I started off my apprenticeship as a compositor.
Then I did national call up for two years and then changed to a Rotary letter press machine minder.
The duty there was to cast adverts in lead, we had a huge pot of molten lead that we had to pour the lead from.
From there the non-printing area had to be routed out. These ads would then be placed on the page.
For the pages a flong was placed on the chase which was compiled by the compositor and with a hydraulic machine an impression was made. The page would then go down to the machine room where it would be cast in lead again and mounted on to the printing machine.
This machine, which was a Victory letter press machine, once it started up sounded like a steam train. Management would know when there was a problem as the whole building did not vibrate.
In the days of hot metal there was always something being done. The chaps in the works department where in those days called journeymen and they all had their special skills.
I had fond memories at the Pretoria News and worked with a great number of people. Some to mention:
Peter van der Westhuizen, the works manager
Colin Howarth, machine foreman.
And my good partner in crime, Willy Pin.
What I recall is the ’News family - we had a social club where we all used to get together for games evenings in the canteen. Music was supplied by one of the ladies from the advertising department, Glynnis and her husband Wouter, or a social gathering at a sport get-together. Or Sun City trips.
Our end of year function which was called the Wetstone was held in the works department and was attended by all the staff.
It was a sad day eventually when the old machine was deconditioned, stripped down and I believe sold for scrap metal.
This was to make place for our new Lithographic machine. Another sad time was in 1994 when the works department was closed down. We all went our separate ways. I recall my days at Pretoria News with fond memories. Congratulations on 120 years.