Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Review from Late Edition

As the title suggests, this DVD is about one of the great customs of the Printing Industry, diligently, enthusiastically and expertly compiled by the pupils of St George the Martyr and St Mathew’s, with guidance and facilitation by ‘digital works’, who also produced it.

It features a large number of members of our Branch, namely John Bailey, Chrissie Brazil, Ann Field, Pete Gold, Mike Hicks, Bernard Hunt, Paul King, Malcolm Lane, Peter Postance and Ivy Smith, with apologies to anyone I have omitted. And if I have any critical analysis, which this review will almost certainly disprove, then Pete Gold must be in line for an Oscar, with Ivy Smith and Bernard Hunt the favourites for a ‘best supporting actor’ award and a lachrymose evening for us all to look forward to!

Many of the contributors spoke of the comradeship within the industry and the appalling conditions – the smell ofthe ink,the noise – as a consequence of which most of the old printers became deaf, despite the fact that they wore protective headphones and newspapers were made into protective hats to shield them from the general grime and dust.

Ann Field explained that everyone worked hard but they were also enjoying themselves – “There was a lovely atmosphere” she maintained, whilst Paul King described Fleet Street as a “Village” and went on to say that everyone put up with the poor working environment because of the comradeship.

Apprenticeships for the boys, and ‘Learner-ships’ for the girls, was the way most youngsters were introduced to the trade and John Bailey, Malcolm Lane and Ivy Smith all spoke about their early days before explaining the first of the print’s ‘Banging
Out’ procedures, which were somewhat unedifying for the male contingent involved but undoubtedly prepared them in advance for their subsequent stag nights in the years to come.!! Ivy did not divulge what happened to the girls – hopefully they were treated with a little more dignity – but she did vividly explain the difficulties that women encountered getting both recognition and equal pay, a fight, which, sadly, has still to be fully achieved.

Bernard Hunt explained the closed shop and how everyone had to be a member of the Union, which organised the shift rotas as well as improving the wages and terms and conditions of its members. And then came Wapping when, as Pete Gold put it, “Murdoch took the opportunity to cut the wages and increase the work-loads of the work force and did a deal with Thatcher to pass a raft of anti Trade Union legislation.”

Those speaking about the dispute did so with a passion, anger and emotion that illustrated the comradeship already spoken of, which was never more needed at this difficult time, as food parcels were distributed to those in need, marches were organised in solidarity and the local residents were, in the main, supportive – a local publican offered shelter for demonstrators fleeing from the police. Ann Field reminded us that most of those sacked by Murdoch never worked in the print again, which was a disgraceful way for him to treat those who made him.

Many lost their lives – including one of the local residents – and the green light had been given to other newspapers to jump on the technology bandwagon, which, effectively, saw the death of Fleet Street.

Mike Hicks explained that he had been arrested 5 or 6 times, the police claiming that he had pushed a megaphone into the face of an Officer – totally untrue, which prompted the ‘Free Mike Hicks’ campaign, with appropriate stickers proudly displayed by many in this fine film.

Malcolm Lane brought a little light relief by pointing out that the police horses hated the noise of bag-pipes, which is something which we should always remember, and a possible trump card to use in the future.

And those who will need to play this card will, in all probability, be those children who were so integral to the making of this DVD, and I’m sure all of those who were interviewed will join me in saying how genuine, courteous, professional and charming they all were, and if we could say just one thing to them it would be to join a Trade Union, and become active in it, in order to fight for their rights and those of their fellow workers.

The Late Edition is not a high class publication, and I realised how obvious that was immediately after typing it, so it does not give ‘stars’ for its reviews, but there is no doubt that ‘Banging Out – Fleet Street Remembered’ is essential viewing for all of our readership and, in order to try and make this a reality, we intend to screen it at a future RMA meeting.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Friday, 18 July 2014

Banging Out Film Launch

On Wednesday 16th July 2014 all the hard work came together and the finished film was launched at the Bridewell Hall, St Bride Institute, Fleet Street.

Over 120 people attended including the children who made the film, the interviewees and their families and interested guests.

Before the film was introduced by children from St Matthew's and St George the Martyr primary schools, Glyn Farrow, Director of St Bride Foundation said a few words about the sneak peak he had of the film:
"It is absolutely brilliant and I learned so much from it. Various notions that were unformed ideas in my mind suddenly have shape and make far more sense. I’m not just saying this, I really do think it is fantastic."

Once the film was shown - to rapturous applause - the children conducted a Q&A and their answers were well received.

Peter McKenna, Chair of digital:works, who MC'd the event thanked all those who supported and funded the project - and that was a long list!

The interviewees, their families and friends then descended into the Bridewell Bar for a couple of hours of reminiscing.

Thank you to everyone for making it such a special day.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Film training and interviewing printers

Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st May

In the morning we gathered in the classroom to learn interviewing skills. We were taught how to ask questions. We were told what to do and what not to do while interviewing someone. You must be polite and look interested. You have to nod your head rather than saying “Yes” to enable the editing. If you speak while someone else is speaking, you can’t hear the interviewee! A good interviewer listens and speaks appropriately.

