Home' Greymouth Star : January 13th 2018 Contents Greymouth Star
Saturday, January 13, 2018 - 7
wo reel-fed, flatbed
printing presses —
among just four sur viving
in the world — once
printed daily newspapers
in Greymouth for the
morning Grey River
Argus and the Kapiti-
Mana News and Thames
Star, in the North Island. The Bush Telegraph in
Pahiatua was the last publication printed on it.
Both presses are still in working order but are
under threat of being scrapped.
Built in Yorkshire, England, to the design of a
Scotsman, the Cossar had a special place in the
hearts of New Zealand newspaper publishers. The
first press was introduced to New Zealand in 1903
and a radical new model introduced in 1915 was
The two sur viving presses are a 1924 Cossar and
a 1970 press, given to the Wellington Printing
Museum (formed as the Bedplate Press in 1984) by
APN New Zealand in 2008.
Museum secretary Bill Nairn says Cossar presses
were very popular in New Zealand, with the first
being installed in 1903.
“ More than 20 provincial newspapers used these
presses over the next 80 or so years, the last one in
use in 1993 at the Northland Age, in Kaitaia.’’
Other New Zealand newspapers once printed
on Cossars included the Greymouth Evening Star
(until 1979), Franklin Press (Pukekohe), Hawera
Star, Bay of Plenty Times (Tauranga), Wairoa
Star, Martinborough Star, Wairarapa Times-Age
(Masterton), Viscount Press (Palmerston North),
Hutt News (Lower Hutt), Sentinel Newspapers
(Wellington), Marlborough Express (Blenheim),
Timaru Herald and the Oamaru Mail.
In Pahiatua, in the south of the North Island,
Steve Carle, former proprietor of the Bush
Telegraph, still turns over the presses — used until
the late 1980s — for visitors.
One installed around 1923 at the Grey River
Argus was later moved to Viscount Press in
Palmerston North, where it printed a variety of
newspapers including the Telegraph under contract.
When Viscount Press switched to offset, Carle
says he decided it was time for the family-owned
newspaper to print its own title again and acquired
A rewind unit and a second Cossar — a lightly-
used late 1960s model, possibly the second-last
made — came from the Kapiti-Mana Argus and
were added to the first, along with a heavy-duty
The Telegraph team linked the two presses using
a duplex chain — timed half a revolution apart to
moderate the load on the drive — printing larger
papers or spot colour, the latter with a turner bar
and modifications to the gantry. In tandem, the
presses would print a 32-page tabloid.
Extra pages were pre-printed with the webs
rewound and inset using a novel device which
registered a triangular punch hole using air pressure
and eight pins (four to advance or accelerate the
drive and four to retard it).
Another Printing Museum committee member,
Terry Foster, recalls seeing a Cossar in production
at the Hawera Star some time up to the late 1980s
— later scrapped except for its motor — while his
brother Ken, a retired printer, recalls machines in
the Morrinsville and Matamata area, around the
“They were a truly magnificent machine to see in
operation,’’ Terry Foster says.
At the 140-year-old Gisborne Herald, managing
director Michael Muir recalled two Cossars, used
between 1906 and 1943. The second — this time
with a 15hp electric motor — was installed in
March 1924, and printed up to 4500 copies an hour.
This had ‘double-decked’ stationary type formes,
and a rewinding apparatus enabling it to have
three reels of newsprint running through the press
Graeme How at the Wairoa Star recalls helping
run the 18-ton Cossar B16 acquired from Auckland
and later sold to the Opotiki News: “I was 16 years
old when I first started operating the press, and as a
small country newspaper, we did everything.
“I had to operate the press, work as a compositor
and an Intertype operator, and I’m still here 45 years
later operating the latest Adobe prepress systems. ’’
Graeme How — also a contributor to the www.
metaltype.co.uk website — says the most-hated job
on the Cossar was walking round with an oil can
trying to find a squeak.
“There must have been at least 200 oil holes and
I used to climb all over that press while it was
printing,’’ he says.
“ What would the OH and S (Occupational
Health and Safety) people say today if they saw
“Loading the newsprint reels and threading
the web through to the folder was a job everyone
avoided, so being the youngest, I got the job.
“The formes of metal type containing two tabloid
pages were carried to the press by hand from the
stone (no trolley) and I was not very popular when I
dropped one once, spilling type all over the floor. It
was quicker to reset those two pages than try to sort
out the mess, but needless to say the paper was late
that day. ’’
Graeme How recalls stopping the press when
his first son was born to go to the hospital, again
making the paper late.
Expecting to get fired when he returned and was
called into his office, “the manager instead produced
a bottle of whisky.
“I enjoyed operating the press to get a nice clean
paper, and working on the process from Intertype
(hot metal typesetting) to printing the paper was
interesting and challenging ... I try to explain it to
my grandchildren, but they show no interest.’’
Anyone interested in making a financial
contribution or an offer of help in any way to
preser ve this piece of New Zealand printing
heritage can contact Steve Carle on 021 153 1917
or e-mail email@example.com
The two Cossar printing presses at the Bush Telegraph newspaper in the North Island once printed the Grey River Argus, left, and the Kapiti-Mana News, right.
An urgent appeal has been launched to save two Cossar newspaper printing presses —
including one from the old Grey River Argus in Greymouth — from becoming scrap metal.
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