The first printing press which landed with the Free Settlers of South Australia in late 1836 was a Stanhope (hand driven) Press, which was located in a crude tent occupied by the Thomas family on the North Bend of the “Paddywallunga” River at Glenelg.
The Stanhope Press was owned by Mr Robert Thomas and Mr George Stevenson, Secretary to Governor Hindmarsh, the State’s first Governor.
The Act of Proclamation and first Government Gazette had been printed in England some six months before the Settlers arrived. The Proclamation Ceremony was held at the Old Gum Tree, at Glenelg in December, 1836.
The Captain of the ship that landed the Stanhope Press felt the metal type on board would make perfect ballast for his crossing of the treacherous Tasman Sea to Hobart.
A frustrated Robert Thomas was finally re-united with his precious cases of metal type some time after the first landing.
In June, 1837, the second edition of the Government Gazette and Colonial Register was produced. At that time the Printing Office had been moved to Hindley Street, Adelaide.
The first official Government Printing Office was established in 1849 with William Caddy Cox as Government Printer. It was housed in a low single storey brick building behind the Supreme Court Office in Victoria Square.
The original staff compromised three men, a boy and a horse.
A new Printing Office was built behind Old Parliament House in 1867 (the Old Legislative Council Building) comprising a basement and ground floor. By now the presses were steam driven.
In 1879, William Caddy Cox retired and was succeeded by Emmanuel Spiller as Government Printer. In 1885, a third storey was added to the building.
The Comps. Strike: The records of the Printing Union in South Australia show that a strike occurred in 1876 when a number of men were paid below what was considered to be the basic rate for Compositors at that time.
The Comps. finally returned to work when the State Secretary-General and the Adelaide Typographical Society brokered a deal. Emmanuel Spiller died in 1888, and former Apprentice and Compositor Henry Leader was appointed the new Government Printer.
Leader proved to be a popular Printer, however, he died in in 1890. Charles Bristow was then appointed Government Printer.
The 1902 Wayzgoose: The Wayzgoose was a Printer’s Picnic generally held on a Saturday for the Tradesmen and Boys. On 1 March, 1902, the drags left the Office in King William Road and begun their journey to Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills.
The Pubs they dropped into en route were the Eagle-on-the-Hill, Stirling West Hotel, German Arms Hotel and the Union Hotel in Hahndorf.
After a wonderful dinner and a day’s entertainment at Jackson’s Hotel, Mount Barker (including a cornet solo) they finally made their way back to Adelaide leaving Mount Barker at 6 p.m.
Hansard Production: In 1914 the Government Printing Office was given responsibility for the production of Hansard (Parliamentary Debates) which up until then had been done by the newspaper proprietors in Adelaide.
Three new Intertype Hot Metal Typesetting Machines (English version of the Linotype) were purchased and set up in a newly remodelled section of the Old Guv.
The administration and Office sections were also expanded at that time.
Kent Town: In 1965, a temporary annexe was set up out at Kent Town to undertake hand binding and ruling work. This operation employed a number of women and trade bookbinders.
Goodbye to the Old Guv: In late 1973, the Government Printing Office in King William Road and the Kent Town site were moved to the Netley Complex on Marion Road, Netley (South Western suburb of Adelaide).
In 1974 the Old Guv Building which held so many wonderful memories and had stood for over 100 years was brutally ripped down to make way for the construction of the Adelaide Festival Theatre.