Horace Burgess Harvey is the third part of the Burgess story that has been unfolding through this column and the fourth generation of the Burgess printing dynasty that was starting newspapers in New South Wales in the 1860s. Part 1 was told in May and Part 2 in June
Horace, the son of Chris Harvey and Rose (née Horrex), was born in Bundaberg on March 22, 1926, but his name was a mistake. His mother tried to register him as Horrex Burgess-Harvey (hyphenated), but it came out of the birth certificate as Horace Burgess Harvey. It was akin to a printer’s error that cannot be changed.
Harvey began a six-year printing apprenticeship in 1941 at the Prompt Printery in Targo Street, Bundaberg, next door to the Bundaberg News-Mail, three years after the paper had beaten off competition from the 11-year-old Daily Times. He was paid 14 shillings and 10 pence ($1.49) a week at the beginning.
He says he sometimes went into the News-Mail at night to learn the keyboard on the Linotype. “I was after experience. At the Prompt Printery we had a single mag. It was a small version. I also learnt to feed the small and large platen press, which was hand-fed. I hand-set type for the various jobs, and cut paper on a hand guillotine, and I did book-binding, collating, and so on. It was an all-on experience.”
He left Bundaberg to join Harrisons at Toowoomba in 1947, but soon tired of that because they did only hand-setting. So he joined the Telegraph, the afternoon daily in Brisbane. “I did go onto the Linotypes, but learnt the Ludlow for adverts and headlines.”
Next job was at the Stanthorpe Border Post so he could gain experience in different forms of printing. The newspaper was printed on a Wharfedale stick flyer delivery press and the Post had different platens for job printing.
It was a bitterly cold winter in 1948 and the Border Post offices were not heated. Harvey says he could not stay warm no matter how much clothing he wore to work. He ended up in hospital with pneumonia.
After that winter, he accepted a job as a compositor and Linotype operator at the Federal Press in Rockhampton, in October 1948, and finished as production manager in June 1960.
During this time he helped produce the Adviser, Rockhampton’s first free weekly newspaper for many years. It survived only eight issues.
He joined the City Printing Works, Rockhampton, in 1960 and left in 1979 to become manager of Rockhampton Printing Services. The business was sold in 1983 and the new owners considered Harvey’ too old at 56’ and replaced him.
He worked briefly for Sisley’s printing division before spending the final five years of his career as production coordinator at the Morning Bulletin.He retired on May 3, 1991, after 50 years as a printer.
Harvey married Edna Eastgate in Rockhampton on March 26, 1951, and they had three children. A grand-daughter, Caryn Metcalfe, has become a journalist and now works for Cumberland’s Penrith Press in Sydney.
Our first printer
There is a move afoot amongst researchers in the Australian bibliographic world to chase down more information on Australia’s first printer, George Hughes, appointed in November 1795.
You may recall that on September 11, 2007, at Parliament House, Canberra, Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, presented the first known playbill printed in Australia to Australian Prime Minister, John Howard. The playbill is now part of the collection of the National Library of Australia.
Hughes is said to have printed some 200 government orders between November 1795 and November 1800, yet not one copy has ever been located, says Elaine Hoag, of Library and Archives Canada.
Hoag says that an extraordinary discovery was made in June 2007, in the rare book collection at Library and Archives Canada. Preserved in a scrapbook was a playbill from Hughes’s Sydney press, dated July 30, 1796 – ‘the earliest extant Australian imprint, in a unique copy totally unknown to scholars and collectors’.
Hoag then set out to trace the provenance of this ‘obscure piece of ephemera’ over the course of two centuries. Professor Wallace Kirsop, of Melbourne, is leading the push to dig more deeply into the life and work of George Hughes, particularly to try to uncover more of the products of Hughes’s labours.
He spoke about the matter at a newspaper-history seminar at the State Library of Victoria on May 23. The main focus was on digitisation of newspaper files, so the focus on the first printer provided a nice historical balance.
Canberra Times and Fyshwick
When did the Canberra Times shift its headquarters from Mort Street, Braddon, where the paper was founded in 1926, to Fyshwick? It was in 1987. The Governor-General, then Sir Ninian Stephen, officially opened the new $12.5m complex on April 24, 1987.
That day the Canberra Times published a 14-page feature on Fyshwick, featuring the new CT. complex and including a useful historical article by Ian Mathews, then the editor-in-chief. He mentioned that he joined the paper in March 1963 when it was a tabloid.
The printing of the paper was done at Fyshwick from July 1, 1964 when the paper became a broadsheet, shortly after the Fairfax acquired it from the Shakespeare family.