How the news was printed; pages from the past

Sydney Morning Herald photo spread, circa 1940s. This preserved page was found by former BDN journalist Ray Spencer in the local Masonic Lodge during a cleanup.
Sydney Morning Herald photo spread, circa 1940s. This preserved page was found by former BDN journalist Ray Spencer in the local Masonic Lodge during a cleanup.

A wonderfully preserved look at the history of print media was uncovered this week.

A neatly folded page taken from the Sydney Morning Herald fell out of an old book at the Bega Masonic Lodge when members were doing a little cleanup.

Lodge member, and former Bega District News journalist, Ray Spencer snapped up the piece of history for preservation and dropped by on Friday to share the find.

The two-page photo spread appears to be a celebration of how the pages of the paper came to be produced on a brand new printing press system. One of the captions indicates it was the first time the SMH had printed a picture on its front page.

While the date strap doesn’t have the year, from the images of a new press in action and the names involved it would likely be around the early 1940s and the World War II years.

Managing director WO Fairfax is photographed turning on the new press and later inspecting the partially completed pages. Men in suits, ties and smoking pipes stand around having a celebratory beer and sandwich at 2am on print day. Metal plates are formed and fitted to the print rollers.

It’s a fascinating insight and indication of how far the industry has progressed in the past 70-odd years.

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