Ferrymead Printing Society Preserving the passion for print

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History of the Society

An approach was made to the Printing Industry of Canterbury to establish a newspaper office on land available at the recently formed Ferrymead Historic Park complex. 
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In 1973 there was sufficient interest to form the Ferrymead Printing Society, which began collecting and fund raising to establish a museum. While raising funds for a building, equipment was stored in memberʻs garages. The Society operated their oldest platen on every occasion that public display was possible, both to raise the profile of the Society and to raise much needed funds.

Local firms were generous with financial support and our building was erected in 1978.  It was then extended to include a library of printing history, text books, and local history, as well as a static museum dedicated to local printing personalities. There was also a fully operating letterpress print shop, which by printing for the Historic Park and its members, generated additional income.
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The vintage plant includes 400 plus type cases of lead type, Linotype and Intertype casting machines and a range of letterpress machines from an 1863 Albion to a 1950 Verticle Miehle and 1960’s Heidelberg platens, manual and electric guillotines and book binding equipment, etc.  Almost without exception, plant has been donated by local industry, the Society being responsible for the transport, setting up, and in some cases, cleaning and rebuilding items recovered from scrap merchants.  This endeavour has created an asset not only for the printing industry in general, but a memorial to the craftsmen who created it for future generations. 

Whitcoullʻs Annex

Built in 1984 by the Ferrymead Trust, this extensions of the Print Shop was supported by Whtcoulls Limited as a centenary gesture, and the funds provided by this company covered the basic construction work. Actual construction was done by carpenter Don Price, bricklayer Len King, supervised Harry Sweney of the Ferrymead Trust. All interior finishing and furnishing costs were met by the Printing Society and the Whitcombe and Tombs Re-union Committee. Funds were helped considerably by donations from company and price members of the Ferrymead Printing Society Incorporated who acknowledge the following donors.
P.I.A.C. Members
Boanas Printery Ltd
Bruce Printing Company
H.W.Buillivant and Co. Ltd
Christchurch Caxton Press Ltd
Christchurch Press Co Ltd
Copycraft Ltd
Foster and Paul Ltd.
Fuller Bros Ltd
Griffin Press Ltd
M.P.I. Ltd
S.I.McHarg Ltd
Photo Process Printers Ltd
Pegasus Press Ltd
Purse, Willis and Aiken Ltd
Radiant Transfer Ltd
Raven Press Co Ltd
Whitcoulls Ltd
Supply House Members
Aldus Graphics Ltd
Alex Gowan and Sons Ltd
Christchurch Photo Engravers Ltd
Croda Polymer (N.Z.) Ltd
Gordon and Gotch Ltd
A.M. Satterwaite and Co. Ltd
Sidney Cooke Graphics Ltd
Williamson Jeffrey Ltd
Individual Members
E.J.B. Cutler

Whitcombe and Tombs Sub Committee
Recent Years
Our Society went through a low activity period after the horrific earthquakes in Christchurch, the deadly one being centred right underneath our historic park. But is now back in good health with a group setting up a studio for training art students, and a complete overhaul of our interpretations, signage and greater foot traffic flowing through our Printery.

Our exhibit has been a very popular site in the park, with many children rushing to it first, to watch the working equipment.  Our band of enthusiasts do their best to preserve the past, and keep the doors open to visitors at least each Thursday and Sunday and all major park weekend events. 

Our society is open for anyone interested to join, both individuals and printing house businesses, to assisting us in maintaining our exhibits and giving financial support.

History of Ferrymead

Our historic park is positioned on the holy grail of New Zealand railway, being the site of the first rail in New Zealand.

Ferrymead, the river flat close to where the Heathcote river broaden into its estuary, owes its importance in history to the hills dividing Christchurch from its port of Lyttelton.  Our pioneers transported their goods over the Bridle Path form Lyttelton to Heathcote, where punts were used to cross the river into early Christchurch. 

Later traffic came by sea up the estuary. Barges were towed from Ferrymead up the river into Christchurch, so successfully, that in 1863, the first railway in New Zealand was opened, running from Ferrymead into central Christchurch.
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 This branch line cost 20,775 pounds ($41,550).  A Mr Beverley was the first engine driver in NZ and drove his “Pilgrim” engine on this route, and later through the tunnel to Lyttelton when it opened in 1867.
Today a short section of this line has been rebuilt to serve the Heritage park transport system, and the line operated by the NZ Railway and Loco Society still uses vintage steam and diesel engines.

In addition to the railway, our park furnishes a extensive working tramway with restoration barns, a Edwardian street of assorted merchants, the printery being one, and period open houses and the usual park, hall, church, school, etc to complete the village. Additionally the park has an aeronautical display, the best fire musuem in the country, our own radio station, an extensive gramophone collection, vintage transport and many other wonderful displays.

The park is owned by the approx 20 participating societies, and managed by a management company.
Our Support Partners. Check out more about them here
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