Ref NoOHP/31
TitleJohn Harrop
Date5 December 2002
Extent1 minidisc, 2 cds, 1 file, 9 AIFF files (1.53 GB)
Creator NameHarrop; John (1935-); printer and newsprint controller
DescriptionInterview with John Harrop, printer and newsprint controller for the Guardian. Conducted by Leslie Plommer on 5 December 2002. Also includes a data sheet containing biographical details about the subject and information about the recording.

Summary contents of interview (with rough timings):

Disc 1
Track 2:
00.35 Left school at 16 to become an article clerk to a chartered accountant
00.46 At 18 did two years national service with the Royal Air Force (RAF)
02.07 Applied for an apprentice night job at the Guardian at the age of 20 (1955)
02.32 The Guardian was known as a family paper - Scott family very much in control
02.55 Discusses questions he was asked at the interview
03.27 Left the RAF Friday 27th October 1955 and started at the Guardian Sunday 29th October 1955
04.21 Three years at night school to learn about stereotyping
06.32 Explains the role of a stereotyper
08.30 Description of a matt box, casting machine and pouring sheet

10.38 Explains the function of a shaver machine
12.10 Most days the Guardian used two presses, two plates for each press
15.35 Discusses the machinery used at Cross Street
18.24 Stereotypers also worked in the ‘jobbing section’ which included preparing advertisements for moulding

22.02 Metals used to make the plates were lead, tin and antimony.

Track 3:
02.27 Management evenings where a selection of managers/directors would come and chat wth workers
04.05 On the night bus home machinery workers from other papers used to swap papers
04.37 Employees were proud of the Guardian, felt like they were working on a quality paper
05.20 In 1961 told some of the print was being transferred to London
06.55 Working patterns changed, started work later as less copies to print
08.20 Different size pages in London so had to use high shrinkage mats
09.49 Typesetting also changed with the transfer to London

10.46 Discusses Teletype and Linetype setting
13.58 Movement and transfer of staff to joint departments
15.39 Stereo departments used to be a hive of activity but now very quiet
15.51 How the page plates and moulds were transferred to London
17.13 This was ‘The first step towards the ultimate transfer’

Track 4:
00.04 Full move from Cross Street to Deansgate in 1970-1971
00.21 Very involved in planning for the move (now working in Production Services)
02.30 Discusses the eighteen months of planning
05.05 Put stickers on everything to be moved
07.44 ‘Heavy gang’ used cranes to get the mould presses out through the roof
09.25 Shared work space with the Daily Mail (at Deansgate) and had to work around production of the Sunday People

11.52 Felt like the Daily Mail's lodgers with strict house rules
12.41 Daily Mail used clocking on machines whereas the Guardian used to do it on trust
14.04 Discusses war time newsprint rationing
14.18 The volume of pages was increasing, everyone wanted more money
15.55 No more overtime or bonuses
17.02 Went from limit of 32 pages to 40 pages
18.14 Biggest disadvantage of the move to Deansgate was lack of space

Track 5:
00.12 Sharing paper with the other newspapers that used the same presses
03.28 Only once did the Guardian ever loose copies because of weakness in the paper
07.18 Negotiating annual commitments with paper suppliers
08.10 Procuring paper from Italy
09.43 Arrived at work many mornings and no paper in pressroom for printing

Disc 2
Track 1:
02.04 Intended change in web width by the Guardian
04.40 Price of paper increased (year before retirement)
06.34 Moved to the newsprint department in 1976
06.40 Remained in Manchester when the Guardian moved to London
09.15 Discusses use of recycled paper
09.55 Where most of the paper came from and how it was bought

10.47 Paper mill strikes
11.32 In the early days paper ships used to go up the Manchester canal and paper stored in warehouses beside the docks
12.58 Damage - if a reel got a nick on the side the whole reel was wasted
13.39 Description of flying paste
16.43 Transport strike in Manchester late 1970s/early 1980s
17.01 John Abbots' firm worked through the night to deliver reels until the strike deadline

22.58 Describes managing the paper levels at the time of the strike a military operation
23.20 Discusses Harry Roach, originally a sterotyper, later production director
28.24 Good relationship with all suppliers

Track 2
01.02 Further discussions about suppliers, reps and paper quality

Track 3
00.13 The last printing ar Deansgate was Saturday November 3rd 1990
01.30 Closing down the stereo department, machine room and publishing room
03.35 Moved to Trafford Park and shared space with the Daily Telegraph (1990)
06.20 Saddest part of the job was talking to people about the final paper
06.45 Only a small number of current staff would be needed at Trafford Park
07.53 As a result of the transfer, a lot of skilled workers had to work as cleaners
08.34 Everyone received redundancy pay, even those who moved to Trafford Park
09.27 Discusses family trade traditions and how whole families worked together

12.37 Had to figure out what holidays/bonuses everyone was owed at the time of the move
13.32 Some of those who left had been friends for 30 years, a very sad time
15.00 Refers to his wife Susan who used to work for him, only women in production management outside of London
17.19 Trafford Park had plenty of storage capacity
19.59 Everything now done by remote control, all information displayed on a monitor

21.26 A different world - stereotypers are now plate makers, no longer any need for night school
22.27 Technology revolution
22.10 The passion and thrill of the throbbing building as it used to be went, now a new generation
24.20 It was happier times back then, men carrying heavy metal and cleaning machines used to sing as they worked.
26.20 Decided to retire after 41 years
26.58 Guardian was a wonderful organisation, but its identity changed as a result of progress

Track 4
00.15 Expanding on the impact of the strike (discussed earlier)
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsAccess to recording via GNM Digital Respository
FormatElectronic record
CD recording
Printed document
Minidisc recording
CopyrightGuardian News & Media Ltd and John Harrop

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