shed some light on these changes and give you an understanding of the processes as this paper is the last of this type and may become a collector's item in the future. Rush out and buy one to keep for the kids!

I became involved in the printing industry around 1960 while working as a paper delivery boy for Wards Newsagency where I would deliver The Courier Mail before school and the Kingaroy Herald later becoming the South Burnett Times after school.

These papers were printed using the letterpress operation.

The type was set by linotype operators using a linotype machine, which produced a slug of lead type, which read from right to left.

A composer then clamped the type in a chase or bed that was fitted to the printing press where inked rollers passed over and inked the type.

The ink was them transferred on to the printing paper to create a printed image.

Local businesses had advertising blocks that were made by transferring photographic negatives on to zinc blocks using an acid etch process.

I have some of these advertising blocks used by my grandfather when he owned the Kingaroy joinery.

In the '70s I was working for Sidney Cooke Graphics as a printer's engineer.

I was based in Brisbane and covered Queensland and northern NSW where we would install new printing machinery as well as maintaining existing plant.

These were good years for the print and newspaper industries.

Government grants were available for businesses to upgrade their machinery.

Offset printing was taking over from letterpress printing, and Sidney Cooke were selling offset printing presses to newspapers and commercial printers.

We would install a new offset printing press and because many printers were not familiar with the offset printing process we would train the printers in the use of their new press and this new way of printing.

We were learning together.

Around 1979 South Burnett Times had purchased a Goss Community offset printing press consisting of two printing units and a folder.

Later adding another printing unit to enable colour printing.

The offset printing process uses ink and water.

Aluminium plates are made by exposing a photographic negative onto them, then etched with chemicals to produce the print image.

The image area accepts the ink and the water repels the ink from the non image area.

The aluminium plate is attached to a plate cylinder, and transfers the print image onto a blanket cylinder.

Each printing unit has two plate, and blanket cylinders.

Large rolls of newsprint are attached to each printing unit, this newsprint passes between the two blanket cylinders transferring the print image of four pages onto each side of the newsprint.

The web of printed paper from each printing unit is collated and fed under a slitter then folded to form your paper.

Large newspapers had automatic inserters to insert advertising extras into the paper. South Burnett Times employed local women to insert these extras into your paper.

The South Burnett Times was owned and managed at this time by Doug Collier who took over from his aunty, Mrs Adams.

They also owned the commercial printing business nearby.

Myself and my wife had just purchased forty acres in Kingaroy.

Doug knew this and while I was installing a new press in their commercial printing business, he offered me a job assisting Bill Heineger in printing the paper.

My wife was a Brisbane girl and was not keen on moving to the country.

I suggested we put our Brisbane house on the market, if it sells we move, if not we stay.

The house was sold in two days and here we are. I worked for the paper for a short time, but decided I liked grease on my hands rather than ink.

South Burnett Times was sold to APN and has been printed in Yandina for some time now. Where these once sought after, expensive printing presses were scattered all over the country, they have now turned into scrap value or museum pieces.

How things change.

We will now have to read the paper on our phone or computer., and use fire lighters instead of newspapers to start the fire place.