Where the power of the press lives on

THERE aren’t many museums around like the Queanbeyan Printing Museum. Run by volunteers, the museum tells the story of the town, its long-running newspaper and printing in general.

The machines have been restored to operational mode giving visitors a nostalgic journey into the past, centred on the inception of “The Queanbeyan Age” in 1860 through to the mid-1970s, when letterpress printing in Queanbeyan was superseded by electronics and computerised typesetting.

Peter Neuss and Bill Johnson are volunteers at the museum. Both were printers at “The Queanbeyan Age” for more than 30 years.
“The museum is something that the town should be proud of because it covers a lot of history here in Queanbeyan,” says Bill.

Bill explains “hot metal” printing back in the days when printing was a highly skilled trade. Printers had to know about spelling and grammar.

“The type was all set on a machine and proofed and printed from that, whereas nowadays it’s all done on computer and is so much easier,” he says.

“In some ways, people who know nothing about printing are able to do it because it is so easy on a computer,” adds Peter.

“You had to know where you could hyphenate and where you couldn’t, it was a craftsman’s trade,” says Peter.

Hot metal printing ended with the retirement of Linotype machines in 1983.

The museum, which was opened in 2004, features 12 main sections from hand-set type, through hot-metal production, to a variety of printing presses such as Wharfedale hand-fed press, various platens, proof presses and a Meihle automatic commercial printing press.

There is also a photographic darkroom with photographs and reproductions of “The Queanbeyan Age” front pages on display.

Peter says the museum is always looking for volunteers and emphasises that it’s not just a job for ex-printers, but anyone who is interested in history or old machinery.

Queanbeyan Printing Museum, 20 Farrer Place, Queanbeyan. Open Saturday and Sunday 2pm-4pm. Admission is free. Go to queanbeyanprintingmuseum.com

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