A57_358-a.jpg *Taranaki Herald* Printing Press. Collection of Puke Ariki (A57.358).

This printing press is real old soldier of truly veteran newspaper days.  His birth date of 1830 makes him one of the oldest - if not the oldest - surviving printing press in New Zealand.  As the first newspaper to hit the streets in New Plymouth, the Taranaki Herald was a true milestone, but the press that printed it is a national treasure.

Other places had papers within a year or two of being settled - Nelson, Wellington and Whanganui, but it wasn't until 1852 that William Collins was sent to Auckland to buy a press for New Plymouth. The town might have had four chapels, three flour mills, several hotels, 1600 people, 11674 sheep, 1810 head of cattle, 1707 pigs, 169 horses, and 52 goats, but what it needed was something to read.

It took much pleading with the editor of The New Zealander, before he finally gave up a second-hand demi (half-size) Albion with an assortment of type.   Made in London by the Barrett Brothers in 1830, it bore the number 329. At the time, there were just three main types of printing press; the Columbian, the Albion and the Stanhope. The Stanhope was the first successful all-iron printing press which used a screw mechanism to make the impression. The Columbian press had an odd design.  Introduced in 1813 by its somewhat mad American inventor, George Clymer, it came decorated with vast amounts of cast iron. Richard Cope manufactured the first Albion in 1820, but until his design improved in 1835, it remained less popular than the other two.

William Collins was mighty glad to have his.  He hauled it by bullock wagon to Manukau and loaded it on the schooner Éclair bound for Taranaki. When the Herald printed its first page on 4 August 1852, it launched a long-term commitment to report events in Taranaki, a task it eagerly embraced until its demise in 1989.

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