The Argus – Hollingbury

The Argus Offices and Printing Works – Hollingbury
26th October 2005

Nineteen members, nine wives and one 9year old granddaughter enjoyed a most interesting visit to the offices and printing works of The Argus newspaper situated in Hollingbury.

On arrival, Howie Blanks, a long-standing senior member of staff who seemed to have worked in every department of the paper, greeted us. He was accompanied by Ms. Lyle Adcott, who took “charge” of young Jennifer Lack and showed her round separately, allowing her to type a real small ad and to have her own billboard printed.

Initially, we visited the main office, a large open plan room accommodating all the various departments of the paper from reporters and sub-editors to sales and distribution. Howie described the functions of all departments and how they all fit into the production of the paper. Perhaps the most surprising factor to those who know The Argus was to hear that the next day’s edition is “put to bed” at 11pm the night before. Obviously this is why the paper is no longer as it was The Evening Argus.

One quite interesting additional fact, which emerged, was that they have recently found a collection of 10,000 glass photographic plates of photos going back to the 1920’s and 30’s, which are now being catalogued with a view to publication.

From here we were taken in turn to see the Paper Store, where three large artics a day deliver the huge reels of newsprint, the automated plate production machines and finally to the press room.

The paper comes from Sweden and is 70% recycled. The pages of the paper are set up in the Editorial Dept. and transmitted electronically to the plate making machines. The printing inks are in four colours; black yellow red and blue are delivered by tanker. These modern inks dry by chemical reaction and thus do not require a ventilation system. All scrap paper and the used aluminium printing plates are recycled.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the visit was seeing the press being set up for a print run, started, the printed papers being checked for quality and then diverted on to the lengthy overhead track conveyor to the packing department. Full speed, which was nearly reached whilst we watched, is 60,000 48 page papers fully collated per hour with the paper travelling through the press at 40mph, truly a wonderful sight and a triumph of engineering Normally, the press is working 24 hours a day and besides The Argus, they print some 35 other papers and publications on sub-contract.

Every one seemed to think it was a most interesting and worthwhile visit; even the half time break when the fire alarms went off and we had to retreat to the collection point and watch a fire engine arrive was an interesting diversion. It was a false alarm thought to have been caused by pigeons but costing the company £350 payable to the Fire Service.

R Norton