Hot metal mem­o­ries

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

HERE IS another pho­to­graph from the Trin­ity Mir­ror ar­chive, giv­ing a glimpse of life in the early part of the 20th cen­tury.

Tech­nol­ogy to­day is de­vel­op­ing with in­cred­i­ble speed. A hun­dred years ago, many things were still done by hand, at a steady pace. At that time, news­pa­pers were printed us­ing a tech­nique known as ‘hot metal.’

Re­porters wrote up their sto­ries on type­writ­ers and the copy was turned into print by lino­type op­er­a­tors, who pro­duced in­di­vid­ual lines of text as lead ‘slugs’. Th­ese were put to­gether to form a page by com­pos­i­tors work­ing on flat metal benches, who were in­cred­i­bly adept at read­ing copy up­side down and back-to-front as they put the news­pa­per to­gether.

If a page was dropped while be­ing trans­ferred from a work­bench to a trol­ley, the lines of lead text would be scat­tered. This was known as a ‘printer’s pie’, and the com­pos­i­tor had to start from scratch. For­tu­nately, this hap­pened rarely.

Our pic­ture shows men in the com­pos­ing room of King and Hutch­ings, a for­mer pub­lisher of the Gazette, as they pre­pare an edi­tion of the news­pa­per. It was a time-con­sum­ing job but a cru­cial one if mis­takes were to be avoided.

Take a look at our gal­leries of old pho­tos at www.getwest­lon­don.­gia.

Do you have old photographs of the bor­ough you would like to share? Email high­res­o­lu­tion copies to mort. smith@trin­i­tymir­

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