Page 20 - March 2014
P. 20

Derek Nuttall (9693)

Apart from the weekly chore of cinema poster     Around the end of my first year, I persuaded
prinƟng, I spent a lot of Ɵme hand-feeding       my bosses to let me set up a type specimen
smaller, short-run jobs on the ‘Victoria’        book. I was allowed to do this and to print it
treadle platen. This was connected by belƟng     on the treadle platen – in my own Ɵme, i.e.
to an overhead line shaŌ, driven by an electric  either Saturday aŌernoon or Sunday morning.
motor (which had just replaced a gas engine),    I also experimented with prinƟng some old
that worked the platen at around 1200 i.p.h.     sets (c. 1910) of 3-colour blocks. Some years
Keeping up this speed for several hours at a     later I found, buried under boxes and waste
stretch was quite faƟguing. Most jobs were       sheets, a stereo box for casƟng flat duplicate
Ɵckets, leaflets, staƟonery, etc., but one        plates. I was aƩending technical classes
unusual job was prinƟng, in a special white      and was keen to experiment. Neither of the
ink, inside the waistband of policemen’s         partners had a clue as to what this apparatus
trousers the constables’ numbers. Another        was for, so again, using Sunday mornings, I
special job was ‘UƟlity Labels’ (remember        made flongs (moulds) from bloƫng and Ɵssue
CC41?) which were printed on coated linen.       paper. Then, by melƟng up old type rescued
Also printed (by treadle power), in special      from the ‘Hell Box’ (a container for worn or
colourless ƟnƟng medium, were any formes         damaged type), I eventually succeeded in
that had to be dusted with gold or silver        casƟng four plates of a label. This job had
powder – a job that required the wearing of a    always been printed one-up from type, but it
face mask and cap.                               was now possible to print four labels in one
Two near-tragedies occurred. The first was,
I think, in the very cold winter of 1947 when    Apart from the weekly business of cleaning
severe frost cracked the gas main which was      up the quad crown, there were some other
just behind the back wall of the machine         jobs that I hated – or was scared of. First of
room. In those days it was coal gas which had    the these was the dangerous job of changing
no smell when highly concentrated. It caused     the 42” blade on the guilloƟne and packing it
me to pass out – and also two others – and it    for sending off for resharpening. Even more
took us several days to recover. The second      daunƟng was fiƫng a newly-sharpened blade.
could have resulted in a fatality. I had just    (No accident ever occurred!). Another was
arrived in the morning and was going down        using the Bremner wire sƟtcher. This was
the stairs to stoke the coke boiler when there   powered from the overhead shaŌ and when
was a shout. One of the partners was being       the foot-pedal was depressed, it raƩled off
carried up to the ceiling by the wide leather    staples like machine-gun fire. Bad Ɵming could
belt which connected the electric motor with     result in a staple through one’s finger. A less
the driving shaŌ. As his head hit the roof,      dangerous job was the hand-folding of 10,000
he dropped onto the cement floor by the           membership cards for a trade union, twice
flywheel of the big Wharfedale. Apart from        a year. These were printed on a sƟff, linen
cuts and bruises, and a sore head, he not only   reinforced card which resulted in some very
survived but carried on working. Apparently      sore fingers by the end of the day.
the driving belt had been slipping and his       Happy days!
overall had been caught as he tried to apply a
sƟck of belt dressing.                           Footnote: In my reƟrement I have a Golding
                                                 Jobber treadle platen—so back to square one!

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