Days of hot metal

Inside the promotional brochure for Gazette Printers
Inside the promotional brochure for Gazette Printers
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The Gazette is celebrating 140 years and a recent article about its history from the early activities of John Grime up to the modern office here on Blackpool Business Park caught the attention of Peter Dixon, of Helens Close, South Shore.

He says: “In the early 1960s I started my career on The Gazette errand bikes, delivering parcels to and from the Victoria Street office and Stanley Road,just off Hornby Road, where the Gazette-owned jobbing printing works was based.

Cover of the promotional brochure produced by The Gazette Printing Works.'Submitted by Peter Dixon

Cover of the promotional brochure produced by The Gazette Printing Works.'Submitted by Peter Dixon

“The works are still there being used now for other businesses.”

Peter says: “Like John Grime I became an apprentice compositor, serving my time at Stanley Road in the years when hot metal was the way to do things. Over the six years of errand boy and apprentice compositor you often met Sir Harold, Alan Grime, known as Mr Alan, and Bert Grime, or Mr Bert, who was a very imposing figure to us young apprentices.

“You could never forget working on the top floor at Stanley Road in the comps room when Mr Bert would come up and say that you were doing ok and from next week there would be an extra half crown (12.5p) in your wages.”

Peter admits: “Of course it does not seem a lot of money now, but in 1962 I believe I was on £1 10s 6d (£1.52) for a 40 hour week.

“The jobbing office in its day it was the most modern printing office in the area, boasting £20,000 being spent on equipment.”

Peter still has the booklet produced to advertise the works, with pictures in all the departments and staff and we are showing the cover and an inside page today.

Peter says: “I have also managed to hang on to my compositor setting sticks and the compositors bible, The Compositors Work in Printing. This book had to be learnt by every apprentice who wished to pass the exams.

“I left The Gazette in the early 1970s after qualifying as a compositor, spending the rest of my printing life at The Gazette’s sister paper, the Lancashire Evening Post, Preston, going from hot metal all the way through to computers and photo setting.

“I am retired now but I must admit the best years were at The Gazette with the hot metal printing. It was dirty and hard work, but the best group of people I have ever worked with, some are still friends today.”

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