History of the Old Guv.


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.

Rod Parham

22 thoughts on “History of the Old Guv.

  1. Hi Rod
    Just found your site, very funny.
    We went to trade school together, I worked for Stock Journal Publishers before going to England. Actually married one of the Cliffmores (Linda).
    Great to hear the old stories.
    Bill More


    • Dear Bill,
      Wonderful to hear from you. Stockies went down many years ago as did the Govt. Printer, Griffin Press is now another company although still publishes as Griffin Press.
      One of the apprentices we went to school with is no longer with us, Ian Lawson (Kerton Bros) and then the Govt. print. died in a house fire.
      Roger Tidmarsh became a millionaire who owned Imagecolor.
      Peter Cornish and Dennis Moncrieff worked at the Govt. Print before leaving and disappearing somewhere. Ted Powell, worked at Griffin, Govt. Print, the Tiser and the last I heard was living at Warooka on the Yorke Peninsula. Neil Day owned a little print business in Morphett Vale before giving it away. Remember little Cyril Clark the headmaster.
      Gillinghams closed, Specialty went broke, Harman and Jacka are gone and the Tiser is owned by Rupert of course. But most of this you probably already know.
      I still see Don Woolman who was SGA Head of School at Croydon Park and then the Sth Aust Government Printer. We were on opposing sides of the fence for some time.
      I eventually became Secretary of the PKIU before we amalgamated with the Metal Workers and VBU in 1995.
      On that disastrous note I will close, but do keep in touch.


    • Hi Rod Thanks for the update. Sad to hear about Ian. So many places closed. What a shame. The Trade school days were pretty good though – had a few good laughs. Yes I vaguely remember Cyril. At least someone made a million from that class. Great to hear from you. Regards Bill

      Liked by 1 person

    • Warren Pietsch always said you were the only real Delmont Medallist who worked at the Guv. Sadly Warren passed away suddenly about 20 months ag0.
      Al the Best Rod


    • Dear Penniewoodfall,
      Now I’ve got a fair idea why you are so intelligent and witty.
      Part Aussie eh! I’ll put up our National Anthem in the next couple of days. See if you can pick it.
      Regards, Rod

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rod just to let you know Herbert Charles Brown passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon 27-11-2014.


  2. Hi Rod! I am so sorry your wonderful mum died so young. You are fortunate to be around family in your present circumstance. I am very close to my sisters and speak to them daily. Can’t imagine life without them. I look forward to exploring more of your wonderful blog. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


  3. Pingback: Versatile Blogger Award… | Photo ni Ompong

  4. Enjoyed your Blog. I have fond memories of my dad working there. The Christmas parties at the Railways Institute across the road from the King William Street building next to the City Baths. I also worked there as a copy holder to Ron Hammence, etc. My cousin Jack Taylor worked in the bindary section and I have a lot of funny stories from my father.


    • Wonderful to hear from you Diane. Alex Riley loved your Dad and told me he was the best storyteller ever. I only knew your father for a couple of years but what a wonderful character he was.
      Rod Parham


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