When the Netley complex was built it was claimed to be the most up-to-date printing establishment in the southern hemisphere, with the latest equipment and amenities one could want.
It’s a pity that it was set up mostly for hot metal, not catering for the revolution of computer typesetting just around the corner.
To go with an up-to-date establishment of this enormity, where a golf cart would have been practical to travel the vast distances between some departments, the Government Printing Department acquired a state-of-the-art system for sending proofs and dockets from one department to another as fast as possible.
The installation of an air tube pneumatic system seemed to be the solution. Each department had a sending/receiving station, where plastic tubes (affectionately called “rockets”) were inserted into pipes to be sucked at rapid speed to the required department. There were two sizes of rockets: a small circular one and a larger rectangular one.
Esther Davis worked in the “Rocket Room”, which was at the end of the reading room and alongside the head reader’s office. From there she would deliver proofs etc to the head reader sent via the rocket system and also send off rockets to other departments.
Pictured: Esther Harris (nee Davis) in 2016.
I found an old, perished rubber glove and kept it for years, knowing it would come in handy one day.
It was red and spattered with many different ink colours from its use over the years. It was so perished that it could stand up unassisted.
I decided the day had come to give another life to this glove and placed the perished “hand” into a large rocket and sent it to Esther.
I immediately made a dash to the reading room, knowing that it would be only a matter of seconds before its arrival.
I made it just in time to see Esther unclip the end of the rocket to reveal its contents. On seeing the hand, she dropped it, then let out a series of almighty screams, followed by laughter.