2013’s Glastonbury saw the release of their first on-site newspaper ‘The Glastonbury Free Press’. It was the local newspaper for the Festival, printed on site using vintage letterpress technology.
The Glastonbury team imported a five ton 1954 Original Heidelberg cylinder press which printed all night to produce the daily morning paper. These historic machines dominated the printing industry for most of the 20th Century – Their makers Schnellpressenfabrik Heidelberg revolutionised the mechanism for an automated sheet fed press.
The text was set using linecasting ‘hot metal’ technology, a method invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1884 which revolutionised newspaper production and became the industry standard for nearly 100 years. The Intertype machine mechanically casts metal ingots into lines of letterpress type by combining a series of facinating automated mechanical processes in a structure that dwarfs its operator. The machinery moves with such steampunk drama it has been labelled ‘the pinnacle of Victorian engineering’ and ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. Festival goers were able to see this in action all day as they prepared the type, or by placing a small ad to see their words cast in metal to be printed in the next edition.
The vintage machinery was on show as it operated, reaching a speed of approx 1500 newspapers per hour, they needed to run the press from about 10pm – 10am to fill the print run. Early editions of the paper were available from the early hours each day.
They did fall foul to a few mechanical gremlins but, around 2am on the Sunday morning of the Festival, the first ever edition of the Glastonbury Free Press come rolling off the vintage Heidelberg press in the Theatre & Circus fields.
Some 15,000 copies were distributed across the site by morning, all of which disappeared in double quick time, making the issue something of a collector’s item. But, if you did miss it, you can now download a PDF by Clicking Here.
This shows you the power of the printed newsletter, Glastonbury had a target market of around 175k people and could produce 15k copies. The build up was executed well and people were eager to pick up a copy of the first ever Glastonbury Free Press.
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