Look­ing back

Tweed Daily News - - NEWS -

■ Former Daily News re­porter/sub-ed­i­tor Fran Silk looks back at her fam­ily con­nec­tions to the news­pa­per which stretch back al­most a cen­tury.

THE his­tory of the Tweed

Daily News is insep­a­ra­ble from that of my fam­ily. The printer’s ink in our veins runs deep, both in pro­duc­tion and ed­i­to­rial.

I worked at the pa­per as a re­porter, sub-ed­i­tor and colum­nist from 1992 to 2006 be­fore join­ing Tweed Shire Coun­cil to work on coun­cil’s news­let­ter, the Tweed Link.

I’m now coun­cil’s me­dia of­fi­cer.

My time at the Daily News is but a blip on the Silk time­line with this news­pa­per, span­ning three gen­er­a­tions.

My grand­fa­ther Stephen Silk (1896-1970) moved to Mur­willum­bah in 1919 from his home­town of Mo­long in the Cen­tral West (via In­verell) to start with the pa­per as works man­ager of the Lino­type depart­ment (part of the print depart­ment).

Stephen was in charge of this depart­ment all of his work­ing life and was renowned for his un­equalled knowl­edge of the me­chan­ics of news­pa­per pro­duc­tion and for his de­vo­tion to his job, es­pe­cially dur­ing the war years when the pa­per op­er­ated with a min­i­mum of staff.

A cham­pion bil­liards player, Stephen was also a keen judge of horse­flesh and was the spe­cial rac­ing writer for the Daily News un­der the name of “Track­man” for many years.

My fa­ther, Peter, joined the com­pany at 15 in 1946 as an ap­pren­tice Lino­type op­er­a­tor and worked there for 41 years.

My­self and my three si­b­lings Colin, Ge­off and Kath­leen, of­ten vis­ited the cav­ernous Daily News build­ing in Church Ln, Mur­willum­bah, with our pa­tient Dad on week­ends, mar­vel­ling at the gi­ant rolls of newsprint next to the print­ing press he was re­pair­ing. Even to­day, I can con­jure up the in­dus­trial smell of ink.

Other fam­ily mem­bers who worked there in­cluded my un­cle, Brian Silk, my great-aunt, the for­mi­da­ble An­nie Nel­son and my mother, Robyn (nee Baird) who moved from Syd­ney to take up a po­si­tion as a cadet jour­nal­ist at the Daily News in the early 1960s. She also later worked there as a sub-ed­i­tor in the 1980s.

More re­cently, my late hus­band Michael Pat­ter­son also worked at the Tweed

News­pa­per Com­pany for a num­ber of years as the ed­i­tor of the Gold Coast Mail and other com­mu­nity ti­tles.

While it’s un­likely any more gen­er­a­tions of my fam­ily will work at the Daily

News, my son Hamish cer­tainly sold a few while work­ing at the Mur­willum­bah Newsagency n his gap year in 2017. And he con­tin­ues to sells news­pa­pers in a sim­i­lar job in Bris­bane.

We can al­ways rem­i­nisce about Hamish ap­pear­ing as Harry Pot­ter in a photo story as a child, my daugh­ter Amelia as a child model for a back to school fea­ture and sons Stu­art and Lach­lan ap­pear­ing on the front page of the Tweed

Val­ley Times as silhouettes on a flooded road.

They’re fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of their mother and aunt, Kath­leen, who var­i­ously ap­peared in a back to school photo in pri­mary school and later on, eat­ing pack­ets of chips in a tree in dodgy ‘70s clothes.

Thanks to the Daily News for all these pre­cious mem­o­ries.

Thanks also for the re­search into my fam­ily’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the pa­per which was pro­vided by former Tweed Daily News his­to­rian, Di Mil­lar.


FUN TIMES: Tweed Daily News lino­type op­er­a­tor Peter Silk with one of the other win­ners of a nov­elty com­ple­tion at one of the many fun Daily News Christ­mas par­ties at the beach.

AT WORK: Fran Silk work­ing away at the South Tweed of­fice.

TRACK­MAN: Stephen "Track­man" Silk was the Tweed Daily News' works man­ager of the lino­type depart­ment.

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