During my apprenticeship (1950 to 1955) most comp apprentices had to spend some time in the railways poster area which was behind the canteen on the Jobbing floor in King William Road. Also, there were racks of standing formes in double demy chases.
In setting the type for the posters a wooden poster setting stick was used which catered for the larger wooden type and the longer lines. Good fun when you’re trying to come to grips with hand setting 6 to 12 point type, Intertype and monotype.
I can remember one particularly hot summer when some of the standing chases full of wooden type pied because of the heat shrinking the wooden type, wood furniture, etc. No air conditioning in those days. If you wanted air conditioning it was a matter of opening the hopper windows in the middle of the building.
To overcome the problem of the formes falling apart the idea was to lift the formes onto the stone and if they did not pie during the lift, undo the brass quoins slightly and apply water to the type and furniture.
The normal method was to apply a little water with a sponge in a similar fashion when handling a galley of monotype. Sponge fights were common with apprentices on a hot day.
A rather novel idea was to use a watering can and then mop up the excess water. After the exercise, the forme was locked up and put back in the rack. It was the apprentice’s job to then mop up all of the water on the surface of the stone, dry it and then apply a coat of oil to prevent rust.
It was amazing how rust would appear after the event on some occasions.
Incidentally what happened to the wooden type prior to the fire sale at Netley?
I can remember cases of wooden type, some of it unused, stored in cabinets in the comp room.
When the cases of wooden type came up for auction at the fire sale the auctioneer pulled out a case and guess what; it was empty; as were all of the others.
Don (The Flash) Woolman
Photo: That’s me on the left waiting outside the Old Government Printing Office with some unknown poor shitboys.
I walked through the Main Front Door and was warmly welcomed by the Senior management gathered in the Foyer.
These lowly lads were let in through the side latrines and there was a terrible rumour that the boys were subjected to evil acts of humiliation by the old English compositors.
Pictured: The Riley Family Coat of Arms (drenched in Blood), bestowed upon the Riley Family by William the Conqueror, a Norman, in recognition of the family’s assistance in the slaughter and subjugation of many poor and defenceless English folk.
By the end of the day I was known as Lord Riley or “The Toff” and I have carried those names with distinction since that day.
As I got older and gathered a lot of lovely boys around me like Colin Haines, Bert Cotton, Brian Stevens and Peter Shepherd we would all go over to the City Baths (right next Door) and have a delicious time cavorting in the water.
There were many happy times in the showers afterwards playing “drop the soap dear”. It was wonderful it was…
It has allowed me to commit many acts of bastardry upon my fellowmen over my exciting and colourful life.
Unfortunately, age is catching up with me and it has meant that I have had to become a “Tightarse” just to survive.
More about that soon…
We could never understand why the Netley Complex was built in the 1970s as a Monument to the End of the Age of Hot Metal Printing Technology.
With the Greatest Revolution in Print since the time of Johannes Gutenberg just around the corner, why did the Government choose to install the largest parquet floor in the Southern Hemisphere (see below). It started cracking up in just a few months.
Why was the last Double Demy Miehle Press in the World purchased as an equipment update and how come we had windows that you needed a step ladder to see out of.
And then there was the floating roof and so on….
There are some clues, late in 1964 the Master Printers Association (employers group) met with then Premier Sir Thomas Playford and sought assurances that no new equipment would be bought for the new Government Printing Office.
The reason being they were fearful that any advances in technology could see the commercial printers in Adelaide lose Government work. Evidently, the Liberal Country League Government agreed to give those assurances.
They achieved their aim with such success that the Old Guv was gone in the space of just over 20 years.
Bruce Lockier nailed an empty sardine can under Ross Jolly’s chair in the Reading Room. Poor old Ross searched his room for days, but alas could not find where the stink was coming from.
Finally he went to Lockier and pleaded with him to reveal the hiding place.
What a dirty trick to play on poor old Ross
What about poor old Bob Miller. Yep another dirty trick saw Bob driven out to Kent Town by an unknown bastard store driver to sweep up the binding section.
The driver was to come back later and bring Bob back to the Old Guv.
Did that Bastard Driver return? No.
Poor old Bob had to catch a bus and carry with him his tools of trade, namely his broom, bucket and spade.
What a dirty trick to leave Bob stranded at Kent Town.
Bruce Lockier placed an imitation poo on the floor in the dunny of the comp room with wettish dunny paper placed strategically around it and informed the cleaner Angus to deal with it.
Angus was horrified upon viewing it and went directly to the overseer saying that was not his job.
On returning with the overseer the poo had magically disappeared.
What a dirty trick to place on poor old Angus.
Neville Gurr was so pissed off with David Lascelles being such a bloody know-all that he waited for him to enter the jobbing room dunny.
Neville then produced the largest fire cracker bomb and gently rolled it under the dunny door towards the feet of David.
He saw it coming and panic stricken kicked it away. The bomb was heard as far away as the Ludlow.
Bob Allen who was in the next cubicle picked three horse racing tips on his way up and back down.
Poor old Ken Davis in the other cubicle came out totally in shock wearing a face of total fear.
In fact, he never entered the dunny for three weeks.
What a dirty trick to play on Bob and Ken.