We then had to write some questions that we would use in an interview. Some filmmakers had come to the school so we could practice.

Some of the interview questions we created included:
  • Why are you so interested in films? 
  • What kind of things would you like to film in the future? 
  • How do you feel about speaking in front of an audience? 
  • In the future, would you like to make a famous film?
  • What would you tell other people about filming? 
We also asked the filmmakers what they learned from their film training. We learned the acronym “wiffle” which stands for White balance Iris Focus Framing Level of Sound.” Wiffle is a checklist of things you need to get right in filming. These things are always needed with a camera because if you get any of those things wrong then the whole film is a disaster!

After break we came back into the classroom and the printers split us into three groups. We interviewed three people, two of which were father and son. We met Ann Field, who worked in a newspaper library in the 1970s and then worked for the Trade Union. The newspaper library is also known as the “intelligence department” Malcolm Lane became an apprentice compositor at the age of 15 and climbed the ladder for 6 years. His son David used to be in advertising. Every Saturday he would go to Wapping to protest against Rupert Murdoch.

David told us that published thirty books about football. He used to work for the Financial Times and he was explaining how different newspapers use adverts specifically designed to attract their audience. A full page advert in the Financial Times costs around £75,000! Small adverts are known as “earpieces” because they are found at the top and sides of the paper where its “ears” would be!

Ann said she didn’t have words to describe how horrific the dispute was for the people who were sacked. It wasn’t just the workers, it affected their families too. It had been an emotional time for her.

Malcolm told us about becoming a printer. It takes 6 years to become a fully qualified printer which is called “Banging out” which is also the name of the blog. When you “bang out”, you get covered in ink and powder by the other printers! He told us that it takes two days to get clean again!

After the session everyone had lots of interesting questions. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed learning new facts. Talking to the different people really brought the events to life!

St Matthews Primary School Year 6 Writers Group

Friday, 13 June 2014


Yesterday, Thursday 12th of June, the writers spent some time writing information texts on the ‘History of Printing’ and the ‘Wapping strike’. Today we have many objects and machines, which we did not have in the past to make our life much easier, before people would have to handwrite everything. Like when scribes used to make scrolls, only the rich and the well educated could afford one. People used quills and ink, which took up too much time. Until, William Caxton brought printing press to England. The printers used to get blocks which had letters; roll some ink onto the letters then press the paper onto the lettered block then they had printed paper. Here is an extract from a ‘History of printing’ text: ‘William Caxton was friends with Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, and William had been asked to write a number of books for her. Such as: ‘The Dictes and the sayings of philosophers’ and ‘The Game of Playe of Chesse’. Here is an extract from a ‘Wapping strike’ text: After 5 months of demonstration, one woman, Emily Grigson, was nearly hit by a T.N.T truck. Later, Michael Delaney, a 19-year-old boy, was hit by a van and died. This made Emily join the protesters against Rupert Murdock and the police.

Thursday, 12 June 2014


Today we got the opportunity to interview the film makers about the difficulties and the highlights of film making. It seemed at first the film makers had a hard time adjusting to the basics of the camera and equipment, but soon became familiar with the technology; also it took approximately an hour to set everything up because the adults from Fleet Street showed us a demonstration on what to do clearly and carefully.
We were given the chance to interview some very interesting people; who happened to be associated with the printing industry. Also, we were lucky to learn a bit about each interviewee, especially their feelings toward Rupert Murdoch and what life as a printer was. Us as writers and film makers got to converse with each of them separately, also getting to learn more about their current life and their past relating to the subject of their previous work. Y6  film makers got to learn about the camera terminology. We learnt about “Wiffle”. Wiffle is an abbreviation. White balance - is when you use white paper to set the correct colour. Iris - is what you use to set the darkness and light. Focus - when focus on the faces so they are not fuzzy. Framing - is when your eyes have to be in line with a line on a screen. LEvel- means sound level and how much sound you want to hear. All the children are looking forward to interviewing the printers who were involved in the print trade and the Wapping dispute. “We are also looking forward to printing tomorrow,” said Ruba.

Tuesday- writers

On Tuesday 10th June the writers of the ‘Banging out!’ Project, wrote a wide range of poems to describe the joys of printing and the dispute of Wapping. We wrote poems such as acrostics, haikus and Fibonacci. Here are some samples from the poems we wrote.
Use Chinese paper,
And use a wooden screw,
Germans steel cast.
Use all the components,
You’ll have something new.
By Zeshaan, Tanka

Printing began with hands
Rapid changes brought for people
If there was no printing
 No education would happen
To help you write
If it wasn’t for books we wouldn’t have an education
Now you read and write
Go and discover the beauty of printing
By Rahim

Printing is a great
Invention, inspiring
The world to succeed.

Later that day, we all did some art work themed around William Caxton and printing. Some were difficult as there was a lot of detail to be added. “Some of them were very hard, I drew the printer, and it was really fun,” stated Farzana.