Photo: Colin Harlow
Item #: 32846
Nobody knew Chorley, or the history and people of central Lancashire, better than it's one time editor, George Birtill. From 1929, the Chorley Guardian was printed on a 16 page Cossar press, at Market street, Chorley. But from the mid 1960s the paper was printed on the Wigan Observers new Crabtree web-offset press at Woods street, Wigan. It was said to be one of the handsomest newspaper printed in Britain, it was a considerable measure due to web-offset printing also due to the staff's admirable use of type and layout that reflects the highest honours.
The paper above is from Thursday September 17 1981, the Wigan press printed the paper and it's sister paper the Leyland Guardian from the mid 1960s until 1984. The Chorley and Leyland readers were treated to beautiful colour work and crystal clear newsprint.
I can see this Chorley paper is based on our great broadsheet Wigan Observer back in the days. All newspaper are having hard times today, but do remember the Wigan Obby being top quality and stood out more than any other newspapers at that time. Colour printing was the key and photos came to life in the Obby, remember colour TVs in the 1960s were just being developed and you had to have a few quid to have one, I think around 1969 saw the first colour TVs out in Wigan's TV shop windows and crowds used to gather outside. So we were very lucky to have one of the first colour newspapers in the Country printed here in Wigan.
The Wigan Observer was one of the first newspapers to adopt web offset printing in the mid 60s and was still under development at that time. Tests and consumables about this unknown printing methods in newspapers were still very rare. Indeed, the paper won many top major awards and remember the Thomas Wall company well in the early years before United Newspapers acquired the Wigan Observer not long after the change over to web offset production. Great days.
"The Wigan Observer was one of the first newspapers to adopt web offset printing in the mid 60s "
Er. Are you sure about that? Oh, of course, everything happened first in Wigan.
I never knew that the Chorley newspaper was printed at the former Wigan Observer and Post and Chronicle works in Wingates Road, Whitley. The building was located in a secluded place in the Douglas Valley near the top end of Wigan Lane that is the most affluent area of town.
Incidentally, one of the most famous people born in Chorley in 1874 was Charles Lightoller who was the second officer of the Titanic and the highest ranking crew member to survive the terrible disaster. Also the captain of the Carpathia, the ship that came to rescue the 711 survivors in 19 lifeboats was Arthur Rostron, born in the Astley Bridge area of Bolton in 1869. So Wigan's closest connection to the infamous ship is within ten miles.
Mr X the wigan Observer had it's own web offset press at Woods Street, printing the Observer and Guardian newspapers and Colour work. The post and Chronicle were base at Brock Mill, just off Wigan lane.
Yes Harry both the Obby and Post had their own printing and publishing plants at different places in Wigan.
James, web offset printing presses were used for newspapers from the early 1900's. So, no, the Wigan Observer in the 60's wasn't one of the first.
George, they might have been the first to get one in the 60's though?
Books and mags were printed by small web offset presses for many years but not newspapers.
Pre WW2, 50% of World newspapers were produced on web offset presses, 75% European.
When you're talking about printing by web offset are you talking about lithographic web offset, admittedly the 'offset' is lithographic, whilst the 'web' part is the actually path of the paper going through the presses from reels rather than sheet fed presses. Lots of camera and film work was required for pre-press lithographic newspapers, so I am not to sure of the figures from Damien etc if they are accurate. Wigan Observer was one of the earlier papers to convert from letterpress to litho, maybe not the first.